Episode Archive for November 2012

Steven Novella - Exposing Medical Nonsense

November 26, 2012

One of the first people I ever got to know in skepticism was Steven Novella.

He was a professor at Yale, just starting out as an organized skeptic—I was a student, just getting fired up about the same stuff.

Since then, Steve has become hugely successful as a skeptic leader and as a communicator of skeptical ideas, particularly when it comes to his area of specialty, alternative medicine.

And one thing I’ve always noticed about him over the years is his unending capacity to consider what really works to promote skepticism and critical…

Michael Gordin - The Pseudoscience Wars

November 19, 2012

Before the “complementary and alternative medicine” fad, and before UFO craze, lived a man whom you might call the first modern pseudoscientist.

His name was Immanuel Velikovsky. He had a strange theory about a comet—that turned out to be Venus—shaping the course of human history.

He tangled with Carl Sagan about it—and with the scientific community about it. And then, he was mostly forgotten.

But no longer, because Princeton historian of science Michael Gordin has tracked down Velikovsky’s personal papers. In his book The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the…

Jacques Berlinerblau - How to Be Secular

November 12, 2012

On this show, we often debate the state of American secularism—covering topics like the rise of the so-called “nones,” or the unending battle to rescue the country from the pernicious influence of Christian right.

Our guest this week, Jacques Berlinerblau, has a provocative thesis about all this. He says that American secularism has clearly and distinctly lost major ground. And to recover from that loss, well… he’s got some suggestions that might not go down well—but it’s important to hear them.

Even if, you know, you’re not quite ready for a political allegiance with religious…

Oliver Sacks - Hallucinations

November 05, 2012

Despite our individual differences, highlighted especially during an election, much of what we see, hear, smell or feel is shareable: that is, when standing in front of an object, we can more or less agree that it has a particular color, shape, texture, size and so on. But what if I tell you that I see an object clearly which you do not? Or hear a voice that doesn’t have a physical source? Now we enter the world of hallucinations.

Hallucinations, or perceptions of objects without an external reality, are not confined to the minds of people…