This week's episode of Point of Inquiry was unusual in that it was not one of the three rotating hosts interviewing a prominent skeptic, scientist, rationalist, or psi/paranormal proponent. Instead it was a discussion between two hosts. The topic discussed was whether it was necessary to be a liberal to be an atheist. Turns out Mooney considers himself a liberal, and Price considers himself a conservative. Mooney is a Democrat. Price is a Republican. Mooney is clean shaven. Price has enough beard for two or three people. Mooney indicated that they were co-hosts this week, but in actuality Mooney acted as the host in a discussion with Price. It reminded me of a good discussion on C-Span2 BookTV. While it was an intriguing and worthy discussion, I do hope these type of episodes do not become the norm, but a special treat for occasional broadcast. It would keep the show from being too much of an "insider" talkfest, and there is nothing wrong with the regular shows that would require an overall change of track. All this being noted, I did enjoy the episode a great deal. I do think a separate moderator with Price and Mooney as guests might have been a better format for this type of discussion. Someone ought to have skyped in Kylie Sturgess, who is the mistress of this type of panel.
Mooney conceded that it is possible to be both an atheist and a conservative although it is much more likely and easier to be a liberal and an atheist. Price defended the view of someone who is for conservative issues like a strong robust military and a more "realpolitik" (my words) world view. They discussed the absorption of most of the political Evangelicals into the Republican party in the late 70's and early 80's, and how much that is just good political strategy and how much is that a reflection of core Republican party values. Mooney defended some of the wacky pseudo-scientific values of certain anti-genetically modified foods groups and what I like to call "crunchy folks."
The one viewpoint missing is the Libertarian viewpoint exemplified by Michael Goudeau and Penn Jillette. Anecdotally speaking, from my review of various skeptical blogs with a large percentage of atheist contributors, Conservatives are a minority, Liberals are the majority, but there is a healthy number of Libertarians in the community.
The discussion was about half an hour long and could have gone on much longer with a lot of topics touched upon but not dealt with in detail. Perhaps when Sturgess is brought in on the case such an event can occur with Goudeau representing the Libertarians.