15 Credibility Street #6: A load of barnacles

Long ago, people thought birds were birthed from trees…

A few decades ago, news was important stuff and came from reliable sources you trusted…

In the old days, people used to read books or check out sources before deciding they were experts in something. Not so anymore – it’s a free for all. Thanks, Internet.

This week’s 15 Credibility Street is a shorter episode than usual of just me taking in three separate segments.

Back in 2011, people really believed this stuff. Now they REALLY believe this stuff and spread the virus to others. The first segment consists of my musings about questionable claims in the news. How did journalists miss the dangerous trend of fake news when bizarre conspiracies went mainstream? Should scientists step in to do debunking?

In segment two, I note that is was a generally un-weird news week. There was a lull in anomaly stories. Then, we had the old reliable mystery – what was that thing that washed up on the beach? This leads me to deliver a basic biology lesson on barnacles. Speaking of believing weird things, people used to believe that goose-neck barnacles gave rise to barnacle geese – yes, a bird that was birthed from a tree. While zoologically learned minds don’t think that today, it’s not too far-fetched for a few really naive readers to buy into today. Certain sites love to keep people ignorant of natural processes.

Finally, the email bag contained some wild ideas about the paranormal that correspondents wanted me to opine about. One set was about angels and a Native American spirit monster. Another was a suggestion that a certain type of rock could be useful in ghost communication devices. Like I said, I don’t mind helping people develop their ideas but the angels guy was so intellectually arrogant that he laughed that I would believe evolution. There is nothing I can help him with.


Download the episode or listen here:Please send your news links and any questions or comments to CredibilityPodcast(at)gmail.com. Let us know what you’d like to hear. Expanded coverage of DN stories, more chat, me ranting, interviews, etc.


  1 comment for “15 Credibility Street #6: A load of barnacles

  1. Graham
    December 19, 2016 at 4:57 AM

    I just finished listening to it. A good episode. I was impressed with your comment suggesting that people should try and look at all sides of an issue. When you are dealing with the followers of conspiracy theorists like Mike Adams and Alex Jones, the call is to avoid the ‘lamestream’ media because only the conspiracy peddler has access to the ‘real story’.

    On the other hand you have the ‘trigger warning/safe space’ movement which is being misused by people who claim that if you listen to/study/hear an idea that contradicts your beliefs then you will suffer severe mental trauma.

    In both cases it makes the job of the skeptic just that much harder. I have seen this occur in the case of Myles Power critiquing something that Rebecca Watson said on the basis of the sources she used to back up the argument she was making. And in response, many of Watson’s supporters simply chose to accuse him of being motivated by sexism rather than critique his arguments.

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