science

SkepSun #160 (10_18_2015)

On Freethought Radio, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor tell us about the unveiling of FFRF’s northern “Atheists in Foxholes” monument and the first-ever “Atheist Marquee” at their national headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin. We hear the welcoming remarks of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin at FFRF’s annual “Non-Prayer Breakfast” during the 38th annual convention that took place last weekend. Then we will listen to Bangladeshi atheist author and poet Taslima Nasrin talk about the fatwah and death threats she has been facing for decades because of her outspoken criticism of Islam.

Gordon Bonnet will read a column from the Skeptophilia blog for us entitled “The Science of Beauty.” Does having a biological explanation for human tastes, preferences and desires diminish our experiences, or enhance them?

The Skeptic Rogues of the Skeptics Guide to the Universe have a look at chelation therapy, its legitimate and illegitimate uses.

Then, in hour two, how do you tell science from non-science? Karl Popper thought that the falsifiability of a hypothesis was the defining criterion. Massimo Pigliucci doesn’t think so and discusses his take on the “demarcation problem” with Nigel Warburton on the Philosophy Bites podcast.

Finally, talking with Josh Zepps on the Point of Inquiry podcast about the threat posed by the anti-vaccination movement and what we can do to stop it are Sarah Levin and Ed Beck. Sarah Levin is the Legislative Associate of the Secular Coalition of America and Ed Beck is the senior policy analyst for the Center For Inquiry’s Office of Public Policy. CFI is working with Secular Coalition to launch a new campaign called Put Kids First.

Rates 14 illnesses in the U.S. before and after availability of vaccines.

Rates 14 illnesses in the U.S. before and after availability of vaccines.

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SkepSun #114 (11_23_2014)

We get started with Freethought Radio on which Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker discuss FFRF’s temporary setback (on standing, not merits) in federal Appeals Court over the IRS Housing Allowance case and they announce a new lawsuit challenging prayer at Chino Valley, California, school board meetings. They celebrate the 88th birthday of FFRF’s principal founder Anne Nicol Gaylor by honoring the feminist freethinker Margaret Sanger and then talk with author and scholar Barbara G. Walker about her new book, Belief and Unbelief.  Afterwards we’ll hear from Kristoff Koch, a German-born American neuroscientist and long-time collaborator with Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA who later studied the physical basis of consciousness. Koch’s talk, God, Death and Francis Crick, is a tribute to Crick in which he describes his mentor’s thoroughgoing rationalism and the inspirational way he dealt with his impending death from cancer. Then we hear a talk by psychologist, bestselling author, and founder of the Skeptic Society, Michael Shermer from last year’s TAM. Shermer has a new book coming out in the new year which will be called The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom. In the book and in this talk entitled Science and Justice he makes the case that abstract reasoning, rationality, empiricism, skepticism–scientific ways of thinking–have made people, and society as a whole, more moral.

Francis Crick (1916-2004), molecular biologist, neuroscientist, Nobel Prize winner, atheist.

Francis Crick (1916-2004), molecular biologist, neuroscientist, Nobel Prize winner, atheist.

SkepSun #86 (04_13_2014)

Today’s show:  Communicating the scientific, naturalistic worldview on television. When I was a kid two shows hugely impacted me:  Cosmos hosted by Carl Sagan and Life on Earth with David Attenborough.  Two shows now on television now will hopefully have the same significance for some of today’s young people. The first is Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey on the FOX networks, the much-talked-about successor to the show of 24 years ago, and the second is Your Inner Fish now on PBS. We’ll hear Josh Zepps, host of the Point of Inquiry podcast, interview writer of both Cosmos series, widow of Carl Sagan and Ithacan Anne Druyan. She discusses the relevance of pre-Socratic materialist philosophers, her early memories of Carl Sagan, the possibility of life on other planets, and how shows like Cosmos can change culture. Then, when you look at yourself in the mirror should you see the image of God, or the image of…a fish?  A fish, says Neil Shubin professor at the U. of Chicago, who with colleagues found what you might call the real Darwin fish, a fossil of a transitional stage between fishes and tetrapods in the Canandian high Arctic. They named it Tiktaalik roseae. Shubin then wrote the book Your Inner Fish and there’s now a 3-part TV series of the same name on PBS.  The scientific worldview is about valuing evidence he says, in a wide ranging interview with Chris Mooney on the Inquiring Minds podcast. But first, on Freethought Radio we listen to Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s response after she was disinvited to give the commencement at Brandeis University for her remarks critical of Islam. Then Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor celebrate the birthday of the freethinking Charlie Chaplin and talk with Ellis Felker, owner of Red Oak Greeting Cards.

Created in the image of ... fish!  Transitional fossil fish Tiktaalik roseae.

Created in the image of … fish! Transitional fossil fish Tiktaalik roseae.

SkepSun #56 (09_15_2013)

On Freethought Radio we hear a rare recording of H.L. Menken, America’s most prominent journalist between the wars and they honor an international heroine of Freethought, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. We hear the ex-Muslim Somali author of Infidel and Nomad, give her acceptance speech of FFRF’s “Emperor Has No Clothes” Award.  Then we hear an extended discussion between evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson, entitled “The Poetry of Science.”

ayaan-hirsi-ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel