631 episodes

Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry's flagship podcast, where the brightest minds of our time sound off on all the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: science, religion, and politics.

Guests have included Brian Greene, Susan Jacoby, Richard Dawkins, Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugenie Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, and Francis Collins.

Point of Inquiry is produced at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y.

Point of Inquiry Center for Inquiry

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.5 • 47 Ratings

Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry's flagship podcast, where the brightest minds of our time sound off on all the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: science, religion, and politics.

Guests have included Brian Greene, Susan Jacoby, Richard Dawkins, Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugenie Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, and Francis Collins.

Point of Inquiry is produced at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y.

    Timothy Caulfield on the Infodemic and Spread of Misinformation

    Timothy Caulfield on the Infodemic and Spread of Misinformation

    This week's episode is a bit different. Please enjoy a talk from Timothy Caulfield that originally aired on Skeptical Inquirer Presents. SIP is a live online series of talks from some of the brightest minds in the reality based community and is just one of the many great shows that the Center for Inquiry produces. This recent episode of the series featured Timothy Caulfield where he was presented with the Robert P. Balles Annual Prize in Critical Thinking. Afterwards, Caulfield gave an informative talk on the state of the infodemic of misinformation, what we've learned, and ways to deal with the problem. It was something we thought fans of Point of Inquiry would enjoy!
    The spread of misinformation seems to intensify with each passing week. From social media to cable news to popular podcasts, science-free bunk is everywhere. The ongoing “infodemic” is doing tangible harm to public health, public discourse, and public trust. So...what can we do about it?
    Timothy Caulfield is the bestselling author of Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong about Everything? and host of the acclaimed Netflix documentary series A User’s Guide to Cheating Death.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Kelly Weill on Flat-Earthers and Why People Will Believe Anything

    Kelly Weill on Flat-Earthers and Why People Will Believe Anything

    In this week's episode, we are diving into the flat-earth conspiracy theory and why people could believe such a thing with guest Kelly Weill and her new book, Off the Edge.
    In 2019 Jim Underdown and the CFI Investigations Group produced a video where they designed a series of experiments to show that the earth is indeed not flat. CFIIG's conducted their experiment in front of over a dozen flat-earthers. Even in the face of conflicting evidence to their own beliefs, the flat-earthers held firm in their claims.
    Underdown and Weill speak about her new book, the history of the flat-earth conspiracy dating back to the 1830s, and the desire to belong to a community, which Weill saw as a reason some flat-earthers join the movement. Also, the role media and emerging technologies play in helping conspiracists spread their messages.

    You can also read Weill's piece in the Atlantic on the book and flat-earthers.
    Kelly Weill is a journalist at the Daily Beast, where she covers extremism, disinformation, and the internet. As a leading media voice on the role of online conspiracy theories in current affairs, she has discussed Flat Earth and other digital fringes on ABC's Nightline, CNN, Al Jazeera, and other national and international news outlets. You can find Kelly on Twitter @kellyweill

    • 49 min
    Living on Life's Edge | Carl Zimmer on The Search for What It Means to Be Alive

    Living on Life's Edge | Carl Zimmer on The Search for What It Means to Be Alive

    What does it mean to be alive? Does life have a clear definition? On this week's episode, Carl Zimmer joins host Jim Underdown to discuss his new book, Life's Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive to help answer those questions.

    Can we clearly define what it means to be alive? Scientists have been struggling with this question for centuries. For every rule or idea that's brought to the table, it seems a new species of plant or animal comes along that turns the whole thing on its head. For example, tardigrades, everyone's favorite microorganisms, are able to put themselves into a kind of suspended animation that stops their metabolization. Are they alive or dead at that point?

    Zimmer speaks about tardigrades and their special cryptobiosis, the intelligence of slime molds, and where viruses fit in the question of life.

    Carl Zimmer is an award-winning New York Times columnist and the author of fourteen books about science. His newest book is Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive  (hardcover, Kindle, or audio.) You can find Zimmer on twitter @carlzimmer.

    • 59 min
    The Case That Jesus Never Existed

    The Case That Jesus Never Existed

    Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God who walked the Earth as a human being. Some Atheists believe none of the God bits but that there was a man named Jesus who did exist. There is also an ever growing community who believe Jesus did not exist at all. Not as the son of God nor as a man.

    On today's episode we speak to someone with evidence to support the claim of Jesus never existing.

    Duke Mertz joins host Jim Underdown to speak about his work on the subject of Jesus namely his Free Inquiry article, The Quest for the Mythical Jesus. They speak about what led Duke to undergo his research into this controversial topic as they dive into the substance of Mertz's claims. Core to these claims is the story of Christ fundamentally serves as a passion drama for the time. Mertz also provides details on the inaccuracies found throughout the holy text.

    Mertz has also provided Point of Inquiry listeners with a PDF of his book, The Quest for the Mythical Jesus, as a companion piece to this podcast. Read the book and learn more about this fascinating subject.

    Eugene “Duke” Mertz is a columnist for Free Inquiry and author. Duke Mertz took an early retirement from a career in finance to work with nonprofit organizations and to write. He is currently vice president of the Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation Board of Trustees in Chandler, Arizona.

    • 53 min
    David McAfee - Hi, I'm an Atheist!

    David McAfee - Hi, I'm an Atheist!

    On today's episode we introduce the show's new guest host, Julia Sweeney and her interview with author David G. McAfee on his new book, Hi, I'm an Atheist!: What That Means and How to Talk About It with Others.

    McAfee and Sweeney speak about the new book, how it helped Sweeney get back in touch with her atheism roots, his journey being raised in a religious household and becoming a non-believer, his challenges as an atheist in a Religious Studies program, what he sees in the bible from a literary perspective rather than from the perspective of a devout christian, and the role religion has in society.

    David G. McAfee is a journalist, religious studies scholar, and author of Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings, as well as a contributor to American Atheist magazine. McAfee attended University of California, Santa Barbara, and graduated with a dual-degree in English and Religious Studies with an emphasis on Christianity and Mediterranean religions. He lives in California.

    Julia Sweeney is known for her work on Saturday Night Live and as a pioneer for atheism. Her inspiring one-person stage show, Letting Go of God, chronicles her personal journey from Catholicism to atheism. In addition to being an actress Sweeney is a new addition to the Center for Inquiry board.

    • 51 min
    Science Denial - Why It Happens and What to Do About It

    Science Denial - Why It Happens and What to Do About It

    Throughout the modern world trust in science has continued to erode at dangerous speeds. From anti-vaxxers to climate change deniers, there is an ever growing movement of people that deny science at the peril of us all.
    The shift towards a public with increasing lack of scientific literacy and critical-thinking skills combined with the proliferation of online misinformation and disinformation and social media algorithms that reinforce ingrained worldviews has caused a situation that is out of control.
    On this episode of Point of Inquiry we speak with Gale Sinatra and Barbara Hofer on their new book, Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to Do About It. Sinatra and Hofer speak about their decades of research and work on science, scientific literacy, and how humans think and acquire knowledge, how "doing your own research" is explicitly not simply conducting a Google search. They also go into some of the psychological explanations for why people deny science and what everyone can do to help stem the tide.
    Gale M. Sinatra is the Stephen H. Crocker Professor of Education and Psychology at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California, where she directs the Motivated Change Research Lab. She received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has been recognized by the American Educational Research Association for career achievements in research with the Sylvia Scribner Award. She resides in Altadena, California.
    Barbara K. Hofer is a Professor of Psychology Emerita at Middlebury College and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. She received her Ph.D. in psychology and education from the University of Michigan and an Ed.M. in human development from Harvard University. She is the recipient of national awards for both research and teaching, from the American Educational Research Association and the American Psychological Association. She lives in Middlebury, Vermont.

    • 59 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
47 Ratings

47 Ratings

Cucumberry ,

Very interesting

Good interviews

very funny and clever pod ,

V liberal

Your way to liberal. Try and have more balance

ste_mo ,

Life Changing

Whilst I was "somewhat" informed on many of the topics tackled by the POI podcasts before I subscribed I can honestly say doing so has changed my life. I have spent the last year listening to every single one - from the D.J. years right through to Lindsay and Josh - on my commutes home from work. I have been educated, entertained and inspired on every leg of the journey. The variety of guests and topics is wide ranging whilst keeping to a central theme of skepticism and free thinking. This podcast is a must for anyone who likes to think critically... Embrace doubt - subscribe and evaluate the evidence...

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