Let's get to it...
This week on the show:
Dr. Jessica Pierce! Dr. Pierce holds a position of Faculty Associate at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Center for Bioethics and Humanities. Working in bioethics, she is the author or co-author of Morality Play: Case Studies in Ethics, Contemporary Bioethics: A Reader With Cases, Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals. It's this last title– Moral Lives– that we asked Dr. Pierce to talk with us about. What does it say about human morality and what does it mean for the study of it that many animals demonstrate behaviors that can only be described with words like "justice", "fairness", and "altruism"? Join us for the discussion! Did you know that rats won't press a bar to receive food if they see that the pressing of that bar delivers a shock to another rat in the next cage? Did you know that bats will regurgitate some blood to share with another bat that wasn't able to find a meal? Theists believe you need religion for morality. But as Pierce points out, you don't even need to be a human being to have what looks a helluva lot like morality! Join us!
What you missed last week:
Get caught up by checking out last week's interview with Philosopher of Science Dr. Elliott Sober! Dr. Sober is the Hans Reichenbach Professor and William F. Vilas Research Professor at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. One of the world's outstanding Philosophers of Science and author of the recently published Did Darwin Write The Origin Backwards?, in addition to numerous additional titles, his interests center on the Philosophy of Biology, evolution, altruism, and confronting "Intelligent Design". We were so happy Dr. Sober joined us to discuss evolution, The Design Argument, Fine-Tuning, and much more. Don't miss it!
Stay with me:
I trickle out Sunday School links throughout the week on Google+. No reason to wait to read all the fascinating stuff! There's a great community of people I share the links and interact with. And on Twitter is where we do our book giveaways! Or are you one of the 7 people in the world that doesn't like to win free books? :P If you connect with me at either place, let me know you found me through Sunday School, say hi!
I know I keep featuring links to the discussion of whether we have free will that has been ongoing between Jerry Coyne, Massimo Pigliucci and others but it's just such a fascinating topic! This week Ian Pollock had some thoughts on what he termed the "free will wars". Jerry Coyne responded to point out that Pollock seems to agree with him but doesn't follow through to the conclusion.
In the list of disgusting Christian bigots Oral Roberts is in the top 5. Growing up in that environment must have been so difficult. So it's all the more impressive when Roberts's grandson is able to tell this inspiring story.
Mitt Romney baptized his atheist scientist father-in-law 14 months after his death. Bill Maher de-baptized him on his show in this excellent clip.
Stressed yeast cells frantically reshuffle their chromosomes in a desperate last bid to find a combination that survives. This "panic" response enables them to rapidly evolve resistance to drugs.
Check out the remarkable editorial bias on climate change at The Wall Street Journal. Phil Plait commented on the WSJ nonsense while pointing to another bit of denialism, this time in The Daily Mail. People should really check with actual climate scientists on this stuff. Plait's post ended up being the jumping off point for what became a case study on the tactics of climate change denialists.
24 million: The number of generations it takes for a mouse-sized mammal to reach the size of an elephant-sized mammal. Turns out evolution has a speed limit.
It's true that Christianity is losing some of its appeal among Americans, but that is a religious, not political, matter. There is no "War on Religion".
Cracked.com is an often funny site but Ethan Siegel had to stand up when they produced a list of "6 Scientific Discoveries That Laugh in the Face of Physics" when, actually, each of the 6 is totally explicable on physics.
Are we ready for a pill to make us more moral?
Gains in DNA are speeding research into human origins.
Amazing "Walking Dead Syndrome", where sufferers actually believe they're dead.
Last week I linked to Greta Christina's appalled response to Be Scofield's piece calling the "New Atheist" arguments racist cultural imperialism. She did an admirable job of showing how absurd the piece was but what does an atheist have to say about it when that atheist happens to be black, someone especially concerned with racist cultural imperialism.
US state science standards are "mediocre to awful", says a new report.
For the first time, "alien" particles have been found in our solar system.
The Susan G. Komen For the Cure breast cancer research charity this week announced it was pulling support for screening at Planned Parenthood. It then came out that apparently much of the Komen charity's top brass has been replaced with Right Wing ideologues who put their hate for Planned Parenthood ahead of the health of women, breast cancer fight be damned. The resulting outcry caused them to change their minds and back those screening efforts once again but the damage is done.
Biblical scholar and atheist, Hector Avalos argues that the US has always been a nation of religious pluralism, never a "Christian Nation".
In a massive new campaign black atheists are speaking out about their atheism.
Lots of buzz about a video taken of the skies over Utah purporting to show a UFO. Yeah, not exactly...
The American Headache Society's press release suggesting that migraine sufferers try acupuncture was the seed of Steve Novella's discussion of the double standard of "alternative medicine" and its practitioner's abuse of science and logic.
Thanks to plants, we will never find another planet like Earth.
After drilling through 2 miles of ice, Russian scientists are about to break into the Antarctic's Lake Vostok, Earth's largest subglacial lake, in darkness for 20 million years.
Kimball Atwood explains the misunderstanding many alternative medicine nutters and, unfortunately, even many people in the field of academic medical research, have of what science is.
Psychic Sally Morgan is criticized and challenged to the James Randi Educational Foundation's 1 Million Dollar Challenge to prove her powers, responds by suing her critics for £150,000.
Well, that's done then... Study's confirm now, there is no arsenic in the "arsenic life" bacteria.
Alain de Botton backs off the idiotic atheist temple idea, says he never meant it that way anyway.
Michael Shermer on how deception leads to self-deception.
Liberal Christians tend to believe that Jesus is more conservative than they are on moral issues, while conservative Christians believe he is more liberal. Liberal and conservative Christians also tend to believe that the matters most important to Jesus are the same ones most important to them.