Episode Archive for November 2014

Getting Over Racial Anxiety, with Rachel D. Godsil

November 24, 2014

As a nation, the U.S. prides itself on at least aspiring to the ideal of equality, even if it often falls short. The educational, health care, and legal systems, are plagued by institutional biases against racial minorities. The good news is that these disparities are likely not due to hateful intent, but caused by a combination of factors that include implicit bias, racial anxiety, and stereotype threat.

To make sense of this, Point of Inquiry welcomes Rachel D. Godsil, research director of the Perception Institute, who explains how the unconscious associations and attitudes that we have towards…

Surviving Saddam and Confronting Islam, with Faisal Saeed Al Mutar

November 19, 2014

As the threat posed by radical Islamists like those of ISIS grows in popular awareness, Islam itself becomes more of a target for criticism; some of it fair, and some of it based in ignorance or bigotry. Can efforts to defend Islam and Muslims from discrimination and racism go too far, and keep us from having an honest discussion about something of such critical importance?

This week, Point of Inquiry welcomes Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, an Iraqi refugee turned activist, and founder of the Global Secular Humanist Movement. Al Mutar talks about growing up in Iraq under…

Steven Pinker: Using Grammar as a Tool, Not as a Weapon

November 10, 2014

The English language is often treated as delicate and precious, and disagreements about what is “proper English” go back as far as the 18th century. Then as now, style manuals and grammar books placed innumerable restrictions on what is and isn’t “correct,” as “Language Mavens” continue to delight in pointing out the unforgivable errors of others. To bring some fresh perspective to this remarkably heated topic (and to let some of us who are less than perfect, grammatically speaking, off the hook), Point of Inquiry welcomes Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker, author of the new book   The Sense of…

Ebola in the Age of Epidemics - Special Live Episode

November 03, 2014

There’s no doubt that Ebola is an incredibly dangerous and genuinely lethal virus, but it’s also a highly manageable one, though you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise given the kind of hyperbolic coverage we’ve seen of the epidemic. In order to sort fact from fiction about the real threat posed by Ebola, and to better understand its origins and wider implications, Point of Inquiry presents a special episode, recorded before a live audience in New York.

We begin with a presentation by Dr. Jon Epstein, a veterinarian and epidemiologist who specializes in emerging pandemic threats in the…