Episode Archive for April 2010

Lois Schadewald - The Schadewald Legacy: Nemesis of Pseudo-Science

April 30, 2010

Lois Schadewald's interest in both science and pseudoscience rubbed off on her from her brilliant brother Robert J. Schadewald, a prolific author and debater. When Bob died a decade ago he left behind a legacy of published essays and book chapters, as well as much unpublished material including a complete manuscript on the history of the Flat Earth movement. Lois has seen to the publication of many of these pieces in the collection Worlds of their Own: A Brief History of Misguided Ideas; Creationism, Flat-Earthism, Energy Scams, and the Velikovsky Affair. In this episode of Point of Inquiry, Robert…

Deborah Blum - Murder and Chemistry in Jazz Age New York

April 23, 2010

For many of us, chemistry is something we remember with groans from high school. Periodic Table of the Elements—what a pain to memorize, and what was the point, anyway?

So how do you take a subject like chemistry and make it exciting, intriguing, and compelling?

With her new book The Poisoner’s Handbook, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Deb Blum has done just that. Blum takes a page from the "CSI" franchise, and moves that familiar narrative of crime, intrigue, and high tech bad-guy catching back into the early days of the 20th century. There, in jazz…

Bob Carroll - Defining Skepticism

April 16, 2010

Dr. Robert Todd Carroll is a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and author of The Skeptic's Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. He is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Sacramento City College, where he taught Logic and Critical Reasoning, Critical Thinking about the Paranormal, Law, Justice and Punishment, and World Religions. He is also author of the textbook Becoming a Critical Thinker.

Bob is the creator of the popular website Skepdic.com, which features numerous essays and book reviews, and the Skeptimedia blog where he provides a commentary of media coverage…

Eli Kintisch - Is Planet-Hacking Inevitable?

April 09, 2010

For two decades now, we’ve failed to seriously address climate change. So the planet just keeps warming—and it could get very bad. Picture major droughts, calving of gigantic ice sheets, increasingly dramatic sea level rise, and much more.

Against this backdrop, the idea of a technological fix to solve the problem—like seeding the stratosphere with reflective sulfur particles, so as to reduce sunlight—starts to sound pretty attractive. Interest in so-called “geoengineering” is growing, and so is media attention to the idea. There are even conspiracy theorists who think a secret government plan to geoengineer the planet is…

Thomas J.J. Altizer - The Death of God

April 02, 2010

Thomas J.J. Altizer burst onto the religious scene in the 1960s with his book The Gospel of Christian Atheism. He was one of the "Death of God" theologians discussed in the famous TIME cover story, "Is God Dead?" Altzier holds an M.A. in theology and Ph.D. in History of Religions from the Universeity of Chicago. Now 83 years of age, Altizer remains a Young Turk among radical theologians, insisting that only Christians can be true atheists and must proclaim the death of God.

In this conversation with Robert Price, Altizer delves into Death of God theology. He…