Episode Archive for December 2012

Scott Sigler - Encouraging Critical Thinking Through Science Fiction

December 31, 2012

It’s become almost a truism that in their spare time, skeptics tend to gravitate towards TV shows, novels and games that portray the very monsters, myths and conspiracies that they work so hard to debunk. A great story is just as entertaining to the most hardened skeptics as it is to the rest of the population. And because they are often more knowledgeable about the history of a particular monster or myth, skeptics might even enjoy fictional depictions of pet topics more than the uninitiated general public.

A case in point is author and podcaster Scott Sigler,…

Ronald A. Lindsay and Michael De Dora - Mr. Science Goes to Washington

December 24, 2012

We usually record Point of Inquiry at a distance. Over the phone. Skyping.

But for this show, I packed up my gear and hailed a cab—to the Center for Inquiry’s brand new Office of Public Policy in downtown, Washington, D.C.

The Center for Inquiry is here to literally make this country listen to reason… and science. It’s a sensibility that is simply in far too short of a supply in this town.

So I sat down with Ronald A. Lindsay, CFI’s president, and Michael De Dora, head of the Office of Public Policy,…

David Brin - Uplifting Existence

December 17, 2012

It’s rare that I can say about a guest that, I read his books when I was a kid.

But David Brin is just such a guest. He’s the celebrated science fiction author of the Uplift novels, The Postman, and many other books—most recently, Existence. I read the Uplift books when I was tearing through sci-fi as a teenager.

But on top of that, Brin is also a trained scientist and public policy commentator. And in his commentary, as in his novels, he’s concerned with the same themes that motivate this show: How can we…

Bill McKibben - Do the Math

December 10, 2012

When we last had Bill McKibben on this show in 2010, I was mainly treating him as another bestselling science author—one who happens to focus on climate change.

Well.

Something kinda big happened in the intervening years, and McKibben has become, simply put, the country’s leading environmental spokesman and advocate through his organization 350.org.

From protests against the Keystone XL pipeline to, most recently, his “Do the Math” tour, rallying of college students to call for their universities to divest from fossil fuel companies… McKibben now speaks for a stunning mass movement of concerned…

Samuel Arbesman - The Half-Life of Facts

December 03, 2012

Because we live in an uncertain world, we arm ourselves with facts to gain a sense of control and therefore some modicum of comfort. We know that the sun will rise tomorrow even though it disappears tonight. But what happens when facts, those bits of information that we believed captured some fundamental truth about our world, are shown to be no longer true? With the exponential rise in our knowledge about our universe comes a tsunami of data overturning what we once thought we knew with complete certainty. Are there patterns that emerge from this wasteland of myths that…