Mr. Eccles Presents | Cinema, Blockbusters, Horror, and Mystery

Scott Derrickson is a film-lover first and a director second, but he’s been quite successful at the latter — you may know him as the director and co-writer of Marvel’s Doctor Strange. (When I was younger, Doctor Strange was one of my favorite comic characters, along with Green Lantern. At least one of them got a great movie.) Scott was gracious enough to take time from a very busy schedule to sit down for a chat about a wide number of topics. Using Doctor Strange as a template, we go in some detail through the immensely complicated process of taking a modern blockbuster movie from pitch to screen.

But Scott’s genre of choice is horror — his other films include Sinister and The Exorcism of Emily Rose — and we move on to discussing why certain genres seem universal, before tackling even bigger issues about worldviews (Scott is Christian, I’m a naturalist) and how they affect one’s life and work. Scott Derrickson is an acclaimed director, producer, and screenwriter. He earned his M.A. in film production from the University of Southern California. His films as a director include Hellraiser: Inferno, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Sinister, Deliver Us from Evil, and Doctor Strange. He has written or co-written numerous other films, including Land of Plenty (directed by Wim Wenders) and Devil’s Knot (directed by Atom Egoyan).

Mr. Eccles Presents | Thought, Language, and How to Understand the Brain

Blog post with show notes:…


Language comes naturally to us, but is also deeply mysterious. On the one hand, it manifests as a collection of sounds or marks on paper. On the other hand, it also conveys meaning – words and sentences refer to states of affairs in the outside world, or to much more abstract concepts. How do words and meaning come together in the brain?

David Poeppel is a leading neuroscientist who works in many areas, with a focus on the relationship between language and thought. We talk about cutting-edge ideas in the science and philosophy of language, and how researchers have just recently climbed out from under a nineteenth-century paradigm for understanding how all this works.

David Poeppel is a Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at NYU, as well as the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, Germany. He received his Ph.D. in cognitive science from MIT. He is a Fellow of the American Association of Arts and Sciences, and was awarded the DaimlerChrysler Berlin Prize in 2004. He is the author, with Greg Hickok, of the dual-stream model of language processing.

Mr. Eccles Presents | Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and the Future of the Internet

Blog post with show notes:…

Support on Patreon:

For something of such obvious importance, money is kind of mysterious. It can, as Homer Simpson once memorably noted, be exchanged for goods and services. But who decides exactly how many goods/services a given unit of money can buy? And what maintains the social contract that we all agree to go along with it?

Technology is changing what money is and how we use it, and Neha Narula is a leader in thinking about where money is going. One much-hyped aspect is the advent of blockchain technology, which has led to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. We talk about what the blockchain really is, how it enables new kinds of currency, and from a wider perspective whether it can help restore a more individualistic, decentralized Web.

NehaNarula is the Director of the Digital Currency Initiative at MIT. She obtained her Ph.D. in computer science from MIT, and worked at Google and Digg before joining the faculty there. She is an expert on scalable databases, secure software, cryptocurrencies, and online privacy.

Mr. Eccles Presents | Mindscape: Threats to Liberal Democracy

Published on Jul 30, 2018

Blog post (w/ audio player):…

“Both words in the phrase “liberal democracy” carry meaning, and both concepts are under attack around the world. “Democracy” means that the people rule, while “liberal” (in this sense) means that the rights of individuals are protected, even if they’re not part of the majority. Recent years have seen the rise of an authoritarian/populist political movement in many Western democracies, one that scapegoats minorities in the name of the true “will of the people.” Yascha Mounk is someone who has been outspoken from the start about the dangers posed by this movement, and what those of us who support the ideals of liberal democracy can do about it. Among other things, we discuss how likely it is that liberal democracy could ultimately fail even in as stable a country as the United States.”

“Yascha Mounk received his Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University. He is a Lecturer on Government at Harvard, a Senior Fellow in the Political Reform Program at New America, and Executive Director at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. His most recent book is The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It.”

Cat Wednesday | Eccles listens to The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe


Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 18.48.13

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It’s all for the love of cats! Enjoy!

Eccles is preening himself as he and I listen to a podcast. The background dialogue is the exclusive property of SGU Productions.

Podcast Spotlight | #TheESP: The European Skeptics Podcast

(This post has been rewritten and updated, on 2016.02.15)

Hi guys. I’d like to point you all in the direction of a great new show, The European Skeptics Podcast, featuring your hosts, András Pintér, Jelena Levin, and Pontus Böckman. It’s moving well along, and evolving nicely, already into Episode #009 as of this update.

The ESP features news and updates on skeptical organizations across Europe and sometimes features interviews with active skeptics from throughout the continent and elsewhere.

Originally biweekly, the show now airs each week. The show includes a segment on logical fallacies, news items of concern for the skeptical movement in Europe, a discussion of listener feedback, the occasional aforementioned interview or two, and others.

The intro and outro music features Song for Skeptics by Keisha Gray and George Hrab, and that’s always a nice, mellow way to start and end the show. I also get a kick from the Outtakes segment at the very end of the show as well, and there’s always a good quote to conclude the show proper.

Follow them on Twitter: @espodcast_eu, email them at, and Like them on Facebook.

Do check them out! Subscribe via RSS, on iTunes, and on Stitcher as well!


Favorite Podcasts: Token Skeptic

English: Profile Photo of Kylie Sturgess

English: Profile Photo of Kylie Sturgess (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last Caturday, I was doing some long and serious thinking about whether to stay with skeptical activism, or give it up and retool this blog for another purpose. I’ve meandered a bit on this blog over the last several months, but I decided to catch up on my podcasts and give things another try.

After listening to two back episodes of the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe (the subject for a post in its own right) I listened to Kylie Sturgess’ show, Token Skeptic, episode 136, and was blown away by the discussion she had in it with her guest.

A common idea, almost cliche in my view, is that whether you’re talking about resolve of any sort, trying it by serious thinking and honest doubt can make it more robust or invalidate it.

It has been a while since I’ve seriously dealt with skeptical issues on this blog with any real interest, but after exchanging a few tweets with Ms. Sturgess about her podcast, I decided to change that and involve myself in the community more, recluse that I’ve been.

Here goes.

Token Skeptic is the first solo podcast hosted by a woman, and Cthulhu knows, we need to involve more women in a demographic often much overrepresented by white males of the nerdish sort. the description on the Token Skeptic site’s “about” page starts with this, with linkies:

Token Skeptic – Why do we believe weird things? What does feminine intuition really mean? How do you become an effective activist for science and reason? Are you ready for a fortnightly show that poses these questions and more?

Tune into the Token Skeptic for a slightly more skeptical look at stories in the news, urban legends, good science, pseudoscience, and what makes popular culture pop.

This show features on Science for Skeptics on the 99.1FM station in Wisconsin and on Skeptical Sundays for WPRR 1680AM Public Reality Radio in Michigan.

Kylie’s show puts a good perspective on women’s issues and topics in skepticism, though she doesn’t do this exclusively, and in her recent blog post, Atheist Books 101 With Embiggen Books, she begins,

Just had a fun chat with Warren of Embiggen Books in Melbourne – and if you’re wanting a damned great recommendation list? This is the episode to enjoy.

I recommend checking out both Kylie’s blog and Embiggen ( I love that word…It just sounds so cromulent!) Books’ site and browsing the titles available, both from well-known and less well-known authors on topics relating to atheism, secularism, and religion. I’ve bookmarked the site, and I’ll be frequenting it quite a bit in future.

I’ll also be joining the science-based book club discussed in the podcast, and I recommend it highly for the intellectually badass.

So, take a listen to Token Skeptic, or watch the occasional vodcast episode of the show, and broaden your take on what it means to be a supporter of science and reason in a world with a real need for both.

You can find the show in the social sciences category on iTunes, and at other outlets linked to on this page.

If the show is your cup of tea, feel free to email Kylie, and tell her the sorts of things you’d like to see discussed on the show in future episodes.

What’s the harm? 🙂