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Radio Freethinker Episode 201 – Magdalene Laundry Edition

Posted by Don McLenaghen on February 26, 2013


This week:
– The Oscars,

– Praise and criticism of Seth MacFarlane,
– Argo rewriting history,

– The Magdalene Laundry
, and
– Listener Feedback: Free-will clarification

Download the episode here!


The Oscars

mgtn111lEthan’s PVR’s plot to prevent him from watching the Oscars and why he didn’t miss much

Find out more:

Praise and criticism of Seth MacFarlane

imagesSeth MacFarlane is an active and powerful supporter of skepticism and atheism  We take every opportunity to forward our communities view-point and poke-fun at the religious and anti-science types. However, he is not a perfect and many have criticized and tried to distance themselves from him after the off-colour jokes he presented at the Oscars…well he’s one of use but not all of us.

Find out more:

Argo rewriting history

127771_600Argo won the best-picture Oscar…Don though worries that in its success history is being re-written and Canada looses yet another historical highlight to it’s more aggressive southern neighbor.

Find out more:

The Magdalene Laundry

rnin660lRecently the Irish government gave heart-felt meacopa about its involvement in the force labour asylums known as the Magdalene Laundries. The laundries were operated by catholic nuns until the last laundry closed in 1996. Catholic Church-run laundries made money for the church by exploiting this female slave labour while subjecting them physical, psychological and sexual abuse.

Find out more:

Listener Feedback:  Free-will clarification

KNHOcrJWe got a some of feedback about of show on free will. We take some time to address the issues raised and clarify our view on the issue.

Find out more:


Skeptical Highlights:

Listener Feedback:

Next weeks show will be broadcast live from the “Study and Go Abroad”  fair. If you have any questions, queries or quandaries you would like us to discuss or ask over a hundred academic institution desperate for foreign students, let us know at

Also, a note to our loyal fan-base, we have received a number of great email questions/pushback on a number of our episodes…we love feedback. But please, make these comments on our webpage. I promise we WILL response. A number of your comments has inspired brand-new segments, so please share your wisdom or ire with our online community.

I should point out, as a disclaimer, all email response may be included in a future (and often repository) segment or blog-post. If you wish anonymity, let us know and we will “respond: anonymously…you know what I mean; that said, if you wish private conversation, let us know…we will then maintain your confidence.

Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire

Over the last decade more and more people have started questioning the policies and actions of the State of Israel. In response, some of Israel’s supporters have increasingly tried to suppress open political debate of Palestine/Israel. This campaign to vilify, intimidate and harass Israel’s critics has intensified since December 2009 when live video showed Israel’s treatment of Palestinians during its military assault on Gaza.

Join author and Rutgers University prof Deepa Kumar speaks about how Islamophobia has been created and fostered from the Crusades to the present, debunking the myth that these can be understood in terms of a clash of civilizations.

When: MAR 02, 2013, 7-9 PM

Where: SFU Harbour Centre, Room 1700 (, 604-254-1803)


Self-Publishing Fair

Learn about the ever-changing world of self-publishing in a day of presentations and panel discussions with B.C. authors. Topics include editing skills and services, the how-to of marketing, and the business of self-publishing

When: March 3, 2013 from 10:00 to 4:30

Where: Alice MacKay Room – Vancouver Public Library on Georgia

Cost: Free


4 Responses to “Radio Freethinker Episode 201 – Magdalene Laundry Edition”

  1. Stephen said

    Listener Feedback: Free-will clarification

    Thanks for the discussion that features a clarificaiton on your thoughts about free will. From what I heard I think for the most part, Don has the same position as Sam Harris while Ethan is apprehensive about it.

    When Ethan brought up an objection to Harris’s position, Don answered it in a way I think Harris would.

    I agree that defining words and terms when discussing this topic is very difficult as it easily turns meta like when someone suggests that we’re living in The Matrix which is in another Matrix and that Matrix is inside another Matrix, etc.

    I would like to make comment on the idea that even if free will didn’t exist, we still have to act as if it did. I agree with this for the present, but isn’t this because our civilization and institutions were created and evolved assuming that free will existed? It’s like this because our species didn’t know otherwise in the past.

    If an individual wants to prosper he has to act how the institutions expect him to act. If I’m in the Hunger Games, in order to to well, I have to kill other kids. If our court system assumes people have free will, then I have to act as if I have free will in order to stay out of jail.

    If we were able to convince the entire population of earth that free will did not exist and then recreated our civilization and instutions with determinism in mind instead, would we still have to act as if we had free will?

    If our species knew from the very start that the universe was deterministic our outlook on life would be very different today. For instance, how we treat crime would be different. Would there even be the concept of crime as we know it today? Or if someone was a homeless bum we wouldn’t just assume that they were lazy. We’d make an effort to see what their background was. If they came from a very dysfunctional family with alcoholic parents we would realize that that is probably the main reason for them being homeless.

    What I’m trying to say is that we’re not doomed to live with the free will paradigm forever. It can be changed and there are good reasons to get rid of it. But it’ll probably take a very long time as shown by we’re still trying to shake off the sunrise and sunset paradigm even after hundreds of years of knowing that isn’t exactly how it works.

    Thank you.

    • I am curious to know how you think me might escape the “free will experience”? I think the idea of teaching a probabilistic determinism from birth will help with the baggage of our experience but i think it will always be apart of our experience like 3 dimensions will always be apart of our experience. Until we create some cybernetic component to allow us to ‘naturally’ experience more than the big three, our biology dictated that experience.

      How do you think we could escape the biology that dictated our experiences of freewill? Intellectually i understand the deterministic universe but my subjective experience is still seems “free-will-y”.

      • Stephen said

        I agree that the free will experience will always be with us as dictated by our biology.
        But we don’t necessarily have to escape the free will experience. We just need to acknowledge that that experience is an illusion.

        We experience a stationary earth. We experience the sun and planets circling around the earth. But we know that that’s an illusion and that it’s not true.

        When we launch probes like Voyager into outer space we base all of our trajectory calculations on a heliocentric model of the solar system and not a geocentric one.

        Even though we still experience geocentricism we launch our rockets based on heliocentricism. Likewise, even though we still experience free will, can’t we design our institutions based on determinism?

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