Episode Archive for October 2011

Seth Shostak - ET, Call SETI

October 31, 2011

Dr. Seth Shostak is the Senior Astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI). Seth is the author of Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and is well known as one of the hosts of the popular radio show Big Picture Science. (Formerly known as Are We Alone?)

Seth is a science communicator who performs public outreach; especially to young people, about science in general, and astrobiology in particular. He has published hundreds of popular articles on science, and gives dozens of talks annually. He is also a Fellow of the…

Jonathan Moreno - Our New Biopolitics

October 24, 2011

Human cloning. Synthetic biology. Mood (and mind) altering drugs. Personalized medicine.

Such topics are rarely at the top of the political agenda. Yet the changes they’re causing, often below the radar, are monumental. Issues of personhood, identity, ethics, are at play. The human future may be very different from the human past as these changes are negotiated and assimilated.

And so may human politics.

To help us prepare for this radical future is Jonathan Moreno, author of the new book The Body Politic: The Battle Over Science in America, which underscores the strange…

Richard C. Johnson - Religion: The Failed Narrative

October 17, 2011

Richard C. Johnson Ph.D. is a retired chemist and serves as Treasurer for Freethought Arizona.

For some 25 years, the company he founded worked with scientists and researchers in chemical analysis. Through family ties, Richard had long been a kind of participant observer of religion and learned well its social bonding functions, though always remaining suspicious of its metaphysical claims. He observed just too many contradictions in theory and practice to take the beliefs seriously. Here he saw the roots of the terrible present-day conflicts between religions as well as between particular faiths and the rest of…

Shawn Otto - The Assault on Science

October 10, 2011

In recent months, political attacks on science have been back in the news.

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman even famously tweeted, “To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

So it’s very timely that Shawn Lawrence Otto, co-founder of a nonpartisan organization called Science Debate, has got a new book out about this very problem.

It’s called Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, and it covers the grand role of science in our country’s history, as well as the…

CSICon - The Conference Dedicated To Scientific Inquiry And Critical Thinking

October 05, 2011

Later this month—on Halloween weekend—the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry is holding a conference: CSICon. It’s the latest in a line of CSI skeptics’ conferences going back to what might be the first skeptics’ conference ever held, a CSICOP (CSI) conference back in 1983.

This episode of Point of Inquiry revolves around CSICon. It features interviews with Barry Karr, Jim Underdown, and Debbie Goddard.

Barry Karr is the Executive Director of CSI and Skeptical Inquirer magazine. He was at that first conference in 1983 and he’s the driving force behind upcoming CSICon. Barry talks about…

Indre Viskontas - The Miracle Detective

October 03, 2011

Indre Viskontas is a neuroscientist, a soprano, and a skeptic. She is a host of the television show The Miracle Detectives that recently aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Indre appeared as the scientific investigator pitted against “believer” Randall Sullivan, author of the book The Miracle Detective. The show investigates claims of “miracles”; from supposedly miraculous dirt believed to cure cancer, through to a beam of light in a hospital alleged to be an angel of mercy.

In this interview with host Karen Stollznow, Indre talks about her experiences on the show. She tells us which skeptical…