SkepSun #123 (01_25_2015)

We get things underway as we do each week with Freethought Radio. After honoring the birthdays of freethinking composers Mozart and Jerome Kern, Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker celebrate the birthday of founding patriot Thomas Paine, the deistic freethinker who wrote The Age of Reason, by listening to Dan’s tribute,“The World is My Country.” Then they talk with Steven Hewett, a retired Army sergeant and Afghanistan veteran who successfully stopped religious symbols from being displayed at a Veterans Memorial in his North Carolina city. They also report on something closer to home for us, NY-Governor Coumo’s announcement last week of a new Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services to be funded with $50 million dollars. See how you can make your voice heard here. Rounding out the first hour, some comments published last week  by author and neuroscientist Sam Harris about freedom of expression and Islam in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher market massacres in Paris.  Starting hour two, T-burg’s own Gordon Bonnet reports on a survey showing that most Americans favor labelling foods that contain…wait for it…DNA. Then we learn about how the woo-woos often masterfully use rhetoric to their advantage and how we skeptics need to learn to add rhetorical analysis our their “skeptic’s toolbox.” In a talk recorded a few months back at CFI Los Angeles Peter Marstona professor of Communication Studies at California State University Northridge—will explain the differences between rhetorical analysis and traditional critical thinking, demonstrate how those making extraordinary claims use rhetoric, and show the ways in which rhetorical analysis can improve a skeptic’s ability to disarm advocates of the paranormal and pseudo-scientific.

Is rhetoric the missing tool from the ‘skeptic’s toolboox”? What can we learn from rhetorical analysis of extraordinary claims and how can we skeptics cleverly use rhetoric ourselves?

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