The History of Knowledge

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The History of Knowledge

Performer: Skeptoid
Album: N/A
Released: March 21, 2011
Genres: World, Hymn, Opera, Country, Jazz, Rock and Roll, Rock, Punk rock, Pop, Comedy
Composer: Peter Zachos
Writer: Brian Dunning, Peter Zachos
Length: 10:32

The History of Knowledge was released as a special musical episode of the podcast Skeptoid. The episode is a collection of songs mimicking the style of music through the ages, each presenting an aspect of failed skepticism through the ages from cavemen thinking the sun is a god, to astrologers, pre-medical treatments, magic, dowsing, seances, and so on.


Official video.


10,000 BCE – Pagan superstitions:
What's that big thing in the sky
Watching over us?
It must know things that we don't know;
We give it all our trust!

I have no food, our caves our bare
Life sucks, we all agree
I guess that big thing in the sky
Is freaking mad at me!

So let's build a fire, and kill a goat,
and burn some virgins too!
And then good luck will come to us,
Our sun will see us through!

Gregorian chant – Astrology as medicine:
We look to the stars for the health of our body
The constellation will tell us when we will die
When Venus is in Orion, my pancreas is vigorous and robust
The patterns of the stars correspond to the health of our organs
Videtur scorpiones, cancris, taurorum disciplina medici omnes
Apparently, crabs and scorpions and bulls all have medical training.

1500s – Renaissance, bodily humors:
Ouch! Ohh! My head it hurts like sin.
Your humours must be balanced, so let's blister your fair skin
My hands and feet are tingling and my bowels run like the Rhein.
We recommend some leeches to suck evil from your spine.

You may have cholera, grippe or pox, our diagnosis is vague.
With henbane, hemlock, sage, and toad we'll rid you of this plague.

And if you die while in our care, our theories won't renew.
Our treatments work, and this we swear:
These cures will see you through.

1600s - Opera, magical objects: 
Siegfried: Hark, the angel of death!
Death: Thy body is broken, thou must come with me.
Siegfried: Nay! Behold, the Ring of Power! While I wear it, I cannot die.
Death: Ach! Thou hast cheated me!
Brünnhilde: My love! Thy Ring of Power hath summoned me. I can't resist its allure.
Siegfried: Whilst I wear this ring, I command the love of all women.
Death: Take it off, let me see it.
Siegfried: Nein!
Death: Ja!
Siegfried: Nein!
Death: Ja!
Siegfried: Nein, nein, nein.
Brünnhilde: Keep it on!
Siegfried: Never more will I want for women....
Ohh, when my hair is blown asunder and my breath smells like poo,
This Ring of Power will see me through!

1800s - Americana, dowsing:
The bones of all our children, they lie scattered o'er the plains.
Of our oxen and our horses, all that's left are dry remains.
We seek the buried water, and we'll sip a saving drink.
We'll use a stick to find it, 'cause it saves us having to think.

I hold one stick in my left hand, and the other in my right.
And I trust in holy Providence to guide them to the light.
Where water flows, the wise old sticks will point the way.
We'll dig and drink the water, and we'll save our wagon train.

When the water's running dry and your thirst is overdue,
This dowsing stick will see us through!

1930s - Jazz, seances:
I'd not seen Grandma for seven years
Until her rapping, tapping, it hit my ears
Holding hands in the dark, we found my old matriarch
Now my dead granny's talkin' to me.

We told all the spirits to make a sound,
Or give us a sign that they're still around
And though she's over the hill, it still gives me a thrill
That my dead granny's talkin' to me.

When Granny passed we were so saddened;
It felt like living in hell.
Now she's sharing all her recipes
And telling us Grandpa's doing well.
$2/mo $5/mo $10/mo One time

When your loved ones leave, you say toodle-oo
Cause death's a reality you can't undo
Though it may seem like a lot of hullabaloo
The seance will see us through!

1940 - Jazz, sexism, and segregation:
Sisters: Streamlined Chevrolets and coffee pots,
Nothing says America like havin' lots,
Automated kitchens and a washing machine
Bing: They help my little lady get it done on the spot.

Sisters: Shiny silver planes and Lucky Strikes
Catalogs to show us what's down the pike
Television, radios, a life of ease
Bing: And lots of new cosmetics keep her ladylike.

Sisters: Magnavox and Philco and a Zenith, too!
Gramophones and records are the new breakthrough!
Penicillin saves us and polio's gone.
Ladies get some nylons and you can't go wrong.
Pepsodent and Autolite and Campbell's stew
Bing: Cuz the latest thing will see us through.
Sisters: Unless you're black.

1950s – Elvis, McCarthyism:
Don't you dare break my heart
Don't you make me go outta my head
Cuz I will only love my baby
As long as you're not a red!

Don't you dare do me wrong
Don't you get me in a twist
Cuz I will only love my baby
If you ain't no communist

Don't come to me with no socialist ruse
Just gimme little more o' that red, white and blue!
American freedom will always see us through!

1960s - Rock, the power of you:
Believe in you; All the power's not outside, but in your mind.
Conceive of you; All the mystic powers out there that you'll find.
You don't need them, you don't need me,
You don't need him, you don't need she

Believe in you; Transcendent spirits, that is what will always be true
Conceive of you; Imagine anything and it will come to you
You don't need anyone to spin you
That the power is not within you
It's you, it's you, just you.

1980s - Pop, the power of me:
It's me, it's me, it's just me!
It's me me me, only me!
It's me, it's me, everything is me,
It's me me me, it's all me!
And money.

1990s - Indie punk, conspiracy theories:
The day the towers fell, I knew they'd never tell
Our innocence was gone when we knew they'd put us on
Your conscience would you sell just to buy an oil well?
Let's raise a rebel yell.

The day the towers fell, was the day we went to hell
Rumsfeld had a friend, that proves he planned our end
Why can't you just see, there was no Flight 93,
And the towers were brought down with TNT?

Don't need no more evidence, don't need no peer review,
The truth will see us through!

2000s - Autotune, energy healing:
My energy is keeping me in sync with all your vibes
Your energy's just what Dr. Quantum Touch prescribes
The frequencies, the energy of me and you, it jibes
Energy is what my Love Hypothesis describes.

Little girl, what you need from me?
Don't need no Scientology...
Come on over, read my aura.
Tell me what my karma reads.

Energy, energy... it's like a dream to me
Our bodies joining in an astral plane, can't explain
Energy, energy... it's a new reality
The universe is talking and we're listening!

Energy is why existence shines on different planes
Your healing touch of energy, it cleanses all my pains
Your energy's like a drink to me, like a drink of fine champagne
Denying energy, it would be simply inhumane

Acupuncture, chiropractic, magnets and naturopathic
Vibrations, reflexology, reiki and homeopathy
Every day I gotta feel your therapeutic touch
When I'm feelin' bad, I need it very much
Need your harmony to heal me,
Baby you balance my qi!

Energy, energy... it's like a dream to me
Our bodies joining in an astral plane, can't explain
Energy, energy... it's a new reality
The universe is talking and we're listening!