Episode Archive for February 2011

Neil deGrasse Tyson - Communicating Science

February 28, 2011

Our guest this week needs little introduction—he may be our most famous public communicator of science.

He’s Neil DeGrasse Tyson, renowned American astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, and the host of PBS’s NOVA ScienceNow, which just completed a new six part season.

Tyson is also the author of 9 books, most recently Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries, which was a New York Times bestseller, and The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet

In this double length episode, Tyson…

Michael Cicchini - Myths, Misconceptions, and the Law

February 21, 2011

Michael Cicchini is a criminal defense attorney and a skeptic.

Through extensive research and writing in the field of criminal law he has advocated for defendants’ rights. Super Lawyers and Milwaukee Magazine have named him among “The Top Young Lawyers” for four consecutive years.

Michael is the author of the book But They Didn’t Read Me My Rights: Myths, Oddities, and Lies about our Legal System, that debunks assumptions and misconceptions about the American Legal System.  He is also author of the blog “The Legal Watchdog” where he employs critical thinking to critique case decisions and report on other legal issues.


Dan Kahan - The American Culture War of Fact

February 14, 2011

Why do Americans claim to love science, but then selectively reject its findings when they’re inconvenient? And why do some cultural groups reject certain types of scientific findings (about, say, harm to the environment), whereas others reject others?

Yale law professor Dan Kahan is doing some of the most cutting edge work right now when it comes to figuring this out. Kahan is trying to resolve what he has called the “American Culture War of Fact,” by determining how it is that our core values-whether we are “individualists” or “communitarians,” “hierarchs” or “egalitarians”—can sometimes interfere with our perceptions of reality. 

Most intriguingly—or,…

Don Webb - Devil’s Advocate

February 07, 2011

The nineties witnessed an outbreak of “Satanic Panic,” with psychologists dredging up false memories of “Satanic ritual abuse” which landed innocent parents in jail and banked the fires of hysteria. It seemed the Salem Witch Trials had returned! But what is Satanism? Are there actually murderous, nihilistic cults sacrificing human lives? Were there?

Actual Satanism seems to be much more innocent, despite a name which invites negative publicity. In this respect Satanism is not unlike atheism. A “dirty word,” it seeks to be a positive force. But how can that be if Satanists worship the devil? The Church of Satan, founded…