Skepticism

Why I’ve Left SGU

For the past nine years, I’ve co-hosted the podcast The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, seeing it go from a tiny show of a few hundred listeners to a veritable monolith, with more than 150,000 listeners per week. This week, I recorded my final show, which will air today, December 27th.

It’s worth noting that there’s a group of people – mostly male supremacists – who have been asking for me to be fired for the past three years. They are the primary reason why I’ve continued doing the show this long. Alas, my own happiness and life plans finally had to take precedence over annoying some MRAs.

So before the rumor mill spins out of control: the decision for me to leave was 100% my own. The reason is a bit less drama-filled then what many will hope: it’s just time to move on. Nine years of doing the same job, week after week, starts to wear on a person. That’s especially true when the job pays peanuts and you’re not in control of anything at the company. And these days, those two things are extremely important to me as I work hard to pay rent while striving to meet my personal goals and standards.

I’m really excited about the coming year, as I spend my energies more on the things that are important to me. First and foremost, I’ll be focusing more on my Patreon page, adding new rewards and getting more consistent at delivering the current rewards. If you enjoy what I do, on SGU, on Skepchick, on YouTube, or elsewhere, Patreon is absolutely the best way to make sure I keep doing things. Including the following!

I hope to be producing more Quiz-o-Tron shows, in a variety of cities to be named soon. And my biggest goal for the coming months is to launch a new podcast – you’re just going to have to watch Patreon or my Twitter feed to hear more about that soon.

Anyway, it’s been a fun nine years, and I will miss chatting each week with Steve, Bob, Jay, and Evan. As I said on this last show, that’s longer than any relationship I’ve ever had. I encourage you all to keep listening to SGU, as it will continue to be a great resource for skeptical news and discussion. And, I might pop up again as a guest here and there, just to keep them in line, or just because I want to hear Bob talk for 15 minutes about nanoparticles.

Hey, a girl has needs.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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98 Comments

  1. Hi Rebecca
    Sorry to see you go. I have enjoyed sgu for years.

    I must admit that I have gone off the sgu for some time. I have been a listener for years, and while there is nothing wrong with the show, there are just so many other shows, and so I only listen to it occasionally now.

    Good luck with your new and continued endeavours.

  2. I have been listening to the SGU before you joined, and IMO it benefited immensely with your participation. You brought a different perspective, outrageous humour, and wit. I also had the pleasure of meeting you briefly in person at the Sydney Amazing meeting 5 years ago.
    Those same issues that has turned you towards feminism is why I read and occasionally participate in Skepchick. You (and the Skepchick writers) have opened my eyes on this issue, as well as privilege.
    But your happiness must come first, so as a long time fan of Rebecca, I wish you all the best in your future endeavours. You are awesome, onwards and upwards.

  3. I started listening to SGU because of you, and honestly I’ll probably stop now that you’re leaving. I appreciate what the other Rogues do, and I’ll continue to read Steve’s medical blogs, but on the episodes where you’ve been absent I just haven’t enjoyed it half as much. I’m glad you’re doing what feels right for you, and I look forward to seeing you at conventions and catching Quiz-o-tron shows when I can. I’ll definitely be looking out for whatever new podcast you might launch!

    1. I feel the same way. Rebecca, you were the best part of SGU, and I’ll feel less motivation to listen now that you’re gone. I’ll still check in now and then, but I suspect it will no longer be weekly listening for me.

  4. I can’t help but think the show will miss something as much as î love the guys, but change is an inevitable part of life so we can only wish you well and support you in your future endeavors. I don’t have time to watch videos and I really don’t twitter so I look forward to your podcast and hope that you announce it here.

  5. I look forward to whatever you do next Rebecca! You were my gateway drug to the atheoskeptisphere when you were on Public Radio Talent Quest (you was robbed!), and thanks to your example I’ve been able to make so many new friends and even contribute in my own modest way. I’ll miss hearing you every Saturday with the guys, but I’m certain that whatever you do next will be awesome!

  6. Good luck with future projects, I think SGU will be much diminished without you. Not sure if I’l listen as much. Talking about annoying MRAs, or FeMRAs, it will be entertaining to see Sara Mayhew launch her campaign to be the new co-host. (My 2015 prediction)

    Anyone got good suggestions for other podcasts to listen to?

    1. “it will be entertaining to see Sara Mayhew launch her campaign to be the new co-host. ”

      Oh Lord no. Even ignoring all the dirty laundry, she was annoying as hell the time she was on there as a guest.

      “Anyone got good suggestions for other podcasts to listen to?”

      There’s nothing quite like the SGU that I’m aware of… For science news, the very british Naked Scientist Podcast is nice.

  7. Don’t turn around. It’s tearing me apart that you’re leav-i-ing.
    Don’t turn around. I don’t want you seeing me cry-yy.

    Seriously, Rebecca. I adore the SGU, but it just won’t be the SGU without you. But I wish you the best of luck, and I can’t wait to hear your new podcast.

  8. I’m sorry to hear you’re leaving, but I understand perfectly. I just want you to know you’re a big reason why I listened each week. Your absence won’t keep me from listening, but you will be sorely missed.

  9. I, too, will miss you on the show. I am sure the MRA brigade is going to be crowing victory over your departure, but I can continue to ignore them.

    I hope they replace you with another strong voice, preferably someone not a straight white cis-male (otherwise, SGU is purely lacking in diversity). I’ve long wanted a different regular voice on the show, but at 5 hosts, it’s pretty crowded as it is — who would I ask to leave? no one. So how can I ask for someone new?

    Good luck on your future endeavours.

    1. Can I suggest Noah Nez? (Well, maybe not; he lives in Arizona.)

      On MRAs, they may be crowing victory, or they may start complaining about Rebecca leaving. (Believe me, groups like that have that level of chutzpah.)

      Anyway, good luck, Rebecca!

  10. I’m so sad to see you go! SGU was my introduction into skepticism back in high school, and as much as I adore the other rogues, your involvement was such a large part of my enjoyment of the show. It’s always refreshing to hear a female voice taking a strong stance in favor of science and skepticism, and you’ve handled the criticism and nonsense that comes with your public image quite fantastically. Thanks for everything, and good luck with your future endeavors!

  11. First heard you and the SGU while looking for Adam Savage interviews. The TAM5 interview was one of the search results. I have been listening ever since. I’m sorry you are going and you will be missed a great deal. I know the show will still be my favorite but, it will not be the same without your humor, quick wit and “Hello everyone!” Good luck!

  12. I’m really sorry to hear that you’re leaving SGU, Rebecca. I first started listening to it specifically because I was wondering what you could possibly be doing on the show that was so terrible as to provoke all of the incessant whining about how you should be fired. Instead, I discovered that your contributions were some of the best parts of the show. I hope they can find someone else to fill your shoes, and I hope your future endeavors will be equally amazing.

  13. I really looked forward to hearing your input on the SGU. I love your sense of humor, your insight, and your intellect. I will just have to download your new podcast when you get it going. Good luck in the future. You Rock!

  14. I started listening to the SGU because you were on it and like many others I fear that I will find my SGU experience greatly diminished without your presence. You were a jolt of electricity to the show and I loved your (unfortunately infrequent) brand of humor.

    That said, good luck in all your new things and I definitely am waiting for a second MSP Quiz-o-tron and your new podcast. This announcement was a wake up call and now I’m supporting you on Patreon.

  15. Ironically (is this the correct use of “ironically”?), I started listening to SGU because you weren’t on it. My friend Fauxbecca was filling in for you due to an unpronounceable volcano in Iceland, and asked (told) me to listen. I got hooked. It really won’t be the same without you, and you’ll be sorely missed. I hope they pick up someone to fill your shoes (giant size 24 clown shoes, amirite?) Might I suggest Dr. Rubidium or some other wise cracker from Skepchick to keep the rogues in line?

    Be sure to let us know when your new podcast (or the endeavors) starts up.

    Is there any chance you’ll be at NECSS or some other east coast event in 2015?

  16. I will also miss you on SGU, Rebecca, but nine years of doing someone else’s format is a long time so I can understand. I didn’t always agree with you, but your snark was always appreciated and the show will be something less. Hopefully this won’t end your participation at NECSS, but somehow I suspect it might :(

  17. I’ve been a reader and listener for some years now but never posted a comment neither here or the SGU forums. I just needed to say that you’ll be missed, Rebecca. Thanks for all the work, and best of luck in future plans. And if you ever need help from a clinical neuropsychologist, write me, ok?

  18. I’ll miss you from the podcast, but I’m excited to see where you go from here. I started listening to SGU because of your youtube channel. You were a major gateway to the skeptical community for me.

    Thanks for what you’ve done, and what you will do in the future.

  19. You will be missed and my Monday cubicle podcast listening schedule has been completely fucked, but we’ll see you on your other projects and cheer for your further success. If you ever want to discuss Game of Thrones on a podcast with literally tens of listeners, give us a shout.

  20. Dear Rebecca, another long time listener of a sceptical pedigree who will miss you on the show. I have to say at times I feel the guys are not sceptical enough of some issues… often you seem to be the voice of reason and I think the show will suffer in your absence.

  21. Noooo. I started listening to the SGU not long after you had joined and I must say, despite Steve’s unbelievable intellect (bit of a geek crush on him), you are probably the rogue who has influenced me the most. Being an early 20s guy when I first started listening there was so much about the world I wasn’t even considering, I had always thought of myself as a feminist but never really thought about what that meant. You gave that to me.

    I started following all sorts of things that you had been involved with including the dramas and the way you handled things and explained yourself further cemented my beliefs because I was forced to do research and ended up having many debates and drunken discussions.

    When I eventually met my wife, one of the things we bonded over was our feminism and the energy MRAs and bigots gave us. She respected me greatly for beliefs I had that were certainly influenced by you and I have to thank you for that. Although I feel like I was on the right path, you handed me a torch for those dark nights.

    You’ll be missed and I really look forward to what you do in the future. I need to pay more attention to this Patreon thingy now. Good luck!

  22. I will miss you Rebecca. There were times when I didn’t agree with you or downright didn’t like you. But, I kept listening and tried to keep an open mind. I have since come to respect you more and more. I now consider myself a fan and am looking forward to what your future brings.

  23. Dang, sad news. What I will miss most is, for lack of a better term, the more liberal and artistic tone that rebecca brought. I really love sgu to pieces, but some times the guys can get super literal and miss the more nuanced sociological/philosophical aspects of a topic. typically rebecca would pull them up or provide that balence.

    For the last few months I have been wondering how long rebecca would last, as her role must’ve been tiring and thankless, so I’m sad but not shocked. Good luck with the patreon stuff and thanks for all the good laughs and your general coolness over the years.

  24. Rebecca, definitely sorry to see you leave my long-time favorite podcast. I thought you always contributed an important perspective on science/skepticism.

    I started listening to the SGU back in 2008 and remember going through the whole back catalog including when you first joined. Best of luck in future endeavors – I hope they find someone to fill your position, but it’s big shoes to fill.

  25. I first heard of this via the podcast itself, and my first thought was “shit, how am I going to replace this podcast?” I eventually talked my way out of unsubscribing (hearing the Novellas bounce off one another is rather amusing, I’ll admit), but the show always felt like it was missing something critical when you couldn’t make it.

    I’ll adjust, probably by subscribing to your new podcast as well. And I keep hearing about this Patreon thing…

  26. Nooooooo!!!!

    Damn. This genuinely bummed me out. I love your antics on the SGU, Rebecca. It really won’t be the same without you. While there will be many smiles that the SGU will bring me while driving home from work, there will be a few less each episode without your presence.

    Good luck with your future projects and career. You’ll be truly missed!

  27. Just had to log in to comment, Rebecca, thank you so much for being part of SGU, and having listened to you for a couple of years, it’s been such a pleasure. Of course I’ll keep listening to Steve, Bob, Jay, and Evan, but will keep eye (and ear) open for your new projects. Best of luck and again, THANK YOU.

  28. I started listening to the SGU just before you joined, and your voice on the show has been a big part of what brought me back week after week. The guys are all great, and Steve is a crazy science fool, but having a female voice and perspective kept the show grounded. You will be sorely missed.

  29. Just adding to the many bummed but understanding voices. My first SGU was when you guys went to the psychic fair and it was love at first listen. Until then I had only dabbled in skepticism and certainly didn’t think of myself as one. From there I started reading Skepchick which led me to a bunch of different skeptic and progressive blogs. So I just wanted to say thank you for giving me a bunch of ways to avoid doing my own writing. I will also add: you did a damn fine job on SGU, you do a damn fine job with Skepchick, and I’m sure you will do a damn fine job on all your future endeavors. Continue rocking.

  30. I’ve been a listener of the show since its inception and I enjoyed your commentary and banter … I listened to SGU over the years during commutes, workouts, chores; thanks for your good work. I assumed that you left for the same reason that anyone leaves something after nearly a decade … It’s damned time to move on. I think most people get it and have only warm wishes.

  31. Well, what can I say. Rebecca, your restricted role on the SGU was holding you back in my opinion, it was a great way to promote your activities, but you’re so much better in your own projects anyways.

  32. Good Luck and congratulations on making a decision that I am sure was not easy to make but I have to assume is only going to be a forward step in your life and career. Also thank you. It was your point of view that made me question and reevaluate some of my own misogonistic tendencies over the past five years. I have grown and become a better person and your ‘voice’ in SGU had a part in that. Though that may be a small thing in print in reality it is a big deal. Rebecca you are a fantastic woman and more importantly a phenomenal person and I can’t wait to hear what you are going to do next.

  33. You are the main reason I listen to SGU–the guys are all pretty boring and it is all too chatty for me, but you always added some needed personality to the mix. It’s okay, there is enough else to listen to, but unless SGU gets a bit more polished, I’m out along with you.

  34. 24 hours after reading this post, I’m still sad that Rebecca is leaving. You brought a perspective to my own critical thinking that I don’t get from anyone else.

    Thanks for being awesome. All the best for the future.

  35. It all came home again this morning as I listened and at the end when Steve said “There’s a theme this week” and you didn’t groan, I thought “I’ll never hear Rebecca groan about the unfairness of ‘Science or Fiction’ again. :-(” So, Steve, if you are listening, be sure to include a theme when Rebecca comes back as a special guest/alumna rogue. Rebecca, congratulations on winning Science or Fiction again! (Two out of three doesn’t count, otherwise all these guys with one major league plate appearance would be in Cooperstown. (Rebecca, that’s a sports reference. :-) :-) :-) ]

    P.S. Thanks.

  36. This is so sad.

    You were already an established Rogue when I started listening. The chemistry and everything was already there. I finally listened to your last episode today and it was very bittersweet.

    I listened to SGU because of you. I don’t think I’m going to stop listening, but it just won’t be the same without you. I guess my next move will be to dig into the archives and really hear the start.

    You’ll be missed on the show. Very very much. Once I get a new job, I’ll be donating on your Patreon. I just have to finish moving to New York and getting a job, first… heh…

    I look forward to the future, and please let us know when your new podcast drops.

    And I really hope they find someone to fill your shoes… preferably someone who isn’t a straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied male. Would love another voice that pisses off the MRAs and slymers and such…

  37. With Rebecca’s departure, the SGU podcast loses a perspective that made it so much broader in appeal and reach. Replace is entirely the wrong word, but I think the remaining rogues will have to work hard to make sure that the wry humour and feminist/humanist worldview she brought remains in the show.

    I struggled with Rebecca’s style of communication at times but she is undeniably an effective speaker who generally really knows her shit. Perhaps not every issue deserves a measured Eugenie Scott-style response – sometimes it’s cathartic to give it a full on sarcasm-laced Rebecca Watson face slap.

    Rebecca – I started SGU after you joined, so you have always been a part of that show and chemistry for me. Your reasons for leaving are perfectly understandable – and I really hope your own projects enjoy the kind of continued success that you helped create with SGU.

  38. I have to add my echo to this sobfest. I am bummed. On those dark days weedwhacking below the macnut trees, when tedium threatened my sanity there was Rebecca and the guys re-gluing my gluons. I have two granddaughters, and I fear what they have yet to endure when no longer sheltered (to what degree we can) from this misogynistic world. You make their chances a little bit better, Rebecca.

  39. Transitions are always difficult. Congratulations on doing what’s best for you, which is what those of us who support you expect, after all.

    If, by chance, I meet you in an elevator some day, I will definitely ask for your autograph.

  40. I had to come over here just to leave another supportive message. I wanted to leave one in the SGU Facebook thread linking to this announcement, but it was such a toxic swamp of men proving you right that I just upvoted a bunch of the supportive posts and then moved on.

    I’ll miss you on the show very much. Your voice was needed and your humor made me occasionally look like an idiot laughing out loud while running. I hope your podcast comes out soon, it can fill in for the Serial hiatus.

    I do hope a new female (and young) voice will be found for the show. While we’re at it, why not add two women? The SGU is down two rogues from its heyday, after all.

    Good luck, I’ll keep following your public presence.

  41. I enjoyed you on the show, Rebecca. Perhaps more importantly, I have often thought you were overstating the misogyny in the skeptic community, but then after reading the forums realized that you may have been very much understating the problem.

    I am sorry that you have had to deal with the violent rape obsessed basement-dwelling Trilby brigade. I guess there is a downside to the Internet allowing the anti-social demented freaks to interact with real people.

    Good luck in your future projects and I look forward to you appearing as a guest.

  42. I just finished listening to the last episode, I must confess I teared up more than once during the show, specially at the end. We’ll for sure miss you and I wish you the best on your next projects! We’ll be supporting you no matter what you do!

  43. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! *sobs* I’ll miss you on SGU :(
    I haven’t had time to listen to that fateful show, but I hope the SGU will incorporate another human of the woman-identifying type soon.

  44. 9 years! That’s a huge accomplishment, especially considering the podcast format is still considered to be so new. Good luck on your new adventures, Rebecca!

    I hope they get another woman to fill your spot.

  45. I was really sad to hear that you were leaving, and worried that it was something to do with those creeps who always rant about how “that woman” should be kicked off the show when SGU links are shared on bookface. I’m glad it was unrelated to them.
    You’ve been an inspiration and a valued voice of reason over the last few years, and at least one of the people who have influenced my own growth into feminism (but holy shit, if you’re going to say the magic words that turn almost everyone around me into raging misogyny zombies, could you not, you know, make sure you know the spell to reverse the effect? Jeeeez…) so thank you.
    I hope (and am sure) that your current projects will live up to the quality that you’ve shown in the past. Make sure to keep us updated.

    *relurk*

  46. Rebecca,
    I have four boys and we listen to SGU in the car regularly. Your wit, intelligence and skepticism have made a profound impression and positive difference on all of us. They love you the best of all (no disrespect to the rest who we also enjoy greatly). You have made us smarter and you will be missed.

  47. I have listened to the first couple SGU shows of the year and something is missing….YOU! It’s not the same and it’s going to take some getting-used-to….Sorry you’re gone and I wish you the best with your career(s)!!

  48. I am so glad for you to gain the freedom of being on your own, so sorry for the SGU because it is a huge loss. They need a female perspective or it just becomes another skeptical sausage fest. What is most bothersome is the misogynist mutation in the DNA of the online and skeptical movement that makes it so tough for women to participate without abuse. To the extent I can mitigate and shut it down I will, but it is unfortunate that such a brilliant, funny and thoughtful person is driven away by a bunch of MRA asshats. You deserve better.

  49. Thanks for this post. I just returned to SGU after a long absence of reason and your uncommented upon truancy had me freaking out at the thought that the “machonazis” had won.
    All the best and you’ll be missed.

  50. I second weatherwax’s sentiments. Every week I wait for Steve to introduce you and I feel a pang of sorrow when I don’t hear your name. It’s not the same. Hope you’re keeping the trolls at bay.

  51. Too bad, I haven’t listened since last year, before that I always listened to every single episode one of the highlights of the week. So when I started listening to a few back last week and heard you weren’t on them, but I thought it was temporary but then I listen to various random through the year, and the latest ones even has another person, Cara Santa María, who I know from some youtube shows.
    First I thought you were dead or ill, but when I googled I found this article now, so that’s good… you’re alright.
    SGU with no Rebecca on the show will take a bit to get used to, but I hope you find some other cool things to do.
    Also I’m glad to hear you didn’t quit because of the non-controversial elevator controversy madness. Do you make some podcasts or youtube videos but not weekly just some times or do you just post here from time to time?

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