January 31st, 2010

Geek's Guide to the Galaxy Podcast Brian Dunning Interview

The Geek's Guide to the Galaxy Podcast, Episode 5: Crystal Skulls! Alien Abductions! Bigfootology!

The Skeptoid podcast is one of the most popular science podcasts around, with over 50,000 listeners. Brian Dunning, the host of Skeptoid, joins us to discuss critical thinking and its application in everything from alien abductions to medicine in the movies. Dave and John apply a little critical thinking of their own.

Brian Dunning Photo     Skeptoid Book Cover

Not-So-Good Samaritan

So the other day as I was out on a walk, I noticed a car stopped at a green light after all the other cars had driven on. In the car were two well-dressed elderly women. The driver was talking on her cell phone. It appeared the car had broken down. I wandered over to stand beside the driver side window and waved, and the woman opened a door a bit, and I said, “What’s wrong with your car?” and she said, “It won’t start.” I said, “I could try pushing it around the corner there.” She gave me a blank look and closed the door almost entirely and kept talking on her phone. I couldn’t tell from this whether she wanted my help or not, and I really wasn’t sure what to do. I stood there baffled for a while, then started directing traffic while I tried to decide what to do next. (This intersection is three lanes wide in both directions, and the stopped car was in the middle lane, so it was creating an unbelievable mess as people tried to pull around it on either side.) A guy from the nearby P. F. Chang’s wandered over and called, “You want help pushing it?” (He thought it was my car.) I said, “Uh yeah, that’s what I was just suggesting, but...” He came over and waved at the passenger side window until the woman opened the door a bit. He said, “Hello, ma’am. If you’ll put the car in neutral we’ll push you out of the way here.” Apparently he got the same sort of non-response that I had, and the door closed again. We both stood there, perplexed, trying to figure out what to do. Five minutes passed. Ten. The women in the car still didn’t acknowledge us in any way. Finally the guy tried talking to them again. From where I was standing I couldn’t hear was said. Afterward I said to him, “So what’s the plan?” and he just shook his head and shrugged. He said, “They’re on the phone with AAA.” Finally, after about twenty minutes, some guys from the kitchen came out the first guy was somehow able to convince the women that we were going to push the car, and we pushed it through the intersection and onto the shoulder. As we were walking away I said to the first guy, “So what was going on that whole time?” He was fuming mad and muttered something about how the women had been trying to direct AAA to the intersection, but had been giving completely wrong street names, and he had tried to give them the correct information and then they had started arguing with him and telling him he was wrong, even though he was pointing at the street signs which were plainly visible from the intersection. I don’t know. The whole thing was really weird, and I think it did just sort of leave all of us good samaritans feeling like it was probably a good thing there was no cliff nearby or we might’ve been tempted to just push the car off of it.