Saturday, March 17, 2012

Podcast(s) of the Week

This week, I'm highligting two podcasts, one from This Week in Science and the second from Philosophy Bites:

This Week in Science, Feb 02, 2012:

An interview with Shawn Lawrence Otto, author of Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America is the highlight of this podcast. In contrast with a similar recent book by Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science, Otto's book gets into how politicians, in general, seems unwilling to debate issues of science openly. When it is less controversial to hold a public debate on religion than one on science, you know something is fucked up with society.

I have not read either of Otto's or Mooney's books, but they're on my want list. It seems to me that Otto's would be the better for a general audience.

During the interview, Otto also mentioned The Debunking Handbook. This is a 7 page PDF file that you can download here. The Handbook is a good read and is a nice tool when you are debating with purveyors of pseudo-science (Creationists, climate change deniers, etc.).

Beyond Otto's interview, the podcasts has some interesting discussions on the psychology of Facebook posts and the nature of contagious yawns. The podcast runs about an hour.


From Philosophy Bites, Ronald Dworkin, American philosopher and constitutional law scholar, on the "Unity of Value -- Is liberty compatible with equality?"

This is a very good discussion on the practical applicability of philosophical concepts like liberty and equality. Dworkin contends there is a "right answer" to societal problems. Despite what politicians lead you to believe, liberty and social equality are not mutually exclusive.

He says that you can't look in the dictionary for a philosophical definition. You have to be able to apply your concept to the people that are affected by it. We have to "justify what we do in their name" and there can't be a disconnect between theory and action.

The discussion is about 19 minutes.


wunelle said...

Both books seem interesting. I just put up on FB a link to a 2002 Ted Talk with Richard Dawkins that addresses the Republican war on science. So we're kind of playing in the same pool. He goes further, stating that given the almost universal unbelief of elite scientists and the much higher figures of unbelief among the intelligentsia (compared to the unwashed masses), we have evolved a system where the best and brightest can only become our leaders by lying about what they believe and know.

Now THAT's fucked up.

wunelle said...

The link is here:

dbackdad said...

Cool. I'll check it out. I just got a notice from Netflix that a bunch of TED talks are now posted on Netflix Instant.