All Episodes


November 21, 2011

Chris Mooney

Our guest this week is Jonathan Weiler, a political scientist and director of global studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Weiler is co-author, with Marc Hetherington of Vanderbilt, of the book Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics. In it, they describes this strange and troubling creature called an authoritarian—usually conservative, usually a …

November 14, 2011

Robert M. Price

Ebenezer Scrooge once called Christmas “a false and commercial holiday.” Is it? Should Humanists refuse to observe it? Should they wage war on it? Should they celebrate “Sanka” versions of it like Solstice and “HumanLight”? Christians complain that the holiday has become secularized—so should Secular Humanists just say “Thanks!” and enjoy listening to “Let It …

November 07, 2011

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 …

October 31, 2011

Karen Stollznow

Dr. Seth Shostak is the Senior Astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI). Seth is the author of Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and is well known as one of the hosts of the popular radio show Big Picture Science. (Formerly known as Are We Alone?) Seth …

October 24, 2011

Chris Mooney

Human cloning. Synthetic biology. Mood (and mind) altering drugs. Personalized medicine. Such topics are rarely at the top of the political agenda. Yet the changes they’re causing, often below the radar, are monumental. Issues of personhood, identity, ethics, are at play. The human future may be very different from the human past as these changes …

October 17, 2011

Robert M. Price

Richard C. Johnson Ph.D. is a retired chemist and serves as Treasurer for Freethought Arizona. For some 25 years, the company he founded worked with scientists and researchers in chemical analysis. Through family ties, Richard had long been a kind of participant observer of religion and learned well its social bonding functions, though always remaining …

October 10, 2011

Chris Mooney

In recent months, political attacks on science have been back in the news. Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman even famously tweeted, “To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” So it’s very timely that Shawn Lawrence Otto, co-founder of a nonpartisan organization called Science Debate, has got a new …

October 05, 2011

Later this month—on Halloween weekend—the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry is holding a conference: CSICon. It’s the latest in a line of CSI skeptics’ conferences going back to what might be the first skeptics’ conference ever held, a CSICOP (CSI) conference back in 1983. This episode of Point of Inquiry revolves around CSICon. It features interviews with …

October 03, 2011

Karen Stollznow

Indre Viskontas is a neuroscientist, a soprano, and a skeptic. She is a host of the television show The Miracle Detectives that recently aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Indre appeared as the scientific investigator pitted against “believer” Randall Sullivan, author of the book The Miracle Detective. The show investigates claims of “miracles”; from supposedly …

September 26, 2011

Chris Mooney

This coming October, in Kabul, Afghanistan—on a date, and in a location, that remain undisclosed—there will be a rock concert that’s billed as the world’s “first stealth music festival.” It will feature rock, heavy metal, and funk from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Iran. Why “stealth”? In some of these countries, music is equivalent to …