TheESP – Ep. #192 – Dark Side of the Moon

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This week we first have a look to see if it was really the President of Finland who said he preferred reindeer to Trump before we congratulate the Spanish Skeptics for ceasing the opportunity of the Nobel week to point out what the ‘Nobel decease’ is in the mainstream media. We also remember the mockumentary ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ that premiered this week 17 years ago.
Social media is tough to handle, as pope Francis discovered when accidentally tagging an NFL football team on Twitter, much to the delight of all the fans. Meanwhile his synod on the Amazon is fully underway, and we report on the latest developments.
In the news, we report on the Global Vaccination Summit on-line, discuss the anti-gay sentiments in France, Flat Earthers in the Netherlands and the rising homeopathy resistance in Germany. We also discuss illegal circumcisions in Sweden, a new skeptical book from CICAP in Italy and the start of a huge medical lawsuit in France.
We end by handing yet another Really Wrong for covering up sex abuse in the Catholic Church, this time to Swedish Cardinal Anders Arborelius.
Give it a listen!

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

0:00:27 Intro

0:00:50 Greetings

Do the President of Finland really prefer reindeer and snowballs to Trump? We would not blame him if that was the case, but in fact he did not say so in a video circulated on-line. The Spanish Skeptics ARP-SAPC and Círculo Escéptico took the opportunity apropos Nobel week to spread some knowledge about the ‘Nobel Decease’ in the Spanish newspaper ABC. Well done!

0:10:00 This Week in Skepticism

The ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ mockumentary was released on October 16, 2002.

0:15:20 Pontus Pokes the Pope – the Synod for the Amazon is in full swing

Why stop at married priests, why not women too. At least if they all stay celibate…

0:19:50 News

INTERNATIONAL: Global Vaccination Summit to fight vaccine hesitancy

FRANCE: Anti-gay demonstrations against new IVF law

THE NETHERLANDS:  0.9 per cent of Dutch people believe the Earth is flat

GERMANY: Homeopathy – even the SPD now supports defunding homeopathy

SWEDEN: Illegal Circumcisions in Sweden

ITALY: New book by Berti & Garlaschelli: The detective of the incredible

FRANCE: Mammoth trial begins for Mediator scandal

00:37:51 Really Wrong: Swedish Cardinal Arborelius admits to having covered up sex abuse

00:41:34 Quote and Goodbye

“Most often people seek in life occasions for persisting in their opinions rather than for educating themselves.”

/ André Paul Guillaume Gide, 22 November 1896 – 19 February 1951. French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature /

00:42:51 Outro

00:44:06 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #191 – No dick, no vote

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This week we declare that we’re fans of Brian Cox and we deliberate some more on the book ‘Shoot for the Moon’ by Richard Wiseman (see ep. 190) and how we can apply the lessons learned from Apollo in our skeptical endeavors.
We then look into the soap opera that is the currently ongoing Synod in Rome that has created a big controversy for Francis, even before it has begun (and in addition he insists you need a dick to vote on the outcome). That is a developing story that we absolutely will come back to in the upcoming weeks.
Massimo Polidoro (see ep. 189) has yet another new book out AND has launched a new YouTube channel. Does the man never sleep? We take a look at why Greta Thunberg is constantly attacked, and our message is that if she gets on your nerves you should listen to what she says, not how she may make you feel.
The Swedish liberal Centre Party takes a very controversial stand against male circumcision and the World Health Organization has issued new recommendations regarding flu vaccinations.
We end the show with a deep dive into the climate change debate, handing out both a Really Wrong Award to the Climate Intelligence Foundation and a Really Right to the site Climatefeedback.org.
Enjoy!

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong and Really Right; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

0:00:27 Intro

0:00:49 Greetings

We talk about Brian Cox on tour and some more about Richard Wiseman’s book Shoot for the Moon)

0:08:14 Pontus Pokes the Pope – Synod for the Amazon 

Married Priests? Only in the Jungle…

0:15:17 News

ITALY: Massimo Polidoro has a new book out, plus a new YouTube channel!

INTERNATIONAL: Attacks on Greta Thunberg

SWEDEN: Political party votes for ban of circumcision – but leader asks everyone to ignore it

INTERNATIONAL: WHO recommendations regarding flu vaccine

00:36:48 Really Wrong and Really Right: To Climate Intelligence Foundation for the letter signed by “500 scientists” and to Climatefeedback.org for setting things straight

00:46:53 Quote and Goodbye

“If we [humans] disappeared overnight, the world would probably be better off […] It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty, the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”
/ Sir David Attenborough, born 8 May 1926, English broadcaster and natural historian /

00:52:25 Outro

00:53:40 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #190 – Richard Wiseman and Shoot for the Moon

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This week we first have a brief follow-up on German Health Minister Jens Spahn’s failure do defund bogus homeopathy and how the IHN (Informationsnetzwerk Homöopathie) has published an open letter to the minister explaining why he is wrong not to chance the rules. You can all go sign it! We also mention the Swedish Skeptics’ (VoF) successful participation in the Gothenburg International Book Fair.

The main segment of this episode is an interview with the marvelous Richard Wiseman, where he tells all about his latest book Shoot for the Moon. András was fortunate enough to catch up with him in Edinburgh and the book tells the fascinating story about how a very young, but passionate team, came together under Apollo 11 and were instrumental in putting Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. Richard has coined the phrase ‘Apollo Mindset’ to describe how the team spirit they developed was key in making sure that Apollo 11 was the fantastic success it was. The book also discusses how we may all learn from the Apollo program to apply a little #ApolloMindset on our own, more down-to-earth projects.

Enjoy!

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; Interview; Farewell; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

0:00:27 Intro

0:00:48 Greetings

The INH (Informationsnetzwerk Homöopathie) is challenging last week’s Really Wrong recipient, Jens Spahn! You shouls sign at: https://netzwerk-homoeopathie.info/en/offener-brief-an-gesundheitsminister-spahn-zur-fortgeltung-der-erstattung-von-homoeopathie-in-der-gkv/

Also a big shout-out the Swedish Skeptics (aka VoF) and their success at Gothenburg International Book Fair.

0:05:36 Interview with Richard Wiseman

0:31:18 Farewell

0:34:02 Outro

0:35:17 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #189 – with Massimo Polidoro

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This week we first hear from the fantastic Massimo Polidoro who tells all about CICAP Fest from two weeks ago.
We then look forward to a new film which is a fictional tale about the relationship between pope Benedict and Francis and report that there is a new book is out which brings attention to the brewing schism within the Catholic church (this makes Francis rather unhappy).
In the news, Russia is not very successfully trying to cover up the fire in the smallpox lab (ouch!), Sweden extends the HPV vaccinations to ALL kids (not just girls) and the Hungarian Skeptics scores a win for kicking out alt med quackery from a medical university.
Russian bot farms spreads both anti and pro vaccination memes in order to undermine people’s trust in information in general and we again get confirmation that the climate change is escalating. The ‘fake’ city of Bielefeld did not manage to find anyone to prove its non-existence and Swedish politicians try to score populist points with crime fighting proposals that will be totally ineffective or even counterproductive.
We end the episode by being deeply disappointed in the German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who totally failed to end homeopathy funding. For that, he receives this week’s Really Wrong award.
Enjoy!

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; Interview; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

0:00:27 Intro

0:00:51 Greetings

Climate change rebellion is going on all over the world!

0:04:03 Interview with Massimo Polidoro

We hear more about the CICAP Fest the great success with the science festival in Padua.

0:15:33 Pontus Pokes the Pope – New book makes Francis talk openly about the schism

About the new film “The two Popes”:

About the book and Francis’ view on Catholic schism:

0:20:03 Skeptical News

RUSSIA: Fire in Russian Lab with smallpox-virus

SWEDEN: Boys to be included in HPV vaccination program

HUNGARY: Germanic New Medicine in physicians’ further education at Medicel University

RUSSIA / INTERNATIONAL: Malicious Bots and Trolls Spread Vaccine Misinformation

CLIMATE: 2015 – 2019 hottest five-year period ever

GERMANY: Bielefeld 1 million remains unclaimed

SWEDEN: Researchers criticize political approach to fighting crime

00:43:43 Really Wrong: To Jens Spahn for not ending funding of homeopathy in Germany

00:48:26 Quote and Goodbye

“Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything”
/ Plato, 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC, Greek philosopher /

00:52:25 Outro

00:53:40 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #188 – European Skeptics Congress 2019, part 2

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This week the team is all together at last! András us tells a bit about his adventures at the incredibly exiting CICAP Fest in Padua, more on this to follow next week.
In the main part of the episode we release the next set of interviews recorded at the European Skeptics Congress 2019! This time you will hear from participants and activists as well as get a sneak peek behind curtain from some of the organizers and volunteers.
Oh, and we have a new logo, thanks to Matt Kemp (@kemp_matt)! Thank you so much!
Enjoy!

Interviews in this episode: Jozef van Giel, Dieter Byttebier, Élisabeth Feytit, Paul de Belder

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; Interviews; Farewell; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:51 Greetings

00:07:01 Interview: Jozef van Giel, podcaster

Jozef runs the Dutch speaking podcast Kritisch Denken (‘Critical Thinking’) and was also responsible for sound, video and recording at the ESC 2019.

00:19:56 Interview: Dieter Byttebier, debater

Dieter is the founder of the English speaking Meetup group ‘People with a Realistic World View’.

00:29:46 Interview: Élisabeth Feytit, film director, author and editor, as well as podcaster

Élisabeth is working on the film ‘Neo Guru’ (formerly know as ‘Memoirs of a Former Mystic’) about a former New Age ‘guru’ that abandoned her career to instead promote rational and critical thinking. Élisabeth also runs the French speaking podcast ‘Méta de Choc’.

00:38:58 Interview: Paul de Belder, Belgian activist and member of the skeptic organisation SKEPP

Paul de Belder was the main responsible (of course with the help of many others) of pulling everything together at the ESC 2019.

00:44:52 Farewell

00:48:44 Outro

00:49:59 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #187 – Antibiotic Resistance Worse Than Climate Change?

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This week we celebrate the birthday of the ‘Ask for Evidence’ campaign, the Pope gets stuck in an elevator and we debunk three myths about the Amazon forest fires.
Counterfeit Medicine is a growing threat to society, even more European countries lose their status a s ‘measles free’ and there are still repercussions in Sweden of the Macchiarini scandal in 2015.
Yoga may be good for preventing cardiovascular problem (but there are many questions still), what used to be the highest peak in Sweden has melted and is now number two and some say antibiotic resistance could be worse than climate change.
We finish off by awarding the BBC a Really Wrong award for thinking scientists believe Nessie could be a big eel.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:51 Greetings

Next week we promise we will have more interviews from ESC 2019. The Swedish Skeptics (VoF) want everyone to come and meet them at the Gothenburg Book Fair, don’t be shy! If you want to volunteer please get in touch.

00:06:44 This Week in Skepticism

Ask for evidence campaign was launched 14 September 2011

00:08:58 Pontus Pokes the Pope – Stuck in an elevator, appointing new cardinals.

00:13:20 Skeptical News

THE AMAZON: Three myths about the Amazon forest fires

SWEDEN: Counterfeit medicine an increasing threat to society

EUROPE: Measles update: Albania, Czech Republic and Greece and UK

SWEDEN: Macchiarini update: Government suggests new rules to ensure ethical research

INTERNATIONAL: Who says it’s all negative? The addition of yoga to aerobic exercise programs reduces global cardiovascular risk (maybe)

SWEDEN: Highest mountain in Sweden has lost 15 meters since the 70s

UK: ‘Antibiotic resistance could kill us before climate change,’ says UK health chief

00:32:26 Really Wrong: To the BBC for stupid Loch Ness article

00:35:21 Quote and Goodbye

“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
/ Aristotle, 384–322 BC, Greek philosopher /

00:36:39 Outro

00:37:54 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #186 – European Skeptics Congress 2019, part 1

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This week it was Congress time! András and Pontus (unfortunately, no Jelena) spent a wonderful weekend in Ghent, Belgium, at the European Skeptics Congress 2019, where they had a blast!
At the ESC 2019 there were talks by prominent skeptics and plenty of opportunities to catch up with old friends and make new ones.
The result for the podcast is several interviews recorded on-site, with more to come later on. If you were there and met with us, we thank you for doing so! If not, there will be more opportunities in the future.
Until then, here are this week’s interviews, with even more to come on later episodes.
Enjoy!

Interviews in this episode: Edzard Ernst, Christine Mohr, Ovidiu Covaciu

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; Interviews; Farewell; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:50 Greetings

00:13:55 Interview: Prof. Edzard Ernst, emeritus Professor at the University of Exeter

Title of ESC presentation: The battle against SCAM. Are we winning?

Abstract: What do governments and health organisations like WHO do against quackery?
Given the common use of quackery in virtually all countries, one would expect that governments and international organisations like the WHO would have developed effective strategies to limit its prevalence and minimise the harm quackery unquestionably does. Sadly, very few such initiatives seem to exist. Those organisations that actively fight quackery tend not to be run by governments but rely on private, altruistic initiatives. The WHO even has been responsible for several actions that arguably are not fighting but promoting quackery. This lecture will review several recent examples. It is concluded that governments and the WHO have, in the past, turned a blind eye to quackery. In the interest of public health, this situation has to change.

His new book: https://edzardernst.com/2019/08/my-new-book-alternative-medicine-a-critical-assessment-of-150-modalities/

00:22:49 Interview: Christine Mohr, professor in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland .

Title of ESC presentation: When using magicians to study how paranormal beliefs come about

Abstract: Humans belief, in many things. Popular are supernatural beliefs, hotly debated by believers and skeptics alike. Psychologists reported on various variables that correlate with such beliefs (e.g., appreciation of chance, more open to experiences). Yet, these latter studies are correlational unable to convey whether existing beliefs predict the appreciation of chance  (e.g., becoming more associative), or whether being more associative predicts the formation or reinforcement of paranormal beliefs. Over the last years, we performed several series in which we investigated the causality of belief change / reinforcement. In these studies, a magician performed a central event (e.g., a medium talking to a dead person, pseudo-scientific mind reading). Therefore, we could compare psychological variables we assessed before and after the event (tackling causality). Also, we could assess which pre-existing variables (e.g., paranormal beliefs, associative processing) predicted paranormal interpretations. Performing all studies in the classroom, we observed an overall high willingness to accept what the persons had just seen. In one study, around 65% considered that they had witnessed a genuine psychic event. Higher paranormal beliefs and affective reactions predicted a higher endorsement of a psychic explanation. Seeing how easily people are convinced by what they see, we are now starting to “debunking” participants in order to test which pre-performance information we have to provide to render participants more critical as to what is presented to their eyes. We assume that once the magician spells the beans, the belief in what one sees should be gone.

Link: https://applicationspub.unil.ch/interpub/noauth/php/Un/UnPers.php?PerNum=1116121

00:34:51 Interview: Ovidiu Covaciu, Activist against anti-vaxxers, Romania

Title of ESC presentation: The antivaccination activists, misinformation and the damage done

Abstract: Europe is facing a resurgence of preventable disease as anti-vaccine movements from across the continent are growing This talk will focus on the tactics the AV movement uses to gain influence, followers and political power. It will also discuss how to approach, counteract and fight against the AV movement, how to recruit experts by your side, turn the tide and save lives.

Link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/vaccinuri/

00:55:15 Farewell

00:59:39 Outro

01:00:54 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #185 – Rain dance for the Amazon

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This week it is true that the Amazon (Amazonas? Amazonia?) is burning and glaciers are dying, but misinformation is still everywhere. Especially, meditation and rain dances will not help.
Instead we should learn from John Locke, born this week in 1632, and who taught us the benefits of empiricism.
Even though the Cardinal Pell story seems to be all over for him, the Vatican still faces a giant dilemma on how to handle it.
There’s a 1 million Euro award for you if you can prove that a German city doesn’t exist, Nobel laureates are sometimes cranks, but you can learn key concepts for making informed choices if you read Nature Magazine.
Edinburgh hesitates in kicking out non-elected religious school board members, Valigia Blu gets Italian Skeptic award from CICAP, the UK loses status as “Measles free” and study from Australia suggest that political views are perhaps not so much of a factor in vaccination resistance.
Finally, we conclude that no matter what they think in Turku University in Finland, climate change is definitely man-made and whoever says differently are Really Wrong.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:50 Greetings

The fires in the Amazon make people desperate to help, but perhaps they should find something more useful than meditation and performing rain dances. That and a funeral for the Okjökull glacier in Iceland get us on a long discussion about climate change, flight emissions and future transportation.

00:15:24 This Week in Skepticism

John Locke, English philosopher and physician and one of the first British “Empiricists” was born on 29 August 1632.

00:18:31 Pontus Pokes the Pope – The Pell case is not over for Francis.

00:24:31 Skeptical News

GERMANY: Bielefeld in Germany offers €1 million to anyone who can prove its non-existence

FRANCE: Anti-vaxx disinformation – the ‘Nobel decease’ is still a problem

INTERNATIONAL: Key concepts for making informed choices

SCOTLAND: Edinburgh delays decision to remove church voting rights in school boards

ITALY: CICAP awards Valigia Blu for their efforts to bring rationality into journalism

UK: Measles in the UK: ‘Elimination status’ is lost

INTERNATIONAL: Do our political views influence vaccination rates?

00:50:25 Really Wrong: FINLAND: Is climate change not man-made?

00:55:34 Quote and Goodbye

“False and doubtful positions, relied upon as unquestionable maxims, keep those who build on them in the dark from truth.”
/ John Locke, 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704, British philosopher /

00:58:44 Outro

00:59:59 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #184 – Not well for Pell

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This week we start by noting that the measles numbers in Serbia from last week must be nonsense (it’s much worse) and again urge you to support Retraction Watch. We then report on Cardinal Pell’s failed appeal in Australia and the pope’s totally misguided efforts to help the people of Syria.
Brexit spells disaster for science in the UK, a British ‘Grief Vampire’ is touring in Sweden, but on a positive note, the Homeopathy Information Network provides help on fighting homeopathy in all of EU.
A Lithuanian man wants you to sleep with bees (don’t try this at home), Spanish Skeptics (ARP-SAPC) team up with the authorities to educate teachers on how to spot pseudoscience, and the Swedish government wants to implement a national digital register to keep track of vaccination rates.
Finally, we hand out a Really Wrong award to a private hospital in Finland for charging lots of money for an unproven cancer treatment.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Wrong; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:50 Greetings

The numbers on measles for Serbia must be much worse than reported. Also, please support Retraction Watch if you can.

00:10:27 Pontus Pokes the Pope – Not well for Pell and Rosaries for Syria.

00:18:34 Skeptical News

UK: Danger to science of no-deal Brexit

SWEDEN / UK: UK TV-medium touring Sweden

GERMANY / EUROPE: INH taking action in support of Spanish initiative to give homeopathy the same legal status and requirements as other medicinal products

LITHUANIA: Sleeping on beehives

SPAIN: EduSalud conference for teachers on pseudoscience and health

00:38:52 Really Wrong: Experimental cancer clinic in Finland charges huge amounts

00:44:10 Quote and Goodbye

“Science knows it doesn’t know everything; otherwise, it’d stop. But just because science doesn’t know everything doesn’t mean you can fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to you.”

/ Dara Ó Briain, Irish comedian and television presenter /

00:46:01 Outro

00:47:16 Out-takes

TheESP – Ep. #183 – Free Energy, ‘Flygskam’ and hard numbers on Measles

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This week we hear about free energy devices, about Pope Francis’ friend who stands accused of sex-abuse, and that Metro in Sweden is closing down taking with it their ‘Viral Examiner’ that has corrected and explained internet myths for almost five years.
We hear about the first publicly known (but certainly not only) victim of Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘vagina steaming’, how to sign up for Shaman Summer School and of ‘Flygskam’, the Swedish flight shaming that now goes international.
We also do another deep dive into the disastrous measles epidemic, including publishing a unique spread sheet we have created to give an overview of the European situation as of the first six months of 2019.
Finally, we hand out a Really Right award to the Lancet for their efforts to fight gender bias in science.

Segments:
Intro; Greetings; This Week in Skepticism; Pontus Pokes the Pope; News; Really Right; Quote and Farewell; Outro; Out-takes

Events Calendar: http://theesp.eu/events_in_europe

00:00:27 Intro

00:00:52 Greetings

Pontus was interviewed by Richard Saunders on The Skeptic Zone this week, check it out: http://skepticzone.libsyn.com/the-skeptic-zone-564-11august2019

00:05:42 This Week in Skepticism

On 17 August 2006, the company Steorn published their claims on its ‘Orbo’ free energy device. They got financing to the tune of 23 million Euro, but strangely the device never materialized…

00:11:18 Pontus Pokes the Pope – Close friend of Francis to stand trial for sexual abuse.

00:16:25 Skeptical News

SWEDEN: Metro folds, and the ‘Viral Examiner’ dies with it

INTERNATIONAL: Woman burns herself during vagina steaming

FRANCE: Are you ready for Shaman Summer School?

EUROPE: ‘Flygskam’, the Swedish flight shaming, is the latest fad

MEASLES UPDATE EUROPE: Still bad and getting worse – we have compiled the numbers, you can download them in Excel or PDF-format.

00:33:19 Really Right: To the Lancet Group for committing to gender equity and diversity

00:37:25 Quote and Goodbye

“You should never be ashamed to admit you have been wrong. It only proves you are wiser today than yesterday.”
/ Jonathan Swift, Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for Whigs then for Tories), and poet, famous for works like Gulliver’s Travels /

00:38:41 Outro

00:39:56 Out-takes