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Point of Inquiry

Updated about 1 month ago

Rank #79 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

738 Ratings
Average Ratings
529
127
22
21
39

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

738 Ratings
Average Ratings
529
127
22
21
39

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.
Cover image of Point of Inquiry

Point of Inquiry

Latest release on Jul 09, 2020

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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.

Rank #1: Richard Dawkins: LIVE at the Reason for Change Conference

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This week, Point of Inquiry welcomes Richard Dawkins for a special episode recorded before a live audience at the Center for Inquiry’s Reason for Change conference in Buffalo, New York on June 13, 2015. Dawkins is easily one of the world’s most influential and controversial scientists; a pioneer in evolutionary biology, science communication, and the public visibility of atheists. He is the author of several bestselling books including The Selfish GeneThe God Delusion, and Unweaving the Rainbow, and he is founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
 


Dawkins is joined by Point of Inquiry host Josh Zepps, discusses how he found his love for science and evolution, the importance of secular values, and how we can inspire people to appreciate and embrace science. It’s not all serious and lofty, of course, as Dawkins cops to being “pretty condescending and bossy,” and displays his remarkable proficiency with an outlandish American accent. 
 

 

Dawkins, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award from CFI at this conference, brings the audience to its feet with his wit and insight.

Jun 22 2015

1hr 9mins

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Rank #2: Trying to Throw Science at Them: Yvette d'Entremont and Kavin Senapathy on Food, Fads, and Fear

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We are living in a land of confusion, as the band Genesis warned us back in 1986, but even they could not have predicted just how much more confusing things would get 31 years later. With a storm of misinformation engulfing almost every field of human endeavor, 2017 was ripe with confusion. And one of the most bewildering subjects is also one of the most personal: our health.

With celebrity gurus pitching pseudoscientific nonsense, conflicting news stories about what will and won't kill you, and an entire culture of hyper-privilege teaching people to be suspicious of science, people are being made to be afraid of their food. And there's a lot of money to made off of that fear.

To help us navigate these choppy waters, Point of Inquiry host Paul Fidalgo is joined by two brilliant science communicators; Kavin Senapathy, a science and parenting columnist and co-author of The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House; and Yvette d'Entremont, better known as the SciBabe, whose writing has appeared in a variety of outlets such as The Outline, Gawker, and Cosmopolitan. The two of them will guide us through this land of confusion, and maybe, with their of smarts and humor, make this a place worth living in.

Bonus for Point of Inquiry listeners: Get a special discount to purchase the new documentary Science Moms, featuring Kavin, when you use the promo code "CFI" (without quotes) at checkout.

Dec 30 2017

59mins

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Rank #3: Lawrence Krauss - A Universe from Nothing

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Host: Chris Mooney

We had Lawrence Krauss on Point of Inquiry less than a year ago, to discuss his recent book on the scientific works of Richard Feynman.

But in order to keep up with him, we had to have him on again. Already.

You see, Krauss has a new book out that's causing quite a stir right now—A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather than Nothing.

Here's a hint as to why: Krauss's answer to this age-old question isn't God. In fact, as discussed on the program, Krauss has arguably written the book that "kicks God out of physics."

And along the way, he also manages to explain a heck of a lot of science.

Lawrence Krauss is an the internationally known theoretical physicist and popular author. He has published hundreds of scientific papers, as well as acclaimed books like the bestselling The Physics of Star Trek and Fear of Physics. He's director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University.

Feb 07 2012

32mins

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Rank #4: 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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Rank #5: 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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Rank #6: Dawkins on his new Book Outgrowing God

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Richard Dawkins is the recipient of a number of awards for his writing on science, including the Royal Society of Literature Award and the LA Times Literary Prize, he has also been awarded the Royal Society Michael Faraday Award for the furtherance of the public understanding of science. He is the author of a number of critically acclaimed books, such as The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Unweaving the Rainbow, The Devil’s Chaplain, and The Ancestor’s Tale.

In this week's interview with Jim Underdown, Dawkins discusses his newest book, Outgrowing God, designed for young people. It is Dawkin's attempt to address the cyclical nature of growing up religious.

Dec 12 2019

45mins

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Rank #7: Sarah Posner: How Trump Got His Hands on the Religious Right

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How did a man living an ostensibly godless, hedonistic life become the champion of the very groups who one would expect to denounce his behavior? Being a real estate mogul and reality TV star, it’s no secret to anyone that President Trump has spent far more time in country clubs than churches. A man who’s had several wives, owned casinos and bars, and had multiple accusations of sexual assault leveled against him is hardly the pinnacle of virtue the religious right professes to yearn for. Trump’s aggressively nationalistic campaign rhetoric clearly appealed to the so-called “alt-right,” but he could not have won the election without simultaneously appealing to religious conservatives. So what happened? 

  Today’s guest is investigative journalist Sarah Posner, whose expertise in reporting on religion and the conservative movement enable her to unravel the reasoning behind Trump’s success with evangelical Christians. Posner’s newest piece for The New Republic is "Amazing Disgrace,” which explores how “a thrice-married, biblically illiterate sexual predator” hijacked the religious right. While the alt-right and the cultural conservative movement have long been at odds, they shared common goals and prospects in the 2016 election, and that what unites them in terms of race and nationalism may be greater than even they would like to admit.

Special note from the Center for Inquiry: This is Lindsay Beyerstein's final episode of Point of Inquiry. We are enormously proud of Lindsay's remarkable body of work with Point of Inquiry. She is smart, insightful, witty, and has always been a genuine pleasure to work with, having grown tremendously as an interviewer over her time with us. We wish her great success with her new endeavors, including her new podcast, The Breach. Thank you, Lindsay!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for news about what's next for Point of Inquiry!

Apr 11 2017

30mins

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Rank #8: 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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Rank #9: Be Not Constrained: James Croft on Humanists’ Responsibility to Fight Oppression

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The modern conception of secular humanism arose in large part as a response to the horrors of Nazism and the Holocaust, and the evils of racism and bigotry. Humanist Manifesto II, written in 1973, called for “the elimination of all discrimination based upon race, religion, sex, age, or national origin,” and envisioned a world in which all human beings were given equal dignity within a global community.

It is now two weeks since newly emboldened white supremacists, including Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen, marched on Charlottesville, attacked counter-protesters, and murdered Heather Heyer. President Trump has exacerbated the ensuing tension and fear by refusing to assign full responsibility to the white supremacists, and insisting that the blame be shared by some contingent of an alleged “alt-left.”

It is time for humanism to respond once again. Our guest for this episode of Point of Inquiry is James Croft of the St. Louis Ethical Society, who encourages us to fully live out the values of humanism, not just as an academic philosophy but as an urgent call to act on behalf of others. “Be not restrained,” he advises, as he and host Paul Fidalgo discuss how humanists can lead the way in healing our national wounds, but that the process must begin by honestly acknowledging and addressing the injustices that have permeated American society from its very beginnings.

Aug 24 2017

1hr

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Rank #10: 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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Rank #11: 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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Rank #12: Sam Harris: Seeking Transcendence Without Religion

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It’s been ten years since the publication of Sam Harris’s book The End of Faith kicked off the cultural phenomenon of “new atheism,” bringing frank criticism of religion into mainstream conversation. In the decade since, Harris has emerged as something of a maverick among nonbelievers and progressives, frequently at the center of controversy with his opinions on Islam and extremism, science’s role in morality, and his embrace of a kind of “spiritualism” grounded in science.
 
It is this last item that is the subject of his latest book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, in which he seeks a rational approach to transcendence; one that puts the supernatural aside in favor of an honest, scientific exploration of the mind, altered states of consciousness, and other (as he puts it) “spooky phenomena.” 
 
On this special episode of Point of Inquiry, Harris talks to host Josh Zepps about his foray into the mystical. In this fascinating interview, Harris asserts that experiences such as bliss and transcendence must be removed from the realm of sectarianism, but that “one of the great holes in secularism” is that “we don’t have a ready answer for someone who wakes up tomorrow morning with an extraordinary change in their conscious life which they deem positive.” 
 
Harris talks about the search for this answer, as well as the illusion of the self, expanding our moral circle to include other creatures, and an evaluation of the progress secularism has made since the time “new atheism” was still new.

Sep 02 2014

49mins

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Rank #13: 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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Rank #14: Dan Ariely - The Honest Truth about Dishonesty

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Host: Indre Viskontas

There is no doubt that our world is populated with cheats and liars. Most of us, slaves to the availability heuristic, think of major cheaters like Bernie Madoff, Tiger Woods, and Barry Bonds as inflicting the most damage onto society. But just how honest are we, with others and with ourselves? The surprising finding from several studies conducted by Dan Ariely and his collaborators is that we all cheat. What's worse, the consequences of these little everyday deceptions can sometimes far outweigh the ill effects of even the biggest lies. Following up on his previous books demonstrating our irrationality, this week on Point of Inquiry Dan walks us through his account of the irrational forces that determine whether or not we behave ethically.

Dan Ariely is the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, with appointments at the Fuqua School of Business, the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, the Department of Economics, and the School of Medicine. Dan earned one PhD in cognitive psychology and another PhD in business administration. He is the founder and director of the Center for Advanced Hindsight. His work has been featured in many outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and others. His two previous New York Times best-selling books are Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality.

Sep 25 2012

32mins

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Rank #15: 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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Rank #16: 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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Rank #17: 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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Rank #18: Will Gervais - This is Your Brain on Religion

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Host: Chris Mooney

In late April, a study came out in Science that really got the secular blogosphere hopping.

It was a paper showing that something we've long suspected may be true—less critical thinking is associated with more religiosity. In fact, having a cognitive style where you're less analytic, and more intuitive, promotes faith.

And vice versa.

It turns out this paper is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we're learning about the religious mind. So to get deeper into the topic, we invited on Will Gervais, lead author of the current paper and of much other work besides.

Will Gervais is a Ph.D. candidate in social psychology at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Next year he will be an associate professor in psychology at the University of Kentucky.

His research studies the cognitive, evolutionary, and cultural reasons why people entertain in supernatural beliefs—or, why they don't, which is perhaps equally interesting.

Jun 04 2012

32mins

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Rank #19: Temple Grandin - The Science of Livestock Animal Welfare

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Host: Indre Viskontas

According to the USDA, Americans produce and consume more beef, veal, and chicken than any other nation in the world. As a result, the status of animal welfare in the meat production industry should be of some concern to all Americans, regardless of dietary habits. One of the world's leading experts in livestock handling practices is Dr. Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University.

In addition to gaining international recognition for her research on animal behavior and designs of feed yards and slaughterhouses, Dr. Grandin is also arguably the most famous high-functioning autistic adult. Her story has inspired countless individuals and families who have been touched by autism spectrum disorders, as well as other conditions that cause sensory hypersensitivity. In 2010, Clare Danes won both Emmy and Golden Globe awards for her portrayal of Temple in the critically-acclaimed HBO biopic Temple Grandin.

This week on Point of Inquiry, we talk to Grandin about science, animal behavior, autism, ethics, and much more.

Temple Grandin teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design at Colorado State University and consults with the livestock industry on facility design, livestock handling, and animal welfare. She has appeared on television shows such as 20/20, 48 Hours, CNN Larry King Live, PrimeTime Live, the Today Show, and many shows in other countries. She has been featured in People Magazine, the New York Times, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Time Magazine, the New York Times book review, and Discover magazine. In 2010, Time Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people. She has also authored over 400 articles in both scientific journals and livestock periodicals on animal handling, welfare, and facility design. She is the author of Thinking in Pictures, Livestock Handling and Transport, Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals, and Humane Livestock Handling. Her books Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human were both on the New York Times best seller list.

Aug 28 2012

44mins

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Rank #20: Marlene Zuk: The Paleo Delusion

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We evolved to eat berries rather than bagels, to live in caves rather than condos, to sprint barefoot rather than wear sneakers—or did we? These, along with many other questions about what is or is not "natural" for humans from an evolutionary perspective and is the subject of the new book by biologist, Dr. Marlene Zuk, Paleofantasies: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live. The book was recently long-listed for the Royal Society's Winton Prize, one of the most book prizes in science writing.

Dr. Zuk is an evolutionary biologist and behavioral ecologist at the University of Minnesota, where she heads the Zuk Lab. She has published many papers and books on evolution and evolutionary biology.

Lindsay interviews her about the book with a view to the "Paleo" craze in health and nutrition, asking if we really know what some claim we do about our paleolithic ancestors and what impact, if any, that knowledge should have on our lives.

Jun 23 2014

34mins

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Anthony Pinn on Religion, Oppression, and Humanists

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In this episode of Point of Inquiry, co-host Leighann Lord talks with professor, writer, and humanist Dr. Anthony Pinn.

Lord and Pinn discuss the power and persistence of magical thinking as we face the current pandemic, the role of the church at a time when science is so important, Black Lives Matter and Pinn's opinion on struggle and progress, how women of color deal with oppression based on race, gender, and class, and the issue with respectability politics. Pinn also proposes the question, "What does our nontheistic perspective offer folks at this moment? What do we offer them beyond the critique of religion?" as we face the pandemic and the ever growing need for honest discussions and action on the issues of race.

Anthony Pinn received his Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from Harvard University, and is currently the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University. He is also the Founding Director of The Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning at Rice University, and Director of Research at The Institute for Humanist Studies. Among his many books are Writing God’s Obituary: How a Good Methodist Became a Better Atheist and When Colorblindness Isn’t the Answer: Humanism and the Challenge of Race.

Jul 09 2020

46mins

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Scientology in Hollywood | A Guided Tour

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Looming over the sidewalk of Hollywood, California are tens of millions of dollars of buildings owned by the Church of Scientology. This beleaguered religion may have had a decade of bad PR, but they still own a substantial amount of real estate in California and Florida.

In this week's episode of Point of Inquiry, Jim Underdown decided to ride his bike to six major Scientology facilities in Hollywood. Activist Tory Christman, who spent 30 years in the "Church" of Scientology, spoke with Jim the following day to sit down and walk listeners through what happens in these buildings. You can follow along below with the pictures that Jim took while on his bike.

Jun 26 2020

49mins

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Monuments to Misinformation | The Ark Experience & Creation Museum

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A short drive south of Cincinnati, OH, lie two well-funded, well-executed museums dedicated to the telling of biblical "history." The Creation Museum and the Ark Experience came about through Answers in Genesis, a Christian Apologetics organization, and its founder and CEO, Ken Ham.

While the modern science-based community always found fault in these propaganda factories' notions about the age of the earth (6000 years), and the theory of evolution (it's wrong) -- among myriad other beliefs -- the Ark Encounter brought a new layer of controversy to the table when it was granted land, cash, and tax kickbacks by local government and the state of Kentucky at taxpayers expense.

A documentary called We Believe in Dinosaurs looks at some of the issues surrounding these facilities through the eyes of both believers and skeptics.

Joining Jim Underdown on this episode of Point of Inquiry are Rob Boston, Communications Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Dan Phelps, President of the Kentucky Paleontological Society, and Monica Long Ross, one of the co-directors of We Believe in Dinosaurs.

Jun 09 2020

59mins

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The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe and Science-Based Medicine's Steven Novella

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In this episode of Point of Inquiry, cohost Leighann Lord talks with famous skeptic and Assistant Professor of Neurology, Steven Novella, MD.

Novella is also the founder and current Executive Editor of Science-Based Medicine which explores issues and controversies between science and medicine and works to expose dangerous medical scams and practices. He is also the host of the popular weekly podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. Novella also has a series of insightful courses on critical thinking that he has published through Great Courses.

In this week's interview, Lord and Novella speak about the ongoing battle to fight scientific ignorance especially during the current Covid-19 outbreak, how Novella's Science-Based Medicine has stepped up to counter vast amounts of misinformation about the disease, the relationship between doctors and patients when there's hard news to deliver, how we all have blind spots in our thinking that hinder our curiosity and skepticism, and the importance of not being too comfortable with information that confirm our biases.

You can follow Leighann on twitter @LeighannLord.

May 21 2020

40mins

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Ian Harris on Comedy, Skeptical Audiences, and Atheism

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In this episode of Point of Inquiry, cohost Leighann Lord talks with fellow comic Ian Harris.

Besides being a comedian, Harris is a voice actor, writer, director, and MMA trainer. He is also an outspoken atheist and skeptic who confronts magical thinking and religion in his comedy. In 2019, Leighann Lord and Harris joined forces and performed their mainstage show at Dragon Con. That show, dubbed “The Science and Fiction Comedy Show,” blended nerdom (it's Drgaon Con after all!), atheism, skepticism, and science.

In this engaging interview with Lord, Harris tells us about what it's like to perform skeptical comedy for audiences and lets us in on the type of audience that gives the best laughs.  Harris explains how he effectively uses his comedy to teach people skeptical and critical thinking.  He's seen certain topics, such as climate change, become politicized and divorced from science. It’s his hope to rectify that with his comedy. Lord and Harris also dive into the observation that even within the atheist community, many hold onto their own "religious" beliefs and not everyone in the community is a critical thinker or skeptic. They then discuss the resulting schism or gap that's been created.

You can follow Leighann on twitter @LeighannLord. You can follow Ian on twitter @comediocre and check out his YouTube channel, IanHarrisComedian, where you can enjoy videos from his stand-up specials, "Critical & Thinking" and “ExtraOrdinary”, his Reason Rally performances, interviews, and more.

May 07 2020

38mins

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Mandisa Thomas on Black Nonbelievers and the Atheist Community

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On this week's episode, Leighann Lord speaks with Mandisa Thomas, president of Black Nonbelievers. Black Nonbelievers connect with other Black folks and allies who have chosen to live without religion. They serve as a community for those who have been otherwise shunned by family and friends. From the Black Nonbelievers' website, "Instead of accepting dogma, we seek to determine truth and morality through reason and evidence."

Leighann and Mandisa have a frank and honest discussion about their shared experience of what it's like to exist in the atheist community as women of color and how things they've seen and witnessed may be holding the atheist community back from growing. They also discuss the importance of critical thinking and introspection and how growing up as a New Yorker has helped Mandisa navigate a world as an atheist women of color running a national organization. You can follow what Mandisa and Black Nonbelievers are up to on twitter @mandy0904 and @BNonbelievers.

You can follow Leighann on twitter @LeighannLord

Apr 23 2020

37mins

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Kurt Andersen, Fantastyland, and How Irrational Thought Worsened the Pandemic

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Kurt Andersen is the author of the novels Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (2017), True Believers (2012), Heyday (2007), and Turn of the Century (1999). He's also written for film, television, and the stage and is the former host and co-creator of the Peabody Award winning Studio 360, a weekly radio show about arts and culture. He regularly appears as a commentator on MSNBC, CNN, PBS, and the BBC. He is also the former editor of New York Magazine and co-creator of Spy magazine.

On this week's episode Andersen speaks with Point of Inquiry's new host, Leighann Lord, to discuss his book, Fantasyland and if the United State's "fantasyland" thinking helped create the current predicament the country finds itself dealing with. Andersen and Lord offer context on Fantasyland to better understand what happens when the departure from empirical reality-based thought plays out during a global pandemic. You can also watch Andersen's CSICon talk where he goes into riveting detail about Fantasyland and how he came to write it.

Apr 09 2020

40mins

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Recognizing Misinformation and Staying Safe from Coronavirusa

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Coronavirus continues to infect more and more people around the world. As the number of infected grows so does the misinformation surrounding the virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. From fake and explicitly dangerous cures, like drinking bleach to folklorish myths and conspiracies on the origins of the virus, institutions like the CDC and the World Health Organization are doing what they can to not only battle the virus itself but also the overwhelming amount of misleading information on social media and the web.

In this week's episode, Jim Underdown speaks with Ben Radford to debunk the most common myths and pieces of misinformation surrounding the coronavirus. How did it really begin? What can be done to prevent it? How has racism and xenophobia contributed to the spreading of various myths? Radford has also recently published an article on CFI where he goes into more detail on the virus's myths and conspiracies.

Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and a Research Fellow with the non-profit educational organization the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He has written thousands of articles on a wide variety of topics, including urban legends, the paranormal, critical thinking, and media literacy.

Mar 11 2020

36mins

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Professor Elizabeth Loftus on False Memories

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Can our memories be trusted if they are easily manipulated by suggestions? Where is the line between repressed memories that bubble up to the surface and false memories that never existed?

In this week's episode, Jim Underdown speaks to Professor Elizabeth Loftus on what happens in the courtroom when a person's memory of events are a result of suggestion or coercion. Loftus recounts various legal cases she's been involved with where wrongful convictions resulted from false memories implanted in the mind of a witness by family members, prosecutors, or persons of authority. Work done by Harvard professor, Richard McNally has looked into the likelihood for someone to truly have a repressed or recovered memory in relation to past traumas.

Loftus is a professor of psychology and law at the University of California, Irvine. She has given a TED talk on the manipulation of memories, has published numerous articles and books, and has served as an expert witness or consultant in hundreds of cases including the McMartin preschool molestation case and the trial of Oliver North.

Feb 20 2020

52mins

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Where Are We In The Battle For Church State Separation

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Where does the separation of church and state stand with a conservative majority in the Supreme Court? The short answer: not great.

In this week's episode, Jim Underdown speaks to CFI board member, lawyer, atheist, and human rights activist, Eddie Tabash on how the Founding Fathers viewed religion and law, the religious ties of the newest Supreme Court justices, and where we go from here.

Feb 06 2020

44mins

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Is a Good God Logically Possible? | James Sterba

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James Sterba is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, USA. His book, Is a Good God Logically Possible? deals with the Argument from Evil and whether a God who is all good and all powerful is logically compatible in a world where moral and natural evil exists.

Sterba sits down with Underdown to discuss the arguments for and against the existence of God, how Sterba's history as a member of a religious order and later Professor of Philosophy led him to write his book, and the finer points of the argument.

Jan 23 2020

46mins

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Playwright and Actor Ian Ruskin on Thomas Paine

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Ian Ruskin is a producer, writer, actor and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He has starred in theatre, television, and film in both the UK and the US. He has written and performed in various one man plays, From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks which details the life of Australian-born American union leader, Harry Bridges and To Begin the World Over Again: The Life of Thomas Paine. To learn more about or contact Ian Ruskin visit: www.ianruskin.org

In this week's interview, Jim Underdown and Ruskin discuss the life of Thomas Paine, his influence on politics and religion, and what Ian learned about Paine in his work preparing for The Life of Thomas Paine.

In 1775, a man who had lived 37 remarkably unremarkable years in England arrived in Philadelphia. He then proceeded to change the world. His pen ignited the American Revolution, defined the French Revolution and articulated the concept of Reason. For this he was nearly hanged in England, nearly guillotined in France and, by the end of his life, more hated than loved in America. He was one of the world’s greatest propagandists and worst politicians, a nearly fatal combination, and he is one of the most misunderstood men in American history. Yet his vision of true justice and equality for all human beings continues to inspire millions of people and his ideas, revolutionary in 1776, continue to be as revolutionary today.

Jan 09 2020

1hr 11mins

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Dawkins on his new Book Outgrowing God

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Richard Dawkins is the recipient of a number of awards for his writing on science, including the Royal Society of Literature Award and the LA Times Literary Prize, he has also been awarded the Royal Society Michael Faraday Award for the furtherance of the public understanding of science. He is the author of a number of critically acclaimed books, such as The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Unweaving the Rainbow, The Devil’s Chaplain, and The Ancestor’s Tale.

In this week's interview with Jim Underdown, Dawkins discusses his newest book, Outgrowing God, designed for young people. It is Dawkin's attempt to address the cyclical nature of growing up religious.

Dec 12 2019

45mins

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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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iTunes Ratings

738 Ratings
Average Ratings
529
127
22
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39

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.