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More History On The SGU

After reading Evans blog entry about how the SGU started I’ve been trying to remember as much as I can about that time.  I thought to check my emails because I don’t delete most of mine.  Right now I have 21,593 emails in outlook with 8,919 unopened.  If anyone from Microsoft wants to use me as a case study for how many emails outlook can handle let me know.  So anyway, I found some interesting emails that we sent to each other.

This one is from Steve:


Please take time to read and consider the following:

We need to increase our skeptical activities. 

Also, I have been thinking about the podcast idea. I think we should use our Wednesday nights to do a weekly skeptical podcast. This basically can be the radio show we always wanted to do. We can have a podcast page on our website where we list the weekly podcasts (as well as put them on public sites). We can also have a page per week to give extra info – background info on the topic and guest, relevant pictures, links to related articles and websites, etc.

What I would like to do is just do a dry-run test this Wednesday. I want to see if we can do this over Skype, and just have one of us record the session with a simple audio recorder that can save in MP3 format. 

Here are some ideas for the format of the show:

– I would host, and you guys would be the skeptical panel.
– If possible, we would try to get a guest each week, who could either be an interesting skeptic (like Joe Nickel or James Randi) or a believer.
– We could call the show “Don’t You Believe It”
– Each week, everyone would come up with a skeptical news items from the past week and give a 2-3 minute summary of the item, with brief discussion. Everyone can come up with a specialty area, if they wish. So we could open with this news segment, then proceed to the guest.
– We could use a sound board for intro and transition music, and also for special sound effects, like a logical fallacy buzzer. My sense is that we would keep the show light and entertaining, but not be goofy, and still cover some solid meat.
– In terms of logistics, we could meet on Skype every Wednesday at 8:00 to discuss the show and prepare, then record from 8:30 to 10:00 for a 90 minute podcast. Then we could upload the webpage right after.

Steve had it together from the beginning.  It’s weird to read that now and see how close he was to the actual format we use today.  That why he’s the man :

Here is a partial email from Evan:

Here are some show title suggestions:
  The Whole Truth
  Open Your Eyes
  Reality Check
  Reasonable Doubt
  Grounded in Reality
  The Baloney Detectives
  Truth or Scare
  The Steven Novella Experience (just kidding)


If my memory is not corrupted to the point that I can’t trust it, Bob came up with the name of the show, or at least started the idea.

Another interesting fact…Rebecca is the reason why I came back to the show after taking many episodes off due to my ridiculous schedule.  I remember talking to Steve about the Rebecca interview and how he thought she was awesome.  I thought it over and realized that adding her to the show would change the dynamic and I didn’t want to miss any of it.  I remember calling Rebecca on skype for the first time to make introductions and get to know her.  We hit it off from the very beginning and had an instant dialogue.  I’d say it took a few weeks before we started making fun of each other…and so the legendary podcasting  relationship was born.  That spring the show seemed to unfold and find its groove.

I’m lucky to be a part of the SGU.  I’ve made life long friends in Rebecca and Mike and am proud to be a part of our large community.  I want to send a sincere thanks to everyone who listens to the show.  We’ve had an incredible 3 years due to your interest in the SGU and our momentum is growing with new things coming your way soon!

Thanks again,


11 comments to More History On The SGU

  • very interesting that steve was so spot on with the format.

    i do think it would be hilarious for steve to have a buzzer to hit whenever anyone committed a logical fallacy. he could just set that sucker off, not say a thing, and let the offender try to correct their mistake. haha

  • thethyme

    No, thank you Jay. The good the SGU does is being carried forward by us all

  • That first e-mail will prove to be the most important document of our time. I’m not exaggerating. Ok I’m exaggerating, but I still think it’s totally awesome.

  • madeingermany

    “guest each week, who could either be an interesting skeptic […] or a believer.”

    I haven’t been with you for that long, but did you have a believer on yet? 😉

  • VicGombos

    Thanks for sharing more about the beginnings of SGU, Jay. You all have acheived way more than your initially proposed goals with the SGU. Your (the whole gang’s) dedication to SGU is evident in the high quality podcasts and web resources you provide. I still can’t believe you guys all have “day jobs” to balance with SGU! I don’t know how you do it (but keep doing it!)!
    (Seems like “The Baloney Detectives” could be a good alternative name for the Skeptologists, eh?)

  • My memory, of which I am unreasonably confident, is that Perry came up with the name of the podcast. It was around the time that the Hitchhikers’ Guide movie came out, and I have a clear image of Perry saying (in the way that only he could) “We should call it – The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe.” With emphasis on the “universe”. He said it in such a way that it was clear he thought the discussion was over – and it was.

    I came up with the “skeptical rogues” I have always been partial to the name “rogue” for some reason.

  • Ah – I found the e-mail to confirm my memory. Here is an e-mail from Perry discussing possible names for the show:

    Skeptical Rogues!?
    No no no!

    How about something more like this?

    Welcome back to:

    Brain Wars

    Too Good to be True

    Skeptics Guide to the Universe

    Gray Matters

    Buyer Beware

    Stop, Drop and Think

    All That Glitters

    That’s Unexplainable

    That’s Unpossible

    The End of the Tunnel

    Say(ing) it Ain’t So

    Voices in the Dark

    The Thought Police

    Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

    You’ve Got to be Kidding

    The Evolved

    Thinker Tinkers

    Fighting Words

  • Nigel

    “Don’t drink the kool-aid” while a trade mark infringement is a great name, as is “Stop, Drop, and Think.” SGU has such a nice ring, I would never suggest it be changed.

    I would just like to point out that Steve’s email quoted in the post is better organized and thought out than 95% of the emails I have every sent out.

    The back story information is wonderful. Thanks.

  • @madeingermany

    There have been a few:
    – Jan Helen McGee (ep 22)
    – Eric Altman (ep 26)
    – Marylin Schlitz (ep 39)
    – Neal Adams (ep 51)
    – B. Allan Wallace (ep 73)
    – Alex Tsakiris (ep 125)

  • Crit

    LOLOLOLOLOL at “The Steven Novella Experience”

    That is genius Evan.

  • madeingermany

    Thanks, Mike! I’ll savor those soon 🙂

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