Ian Harris on Comedy, Skeptical Audiences, and Atheism

May 7, 2020

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.

This Week’s Music

“Bon Journée” by Chad Crouch / CC BY-NC 3.0

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

My name is Leighann Lord. Your new co-host for Point of Inquiry, my guest, this episode is standup comedian, writer, director and mixed martial arts trainer Ian Harris. Ian has performed at many skeptical and secular events, including Reason Valley, American Atheists and Dragon Con in 2019. We debuted our main stage show there, the science and fiction comedy show, where we put together a hilarious mix of con material Nadhum Athie ism, Skepticism and Science. Ian is not only a great monologist, but he’s a spot on impressionist. He has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live Comedy Central and has two one hour TV specials, Critical Thinking and Extraordinary, where he shows his keen grasp of science, evidenced by his satirical, skeptical take on everything from religion to global warming deniers and Beyonce. We’ve got to talk this episode about what it’s like doing skeptical comedy for a targeted audience that appreciates it, how he builds comedy consensus by starting with what we can agree on, how equating beliefs with politics has further polarized us. But how Ian wades in, especially in social media with compassionate, critical thinking. And he reminded me that not all atheists are skeptics. Please enjoy my conversation with Ian Harris. 

This is Leighann Lord. My guest today is my comedy partner in crime, Mr. Ian Harris. So, Ian, welcome to Point of Inquiry. 

Yes, this is so cool. You’re doing this, by the way. 

Oh, man. Thank you. Thank you so much. 

Yeah, it’s really cool. And it’s been around forever. 

The show is forever. I think if we’re dating it to 2006, it’s the environment that we have right now. You know, a day one day, one 24 hour cycle feels like a seven day week. And I am exhausted by Tuesday. 

But I thank you for agreeing to to come on the show and chat with me, because, you know, you have both comedy KRED and Skeptical KRED, which is a lovely combination. But if anyone in the audience is unfamiliar with you, can you just give us a sort of a quick how you got here, like how you became an atheist and what and what brought you into the skeptical community? 

You know, I’ve always been I’ve always been an atheist and a skeptic pretty much since I was born. I was never, never brought into any sort of religion. My dad, in fact, was an atheist. 

But I think back in the 70s there was that they didn’t use that word, but I just called it it, you know, a bunch of crap or whatever, you know, and I’ve been doing comedies since pretty much is all I’ve ever wanted to do. 

I start doing comedy when I was when I was just pretty much old enough to get on stage. 

And it took a while. I think it took a while for me to do comedy skepticism work or were primarily atheist comedy or whatever, because, you know, it was always kind of in for like my comedy was always informed by my brain, which, you know, I always talked about religion. 

I always talked about, you know, skeptical type ghosts and things like that. I always talked about bad stuff in my act. But it wasn’t a focus until about two thousand eleven. I had taken some time off comedy and I came back to it because I missed it. And no, was just just wanted to get back on stage and I didn’t need to do it for a living anymore. 

So I was like, well, I don’t really care if the clubs don’t have me back anymore, so I’m just going to do what I enjoy doing. 

And I just started talking about all things skepticism, an atheist. Since then, it has been crazy because this is a wealth of material that that is really passionate about. 

So I am constantly writing, which is which is cool. You know, it it’s something that, you know, as comedians, a you know, like sometimes we just get stuck in this. You know, if you’re doing gigs week to week, you know, you’re like, I can just do the same. Forty five minutes. 

And, you know, wherever I’m going and no one’s going to know in 10 years, go by and you’re still doing the same. Forty five minutes. It’s an easy pattern to get into, you know. 

Yes. It was kind of cool because now it’s like I’m wanting to write, I’m wanting to come up with new stuff. 

I actually didn’t know you had taken a break. How long was that break? How long were you out of the game? About five years, maybe. Oh, yeah. 

I mean, you know, I had, like, a bit of success. 

I mean, you know, I’m from the Bay Area and I and I moved to Los Angeles in 2000 and I had a lot going on with me, like signed with a big agency management. You know, I just would do a lot of stuff when I would. I was one of those people that I I love pushing buttons and pushing the envelope. So I got this kind of reputation of being able to just going up and doing, you know, making fun of the industry and doing kind of a Lenny Bruce meets Andy Kindler kind of thing where it was like that. That’s what I did. And it got me tons of street cred in comedy. But it turns out it pissed off a lot of the people in the comedy and in the entertainment industry. 

Well, go figure. 

I kind of got ousted from some a few networks and a few major comedy festivals. 

And then, you know, I had my daughter, who’s now fifteen, and I just didn’t want to be on the road doing road work anymore. I was on the road all the time, like 40 weeks, you know, and I didn’t need to do what I was doing. Voiceover work. And I was editing and I was, you know, writing screenplays and doing things like that. And I said, you know, I don’t need to be on the road anymore. So I stopped going on the road and the nets quickly became that I was no longer going up in town because I didn’t see any need for it. I’m like, what am I doing in town? You know, going up and doing five minutes at the Improv? Who cares? So it just became that I wasn’t I wasn’t doing that. It was. And it was actually made my daughter. Gosh, on my birthday when I was fortieth birthday, shouldn’t be saying how old I am. I made my daughter. They were times she was five or six years old. 

And she’d never she didn’t identify with me as a comedian. Like, she’d never know me as being a comedian. 

And to me, that is what I am. That’s the center of who I am. 

So I was like, wait, my daughter doesn’t even know who I am. That was kind of the impetus to her. OK, I gotta get back on stage. 

Do we ever really know our parents, though? Right. They’re such weirdos. 

I want to go back to something that you said. You said you so you took time off. You talk about five years off. And it’s it’s when you came back that you sort of had this this voice in this this, you know, I guess focus to talk about more about. About 80 ism and sexism and religion. And what was that like? You know, how is that received? You know, in front of, say, nonsecular audiences or a mixed audience who that’s not necessarily what they came for. It’s not like performing at a conference. 

My goal when I came back was to not necessarily do it. For a living, but do it for fun and also I wanted to put together an hour and I wanted to tape this hour whether it was just, you know, at a club or whatever. 

I wanted to put something on video that I could then show my daughter so that when she was older, she could look and go, oh, that’s what my dad was about. Oh, that’s what he believed. That’s what his comedy was. 

So I had this goal of, okay, I’m going to put together an hour of the skeptic atheist kind of material, like, what do I believe in? What am I about? 

And I went to some of the clubs and I was like, hey, I’d like to come back. And they were and they were all kind of. Well, we haven’t seen you in five, six years. We don’t know what you’re doing. 

And none of them would book me partly because it was it isn’t good to have anything to do with the material yet. They hadn’t even seen that yet. I think we just haven’t seen you. 

I think I was a little bit, but with one hand, they were like, well, you’re out of the loop. 

You need to get back into the loop. And then when I told them what I was, I told them what I was doing. Hey, I’ve got this really cool thing and it’s it’s totally different. And I’m doing I and really is. That sounds like that’s going to piss people off. Know. So what I started do is and all of them, I was pretty tight with a lot of em. So they all said, well, if you want to take a Tuesday night or a Sunday night and do a door deal, we’ll let you do that. 

And I’ve got a couple other comedian friends of mine did that also did this kind of stuff. 

We went around and we did a little tour, put together a tour, and we targeted atheist meetup groups and Facebook pages and and reach out to all the atheists and skeptics and all that sort of stuff, too. Okay, we’re gonna go to Tucson. We’re gonna go to Portland. We’re gonna go to Seattle. Let’s find out all the local groups. You know, in 2011, 2012, atheists was like that was kind of a height where ever, you know, the first reason rally happened. And that’s when everybody was really motivated to be to go do atheist things. Right. So that helped us because we just put on our own shows, put together a mailing list, put together an email list, whatever. And we would go we would do shows for one hundred, two hundred people that we’re just there to see us doing. Atheist skeptic material. And since then there were clubs at a few clubs are like, wow, you’re doing what you’re doing. Know you’re bringing in these these audiences you want a week again. 

And then I would take a week and every week I’d be like, yeah, we had a lot of complaints. 

Wow. 

I’m very impressed, as you know, with your hustle and your fortitude and how, you know, you you don’t wait for anybody to do anything for you. You just go on ahead and build it. 

So you didn’t even try to convert straight people, you know, straight audience members you would like. Now, I want to do my own thing. 

I don’t want to offend people. I don’t wanna hurt people’s feelings. Like I’m I’m a pretty nice person, I would say, in general. So it’s like I’m not out there. Like I’m not, you know, trying to be Ricky Gervais or Doug stand up or it’s like I say what I say. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. 

I also have this thing where I want to know and I want to I want to bring people in. But I also don’t want to compromise what I do. So I feel like there was definitely a. There’s definitely a little bit of that where it’s like I wanted to go out and do that and bring people into the skepticism. I mean, I so I do try to. At least craft my set to where it starts out with the stuff that we can all agree on and slowly morphing into. Now here’s why your religion is bullshit or whatever you think. 

Because then hopefully they’re on board with me. They like me as a person. They might be on board with my formula of how my jokes work is. 

Here’s the setup. Here’s why this is silly. We all agree this is silly. Here’s a funny here’s a funny analogy is to you that you would find ridiculous. And here’s why it’s exactly the same thing and we laugh at it. 

So if I continue to do that with stuff that we all agree on or most people agree on, then when you then you recognize the formula when it comes to something that you don’t agree with, with me on all the set and you go, wait a second, this is the same formula that he did on Bigfoot and Ghosts or whatever the deal was that you were laughing at. 

And I think people recognize that and they go, oh, maybe I need to actually rethink this position or OK, maybe I’m maybe I’m being silly here. 

Let me and I can laugh at it. So I think that happens. 

You know, and do you do you find that it’s almost easier to get people to at least open their minds to the possibility? Because it’s funny. You know, it’s not it’s not a lecture that they didn’t sign up to attend or wander into. Like I say, proving your point with punch lines. Does that make it? Does that make it make it easier for the medicine to go down? 

Oh, I think absolutely. The environment and the venue that we’re in. I mean, if you were in a comedy club. You were there to laugh. You probably had a few drinks. You know, it’s an entertainment thing. So I think you’re automatically your walls go down. Plus people are are OK with being, you know, not. Not everyone, of course, but some people are OK with being offended or OK with hearing things they disagree with at a comedy club because they know that historically that’s what comedy does. I mean, we have all these famous people that, you know, the Bill Hicks is in the Richard Pryor’s and the George Carlin’s and the, you know, Joan Rivers and these people that would say stuff that you weren’t supposed to say and people went there for that. So I think, you know, with with a few exceptions, there always can be people that are offended. There’s always been people who don’t like what you do or who don’t get what comedy is about. 

But I think for the most part, people go there with their defenses down. And that still doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t get people go telling me that was preachy or they didn’t like it because it offended them or or whatever. You know, my friend told my friend Jason Wrestler. He said to me one time, he said, you know, liberals make the best comedians, but conservatives make the best audiences completely agree and absolutely hands down. 

And although there’s obviously caveats to both those rules, but it makes sense that people who get, you know, with with empathy get offended for other people. 

And that’s not always your best audience. Whereas people who are or don’t carry the dead. 

Oh, nothing P.C. at all that they’re usually OK with laughing at themselves. I mean, I would say historically, I’d say an era of Trump that has changed. But historically, like, you know, you could go up and say, I mean, look at the whole blue collar comedy tour. It’s them saying, we’re rednecks and we’re stupid. They’re like, yep, we’re stupid. We do dumb stuff and they don’t care. Like, you can go, you’re dumb. You do dumb stuff. Look at your stupid truck. And I’ll be like, yep, that’s funny. But you use the wrong pronoun onstage and you’ll get protested there. There are a lot of things that we are as liberals. 

More offended by because we are always kind of being empathetic toward other people’s feelings. That doesn’t always work in comedy. Am I saying it’s wrong? But it’s definitely makes makes things a little bit more difficult to navigate sometimes. 

And that’s something I was actually going to ask you about, because you said that, you know, people do come to, at least heretofore, have come to comedy clubs with their defenses down and they were OK with being offended. And I’ve heard a lot of comics talk about how that has shifted to some degree. It seems like people are ready, willing and able to be offended by any and everything without context, as if they don’t understand what comedy is like. If you don’t like this joke, just wait for the next right. 

You do you sense that a little bit when you’re performing or a lot of it? You know, particularly because you know what? You’re so smart and you really do lead people down that path of if you don’t know you’re dumb ass, you’re about to find out. So do you do you sense that that change or any kind of change that they’re not so OK with being offended and they have coming in more guarded? 

Yeah, I mean, I think I think just in general, I mean, we see it. I think part of it has to do with the division politically in America. 

And I think a lot of it has to do with with social media. I mean, we get this it happened to me an hour ago where you’re you’re discussing something with words on, you know, that you’re typing, you can’t hear inflection. You can’t understand you don’t always understand intent. Sometimes you you misspell something and it comes out the wrong way or. And so we’re so hypersensitive to be able to jump on somebody. So you say this, you said this, and this is what you meant by it. And and it’s you know, if you’re not with me or with them, there’s a lot of that going on. And I think there’s definitely this it’s become very cult and tribal like, you know, which we already know. 

Religion is is is is a tough one because people are so are so adamant about their religion and they believe that their religion is who they are. It’s not just something they believe it is their core. It is it is what they they exist for now that’s becoming their politics. 

Oh, well, I’m also this is what I am. I’m not just a Christian. I’m a Republican and I’m a Trump supporter. And this is who I am. And if you are against it, then you’re against me as a human. And then they politicize stuff. OK. 

So, oh, you believe in climate change? Well, then you is no longer a subject about science. It’s now you are against me as a human because I don’t believe climate change is real and therefore you’re a horrible person and you know, and it’s like it’s everything is politicized and then everything is taken to this, like, cult level. 

You belief. 

And I think that that is always going to be a problem if if you come into it to a to any sort of a discussion. And I think, again, with social media, everybody’s a star. Everybody has their fifteen minutes of fame and everyone has an equal voice. That’s not true in comedy. We have the microphone. You paid to see us. Your job is to watch. But everyone thinks, oh, I have a voice here. You don’t have a voice here. It’s not how it works, but that they feel it. So I think that doesn’t help. 

Thank you for it for going in this direction, because you do something that I don’t have. Shall I say the Stones to do you do something I greatly admire. And I don’t know where you get the patience and the fortitude and the endurance for it. You will wade in there on social media discussions that descend into just the pit of madness. But you’ll go into the pit, you will every single time and and really try to meet people where they are and insert critical thinking. And I’m sometimes amazed at the people who are resistant to these efforts. 

Like they like they they refuse to hear or read because they’re so stuck to their point. But do you get something out of that? Do you get people who go, oh, I see what you’re saying, because you seem to hang in there with a lot of people are say the exact opposite. 

I should just let it go. And B, you know that I’m spending too much time and that and but, you know, I’ve had you know, I just just so you know, I don’t say that. 

Yes. Because somebody you know, because somebody has to do it well. And if you’re willing, please, I’m not. I’m going to get a manicure. 

I mean, you’re not going to change most people’s minds. But I think a couple of things are at play that people. People ignore and that one is that weak. 

I try not to be super combative, like I don’t right off the bat be like you’re an idiot. Here’s why you’re an idiot. I’ll know sometimes it’s hard not to do that, especially when you’ve discussed the same topic with the same person for three straight years and you keep giving them sauces and sauces and sauces and they just keep calling you lip tired or whatever the deal is. 

But what I what I try to do is realize that they have whatever their defenses are up, they have their reasons for for for thinking what they think. 

It’s like you don’t know what’s going on in somebody else’s head. You don’t know the experiences that they’ve lived with. And it’s so when somebody when somebody is reacting a certain way or believes a certain thing, I, I don’t know what got them there. 

I don’t know if it was a traumatic experience. Sure. So I have to look at their filter like I have a lot of friends that are horrible. They’re great people, but they have this weird, selfish mentality that they don’t think they’re selfish. But everything they do is about how does it affect me and how do you how do you deal with that person so selfish. And I say, well. 

Because I know he’s selfish and therefore I know that it’s just the way his brain is wired. 

He’s not trying to be a mean person. It’s it’s not it’s not some sort of negative intention to to hurt other people. It’s just that everything filters through. How does this affect me first? So I know that and I treat that person accordingly, accordingly, so that I don’t get hurt when they do something selfish. I expected and hopefully I can steer them in a different direction and maybe even point out, hey, do you see how this was selfish? And sometimes it actually works. I mean, I’ve had people I had a guy recently that’s a hardcore Trump supporter, like nonstop like you can’t get past this guy at all. And he finally admitted the other day, he said, you know, this does corona virus thing has as turned me off the Trump train. And then, wham, he said. And then this whole thing about the thousand dollars are gonna give people a whatever. And I made a joke on social media about, oh, wow. No. Now, nobody wants socialism in everyone. Everyone’s jumping on the Yang train. And he said something and I broke it down. This huge thing about this is what this is what this means as to why health care about blah, blah, blah. And he said, I agree with every point. I’m like, then you’re a socialist or you’re you’re a super progressive. Like if you agree with all these points. We’ve been arguing for four years and now you agree with these points that I’ve been making for four years. And I don’t know that he does. But even if a little bit of a crack is open and even if he goes, you know what? This guy isn’t this benevolent leader that I thought he was. Maybe that’s enough to make him go. You know what? Let me start looking at what’s really going on here. 

So you’re like a compassionate, critical thinking ambassador. Who knows how to who knows how to translate other people’s crazy? 

That’s my goal. Oh, I said I just see you do it beautifully. And to go back to the gentleman that you mentioned, the hard core supporter of the current occupant of the White House. Who is it? That was our main aim. Yes. Yes. That’s how I feel. Apparently, it takes a pandemic to make people embrace their humanity. 

And the humanity of other people. And and since we’re here. Since we’re here. And we’ll be here probably for the foreseeable future. 

You are seeing in real time the is as they talk about the coronaviruses, they talk about KOVA 19, the real time disassociation from critical thought from CEOs making sure that your facts are correct. Right. For. 

For even fact checking on your own, even if you’re watching your favorite channel. Maybe your favorite channel doesn’t have everything that you need. And you need to diversify, perhaps your sources. So we know. Is that something that you’re seeing? 

Absolutely. I think this is the two things that have that have been driving me crazy that I’m trying to stay sane and trying not to lash out at everybody, because most a lot of it’s on my side, if I want to say that, like my political side. But the Bernie or bust, people that refused to vote and then the corona virus on both sides. I’m what I’m getting into these crazy, crazy conspiracy theories from people that I like, that I know that I respect that I never thought would go down that road. But I have friends where it’s like every single thing is. Look at what the government is doing, who released this Koronis virus on us, and it’s also then they could crash the bank so that Trump could lose and Biden could win. But Biden, when really is is a Trump win and all these like weird, crazy, crazy conspiracies like stuff that makes so little sense. And and they have to grasp on to something. It’s just it’s just that religiosity is what it is. It’s it’s I’m I feel unsafe. I feel scared. What can I. What can I. What can I. What kind of order can I put on this. And it must be a Chinese hoax. It must be. The Chinese were trying to shut up protesters. That’s the big what I hear now must be it was something that the Democrats did to stop Trump or something that Trump did to distract us so that we don’t have to have a vote in November. It’s like there’s all these crazy conspiracies and I see them nonstop. I see him again with the with the with the Kofod 19 thing and also with with the Bernie thing. Or it’s it’s there’s they’re trying. They the DNC is controlling the elections and and it’s all rigged and and there’s no way he could have possibly won South Carolina. It is it is so crazy. 

I you just just just a simple in passing on that one. If the DNC was really controlling the election, wouldn’t President Hillary be dealing with the coronavirus? Right. 

Well, my point is that when it comes to that, that conspiracy, it’s like, OK. 

In July, when the whole, you know, impeachment, the stuff that started the impeachment, July 26, when when Trump bribed Zelinski, that came because Biden was up by 17 points. And I remember specifically because I’m always engaged in these conversations, as you know. Yes, you are. Everyone saying, oh, it’s Biden. It’s rigged for Biden. It’s 2016 all over again. The DNC is going to force Biden in. And we have no say in it. And it’s Biden. And it’s rigged and it’s fixed. And it’s Reagan. It’s fixed. Then a debate happened and Biden got his ass handed to him by Kamala Harris and Kamala Harris. Dumb, dumb, like 10 points the next day. She’s a cop man. And she she prosecutes people and and she it’s all rigged for Kamala Harris. And the DNC is rigging it for Kamal Harris. And then the next debate. Elizabeth Warren smash everybody. And she became the front runner. 

Progressive Elizabeth Warren was then the next day DNC. She’ll corporatists. She said she likes capitalism. The DNC is rigging it for for for Warren. And look, she’s she talked to one of the Hillary’s Hillary’s whatever consultants or something like that. 

And she’s she’s just the next Hillary Clinton and it’s all rigged for her. Then a month later, we have Pete Boota, Jeje wins in Iowa and the conspiracy theories. He he fixed the app because the company that he has an investment in was partly responsible for developing the app. So he’s now called Mary Mayor Cheat, and he stole it. 

And it’s that the DNC is rigging it for her, for Pete. Good it. 

And he’s their government shill and he’s the DNC shill. And it’s Hillary all over again. Mayor Pete. So now we’ve gone through for the DNC is rigging it and Biden is now fourth or fifth place. He’s not even in the Scituate. Then all of a sudden, Nevada comes. And guess who’s in the race? Mike Bloomberg. And it’s. Oh, well, everybody. 

He bought the election. Oh, look what you can do. You can buy an election. He bought the election. He’s he’s up fifteen points. And the DNC just taken his money and they’re rigging it for Bloomberg. And then he does two primaries and he’s out. And then the next thing you know is, look, it’s all it was all for. But for Biden, it’s insane and now it’s all rigged. For Biden, it’s 2016 all over again. And the DNC, this money, it’s like if they’re if they’re rigging it for anyone, then you should be okay with that, because they’re the worst riggers I’ve ever clearly ever seen them with. And they had one job. 

Right. You know, all of this reminds me Kurt Anderson, who wrote the book Fantasy Land. Right. If you have not known if anybody in the audience, in Point-to-point audience has not read it, I highly recommend it. And he kind of talks about how America in particular and how Americans are primed for this kind of conspiracy fantasy land type of thinking. We thrive on it. And if you don’t believe that, we just haven’t haven’t hit on what your particular fantasy is. Yes. You know, because we all seem to have something. Even if you’ve given up religion, even if you are, you consider yourself a critical thinker. There is something lurking in your brain when you go, I have a raving closet. We always sort of have to be vigilant and in in our own thinking and to tie it together a little bit. Do you think that atheists, skeptics, free thinkers, you know, people in the. Community have a responsibility or an opportunity to get in there like you do to whatever degree they choose to keep being the voice of reason or logic, or is is that completely out the window now that we’re all quarantined, you know? 

Now, what would be the perfect time? What are you gonna do? You got nothing to do but sit on social media. I think we also have to be careful because I don’t want to say this without trying to without coming off as being full of myself or pompous or something like that. That’s not where I’m going with it. But there are a lot of atheists and people that call themselves free thinkers and all the sort of tons of them, even people that are good, are in the skeptic community that still engage in magical thinking. And I think we see this a lot with this division where, you know, you hear people talk about, oh, the atheist movement’s dead and this and that. 

And it’s been faction goffe so many times. And that is true. I think part of the reason is. 

Sometimes and I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it just it is a lot of people came to Athens and not through skepticism or critical thinking or understanding how how scientific method works or whatever. They just got fed up with their religion or they realized that religion was bullshit or their priest made a pass at home or something like that, and they steered away from their religion. But they haven’t changed the way they think. So they became just about GMO. So they became religious about their organic food or they became religious about something else, feminism or masculinity or or whatever issue they had. They may have some other issue that is close to them. And now they’ve doubled down on that and they’re not looking and they can’t look at that rationally. And that’s become a religion to them. 

But in their mind, that’s all part of Athie ism, because we are all one like minded people. 

I mean, although I’d say I’ve done other atheist Republicans, I, I, I thought that you couldn’t be for voting for people that are that are wanting to put in Christian laws if you’re an atheist. 

But apparently I’m wrong. You can be an atheist Republican. 

There are atheists out there that are not remotely critical thinkers. So they might buy into like ghosts or they or which which is bizarre. How do you have ghost without an afterlife? But they will even go. So they believe in aliens or. And I think what happens is when you you know, we’re sitting around and we all agree this is religion. 

This stuff is great. Crazy. It’s nuts. And the talking snake and this and that. 

And you and we fool ourselves into thinking that we’re all skeptically minded, critical thinkers. 

So then when we go, oh, I have this thing, I believe that organic food is the only way to eat. So I assume that you must think that, too, because we’re like minded individuals who have come to this the same. We came to Athie ism, so we must have come to the same conclusion. And then when I find out that you think organic food is the answer to the to saving the world, all of a sudden you’re a heretic. Yes. And we get that where it’s like, well, well, then screw you, man. And I see it a lot with you don’t like it a lot. There’s women that are that are very into the feminist movement. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I think it’s a great thing. But then that becomes their thing. And then they meet an atheist man who isn’t. 

And it’s like, well, then you might as well just be on the other side. And it’s like, whoa, whoa, whoa, hold up. Maybe that person has their reasons. 

They might be wrong, but maybe maybe you need to explain to them and have a rational discussion as to which is correct. 

And let’s not get religious about any of it. But but it all gets lumped into. 

I came here via critical thinking because we are all under this banner and a lot of times we don’t come to our other positions that way, but we think we do. And I’m sure we’re all guilty of it. Me, you, everyone is probably guilty of having some sort of thing that we that we believe in or that we’re passionate about. But we may not have come. 

We may have come to maybe a false belief or maybe, you know, we may be a little bit too zealot about, you know, I am still sort of I don’t say stuff, but like, fascinated by what you said, that there are atheists who aren’t critical thinkers. 

I literally did that that Scooby Doo moment, like really like it was just I guess maybe that was my blind side. 

Yeah. You know, that, you know, once you give up religion, you know, you’re automatically a critical thinker and you’re applying that to all areas of your life. 

And woops, you know, it’s, you know, Emory, Emory, Emory. Yes. Yes, I do. You told me once I was telling you about the same kind of thing like yours. And he said, he goes, Dude. I was just at CFI or he was at one of the places they had like a party and was like an atheist or something or other. And he said, no, I’m talking to somebody. 

And they started talking to me about the aliens and UFOs. And I was like, oh, this person is an atheist, but they still believe they believe in yourselves. Those goes. 

And that’s when it really occurred to me not everyone got here the same way I got here. 

I mean, I’m paraphrasing the memory of heedlessness, and I got it wrong. I apologize. But I remember specifically him telling me that he was an atheist function, talking to a person who is into aliens. 

And he was like, oh, well, we’re not all on the same page here. 

That does make sense because I’ve had these discussions with fellow atheists who it’s just like, no, this is the way it is on this topic, period. And I’m like, no, you might be often and even suggesting it is all of a sudden, you know, unfriended and blocked in there. And it has happened with a ton of atheist friends like this. And the better they are, I think we’re on the same side politically, but I disagree with the candidate or something like that. And all of a sudden it’s like unfriended and blocked. And you must be a horrible person because you don’t think exactly the way I do. And I’m like, that’s not. Well, critical thinking. 

Well, let me just say for the record and I’m sorry that I unfriended and blocked access right away. 

I think it was just a typo. I misread it. I think people forget, you know, the sans serif font is is completely inadequate sometimes to convey our thoughts, but not what we’re writing a lot on. Right. 

I mean, the real wrong font is actually lockable. 

You’re making large out Nathi. You have to be to get that joke. That’s a typography joke. A graphic design joke. 

Brilliant. Thank you. Thank you so much for agreeing to be a guest on the show and and for having this delightful conversation with me since, you know, I guess they’ll be all delightful conversation since everybody’s home. All right. Everybody else. I keep thinking that my plans that I’m going to get up early. I’m going to work out, though, getting up even later. Yes. I would eat healthy. No. All the food that storable our carbs. Right. Exactly. But what I hope people do is binge listen, these wonderful episodes of point of inquiry that we are putting out there for everybody. 

And if anyone is new to Mr. Ian Harris, Ian, can you please tell the audience how they can find you and support what you’re doing? 

Sure. Well, you can. My website is Ian or for this crowd skeptic, comedian, dot com. We got I’m on all the all the social mediums. Obviously, it’s easier nowadays just to look up your name. But I think my handle on everything is comedic. Poker is comedy and mediocre, smooshed together in a portmanteau mediocre. 

And yeah. And if you guys like what I do comedy wise, I have a couple of TV specials, one called Critical Thinking and one called Extraordinary. Both are on either I tootles or Amazon Prime or whatever those. Actually, I’ve just put critical thinking on my YouTube page. Nayo if you find my YouTube page, it’s on there for free. I said screw you to the distributor because they weren’t paying me properly and I uploaded my own content for free to everybody so as to just subscribe to our YouTube channel and watch it for free and just for a bit of optimism. 

I know as a fellow comic, you know, you’ve haven’t had events be canceled. 

We don’t know sort of where things are going forward, but drags us a little. 

Yes, I was going to say it’s bright side. What’s the next event that you are really looking forward to? Well, is that tracking? 

It might be at this point because I’ve had a lot of stuff canceled. I was supposed to do Atheist Day. So, yeah. So I’m I’m kind of on hold. I’m assuming that by September we should be at a point where we’re not all quarantined. 

And for people that don’t know, Dragon Con is Labor Day weekend in Atlanta. It’s like this the largest, you know, sort of sci fi fantasy con in the. 

Entry where Ian and I have performed several times and I’m thinking they could still have it because we could all show up in quarantine suits. Right. That’s how we played out this year. 

It would be such a great. And I’m going to get. And that’s how we save the stock market. We just all invest in the people who make the quarantine suits. 

Yeah. Yeah. I’m sure someone has beat us to it. Right. Ian, thank you again for agreeing to be on the show and being a delightful, thoughtful, funny guest. 

Yeah. Thanks for having me. This is really cool. And again, congrats on doing this. It’s that the show is going to be even more amazing now that you’re not on your show. 

That’s my evil plan. Thanks, Ed. 

Thank you for listening. Point of Inquiry is a production of the Center for Inquiry TFI. Is a five one C three charitable nonprofit organization whose vision is a world in which evidence, science and compassion rather than superstition, pseudoscience or prejudice guide public policy. 

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