SkepSun #170 (12_27_2015)

On Freethought Radio we hear Richard Dawkins read the Foreword he wrote for Dan Barker’s book Godless, and end the year with some relaxing freethought and seasonal music from FFRF’s “Adrift on a Star” CD.

We’ll hear an excerpt from a recent Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe on which Steven Novella breaks down the recent study showing an increased risk for autism for children whose mothers who took anti-depressants during pregnancy. They also talk about a new study finding contaminants in traditional Chinese medicine herbal supplements.

Pity the poor children of the State of Arizona. The recently appointed chair of the Arizona State Senate Committee on Education is a chemtrail conspiracy-believing young earth creationist who’s advocated a law requiring Americans to go to church on Sunday in order to achieve a “moral rebirth.” Gordon Bonnet provides the gruesome details in a blog post from Skeptophilia entitled “Moronocracy.”

Then, Brian Dunning on Skeptoid that asks whether the stories of WWI soldiers laying aside their rifles on Christmas day 1914, meeting, greeting and playing football are true.

Hemant Mehta talks to Dr. Ken Miller, Professor of Biology at Brown University, on the tenth anniversary of the court case that gutted the Intelligent Design movement in which Miller was an expert witness for the science side, Kitzmiller v. DoverHemant asks Miller about whether evolution advocates can finally relax, how a Roman Catholic like himself reconciles science and faith, and the effect of Creationist propaganda on science literacy. Miller is the author of Finding Darwin’s God and Only a Theory.


Dr. Ken Miller of Brown University on the stand in the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover case that ruled “Intelligent Design” to be religion and therefore inadmissible in public school science curricula.


SkepSun #169 (12_20_2015)

News on Freethought Radio includes how Saudi Arabia is scheduled to behead a nonbeliever and that an Indiana school is thumbing its nose at the Constitution by staging a “mannequin” nativity scene after a judge enjoined them from doing a “live nativity scene.” We hear some Winter Solstice songs and a reading about how Christians coopted the season. Then Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker talk with Holly Baer, the first winner of the Yip Harburg Youth Activist award, who challenged a Christian display in the city of Collins, Mississippi.

Gordon Bonnet, author of the Skeptophilia blog, pokes some fun at members of the U.S. Congress who, with all the domestic and international problems at hand think that the War on Christmas is something that deserves their attention. Gordon is right. There is no war by atheists on Christians to keep them from celebrating their religious holiday.

If there is a war, it is within the ranks of non-believers.  Should we atheists be caught up in this holiday and be doing up the Christmas trees, wreaths and lights? Well, for me an important holiday tradition is hearing from Tom Flynn on this issue.  He’s the Executive Director of the Council on Secular Humanism and editor-in-chief of Free Inquiry magazine. Nora Hurley talks with Tom on a Point of Inquiry podcast. According to Tom, Ho ho ho? No no no!

Then we hear from two atheists who like the holiday,  Julia Galef interviews philosophy professor David Kyle Johnson, the author of “The Myths that Stole Christmas” on the Rationally Speaking Podcast. Kyle explains the little-known, and somewhat sinister, origin story of Santa Claus — and then Kyle and Julia debate whether it’s ethical to lie to your children about the reality of Santa Claus and discuss possible alternatives to doing so.


Tom Flynn, Anti-Claus, and Nora Hurley of the Center for Inquiry

SkepSun #168 (12_13_2015)

Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker host their first show produced in the new Stephen Uhl Friendly Atheist Studio at Freethought Hall in Madison, WI.  They’ll tell us about a full-page FFRF ad in the New York Times celebrating the birth of the Bill of Rights (December 15, 1791) and other activities of the FFRF. After hearing Philip Appleman’s poem “Fleas” set to music, they talk with Laurie Lebo, author of The Devil in Dover, about the 10th anniversary of Kitzmiller v. Dover, which booted “intelligent design” from public high-school science classes.

Gordon Bonnet of the Skeptophilia blog makes an urgent appeal to his conservative Republican friends to step back a moment, move beyond the atmospherics, and really consider what Donald Trump is saying, since life as an ex-pat doesn’t really appeal to him.

Infectious disease MD Mark Crislip has a look at the lastest studies on what he calls the “theatrical placebo” known as acupuncture.  Turns out there’s no need a poke a hole in these studies, they come pre-perforated.

Then, a very basic question posed to numerous philosophers by Niger Warbuton on the Philosophy Bites podcast, namely, “What is Philosophy?”

Laser needle therapy being used to treat asthma-bronchitis in a child. Because, you know, lasers.

Laser needle therapy being used to treat asthma-bronchitis in a child. Because, you know, lasers.

SkepSun #167 (12_06_2015)

Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker fill us in on the news out of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  We’ll hear Dan’s “Salt Lake City Blues,” and then they’ll talk with Utah attorney Mark Naugle about how he has helped more than 3,000 people leave the Mormon Church, mainly as a result of the LDS church’s position on same-sex couples.

We’ll hear a track from atheist rapper Greydon Square called Stockholm syndrome followed by a Skeptoid by Brian Dunning that looks at the psychological condition the song references.  Is “Stockholm Syndrome” really a thing? We’ll also use the song as a springboard for another conversation. Does Greydon Square’s comments about Islam and Muhammed in the song make him an “Islamophobe”?  Hehment Mehta has a look at that term and what it means.

Sinclair Lewis said “When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Trumansburg blogger Gordon Bonnet wonders disquietingly whether we haven’t already begun”the gentle smooth slide to being governed by the worst people in the world.”

Finally, in hour two, Luke Muehlauser interviews Tom Clark of the Center for Naturalism. What are the implications of accepting a worldview premised on the idea that existence in all its dimensions and complexity is a single, natural realm, not split between the natural and the supernatural? What happens to human free will and moral responsibility?  Would a society that rejects the reality of so-called “contra-causal free will” be a degenerate one or healthy one?


Worldview Naturalism: not so bad once you try it. cartoon=xkcd

SkepSun #166 (11_29_2015)

On Freethought Radio, Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker talk with sociologist and author Ryan T. Cragun explains his new book: How To Defeat Religion in 10 Easy Steps.

Gordon Bonnet of the Skeptophilia blog asks if we can distinguish among quotations made in reference to the Irish during the Potato Famine, the Jews prior to World War II, or the Syrian refugees now.

Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Atheist blog fills us in on some things you should know about Catholic hospitals before you go to one…particularly if you’re a woman seeking reproductive care.

And the Skeptic Rogues from the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast discuss how the U.S. Dept. of Justice is finally starting to crack down on the unscrupulous and sometimes downright unethical practices of nutritional supplement manufacturers.

Finally, it might surprise you that one of this country’s most prominent and respected advocates for secularism is a reverend, unless of course you already know of the Reverend Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Lynn has spent a career making the case that freedom of religion requires freedom from government-sponsored religion. On a Point of Inquiry podcast,he and host Lindsay Beyerstein discuss the numerous ways the mixing of church and state have resulted in corruption and injustices with examples taken from his new book God and Government: Twenty-Five Years of Fighting for Equality, Secularism, and Freedom Of Conscience.


Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State

SkepSun #165 (11_22_2015)

On Freethought Radio, Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker declare “We love Paris, and detest religious terrorism.” In the news, we’ll hear about Governor Kasich calling for an agency to spread “Judeo-Christian values” and Mormons are leaving the church over their gay-marriage stance. After hearing John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Annie Laurie and Dan talk with Fernando Alcántar, a Mexican immigrant who was converted by American missionaries, became a Christian leader, and then became a gay atheist activist. His new book is To The Cross and Back: An Immigrant’s Journey from Faith to Reason.

Speaking of immigration, Gordon Bonnet has a thing or two to say to those who’d close the U.S. borders to refugees fleeing for their lives from Syria. He’ll even quote Christian scripture in a column from the Skeptophilia blog from the past week entitled “I was a stranger and you took me in.”

Then, in the wake of Islamist-sponsored massacres in Beirut, Paris and Bamako, what does the future look like for muslims in Western Societies, what are the prospects for a global civilization with shared values and what is the way forward?  Is a conversation even possible? Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz show that it is. Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, at the Harvard Kennedy School moderates a discussion at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics between Maajid Nawaz, a British muslim and former jailed Islamist, Chairman of Quilliam, the world’s first counter-extremism think tank and Sam Harris, well known “New Atheist” author and neuroscientist.  The discussion, which took place in September of this year, centers around their jointly authored book, Islam and the Future of Tolerance .

Here is a Seidel to the Andrew Seidel article I mention at the end of the show.

Islam & Future of Tolerance

SkepSun #164 (11_15_2015) Gordon Bonnet Interview

Here is the Gordon Bonnet interview from my 11/15/2015 fundraiser show. Thanks to him for his time on a Sunday morning and a big thank you to everyone who pledged to WRFI!

Gordon Bonnet of Trumansburg, NY, author of the Skeptophilia blog and the well reviewed novel Kill Switch is on the show in hour two. We consider a question that’s often asked to skeptics who raise issues with seemingly benign pseudosciences like Astrology, namely “what’s the harm”? Gordon Bonnet reads a couple of his Skeptophilia columns that address this topic and also reads an excerpt from his soon to be published book Lock & Key now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 7.31.04 AM