Episode Archive for February 2016

Censorship in the Islamic World, Through the Eyes of Journalist Jessica Davey-Quantick

February 29, 2016

We know more and more about how repressive attitudes about blasphemy and religious criticism in parts of the Islamic world can become explosive, as with the Charlie Hebdo attacks or the murder of secularist bloggers in Bangladesh. But these extreme instances don’t tell the whole story.

This week our guest is Jessica Davey-Quantick, who spent several years in Qatar as a reporter and editor for Qatar Happening and Time Out Doha. She experienced first hand the often laughable degrees of arbitrary censorship and cultural oppression, and simultaneously the liberty with which certain members of society could behave…

Can’t Help Helping: Larissa MacFarquhar on Attitudes Toward Altruism

February 23, 2016

Most of us have no problem operating under the notion that we should do unto others as we would have others do unto us. But what do we make of people who do go well beyond that, while asking for nothing in return? Why are often perplexed by those who are willing to put their health and well being on the line for complete strangers? Today’s guest is Larissa MacFarquhar, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of the new book Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help.


Sex and the Safely Satisfied, with Jaclyn Friedman (Valentine’s Day Special)

February 14, 2016

Jaclyn Friedman is a writer, speaker, and sex education activist, challenging misconceptions about what it means to have consenting, satisfying sex. She’s the author of What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex & Safety, and she joins us on this special Valentine’s Day episode to bring some freethought to love and sex.

In addition to having written extensively on the topic of healthy sexuality and the myriad hang-ups and myths surrounding sex and pleasure, she’s also in the process of producing a new multimedia project, including a podcast about female sexual power…

Robyn Blumner and Ronald A. Lindsay: A Joining of Forces, a Passing of the Torch

February 08, 2016

The freethought movement has seen two of its most respected and influential institutions combine into what has been called a “supergroup” for secularism. The Center for Inquiry, the organization that proudly produces this program, announced in January that it would merge with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, and that Robyn Blumner, the Richard Dawkins Foundation’s president and CEO, would take over from Ronald A. Lindsay as CEO of CFI.

Both Robyn Blumner and Ron Lindsay appear together as our guests this week, here to discuss with host Josh Zepps the reasoning behind the merger,…

Athens’ Atheists: Tim Whitmarsh on Religious Doubt in Ancient Greece

February 01, 2016

In ancient Greece, did everyone unquestioningly believe in the gods of Olympus? Was there no one in classical Athens to write the equivalent of “The Zeus Delusion”? According to our guest this week, the Greeks’ religious beliefs were as varied and nuanced as they are today. Tim Whitmarsh is a classicist and professor of Greek Culture at University of Cambridge. In his newest book, Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World, he explores the skeptical aspects of ancient history that are often left out of common retellings.

  Like so many other cultures, ancient Greece went…