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Radio Freethinker Episode 187 – Zombie Free Will Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on October 30, 2012

This week:

– Gideon give-away at school,
Atheist solemnize marriage,
– More ramifications from dropping long form census, 

– Vaccine recall,
– Scary music,
– Zombie Planet…NOT!and
The illusion of Free Will and Sam Harris

Download the episode here!

Gideon give-away at school

When a parent in Chilliwack thought it might be inappropriate for the Gideons to give 5th graders a free bible, a  fire storm was set off. His concerns were discussed by the school board but in private, the community has (at times) devolved into race-baiting and to even raise the issue has been cast as a condemnation of the community.

Find out more:

Atheist solemnize marriage

In an effort to create equality in marriage, CFI has challenged the Indiana state law that states that the only people allowed to solemnize a marriage are government officials or church leaders.

CFI is push to remove the separation of the solemnization requirement from the attainment of the marriage licence itself (a strictly state/legal process) . If they win, either solemnization will be open to people ‘not of faith’ or marriage will be complete with the licence and people will be free to ‘publicly celebrate’ their union in their chosen community in what ever way they choose.

Find out more:

More ramifications from dropping long form census

When Harper arbitrary and impulsively dropped the mandatory long form census last year, people predicted (like RFT) that there would be serious ramifications. Well, it seems they are beginning to be seen. Evidence has arisen to show entire communities are being miss and under represented, the data consistency has been destroyed and this seems to be just the tip of the iceberg.

One issue we missed before is the rapid nature of the change. In the past, when the form changed (as it has over time) StatsCan, tested different ways to execute those changes so they could predict and adjust the results so as to maintain the long-term consistency of the data. This last change was not only ill-advised but done in to much haste for predictions and adjustments to be made.

Find out more:

Vaccine recall

Don warns skeptics about the possibility of anti-vax people using the recent recall of the Novartis flu vaccine as a reason to question all vaccines. The reason for the recall was not increased or perceived health risks but lack of efficacy due to protein clumping. More clumping…less surface area…less interaction with immune system…lower chance of immunization.

Find out more:

Scary music

In an attempt to avoid the traditional Halloween music, Ethan reviews some music classics and how scary they truly are.

Find out more:

Zombie Planet…NOT!

NASA has a science communication fail, as it attempts to retract/clarify a report of a planetary discovery from 2008 but adding “Zombie” to the press release FOR NO REASON other than to get publicity.

Find out more:

The illusion of Free Will and Sam Harris

Sam Harris was in town to give a couple of talks about his new book – Free Will. We discuss the idea of free will, how convincing Sam Harris’s argument is and the fact none of have a choice in how we feel about it anyway.

Find out more:

Skeptical Highlights:

Vancouver Skepticamp 2012

Skepticamp is an all day skeptical conference with talks by local skeptics and audience participation. You can register at here.  Breakfast and lunch are provided, and there are also t-shirts, door prizes, give aways, and lots of cool stuff to check out. Skepticamp is at

November 3, 2012, 9:30am to 5pm
Admission suggested donation of 2 to $10
Buchanan Bldg., Block A, Room A201, UBC, Vancouver


Media Democracy Day (MDD) is about democratization both through the media, and of the media. This means using the media for democratic self-governance; and reshaping the media themselves to make them more accessible, accountable, representative.
Panel discussion: Decolonizing Media, Who’s Watching You? – the politics of surveillance, Big data and political marketing, and Muzzled Scientists.
There will be a feature film as well as hands-on Workshops

Friday Nov 02 | 1:00-11:0PM
Saturday Nov 03 | 12:00-5:30PM

Admission suggested donation of 2 to $10
Buchanan Bldg., Block A, Room A201, UBC, Vancouver


3 Responses to “Radio Freethinker Episode 187 – Zombie Free Will Edition”

  1. I just started listening to your podcast (subscribed in iTunes to add it to the 60+ other skeptical and science related podcasts I’m following). While I generally agree with you guys and congratulate you on your take on Sam Harris’ “Free Will” ideas, I am a bit befuddled as to why you consider Sam to be “the worst atheist”. He has clearly refuted the allegations that he is anti-muslim to any greater extent than he is anti-religious in general. He has explained (a couple more times at least) what he said on the danger to world peace and more specifically to the lives of everyone living in or near Iran posed by the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran governed by people who think suicide bombing is a good idea. At no point did he advocate or applaud the idea of a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Iran. He merely pointed out that if deterrent clearly is not an option, the only other nuclear option is a pre-emptive strike. Given the US history of a pre-emptive strikes against Japan, and the serious consideration given to a pre-emptive strike against Russia, he merely asserts that such a strike is a likely (not desireable) outcome of a nuclear armed Islamist state. I have heard no arguments countering this historically accurate claim, just false assertions that Sam is advocating nuking muslims.

    I agree that Sam is a bit arrogant, but he is also extremely bright and able to present his ideas clearly and concisely — if you take the time to read them in their entirety.

  2. is a link to a petition to the Minister of Education which I started at the time I first found out about the Gideon Bible distribution in Chilliwack. Apparently this is also going on in Abbotsford schools.

  3. ullrich fischer said In this link, Sam Harris pretty clearly refutes the accusations that he supports a nuclear strike against a nuclear armed Iran, or is racist. His defense of torture is logically sound but based on the false premise that torture is an effective method of obtaining actionable intelligence. I suspect most people would resent being subjected to extreme discomfort and would be inclined to present plausible lies in an effort to get the pain to stop while leaving their torturers no further ahead information-wise. His comments on ESP and paranormal seem a tad on the credulous side for someone with his educational background.

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