My podcast with Left at the Valley

September 30, 2017 • 4:00 pm

This afternoon I did part of a podcast with Left at the Valley, a Canadian secularist-atheist group in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia. The entire podcast is below (they’re fast!), and I’m on between 41:05 and 1:14:00 (ca. 33 minutes). We covered a lot of ground, but the emphasis was on educating people about evolution.

As always, I can’t bear to listen to these things, but if you have half an hour, it’s below.

Eiynah on criticizing Islam under Trump

March 14, 2017 • 8:45 am

Reader Mike sent me this podcast by Eiynah (“Nice Mangos“) on “The complexity of criticizing Islam under Trump.” He added that it is a discussion that needs to be had, was worth every moment of his attention to the 12-minute podcast, and wanted to know the readers’ feedback. So by all means, proffer some feedback in the comments.

While I think Eiynah is overly hard on Gad Saad and Dave Rubin (I don’t think they undermine liberal critics of Islam, nor do they “promote far-right lunatics who believe in white genocide”), she’s right that Leftists are in the dilemma of having to oppose bigotry against believers while still criticizing the oppressive tenets of religion, Islam in particular. That is, by espousing some of the same criticisms of Islam as do members of the Right, we discredit ourselves by being seen as allies of the Right, which is incorrect but something widely espoused. As Eiynah says, “There are so many awful people piggybacking on things that ex-Muslims say.”

Her dilemma, and ours, is real. In an age when Trump is, properly, seen as a bigot against Muslims, it’s easy to mistake any criticism of Islam for calls for discrimination against Muslims. That is the “Islamophobia” canard. And I agree with Eiynah’s solution: “measured, careful, well-thought out critiques of Islam” combined with criticism of bigotry against Muslims. This is what I’ve tried to do on this site, and while I think it’s the true liberal position, Eiynah is frustrated that it’s not working. Indeed, on some sites I’m characterized as being “right wing.” But I see no other solution, and while I share Eiynah’s frustration, I think we have no choice but to persist.

You can hear the podcast by clicking on the arrow in the upper left corner of the screenshot.

h/t: Mike

My podcast with Hemant Mehta

June 26, 2016 • 9:00 am

Hemant Mehta, the “Friendly Atheist“, waylaid me during the American Humanist Association meetings (he lives in “Chicagoland”) and asked me to do a podcast with him. I readily agreed, as he’s a nice guy, and the podcast, in which I was co-interviewed by Hemant and Jessica Bluemke, was just posted. You can find it by clicking on the screenshot. As always, I can’t bear to listen to these things, but I do remember I made up a Dr. Seuss-like poem on the spot about Regressive Leftism. I don’t know if it made the final cut.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 7.09.23 AM

Marathon Man: Joe Rogan talks to Sam Harris

June 7, 2016 • 11:00 am

by Grania Spingies

In an Homeresque feat of endurance, Joe Rogan (comedian, actor, sports commentator) and Sam Harris (writer and neuroscientist, for the one accidental reader here who doesn’t already know who Sam is) sat down and talked for a mammoth 4.5 hours about cabbages and kings.

Joe Rogan hosts a podcast that covers a very wide range of guests and subjects and has spoken to Sam before on his show. I’d recommend that you download the podcast and go for a long walk. It’s long, so you may want to break it into two sessions – even Sam reached “the upper limits of bladder capacity” after a couple of hours.

Here’s the Youtube link if you want to watch the discussion.

A rough guide to the chat:

1st hour – vegetarianism, consciousness, neuroscience

2nd hour – bioethics, future technologies, super-bugs, antibiotics, disease, self-driving cars

[As a side note in case anyone from the Joe Rogan’s show ever sees this: The Daily Mail from the UK should be treated with extreme skepticism. They are less reliable than Fox News as a news source. Check everything they write about.]

3rd hour – Trump and Clinton

4th hour – boxing, martial arts, zoos, wildlife preservation, negative and positive population growth, eliminating poverty, wealth inequality, the rise of Artificial Intelligence and its implications for humanity.

It’s a fascinating meander through a range of diverse topics, well worth a listen if you have a few hours to spare.

Open thread: podcast-y goodness

February 27, 2016 • 11:15 am

by Grania

It’s a cold grey day in Ireland, so an excellent way to spend the afternoon is curled up in your favorite armchair with a mug of coffee listening to podcast or two. I’ve put together a list in no particular order of some of the ones I dip into.


Brady Haran: Numberphile – 10 minutes videos on numbers & the things we can do with them

Gad Saad: The Saad Truth – evolutionary psychology, bioethics, politics, secularism.

Sam Harris: Podcast – ethics, secularism, philosophy, politics.

Annie Laurie Gaylor & Dan Barker (FFRF): Freethought Radio – secularism, civil liberties, politics, legal & constitutional issues

Eiynah (@nicemangos) and Paul (@theQPodcast): Polite Conversations – secularism, Islam and “sex, religion, politics”

Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya: Bread & Roses – political & social TV magazine broadcast aimed primarily at Iran (in English & Persian), atheism, leaving Islam, apostasy

DPR Jones, & (it varies) Hogtiechamp, AronRa, c0nc0rdance: The Magic Sandwich Show – secularism, science

Jeff Dee, Denis Loubet, Russell Glasser (ACA): The Non Prophets – atheism, politics, current events

Hank Green and Michael Aranda: SciShow – 5-10 minutes mini-videos about science

Seth Andrews: The Thinking Atheist – atheism, secularism, politics

Peter Hadfield: Potholer54: debunking common pseudoscience & Creationist claims

Destin Sandlin: Smarter Every Day – 10 minute videos featuring a range of educational science topics

Richard Wiseman: Quirkology – psychology of illusions, tricks, stunts


Please add your own if there are any you listen to, regardless of subject.

Peter Boghossian on “the regressive left”

November 4, 2015 • 2:00 pm

“The regressive left” is a term coined by Maajid Nawaz to refer to those leftists in bed with extreme Islamists. In this week’s “The Humanist Hour,” presented by the American Humanist Hour, philosopher Peter Boghossian talks, eloquently, about the regressive left and its attendant tropes (denigration of free speech, concepts of safe spaces, etc).  If you have a spare 51 minutes, you could do worse than listen.

Click on the screenshot below to go to the podcast.

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The Infinite Monkey Cage: L.A. edition

July 14, 2015 • 1:15 pm

by Grania

Just a heads up that the next episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage is now available.

This was the one with astrophysicist Sean Carroll who needs no introduction on this website,  comedian Joe Rogan, Eric Idle (who likewise should need no introduction here) and David X. Cohen (The Simpsons & Futurama).

You can stream or download the mp3 here.



Eric Idle recently recorded a song for TIMC*, but here’s an old favorite of mine.


* Postscript: if you watched Eric’s TIMC song and quirked a quizzical brow at the curious references by Brian Cox & Robin Ince to strawberries and actual monkey cages, the answer is Listener Email. You can listen to that episode here, also hilarious for what it’s worth.

Sam Harris does another Ask Me Anything

July 12, 2015 • 9:00 am

by Grania

Sam Harris recently did his second podcast on The Tim Ferriss Experiment, it’s a very enjoyable listen for a Sunday morning.

From the show notes, these are the questions discussed.

  • What are five books you think everyone should read? [6:53]
  • In The End of Faith, you briefly discuss the challenging reality of having children. Why did you decide to have children? [18:58]
  • Why have you stopped doing public debates? Who would you like to debate? [23:18]
  • Could you talk about one of your differences with Christopher Hitchens on? Specifically, his pro-life stance. [29:03]
  • What fact/event has made you change your mind recently? [32:53]
  • What are Sam Harris’s morning rituals? I would especially like to know his meditation rituals. [36:03]
  • If you had to recommend one thing for brain health outside meditation or exercise, what would that be? [46:18]
  • Your first book, The End of Faith, featured a blistering attack on religious moderates. Now you strive to encourage religious moderation in the Islamic world. Have you changed your mind on religious moderation? [49:48]
  • Would you push the fat man in the trolley scenario? Do you think a society could occupy a peak on the moral landscape if it’s inhabitants would all push the fat man? [55:28]

You can download or stream here.

If you want to listen to the first podcast Sam did with Tim, the link is on the same page, just a little further down.

The Infinite Monkey Cage: USA tour

July 7, 2015 • 11:00 am

by Grania

As some of you already know The Infinite Monkey Cage is a much-loved BBC Radio 4 radio show and podcast on science hosted by physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince with weekly guests including such luminaries as Matthew Cobb and, more recently, Jerry Coyne. It’s usually hilarious, fast-paced and covers a range of subjects, usually within a specific theme. The show doesn’t try to comprehensively cover any topic in detail; its aim is to introduce subjects to the audience and whet appetites.

Programme Name: The Infinite Monkey Cage - TX: 19/01/2015 - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: (L-R) Professor Brian Cox, Robin Ince - (C) BBC - Photographer: Richard Ansett
Programme Name: The Infinite Monkey Cage – TX: 19/01/2015  – Picture Shows: (L-R) Professor Brian Cox, Robin Ince – (C) BBC – Photographer: Richard Ansett

The reception has been so positive that they took the show over to the United States recently, and the episodes are finally coming available as of yesterday.

The first episode from New York is now available to listen or download as an mp3 to here.

Keep checking here for updates, and of course we will let you know when the Chicago episode goes up too.

Publicity: I espouse nonbelief in National Geographic, and a podcast with Godless Spellchecker

June 1, 2015 • 11:40 am

The round of books and articles connected with Faith versus Fact continues, and I’ll highlight some reviews later as they come in. I recognize that readers may not want to look at all this book-related stuff, as some of it is repetitive, but I’m putting the links here for those who wish to know what is posted.

A while back, National Geographic kindly interviewed me for their “Book Talk” section, and has just posted my Q&A in an article called “In age of science, is religion ‘harmful superstition’?” I was grateful to appear in its pages, as this is not traditionally the kind of thing that National Geographic handles. But remember when you read it that it is the unedited transcript of a phone conversation, which explains why my answers aren’t in perfect prose. (Of course, they would have been were I Steve Pinker!) Here’s a bit of the Q&A (I’ve asked them to correct the spelling of T. S. Eliot):

Do you have a spiritual life? If so, what does it look like?

Spiritual is an amorphous term. I study evolution and every day I read something that strikes me as amazingly wonderful. If you call that spiritual, then, yeah, I’m spiritual. Richard Dawkins says the same thing. Spirituality can run the gamut from amazement at nature to a feeling that there’s something beyond the material universe.

But I don’t like the use of the word “spiritual” unless you define it clearly. I am spiritual in the sense that I have this awe and wonder before nature. I love James Joyce and T.S. Elliott, I’m moved by Dylan Thomas. It doesn’t have anything to do with God. It has to do with a commonality of feeling prompted by nature and the arts. So I prefer to use the word humanist rather than spiritual. The minute you say you’re spiritual, people automatically start thinking you’re religious.


And Stephen Knight, aka “Godless Spellchecker,” had an hourlong conversation with me about the book—but also about other stuff, notably the idea of “trigger warnings,” whose discussion is at the end of the podcast.

Godless Spellchecker’s website is here; you may remember this blogger and podcaster as one of the people who exposed C. J. Werleman as a serial plagiarist (see here and here)—a fine piece of detective work.