This week on the Legion of Reason delve into the world of climate change denial with Dr. Donald R. Prothero (http://www NULL.donaldprothero NULL.com/) and how science denial works in general. Donald has recently published his book Reality Check (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.ca/Reality-Check-Science-Threaten-ebook/dp/B00BIP240A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380571373&sr=8-1&keywords=reality+check+donald+prothero) which discusses the motivations behind a number cases of science denial including creationism and intelligent design versus evolution, denying the link between cancer and smoking, the anti-vaccination movement, AIDS denialism, and a host of other examples. Donald spoke to us from his home in California. And later, since Haysn couldn’t be with us last week for our discussion on recent comments made by Richard Dawkins, he presents his own take on the hubub. But before we get to that interview, I want to mention something that we can’t cover in detail this week but that I want to make people aware of, and so I direct you to a recent essay by CBC’s Michael Enright (http://www NULL.cbc NULL.ca/thesundayedition/essays/2013/09/29/atheists-stop-whining/). I want to send in as many emails to Michael explaining exactly why we atheists won’t shut up. So I am putting out a call to all of our listeners to send in emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. We need to enlighten poor Michael.
After recording episode 72 we kept the conversation going to discuss a topic which draws my ire, and the discussion was too good to leave on the cutting room floor. To that effect, here is a Legion of Reason extra. Over the last year, statements have been made by prominent members of the James Randi Education Foundation that untestable claims are outside the scope of scientific skepticism. To me, this is an artificial boundary on the question of whether a belief should or should not be accepted. Scientific skepticism isn’t just a methodology. It is a philosophy, with one of its characteristics being its positivist nature. That is, we only accept claims for which there is evidence to evaluate. The JREF does a lot of great work, but I think it does a great disservice by suggesting that there are areas of belief which are outside the application of critical thinking.
This week fellow podcaster David Ince joins me (and Haysn, till the Skype connection died on our first attempt). David is one of the hosts of Freethinking Island (http://freethinkingisland NULL.com/), a podcast available on iTunes discussing atheism and skepticism issues particular to the Caribbean Islands. I talked with David for some time and decided to split this episode into two parts. In this first sub-episode, David shares with us his journey to skepticism and atheism, as well as some of the special problems of spreading critical thinking in the lands of rum, sand and palm trees.
But first, I want to make our listeners aware of an important project that we should all be backing with our wallets. Recovering From Religion, an organization started by Darrell Ray, is attempting to start a 1-800 number for those questioning their faith and they need to raise $30,000 for the phone equipment. It’s not clear if this will be the case, but I’m hoping this can cover North America. For those wishing to donate, you can head over to www.recoveringfromreligion.org/hotline-project (http://www NULL.recoveringfromreligion NULL.org/hotline-project).
Twylla, Haysn and I have another discussion on Jamy Ian Swiss’ narrow definition of skepticism (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=iyLULErf_6E). How can anyone forget Carl Sagan’s parable (http://rationalwiki NULL.org/wiki/The_Dragon_in_My_Garage) of the fire-breathing dragon living in the garage? Sorry Jamy, any version of skepticism that serves to legitimize the burden of proof fallacy isn’t our idea of skepticism. Alberta Health announces a return to funding chiropractic treatment (http://www NULL.nationalpost NULL.com/m/wp/news/blog NULL.html?b=news NULL.nationalpost NULL.com%2F2012%2F06%2F06%2Falberta-to-revive-controversial-chiropractic-treatment-subsidies-for-seniors), at least for seniors. We also speculate on the potential consequences between Health Canada’s licensing of untested homeopathic vaccine substitutes (http://www NULL.bcmj NULL.org/council-health-promotion/health-canada-licenses-homeopathic-vaccines) (nosodes) and Ottawa public school boards’ decision to suspend students without proof of vaccination (http://www NULL.nationalpost NULL.com/m/wp/news/canada/blog NULL.html?b=news NULL.nationalpost NULL.com%2F2013%2F05%2F03%2Fna0504-th-vaccines). But first we talk about the increasing numbers of nonbelievers in Canada (http://www NULL.torontosun NULL.com/2013/05/08/2011-census-nearly-one-in-five-canadians-are-visible-minorities-statscan-reports) as shown in the latest census and evidence that the number of practicing Catholics in Calgary is decreasing (http://www NULL.calgaryherald NULL.com/life/Calgary+Roman+Catholic+churches+merge/8367713/story NULL.html).
Welcome to another episode of the Legion of Reason! It’s been a few weeks, I was croaking like a chorus of frogs and I figured that no one wanted to hear that, if they want to hear me at all, and last week I was the only one available and again, I don’t think anyone would be terribly interested in listening to me talk to myself. I couldn’t do this podcast without my co-hosts.
Anyway, Kris, Twylla, Haysn and I discuss the response from Imam Syed Soharwardy to the recent Islamist terrorist attack in Algeria in which two Canadians participated (http://www NULL.sunnewsnetwork NULL.ca/sunnews/canada/archives/2013/04/20130403-182657 NULL.html). The good imam is clearly in denial about the relationship between fundamentalis Islam and religion-based terrorism. We discuss with bemusement a recent poll which asked American voters their opinions on the validity of various popular conspiracy theories (http://www NULL.publicpolicypolling NULL.com/main/2013/04/conspiracy-theory-poll-results- NULL.html). And we announce our intention to create our own version of the JREF’s Pigassus Awards (http://www NULL.randi NULL.org/site/index NULL.php/jref-news/2074-jrefs-pigasus-awards-honors-dubious-peddlers-of-woo NULL.html) – the inaugural annual “White Ass-hat Awards”. There are various categories of asshattery, religious and nonreligious in nature, and we will be taking nominations from our listeners in each category. We will announce the winners in a couple of weeks! The episode ends with a bit of inspirational music from that great British satirical television program Spitting Image.
I want to remind people that on April 30 we will be visited by the incomparable George Hrab for an evening of skepticism and music at Ten Nightclub. You can get your tickets to that at Eventbrite, (http://cfiyychrab NULL.eventbrite NULL.ca/#) and even save a couple of bucks using the promo code hidden somewhere in this episode! There are also apparently still some tickets (and even hotel space!) available for INR3 in Kamploops May 17-19 (http://imaginenoreligion NULL.ca/). So, those still on the fence had best make a move if they want to attend. Another name has been recently added to the speaker list, Peter Boghossian, instructor of philosophy at Portland State University and author of “Street Epistemology: A Manual for Creating Atheists” that will be coming out soon. That weekend is going to be a blast and you’ll regret having missed it if you aren’t there!
But first, we tackle a topic that seems to be raging through the skeptic and atheist movements – feminism. To quote a Talking Heads tune, “My God! What have I done?”
Welcome once again to another episode of The Legion of Reason to risk your eternal soul to hellfire once again!
Ever wonder what you get when you put Matt Dillahunty and PZ Myers together with a round of double margaritas? Wonder no further! We sat down with them at Imagine No Religion 2 on the May long weekend. That’s later in the podcast. Several of the Legion were in attendence and we share our thoughts on the experience.
We also look at how the Ontario government violating the right of Catholic school boards to prohibit using the words “gay straight alliance” as a student club description. Oh, of course! That was NEVER their right!
But first Graham talks about money, nakedness and how those Canadians deficient in their own history see one in the other in the soon-to-come-out Canadian 20 dollar bill. It seems people will find any way go get offended over anything…
In this episode we have a look at what can only be described as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cynical end-run around his own promise to not re-open the abortion debate by allowing a backbencher to proceed with a private member’s bill to discuss when a fetus is a human being. Since Ontario MP Stephen Woodworth claimed he wants to look at the science we take him at his word, and after looking at his words we see how they are framed to draw a conclusion that you can’t get to if you simply look at the science. Also, Twylla visited with Dallas skeptic Bart Cantwell in the Lone Star State and we present the interview that ensued.
The April 1 weekend saw two events in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan that caught the eye of The Legion: the “Mercury Jamboree”, organized by federal Green Party candidate Sandra Finley and two members of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, and a lecture given by 9/11 Truther Richard Gage (Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth). In the first of two parts, Twylla, Kris and I drill for the tooth about health risks – if any – of amalgam fillings.
10! One of those meaningless numbers we make arbitrary attachments to because of a number base prejudice. It could be much more fun to celebrate things in base 2 system. More excuse to have fun. But still….. 10! Cool.
Anyhow, in this latest episode Twylla, Haysn and I discuss a circumcision horror story I came across after recording episode 9. Also, PZ Myers was in town last Thursday to give us some insight into what we should and should not expect intelligent alien life to look like. Lastly, we find that if one has enough money it is possible to entice a university to sell out. Tom Droog, ex-sunflower seed mogul, forked over $1M to help create a professorship for complementary and alternative medicine at the University of Lethbridge. Sliding woo into universities is no longer done stealthily, but in a shameless and brazen manner. I weep for the children, I do.
We’re back after missing a week. In this episode, we discuss the demize of Mardi the giraffe following a long bout with degenerative arthritis. It wouldn’t be newsworthy for a skeptic podcast but for one thing…. We also find out that not only is it still possible for physicians to use the diagnostic code reserved for “homosexuality”, but that at least one doctor still uses it! And after some “cutting” commentary on male infant circumcision (one local physician advertises his services for this on buses), we delve into a local anti-choice group’s tactic of mailing postcards with pictures of what they tell us is a 10-week old aborted fetus. The usual sentiment of a postcard – “Wish you were here!” – has been changed to “Wish you wouldn’t do this!” in a flagrant appeal to emotion.