SkepSun #43 (06_16_2013)

On a day on which we celebrate the important contributions of earthly, non-imaginary fathers in all of our lives, we begin Skeptical Sunday, as we do each week, with Freethought Radio. On today’s show Dan and Annie Laure talk to their staff attorney, Andrew Seidel about a new lawsuit  in federal court challenging censorship of freethought literature in Orange County, Florida high schools and then celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic 1963 Abington v. Schempp decision by the U.S. Supreme Court by talking with Ellery Schempp, who was a high-schooler in 1956 when the case got started. Next, in the “you must be kidding” segment of Skeptical Sunday, infectious disease MD Mark Crislip addresses acupuncture and laser therapy for sea turtles at the New England Aquarium. Apparently, now not even marine life is safe from their needless needling. Finally, on Point of Inquiry, host Indre Viskontas interviews philosopher Dan Dennett about his lastest book Intuition Pumps and other Tools for Thinking.

And it’s the late spring/early summer fundraiser on WRFI. Contribute $60 or more and get a flying fish logo t-shirt!  Go to WRFI.org for information.  And Happy Father’s Day!

Sea Turtle Acupunctur_Angu

A Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle being tortured receiving acupuncture at the New England Aquarium.  What have we come to?


SkepSun #42 (06_09_2013)

It’s a consipiracy theory-themed Skeptical Sunday this week. In Point of Inquiry in hour two, Chris Mooney talks to cognitive scientist Stephan Lewandowsky about the mind of the conspiracy theorist. Lewandowsky is a professor at the school of psychology at the University of Western Australia, and at the University of Bristol in the UK and the author of a recent study with titled “NASA Faked the Moon Landings, Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science (PDF)”.  We’ll also hear Brian Dunning respond to listener mail on his conspiracy theory episodes, Neil de Grasse Tyson on those who think the moon landings were a hoax and the song “Conspiracy” by the band, Terrible Things. But first, we begin the proceedings as we do each week with Freethought Radio on which women’s rights, Roe v. Wade, and the current “marriage equality” cases before the U.S. Supreme Court are this week’s topics. Dan and Annie Laurie talk to Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Linda Greenhouse, author of the books Becoming Justice Blackmun and Before Roe Against Wade.


SkepSun #41 (06_02_2013)

On Skeptical Sunday this week, we’ll hear about the personal philosophies of two different particle physicists, an infectious disease M.D. and an experimental psychologist/linguist. How does science influence their personal beliefs? First, on Freethought Radio, FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel describes a controversy at a college over creationism and Dan and Annie Laurie speak to physics professor Victor Stenger, author of God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion.” In hour two of Skeptical Sunday, we’ll hear from another physicist, CalTech’s Sean Carroll describe naturalism, the viewpoint that supernatural stuff just doesn’t exist, with Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef on the Rationally Speaking podcast. They discuss what a naturalistic worldview implies about free will, consciousness, and other philosophical dilemmas and address that long-standing debate: should scientists have more respect for philosophy? In between there, somewhere, we hear from doctor Mark Crislip who looks for some boundaries between science and pseudoscience and also cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker who says that for him, reason goes a long way in his personal worldview.


Sean Carroll, astrophysicist at CalTech.

SkepSun #40 (05_26_2013)

Nonbelievers are in the news on Freethought Radio. When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer suggests to a tornado survivor that she must be thanking God, she confidently tells him she’s an atheist and Ricky Gervais sends money, not prayers, to Oklahoma relief. An Arizona representative unsurprisingly catches flack for delivering a secular humanist invocation before his state assembly and an Australian TV host delivers an “Aussie” version of the Ten Commandments. Dan and Annie Laurie talk to high-school activist Gage Pulliam, whose complaint to the FFRF resulted in the Muldrow, Oklahoma schools removing hundreds of Ten Commandments plaques from the walls of public classrooms. We’ll hear Tim Minchin’s take on thanking God for miracles. In Hour Two of Skeptical Sunday, the Skeptic Rogues talk to neuroscientist Heather Berlin about the neural basis for consciousness and whether any neuroscientists are mind-body dualists. And finally, on Point of Inquiry, host Chris Mooney asks feminist poet, author and columnist Katha Pollitt whether religion is inherently sexist.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton, suffragette & freethinker

SkepSun #39 (05_19_2013)

What will incite more wrath on Ithaca’s airwaves than criticizing religion? How about an expert with something good to say about fracking! But first, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, hosts of Freethought Radio, celebrate Bertrand Russell’s birthday on May 18 by listening to his own voice commenting on Christianity and the afterlife. Then Annie Laurie reads Russell’s “Ten Thoughts” alternative to the Ten Commandments, and Dan’s song “Reincarnation” about the after-life. They then talk with FFRF attorney Patrick Elliott about the successful removal of Ten Commandments displays from Oklahoma and Kentucky public schools, and (it’s that time of year) the ongoing problem with the distribution of Gideon bibles in public schools. Then, what are the consequences of believing in alien abduction? (How about needless, overwhelming fear and sleep deprivation?) On the JREF podcast Consequence host Brian Thompson talks to his friend Richard who grew up inundated with pop culture that convinced him not only that extraterrestrials were visiting earth, but that they were also abducting innocent people for strange experiments. Finally, is there such a thing as an energy policy moderate? On Point of Inquiry, host Chris Mooney talks to energy security and climate change expert Michael Levi about fracking, pipelines and science. Levi is author of the new book The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America’s Future—in which he has some favorable things to say about “fracking” for natural gas and even, yes, the Keystone XL Pipeline. Decide for yourself if he has a point or not.


SkepSun #38 (05_12_2013)

On Freethought Radio, we’ll hear about FFRF’s graduation prayer victory in Georgia, and learn about the May 2 full-page Washington Post ad challenging the National Day of Prayer and Annie Laurie and Dan talk with high-school senior Daniel Koster, who distributed freethought literature at Wekiva High School, Florida, as a way to protest Bible distribution in 11 Orange County schools. The “New Atheists” were by no means the first public intellectuals to promote freethought. May 18 is the  birthday of mathematician, logician, philosopher and humanist Bertrand Russel, and we’ll celebrate by playing a recording of him reading his classic essay from 1927 “Why I am not a Christian.” We end Skeptical Sunday with the Center for Inquiry’s Point of Inquiry podcast. Hosts Indre Viskontas and Chris Mooney interview Professor of Geography at the University of California and Pulitzer Prize winner Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel about his new book, the World Until Yesterday.

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell: Mathematician, logician, philosopher, peace activist, freethinker.

SkepSun #37 (05_05_2013)

There is hope after faith! On Freethought Radio we  listen to former pentecostal minister Jerry DeWitt “preach” his story of conversion to atheism at FFRF’s 2012 Convention. Then Dan and Annie Laurie talk to another former preacher, Robert Price—scholar, author, Jesus Seminar fellow, and professor of theology—who tells us why many scholars doubt not only the resurrection, but also the very existence of Jesus.  For that matter, what about God?  Philosopher Austin Dacey lays out an empirical case why God’s existence is very improbable.  We’ll hear Steve Baughman’s Theodicy Rag and then the Skeptics rogues let us know if there’s anything to people behavior strangely during a full moon. On the last segment of Skeptical Sunday, we’ll get a 30 minute crash course in critical thinking from Dr. Peter Boghossian of Portland State University. Boghossian says it’s all about having the right attitude. Finally, what’s better, Christianity or beer?