Simon Mayo’s skeptical interview

Simon Mayo sat in for Chris Evans on Radio 2’s drivetime show last week. I remember being amazed to discover I liked Chris Evans’ show – the guy has a great way with words, and is seriously sharp – but he is a little credulous on occasion, particularly during the daily interviews with offbeat guests. It’s not designed to be in-depth serious journalism, but nevertheless reaches millions of people and can add to the general impression of reiki, say, not being made-up bollocks. Last Thursday’s guest was the editor of Dictionary of the Unexplained. I haven’t heard Simon Mayo much, but I expected he’d continue the usual interviewing style. I don’t have a transcript, but he began with something very much like:

So this dictionary is full of the paranormal. Tell me why I should believe a word of it.

He rocked! The editor came out with the usual gumph on keeping an open mind and having consulted ‘experts’. SM ignored this and followed up with a question on the most frightening monster in the dictionary. She told of the chupacabara, a reported ‘demonic entity’ which sucks the blood from goats in Puetro Rico, but has also been sighted in the USA. He asked whether there was any actual evidence of its existence, and she replied that there’d been many sightings. He wasn’t impressed, and moved onto the conspiracy theories and hoaxes – did she have a particular favourite hoax? She replied with the Moon Hoax, saying that newspapers in the mid 1800s reported sightings of flying men and bipedal beavers on the moon…

and people actually believed it!

Yeah. That’s bonkers. Anyway, back to the goat-sucking monsters.

At the end of the interview SM asked what she was working on next. She said it was a book on ‘lost crafts’. Good grief, I thought, this woman really is in deep. What’s this – the bermuda triangle? The government hiding evidence of UFO crashes?

Like plucking a chicken, or thatching a roof. That kind of thing.

Ok. My bad.

She didn’t come over as all that mental, in hindsight, and certainly a far cry from some true believers I’ve heard. But Simon Mayo didn’t let her off lightly; I was very impressed. Great to hear some decent skepticism on the radio.