MonsterTalk: The Science Show About Monsters is a free audio podcast that critically examines the science behind cryptozoological (and legendary) creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or werewolves.
Here's the Latest Episode from MonsterTalk:
H.P. Lovecraft Literary Crossover! I’m joined by Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer of the incredible H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast to talk monsters of the mythos. It’s a wide-ranging wild and wacky ride. Hang on to your earbuds!
If you’re not already a subscriber to their fine product, I urge you to waste no time in fixing that!
Warning: Listener discretion is advised.
An illuminating discussion about the Russian Monk, Rasputin, by author Douglas Smith. We’ll be discussing the myths and facts about Rasputin as described in Smith’s book, Rasputin: Faith, Power and the Twilight of the Romanovs.
In MonsterTalk episode # 187, we talk about the role of the supernatural and occult in Nazi Germany. Our guest is author Dr. Eric Kurlander, author of the book Hitler’s Monsters, which chronicles the rise of the Nazis and their strange relationship with the occult including fringe theories, Border Science, astrology, homeopathy, and even Nostradamus.
In MonsterTalk episode # 186 we talk with Dr. David D. Perlmutter, dean of the College of Media & Communications at Texas Tech University in Lubbock about the ways that humans can become monsters, and the ways that humans turn other humans into monsters. We discuss war crimes both recent and ancient, serial killers, and more. We reference his book, Visions of War. This free Patreon-edit of the show is brought to you by TTU’s new STEM Leadership Communication online program.
A new UFO/Area-51 documentary by Jeremy Corbell (see Hunt for the Skinwalker mentioned in MonsterTalk Patreon Bonus Episode 001) has been very successful. Blake and Karen discuss the documentary and the legend of Bob Lazar. Some of Lazar’s personal history deals with adult topics, so I’m putting an explicit tag on this episode.
Read the episode notes
In this episode of MonsterTalk, Karen and Blake are joined by Mathew Baxter (paranormal investigator, lecturer, magician and Karen’s husband) to talk about ghost hunting gear used by amateur investigators.
What is a disease? We’re joined by science writer Mike McRae, author of Unwell: What Makes a Disease a Disease? to discuss the history of the whole concept of diseases which turn out to have a large, often hidden, social component. For US audiences, be advised that Mike’s book is not available directly in the US. You’ll need to order it through an International bookseller like Booktopia (link above).
This is Patreon Bonus content edited slightly for the regular MonsterTalk feed. (Expect more of this content thanks to the generous support of our Patrons.) This episode is a deep dive into the Skinwalker Ranch mystery and a discussion of the new documentary, Hunt for the Skinwalker. Dr. Jeb Card (Spooky Archaeology) joins me for the discussion.
In episode 182 of MonsterTalk, we are delighted to introduce Dr. Thor Hansen to listeners. For several years he’s been teaching a course at Western Washington University that uses monsters to teach science. I think you’re going to enjoy what he’s been up to — and I know some of you may want to reach out to him about similar projects or check out his course online.
Peter Bebergal studied religion and culture at Harvard Divinity School, and is the author of the new book Strange Frequencies, which chronicles many of the ways people have sought to use technology to transcend the mundane to reach the numinous. We talk about the ways people have used (and continue to use) technology in fringe research, art, entertainment, and in pursuit of revelation.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, we are joined by Christopher Klimovitz in a wide-ranging discussion of the history and monstrous folklore of the Balkans. From ghosts and vampires to fairies and Baba Yaga, this region has been fractured by war but bound together with stories.
In this episode, we go down to the billabong to look for a monster indigenous to Australian folklore and myth — but perhaps with a foot (-er flipper?) in the real world: The Bunyip. We are joined by cultural history professional Paul-Michael Donovan for a fascinating look at the legend (and a possible non-monstrous explanation) for this famous chimeric creek critter.
Bigfoot nests, the Patterson-Gimlin film, DNA testing — it’s all new to journalist and former NPR producer Laura Krantz. She’s digging into the world of Bigfoot in the popular new podcast Wild Thing, and she joins MonsterTalk to discuss what it’s like to walk into the strange world of cryptozoology as an outsider.
Our third annual cross-over event with the Archy Fantasies Podcast features our combined efforts to find movies which highlight a theme familiar to listeners - and in keeping with our respective shows’ motifs. You’ll find ghosts, mummies, curses and plagues a plenty. We hope you enjoy it.
Five years ago, three teenagers set out to investigate the local legend of their small town, The Blackwood Bugman, and the mysterious disappearances and murders connected to him over the years. But as they soon come to find out, getting too close to the truth can be very dangerous.
From the masterminds behind Hunt A Killer comes a chilling tale of secrets, monsters, and murder. Subscribe to Blackwood today at wondery.fm/monster.
Dr. Chris Harding is a lecturer on Asian History at the University of Edinburgh. He has focused on Indian and Japanese history in his academic work, and recently wrote an article about Japanese ghost stories and their context in time. He joins MonsterTalk to discuss Yurei — the ghosts of Japan.
Since 2015, Seth Breedlove has been producing documentaries about cryptozoology and the impact that a cluster of monster sightings can have on a small town. His latest film is The Bray Road Beast, and Seth joins us to discuss the peculiar aspects of the creature that some have called a werewolf, a dog-man or even a demonic entity.
This weekend (Oct 6 & 7, 2018) Darren Naish is hosting TetZoo Con #5. It’s also been 25 years since the release of Jurassic Park. To celebrate, and promote Darren’s convention, I thought it would be fun to talk dinosaurs with a paleontologist. It was.
An extended (and somewhat NSFW) version of this interview is available to Patreon supporters of any level.
An interview with archaeologist Ken Feder (see numerous other episodes including Giants and Atlantis) about the Tule River reservation Mayak Datat (“Hairy Man”) pictographs which have been called evidence for Bigfoot. Hopefully, this will be part 1 of at least a 2 part look.
Blake and Karen interview Jeffrey Reddick, a Hollywood screenwriter, producer, and director (perhaps best known for penning Final Destination) about his recent horror film Dead Awake which combines fictional elements with the real-world phenomena of sleep paralysis.
When did full moons become required in werewolf lore? Could the beast of Gevaudan have been a Hyena? Why does silver have such power in folklore? Can silver coins preserve milk? In episode 167 of MonsterTalk, Karen and Blake discuss further discoveries about werewolf lore.
Karen and Blake discuss the early history of Men in Black lore going back to some primary sources. Stories of mysterious strangers questioning and intimidating (and confounding) UFO investigators have a strange, continuously evolving history.
MonsterTalk host Blake Smith looks back at the career and impact of radio-host Art Bell who passed away on April 13, 2018 at the age of 72. Bell’s influential radio show Coast to Coast AM (still being produced today with George Noory at the microphone) was the launching pad for thousands of stories of the bizarre, the mysterious and the conspiratorial. Was he simply an entertainer? Was he harmful to the American radio listener? Some thoughts on the cultural impact of this titan of the night.
On a hot Summer day it’s nice to cool off and contemplate the hairy, horned winter monster of the Alps known as The Krampus. In MonsterTalk # 162, Blake interviews Al Ridenour, author of The Krampus and the Old Dark Christmas. Al is also the host of the folklore and pop-culture podcast Bone & Sickle.
Archaeologist and author Jeb Card joins Blake Smith to discuss his new book Spooky Archaeology. The book is about many weird, spooky topics which are tied to the field of archaeology—but this episode spends a lot of time talking about the unusual connection between H. P. Lovecraft and the discovery of King Tut’s Tomb.
Warning: Some of the language in this episode may not be suitable for children. Listener discretion is advised.
Does a giant prehistoric shark lurk deep in the waters of the ocean, surviving against all odds to surprise us by occasionally biting a giant whale in half? No. But these animals did once exist and we don’t need to pretend they’re still alive to be blown away by their stunning biological features. We talk with Dr. Craig McClain about the amazing animal we call Megalodon.
We interview Professor Neil Gemmell (@ProfGemmell) who is currently conducting eDNA research into various lake monsters of Scotland, especially Nessie and Morag. His lab at the University of Otago in New Zealand is hoping to find a lot of new information about the life within these cold, deep lakes using cutting edge techniques for gathering DNA from the waters at various depths. Neil was inspired to this research from reading MT alum Darren Naish’s book Hunting Monsters, which is now available in paperback.
Neil was inspired to this research from reading MT alum Darren Naish’s book Hunting Monsters, which is now available in paperback.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, Blake interviews screenwriter Richard Hatem about his work adapting John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies for the 2002 motion picture. This wide-ranging discussion is broken into two parts. Part two will air next week, but Patreon supporters will have early access through http://patreon.com/monstertalk.
The history of magic and science converged in the explosive life of Jack Parsons. By day he was a pioneer in the field of rocket propulsion whose work helped win WWII. By night he performed magic rituals and hoped to invoke powers which would change the world. Researcher Jerry Drake joins us to tell the astonishing story of Jack Parsons, a man whose short life seemed to intersect with some of the most intriguing figures in pop-culture, religion and science, but whose career contributions seemed on the verge of being forgotten until very recently. Parsons is the subject of a new CBS television series, based on the book Strange Angel.
Since the late 1990s people have been reporting strange incidents and injuries when touring the graveyard known as the Greyfriars Kirkyard. Some call it The Mackenzie Poltergeist, but whatever you call it it’s been the claimed cause of numerous injuries and scary stories. In this episode we interview City of the Dead tour-guide Fred Fogarty. We discuss the history of the site, some of the stories, and how one might do deeper research into this mystery. Note: Fred will be appearing at the Hawaii Paranormal Conference July 13–15, 2018.
Allison Jornlin is a paranormal researcher and host of The Otherside podcast. She’s been diligently researching the recent (2017–present) Chicago Mothman sightings as popularized on Lon Strickler’s Phantoms and Monsters website and book. You can find all of Allison’s on-site video recordings from her Mothman research on YouTube.
We’re getting our minds in the gutter this week but hopefully won’t leave you drained as we climb into the nooks and crevices of Yale University’s gargoyles and grotesques with photographer and author Mathew Duman, author of An Education in the Grotesque: The Gargoyles of Yale University.
In the new movie Rampage, a giant mutant crocodile joins up with a giant ape and a giant wolf to destroy Chicago. But this is not the first giant croc to hit the big screen. Lake Placid (1999) and Alligator (1980) are just two of the many horror films that pit giant crocodilians against puny humans. The fossil record tells us that giant crocs did once roam the earth, but are they still out there today? Join us as we talk with Dr. Paul Willis about crocodiles, alligators and the facts and myths surrounding these amazing but dangerous animals.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, we complete our discussion about Western Esotericism with John L. Crow. In this final part we talk about the life of occultist Aleister Crowley, a man some called The Wickedest Man on Earth.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, we continue our discussion about Western Esotericism with John L. Crow. In part two, we talk about the origins of Theosophy, the nature of secret and occult societies in this era, and the groundwork that led to the rise of magical orders in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Theosophy figures into the modern Western conception of Tulpas, which we discussed in episode 86, and also Slenderman.
The Winchester Mystery House is a sprawling Victorian mansion in San Jose, California. It is a famous piece of American architectural history, yet nearly every story commonly told about its mysterious history is likely untrue. In this episode of MonsterTalk, we are joined by Colin Dickey, author of the fantastic book Ghostland to discuss the case of the Winchester house and some of the other fascinating places he covers in his fascinating work.
The 19th century saw the rise of a variety of secret and secretive movements. Free Masons, Spiritualists, Theosophy and Esoteric Orders give rise to a variety of mystic-themed groups whose influence lurks under the mainstream themes of the 19th century. In this episode of MonsterTalk, we talk with religious studies scholar John Crow about the birth of these movements and how they influenced 19th (and 20th) century thought.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, we return to discussion of the Ultraterrestrial Hypothesis (UTH) and what seems to be its growing influence in paranormal circles. It’s been used to explain UFOs, mothman, bigfoot, fairies, dogman, ghosts and many other phenomena which defy scientific demonstrability. Now it crops up again in a new film event titled Alien Intrusion which turned out to be a stealth evangelical creationist film which suggests that aliens and UFOs are actually demonic. We are joined by MonsterTalk alum Joe Laycock, Natasha Mikles and Jeb Card to discuss the UTH and Jeb’s Paranormal Unified Field Theory (PUFT) as it relates to this film and the work of John Keel and others.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, we creep narratively into the swamps of South Carolina as we talk of the strange lizard man who is alleged to live in the swamps outside Bishopville. Lyle Blackburn leads our expedition as he recounts the story as told in his book Lizard Man: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster. Lyle previously joined us for episode 106: What The Fouke? The Beast of Boggy Creek.
For the Annual MonsterTalk Christmas Special, Blake Smith reads The Open Window by H. H. Munro (Saki).
In this episode of MonsterTalk, we welcome back alum Don Prothero (Episode 22, Episode 43, Episode 68) and first time guest Timothy Callahan to discuss their new book: UFOs, Chemtrails, and Aliens: What Science Says. From an introduction to the scientific method, to the often overlooked explanations behind many undying legends of the UFO field, the two authors dive deep into the conspiracies, misconceptions, hoaxes and religions that have emerged from the field of UFOlogy.
MonsterTalk continues its series on Magic with Part II of its coverage of Grimoires. We continue our interview with researcher Jerry Drake, and focus on the view of magic books in various magical traditions of Western Europe.
In this episode MonsterTalk continues its special series on Magic as it examines the history of Grimoires in Western culture. State Department Archivist Jerry Drake, PhD, discusses the history of magic books, magic writing and how it fits into the history of science. This is the first of a two-part interview.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, we interview cryptozoology enthusiast Colin Schneider, a young and enthusiastic researcher of Fortean and paranormal topics about his research into animal exsanguination. It’s a fun discussion of the field of cryptozoology, the disturbing topic of animal mutilation and the work done by the British organization, the Center for Fortean Zoology.
Happy Halloween! In this special bonus episode (no charge for our Patreon supporters) we join the Archeology Fantasies podcast crew (Sarah Head, Jeb Card and Ken Feder) to talk about “Haunted Objects” and a variety of other spooky topics. Warning: The language in this episode is uncensored, there are way too many puns, and alcohol was consumed during the recording. You’ve been warned.
Just in time for Halloween, we begin our multi-episode coverage of "magic" by taking a look at the witch in Western European culture with the editor of The Skeptic, Deborah Hyde (@Jourdemayne). In a wide-ranging conversation we talk about the alleged powers of witches, the difference between the more benign figure of the Cunning Woman and the culturally monstrous figure of the witch as viewed during Witch Crazes and Witch Hunts.
Our final part of our three-part look at the Kentucky Goblins case of 1955 concludes with an interview with the hosts of Astonishing Legends, Scott Philbrook and Forrest Burgess. We discuss the facts of the case, possible explanations, and the problems with the Wikipedia entry and the scholarly journal article cited within it. This episode’s topic is also discussed in a blog post by Blake Smith: Astonishing Legends, Questionable Facts.
In this episode of MonsterTalk — The Science Show About Monsters, we continue our examination of the case of the Kentucky Goblins. Blake is joined by CSI investigator Joe Nickell to discuss the details of the Kelly-Hopkinsville case and what real world creature Joe thinks best accounts for the mysterious events on that Kentucky farm back in 1955.
In August of 1955, a farm family in Kentucky found their home under attack by strange goblin-like monsters. In the years since the attack, the case has retained a perplexing endurance. What happened that night in Kentucky? Were aliens to blame? Underworld monsters? Misidentified natural causes? This is part one of our discussion of what has become known as The Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, Karen and Blake discuss MonsterTalk’s presence at Dragon*Con and CryptidCon 2017. Blake got to travel to Kentucky for the inaugural cryptid-themed convention and had many interesting interactions with monster fans from across the country.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, we take a look at the convergence of science and monsters, as Blake Smith prepares to talk at 2017’s CryptidCon in Frankfort, Kentucky. What does science have to tell us about monsters?
Australia is home to monsters both real and legendary. In a country where a tiny octopus is toxic enough to kill 20 adults, where huge spiders can catch birds and eat them, where people are so tough that they voluntarily eat Vegemite, what kind of creature could be the apex monster? Not the bunyip. Not the yowie. Keep looking up in the trees; it’s time to face the dropbears!
Author Scott Poole (previously with us for Vampira and Monsters in America) joins us to talk about his new biography on American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, In The Mountains of Madness: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of H.P. Lovecraft. What is it about the writing of this peculiar and complicated writer from New England that has cast such an oversized shadow over American literature?
What’s in a name? More than you might imagine, if you’re a scientist trying to officially name a new species. In this episode of MonsterTalk, we talk to Ichthyologist Ben Frable about the process (and many challenges) of scientifically identifying and naming new species.
From ancient Greece to modern movies, monsters and villains often get their assistance from mindless mobs of maleficent minions. Are they simply plot devices, or do minions tell us something about the real-world role of the follower when loyal obedience is valued more than heroic ethics? In this episode of Monstertalk, David Perlumtter and Cait Mongrain join us to discuss Minions, Mobs and Myrmidons.
In this episode, MonsterTalk welcomes back notable skeptic, scientist, researcher and author (and now Podcaster) Sharon Hill. Sharon’s got a new podcast (15 Credibility Street), new science blog (Spooky Geology), and a book coming out later this year. In this discussion we talk about skepticism, science communication and the mysterious phenomena known as The Stone Tape theory of repetitive hauntings.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, we are joined by folklorist and author Mark Norman to discuss legends of black hounds. Mark is the author of Black Dog Folklore as well as the host of The Folklore Podcast. This is a special cross-over episode with The Folklore Podcast and contains a slightly different edit of the interview audio. Discussion ranges from the legends of dark hounds in European folklore, to the nature of the academic study of folklore.
This MonsterTalk is another special literary/pop-culture episode as we take on the biggest topic in monsters: Giant City-Destroying Kaiju! Guests are Ed Godziszewski author of Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa (Oct 2017) and Michael Keller, co-author (with Edward Holland) of the magazine Monster Attack Team and the upcoming podcast Area 42.
In this episode of MonsterTalk we present an interview with Guy Lyon Playfair, one of the original investigators into perhaps the most famous British poltergeist case in modern times.
In this MonsterTalk, we’re pleased to bring you an interview with psychologist Ray Hyman, a long time skeptical activist and educator, a founding member of CSICOP (now CSI) and one of the key investigators into the US government’s program to develop psychic soldiers. Some of this story was revealed in Jon Ronson’s The Men Who Stare at Goats, but in this interview you’ll hear Ray’s personal recollections about magic, skepticism and the mysterious claims of a famous psychic named Uri Geller.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, we continue with Part 2 of our coverage of Zecharia Sitchin and “Planet-X” aka “Nibiru” by talking with astronomer Stuart Robbins, host of the Exposing PseudoAstronomy pocast. We discuss rogue planets, exo-planets, and the curious history of “Planet-X” apocalypse stories.
Blake Smith reads a story titled The Thing in the Cellar as 2016’s annual Christmas special. MonsterTalk will return to normal science and skepticism episodes in 2017. This story was first published in Weird Tales magazine issue #360 and is read by the author.
Ancient Aliens theorists seem to love the work of Zecharia Sitchin (The 12th Planet). Sitchin proposed that mysterious space beings called Anunnaki visited earth to steal our gold, and passed on their wisdom to the ancient people of Sumer. In this first of a 2-part look at Sitchin’s impact on Ancient Astronaut lore, we talk with Dr. Michael Heiser about the plausibility of Sitchin’s views from an evaluation of the ancient texts Sitchin purports to have used for his source material.
What do you get when you combine a love for statistics, a love for biological maritime mysteries and a relentless curiosity? Dr. Charles Paxton has applied biology and math work to produce several papers on the mysterious creatures called “sea monsters.” In this episode of MonsterTalk, we discuss sea monsters, math and naughty ostriches.
In this week’s episode of MonsterTalk, Eugenie Scott, Brian Regal, and Daniel Loxton join Karen Stollznow and Blake Smith to discuss The Yeti. This episode was our first-ever dedicated Yeti talk, as well as our first-ever live streamed show, which aired on YouTube on Sunday, October 23, 2016 at 8 pm EST.
A special for the Halloween Season, Robert Price returns to MonsterTalk to give us a raw dripping sample of his podcast The Lovecraft Geek, a kind of secular version of his popular The Bible Geek podcast. Questions from listeners are tossed down into the well of Price’s vast knowledge to see what answers echo back up to drive us mad. Check out our episode notes for lots of links to Lovecraft-inspired books and movies.
Sunday, October 23, 2016 at 8 pm EST
Join us for our first ever MonsterTalk live streaming event. Scheduled guests Eugenie Scott, Brian Regal, Daniel Loxton will join Karen and me to discuss The Yeti. So this will be our first dedicated Yeti talk, and our first live streaming show. I hope you can join us.
How do you attend? A link to the show is pinned at our Facebook page, and will be on our website at monstertalk.org. There’s also this short link that is (hopefully) easy to remember: http://bit.ly/monstertalklive2016
We’ll make the audio of that available in the podcast feed, and the resulting video should be posted to YouTube if it all works according to plan.
In this week’s episode of MonsterTalk, we talk about demonic or evil dolls, and look into the history of one of America’s most famous creepy playthings: Robert the Doll. Our interview is with Dr. Cori Convertito, Curator of the Key West Art and Historical Society, which oversees the Fort East Martello Museum, home of Robert the Doll.
Ken Feder returns to talk about his new book Ancient America: Fifty Archaeological Sites to See for Yourself, which is available for pre-order now on Amazon. Discussion in this episode centers around the failings of science coverage in the media, the latest on the famous Piltdown Man hoax, and why everyone needs to visit historical archaeological sites when they can.
We are joined by Heather Joseph-Witham, Associate Professor in the Liberal Arts and Sciences Department at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. She has a PhD in Folklore and Mythology from UCLA. In this episode, we talk about folklore as an academic field, urban legends, the nature of culture and story, and much more…
In this episode of MonsterTalk, Karen and Blake thank listeners for their amazing support, and discuss upcoming episodes in the works.
MonsterTalk explores the life of author and research Montague Summers, a researcher of dogged determination whose own life is shrouded in mystery and occluded by the theatrical. Brian Regal discusses his research into this fascinating and controversial figure of occult studies.
James “The Amazing” Randi joins us to discuss his work on the Long John Nebel “Party Line,” a late-night AM radio show from New York’s WOR that defined the paranormal-themed chat show and was a precursor to shows like those of Art Bell, George Noory and Dave Schrader. This episode features clips from the Long John Nebel show and from Randi’s tenure after he took over Nebel’s slot.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, we talk with Deborah Hyde, editor of the British magazine The Skeptic. Deborah is deeply interested in folklore, anthropology, monsters and skepticism. Our conversation covers a variety of topics including vampires, werewolves, ghosts and movies. Follow Deborah on Twitter @jourdemayne.
Rob Brotherton is the author of Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories. Rob has a doctorate in the psychology of conspiracy theories, and taught classes at the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths. He joins us in this episode to discuss the psychology of conspiracies.
Lyle Blackburn is a musician, actor, and cryptid researcher who explores the US in search of creatures in swamplands and backwoods. He is the author of The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster and Lizard Man: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster. Lyle is a staff writer for the horror magazine Rue Morgue, he has been featured on Coast to Coast AM, and on numerous TV shows on Discovery, Animal Planet and more. Lyle joins us to discuss the history and impact of “the Boggy Creek Monster” on the small town of Fouke, Arkansas.
Eugenie Scott is an anthropologist but is probably most well known for her work fighting against Creationism in the American public education system as director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Perhaps less well-known is the fact that she’s long been interested in Bigfoot. In this episode of MonsterTalk we discuss Bigfoot, science promotion, and the usefulness of thinking about monsters in honing critical thinking skills.
Have you learned most of your UFO stories from The History Channel and motion pictures? Chances are these glossy presentations of aliens and mysterious craft have hidden from you some of the shocking and silly history of this fascinating field. Join us as we interview UFO researcher Robert Sheaffer about Bad UFOs.
Tales of enormous snakes have been a part of folklore for thousands of years. From myths to legends, to eyewitness testimony and photographs, these stories slither through our culture and seem inescapable. Prepare to recoil in horror as we talk about giant snakes with John C. Murphy, co-author of the fascinating book Tales of Giant Snakes. Do giant man-eating snakes lurk out there waiting to swallow the unwary? The answer is more complicated than you might suspect.
What is a Skeptic anyway? Are they just naysayers? Are they cynics? Do they just automatically say “that’s not real” to anything exciting and mysterious? Find out the true meaning of Skepticism in this MonsterTalk special episode — Skepticism 101, featuring Dr. Steven Novella.
Dr. Steven Novella is a clinical neurologist and assistant professor at Yale University School of Medicine. He is a prominent figure in the Skeptic community, he is the host of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, and he is actively involved in the promotion of Science Based Medicine. Steve joins us to talk about the basics of Skepticism we’re calling Skepticism 101.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, paleontologist Dr. Darren Naish (@TetZoo) returns to discuss his newest book, an overview of the field of cryptozoology, titled Hunting Monsters: Cryptozoology and the Reality Behind the Myths.
In the 100th episode of MonsterTalk: The Science Show About Monsters, DNA researcher and author Bryan Sykes discusses the research behind his landmark book The Nature of the Beast: The First Genetic Evidence on the Survival of Apemen, Yeti, Bigfoot and Other Mysterious Creatures into Modern Times; plus, thoughts and reflections on 100 episodes of MonsterTalk, including hearing from many listeners about their own favorite monsters…
There are legends from around the world of a creature that comes to you at night and sits on your chest, sucking away your life force. The incubus, the succubus, the old hag — people really report these experiences, but how does science explain it? Dr. Brian Sharpless, co-author of the new book Sleep Paralysis: Historical, Psychological and Medical Perspectives, joins us to discuss the terrifying phenomenon.
You’ve heard the legend of Atlantis. But have you ever heard the facts behind the legend? Dr. Kenny Feder returns to talk about the true story of Atlantis and it isn’t what most people think.
Is the world secretly being controlled by a dark, shadowy cabal? Are many of the world’s leaders actually blood-drinking, child-abusing lizard people? No, they aren’t. But in this episode of MonsterTalk we talk with Jon Ronson about his experiences with conspiracy theorist David Icke.
Why do we fear? What is fear? The Ressler Lab is located in the Yerkes Primate Research Center in Atlanta, and the studies they’re conducting seek to understand fear at the cellular, molecular and neural-circuitry level of granularity. Dr. Kerry Ressler, head of the lab, joins us to talk about that research and the neurological basis of fear.
The late 1970s and 1980s saw the rise of a new kind of game. Dungeons & Dragons and its many competitors captivated many high-school and college students, but many parents and authority figures feared that these new games were a gateway to Satanic ritual and perhaps even murder. Author Joseph Laycock returns to discuss his new book: Dangerous Games.
One of the most common fears in the world is the fear of spiders. But what does a rationalist do when gripped by an irrational fear? MonsterTalk interviews author Lynne Kelly about her transition from arachnophobia to spider enthusiast. Note: This episode deals with spider sexual reproduction which includes masturbation and cannibalism.
Blake Smith reads aloud An Inhabitant of Carcosa, a story by Ambrose Bierce. The story itself is brief, but its impact on American horror literature is still being felt today.
We’ve all seen the vampires of cinema and pop culture. Caped aristocrats, sparkling teens, monstrous revenants—which of these best corresponds to the real legends of vampires? Richard Sugg returns to talk about his fascinating research into historic vampire cases. He’s uncovered a recurring relationship between outbreaks of vampirism and poltergeist activity, which will be the subject of his next book.
Can a domesticated cat be a monster? What if it can talk, fly, predict the future and grow to enormous size? Get ready for some of the strangest lore we’ve ever covered on MonsterTalk as we interview art historian Dr. Paul Koudounaris about demonically possessed cats.
When the robots take over, will we all be forced to speak bocce? Author and robotics engineer Daniel H. Wilson visits MonsterTalk to discuss the nature of robots and the risk of a robot apocalypse. Steven Spielberg has purchased the rights to produce a film version of his New York Times bestseller, Robopocalypse.
Was an African lion wandering the streets of Los Angeles? The case of the Norwalk Lion is solved beyond reasonable doubt—yet why do questions linger?
They say Slenderman was created for a contest on a website. But the thin, faceless character has gone viral appearing in numerous art, stories, videos and even games. Some claim that all that combined focus has turned him real — a process known by ancient Tibetan Buddhists as forming a Tulpa. In this episode of MonsterTalk, Blake Smith interviews professor of religious studies Joe Laycock and doctoral student of Tibetan studies Natalia Mikels to discover the truth about Tulpas.
Since the creation of Slenderman the character has “gone viral” and spun off numerous art and fiction stories. And some fans of the Slenderman believe that he is real — either existing already from time immemorial, or that he exists now, brought to life by the combined belief of millions of humans in the form of a living creature known as a Tulpa.
What causes a person to be possessed? Are there demons? Is it mental illness? Is it abnormal neurology? Does exorcism work? in this episode of MonsterTalk, paranormal researcher psychologist Dr. Chris French joins us to discuss the psychology of demonic possession and exorcisms.
The 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty television contest is over and we’re going to talk to the science advisers for the show to see how they felt about the outcome. Did science win the day? Did editing take away the good take-aways? Will Justin Smeja be getting in trouble for hunting feral humans? Check it out in this episode of MonsterTalk!
Unwrap the secrets of the Mummy's tomb as we talk to "Mr. Mummy" Dr. Bob Brier about the history of mummies and the world's fascination with Egyptology. And then, we discuss the strange history of mummies as medicine with Dr. Richard Sugg. Join as we learn about The Cures of the Mummy's Tomb!
THE MONGOLIAN DEATH WORM—its name conjures up images of fantastic beasts like the sand worms in Dune or the creatures from the film Tremors, but the actual legends are even stranger. We discuss the legends and facts behind this cryptid with the official zoologist for the Center for Fortean Zoology, Richard Freeman.
Did it take a silver bullet to kill the beast of Gévaudan? Is that where Curt Siodmak got the idea for his film The Wolfman? Host Blake Smith reveals his findings from more than two years of werewolf research. This episode is the first to go live with a complete transcript and lengthy bibliography.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, Blake and Karen talk about how skeptics evaluate the Gary Indiana Demon case.
Sharon Hill (Doubtful News) joins us to discuss the recent history of Bigfoot bodies. From bigfoot steaks to Russian slavers, it’s time to catch up on some sasquatch news.
If Bigfoot is real, would a $10,000,000 bounty be enough to bring the beast down? That’s the premise of a new show on Spike TV. In this episode, MonsterTalk interviews two of the scientists who are working on the show to find out if this is a serious search for Bigfoot, or just folks out in the woods raising cane.
Blake Smith reads aloud the M. R. James classic story Casting the Runes. This macabre tale was the basis for the 1957 film, Curse of the Demon. (MonsterTalk theme music by Peach Stealing Monkeys.)
Darin Naish returns to MonsterTalk to discuss his latest book, Cryptozoologicon: Volume I. From the well known to the very obscure, this book takes three looks at monsters. It critically examines them, but also speculates on what they might be like if they were real — combined with fantastic illustrations by science illustrators John Conway and C. M. Koseman.
MonsterTalk welcomes back Bible scholar Robert M. Price to discuss the biggest and most well known villain in Western culture: Satan. Who is this character and how has he changed over the history of Judeo/Christian religions? From servant of God to dark villain, we track the evolution of the Devil.
“I know what I saw.” So say many witnesses to the bizarre and unusual—and even the mundane. But do you really know what you saw? In this special episode of MonsterTalk, memory expert Elizabeth Loftus and psychologist Richard Wiseman explain how perilous and frail are the tools and materials we use to build our fortresses of certitude.
Was the story of The Conjuring the true story of how Ed and Lorraine Warren fought demonic forces in Rhode Island? In this special episode of MonsterTalk, we hear a different side to the story of America’s first family of ghost hunting. Features interviews with investigators Joe Nickell and Steven Novella.
Kean University History Professor, Brian Regal, has tracked the Jersey Devil back to its astonishing historical roots. Religious in-fighting, self-publishing, snarky founding fathers, sorcery and political intrigue make the idea of a flying horse-faced monster almost seem tame.
Medieval Art expert Asa Mittman discusses his love of monsters, the kinds of monsters that populate medieval land maps, and the persistent practice of monsterization as a cultural method for labeling “out-groups” in human interaction.
Join us for a fascinating look at the mysterious sea monsters that decorated medieval maps. We talk with Chet Van Duzer about his recent book Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps, which brings to light the remarkable sources behind the strange looking creatures which populate the seas of these beautiful old documents. Chet Van Duzer is a writer and researcher and is currently an Invited Research Scholar at the John Carter Brown Library in Rhode Island. He has published extensively on medieval maps.
MonsterTalk returns from its break with guests Donald Prothero and Daniel Loxton who introduce their long-awaited book Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids.
The Tetrapod Zoology Podcast Super Cross-Over Tetrapodcats (sic erat scriptum)
MonsterTalk host Blake Smith teams up with paleontologist Darren Naish and artist John Conway to introduce MonsterTalk listeners to this entertaining and educational podcast known as “The Tetrapod Zoology Podcast.” Topics include cryptozoology, pterosaur controversy, whale penis commentary and a scientist’s take on the film Cloverfield.
In this special episode of MonsterTalk, we take a brief break from our break to bring you breaking news about Ben Radford’s monstrous new project Undead Apocalypse—a board game featuring zombies, vampires and other horrors. The interview features artist Jeff Zornow, whose drawings were used to design the miniatures for this kickstarter project.
On the Isle of Man, between the World Wars, a lonely hilltop was home to a family of hardscrabble farmers. The father was a former piano salesman, and he struggled to make ends meet for his wife and daughter in their windswept cottage. And then one day, from up in the attic and behind the walls they began to hear the whispers of a mongoose-like creature who called itself Gef.
What if your will were not your own? What if your mind were being controlled by something other than your own volition? This isn’t an imaginary scenario. Real lifeforms here on earth can profoundly influence the behavior of other lifeforms, turning them into helpless zombies, forced to do the bidding of their emotionless masters. In this episode of MonsterTalk, we interview entomologist David Hughes about host behavior modification by parasitic organisms.
The shores of the lake were packed with strangers looking to catch a glimpse of the beast. A $50,000 reward was issued for its capture. Newspapers around the world carried the story of the strange creature that was said to lurk beneath these waters. Loch Ness? No—this is 1880s Vermont and the monster is alleged to be living in Lake Champlain. in this episode of MonsterTalk, Robert E. Bartholomew joins us to discuss his latest book, The Untold Story of Champ: A Social History of America’s Loch Ness Monster.
Some people have a fear of bugs and creepy crawlies. Kristie Reddick and Jessica Honaker—collectively known as The Bug Chicks—work to fight myths about these fascinating creatures and to promote science and wonder. In this episode of MonsterTalk, we discuss giant spiders, common misconceptions and the entomologists’ experience on the TV show MonsterQuest.
London of the 1830s was terrorized by an astonishing figure—a caped man with long sharp metallic claws who spouted blue fire from his mouth and leaped over rooftops. Surely such a creature could be no more than myth, right? Or was there a mysterious aristocrat playing tricks on the working class? In this week’s episode of MonsterTalk, we talk with historian Mike Dash about the legendary figure known as Spring Heeled Jack.
According to legend, in the early 1800s the farm of John Bell of Tennessee was terrorized by a supernatural assailant who came to be known as The Bell Witch. MonsterTalk hosts Blake Smith, Ben Radford and Dr. Karen Stollznow discuss the case, following a visit to the site of the haunting by Ben and Blake.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, your hosts interview Dr. Todd Disotell on the recent press release regarding Melba Ketchum’s Sasquatch DNA research. Disotell returns for the second time since his visit on the very first episode of MonsterTalk with news about Spike TV’s new Bigfoot show, Bigfoot DNA, science by press-release, and lots of other goodies.
There are those who believe the Earth is only about 6000 years old. They believe that the evidence for this is all in the Bible, but as we’ve discussed on MonsterTalk before, they still seek confirmatory evidence from other works. So it was only a matter of time before someone suggested that the epic poem Beowulf helps prove that (a) the earth is indeed very, very young and (b) that the monsters in the poem Beowulf were dinosaurs. Hard to believe? Tune in as we talk to skeptic and Humanities researcher Eve Siebert about the most surprising interpretation of this classic story you’re likely to hear.
This week on MonsterTalk, we interview Matt Alt and Hiroko Yoda, authors of Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide, a book which details many folkloric monsters of Japan. From the slash-mouthed woman to a giant disgusting foot—these creatures have inspired fear and wonder in Japan and influenced books, movies and video-games.
For thousands of years, people who made their living by working the sea have reported creatures that appeared to be half-human and half-fish. Some of these stories are legends and fairy tales, but more recent sightings are reported as real animals. Confounding things even more are mummified mermaids brought to Europe from sailors coming back from Asia. A recent Animal Planet “documentary” claimed that mermaids are real and the US government is hiding the truth. This week on MonsterTalk, we interview museum curator (and mermaid-model expert) Paolo Viscardi.
For decades, legends of a giant sexually-assaulting bat-creature have trickled out of Zanzibar. In this episode of MonsterTalk we interview Ben Radford about his investigation of the creature and the role that the monster called Popabawa has played in culture and politics in the United States.
The hosts of MonsterTalk interview Sharon Hill, creator of the website Doubtful News. The discussion includes updates on the latest in monster news trends, as well as information about The Amaz!ng Meeting—the James Randi Educational Foundation’s annual meeting of skeptical scientists, researchers, artists, performers, teachers and other rational-minded folk in Las Vegas, Nevada. Also in this episode, Brian Thompson of the JREF stops by to discuss TAM 2012.
Remorseless killers are the stuff of countless films. Sadly, the real world has even more of them. Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, H. H. Holmes, John Wayne Gacy—these remorseless psychopaths filled graveyards with corpses and sleeping minds with nightmares. But these aren’t monsters—they’re real people who have a brain that developed differently than most peoples. Author Jon Ronson joins us on this episode of MonsterTalk to discuss the condition of psychopathy—and to share with us his journey into the world of these dangerous people.
In modern science the homunculus refers to various models of the human mind, but in medieval times it was something quite different. Join us for a fascinating interview with professor William R. Newman, of Indiana University’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science. He is the author of seven books, including Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature—a book which provides much insight into the seedy back-story of this strange creature.
This episode contains adult material and may be unsuitable for junior skeptics.
Join the hosts of MonsterTalk for an interview with Daniel Nettheim, director of a new film about a man hunting for thylacines. The Hunter stars Willem Dafoe as the eponymous character tasked with seeking out the last living thylacine in the wild. Also, Scott Sigler calls in to discuss his newest monster book, Nocturnal.
In the forests of Pennsylvania, on a dark September night, a trail-cam took a series of controversial pictures. The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) still claims they show a juvenile Bigfoot. Skeptics claim the photos show a bear. Join the hosts of MonsterTalk as they discuss Bigfoot photos, fair-use and the economics of unusual photos.
Episode 50 of MonsterTalk takes us to a small English village in the 1570s where a morning church service is interrupted by a horrific storm which heralds, perhaps, the appearance of Satan himself in the form of a huge black hound. Join us as we talk with David Waldron (author of Shock! The Black Dog of Bungay) as he helps us discover the facts behind this creepy tale—a tale which influences paranormal literature even today.
Did you see that popular Internet video that allegedly showed a mammoth crossing a river in Siberia? You probably figured it was a hoax—and we did too—but we decided to get to the bottom of the matter. Join us as we discuss the methods and motives for Internet hoax videos. This episode also includes interviews with documentary film maker Ludovic Petho and Alan Melikdjanian (aka Captain Disillusion). Was there really something fishy about that video? Listen to see if you can bear the truth!
This week on MonsterTalk, the hosts talk with the author of Monsters In America, Dr. Scott Poole. His book chronicles the history of monsters from colonial America to modern times—and tries to tackle the issue of meaning in a world where monsters are “meaning machines.” Content Advisory: The content in this episode is rated is PG13. Be sure to read the episode notes to see the winners of the MonsterTalk t-shirt design contest and see the three winning designs.
In this episode of MonsterTalk, two skeptics interview a witch about how to battle evil with magic. Emily Carlin is a magical instructor at The Grey School—an online magical university and the author of Defense Against the Dark: A Field Guide to Protecting Yourself from Predatory Spirits, Energy Vampires and Malevolent Magic. Is magic the best defense against evil monsters? Or is skepticism? Pull up a chair and sit a spell to find out.
By popular demand, we take a brief aside into fantasy to talk with one the more sinister figures associated with the Winter Holidays: The Krampus. Then we get a bit more serious as we welcome one of the co-hosts of the popular podcast The Bigfoot Show, documentarian and comedian, Scott Herriott. Scott has made several films about walking the Pacific Coast Trail and about his personal quest to find Bigfoot—and the people he’s met in that search. This MonsterTalk interview includes a detailed recounting of his own brush with what he believes may have been a Sasquatch.
If you think Genies are funny like in Aladdin, or sexy like in I Dream of Jeannie get ready to have your assumptions challenged. In the Middle East, Jinn aren’t whimsical characters of fantasy. They are considered to be frightening, real entities that haunt desolate places and can perform terrible magic. In this episode of MonsterTalk we interview author Robert Lebling about his book Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar. If you miss this episode you’ll wish you hadn’t!
WHILE AT TAM9, the hosts of MonsterTalk sat down to talk with psychologist Richard Wiseman about his new book Paranormality: Why we see what isn’t there. It was supposed to be a chat about the paranormal, ghosts and Wiseman’s findings. But a conversation with Richard Wiseman is rarely so simple as that.
From The Lost World to Alley Oop to The Flintstones, the idea of dinosaurs and humans living together has captured the imagination of readers across the globe. But there are some who believe that this idea isn’t fictional. Is there a population of sauropod dinosaurs living in Africa in modern times?
In this episode of MonsterTalk, we interview paleontologist Dr. Donald Prothero at TAM9 about his research into the creature known as Mokele Mbembe! Cryptozoology, paleontology and creationism converge in the jungles of the Congo.
On November 8, 2005 Canadian geological engineering student Kenton Carnegie went for a walk. He told people that he’d be back by 5 pm. When he hadn’t returned by 7 pm, a search party went out and discovered his remains in the woods. In this episode of Monstertalk (a follow-up to last week’s), we interview professor Valerius Geist about the true cause of Kenton Carnegie’s death. Some people thought he was killed by a bear, but more likely he was killed by a myth.
CHANCES ARE IF YOU LISTEN to MonsterTalk you probably like nature documentaries. No doubt you’ve seen stories about wolves and heard words to the effect that wolves are often maligned and that wolves have an undeserved reputation for being killers. Yet how does one reconcile the idea that dangerous wolves are a myth with the many myths and fairy tales which feature wolves as the villain? In this episode of MonsterTalk we take on the legend of the big, bad wolf and what we find may surprise you.
This episode features an interview with author Jay M. Smith, about his book Monsters of the Gévaudan: The Making of a Beast.
IN THIS EPISODE of MonsterTalk we discuss Ghouls and their real world counterpart: cannibals. The hosts are joined by Carole A. Travis-Henikoff, author of Dinner With A Cannibal: The Complete History of Mankind’s Oldest Taboo. This episode also features guest MonsterTalker Adam Levenstein, a long-time friend of the show whose background combines anthropology and skepticism.
The 2009 film The Haunting in Connecticut is purported to be based on true events. Similarly, there was the 2002 documentary A Haunting in Connecticut (which aired on The Discovery Channel and helped spawn the series A Haunting). These true events have been compiled by author Ray Garton into his book In A Dark Place: The Story of a True Haunting. The shocking tale contains adult elements of a graphic nature, and if true, described a terrifying case of a demonic and ghostly attack on a family. But Garton now says that the allegedly true events weren’t quite what they seemed.
Did ancient humans gain their technological achievements through the assistance of creatures from other planets? This week on MonsterTalk, Dr. Feder, an archaeology professor who has taught a course on the topic, shares his thoughts. Feder is the author of Frauds, Myths and Mysteries—a book with more good scientific content on the cover than most TV shows have in an entire season.
There are very few people who make their living hunting monsters. For most of us who investigate such mysteries, it is a labor of love. Today on MonsterTalk we get to talk with one of our listeners about her investigation into a lake monster. In her investigation she went where few would dare to tread. Join us as we talk with amateur investigator Hayley Stevens about her dive into lake monster mysteries.
Is cryptozoology science or pseudoscience? Do scientists ever really study cryptozoology, or merely ignore the field entirely? This week we dig into the history of Cryptozoology itself—focusing on the search for America’s most famous cryptid: Sasquatch. This week on MonsterTalk, we’re joined by Dr. Brian Regal to talk about his latest book, Searching For Sasquatch: Crackpots, Eggheads and Cryptozoology.
Renowned investigator Joe Nickell returns to MonsterTalk to discuss his latest book Tracking the Man-beasts: Sasquatch, Vampires, Zombies, and More—a survey of a human-like monsters that runs the gamut from Almas to Zombie. The book covers scores of monsters from legend and lore, and many entries include insights from Joe’s personal investigations.
Plenty of people have hypothesized about being able to bring back an extinct animal, but (so far as the MonsterTalk team knows) the only person who has successfully brought an extinct animal’s gene back to be able to express itself in a living organism is Dr. Andrew Pask and his team of genetics experts. Tasmania’s marsupial tiger, the Thylacine, appears to be extinct. But today MonsterTalk interviews Dr. Pask about his experiments, the best chances of resurrecting dead species, and what makes the Thylacine so interesting to evolutionary science.
In the year 2000 startling claims of a body cast of a Bigfoot emerged from the deep woods of Washington State. More than a decade later, MonsterTalk interviews Bigfoot researcher Daniel Perez about the facts behind this contentious artifact — which some still claim to be one of the best pieces of evidence for the existence of Bigfoot.
Exclusive for MonsterTalk listeners, an audio preview from Ben Radford’s latest book Tracking the Chupacabra. This 32 minute selection contains material from the opening of this new book, which provides the solution to the mysterious bloodsucking beast known as El Chupacabra. Read by the author, you’ll get a taste of the book — which is now available for order at radfordbooks.com and chupacabramystery.com. We hope you enjoy this free sample. Please feel free to share it with your friends.
This week the hosts of MonsterTalk take on the mysterious, mystical, legendary menace of the ninja! Should ninjas be considered monsters? They come out at night, have mysterious powers and use fear and lethality to wreak havoc. But to be sure, we Ask a Ninja. Also, we interview Matt Alt, co-author (with Hiroko Yoda) of Ninja Attack: True Tales of Assassins, Samurai and Outlaws.
IN THIS EPISODE, the MonsterTalk crew interviews Dr. Tony Russell, a professor at the University of Calgary who studies evolutionary and functional morphology in geckos. Dr. Russell’s work includes ethnobiology — the utilization of folklore to guide his research. He discuss the uses and limitations of this mode of research, as well as the remarkable features of the lizards that he studies.
Author Christopher Dell has collected an astonishing array of art from around the world depicting many obscure and mysterious creatures in his new book Monsters: A Bestiary of Devils, Demons, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Magical Creatures.
Christopher Dell joins the MonsterTalk crew to discuss why humans are so fascinated by these bizarre entities.
Late in the 1960s, in the era which gave us the famous Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film, fairgoers in Minnesota were confronted with a marvel: a hairy, primitive-looking humanoid frozen in a block of ice. Was it an anthropological relic? Was it a sasquatch?
As investigators from the Smithsonian Institute and cryptozoological researchers studied the frozen creature, they came to very different conclusions as to what it represented. The MonsterTalk hosts interview Bigfoot researcher and former side-show performer Matt Crowley — and try to crack the case of The Minnesota Iceman.
This week on MonsterTalk, author Stephen Asma (Professor of Philosophy at Columbia College Chicago) speaks about his comprehensive book surveying Western monster-lore.
Is humankind’s fascination with monsters broader than any single cause? Asma’s On Monsters examines hundreds of legends — and their cultural, psychological and social implications.
In the pantheon of American monsters, only one truly dominated the newspapers of the 1990s. Checkout lines everywhere were haunted by the bald-headed, wide-mawed visage of Bat Boy.
What was Bat Boy, and where did he come from? The MonsterTalk team interviews cartoonist Tye Bourdony, a former employee of the Weekly World News. Bourdony shares his insights about Bat Boy and the rise and fall of the famous tabloid paper.
THIS WEEK’S EPISODE was recorded before a live studio audience at Dragon*Con’s Skeptrack 2010 (in Atlanta, Georgia).
MonsterTalk hosts Ben Radford and Blake Smith bravely faced the horror of live questions from listeners — including Australian skeptical activist Dr. Rachael Dunlop, Skeptoid’s Brian Dunning, and others!
MonsterTalk frequently explores tales of imaginary monsters — creatures of myth, fiction, and folklore.
Today, the hosts consider a real creature, one that preys on humans and their closest animal companions. It is often invisible. It drinks blood to survive. And, it is responsible for many of the sightings of the dreaded chupacabra.
Podcast audiences may cringe and recoil in horror to learn the true facts of the creature known as — Sarcoptes scabiei!
This week, MonsterTalk continues its discussion of the intersection between science and cryptozoology. The hosts interview Dr. Donald Prothero and Daniel Loxton, who are working on a book that will give a deep overview of the field of cryptozoology and how it intersects with actual science. This interview was recorded at The Amaz!ng Meeting 8 in Las Vegas.
What is cryptozoology? Is it science? Is it folklore? Does it make predictions?
In part 1 of a 2-part series, MonsterTalk examines cryptozoology as a field, including speculation on the cryptids most likely to turn out to be real. Guest Dr. Darren Naish, paleontologist and science blogger, makes some surprising statements about the field, its role in science and culture, and the intersection of amateur and professional science.
In 1984, objects began to fly around the room in the presence of a Columbus Ohio teen named Tina Resch. The local paper claimed this was a poltergeist attack, and published photos to prove it.
Tina’s story caught the attention of a young organization called the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal [CSICOP, now Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI)] and its chief investigator, James “The Amazing” Randi. In this episode, Randi tells the MonsterTalk hosts about the outcome of this case — and shares his personal views about the unfortunate impact it may have had on Tina’s life.
In this special literary edition, MonsterTalk ventures into a dark domain that can be confidently called fiction: the monstrous, genre-defining oeuvre of horror writer Howard Philips Lovecraft. Joined by noted Lovecraft scholar Robert M. Price and biologist PZ Myers, the MonsterTalk hosts discuss Lovecraft’s life and works, and dare to confront his most famous creation: the vast alien monstrosity Cthulhu. Can the hosts gaze into the shrieking outer darkness and return with their sanity intact? Find out on this episode of MonsterTalk!
In this episode, Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly CSICOP) investigator Joe Nickell joins the MonsterTalk crew for a look into the West Virginian legend of Mothman — allegedly a human-sized creature with wings and glowing red eyes. Nickell discusses the ways monsters evolve following a community’s initial reports, and the cyclical nature of spates of sightings.
In this week’s episode, MonsterTalk looks once again at genetics and creatures created in the laboratory. Dr. Marcus C. Davis joins the hosts to discuss what constitutes a “monster.” In his work, Davis deals with paleontology, as well as embryological manipulation — which, by some definitions, means he literally creates monsters.
What kinds of creatures are scientists making in labs today? What is the scope of their power? What guides their ethics? Learn more this week on MonsterTalk!
This week, MonsterTalk continues its two-part discussion of historical ghost investigations. Blake Smith describes his investigation into a famous photo that allegedly shows two dead sailors floating off the side of a 1920’s oil tanker. Methodology for conducting historical investigation is detailed, using Ben Radford’s upcoming book on scientific paranormal investigation as a basis for the talk.
Did two sailors haunt their fellow shipmates? Does the photo really show two ghosts? Find out the answers in this informative conclusion — and find out how you can solve your own cases!
Ghost investigations often feature in television shows and other media. Typically, these amount to people wandering around at night with EMF detectors, talking into the darkness and jumping at shadows and noises.
But how does one do a scientific paranormal investigation? On this first half of a two-part MonsterTalk, the hosts review two past ghost investigations (Ben Radford’s “Kimo Theater Ghost” and Dr. Karen Stollznow’s “Waverly Hills Sanatorium” investigations) and discuss some of the techniques that can help solve such cases. What steps are common to this type of research? Learn more this week on MonsterTalk.
What happens when a creature thought to be extinct is spotted alive in the swamps of Arkansas? Can such a creature have survived? Can scientists verify the story? And when a town’s hopes and a school’s grant money are on the line, to what lengths will people go to find proof?
This week on MonsterTalk we discuss these issues with Scott Crocker, the documentary filmmaker behind Ghost Bird — a feature length exploration into the mystery of the Ivory-billed woodpecker.
What does neuroscience have to say about the possibility of consciousness or mind existing outside the body — or continuing on after the body has died? This episode’s guest is neurologist Dr. Steven Novella (veteran of on-site ghost investigations, and host of the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast, who shares his insights on brains, minds, and specters from beyond the grave.
Long’s book is built from hours of interviews with surviving contemporaries of Roger Patterson, the filmmaker who shot the influential Patterson-Gimlin footage. For many people, this film remains the best evidence that Bigfoot is real. However, Long’s research uncovered a side of Patterson most people had never heard of before — and it isn’t pretty.
According to Long, the famed Bigfoot film shows nothing more than a man in a modified gorilla suit. Moreover, Long may have found the man who wore it…
In the world of Bigfoot, good evidence is hard to come by. Anecdotes and blurry photos keep the documentaries coming, but most skeptics agree that a body or a living specimen are needed to confirm the existence of a large North American mystery mammal.
But what of alleged Bigfoot footprints? One expert claims that at least some track castings contain proof of an actual unknown ape. That expert is retired law enforcement agent Jimmy Chilcutt — and he’s agreed to come talk with the skeptics on MonsterTalk.
Giants appear in cultures around the world: Biblical tales of giants more than ten feet tall; Roman and Greek stories of titans and heroes; European stories of giants of mountain and hill. They all have one thing in common: enormous monsters.
On this episode of MonsterTalk we chat with archeologist Dr. Ken Feder about giants, biblical archeology — and one of the biggest hoaxes in American history.
The most famous of the Latin American cryptids is El Chupacabra, the goat sucker. This episode of MonsterTalk examines the lore behind this slinking, sinister, blood-sucking creature. Is it a real animal? A creation of secret scientific experiments? An alien’s pet accidentally released on Earth?
Co-host Benjamin Radford takes the guest spot this week as we discuss the research behind his upcoming book (tentatively titled) Tracking the Vampire: Chupacabras in Fact, Fiction and Folklore.
Are creatures from other planets visiting the earth, trampling our crops to create cryptic messages, violating people in their sleep, and doing terrible things to our livestock? How plausible is it that we are being visited by intelligent beings from beyond Earth, or that we’ve been visited in the distant past?
This week on MonsterTalk, astronomer Dr. Phil Plait, author of Death from the Skies! joins us to talk about monsters — from outer space!
In this episode, MonsterTalk examines monsters that genetically blend humans with the other. Hosts Blake Smith, Ben Radford, and Dr. Karen Stollznow explore the plausibility of alien-human hybridizations, dig into the real science of genetics -- and consider the ethical questions involved.
Weighing in on these issues is Dr. Steven Jones -- noted geneticist, teacher, and television presenter. (He is also the author of many books including Darwin's Ghost, Introducing Genetics, Coral: A Pessimist in Paradise.)
Did Stalin really want to build an army of gorilla-human hybrids? Is the upright-walking chimp called Oliver really some kind of chimpanzee-human mix? The plausibility of such creatures may surprise you...
In this week's Halloween episode, MonsterTalk ventures into the realm of the werewolves -- and asks what Charles Darwin's Origin of Species implies for this fearsome monster's plausibility. Guest Dr. Brian Regal (Assistant Professor for the History of Science at Kean University) discusses his lecture about whether Darwin slew the last of the werewolves. Professor Regal also explores the relationship between creationists and cryptozoology, and introduces his new book, Pseudoscience: A Critical Encyclopedia.
Paleontologist Dr. David Martill joins us to talk about prehistoric flying reptiles and his visit to Papua New Guinea with the TV show MonsterQuest to search for the legendary Ropen, an animal which some say is a modern day surviving Pterosaur. Dr. Martill is a reader in Paleobiology with the University of Portsmouth and he joins us to talk about the current state of Pterosaur science and to discuss the plausibility of surviving populations of these fascinating creatures.
Is there a mysterious prehistoric "living fossil" lurking beneath the waters of Loch Ness? The idea that a colony of Plesiosaurs might have survived into modern times in the deep dark waters of Loch Ness has long captured the imagination of cryptozoology fans. But what do we know about these mesozoic marine animals whose fossils disappear from the record at the same time as the dinosaurs? MonsterTalk found an expert to answer some of our questions about what science can tell us of these magnificent beasts. Dr. Adam Stuart Smith is a specialist in aquatic prehistoric reptiles. He runs the website www.plesiosauria.com and works for the National Museum of Ireland where he is part of a team dedicated to documenting and databasing the Natural History collections.
Did a Japanese fishing vessel catch the body of a prehistoric aquatic dinosaur? In this week's MonsterTalk, we interview Glen Kuban to discuss the 1977 case of the Zuiyo-Maru, dinosaurs, paleontology, cryptozoology and why so many creationists want to find living dinosaurs. Kuban has done extensive research on two cases important to monster enthusiasts. His article explaining the true nature of the 'mysterious' carcass netted by the Japanese fishing vessel Zuiyo-maru and his decades long investigation into the alleged 'giant humanoid tracks' in the Paluxy fossil bed in Texas both highlight the importance of a thorough investigation before assuming the remarkable is true.
In this week's MonsterTalk, we interview Michael McLeod, a writer, producer, and director who has created documentaries for PBS, the PBS series Frontline, the Discovery Channel, and other national venues. His book "Anatomy of a Beast" is an in-depth look at the origins of the Bigfoot mythology that culminated in the Patterson-Gimlin film. He examines the lives and beliefs of the men (for it was mostly men) whose writing, research, hoaxes, stories and films brought us the Bigfoot we know today in popular culture. The book gives a very humanizing look at people whose efforts range from the silly to the desperate.
Our panel (Ben Radford, Dr. Karen Stollznow and Blake Smith) interview Professor Todd Disotell, PhD. Todd has been a guest on multiple television shows to examine potential Bigfoot and Yeti DNA. We ask him about the science of DNA analysis, his thoughts on cryptid-TV, and what he's found in his studies.