Call Us: 866-800-2121
From the book of Revelation to global warming catastrophes to the many predictions of the end of civilization, why does culture seem to be obsessed with the idea that the end is near? In this episode of Skepticality, Derek speaks with Mathew Gross: the man responsible for Howard Dean’s internet strategy in his bid for the presidency in 2004. Mathew is a nature trails historian, avid hiker, and recently the author of the new book, The Last Myth, which is a look into the rise of apocalyptic thinking and what it tells us about America.
Show Notes

– Date – July 31, 2012
– Send your cool 'SCIENCE!' shout-outs to
– Theme song by Steve Seamans of the Daisy Dillman Band. Get the song HERE.
– Thank you to everyone who has been purchasing books, Skepticality stuff, or using our Amazon link to help us out!

Dragon*Con where Derek will be running the Skeptrack is coming in about a month!

Skepticism, Past and Future

– The Mayan Calendar starts on or about August 11, 3114 BCE but does not end this year.
– The Harmonic Convergence was supposed to occur August 16 – 17, 1987.
– George Hrab's epic musical introduction to TAM2012 is included in Geologic podcast #273.
– Pamela Gay told skeptics to Make the World Better in her talk on Saturday.
– Tim similarly told the audience You Are the Future of Skepticism on the Internet on Sunday.
Lanyrd coverage of TAM2012 contains 125 links to blogs, podcasts, videos, photo albums and more.
– Skeptic History facts are posted daily on social media find out where on this page at Tim's blog.

Unnatural Virtue

– Success Gurus like Jim Collins, Stephen Covey, and Malcolm Gladwell bank on the illusion of understanding and the illusion of justice to appeal to a vast market of uncritical thinkers.
– Their approach is driven by confirmation bias, selection bias, and the halo effect, ignoreing the elusiveness of luck and the inevitability of regression, explained in Thinking, Fast and Slow.
– Gladwell's appeal in Blink was to the illusion of understanding intuition.
– The appeal in Outliers was to the illusion of understanding success. (Spoiler alert: You haven't really helped us much by advising us to be in the right place at the right time.)
– His appeal in The Tipping Point was to the illusion of understanding how things happen.
– Some Antidotes to the Success Gurus are:
     The Halo Effect: … and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers by Phil Rosenzweig
     Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense: Profiting From Evidence-Based Management by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton, and ch 4.
     Management Pseudoscience (pdf) in Ethics, Management, and Mythology: Rational Decision Making for Health Service Professionals by Michael Loughlin.
A paperback edition of Unnatural Acts: Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science Exposed! is now available from For more info, click here. The eBook is still available. .

The Odds Must Be Crazy

– This week's featured story is "TV – or Not TV"
– Story was submitted by reader, Jason Pope.
– Please visit the story link for a more detailed analysis and to add your comments
– Additional thoughts and considerations provided by Barbara Drescher
– To donate to help the TOMBC team attend Dragon*Con visit our Donate page
– Our producer and audio engineer is Brian Hart
– Our theme music comes to us courtesy of Brian Keith Dalton, AKA Mr. Deity
– Please visit The Independent Investigations Group Los Angeles
– The Odds Must Be Crazy can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+
– Wendy Hughes is on Twitter
– Jarrett Kaufman is on Twitter
– Barbara Drescher is on Twitter
– Brian Hart is on Twitter
– Brian Keith Dalton is on Twitter

Mathew Gross – Author of 'The Last Myth'

– Mathew was a drummer in the band, 'June' who signed with Beggars Banquet.
– Was in charge of the internet media strategy for the 2004 Howard Dean campaign.
– Politicians now all seem to embrace social media and the internet.
– Derek was on the Internet before it was called the Internet back in the BBS and Arpanet days.
– Mathew was also a Colorado River boating nature guide and has wittern a book on the subject.
Glen Canyon is known as the 'place no one knew' by the Sierra Club.
– Mathew was amazed at the amount of influence the Evangelicals had on getting George W. Bush elected.
– The Evangelical circles seem highly pre-occupied with the 'End Times'.
– Even though many believe that society has always had 'end times' and Apocalypse facinations.
– Oddly, almost all facets of society, religious and secular, seem preoccupied with the end of the world.
– The Myan people still exist and think the idea that their calendar will somehow signal the end of the world is odd.
– They had views of the world like many of the cultures of their time, that renewal would continue in cycles forever.
– Perfect examples of our current preoccupation with the end of the world can be seen in end of the world cults.
– The Hopi didn't predict the rise of Hippies.
– First religion, or group of people, to focus on end times were the Jewish People around 500-600BC due to the Babylonians.
– Isreal was put on a map to continue the fascination with the end of times and history.
– The influence of Persian beliefs gave us the idea of end times prophecies.
Puritans that came to America rejected the Anglican and Protestant compromise and believed that they were founding the new Israel.
– When the Founders of the United States came on the scene, they rejected the Puritan view.
– The rise of scientific thinking lead to Deism, rejecting the idea that God has control and humans and man determines its fate.
– In modern times the rise of seemingly endless outlets for news and media to get their story out has lent itself to exaggeration to get noticed.
Falling into a trap of Apocalyptic thinking can prevent us from having the needed outlook to improve society moving into the future.
– With all of this doomsday thinking, Mathew has a grand optimistic outlook on society and the world.
– Even the recent past of the 80's were much different than what current culture remembers it as.
– If we don't allow the obsession with the end of the world to engulf our culture, we can move forward and make the world a much better place.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site! Website Security Test