Radio Freethinker

Vancouver's Number 1 Skeptical Podcast and Radio Show

Meet the Cast

Current Cast:

Donald McLenaghen

Place of Birth: Brandon, Manitoba

What Skepticism means to me:

Question everything, and repeatedly (but not constantly). This does not mean you can not have ‘non-founded’ beliefs or trust ‘others’ knowledge. Just that you should never accept anything as dogma, and the more something influences your life, the more important it is to investigate the assumptions, axioms and conclusions that may lead from it.

Area’s of interest:

Philosophy, Politics, Society and culture, Equality, Socialism, Computers, science and the endless pursuit of knowledge.

Quote to live by:

“If not me, then who? If not now, then when?” – Ian George, ‘Hope & Glory’ (BBC Drama).

Alumni Cast:

Ethan Clow

Place of birth: Richmond, B.C. Canada

What Skepticism means to me:

Skepticism is a rejection of the superstition, irrationality, and pseudo science that plagued humanity since the beginning of our civilization. Skepticism is about thinking. Looking at our universe with an optimistic mindset that we can understand it. We don’t need to appeal to gods or magic to understand the world around us. We have minds of unlimited imagination and potential. Why squander that by limiting what we can and can’t explore?

Area’s of interest:

History, science and technology, literature, medicine, politics, religion, philosophy

How I came to Skepticism:

I grew up without religious instruction. I was always aware of it but I thought of it the same way I thought about ghost stories; very interesting but probably not true. However I had little critical thinking skills and pretty much bought into anything I heard that sounded cool. Aliens building the pyramids, Atlantis, UFO’s, you name it. Oddly enough that changed when I took an art class in high school. We had to learn to think critically so that we could analyze advertisements and design new ones (as a class project.) Soon I was thinking critically about everything and not just art. Fortunately for me, I discovered the writings of a scientist named Carl Sagan. Reading his work I was just floored. I had never read anything so stimulating. Here was a scientist talking about philosophy, religion, history, and humanity in a way I had never seen before. He wrote with tact, intelligence, humor, and passion. Thanks to his great works, I became a skeptic. He did not “convert me” or even convince me; his works simply nurtured something that was already there.

Quote to live by:

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” – Carl Sagan.

Jenna Capyk

Place of Birth:

Yellowknife, NWT (but I grew up in the small, sunny, South Okanagan town of Oliver, BC)

What skepticism means to me:

Thoughtfully engaging in the world around you. To my mind, skepticism isn’t limited to intense scrutiny of those things which do not seem verifiable, but also includes a pervasive habit of Thinking about the world around oneself and the manner that one participates in that world. By engaging our minds and each other in active inquiry the world we inhabit becomes more richly populated with ideas and possibilities.

Areas of interest:

Life science, general science, neuroscience, communications, evolution of scientific understanding

How I came to Skepticism:

This is a somewhat difficult to answer as I’m still not entirely sure where skepticism is. I suppose I am a scientist with a  passion to inspire passion in science. In childhood I was always fascinated with anything falling under the almighty banner of “Science,” a condition that was fostered by my pharmacist mother and science teacher father. As a research scientist surrounded by research scientists but living in a world comprised of a non-research scientist majority, I have come to realize how poorly science is communicated to the public. I find it disheartening to think that so many people are deprived of understanding the very things that make our world and our own physiologies so captivating. I believe much of the ignorance, misinformation, and misunderstanding we see every day is the result of a failure for people from different intellectual backgrounds to communicate effectively. I am committing myself to build up public understanding of the physical way our world functions (as well as we understand it) through effective and engaging communication strategies.

Quote to live by:

“In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life.” – Oliver Sacks

Daniel Gipps

Place of Birth: Surrey, B.C. Canada

I’m currently a 2nd year arts student at UBC who is planning on majoring in economics and possibly minoring in political science. I’m quite new to “organized” skepticism but I have been skeptically minded for almost as long as I can remember. I grew up without any formal religious teachings but there was always a tacit agreement in my house that “we” were Christian in some sense. I don’t remember ever really believing in god but I didn’t put too much thought into it until I was watching South Park and they talked about atheists. From there on I began to read and listen to notable skeptics like Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan that helped give me a stronger grasp of what it meant to be skeptical. Since then I haven’t been able to be anything but skeptical even when it annoys friends and family.

Rob Teszka

I’m a cognitive psychologist and amateur magician with a variety of skeptical interests.  In general I’m interested in how people come to believe the things they do. What processes in the brain and body, what influences of their environment and upbringing – what leads to someone becoming a believer, a skeptic, or other?  I’m very interested in the work of psychologist skeptics like Richard Wiseman and Chris French, and believe that on this avenue of research lies the future of skepticism.

Some specific topics of interest to me are the recurring reports of “supernatural” occurences (including psychics, ghosts, and such), as from my background with magic I’ve discovered that quite a lot of paranormal phenomena can be very, VERY convincingly faked.  In this regard, my skeptical influences are magician skeptics like James Randi and Penn & Teller.

I’m interested in the way that scientific reasoning and critical thinking can be taught, and I am concerned with the apparent lack of interest in helping students and adults appreciate the sheer wonder of a scientific mindset.  I’m also a promoter of open standards of data and evidence in law and government, as I feel that these institutions rely too much on opinion and rhetoric and not enough on facts.

When it comes to evaluating all the claims that come up in day-to-day life, I try to live by the idea that while everything may be possible, not all of it is very likely, and we should make as few assumptions as we can.  We should simply say

“I don’t know.  Let’s find out!”

Past Contributors:

Chloe Packer

Place of Birth: Vancouver, BC

What Skepticism means to me:

It means defining your terms and examining why you believe what you believe.

Areas of interest:

Keeping abreast of the news, poetry, economic development, development of religious thought.

How I came to Skepticism:

I was raised in a house that generally encouraged critical thinking, but it wasn’t until 2010 that I thought seriously about joining the Skeptical community. I became particularly desirous to get involved after I saw how the “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and live your life” sign, which we toted at the Vancouver Pride Parade, was so well-received by the people watching the parade.

Quote to live by:

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. –Bertrand Russell