The Skeptic Rogues of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast discuss a recent peer-reviewed study that mathematically modeled large conspiracies (involving more than 1000 people) and showed that these are inherently not sustainable and prone to quick failure, even with the most generous assumptions made about the secret-keeping abilities of conspirators.
However, not everyone’s gotten the memo that huge conspiracies can’t work and some are speculating that the Zika virus we’re hearing so much about is a hoax and/or a genetically engineered biological weapon. Gordon Bonnet of Skeptophilia looks into it.
Sadly, this will be the last Skeptical Sunday, at least for the foreseeable future, and I’ve chosen two final segments which eloquently summarize the worldview and values of skepticism, naturalism and humanism that this show has been promoting for the past 3.5 years.
First, we’ll hear Carl Sagan from what turned out to be his last television interview from the May 27, 1996 Charlie Rose show on which he talks about what was his final book The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark and lastly we’ll hear Jeremy Beahan’s wonderful “Atheist Sermon.”
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
On Freethought Radio, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor talk about FFRF’s victory with the IRS, an agreement that they will begin to follow their own policy of enforcing restrictions on political activity by tax-exempt religious organizations and churches and announce their newest lawsuit, filed with the ACLU and Americans United, against a Michigan city that is censoring atheist speech. Then they talk with David Pineda, President of “La Asociación Guatemalteca de Humanistas Seculares,” an exciting new group of freethinkers in Guatemala.We’ll hear an excerpt from a debate in which physicist Sean Carroll of CalTeh makes the case for Naturalism and a song from rapper Greydon Square. Then, in hour two of Skeptical Sunday, how did Jesus, an apocalyptic prophet from Galilee, come to be regarded as a God by his followers? Bart D. Ehrman (Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) joins the host of the Reasonble Doubts podcast to discuss his new book How Jesus Became God, which traces the historical evolution of early Christian thought about the nature and identity of Jesus.
Cover of the new book by New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman
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.