Science


Deciphering Alan Turing, with Andrew Hodges
December 1, 2014

Alan Turing was a true visionary. Founding what we understand today as computer science, he was also a mathematician, a philosopher, and an early trailblazer for gay equality. Without his genius for codebreaking, the Second World War might have gone in a much darker direction. He saved millions of lives and potentially the world as we know …

Steven Pinker: Using Grammar as a Tool, Not as a Weapon
November 10, 2014

The English language is often treated as delicate and precious, and disagreements about what is “proper English” go back as far as the 18th century. Then as now, style manuals and grammar books placed innumerable restrictions on what is and isn’t “correct,” as “Language Mavens” continue to delight in pointing out the unforgivable errors of …

The Theology of ISIS, with Dr. Adam Silverman
October 6, 2014

The rise of ISIS, the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has sparked debate about the role of religion — specifically Islam — in violent extremism. This week, Dr. Adam Silverman offers us a glimpse into the theology of ISIS, and tackles some difficult questions; What does ISIS believe and how do its religious …

Austin Dacey – The Future of Blasphemy
September 29, 2014

Josh Zepps is off, and since this week is the 5th International Blasphemy Rights Day, we’re rebroadcasting this interview by Chris Mooney with Austin Dacey, CFI’s former UN representative and an expert on the subject of blasphemy laws. *** This week, our guest is a return one: Austin Dacey. He’s a philosopher, a writer, a human rights …

Sam Harris: Seeking Transcendence Without Religion
September 2, 2014

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 …

Paul Offit – Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine
August 18, 2014

Point of Inquiry’s hosts are off this week, so we’re running Lindsay Beyerstein’s excellent interview from late last year with Dr. Paul Offit. Dr. Offit will be the Center for Inquiry’s special guest on September 6th in Amherst, NY, as he is awarded the Robert P. Balles Prize in Critical Thinking. *   *   * Paul A. Offit, MD is best …

Laurel Braitman on Animals and Mental Illness
August 4, 2014

This week, Point of Inquiry welcomes Laurel Braitman, a TED fellow with a PhD in History and Anthropology of Science from MIT, and the author of Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves. It might sound strange to say that animals suffer from mental illness, but the brain …

Austin Dacey – The U.N. and Defamation of Religions
July 14, 2014

Point of Inquiry is taking a week off and filling in with a classic episode from March 27, 2009. After Saudi Arabia recently tried to silence the Center For Inquiry’s UN representative, Josephine Macintosh, as she delivered a statement critical of their repeated assaults on freedom of religion, belief and expression, we felt that our Austin Dacey episode was …

Montel Williams: Leading a Surge on the Veterans Administration
July 2, 2014

Best known for his 17 years as a talk show host, Montel Williams is now bringing his name and dynamic personality to activism on behalf of U.S. servicemen and women. Raised during the height of the Civil Rights Movement and into the tumultuous sixties, he joined the Marines as a young man and enrolled at …

Marlene Zuk on the Truth about Paleofantasies
June 23, 2014

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 are the subject of the new book by biologist, Dr. Marlene Zuk, Paleofantasies: What Evolution Really Tells …