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.
Banachek - From the Inside of Being a Mentalist
It’s a rare person indeed who can trick and amaze people on one hand while reassuring them that what they are experiencing is not real. Meet Banacek. He’s not only an illusionist, magician, mentalist extraordinaire, he’s a skeptic’s skeptic who for decades has been instrumental in exposing fraud and deception.
In this episode of Point of Inquiry, Jim talks to Banacek about his life as a performer, investigator, and man on a mission. Banchek talks about what led him into magic and mentalism, his relationship with James Randi, his new show at the Stratosphere, and more.
For more information about Banacek, or to get tickets to his mentalism show at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, visit Banacek.com
This Week’s Music
“Bon Journée” by Chad Crouch / CC BY-NC 3.0
“Idle Ways” by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0
How to Live a Good Life With Massimo Pigliucci and Skye Cleary
Have you ever been curious about what other people believe in or how they navigate the ethical challenges of life? Ancient philosophy was partly used as a way to better understand the best way to live life.
In this episode of Point of Inquiry, Jim Underdown talks to two of the editors of How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy. The book is a collection of essays by fifteen philosophers describing what it means to live according to a philosophy of life. These philosophies range from Eastern traditions like Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, Western beliefs like Stoicism, and contemporary philosophies such as existentialism and effective altruism.
Massimo Pigliucci and Skye Cleary, who also wrote chapters for the book, discuss the book, what led to its creation, their specialties of Stoicism and Existentialism (respectively.), and how they incorporate their philosophical beliefs in their day to day lives. The book and this interview provide a beginner’s guide on choosing a philosophy and ways to live those beliefs out in the real world.
Massimo Pigliucci is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York and was formerly a biology professor at Stony Brook University. His research interests include the philosophy of biology, the relationship between science and philosophy, the nature of pseudoscience, and the practical philosophy of Stoicism.
Skye C. Cleary PhD MBA is a philosopher and author of Existentialism and Romantic Love (Palgrave Macmillan 2015). She teaches at Columbia University, Barnard College, the City University of New York, and previously at ThinkOlio, the New York Public Library, and in a prison.
The Rise of the Nones with Ryan Burge
A question on the minds of many theists and non-theists alike is why are so many Americans leaving religion and becoming religiously unaffiliated? What are the underlying factors causing this shift?
In today's episode we dive into what the data shows about this movement with Ryan Burge, author of the new book The Nones: Where They Came From, Who They Are, And Where They Are Going (Fortress Press, 2021). Ryan speaks about how the field of social science is changing with the improvements made to surveying, the underlying causes moving people to become less religiously affiliated, unpacking why America has been so historically religious compared to other countries, how religious economy theory fits into this the rise of the nones, and the role the internet has played in shifting people away from religion.
Ryan Burge is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Graduate Coordinator at Eastern Illinois University and a pastor in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.
Greg Paul on the Lost Children and the Implications of Natural Evil
In the June/July issue of Free Inquiry, today's guest Greg Paul makes the case that a loving God cannot possibly exist next to all the suffering and death, children have had to endure throughout human history. In his piece, he claims this fact has the, "...potential to accelerate the already rapid decline of the illusion that is theism."
On today's episode we speak with Greg Paul on what lead him to start looking into this idea, some of the various factors causing the decline of religion throughout the world, what happened after he published his findings in the Philosophy & Theology journal, and the link he sees between the religious right's stance against abortion and their hypocrisy.
Greg Paul is a researcher, author, and paleoartist. His articles and artwork have appeared in Time, U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Science, Nature, National Geographic, Discover, Scientific American, Natural History and Smithsonian.
Inside the Group Investigating Extraordinary Paranormal and Supernatural Claims
The Center for Inquiry Investigations Group tests extraordinary claims from anyone who believes they have paranormal or supernatural abilities like telekinesis, mind reading, and many otherworldly talents. The group offers a $250,000 prize for anyone able to prove a paranormal ability under mutually agreed upon test conditions. The group then reports on each of these investigations including the details of the claims, the parameters of the tests, and findings or lack thereof.
The Center for Inquiry Investigations Group combines the principles of skepticism and practical science to debunk and disprove the existence of psychic powers, hauntings, and various paranormal claims. In this episode, co-host and Chair of the Investigations Group Jim Underdown speaks with members of the group to explore why they joined the group, details of past investigations, and the importance of the work.Inside the Group Putting Paranormal and Supernatural Claims to the Test
Annabelle Gurwitch on Living Through Ups and Downs
Annabelle Gurwitch is an award-winning actress, comedian, and writer. She's also a secular humanist and a skeptic, though that hasn't always been the case -- at least not the skeptic part.
On this episode Annabelle speaks with host, Jim Underdown about her beliefs, her new book, life as a performer, new age religions and cults, and dealing with adversity.
Annabelle's latest book, You're Leaving When? Adventures in Downward Mobility (Counterpoint Press, 2021) is an insightful trip through trying times as experienced by a funny woman with a flair for living.
I’ve been a fan of this podcast since it’s inception. Tremendous guests who often are not featured in more mainstream media sources. DJ Grothe and others have been terrific hosts over the years, but Jim Underdown is the bomb. Look for more of his stuff online and support the CFI!
Sensible conversations about important topics.
Highly Recommended for New Perspectives
Whether or not I agree with the perspective given, I always finish episodes with a greater understanding of the topic … and the podcast has only gotten even better with the addition of host Leighann Lord.