Episode Archive for October 2009

The 13th Annual CFI Houdini Seance

October 30, 2009

Harry Houdini, the world-famous magician and debunker of mediums, earnestly explored the religion of spiritualism and communication with the dead after his beloved mother’s death in 1913.

In this episode for Halloween 2009, skeptics and former professional magicians Joe Nickell and D.J. Grothe discuss how Houdini's background in magic motivated his debunking of spiritualism. They discuss his religious beliefs. They explore the fraudulent methods of the mediums, including slate writing, the Sprit Trumpet, spirit photography and the use of "ectoplasm." And they conclude their conversation by conducting the Center for Inquiry’s 13th Annual Houdini Seance.

Randy Olson - Don’t Be Such a Scientist

October 23, 2009

Randy Olson is a marine biologist and filmmaker who holds a PhD in biology from Harvard University. A graduate of the U.S.C. Cinema School in 1997, he wrote and directed the movies Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus, and Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy. His new book is Don't Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style.

In this interview with D.J. Grothe, Randy Olson discusses his background as a Harvard-trained scientist and tenured professor and why he changed careers to become a filmmaker. He explains the differences between science education and science communication. He recounts…

Darrel Ray - The God Virus

October 16, 2009

Dr. Darrel W. Ray is author of three books, two on organizational psychology. He has been a psychologist for over 30 years. After practicing counseling and clinical psychology for 10 years, his focus shifted to organizational psychology and consulting. A longtime student of religion, his latest book is The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture.

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Darrel Ray talks about religion being like a virus, elaborating on Richard Dawkins' concept of the meme. He explains why the metaphor of God belief being like a virus of the mind is so useful. He…

Chris Mooney - Unscientific America

October 09, 2009

Chris Mooney is a 2009-2010 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT and author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science, Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum.

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Chris Mooney talks about the growing divide between science and society. He contrasts the issues addressed in The Republican War on Science with the current problems facing society as outlined in Unscientific America. He argues for the unique public policy significance of science for society, and why scientific literacy matters more than…

Russell Blackford - 50 Voices of Disbelief

October 02, 2009

Russell Blackford is an Australian writer, philosopher, and critic, and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Evolution and Technology. His new book, edited with Udo Schuklenk, is 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists.

In this interview with D.J. Grothe, Russell Blackford explains the need for 50 Voices of Disbelief. He argues that there can be no more important question than whether religion and faith deliver on their promises. He explores whether religion will persist. He contends that religious leaders are not our society's moral leaders. He discusses a number of contributed essays in the 50 Voices collection, such as…