I was one of those people who started listening to the SGU after Perry DeAngelis died. After listening to a few episodes I decided to go back and listen to all of them. I started from the first one and there was a voice on there that I didn’t recognize from the later episodes.
At first I didn’t like Perry at all. He struck me as an opinionated loudmouth. He was clearly conservative and a climate-change denier (although who knows if he would have changed his mind on that by now). It only took about ten episodes (okay maybe fifteen) before he’d charmed his monkey-loving way into my heart. He had a great sense of humor, and also struck me as someone with the kind of sincerity that’s one-in-a-million.
One of the long-running jokes back in those days was the “birds vs. monkeys” debate. Perry would roundly defend monkeys and advocate their superiority in every way over birds. This was funny and silly, but it was also fascinating, as Perry, a skilled and experienced skeptic, made this mock debate a showcase for the kind of fallacious arguments you hear from true believers irrationally defending their favored myth.
I believe he also coined the term, “beak flip,” which I would define as the initial maneuver performed by a monkey, in the event of a monkey-bird conflict. The beak flip takes one of the most finely-honed tools given to birds by evolution, and turns it against them, and thus, they are defenseless against it.
Perry died 6 years ago today from Scleroderma. He’s credited with originally coming up with the idea to start the New England Skeptical Society (who need to update their page because the picture of Perry is missing. Just sayin’). Today Evan put up a post on the SGU’s blog in memory of Perry DeAngelis. Based on that, it’s pretty safe to say that without Perry, there would have been no SGU.
Perry was over Steve’s condo, casually flipping through a copy of SI. He was reading through the list of local groups, and commented to Steve: “There’s no local skeptics group in Connecticut. We should start one.”
This was our “Big Bang”, as far as The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe is measured. I am terribly biased when looking back at this, but I can’t find a scenario where the SGU would be today without Perry’s initiative and vision.
If you’re a listener of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, but you’ve never listened to those early episodes. I highly recommend going back and getting to know Perry DeAngelis.