An Interview with CSICon Speaker Bob Novella

Susan Gerbic

Bob Novella is one of the founding members of the popular The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast that started in May 2005. He and the rest of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe rogues will be speaking at CSICon, October 26–28, 2017, at the Excalibur in Las Vegas.

Susan Gerbic: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me, Bob. I last saw you at LogiCal LA in January. You did a podcast panel with Brian Dunning and Ross Blocher. I learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes. How have you managed to keep doing this week after week for over ten years?

Bob Novella: There’s so much that has kept me coming back to that microphone these past 640 weeks. My love of science is paramount of course. I adore talking about not only the latest scientific advances but also the potential of near and far-future technologies. I’ve been conveying my passion about things like colliding galaxies and the future of nanotechnology for most of my life.  I probably won’t rest until we have literally reached the limits of science and technology.  Imagine an iPhone infinity.

Hanging out once a week for hours with the guys and Rebecca and now Cara is definitely hilarious and enlightening, and I would do that even if we never recorded a single word. Perhaps after we die we’ll release recordings of our banter that never made it into the show.

Some of the most important reasons we all keep coming back happen when we engage with listeners through emails or face-to-face at cons. Their enthusiasm revitalizes us. Sometimes it’s hard to even know what to say when we are told that we helped people during rough periods of their lives, or helped them turn away from a life of pseudoscience, or even motivated them to get advanced science degrees.

Gerbic: Besides James Randi (everyone’s favorite), who have you really enjoyed interviewing? Is there someone you would have liked to score an interview with but haven’t?

Novella: There’s just so many fantastic interviews to choose from. If I had to decide, it would have to be Christopher Hitchens. We were all in awe during that interview, but it was especially satisfying to see Steve in awe of someone since, as a Vulcan, he rarely displays emotions. My main memory is him sitting there drinking and chain-smoking the whole time and reciting hilarious dirty limericks.

I would love to interview John Oliver. He’s not often seen as a skeptic, but he has often touched on skeptical topics on his show. His combination of humor and facts is probably one of the best ways to bring our message to mainstream audiences.

Gerbic: I know that you are a major Halloween fan; you start preparing months in advance. Corn mazes, decorations at home, and personal costumes. You will be speaking at CSICon this year near Halloween. We are going to have a Zombie Disco party on Saturday night. Do you have some amazing Star Trek Zombie costume planned?

Novella: I do take Halloween pretty seriously. Some would say I’m obsessed but I prefer to call it passionate-beyond-all-reason.

I have everything all mapped out for my home Halloween theme and costume this year. Unfortunately, it’s harder to corral six or so skeptics into agreeing on what our group costume should be. All I can say now is that we are still in discussion as to the best group costume idea for CSICon.

Star Trek zombies? Hmmmm.

Gerbic: Thanks, Bob! This is going to be an amazing conference.

Susan Gerbic

Affectionately called the Wikipediatrician, Susan Gerbic is the cofounder of Monterey County Skeptics and a self-proclaimed skeptical junkie. Susan is also founder of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project. She is a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and writes for her column, Guerilla Skepticism, often. You can contact her through her website.