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Showing posts from 2015

Once Upon a Time: Re-Thinking the Fight Against Extremists | Tina Dupuy | eSkeptic

What does it mean to be radicalized? In a rare Oval Office address in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre, President Barack Obama described the killers as having “gone down the dark path of radicalization.” It used to be extremists. We were fighting extremists in the equally nebulous War on Terror. Then someone found a thesaurus and now we’re battling radicalization. “[It] is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization,” urged Obama. What are these ideas exactly?

Every group of radicals nee extremists—from ISIS to the Klan to the House GOP’s Freedom Caucus—all have the same lure: Today is chaotic, unpredictable and worse than it was, so we must return to a time when things were better. A well-proven formula for radicalization is to take the disorientated, disenfranchised and disappointed; add a universal yarn about the Good Ol’ Days and stir.

Let’s examine some backward reasoning about the past: “Back to basics,” you’ll…

The Contemplation Hour Podcast 2

One of my high school chums just started a podcast, and I was honored to be one of his first guests on The Contemplation Hour. In this episode Sean and I discussed my music, my band, In Autumn, my influences, my progression from religion to atheism, my philosophy, my activism, and my work for the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign.

You can download this episode straight from the site, and it will soon be available on itunes. Please make sure you follow the The Contemplation Hour Podcast and subscribe. Enjoy!

The Cold Swift Blow of Logic & The Shadow of Sensationalized Terror - Why We Should Not Live In Fear

My heart quickens to fear lately. The terror of radical Islam has felt a little too near after the massacre in Paris, but San Bernardino literally hit too close to home. It seems more frequent than ever. While driving home from a wonderful birthday celebration with friends, I was shocked when my wife received a message from her father that read that he was shopping at Tyler Mall in Riverside, and there was a mass shooting occurring, and everyone was in a state of panic. False alarm. It was just an armed robbery, but still, you can't blame anyone for feeling jumpy. In fact, a coworker of  mine told me that she was considering getting a gun, and I can't say that I blame her. But, should we really live in terror? This is a serious crisis, but do we truly need to worry?

No. When it comes to terrorism, the cold, swift blow of logic reveals to us that you are SIXTEEN times more likely to die from the flu. Furthermore, you are three times as likely to kill yourself than you are to die…

Consilience and Consensus - Or why climate skeptics are wrong | Michael Shermer | Scientific American

At some point in the history of all scientific theories, only a minority of scientists—or even just one—supported them, before evidence accumulated to the point of general acceptance. The Copernican model, germ theory, the vaccination principle, evolutionary theory, plate tectonics and the big bang theory were all once heretical ideas that became consensus science. How did this happen?

An answer may be found in what 19th-century philosopher of science William Whewell called a “consilience of inductions.” For a theory to be accepted, Whewell argued, it must be based on more than one induction—or a single generalization drawn from specific facts. It must have multiple inductions that converge on one another, independently but in conjunction. “Accordingly the cases in which inductions from classes of facts altogether different have thus jumped together,” he wrote in his 1840 book The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, “belong only to the best established theories which the history …

Sam Harris: The ‘Salon’ Interview

"I consider Salon to be among the worst offenders of the new pseudo-journalism, and I have long maintained a personal boycott of the website. I ask my publishers to ignore any requests from its editors for interviews or for review copies of my books. And on the rare occasions that Salon publishes good work—the articles of Jeffrey Tayler stand out—I decline to forward the links on social media. My reason is simple: Despite the work of a few blameless writers, Salon has become a cesspool of lies and moral confusion."

-Sam Harris

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Can venting angrily on the Internet lead to heart disease? |

Can venting angrily on the Internet lead to heart disease? In this week’s eSkeptic, Carol Tavris discusses some research that points to a significant correlation between our negative language patterns (such as anger, hatred, and aggression) and health risks such as heart disease.

Dr. Carol Tavris is a social psychologist and coauthor, with Elliot Aronson, of Mistakes Were Made (but not by ME).

The story that follows is prehistoric. It involves a once-famous columnist, a letter (the written kind), the U.S. post office, an apology, and a moral.

The columnist was Russell Baker, who had written an essay that I, in my self-righteous gadfly-in-training youth, regarded as a sarcastic dismissal of what was then called women’s liberation—the movement for mere improvements in education, work, family life, reproductive rights, and so forth. These issues were important to me, so I wrote him a letter, full of what I thought were equally sarcastic, witty put-downs. I failed to sleep on it overn…

Still Sleepwalking Toward Armageddon | Sam Harris

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris reflects on the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Deep In The Amazon, An Unseen Battle Over The Most Valuable Trees | NPR

In this part of the Amazon rain forest, they call it "the war over wood." It has front lines.
One of them is here, in Machadinho d'Oeste in the western Brazilian state of Rondonia.

The self-described "Guardians of the Forest" defending the land don't look like fighters, at least when we first meet them. But they are pitting themselves against criminal logging gangs that have infiltrated their protected reserves.

In their everyday life, they are rubber tappers. They take us on a trail that leads to their rubber trees, which grow wild on the reserves where they live. These trees are native to the Amazon region, one of the most dangerous places in the world to be an environmental defender.

Tappers milk the trees for their sap by cutting them and collecting what comes out in small metal buckets. It's what natural rubber is made from, and it's completely sustainable. As long as the trees live, they can be used this way.…

Poll Finds Americans, Especially Millennials, Moving Away From Religion | NPR

Religion is apparently weakening in America. A new report from the Pew Research Center shows that the percentage of Americans who say they believe in God, pray daily and attend church regularly is declining.

Among the findings:
The share of Americans who say they are "absolutely certain" that God exists has dropped 8 percentage points, from 71 percent to 63 percent, since 2007, when the last comparable study was made.The percentage of adults who describe themselves as "religiously affiliated" has shrunk 6 points since 2007, from 83 percent to 77 percent.The shares of the U.S. adult population who consider religion "very important" to them, pray daily and attend services at least once a month have declined between 3 and 4 percentage points over the past eight years The shift is small but statistically significant, according to the authors, given that the changes have taken place in a relatively short period of time, and the survey sample is large enough (…

Full Speech: Bernie Sanders Speaks At George Mason University In Fairfa...

Sarah Posner: Trump, Carson, and the Religious Right in 2016 | Point of Inquiry

This week Josh Zepps chats about the 2016 Republican presidential primaries with journalist Sarah Posner, a senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches and the author of Gods Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters. She is an expert in the political machinations of the religious right in the United States.

 The current GOP field has Seventh-day Adventist Ben Carson and the newly Bible-loving Donald Trump battling for the top spot in polls, despite their theological differences with the Evangelical base of the party. Posner explores what’s behind the appeal of these two unlikely front-runners, compares their very different demeanors, and weighs on such topics as the influence of Pope Francis and the prospects for atheist political candidates.

 Click here for more:

Inside Assad's Syria | FRONTLINE | PBS

Inside Assad's Syria
For weeks, the world's eyes have been fixed on the tens of thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria for Europe. But what is life like for those left behind? Correspondent Martin Smith goes "Inside Assad's Syria" to report from government-controlled areas as war rages, with on-the-ground reporting and firsthand accounts from Syrians caught in the crisis. 54:16

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2015 | Democracy Now!

Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz discuss their book, Islam and the Future of Tolerance, with Tony Jones on LATELINE.

An atheist & a Muslim discuss the future of Islam. Fantastic segment with @SamHarrisOrg & @MaajidNawaz on ABC Australia.

China and the U.S. Are Long-term Enemies | Intelligence Squared Debate

Is China's ascendancy a threat to the U.S.? China's rise as an economic and military power, coupled with its aggression in the South China Sea, have led some to call for a major rebalance of U.S. policy and strategy. Can China be trusted to act as a responsible global stakeholder? And will they be a long-term ally, or adversary?

Bernie Sanders Full Speech at Iowa Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Dinner

Joe Rogan Experience #713 - Dave Rubin

Dave Rubin is a stand-up comedian, talk show host, and television personality. He is the creator and host of political comedy talk show The Rubin Report, part of Ora TV and formerly of The Young Turks Network.

Sam Harris On Progressivism, Torture, Religion & Foreign Policy

"I hesitate to promote this interview, because it shows me at the end of my patience (and I stay there for 2 hours). However, I did manage to express almost everything I think about the “regressive Left” in general and about my least-honest critics in particular. I stand by everything I said here, but I’d like to apologize to the interviewer, Kyle Kulinski, for all the interruptions."—SH

Visit Sam's Blog Here:

Interview With Greenwald Here:

This Friday, Oct. 23rd @ Back to the Grind

Democratic Debate: What Is Our Greatest National Security Threat?

Bernie Sanders giving the most important answer of the evening....

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: North Dakota (HBO)

North Dakota is known for being polite, but perhaps they’ve been a little too hospitable to oil companies.

Religious Scholars Use Social Media To Counter ISIS Interpretation Of Koran | NPR

As the military response to the Islamic State heats up, an ideological front is opening against the group. They're using social media to explain why ISIS' interpretation of the Koran is wrong.



And let's turn now to the battle against ISIS, though a battlefield we haven't heard as much about. Religious scholars are taking on ISIS, openly questioning the religious credentials of the group's leadership. Their way in, a social media campaign explaining why ISIS' violent interpretation of Islam is wrong. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reports.

DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: ISIS has lured tens of thousands of foreign fighters to Syria over the past two years. And the man inspiring them is the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He claims to be a religious scholar and a descendant of the prophet. Will McCants is with the Brookings Institution and just finished writing a book about Baghdadi and the history of ISIS.


Is The Resilience Of Millennials Underrated? | NPR

"I'm a member of Generation Y, or the millennial generation. People like me were born in the '80s and early '90s. But I don't like to broadcast that fact. Millennials tend to get a bad rap.

Journalists and commentators love ragging on us. They say we're ill-prepared to deal with life's challenges. And that, as a result, we have higher rates of mental health issues like depression and anxiety...."


Democracy Now! StoriesOctober 13, 2015

Real Time with Bill Maher: New Rules – October 9, 2015 (HBO)

Bill Maher issues his latest decrees for society, including a plea for people to stop experiencing life through their phones.

The Riddle of the Gun (Revisited) | Sam Harris | Waking Up

(Photo via KLaFaille) In this episode of the Waking Up Podcast, Sam Harris discusses his views about guns and gun control in light of a recent mass shooting.

Common Sense 296 – Immigration Breakdown | Dan Carlin

Dan tries to break down some of the issues and add some context to the arguments, nuances and complexities of the current immigration and refugee situation in Europe and the U.S..


StarTalk Radio Cosmic Queries: Colonizing Mars

This week, Neil Tyson and Chuck Nice answer questions from our fans about colonizing Mars, from the smelly, to the psychological, to the political. What would happen to garbage on Mars without microbes to break it down? Which is a bigger psychological challenge for colonists: isolation, or getting along with each other? Are there treaties governing interplanetary colonization and homesteading? You’ll learn all about terraforming, and how long it might take before pioneers would be able to grow crops outside of greenhouses. Find out whether it’s more efficient to send pre-fab habitats or a large 3-D printer for ISRU (In Situ Resource Utilization). Explore adaption, mutation, and speciation, as well as the possible impact of growing up in 40% Earth gravity. Discover what it would take to restore Mars’ magnetic field, and whether Mars is more or less geologically active than Earth. Finally, step up to the plate for a description of the impact of Martian gravity and atmosphere on the fir…

Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris in Conversation on Religion, Atheism and ...

Real Time with Bill Maher: New Rule – Supply Side Jesus (HBO)

In his editorial New Rule, Bill Maher explains how Pope Francis’ recent visit exposed just how little the “Christians” of the far right believe in what Jesus actually said.

Talk Nerdy Episode 82 - Leslie Rogers

Astrophysicist Dr. Leslie Rogers joins Cara to talk about exoplanets, specifically those that are larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. They offer an exciting opportunity to learn about planetary bodies that are different from anything in our own solar system. Also discussed: why Kepler-452b likely isn't Earth's twin.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2015 | Democracy Now!

Cara Santa Maria | The Rubin Report

Science communicator Cara Santa Maria joins Dave Rubin to talk about the big ideas surrounding atheism and secularism, dive into the controversy surrounding GMO's, and dealing with depression.

Watch more on Ora TV:

Comment below or tweet to Dave at

Cara Santa Maria
Science Communicator, Host of the 'Talk Nerdy' podcast

Drought Is Driving Beekeepers And Their Hives From California | NPR

The drought in California over the past four years has hit the agriculture industry hard, especially one of the smallest farm creatures: honeybees. A lack of crops for bees to pollinate has California's beekeeping industry on edge.

Richard Dawkins > Quotes: "We are going to die..." | Goodreads

“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”
― Richard DawkinsUnweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder

Islam and the Future of Tolerance | Sam Harris

This panel discussion was held at Harvard’s Kennedy Forum on September 14, 2015.

Sam Harris:
Neuroscientist; Co-founder and Chief Executive, Project Reason; Author, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, among others

Maajid Nawaz:
Author, Radical; Founding Chairman, Quilliam

The Multiverse & You (& You & You & You…) | Sam Harris - Waking Up Podcast

A Conversation with Max Tegmark (Photo via Dave Morrow)
In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark about the foundations of science, our current understanding of the universe, and the risks of future breakthroughs in artificial intelligence.

Known as “Mad Max” for his unorthodox ideas and passion for adventure, Max Tegmark’s scientific interests range from precision cosmology to the ultimate nature of reality, all explored in his new popular book Our Mathematical Universe. Tegmark is a professor of physics who has published more than two hundred technical papers and been featured in dozens of science documentaries. His work with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey on galaxy clustering shared the first prize in Science magazine’s “Breakthrough of the Year: 2003.” For more information about his work, please visit his MIT website and the Future of Life Institute.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Public Defenders (HBO)

The Miranda warning includes the right to a public defender. It doesn’t include the fact that public defenders are highly overworked and grossly underpaid.

Native Groups Protest Pope Francis’ Canonization of Junípero Serra over Role in California Genocide | Democracy Now!

Pope Francis’ decision to canonize the 18th century Spanish missionary Junípero Serra has drawn a strong protest from many indigenous groups. Serra founded nine of the 21 missions in California that later were the basis of what is now the modern state. Hundreds of thousands of people died after the missionaries arrived. According to historian Alvin Josephy, what happened in California "was as close to genocide as any tribal people had faced, or would face, on the North American continent."

Fact-Checking Vaccine Statements in the GOP Debate | eSkeptic

About this week’s eSkeptic "In this week’s eSkeptic, Harriet Hall examines the statements about vaccinesmade by four candidates in the recent GOP debate. They all demonstrated a poor grasp of vaccine science, and advocated delays in the vaccine schedule that would represent a danger to the young, the immunocompromised, and to the herd immunity that is a mainstay of our public health." Dr. Harriet Hall, MD, the SkepDoc, is a retired family physician and Air Force Colonel living in Puyallup, WA. She writes about alternative medicine, pseudoscience, quackery, and critical thinking. She is a contributing editor to bothSkeptic and Skeptical Inquirer, an advisor to the Quackwatch website, and an editor of, where she writes an article every Tuesday. She is author of Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon. Her website is
Fact-Checking Vaccine Statements in the GOP Debate BY HARRIET HALL, M.D., THE SKEPDOC 1.Cars…

FRONTLINE: Bush's War (Part 1)

2009 Emmy Winner: FRONTLINE unfolds the saga of the invasion of Iraq in a two-part series.

Talk Nerdy Episode 80 - Steven Paul Leiva

Cara is joined by independent author Steven Paul Leiva ("Traveling In Space") to talk about the power of storytelling, the difference between genre fiction and literary fiction, and why it's okay to be a nerd, even if you aren't all that into sci-fi.

In Autumn: The Universe (EP) Online Release - #1 - Trans-Moun...

For several months now, In Autumn has been working hard on a new full-length album. We are so terribly excited that we cannot wait until the full-length is done to share it with you. Instead, we are pausing at this halfway point to release “The Universe”, a 4-track EP and precursor to our upcoming full-length. Over the next few weeks, stay tuned as we release one track at a time off The Universe EP. It all starts Wednesday, September 30th with our release of the studio recording of the first track, “Trans-Mountaineer”. 

Back in June, we had an online release of the music video for Trans-Mountaineer, recorded live in Corona, CA. If you missed it, you can watch the video here: 

Keep ‘Em Separated: Rev. Barry Lynn on God and Government | Point of Inquiry

September 21, 2015 Host: Lindsay Beyerstein One of the United States’ most prominent and respected advocates for secularism is a reverend, and that of course is our guest this week, Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Few have more experience untangling religion from government as Rev. Lynn, who has spent a career making the case that a truly free country requires a secular government, and true religious freedom requires church-state separation. He and host Lindsay Beyerstein discuss the numerous ways the mixing of church and state have resulted in corruption and injustice. While Lynn believes that religion can play an important role in our communities and in many people’s lives, government should never be in a position to rely upon whatever charitable services a religious group might provide. Recounting some of fascinating experiences from his career, many from his new bookGod and Government: Twenty-Five Years of Fighting for Eq…

Common Sense 285 – Torturing our Values

Common Sense 285 – Torturing our Values

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 – 1:13:16 minutes – 53.6mb Was torture an effective tool in the War on Terror? As legislators in Washington debate the point, Dan stands up for timeless American values. Also: New deadly police encounters spawn more Ferguson-style protests.