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This week on Think Atheist Radio we have our chat with Dr. Addy Pross. A distinguished chemist and co-author of the acclaimed Pross-Shaik model, Dr. Pross received both his BSc and PhD from the University of Sydney. He did his postdoctoral work at Kings College, London and the Hebrew University, Jerusalem before taking a position at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel where he was ultimately made Professor of Chemistry. Even while maintaining his position at Ben-Gurion University (indeed, while serving as the Chair of the Chemistry Department) he has held visiting positions at the world's foremost institutions. These include the Lund University, Stanford University, Rutgers University, University of California at Irvine, University of Padova, the Australian National University Canberra, and his alma mater, the University of Sydney. He has the distinction of having been the invited plenary speaker to more than 60 conferences and universities. Until more recently, most of Dr. Pross' research has focused on chemical reactivity and organic reaction mechanisms. Switching focus, he has become interested in investigating the mechanisms of the emergence of life from simple chemicals to complex biology. He is the author of over 100 research papers and an influential text on organic reactivity. We asked Dr. Pross to join us to discuss his newly published book, What is Life? How Chemistry Becomes Biology. It's a fascinating subject with implications for several issues of relevance to freethinkers. Don't miss it!
The search for life begins in a lake entombed under Antarctic ice.
Rebecca Watson recently gave a talk where she criticized evolutionary psychology. Ed Clint writing at the SkepticInk network and an anthropologist concentrating on evolutionary psychology criticized Watson's talk as "science denialism". PZ Myers questioned Clint's motivations. Stephanie Zvan responded to Clint's criticisms saying that Clint misunderstood Watson's talk: it was not about evo psyc but about the media's reporting of evo psych. Chris Hallquist posted to address Watson, Clint, and Zvan, concluding that Clint is mostly correct. Hallquist followed up to take a look at some of the subsequent discussions around the atheist blogosphere. Ken Perrot weighed in on Watson's talk and evo psych, saying that, at times, self-described skeptics can be anything but skeptical. John Wilkins points out some fallacious reasoning in discussions about Watson's talk and evo psych. He then began a series of posts examining evo psych and its value as science.
Rupert Sheldrake, British purveyor of all things absurd, is now peddling his woo in the US.
The death of "near death". Even if heaven is real, near death experiences aren't glimpses of it.
Curiosity sees no organics on Mars. Some are reporting that simple organics have been found but it's a very small signal and may be leftover Earth material that made its way to Mars on Curiosity itself. Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Mars Opportunity has found minerals that formed in life-friendly water. As these findings are announced NASA also announces plans to send a Curiosity twin to Mars in 2020. But some are concerned that the plan is recycling old ideas into new to capitalize on Curiosity's fame.
LA governor's school voucher program that would funnel $11million to creationism-endorsing schools is ruled unconstitutional.
Voyager 1 continues to send back data indicating its exit from the solar system is imminent.
An Indiana court this week upheld a ban on secular officiants who want to perform marriage setting up an equal protection fight that will determine whether the non-religious get their right to determine how they can be married.
The Boy Scouts of America's refusal to do background checks and properly screen people into the organization lets pedophiles in. Over in England, the UK Scouts may finally let atheists become members and leaders.
Ashley Miller's father disowns her for dating a black guy. In 2012.
The media needs to understand the difference between a legitimate scientific debate and the existence of a vocal minority that disagrees with the overwhelming scientific consensus.
A fossilized 200 million year old microbe has been discovered.
We have to face the reality of gender bias in the sciences.
A US judge ruled that the right to free speech of "gay cure" quacks overrules any concern for the young patients they victimize. However, a judge in another case on the same issue ruled the opposite way, clearing the way for the law to take effect on January 1st. Appeals are certain to be filed though.
Why are so many women scared to call themselves feminists?
Fossil raindrops in 2.7 BILLION year old rock are allowing us to probe the ancient atmosphere.
Growing E. coli in a Mars-like environment, scientists find that even planets with a thin atmosphere can support life.
Michael Shermer expressed some fundamental skeptical principles in a piece this week on coincidences and certainties.
When so many city councils are being sued for including prayers in their meetings and being forced to remove them as a consequence it's incredible to see the Miami-Dade Commission vote to actually get rid of their moment of silence and institute a prayer instead!
A new Gallup survey finds that a majority of Americans are still religious.
After a creationism bill failed to pass an Indiana senator begins pushing a "truth in education" measure. The measure would urge students to challenge their teachers to provide evidence of the claims made in the course of instruction.
The earliest known dinosaur relative has been found, pushing back the origin of dinosaurs back 15 million years earlier than previously thought to 243 million years.
Blake Page, a West Point cadet with 5 months left before graduation, has resigned in protest citing the unending religious proselytizing that goes on at the academy. However, there are questions as to whether Page's claims are the reality at West Point, with even some atheists at the academy saying it's not as bad as all that.
Giant crustaceans and a possible Alzheimer's drug among the findings from Hollywood director James Cameron's deep-sea expedition.
The Mexican Supreme Court has struck down that country's ban on gay marriage. Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court has decided to hear challenges to the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibits federal recognition of same sex marriages. It's nerve-racking because if the court rules that either Prop 8 or DOMA or both are constitutional, that will dramatically impact how the fight for equality progresses in the future. The flip side is that if the court rules either or both unconstitutional it will hugely speed up that progress. Reactions followed the decision. Here's a good post from recent weeks explaining what's at stake. And why are so many Americans opposed to same sex marriage? Guess.
A mother in Wales has been convicted of the murder of her 7 year old son, beating him "like a dog". Why, you ask? Well. Because he failed to memorize passages from the Koran. Of course.
Philosopher Paul Thagard (another past guest of TA Radio) offers a list of 11 dogmas of analytic philosophy and their alternatives.
Belief in miracles on the rise in America.
Someone seems to have clued Florida Senator Marco Rubio in that there is no debate on the age of the Earth.
If you're like me you've wondered how many Christian clerics actually buy the full gamut of Christian claims. Well. If this survey conducted in the 80's is reliable at all then the answer is... not very many.
Steven Novella describes a common tactic of those in the thrall of pseudoscience: "Trust me. The evidence is coming!"
A new start up company is offering rides to the Moon. Turn out your pockets and scrape together the $750 million!
Viruses have inserted themselves into the human genome 31 times.
Has NASA's Dawn spacecraft spied water-cut gullies on the asteroid Vesta?
Vitamin supplements fail again as D and Calcium disappoint in a new study on dementia.
The TED organization has issued a statement to the franchise TEDx explicitly instructing TEDx on their responsibility to feature real science and not the bullshit that's infected the brand.
The Mormon Church has been hemorrhaging LGBT members in the wake of the church's support of Proposition 8 in California. Their strategy for stemming the tide leaves something to be desired.
Emily Willingham addresses an article appearing at Fox News on GMO foods described by them as "What you need to know" and finds it to be deficient by far.
The Houston Press has a feature on the rise of atheists in Texas.
Dan Barker explains that atheists love this time of year as much as the religious do.
Jesus withdraws his endorsement of the GOP.