ETFF’s Membership-Drive Special: Merchants of Doubt!

Merchants of Doubt was one of the most talked-about climate change books of recent years, for reasons easy to understand: It tells the controversial story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. The same individuals who claim the science of global warming is “not settled” have also denied the truth about studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. “Doubt is our product,” wrote one tobacco executive. These “experts” supplied it.”

On this program we will be discussing both this book and the new Merchants of Doubt DVD, and play excerpts from the film as well as from our 2012 interview with one of the book’s author Naomi Oreskes. If you appreciate this kind of programming, please support WBAI this Autumn! If you enjoy Equal Time for Freethought – the only Secular Humanist/Atheist broadcast possibly anywhere in the nation!

Does Altruism Exist? A Conversation with Evolutionary Biologist, David Sloan Wilson

Altruism gets a bad rap in the US.  Concerning ourselves with the welfare of others, extending empathy to all citizens here and in other countries, and looking at humanity as one diverse, if complex, collective is something some of us give much lip service to while leading their self-concerned busy lives, and others actively try to squash if it means their small piece of the pie might be nibbled at.

Regarding both political and religious institutions, altruism is at best a Utopian fantasy or at worse – as so-called libertarians who embrace the philosophy of Ayn Rand – dangerous and an abomination.  Even scientists working in various fields – especially evolutionary psychologists – argue that altruism is not what it seems to be, and that true altruism as we tend to think about it does not exist in the human animal.

But others disagree, and disagree strongly.  Among scientists who have written in favor of pure altruism are primatologist Franz De Waal, neuroscientist Donald Pfaff, bioethicist Peter Singer, anthropologist Christopher Boehm, physicist Stefan Klein, psychologist Dacher Keltner, biopsychologist Nigel Barber, evolutionary anthropologist Douglas Fry, and today’s guest, biologist David Sloan Wilson — author of Does Altruism Exist?: Culture, Genes, and the Welfare of Others.