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Science, Skepicism, Atheist outreach
Posted: 10 February 2008 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Alright we all live in a world surrounded by religion and superstition.

Most people proudly describe how little they know about math or science as if it were an achievement.

Over 90% of people believe in some kind of god in the US.

A lot of the biggest political issues facing the US and the world are scientific in nature such as Global Warming, Stem Cell research, and Energy policy.

So whats going on on our end.

I heard Point of Inquiry about a year ago after reading The God Delusion, I saw it linked on the Richarddawkins.net website.

I went on to find the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, Skepticality, Quackcast, and other pro-science podcasts.

Now I have my own podcast at

http://mindcore.podbean.com

What do you guys think about podcasting as a method of outreach for science?

I mean we are all here because we like a podcast. So its gotta be doing something right?

How many of us are ex-wooheads or religious people?

Are we just preaching to the choir?

Is preaching to the choir a good idea? It may be.

What works in advancing scientific thinking among the public?

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Posted: 10 February 2008 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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mindcore - 10 February 2008 09:19 AM

What works in advancing scientific thinking among the public?

Well, your podcast certainly doesn’t. It is vulgar and ignorant, and the website itself is as bad as it gets. Evolution doesn’t equal “fucking”, as they are many asexual species who evolve without sex.

[ Edited: 10 February 2008 09:46 AM by George ]
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Posted: 10 February 2008 10:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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George - 10 February 2008 09:44 AM
mindcore - 10 February 2008 09:19 AM

What works in advancing scientific thinking among the public?

Well, your podcast certainly doesn’t. It is vulgar and ignorant, and the website itself is as bad as it gets. Evolution doesn’t equal “fucking”, as they are many asexual species who evolve without sex.

Thats a valid critique about evolution. I’ll bring that up next time.

As far as the rest, sorry, its my approach.

So far its been up for about a week and its been heard over 100 times.

So I have to keep trying unless the numbers decline.

My idea is that vulgarity and that kind of aggressive performance has attracted people for years to various unseemly things, and I figure I can use it to get people to think about science.

Sorry you didn’t like it, but as long as others do I’m going to keep at it.

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Posted: 10 February 2008 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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mindcore - 10 February 2008 10:05 AM

My idea is that vulgarity and that kind of aggressive performance has attracted people for years to various unseemly things, and I figure I can use it to get people to think about science.

mindcore,

Profanity is not a wit. I agree it might attract some troubled (IMO) individuals, but it does very little to promote rational thinking. You clearly have the technical knowledge to produce a website and a podcast. Don’t waste that talent! Learn from Sagan who was a master at combining science and art, and I am sure your audience will grow faster than you might think.

[ Edited: 10 February 2008 10:19 AM by George ]
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Posted: 10 February 2008 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I don’t know, I’ll take it under consideration for the long term, but in the foreseeable future I’m planning in sticking with the strategy.

But I will mention the error about aesexual evolution in my next issue. I’ve already written it on my outline.

I also appreciate your constructive criticism, I really do.

Have you heard the Rational Response Squad, I like to think my approach is a lot like theirs.

Or the atheist rapper Greydon Square… he does a great job in my opinion, and I’m trying to apply their approach to science journalism through my podcast.

They cuss, they say things that might be considered immature, but they keep the facts right and they reach a lot of people.

I don’t know, this whole thing is a work in process.

My opinion is that people who take a more traditional approach are awesome. I consider them to just be pushing forward on a different front than me.

But for now I’m trying to do as I know.

I was a singer in a heavy metal band, I ran a punk club, I’m a former tattoo artist, and I think I know how to reach people in that scene to take science more seriously.

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Posted: 10 February 2008 02:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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mindcore - 10 February 2008 01:30 PM

I was a singer in a heavy metal band, I ran a punk club, I’m a former tattoo artist, and I think I know how to reach people in that scene to take science more seriously.

This is actually very interesting idea, mindcore. I’d like to say more about this when I have some tonight…

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Posted: 10 February 2008 03:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Since I don’t have the capability to listen to podcasts, I was a little distressed.  However, from George’s comments and your responses, I doubt that I’d be interested in what you’re doing or your approach.  However, if you feel you can reach an otherwise unreached segment of society, that’s fine.  By the way, you’ll notice in our FAQ that we have a pretty short fuse for profanity here.  A little goes a very long way.

Occam

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Posted: 10 February 2008 03:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Occam - 10 February 2008 03:44 PM

Since I don’t have the capability to listen to podcasts, I was a little distressed.  However, from George’s comments and your responses, I doubt that I’d be interested in what you’re doing or your approach.  However, if you feel you can reach an otherwise unreached segment of society, that’s fine.  By the way, you’ll notice in our FAQ that we have a pretty short fuse for profanity here.  A little goes a very long way.

Occam

The way I act on the podcast is to a certain extent a character.

I listen to Point of Inquiry and have a fair idea of what to expect. I think that CFI is also the most important organization out there as far as I’m concerned.

In short, you don’t have to worry about me being profane here.

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Posted: 10 February 2008 08:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I just want to add I was wrong to say that your website is badly designed; if you believe it is going to appeal to certain audience I suppose it’s fine. The problem I see, though, is the language. I don’t think it will get you very far, especially when trying to explain a complex topic like evolution. Sexual reproduction by the means of “copulation” (I apologize, Occam, it was me, not mindcore, who used profanity here — I thought I had no choice) is only one small part of this difficult topic. What are you going to do when discussing, I don’t know, epigenetics? You’re going to shock your audience explaining the easy part with “fun” words, when it the next episode you might have to use real scientific terms. But I do wish you all the best with your podcast. Let me know how it goes.

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Posted: 11 February 2008 05:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I appreciate it George.

I think on some level I’m going to try to follow Penn and Teller’s lead on that one. They do a pretty good job most of the time on their show B.S.

But its not easy. I’m planning on talking about “The Selfish Gene” on the next podcast and I’m wondering how much people have their heads around cell theory.

I asked my wife what she thought because she tutors kids at a homeless shelter and she has done a lot of work to promote science the whole time I known her. She’s the one who talked me into going to college.

She said that she thinks people will answer the question correctly that we are all made of cells but that she doesn’t think people understand that if you take a piece of them and put it under a microscope that what will be seen is human cells.

She also says that she doesn’t think most people understand that DNA is inside their cells.

I don’t want to believe it, because I’ve always known cell theory, but my Dad is a scientist.

How can I talk about Dawkins’s ideas on “The Selfish Gene” if my listeners don’t understand cell theory?

I’ve heard scary statistics like that in England 1/3 of people surveyed did not understand that the sun goes around the earth in a year.

I don’t know.

I think that profanity will gradually become less and less of a tool I use, but that topics, interviews, and theatre will eventually make up most of the show.

I’ve got a buddy whos’s done a lot of theatre creating characters with me to act out on the show, kind of like on a radio morning show.

I’ve already acted out “Republican Jesus (episode 3)” who is the fundamentalist concept of Jesus that I have to deal with so often where I live; Dallas TX.

And the character “Tofu Jesus (episode 4)” who is the liberal concept of Jesus which I have a secret sympathy for. I try to do a Woody Allen type voice for Tofu Jesus.

I’ve already gotten good feedback for Tofu Jesus.

I just bring these characters in to whatever topic I’m discussing. I had Republican Jesus complaining about evolution, but in a monologue reminds the listener of all the other crap fundamentalist believe in addition to denying evolution.

Tofu Jesus just talks politics with me on episode 4, which is about science and the 2008 election.  He doesn’t say anything controversial. His job is just to be funny.

I’ve also already got some scientist agreeing to allow me to interview them.

Its all a work in progress.

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Posted: 11 February 2008 07:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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mindcore - 11 February 2008 05:05 AM

How can I talk about Dawkins’s ideas on “The Selfish Gene” if my listeners don’t understand cell theory?

Why do you think it is important for your listeners to understand a “cell theory” to be able to understand Dawkins’s book? Plus, I am pretty sure everybody today knows that all life is composed from cells. If you think they need to know the basic function of a cell (again, I am not sure why they need to know this so that you can discuss The Selfish Gene), tell them that each cell is made from another existing cell, and that a typical cell consists of a little factory, where the plan (DNA) goes in and a target product (protein) comes out. You can spice it up with a virus, and talk about a “wrong plan” going into the machine, and discuss if a virus should be considered to be alive, etc.

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Posted: 11 February 2008 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Hi mind core,

I’m listening right now. I’m trying to tune in to the core of your message. I’m listening to ‘evolution=f**king”
I don’t mind bad language and raw takes on things. I like difference, emotion, opinion-especially when its in the raw.
However I can see where it might offend others. I think your responses were so polite and understanding, I don’t take criticism well,
so I applaud anyone who can roll with the punches like you did in response to others criticisms. Clap clap.

I just want to know where you get your ideas from, the texts you are studying in school? Your lecturers? Some kind of text/website?
I just want to know where your coming from?
Yours was the first podcast I’ve ever listened to besides the Aussie news.

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Posted: 11 February 2008 09:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Cool! I listen to a lot of stuff from ABC network like “All in the Mind” and “Okham’s Razor.”

I really appreciate you listening to the podcast.

I study neuroscience at UT Dallas, I am a senior. So I have taken about 15 hours of chemistry, I’m in Organic Chemistry II right now. I have taken 4 hours of anatomy and physiology, 15 hours of psychology, at least 24 hours of Neuroscience courses, 8 hours of biology, and at least one humanities course where Richard Dawkins was heavily discussed.

I textbooks for those kind of courses I imagine are pretty universal.
I’m also a huge fan of pop-science books like The Blank Slate by Stephen Pinker, The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan, The Canon by Natalie Angier, A Life Decoded by Craig Venter, The Feeling of What Happens by Antonio Damasio, Conscilience by E. O. Wilson, Blink by Malcom Gladwell, Guns Germs and Steel by Jarod Diamond, The Synaptic Self by Joseph LeDoux, and many other pop-science books.

Most read after I started college 3 years ago.

I was also a fellow of the HHMI undergraduate fellowship. I’m probably more influenced by that expirience than anything else. HHMI is incredibly prestigious they are a major funder of research science.

When I applied to this program it was considered in my favor that I came from such a jagged past and was pursuing science as a career.  I was already doing interesting research in a psychology lab that was related to my career choice: neuroscience.

The HHMI undergraduate research fellowship payed undergraduates to oversee their own projects in major labs at the host university. I switched labs to a lab that studied pig stress, and loved it. Currently I work in a lab that studies emotional memory consolidation by measuring the immedieate early gene ARC or Arg.1 as it is expressed in the hippocampus through behavioral or chemical stimulation of the basolateral amygdala.

So I also read alot of primary research articles. Episode 3 references a review of his own research by David M. Buss in primary research journal.

I have a subscription to Science, and have access to thousands of journals.

I’m trying to review primary research more in future episodes. But next episode I’m planning on reviewing The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.

Does that help? Or do you need more specific info?

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Posted: 11 February 2008 04:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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yep! Cool.

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Posted: 12 February 2008 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Mindcore,

Your education and reading interests are awesome.  They aren’t typically associated with the stereotype impression I get of your podcast, from George.  I’ll check it out for myself sometime this week.

Regarding next weeks episode, I have a link to a YouTube video that may be helpful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFj0caNX1s0.  This is an 80’s Dawkins video critiquing his own book the “Selfish Gene” called “Nice Guys Finish First”.  He covers the common misunderstandings people made from his book.  Part of which I think was George’s criticism to your comments about evolution just being sex.  So, unfortunately you will have to point out that Green Day was wrong when they said “Nice Guys Finish Last” (it may just take a little longer).

Scott

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Posted: 12 February 2008 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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retrospy - 12 February 2008 07:46 AM

Mindcore,

Your education and reading interests are awesome.  They aren’t typically associated with the stereotype impression I get of your podcast, from George.  I’ll check it out for myself sometime this week.

Regarding next weeks episode, I have a link to a YouTube video that may be helpful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFj0caNX1s0.  This is an 80’s Dawkins video critiquing his own book the “Selfish Gene” called “Nice Guys Finish First”.  He covers the common misunderstandings people made from his book.  Part of which I think was George’s criticism to your comments about evolution just being sex.  So, unfortunately you will have to point out that Green Day was wrong when they said “Nice Guys Finish Last” (it may just take a little longer).

Scott

Well, George is right that the podcast is crude.

Try to imagine Howard Stern talking about science, or worse. Imagine a guy trying to explain science to a bunch of truant delinquents at a dice game, as they pass a cheap 40 oz. of malt liquor.

Thats what I’m trying to create.

So it sounds like that.

I love Point of Inquiry and it has changed my life, but my podcast is nothing like it. Imagine replacing DJ with a drunk pimp and trying to have him read cue cards.

I don’t know.

Expect the worst.

But I think if I can get it heard by my target audience they will like it.

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