Posted: 28 April 2007 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]
Jr. Member
Total Posts:  38
Joined  2007-04-28

Hey, I love the podcast, and have been a fan of Skeptical Inquirer since I read James Randi’s book Flim-Flam! during my undergrad years. While I agree with the views expressed in your publications and podcasts, I find myself wondering how it is that we are goingt o reach a wider audience.

To illustrate what I mean, Bill Maher’s show Real Time features not only the people Maher (and his primary audience) agree with, but also people they don’t agree with at all. The whole thing is set up like Firing Line, where two opposing sides square off on each other. Same thing with the MacLaughlin Group.

Now, you can argue that this doesn’t lend itself to deep discussions, and it leaves you open to your guests using logical fallacies to rebut your claims, but in a way, taking that risk strengthens your argument. After all, if the best your opponent can do is an ad hominem attack, then you’ll come off looking great when you respond to that in a mature and logically sound manner. Your opponent, however, will look as rational as a rabid dog.

It also expands your audience. You see, your current format pretty much insures that no fundamentalist will listen to it with an open mind. At best, they’ll tune in just to get material to attack you with. However, even hyper-conservatives tune in to see Maher and the MacLaughlin Group. Why? Because they get a chance to see their own kind on the show and make an attempt to express their point of view. The sneaky bit is that they also get to see that point of view dissected and looked at closely. This kind of examination allows the more logical elements of their psyche to question their own point of view.

That kind of mental irritatation, the "little voice" Socrates referred to in Plato’s books, is what leads us from irrationality to reason.  Just preaching to the choir isn’t going to do much. Yes, I listen to you and read your magazines. But I already agree with you, so you’re not gaining much ground here. If you want to really affect people’s perspective, get the word out tot he people who don’t agree with you.

To do that, you have to feature people you don’t like on your show.