SkepSun #172 (01_10_2016)

On Freethought Radio, FFRF wins the Liberty Institute’s “Scrooge Award,” another FFRF banner is vandalized, a political candidate panders to piety, NYC mayor de Blasio hands $20 million to religious schools and Alabama chief justice Moore defies same-sex marriage law. After listening to Holly Near’s song “I Ain’t Afraid” and Dan Barker’s version of Ruth Green’s poem “FFRF,” we hear Ruth Hurmence Green interviewed in 1979 about her book The Born Again Skeptic’s Guide To The Bible.

Was 2015 the year that professional psychics proved to the world that their powers are real? The Skeptic Rogues from the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast have their annual look at how well professional psychics did at predicting events in the past year.

Gordon Bonnet of the Skeptophilia realizes that there’s nothing like scheduling a colonoscopy to discover your inner irrationalist.

Finally, we’ll hear a talk presented by Steven Salzberg at the Center for Inquiry’s Reason for Change conference in Buffalo, New York this past June. Salzberg exposes the how your tax money continues to be wasted studying therapies that have already been studied to death and never shown any efficacy above placebo and how the practice and promotion alt-med has infected some of the leading medical schools in the United States.

Steven Salzberg writes the “Fighting Pseudoscience” column for Forbes, and is Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University, and the Director of the Center for Computational Biology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.


Dr. Steven Salzberger giving his lecture “Bad Medicine: Alt Medicine Infiltrates Medical Schools” at CFI’s Reason for Change Conference last June in Buffalo, NY.

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 #136 (04_26_2015)

On Freethought Radio we hear about the dumbing down of America with the Tennessee House voting the bible as the state book, a global warming talk barred from Wisconsin state agencies, and prayer before university football games. After celebrating the birthday of feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft and hearing Roy Zimmerman’s “Creation Science 101,” Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker talk with Len Eisenberg, founder and CEO of Evogeneao which promotes evolution education. After Freethought Radio, Skeptophilia’s Gordon Bonnet considers how to deal with parents won’t vaccinate their children due to irrational concerns about vaccines safety: parents who have no personal experience with measles and pertussis and polio thanks to such very vaccines. He compares them to pigeons.  You’ll see why. Then, infectious disease doc Mark Crislip makes the case that acupuncture are like the beer goggles, they may change perception, but not reality. (Yes, Ithaca, there is a difference.)  As Crislip says, relaxing in a caring and supportive environment while recieving acupuncture cannot help but make you feel better, as long as you don’t contract hepatitis B or MRSA. Finally, Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology at Pitzer College and author of the books Society without God and Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion joins host Lindsey Beyerstein on Point of Inquiry to discuss the nature of secular people in the United States.  Zuckerman explains how empathy, rather than belief in the watchful eye of a deity, is the guiding force of secular morality, and how religion offers not moral reasoning, but moral outsourcing.

The Reason For Change Conference will take place between 11-16 June in Buffalo, New York. Featured speakers include Richard Dawkins, Rebecca Goldstein, and Susan Jacoby. Consider attending!

Have they no shame?  Owlcupuncture.

Have they no shame? Owlcupuncture.

SkepSun #85 (04_06_2014)

On Freethought Radio, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor analyze the oral arguments heard this past week in the Supreme Court “Hobby Lobby” case, challenging the reproductive mandate of the Affordable Health Care Act on religious grounds, they celebrate Tom Lehrer’s birthday by listening to some of his songs, as well as Eric Idle’s “The Galaxy.” Then they speak with modern Renaissance Woman, Indre Viskontas, opera singer, scientist (Ph.D. in neuroscience), host of the Inquiring Minds podcast, co-star of “The Miracle Detective” TV series (which aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network), science/music educator, and atheist. Afterwards, infectious disease M.D. Mark Crislip plays whack-a-mole once again with the pseudoscience of acupuncture.  He gives us an in-depth examination of a recent study of auricular acupuncture published  in the British Medical Journal that claimed positive results. Good journal, must be a good study, right?  We’ll find out. For people in our camp, the choice of what words to use to describe our beliefs, or lack of them, is a highly personal one. “Atheist,” “agnostic,” “naturalist,” and “secular humanist” and even “bright” all have their passionate advocates. (Well, maybe not “bright”.) In hour two of Skeptical Sunday, rockstar astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson, host of the new Cosmos series, tells  Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef, hosts of the Rationally Speaking podcast why he avoids the label “atheist” and an interesting conversation on labels and language ensues.


Indre Viskontas: soprano, scientist, skeptic

Indre Viskontas: soprano, scientist, mom, skeptic

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 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 #36 (04_28_2013)

This week on Skeptical Sunday: actress, comedian, author and atheist Julia Sweeney join Dan and Annie Laurie on Freethought Radio to discuss her new book, If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother. Then we have one more look at the questionable therapy of acupuncture: Dr. Benedikt Matenaer is a German anaesthesiologist specializing in palliative care and also has a category B diploma (350 hours) in Acupuncture. We will hear his talk “Acupuncture: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” from the 2012 World Skeptics Congress in Berlin. Then on Point of Inquiry, Scott Atran is an anthropologist and an expert on the psychology and sociology of terrorism and is author of the book Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (un)Making of Terrorists. Chris Mooney talks to him about the Tsarnaev brothers and the Boston marathon bombing. Might these homegrown terrorists be getting what they want by the massive response and attention we’ve given to these events?

SkepSun #34 (04_14_2013)

A jam-packed Skeptical Sunday this week. First, on Freethought Radio, Dan and Annie Laurie celebrate the April 13 birthdays of two great freethinkers: Christopher Hitchens and Thomas Jefferson. We’ll listen to a hilarious excerpt of Hitchens’ 2007 talk to the Freedom From Religion Foundation and then hear Dawn Brittain talk about her efforts to defend Jefferson’s wall of separation between church and state, by trying to remove a cross from a war memorial in Coos Bay, Oregon.  Then, Mark Crislip, M.D. takes apart a recent study purporting to show efficacy for acupuncture on his Quackcast podcast. Finally, rounding out Skeptical Sunday, we’ll hear Chris Mooney interview British philosopher A.C. Grayling, master of New College of the Humanities about his new book The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and For Humanism on Point of Inquiry.