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Radio Freethinker Episode 180 – Skeptical Waves Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on September 4, 2012

This week:

– Goodbye Neil Armstrong
– Causality and Climate Change

– Defining the ‘-ism’s
-What’s up with A+ and the skeptical movement?

Download the episode here!

Good bye Neil Armstrong

With the passing of Neil Armstrong, we take a moment to look back at both the man and his impact on humanity.

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Causality and Climate Change

A recent publication by James Hansen (in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) claims to provide proof that weather is caused by climate change. This is a strong and controversial statement, not that climate change is real and affecting the weather but the stronger claim that “THIS hurricane was caused by climate change”. Ethan takes the classic scientific skeptic stance while Don attempts to use the “smoking causes cancer” defence; read, listen and decide where you come down on this important issue.

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Defining the “-ism”s

There has been much debate in the skeptical and atheist community about the future of the movements. Don takes a moment and tries to define what the terms mean so that people engaging (at least RFT) will have a common understanding of what we are talking about. Even if you disagree with our take, you will at least know where we are coming from.

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What up with A+ and the skeptical movement?

There has been a lot of talk about A+ and where the skeptical movement should go. Ethan and Don debate whether A+ is expanding atheism or ghettoising the equality “wing” of the movement. Should we continue to attempt to educate the ignorant (both senses of the term) or cut them a drift as lost causes.

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Skeptical Highlights:

Philosophers Cafe:

What does it mean to be an educated person?

The current proliferation of learning resources delivered via technology may suggest that traditional schooling systems, including formal institutions and assessments, may become less relevant. In light of the wide access to knowledge provided by the Internet, and the accompanying difficulties that traditional systems have keeping up with change, what does it mean to be educated in modern society? Will formal education become even more important as a marker of social progress than it is now, or will educational delivery become more flexible and less formal?

When:  Tuesday, Sept 4, 2012, 7–9 pm
Where: Unitarian Centre, 949 West 49th Avenue (at Oak), Vancouver
Who: Moderator: Sarah Fleming is a senior lecturer in the department of Linguistics at SFU. She teaches and coordinates academic programs in English for multilingual international students.
Cost: Free

Lives of politicians – private or public?

A number of politicians have had their careers prematurely cut short because of perceived or actual issues regarding their personal lives. If the issue does not directly relate to their job, is this fair? Does, and should, one’s personal morals or religion reflect upon their professional conduct?

When:  Wednesday, Sept 5, 2012 7 pm
Where:  Nature’s Garden Organic Deli, 8968 University High Street, Burnaby
Who: Jason Carreiro is a PhD student in SFU’s faculty of Education. His life is devoted to literature and the silence unique to it.
Cost: Free

Social moguls, social virtuosos: who among us is capable of driving change?

The world is always changing, usually according to the whim of politicians. But there are those who are shifting the balance in a direction of intention For example, the blogger whose take on the news you return to time and again because they always seem to have the scoop. A quality common to these “virtuoso social actors” or “social moguls” is knowing how to engage with others from more than one perspective and seeking meaningful compromises among the very different ways that others find value and meaning. Do you have some of these skills? Can you learn them? Can you walk in the shoes of others without losing your own personal vision?

When:  Monday, Sept 10, 2012, 7 pm
Where:   Waves Coffee House, 900 Howe Street (at Smithe) , Vancouver
Who: Moderator: Dr. Meg Holden is an associate professor of Urban Studies and Geography at SFU. She is the founder of the Regional Vancouver Urban Observatory.
Cost: Free

CFI Freethinker’s Book Club

Science, Sense and Nonsense: 61 nourishing, healthy, bulk-free commentaries on the chemistry that affects us all,’ by Joe Schwarcz, PhD.  Saturday, September 8th 2012 at 1:00 pm at The Grind & Gallery Coffee Bar, on Main Street, Vancouver BC


One Response to “Radio Freethinker Episode 180 – Skeptical Waves Edition”

  1. Ian said

    I guess you called me out to write in.

    First, your title/description on your last topic don’t match up (A+ vs. Neanderthal sex). (fixed, thanks for the catch Ian)

    I think the big thing that you missed in the discussion of Humanism, is that while much is compatible with liberal religions, the key difference is that Humanism is founded on methodological/scientific/evolutionary (/whatever qualifier you like) naturalism. This means as a worldview it rejects supernaturalism, magic, and deities.

    So (modern) Humanism – including Humanistic Judaism/Buddhism (etc.) – are naturalistic and essentially atheistic.

    Many Humanists are uncomfortable with the word “atheist,” in much the same way I think that Neil deGrasse Tyson or Carl Sagan chose “agnostic” as their descriptors. They live their life as no god but are under either an older definition or a misconception that atheist means believes there is no God (rather than the subtly different: does not have belief in God).

    At least that’s my take on it (which follows closely with James Croft’s well written definition).

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