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Rank #72 in Philosophy category

Religion & Spirituality
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Philosophy

Point of Inquiry

Updated 9 days ago

Rank #72 in Philosophy category

Religion & Spirituality
Society & Culture
Philosophy
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Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry's flagship podcast, where the brightest minds of our time sound off on all the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: science, religion, and politics.Guests have included Brian Greene, Susan Jacoby, Richard Dawkins, Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugenie Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, and Francis Collins.Point of Inquiry is produced at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y.

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Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry's flagship podcast, where the brightest minds of our time sound off on all the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: science, religion, and politics.Guests have included Brian Greene, Susan Jacoby, Richard Dawkins, Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugenie Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, and Francis Collins.Point of Inquiry is produced at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y.

iTunes Ratings

721 Ratings
Average Ratings
516
126
21
21
37

Great

By minosamom - Feb 03 2019
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Thoughtful and interesting conversations, thank you

Thought provoking

By Sprockets_SK - Mar 23 2017
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Always interesting guests and topics.

iTunes Ratings

721 Ratings
Average Ratings
516
126
21
21
37

Great

By minosamom - Feb 03 2019
Read more
Thoughtful and interesting conversations, thank you

Thought provoking

By Sprockets_SK - Mar 23 2017
Read more
Always interesting guests and topics.

Listen to:

Cover image of Point of Inquiry

Point of Inquiry

Updated 9 days ago

Read more

Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry's flagship podcast, where the brightest minds of our time sound off on all the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: science, religion, and politics.Guests have included Brian Greene, Susan Jacoby, Richard Dawkins, Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugenie Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, and Francis Collins.Point of Inquiry is produced at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y.

Brian Greene - The Fabric of the Cosmos

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Host: Chris Mooney

It's the beginning of a new year here at Point of Inquiry, and we've got a pretty good guest to kick it off.

He needs no introduction. He's Brian Greene—celebrity physicist, bestselling author, television star and all around science communication maestro.

Officially: Greene is co-founder and director of Columbia University's Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, author of the bestselling books The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, and co-founder of the World Science Festival.

We caught up with Greene to discuss the recently aired four part NOVA special based on The Fabric of the Cosmos, as well as, well, sciency things in general.

Jan 03 2012

33mins

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Bill Nye - In Praise of Reason (and Skepticism)

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Host: Chris Mooney

Recently in New Orleans, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry held the very first CSICON—the conference dedicated to scientific inquiry and critical thinking.

The main honoree: Bill Nye the Science Guy, who was given CSI's premiere "In Praise of Reason" award.

The next day, Point of Inquiry caught up with Nye, a guest who really needs no introduction... at least not to the thousands upon thousands of kids who saw a little show called Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Since then, Nye has has been involved in many other endeavors and television programs to improve science teaching and understanding in our country, including his latest show on Planet Green, "Stuff Happens".

Nye is an engineer, inventor, author, comedian—a supporter of clean energy, and above all a skeptic.

Nov 08 2011

36mins

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Ask a Mortician: Caitlin Doughty on the Death Industry's Dirty Secrets

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Point of Inquiry welcomes Caitlin Doughty, creator of the cult classic web series Ask A Mortician, which gives unvarnished answers to questions about dead bodies and the death industry. Caitlin has tackled topics ranging from "What to say to a grieving person?" to "How could my titanium hip implant end up as part of a road sign in the Midwest?
 
Caitlin is the author of the new book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons from the Crematory, the story of her stint as a crematory operator in Los Angeles. She went on to become a licensed mortician to launch a one-woman crusade to change our culture's attitudes about death.

Sep 08 2014

30mins

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Daniel Dennett - The Scientific Study of Religion

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Guest Host: John Shook

Recently, the Center for Inquiry held a conference titled "Daniel Dennett and the Scientific Study of Religion: A Celebration of the Fifth Anniversary of Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon". During that conference, John Shook, CFI's Director of Education, sat down with Dennett for this interview. 

Dec 13 2011

48mins

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Jared Diamond - The World Until Yesterday

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Note: You can watch this episode on Youtube.

In this special episode of Point of Inquiry, Chris and Indre speak with the Pulitzer Prize winning Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel.

Dr. Diamond is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles and has traveled extensively to New Guinea for his research. His observations there form the foundation of his new book, The World Until Yesterday: What We Can Learn from Traditional Societies, which is the subject of this interview.

Afterwards, Chris and Indre debate aspects of Diamond's new book that they found both surprising and, on occasion, frustrating.

May 08 2013

40mins

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A.C. Grayling - The God Argument

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Host: Chris Mooney

Remember all the greatest hits of religious apologists—the ontological, cosmological, and teleological arguments for God's existence?

You may have learned how to refute them in college—but not, perhaps, with the zest and humor shown by renowned philosopher A.C. Grayling in his new book The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and For Humanism.

But Grayling isn't just making a negative case—his book is about how to live, and flourish, without religion in your life. It's about how to be good—and in the end about why, to find meaning, it's important most of all to think.

A.C. Grayling is master of New College of the Humanities, and a Supernumerary Fellow of St. Anne's College, Oxford. He has written and edited over thirty books on philosophy and other topics—including The Good Book, Ideas That Matter, Liberty in the Age of Terror, and To Set Prometheus Free.

Apr 09 2013

33mins

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Jonathan Haidt - The Righteous Mind

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Host: Chris Mooney

Why is it that some of us are religious, some of us not... some of us liberal, some of us not?

If you've been paying attention, then by now you might have noticed that this doesn't really have a lot to do with the intellectual validity of religious, or irreligious, or liberal, or conservative ideas.

So what causes it? And why can't we all get along?

To get at this, Point of Inquiry invited on a scholar and thinker who has become famous for his scientific approach to this question—Jonathan Haidt, author of the new book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. Jonathan Haidt is a professor of social psychology at the University of Virginia, and a visiting professor of business ethics at the NYU-Stern School of Business. Haidt's research examines the intuitive foundations of morality, and how morality varies across cultures. He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, and he and his collaborators conduct research at the website YourMorals.org.

Mar 19 2012

38mins

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Sean Carroll - The Particle at the End of the Universe

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Host: Chris Mooney

Our guest this week is Sean Carroll—theoretical physicist at CalTech, and skilled science communicator.

I've known Sean and his work for almost a decade, and I've invited him on to talk about his latest book: The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World.

Sean Carroll is a physicist at the California Institute of Technology. His research focuses on theoretical physics and cosmology, especially the origin and constituents of the universe. He has contributed to models of interactions between dark matter, dark energy, and ordinary matter; alternative theories of gravity; and violations of fundamental symmetries. Carroll is also the author of From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time. He has appeared on TV shows such as The Colbert Report and Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, and frequently serves as a science consultant for film and television. He blogs at Preposterous Universe.

Jan 22 2013

34mins

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D.M. Murdock - The Christ Conspiracy

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Host: Robert Price

D.M. Murdock, who also goes by the pen name "Acharya S.," is the author of The Christ Conspiracy, the most controversial of modern treatments of the Christ Myth theory. She has had to field flack from both apologists and atheists. 

An independent scholar of comparative religion and mythology, Murdock was educated in Classics and Greek Civilization, at Franklin & Marshall College and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece. She has traveled extensively around Greece, participating in the archaeological excavation at Corinth, in addition, probably, to eating loads of squid.

Her other books include Suns of God, Who Was Jesus? and Christ in Egypt. Her articles and books can be found at her websites TruthBeKnown.comStellarHousePublishing.com and FreethoughtNation.com. Point of Inquiry is happy to feature an interview with Acharya by fellow Jesus Mythicist Robert M. Price (assuming, of course, that both of them exist!).

Jun 28 2011

1hr 3mins

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Chris Hayes - Twilight of the Elites

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Host: Chris Mooney 

Our guest this week is Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC's Up With Chris Hayes and editor at large of The Nation.

Hayes has come out with a much anticipated new book that makes a surprising argument. It's called Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, and in it, he attributes the stunning loss of trust in American institutions to, well, the system by which we chose who runs them.

That system is a meritocracy—and it's supposed to be a fair one in which people get ahead or fall behind based on their own inherent abilities. But in reality, Hayes says, inequality in, inequality out.

It's an intriguing and unexpected thesis, and after reading it, we wanted to ask Hayes about what this means for science in particular—which is, after all, a meritocracy. We also wanted to ask Hayes why people at the top of the totem pole—supposedly so smart, supposedly so well-trained and cultured—are in fact so poor at reasoning about those below them.

Jun 19 2012

36mins

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Daniel Dennett - Tools for Thinking

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Host: Indre Viskontas

Having spent 50 years as an influential thinker, Daniel Dennett has earned the right to tell us how to think. His latest book is a collection of 77 tools for thinking, which every self-respecting critical thinker should consider, if not actively use.

American philosopher and author Daniel C. Dennett is perhaps best known in cognitive science for his multiple drafts (or "fame in the brain") model of human consciousness and he is among the most influential philosophers of our day. He is the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, and the author of 16 books including Elbow Room; The Intentional Stance; Consciousness Explained; Darwin's Dangerous Idea and most recently, Intuition Pumps and other Tools for Thinking. Prof Dennett has also published more than 300 scholarly articles and was awarded the Erasmus Prize for his contributions to society in 2012.

Jun 11 2013

45mins

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Lee Salisbury - From Faith to Critical Thinking

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Host: Robert Price

Lee Salisbury was at one time an up-and-coming Charismatic Christian pastor, even a healer! Then how did he wind up actively involved in the ranks of Minnesota Atheists?

Often successful Christian activists simply cannot allow themselves to entertain doubts as to the worthiness of their enterprise, but Lee had a dangerous yearning for critical thought. It caused him to look back on all he had said and done and to wonder if perhaps he had been kidding himself and others. He left it all behind and turned instead to a new gospel, that of intellectual honesty and responsibility for one's own beliefs.

He is the founder of a number of Critical Thinking Clubs in the Minneapolis area in addition to his involvement in the work of Minnesota Atheists. Listen to his remarkable story as Robert Price puts him on the spot in another exciting installment of Point of Inquiry.

Sep 20 2011

28mins

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Ta-Nehisi Coates: A Country Built on Black Bodies

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This week on Point of Inquiry, our guest is Ta-Nehisi Coates, a renowned journalist and celebrated essayist on culture, history, and politics. He’s a senior editor at The Atlantic, where last year he ignited national introspection and heated debate with his cover feature, “The Case for Reparations.” He is also author of the new bestseller, Between the World and Me, a book he wrote for his son about surviving in America as a black man. 
 


Coates joins Lindsay Beyerstein to discuss the heightening racial tension in America, the result of what he describes as a country built on black bodies and black suffering. In this evocative conversation, Coates compels us to look clearly at our illusions about American identity and social mobility, and explores what difficult remedies will be necessary to begin to rectify the damage American policies have done to black men and women over the centuries. He also considers how his atheism has influenced his own thinking about civil rights, justice, and forgiveness.

Aug 03 2015

31mins

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David Niose - Nonbeliever Nation

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Host: Chris Mooney

Can people who care about secularism take America back from the religious right?

Of all the questions that concern us on this show, this is perhaps the most important, the most central, of all.

And David Niose has an answer to it. Simply put, he thinks we can.

In his new book, Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans, Niose outlines the damage the religious right has done, and how the growing forces of secularity stand poised to finally effectively counter them.

Central to the strategy? Embracing the atheist, or at any rate, the secular identity, and wearing it proudly on one's sleeve.

David Niose is an attorney and president of the Washington-based American Humanist Association. He has appeared widely in national and international media advocating for secularism and humanism, and serves as vice president of the Secular Coalition for America.

Jul 16 2012

41mins

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Daniel Dennett: The Magic of Consciousness…Without the Magic

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Daniel C. Dennett is one of the most influential philosophers of our time, perhaps best known in cognitive science for his multiple drafts (or "fame in the brain") model of human consciousness, and to the secular community for his 2006 book Breaking the Spell. Author and co-author of two-dozen books, he’s the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, where he taught our very own Point of Inquiry host Lindsay Beyerstein.

Beyerstein and Dennett catch up to discuss Dennett’s newest book, From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds. It’s a fresh look at Dennett’s earlier work on the subject of consciousness, taken in new directions as he seeks a “bottom-up view of creation.” Join Dennett and Beyerstein as they discuss the how’s and why’s of consciousness, not just from an evolutionary and neurological standpoint, but also through the lenses of computer science and human culture. 

Jan 17 2017

33mins

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Special In Studio Episode: Jamie Kilstein, Ed Brayton, and More

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Host: Chris Mooney

For this episode of Point of Inquiry, we tried something a little different. At Center for Inquiry headquarters in Amherst, NY, we filmed a special hour long program with multiple in-studio guests, including the famed atheist comedian Jamie Kilstein. As usual, the program is also available as an audio-only podcast.

In either format, here's what it contains:

When Doubt is a Crime: Michael De Dora, director of the Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy in Washington, D.C., discusses the disturbing case of an Indonesian man who was recently sentenced to two and a half years in prison, just for questioning whether God exists.

Fox News Bashing, Redux: Chris Mooney responds to recent listener comments, some of them complimentary, some... not so much.

From the Culture Wars to... Chuck Norris: We talk with Ed Brayton, the blogger behind Dispatches from the Culture Wars and owner of the FreethoughtBlogs network, about recent church state issues—and his steady monitoring of everyone's favorite right wing karate menace.

Gotta Keep ‘em Separated: We interview Jessica Ahlquist, the high school freethought activist who was recently victorious in her Rhode Island church-state lawsuit over a prayer banner displayed in her high school auditorium.

Jamie Kilstein: The hilarious atheist comedian and host of Citizen Radio discusses how he became an atheist, the future of the 99 percent, mixed martial arts, and his fighting challenge to conservative pundit Jonah Goldberg.

Jul 04 2012

1hr 3mins

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Peter Singer: Maximizing Morality with Reason

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Peter Singer has revolutionized the way we think about morals and values. He’s lead the way in providing evidence for some of the toughest moral controversies such as animal rights, abortion, and wealth inequality. Singer’s newest book is entitled The Most Good You Can Do, and it's an exploration of the philosophical movement known as effective altruism; the desire to make the world its best possible version using reason and evidence. 


This week on Point of Inquiry, Singer discusses how opinion and fact are not mutually exclusive, and how effective altruism uses science-based evidence and critical thinking to uncover moral facts and open a dialogue about what values are objectively going to benefit us the most.

Apr 27 2015

36mins

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Neil deGrasse Tyson - Space Chronicles

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Host: Chris Mooney

This week, Point of Inquiry is thrilled to welcome back one of our most popular guests: Neil deGrasse Tyson, the famed astrophysicist and Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.

Last time we had him on, Dr. Tyson engaged in a wide ranging discussion about science communication and the place of science in America.

This time, we focus in on his new book—Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier—and his call for revitalizing NASA and letting it play a central role in reconnecting America and science.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's most pre-eminent science communicator. In addition to his work at the Hayden Planetarium and his books and television appearances, he is also the host of Star Talk Radio.

Apr 02 2012

37mins

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David Silverman: The Relentless Ascent of Atheism

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David Silverman, president of American Atheists, was recently seen on championing the importance of the atheist vote to American conservatives on the late night comedy show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Silverman attempted to persuade Republican believers and non-believers alike that that there was a dire need to keep God out of politics by promoting his cause at one of the most important conservative gatherings in politics: CPAC.

The author of Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World, Silverman is a loud-and proud-activist for atheism and is passionate about making sure the non-religious are included in the conservative conversation. In a spirited conversation with host Josh Zepps, Silverman argues that the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders heralds the end of religion’s grip on politics, and that if the Republican Party does not learn to appeal to atheist voters, they will inevitably be left behind.

Apr 04 2016

40mins

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Former White Supremacist Arno Michaelis: Understanding Hate, Overcoming Fear

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Today’s guest is former white supremacist Arno Michaelis, author of My Life After Hate. A leader within what he called a “racial holy war," Michaelis later realized his hate was misplaced, the product of fear, anger, and an overall misunderstanding of concepts such as forgiveness and personal responsibility. Today he is a Buddhist and anti-violence activist with Serve 2 Unite, an organization that works with student leaders to create compassionate, nonviolent leadership in their communities.

In a frank discussion with Josh Zepps, Michaelis reflects on his mistakes, and how he came to let go of his hate and anger. He notes the similarities he perceives between the language and emotion of the white power movement he left, and that of the campaign rhetoric of Donald Trump, whose rallies are now plagued by racially charged clashes and violence. Michaelis joins us today to offer some insight on this worldview of rage, and how we can work toward alternatives to hate and violence.

Mar 15 2016

53mins

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Professor Chris French - Anomalistic Psychology and Conspiracy Theories in Politics

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Chris French is a British psychologist and prominent skeptic focusing on the psychology of paranormal beliefs and experiences. He is currently Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths College, University of London, is head of their Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit which he founded in 2000, and former Editor-in-Chief of The Skeptic (UK) magazine.

Jim talks with Chris on the trajectory of the skeptics movement in the UK and US and how they both became involved, what it's like to run Skeptics in the Pub, and how skeptics have widened their focus from the paranormal to fake news and political conspiracy theories.

Nov 29 2019

33mins

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Richard Wiseman on the Skeptics Movement and Tricking People

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Richard Wiseman is Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in England. Richard began his career as a professional magician before pursuing a career in psychology, and developing a reputation for research into luck, deception, the paranormal, humor, and the science of self-help.

Wiseman joins Jim Underdown in London where they both attended the presentation of the Richard Dawkins Award to Ricky Gervais. Wiseman was the interviewer of Dawkins and Gervais on stage at the event. Jim talks with Wiseman on his history in the skeptics movement and how he got started, his work performing psychology experiments on the people of Britain, debunking the myths of misconceptions around positive psychology, and why he continues to be involved in the movement.

Nov 14 2019

39mins

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ECSO President, Claire Klingenberg on the State of Skepticism

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The European Council of Skeptical Organisations (ECSO) is an umbrella of skeptical organizations throughout the EU that investigate claims of pseudoscience, and defend scientific integrity and practice in research, education, medicine, and public policy.   Point of Inquiry co-host Kavin Senapathy attended the 2019 European Skeptics Congress in Ghent, Belgium, where she presented during the session on "Green Skepticism." While there, Senapathy had the opportunity to put her head together with some of the most respected skeptics in the world, including ECSO president Claire Klingenberg.   In this episode, Kavin and Claire dive into the current state of the skeptics movement around the world, and what the future of skepticism may look like. Claire explains what she sees as the ideological difference between the American skeptical movement and the European skeptical movement and the interplay between politics and skepticism. They also break down how the social sciences fit into skepticism, how we define what it means to be a skeptic, and the dangers of following personalities deemed "logical" without scrutiny.

Oct 31 2019

48mins

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How Defy Ventures Reduces Recidivism with Rehabilitation

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In the second part of this two-part series on the prison system reform, Jim Underdown speaks with Andrew Glazier, president of Defy Ventures, on the high recidivism rates in prisons, how Glazier and Defy Ventures are improving prison inmate rehabilitation, and what happens to communities when people are kept locked up indefinitely.

Defy Ventures is a nonprofit organization that helps current and formerly incarcerated adults with career-readiness and entrepreneurial training programs. You can learn more about the work Defy Ventures is doing by visiting their website or follow them on Twitter.

Oct 17 2019

37mins

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Former Security Guard and Atheist Activist Steve Hill on the Prison System

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How humane are prisons in the U.S.? And what is their purpose – to punish or to rehabilitate?

This is part one of a two-part series that dives into the prison system, what it looks like from the inside, how it destroys the lives of black and brown folks who have been overpoliced and tossed into the prison system for decades, and the work being done to counteract that system.

After a field trip to a California state prison, Jim Underdown spoke to Steve Hill about his frank experiences as a prison security guard and what he thinks about the future of the prison system. Steve Hill is an atheist activist, Comedian politician, a former marine, and former prison security guard who worked in the California penal system as a prison guard for ten years.

Oct 03 2019

43mins

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Angela Saini on the Return of Race Science

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Even though there’s growing awareness that race is a social construct — it defies biological definition — it’s really hard to let go of a concept that feels so real. There’s also a temptation for progressive, more or less decent human beings, who wouldn’t consider themselves racist, to define racism as something that happens on the far right, among Neo-Nazis, the KKK, and people sporting MAGA hats.

Turns out that’s not the case. At all.

One of the most pervasive issues when it comes to race is the science. What does the history of race science have to do with today’s science on human variation? Why do modern scientists need to grapple with the legacy of racial definition and oppression? How does the centuries-old mythology of race impact the practice of medicine well into the 21st century?

On this episode of Point of Inquiry, Kavin Senapathy speaks with author Angela Saini about her book Superior: The Return of Race Science. The Telegraph advises “philosophically and historically uneducated scientists” along with those with “more murky motivations” to read this “brilliant and devastating” book.

While you’re here, we’d like to give a shout-out to the Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia. While Kavin was researching the episode, she realized that Superior didn’t have a page on Wikipedia. She alerted GSoW’s Rob Palmer and their team had a page up within 48 hours!

The Scientific American blog post mentioned in the episode, “The Internet Is a Cesspool of Racist Pseudoscience,” can be found here.

Sep 19 2019

51mins

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Dr. Sarah Taber on the Myth of the Destruction of Family Farms

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Point of Inquiry co-host Kavin Senapathy has covered food and agriculture for years, and if she’s learned one thing, it’s that people’s views on farming are rife with misconceptions. The conversation around food is complex, and involves a slew of gray areas and mountains of data.

Enter Dr. Sarah Taber. She’s the host of the Farm to Taber Podcast, a farm and food systems strategist, and one of Twitter’s most prolific and eye-opening agriculture myth-busters. Taber’s work has included food safety, regulatory compliance, crop care, and making work flows as efficient as possible in farms and facilities.

On this episode, Kavin speaks with Dr. Taber on agriculture and the myth of the destruction of family farms. Part of this myth involves tackling whether big agribusiness destroyed these farms, and what sharecropping has to do with it. Topics also include how racism against various ethnicities displaced our country's farmworkers, what really separates family and corporate farming, and the current narrative around field automation.

Sep 05 2019

55mins

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Jerry Minor - From Jehovah’s Witness to Comedian

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This week, Point of Inquiry welcomes actor, comedian, and former Jehovah's Witness, Jerry Minor. Minor has been a cast member and writer on Saturday Night Live and appeared on HBO's Mr. Show and various other television and film spots throughout his career. He joins Jim Underdown to dive into his life during and after being a Jehovah’s Witness. They also get into how the Jehovah's Witness religion drove Minor to attempt suicide, the different Christianity sects and how Minor views them as cults, and how his past faith has shaped his career as a comedian and entertainer.

Together with friend, Tony Ortega, Underdown and Minor host their own podcast, The Cult Awareness Podcast, where they explore the latest in cult news.

Please share this episode either through a tweet, email, facebook, postcard, or letter with friends and family. Your support helps the show and we appreciate it.

Aug 22 2019

1hr 18mins

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Clearing Up the Concept of Risk Assessment

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How well do you think you can assess risk? The evidence is clear that humans are innately poor at assessing risk in our personal lives, in part due to how our brains are wired, and that can make it challenging to make informed decisions about everything from vaccines and medicines to diet and children’s safety. Errors in risk perception can be a problem when we worry more than the evidence says we need to, or less than the evidence says we should.

On this week’s episode, Kavin Senapathy speaks with neuroscientist Alison Bernstein and biologist Iida Ruishalme, who teamed up to write a series of articles titled “Risk In Perspective.” The interview takes listeners through key concepts in risk and risk perception, including the difference between hazard and risk, and whether zero risk is ever really possible. How can putting risk into perspective inform regulatory actions? How does environmental justice tie into health and risk perception? How are marketers taking advantage of our inability to accurately assess risk? One thing is clear—you won’t want to risk missing out on this conversation.

ison's piece on how "Safety" is defined in a regulatory setting.

What was that great music you heard?

"Wahre" by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

“Building the Sled” by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

“Vittoro” by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

Aug 08 2019

44mins

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Julia Sweeney on Atheism, Saturday Night Live, and Me Too

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This week, Point of Inquiry welcomes comedian, monologist, and atheist, Julia Sweeney. Many may know Sweeney from her time on Saturday Night Live, her appearances on NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, and from her current roles on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Hulu's Shrill.

Jim Underdown sat down with Sweeney at CFI West to discuss her time working on SNL, dealing with her catholic faith after the passing of her brother to cancer, how Carl Sagan, Michael Shermer, and CFI helped her become an atheist, her experiences navigating Hollywood as a non-believer, and her conflicting opinions surrounding the Me Too movement after her good friend, Al Franken was accused of misconduct.

If you've never seen it before, Sweeney's, "Letting Go of God" talk is highly recommended for those who became atheists after living with a religious point of view. You can find Sweeney on twitter: @JIsbackintown.

Jul 25 2019

48mins

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Why Do People Love Umami but Fear MSG?

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Why do people love the taste of Umami but avoid monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is the purest form of Umami on Earth? In this episode of Point of Inquiry, Kavin Senapathy speaks with experts on MSG— which was first isolated by Japanese chemist Dr. Kikunae Ikeda— to explore this culinary and scientific disconnect.

Tia Rains, PhD, is currently Senior Director of Public Relations at Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition (Ajinomoto was founded in 1907 to manufacture and sell Ikeda’s MSG). She has over 20 years of experience in the fields of food and nutrition.

Mary Lee Chin MS, RD, has been involved in dietetics for over 40 years. She consults with food industry and commodity groups; including Monsanto, Ajinomoto, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

In 1968, a letter was published in the New England Journal of Medicine about “numbness at the back of the neck, gradually radiating to both arms and the back, and general weakness and palpitation” after eating food from Chinese restaurants. The letter spurred decades of research into the so-called “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” What does the science say about MSG, what roles do marketing and branding play, and what do mice have to do with all of this?

Links Mentioned in this Episode

The Truth About MSG and Your Health - Written by Kavin Senapathy - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERVRjAYBOp0

Accent Flavor Enhancer - https://www.accentflavor.com/product/flavor-enhancer

Does monosodium glutamate really cause headache? : a systematic review of human studies - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4870486/

Jul 11 2019

1hr 11mins

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Diving into the Lawsuit Against Walmart and Fraudulent Homeopathic Medicines

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The Center for Inquiry has filed a lawsuit against Walmart for deceiving its customers with marketing, labeling, and product placement that present homeopathic medicines as equivalent and effective alternatives to science-based medicines with tested active ingredients. The lawsuit argues that this is not only consumer fraud, but also endangers the health of the people who purchase homeopathic remedies thinking that they contain actual medicine.

The suit against Walmarts comes just a few months after the Center for Inquiry filed a similar lawsuit against CVS for fraud over the sale of fake homeopathic drugs. In this episode of Point of Inquiry, Kavin Senapathy speaks with Nick Little, Center for Inquiry's legal director and general counsel, on the history of homeopathy and how it differs from other kinds of alternative medicines, and why CFI is bringing a suit against the nation's largest retailer. They also discuss the responsibility retailers have to provide truthful information to their consumers, and what exactly is in the homeopathic flu remedy Oscillococcinum.

Continue below to find the links mentioned in this episode.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

McGill Homeopathy Study Fast Company profiling the Center for Inquiry's suit against Walmart NPR interview with Nick Little 

New music heard on this episode

"Wahre" by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

“Building the Sled” by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

Jun 27 2019

36mins

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Meet Science for the People

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Science for the People began as a group in 1969 that grew out of the anti-war movement and lasted until 1989. SftP has been rebirthed for a new generation of SftP members to explore the history of radical science and to rebuild the movement for today.

In this week's episode of Point of Inquiry, Kavin Senapathy speaks with two SftP members, biologist, Ben Allen and neuroscientist, Katherine Bryant.

If science is a form of knowledge production and the knowledge being produced only focuses on a particular set of people, that knowledge can then tend to become skewed towards those groups and lead to reinforcing biases. This is only one of the topics explored on this week's episode as these two representatives from the radical science organization, Science for the People explore the problems with science, why there needs to be more inclusivity in the field, and why the people who support pseudoscientific beliefs like genetic determinism and climate denial are much more harmful to us all than flat earthers and those who believe in healing crystals.

Learn more about Science for the People by visiting their website: scienceforthepeople.org

If this work interests you and you'd like to read more you can purchase one of the books mentioned on the show, Science for the People: Documents from America's Movement of Radical Scientists or visit Science for the People's new magazine that's full of informative articles and news at magazine.scienceforthepeople.org

You can find Science for the People on Twitter: @sftporg

Jun 13 2019

48mins

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Matt Walsh On The Road To Hollywood, His Secular Wedding, and More

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On this week's episode of Point of Inquiry, Jim Underdown speaks with longtime friend, actor, writer, and comedian Matt Walsh. This episode may be different from what you're used to as we take a break from examining science, culture, and religion and instead give you the chance to get to know one of Point of Inquiry's new hosts.

Underdown has been close friends with Matt Walsh for over 30 years. Many may know Walsh from his role as Mike McLintock on the show Veep, which recently aired its series finale. The two grew up in Chicago where they both performed improv comedy before Walsh went on to form the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York City along with members Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, and Ian Roberts.

Walsh has appeared in numerous films, television shows, and has toured the country performing. He also is involved with various charities and socially impactful causes like The Awesome Foundation and Defy Ventures, which aims to end mass incarceration and the recidivism rate.

You can find Walsh on Twitter: @mrmattwalsh

May 30 2019

54mins

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Dr. Jenny Yip on OCD, Anxiety, and Mental Health

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On this week's episode of Point of Inquiry, Dr. Jenny Yip discusses OCD and anxiety and the widespread impact these can have on our lives as well as how they're exhibited in different people. Kavin Senapathy and Dr. Yip share their own experiences with OCD and anxiety disorders and Dr. Yip shares her insight into effective and ineffective treatments for OCD and anxiety.

You can find out more about Dr. Yip's work by listening to her podcast, The Stress-Less Life. You can also follow her on Twitter: @DrJennyYip

May 16 2019

53mins

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Carol Tavris And Avrum Bluming On The Myth That Estrogen Causes Breast Cancer

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This week’s episode of Point of Inquiry Jim Underdown speaks with Carol Tavris, social psychologist and author of Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) and Avrum Bluming, hematologist, medical oncologist, and emeritus clinical professor at USC about the common myth in the medical field  surrounding the link between breast cancer and estrogen.  The talk centers around their recent book, Estrogen Matters which examines the practice of administering estrogen to women suffering from symptoms of menopause and the push back they received due to a long-held misconception that estrogen leads to an increased chance of contracting breast cancer. Tavris and Bluming's work illustrates the important need for critical thinking, especially in the area of health where people's well-being is constantly at stake and how people will often times not accept information when it is in their best interest to do so.

May 02 2019

1hr 9mins

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Massimo Pigliucci and Susan Blackmore on Scientism and Subjectivity

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This week's episode of Point of Inquiry is our final episode recorded from CSICon 2018. We're closing this series of interviews with Professor Massimo Pigliucci who discusses his ideas on scientism and how it's used by people like Sam Harris, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Richard Dawkins with host Kavin Senapathy. Also featured on this episode is Professor Susan Blackmore who discusses her out of body experiences and whose research has centered around consciousness, memes, and subjectivity.

Prof. Massimo Pigliucci has a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee. He currently is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. His research interests include the philosophy of biology, the relationship between science and philosophy, the nature of pseudoscience, and the practical philosophy of Stoicism.

Susan Blackmore is a psychologist, lecturer, and writer researching consciousness, memes, and anomalous experiences, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth. She is a TED lecturer, blogs for the Guardian, and often appears on radio and televisionThe Meme Machine  (1999) has been translated into 16 other languages; more recent books include Conversations on Consciousness (2005), Zen and the Art of Consciousness (2011), Seeing Myself: The new science of out-of-body experiences (2017) and a textbook Consciousness: An Introduction (3rd Ed 2018).

New music heard on this episode

"Paper Feather" by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

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Apr 18 2019

42mins

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The Secret Sting Operation to Expose Celeb Psychics with Susan Gerbic

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On this week's episode of Point of Inquiry, we are thrilled to have friend of the Center for Inquiry, Susan Gerbic to talk about the recent New York Times featured story that detailed Gerbic and her team's work exposing celebrity psychics. Kavin Senapathy and Gerbic also explore why exposing fake psychics and mediums is important, the methodologies Gerbic and her team employ in these kinds of sting operations, how psychics performed hot reads before the days of the internet (and exactly what a hot read is), and the issues that arise from companies giving mediums and psychics platforms.

Susan Gerbic is the cofounder of Monterey County Skeptics and a self-proclaimed skeptical junkie. Susan is also founder of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project. She is a frequent contributor to Skeptical Inquirer (CSICOP) and Skepticality Podcast. She is the winner of the CSI In the Trenches Award from 2012, James Randi Award for Skepticism in the Public Interest 2013. In 2018, Susan founded and manages About Time a non-profit organization focusing on scientific skepticism and activism. 

Apr 04 2019

43mins

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Mark Boslough on the Dangers of Climate Change and Destructive Asteroids

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Mark Boslough is a Caltech-trained physicist and CSI Fellow who spent 34 years at Sandia National Laboratories doing research on hypervelocity impacts, energetic materials, explosions, and global risk from asteroid impacts and climate change. He has participated in many science documentaries with field expeditions to airburst locations including the Libyan Desert of Egypt in 2006, Tunguska in 2008, Chelyabinsk in 2013, and the Nevada Test Site in 2017. 

Underdown sits down with Boslough to refute the ridiculous beliefs over climate change and what we can do now to counter the Earth's warming. They also spend time speaking about the impact asteroids have had on the Earth and clearing up definitions between asteroids and meteoroids, and comets.

New music heard on this episode

"Wahre" by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

"SuzyB" by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

 

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Mar 21 2019

1hr 10mins

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Carl Zimmer and Paul Offit on Genetics, Race, and Vaccinations at CSICon 2018

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We find ourselves in the information age among many who, although have the access to proper and accurate scientific information, choose not to believe it.

What causes the parents of a newborn to avoid vaccines? Where do the misconceptions of genetics originate? Today on Point of Inquiry, Kavin Senapathy talks with Carl Zimmer and Dr. Paul A Offit while at CSICon 2018 about their research into vaccinations, science denial, and how some groups in the US have tried to use genes and heredity to argue in favor of white supremacy.

Carl Zimmer is an award-winning New York Times columnist and the author of 13 books about science. His newest book is She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity You can find Zimmer on twitter: twitter.com/carlzimmer

Paul A. Offit, MD is the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as well as the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and a Professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Offit has published more than 160 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety. He is also the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq. You can find Offit on twitter: twitter.com/DrPaulOffit

New music heard on this episode

"Wahre by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

Mar 07 2019

33mins

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