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is generally a healthy thing. Requiring evidence and questioning other people's claims can help us avoid falling prey to quacks and con artists of all stripes. It can keep us from throwing our time, money and hope into a pit from which we can never get it back.
However, the tools of skepticism, like any other tools, can be misused. They can be selectively and inappropriately applied to create doubt even where almost no doubt remains. This tactic is referred to as bogus skepticism, or denialism. It's used frequently in discussion of politically charged topics, such as man-made and the very existence of the .
PalMD is an internist (a doctor of internal medicine) who has blogged extensively about medical denialism at White Coat Underground, Science-Based Medicine and previously at denialism blog. He also hosts a podcast (or PalCast) in which he talks about many of the same issues. The contentious topics he's covered include the dangers of secondhand smoke, claims of a vaccine-autism link, "alternative" medicine and diagnoses of diseases without any physiological basis. He'll talk with us about the difference between skepticism and denialism and how to spot a denialist.
Gene Roddenberry convinced the executives at Desilu Studios that a show about exploring space would appeal to a mass audience. They funded a weekly series for three beautiful years, and it turns out he was partially right. The show was not a ratings giant until it went into syndication and cartoons some five years after it had been canceled. From there it fostered a “Big Bang” of cultural infusion. Movies, fan fiction, spinoff series and “cons” exploded the concepts of Star Trek into our society.
Is it the underlying humanist message which infuses the Star Trek Universe that has led to its huge popularity as a cultural phenomenon? Robert Price and Scott Lohman will spend some time on our airwaves examining the issues of humanism in the Start Trek Universe, and science fiction's role in teaching us about ourselves.
Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, of the Stonybrook Institute in New York,is a biologist and a philosopher who has published about a hundred technical papers and several books on evolutionary biology. He is a fellow of the American Associationfor the Advancement of Science, selected “for fundamental studies of genotype by environmental interactions and for public defense of evolutionary biology from pseudoscientific attack. ”Massimo is also an atheist, and has published articles in Skeptical Enquirer, Philosophy Now, The Philosopher's Magazine and American Atheist Magazine.
Greg Laden, who has been a frequent and popular guest on “Atheists Talk,” is an evolutionary anthropologist and professor at the University of Minnesota. On Sunday Greg turns the tables and does the interviewing, talking to Massimo about Ken Miller and the role of God in tweaking the genome at strategic moments; whether or not man is some sort of elevated creature as according to biologists who should know better and the role of pseudoscience in weakening the public understanding of evolution.