Episode 1: The Phantom Clown Menace

ep1_title OH! Have you got a podcast?!?!

Yes. We’ve jumped into the fray, starting out with an episode that features discussion about stories you’ll have read here and a chat with a longtime friend, colleague, and occasional contributor to DN, Ben Radford. The podcast is embedded at the very bottom of this post but you can also find it by searching for “15 Credibility Street” on Itunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, Stitcher or Downcast. Please subscribe!!!

I wanted to call this show Demonic Clown Blobs from Space because that would have encapsulated every single topic in this show quite neatly. T said that sounded like a crappy 80s horror B-movie, which was exactly the beauty of it. Howard didn’t respond which means he thought it was dumb, too.The Phantom Clown Menace works because the current clown flap began with no evidence there were any clowns around at all, but the rumor caused great consternation among parents, eventually leading to school lockdowns, arrests for breach of peace and threats, and even some violence. Menacing clowns have been reported all over the world now – it’s crazy. Ben and I mention that legends aren’t as slow-moving as they used to be. Rumors spread around the world in seconds via social media and become ingrained – and, in this case, self-perpetuating – within days.

clowns_menaceThe term “clown show” refers to when people are really screwing up an activity. I’d say the current election season is a TOTAL CLOWN SHOW. Addition of a certain expletive beginning with “f” to describe the clown show is also appropriate considering the head clown-around-town seems to embrace that mindset. Best buddies with the GOP-nominated clown is Alex Jones. Alex exploded in rainbow confetti this past week when President Obama sniffed himself for a whiff of sulfur in response to Jones’ recent absurvation that Obama and Hillary are demons. The segue from clowns to Jones’ in our news segment was…effortless.


Late astronaut, Edgar Mitchell

I didn’t write up a story about Clinton’s campaign dude, John Podesta, having his emails released on Wikileaks even though they involved exopolitics – the idea that aliens have their hands in our government systems. (Not sounding like too bad of an idea these days, but it still has zero credibility.) I should have written it but it would have involved a huge amount of effort to get it all accurate and I wasn’t sure I could do that. However, it’s worth discussing, as we do in this episode, that Podesta’s emails contained messages from our least favorite astronaut, Edgar Mitchell. Notice how T and Howard either deliberately or accidentally say “ass-astronaut” repeatedly when talking about those few NASA space travelers who promote some weird ideas. I thought that was hilarious (I muted my laughing).

Tom Delonge, formerly of the band Blink-182.

Tom Delonge, formerly of the band Blink-182.

Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge was also wrapped into the Wikileaks release this week since he has been actively pestering officials about UFO disclosure and had discussions with Podesta as well. It’s no secret that Podesta is really into alien claims and coverup. With him on the Clinton team, and Trump appealing to the conspiracy crowd, who is a UFOlogist to support this election? It’s a conundrum. What would we do with out Wikileaks to provide us with such vitally important hidden communications?

the-blobIn the discussion about the weird blob and the “my guess is ‘gooder’ than yours” problem, I reveal my annoyance for people who know little about a specialty subject like zoology opining about the identity of an animal they have never seen before. I got into a bit of a tiff on a Facebook group about animal discoveries on this topic because I wanted only an educated opinion on what it might be. That made me sound like a snob. But, I look through several of the versions of the story online, maybe even dozens in some cases when a mystery creature photo goes viral, I see way too many people saying they have the explanation or can fairly enter a guess when they do not have an foundation for that opinion. “My guess is…” is not helpful. Comment threads, forums and Facebook have made it seem like our individual opinions are just as valuable as everyone else’s. This IS true in some cases where all voices should be heard on a issue that effects everyone. But it is NOT the case where there is an actual correct answer.

badclowns-imageMy chat with Ben about Bad Clowns hit upon several folklore aspects of the clown flap of 2016. A “flap” is a Fortean term meaning an outbreak of activity, sightings and reports of a strange nature in a relatively short time span that causes a social commotion. Everyone heard about these clown stories, even your Grandma & Grandpa if they watch the news. The common thinking is that there are kids out there fooling around. But there is more depth and complexity to these stories when we view them from a broad perspective. We are able to see themes of social contagion, copycat crime, ostension, and social anxiety.

Ben mentioned “stranger danger” which is the well-intentioned thinking by adults that kids are at risk from interactions with people they don’t know well and should avoid them or, overreact to these situations by yelling and pointing to the stranger. When we look at all the evidence and psychological themes at play in this clown flap, we see that things are more nuanced and that misinformation is being passed along. The fact that these stories (credible or not) are being heavily publicized leads to more stories, actions or copycats. And so we are left with a clown bubble (or balloon) that can’t burst fast enough!226_magcover

We hope you enjoyed this inaugural episode. We’d love to hear your feedback or questions or topics. Email credibilitypodcast(at)gmail.com



Download Episode 1 HERE
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  7 comments for “Episode 1: The Phantom Clown Menace

  1. Bob Jase
    October 17, 2016 at 8:08 AM

    Yea! New Britain makes the news, if only the political corruption in this town was made as public.

    Wonder how many trick-or-treaters dressed as clowns will be arrested this year?

  2. Shane Brady
    October 17, 2016 at 11:16 AM

    That is a *fantastic* name!

  3. John R. Ellis
    October 17, 2016 at 1:23 PM

    This has been posted to Irreverent Skeptics Community on Google Plus, and to the Skepticism Group on Minds. I’ve subscribed and will check it out later today. Did I see that you deleted your profile on G+ a few weeks ago?

  4. October 17, 2016 at 2:34 PM

    Yeah. I no longer have a G+ profile.

  5. October 17, 2016 at 6:03 PM

    Here is a nice accompaniment to the episode: What Do the Scary Clowns Want?

  6. October 23, 2016 at 2:05 AM

    Hi Sharon, and the podcast creators/contributors. Like the ‘cast very much. Talk about fresh air! Count me in. All best to you.

  7. Alan E Dunsford
    April 11, 2017 at 11:36 PM

    love the show keep up the good work, about time you had a podcast best of luck to ya.

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