Episode Archive for February 2013

Matthew Hutson - The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking

February 25, 2013

Even the hard-core skeptics believe in magic, says Matthew Hutson in his new book The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep us Happy, Healthy and Sane which has just been released in paperback.

Most of us have some sentimental objects that would seem to lose their importance if replaced by an exact copy. We imbue our pets with human personality traits. We are disgusted at the thought of eating a cake that looks like fecal matter. We expect that what goes around comes around. All of these are examples of magical thinking, Hutson argues.…

Point of Inquiry Live | Steven Pinker - The Decline of Violence

February 18, 2013

Note: You can watch this episode on Youtube. 

Since the horrendous massacre of children and teachers in Newtown, CT last year, gun control and the second amendment have been frequent topics of the national conversation. Point of Inquiry would be remiss if we didn’t add our signature long-form interview style to the discussion. To that end, we interviewed Steven Pinker whose recent book suggests that we are, contrary to popular belief, living in the most peaceful time in humanity’s existence.

Steven Pinker is professor of psychology at Harvard University. He is the author of eight…

Susan Jacoby - Freethought’s Forgotten Hero

February 11, 2013

Our guest this week is Susan Jacoby.

She’s the bestselling author of a number of books about secularism and American culture, including Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism and The Age of American Unreason.

Jacoby started her career at the Washington Post, and her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Newsday, Harper’s, The Nation, Vogue, The American Prospect, Mother Jones, and the AARP Magazine, among other publications.

Her latest book, just published and the subject of our interview, is The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and…

Carl Zimmer - Viruses and Other Little Things

February 04, 2013

This year’s flu season has been dubbed the worst in recent history, despite the fact that the flu vaccine is fairly effective and readily available. But of course, not everyone experiencing flu-like symptoms actually has the flu—with so many cold viruses and bacterial infections being passed around, it seems that everyone has been sick this January. Long nights, low humidity, holiday parties all combine to create the perfect breeding ground for the tiny organisms that make us miserable.

Singers like myself are particularly sensitive to illnesses that make it impossible for us to do our jobs and…