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This week on Think Atheist Radio we have our chat with Dr. Rebecca Goldstein! Dr. Goldstein graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College, where she received the Montague Prize for Excellence in Philosophy, then received her PhD in Philosophy from Princeton University. While working for her PhD she was awarded both the National Science Foundation Fellowship and the Whiting Foundation Fellowship. She has taught courses in philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, and more. Dr. Goldstein is the recipient of numerous awards for her work including the National Jewish Book Award, the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, the National Jewish Book Honor Award, and the Macarthur Foundation's "Genius Award". An author of several books, her unique practice has often been to communicate philosophical principles and ideas within a fiction novel. Her titles include The Mind-Body Problem; Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew who Gave Us Modernity; Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel; and more. Her latest book is 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction. We talked to Dr. Goldstein to talk to us about her process of communicating philosophical ideas through novels, about atheist communities, about the arguments for and against God, and much more! Listen up!
Neil Armstrong, first person on the Moon, has died at 82. The Telegraph and The Guardian have good tributes, but the best is The Economist's. Do read the Armstrong family's statement as well. Buzz Aldrin had something to say on the news of Mr. Armstrong's passing too. Watch those first steps and reflect. Martin Robbins pointed out that no one born after 1935 has stepped on another world, that it's time to stop screwing around, that it's time to go to Mars.
The Ignorant, the Liars, and the Dogmatists; a toxonomy of creationists.
It's official. A group of cognitive neuroscientists, neuropharmacologiests, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomist and computational neuroscientists have gotten together and signed the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness. The declaration states that there is no reason to think that humans are not unique in possessing consciousness and that mammals, birds, octopuses too, are possess consciousness too. Here's a bit more on the inclusion of the octopus. PZ Myers has some questions about this. Does self awareness require a complex brain?
Steven Novella addressed some steaming nonsense from Deepak Chopra (more???), this time on the "nocebo effect", the opposite of the placebo effect.
Atheism+? Chances are you're going to be reading about this for at least a little while. It started here with Jen McCreight suggesting that the atheist movement is in need of a new direction. Jen followed up the next day to dub the new direction "Atheism+" or "Atheism Plus", and to expand on her thoughts from the previous day. Greta Christina is on board, explaining why Atheism+ is good for atheism. Richard Carrier explains why he's for it. Heina at Skepchick listed 5 reasons she thinks a person should be interested in Atheism+. Kylie Sturgess asked whether it's important that she be labeled as an Atheist+ if she's already doing everything entailed by Atheism+. Ashley Miller asked and answered the question of how Atheism+ differs from Humanism. Greta Christina also wrote to differentiate Atheism+ and Humanism. Alonzo Fyfe posted with some arguments and concerns and wondered if he may be disqualified from Atheism+. Adam Lee wrote on some myths and truths about Atheism+. McCreight herself followed up to dispel some misconceptions about Atheism+.
Saturn's moon Titan is capable of creating the molecules that make up DNA.
The hunt for gravitational waves from black holes is set to begin.
Why it's irrational to risk women's lives for the sake of the unborn.
New research may show that bringing evidence to bear in order to change someone's mind about a scientific reality that threatens that person's worldview may backfire and give the opposite result: people grip their belief more tightly.
An 11 year old Pakistani girl accused of burning pages from a Qur'an could face the death penalty.
An influx of quackmedicine in the military is endangering troops.
A herd of giraffe are observed in the wild responding interestingly to the death of one of their members prompting the question what do animals know of death. Jerry Coyne is skeptical that the behavior is anything other than curiosity.
What we know about our evolutionary past– and what we don't.
Has the concept of "God" evolved over human history? Sorta.
After their gay son committed suicide, they left their anti-gay Christian church.
A fossil human skull is helping to fill in a 20,000 year gap in the record of human ancestry.
Jerry Coyne breaks down two attacks against evolution by natural selection appearing recently at the Huffington Post.
Unless they're zombies, fossils don't live. Brian Switek with a great rant on this notion of a "living fossil".
A newly discovered star at the edge of the galaxy is perhaps one of the oldest stars in the universe.
Two bonobos calling an Iowa sanctuary home have been observed making tools that closely approximate the tools our early ancestors made.
One of the British government's top science advisers warns that at this point, trying to limit climate change to a 2 degree Celsius warming is unr....
"Legitimate rape" remark fuels women's increasing skepticism about religion.
In a new study with implications for our evolved moral sense, people picked fairness over self interest.
The latest research into abiogenesis suggests that DNA could have existed long before life itself.
The gospels make a big deal about Jesus supposed Davidic ancestry. Trouble is, according to our knowledge of genetic relationships in populations, by the time of Jesus almost everyone alive in Palestine would have been descended from David.