Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A quickie rundown on a few podcasts

The Northeastern United States is getting womped with snow.  It is snowing right now as I speak, so much so that the government of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, my employer, has shut down.  Between episodes of incurring a lot of back stress, which I call shoveling, I thought I'd touch upon a few podcasts that I haven't mentioned for a bit.

The Token Skeptic episode #9 (episodes 6-8 apparently are still in the works) featured an interview by Kylie Sturgess of Michael McRae, science educator and former science teacher on the topic of skeptical outreach and in some sense how much success is the skeptical community actually having these days.  McRae touches upon facets as promoting skepticism vs. promoting yourself through skepticism, is there really a nerd chic, and how skeptics in the hinterlands need "business plans" to increase general awareness and not just toss a blog out there.  (A-hem like me).  The interview was about twenty-five minutes long, and I wish it could have been fifty minutes.  The interview really made me think, and rehash things in my own mind that I have wondered for sometime.  I especially get my mind twisted around how much self promotion is too much, and how much is healthy getting the word out.  I hope to write a longer blog entry on just this topic, but now on to the next podcast.*

D.J. Grothe interviewed Daniel Loxton on For Good Reason as part of his whirlwind podcast interview tour.  Although at times Grothe was a tad bit gushing, between the interview on the SGU, Skepticality, and this one, I think Grothe did the best job.  Loxton was able to get out his points, explain some of his process on how he came to write the book, and discuss his talk on evolution and religion in the book.  Evolution has been generally getting positive feedback from the skeptical community.  P.Z. Myers enjoyed the book, but disagreed how Loxton explicitly separates religion from the science, while Loxton is a more two spheres type.  Myers, never one to pull punches, gave it a positive review.  If there is just one interview you have time to hear of Loxton on his new book, I would suggest this one.  Jamy Ian Swiss discussed in a Chris Matthews-fast clipped voice about the dowsing bomb scandal that is making the skeptical news rounds.  It was entertaining and an interesting view point of placing this event in the bigger picture, but man-o-man does Swiss ever take a breath?

The Doubtcasters on Reasonable Doubts covered the philosophical/religious natural law teaching of Robert P. George, a conservative christian.  He does not appeal to scripture or the word of god to support his positions on abortion, gay marriage, and the like.  Instead, he cites natural law that self evidently happens to support the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.  Which makes him one Wiley E. Catholic because he falls back on rationalism and reason for his positions and not a doctrine.  In this episode, the Doubtcasters focus on his position for marriage as only being between a man and a woman.  I will not go into great detail but it seems rather evident to me that he is using post hoc reasoning.  He wants natural law to point out why only men and women should marry and back in evidence of the penis fitting just so nicely into the vagina as the basis of his ideas.  To me, the Doubtcasters in refuting his theories waded into morass themselves of biology of sperms fighting sperms, and eggs fighting eggs, and women changing how they dress when their man is away as evidence of George's ideas being misguided.  It could have used some editing or a better thought out rebuttal.  It was an interesting show nevertheless and it is worth a listen.

The final show I'll touch upon is Irreligiosophy.  A terrible bombshell is dropped during the episode.  So if plan to listen to the show, and wish to experience it with the same utter shock, disbelief, and sad empathy please stop reading.  It is not a funny or light hearted notion.

The show focused on the LDS Church Patriarchal blessing that all Mormons are supposed to receive which is sort of a guide post to how they are suppose to live the rest of their lives, and to which tribe of Israel they belong.  Each one is suppose to be individualized to the person, and point out what they will do with their time on Earth.  It is a key point in a Mormon's life, and it seems to have the weight of first communion in the Catholic Church.  (I bring this up as I come from a Catholic family, although I never got to communion.  I've been to enough of them to know what a big deal it is.)  They point out that the individualized blessing, which an LDS is supposed to reach at least once a month for the rest of lives, really seems to be a template with modest variations between people.  They compared blessings with others they found on the web.  Also, the blessing comes with a caveat that not everything may happen in this lifetime, and may also occur in other lifetimes.  But before all of the above was discussed, Leighton shared that he was raped as a youth while camping in the wilderness, and just shared this event with his family a short time ago.  Yes.  You read that correctly, and it was not a joke in any shape or form.  Leighton was sexually assaulted in his youth and while I respect his wishes as expressed on the show not to psychoanalyse him, it obviously had a big impact on the rest of his life which he does share with the show.  It is a terrible thing to hear at all much less out of the blue for a generally snarky, light hearted podcast.  It's a stunner.  I will make no jokes here.

On that somber note, I must prepare to due battle with god's dandruff.  (A close friend of mine who attended a Christian middle and high school shared that he once jokingly called snow "god's dandruff" and he was punished for blasphemy.  Now, I can't get it out of my head.  No.  I do not know how he was punished.  Maybe they made him drink a bottle of Head and Shoulders shampoo.)

*After listening to this episode of TS I had this great outline worked out using this episode as a jumping off point exploring when self promotion crosses a line, or at least gets into a questionable area.  Then I finished walking the dog, and then two days later it is gone.  Must carry an iPad around at all times to take notes.

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