Episode Archive for December 2010

Barry Kosmin - One Nation, Losing God

December 31, 2010

By now you’ve probably heard the finding-the United States is growing less godly. More precisely, more and more Americans in surveys report that they lack a religious identity.

These are the so-called “nones,” and they already comprise 15 percent of the total population. But there are estimates that their numbers will continue to grow and could someday even surpass major denominations like Catholicism (currently 24% of the country). Being a “none” is particularly popular among those aged 18-29.

Barry Kosmin is the nation’s leading expert on the “nones,” a group that he studies through the ARIS, or American Religious Identification Survey. In…

Reed Esau - SkeptiCamp: The Unconference

December 24, 2010

Reed Esau is a skeptical activist and one of the founders of SkeptiCamp. Also known as Open Events, these are informal, community-organized conference where speakers tackle issues regarding science and skepticism. SkeptiCamp encourages participation as well as observation.

A software architect by trade, Reed is author of the blog “An Illustrative Account”, and he writes for the James Randi Educational Foundation’s blog Swift. Reed is also a contributor to Skeptical Inquirer magazine for which he wrote the article “Reinventing the Skeptical Conference”.

In this interview with Karen Stollznow, Reed discusses the unique model of SkeptiCamp, which he calls an “unconference”. He explains…

Why Facts Fail - Brendan Nyhan

December 17, 2010

Ever been in an argument with someone and felt massively frustrated, because nothing you can say seems to change the person’s mind?

Maybe that’s what you should expect to happen. Maybe you should get used to it.

According to University of Michigan political scientist Brendan Nyhan, that’s how our minds work-and it’s not just that. When it comes to politics, people who believe incorrect things tend to be strongly convinced that they’re right, and moreover, often become stronger in that conviction when they’re refuted.

It’s a pretty alarming aspect of human nature-but in this interview, Nyhan explains how we know what we do…

Roger Nygard - The Nature of Existence

December 10, 2010

Roger Nygard recently produced and directed a feature documentary called The Nature of Existence. In it, he asks some of the biggest of questions to “the widest cross-section of humanity possible.” Why do we exist? What is our purpose? What is truth? He asked these and many other substantial questions to individuals with a wide range of worldviews—from Richard Dawkins, to 24th generation Chinese Taoist Master Zhang Chengda, to the founder of Ultimate Christian Wrestling, Rob Adonis.

In this wide-ranging conversation with Robert Price, Nygard discusses whether or not it’s worthwhile to distinguish between “normal” religions and “weird” fringe belief systems.…

The Future of Atheism: Beyond the Question of God

December 03, 2010

Recently at Pomona College in California, three atheists—one of them a Point of Inquiry host—got together to debate the future of the movement.

And some sparks flew.

Topics raised included the rise of the so-called “nones” (those professing “no religion” in surveys), the lack of representation for atheists in the U.S. Congress, and the debate between moderate or “live-and-let-live” atheism as opposed to a louder and more aggressive version.

Despite their disagreement, it was clear that it’s an exciting time for the movement, as atheism becomes more visible in American life. Where do…