Episode Archive for December 2011

Stuart Robbins - The End of the World as We Know It

December 26, 2011

Dr. Stuart Robbins is a postdoctoral researcher in astronomy at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His work focuses on planetary geophysics, and he’s currently researching craters on Mars, and on the moon. Stuart received his PhD in Astrophysics through the Geophysics program from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Stuart has a special interest in astronomy education, especially correcting myths and misconceptions about astronomy. To that end, he has a blog entitled Exposing PseudoAstronomy, and a podcast by the same name. Since 2012 is supposed to be our last year on earth, again, Stuart dispels some…

John Cook - The Debunking Handbook

December 19, 2011

How do you successfully debunk misinformation?

The question is a deceptively simple one—which is precisely the problem.

Debunking is easy—just refute false claims, and provide corrective information.

Debunking successfully is something else again-you have to change minds, and make the corrective information stick. And how does that work?

Well, as it turns out, we actually don’t know very much about the process. But what we do know was recently compiled into a brilliant short document, the Debunking Handbook, available free for download from the website Skeptical Science.

Daniel Dennett - The Scientific Study of Religion

December 12, 2011

Recently, the Center for Inquiry held a conference titled “Daniel Dennett and the Scientific Study of Religion: A Celebration of the Fifth Anniversary of Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon”. During that conference, John Shook, CFI’s Director of Education, sat down with Dennett for this interview. 

Shook and Dennett have a broad conversation ranging from Dennett’s past and current work to his definition of free will. Dennett explains what caused him to write Breaking the Spell in 1996 and the impact it had on him personally.

They talk about how the public views the…

Robert McCauley - Why Religion is Natural (And Science is Not)

December 05, 2011

Over the last decade, there have been many calls in the secular community for increased criticism of religion, and increased activism to help loosen its grip on the public.

But what if the human brain itself is aligned against that endeavor?

That’s the argument made by cognitive scientist Robert McCauley in his new book, Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not.

In it, he lays out a cognitive theory about why our minds, from a very early state of development, seem predisposed toward religious belief—and not predisposed towards the difficult explanations and…