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Radio Freethinker Episode 184 – Free Speech Hypocrisy Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on October 2, 2012

This week:

– Poor data from voluntary census,
– Funding cuts and beef recall,
– The almost Montreal Yom Kippur controversy
– The sometimes hypocrisy of free speech
– Narcolepsy and the Flu
, and
– Our review of the 2012 Ig Noble Prizes

Download the episode here!

Poor data from voluntary census

We discuss new data from StatsCan on the 2010 Canadian census shows communities of need are under represented in the data. We predicted this when the Conservative government arbitration decreed that the mandatory census become voluntary in spite of the vocal resistance from the head of StatsCan, social scientist and the majority of Canadian population.

Find out more:

Funding cuts and beef recall

We briefly talk about the potentially deadly delay of Canadian Food Inspection Agency at issuing a recall on beef products in the light of US officially issuing a recall weeks prior. We ask the question – to what degree are spending cuts responsible?

Find out more:

The almost Montreal Yom Kippur controversy

A potential controversy about religious accommodation in Montreal was averted but a lack of business. When a city counsellor raised the question that Montreal citizens would be better serves if city council did not adjourn for Yom Kippur but simply allow members to be excused for religious observance they were criticize as anti-Semitic. The meeting in question finished its agenda prior to the start of the Jewish holiday so the controversy was averted.

Ethan asks the question though if Quebec and Montreal are a secular governments  to what degree should they provide religious accommodation for beliefs?

Find out more:

The sometimes hypocrisy of free speech

Don brings up an article he read at by William Saletan which was inspired by the resent global uproar over the Innocence of Islam vid on YouTube. The article presented a binary choice between free speech and hate laws.

We discussed the logical fallacy of this opposition, the difference between offensive and hate speech, and the social context that leads to the inconsistent way hate speech is legislated around the world. We talk about how German’s history has resulted in a larger set of ‘speech crimes’, why blasphemy law are not intended to curb hate but promote social agendas and how Canada’s own Oakes Test provides a mechanism define the board between free speech and hate crime.

Find out more:

Narcolepsy and the Flu

Since early 2011 there has been a known correlation between the H1N1 vaccine and narcolepsy  used during the Swine Flu Pandemic used in some countries in 2009-10. We discuss how this case may be an excellent example of correlation NOT being causation as a link between genetics and respiratory infection (the flu) seems to be the cause according to recent research published on an H1N1 out break in China.

We point out the need to be informed and ‘on top of the issue’ because the possible manipulation of this incident by the Anti-Vax movement. Reference: Fatality of H1N1 0.03% – odds of Narcolepsy 0.004%

Find out more:

Our review of the 2012 Ig Noble Prizes

The Ig Noble prizes are awarded to scientific research that ‘first makes you laugh, then makes you think’. We give you are take on this years winners.


  • PSYCHOLOGY – Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller”
  • PEACE – converting old Russian ammunition into new diamonds.
  • ACOUSTICS – SpeechJammer — a machine that disrupts a person’s speech, by making them hear their own spoken words at a very slight delay.
  • NEUROSCIENCE – demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon.
  • CHEMISTRY – the puzzle of why, in certain houses in the town of Anderslöv, Sweden, people’s hair turned green. – It was copper
  • LITERATURE – a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.
  • PHYSICS – calculating the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail.
  • FLUID DYNAMICS – studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee
  • ANATOMY – discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually from seeing photographs of their rear ends.
  • MEDICINE – advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance that their patients will explode.

Skeptical Highlights:

Face Blindness

Prosopagnosia, also called face blindness, is a disorder of face perception where the ability to recognize faces is impaired, while the ability to recognize other objects may be relatively intact.Don recently took several face blindness test and discovered that he can see ‘generic’ faces quite well but confirmed what he already knew; he has extreme difficulty recognizing particular faces (lowest percentile).
Check your self out here, and find out more here.

Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves
A new book about Thomas Jefferson, was Jefferson a benevolent slave owner? Not according to this book. It alleges that generations of historians had been covering up Jefferson’s dark side: he wasn’t the lenient, soft-hearted, reluctant slave owner that he’d been made out to be.
The book by Henry Wiencek is available nowsounds interesting.


2 Responses to “Radio Freethinker Episode 184 – Free Speech Hypocrisy Edition”

  1. Due to technical difficulties, this show was not actually broadcast today.
    It is available on our Listen Now page but you will have to wait a week before it will be on-air or on iTunes

    Sorry folks

  2. healthy Eating said

    Hola! I’ve been following your blog for some time now and finally got the bravery
    to go ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Texas!
    Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic work!

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