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 #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 #118 (12_21_2014)

Ah yes, it’s that most wonderful time of year…for illegal state-sponsored religious speech. We’ll hear how the FFRF is challenging a nativity scene in Indiana and about their lawsuit against Wisconsin governor Scott Walker over an open records violation. Then, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor celebrate the Winter Solstice with some seasonal freethought music. Then, not one, but two Point of Inquiry podcasts for you: one is brand new and the other from the vault. First, Lindsay and Lindsay: president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry, Ron Lindsay joins host Lindsay Beyerstein to discuss his just-released book, The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Can’t Tell Us What to Do. Lindsay makes the case that secularism, something to be distinguished from atheism, works to everyone’s benefit in a pluralistic democracy, the religious and non-religious alike, and is the only reliable means of creating fair public policy and of preserving our rights. Finally, for some it wouldn’t be the holiday season if it weren’t for Santa, mistletoe and eggnog.  For me, it’s not complete until I hear Tom Flynn tell me why I’m a traitor to the secular movement for putting lights in my yard and celebrating Solstice or even Festivus. Tom Flynn is the Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism and the editor of Free Inquiry magazine and the author of  the infamous book, The Trouble with Christmas. He talks with Robert Price on a Point of Inquiry from 2011.

Trouble with Christmas

Cover of Tom Flynn’s 1993 classic, “The Trouble with Christmas”



SkepSun #84 (03_30_2014)

For the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, Freethought Radio celebrates the life and legacy of the freethinking lyricist Yip Harburg, who wrote “Over the Rainbow,” and many other songs. We’ll hear Yip himself singing “If I Only Had a Brain,” “Over the Rainbow,” “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” and “Last Night When We Were Young.” Then Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor interview Yip’s son, Ernie Harburg, also an atheist, who is director of the Yip Harburg Foundation, about his father’s artistic life and social activism. In honor of Women’s History Month, we hear a talk from last year’s Women in Secularism II conference by Maryam Namazie in which she describes the necessary relationship between women’s rights and secularism in the Islamic world. Namazie is an Iranian-born human rights activist, commentator and broadcaster. She is spokesperson for Iran Solidarity, One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. Finally, continuing the skeptical look at food claims we began last week, celebrated food author Michael Pollan takes on the popular “Paleo” and raw food diets.  To eat well, he says, we need to eat less meat, more microbes and we need to cook it ourselves.




Maryam Namazie, Iranian-born ex-muslim secularist and feminist activist.

SkepSun #47 (07_14_2013)

This week on Skeptical Sunday: does the Pope rule Ireland as well as Texas and Wisconsin?  On Freethought Radio, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor look at the recent assaults on abortion rights backed by the RC Church in the U.S. and abroad. Then they speak with Jerry Coyne, evolutionary biologist at the U. of Chicago and author of “Why Evolution is True” about creationism sneaking into public universities. I make some summer entertainment and recreation suggestions: first the Freethougtht Trail, including the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum in Dresden, NY, and the Hill Cumorah Pageant which runs July 16-20 up in Palmyra, NY. In the second half of Skeptical Sunday we hear two talks from the recent Women in Secularism II conference in Washington, DC: we’ll hear feminist poet and essayist Katha Pollitt “Sexism and Religion: Can the Knot be Untied” and journalist and historian Susan Jacoby “Why the Lost History of Secular Women Matters Today.”


The Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum in Dresden, NY