Greta Christina on Facing Death without God & Michael Lynch on The Importance of Reason in a Democracy

Death.  There is perhaps no other event in our lives which emotionally and psychologically affects us as strongly.  Trying to keep your head above water when a loved one dies can sometimes feel impossible; facing your own death?  Beyond impossible!  But these are what we are to expect as emotional creatures.  What many cultures and individual people do to soften the existential angst is to invent or follow one or another of the myriad super-natualistic religions.

But what if you are an atheist? Should we concede death to the Christians or Muslims?  How can WE face death without a belief in gods?

We will speak to Greta Christina on this first, and then for the second half of the program, we will talk with philosopher Michael Lynch about the important of reason and critical thinking for modern societies.

What IS reason?  When we say we should build people’s critical thinking skills, what do we mean?  And can a society be healthy and beneficial to all within it if the ideas and beliefs of leaders (and everyone for that matter) are based on falsehood or pure ideology?  Finally, how can we tell what is true and what is false?These questions and more will be discussed in our interview with Professor Lynch in the second half of today’s show.

“Peer Reviewed!” w/Sabine Hossenfelder

What is Science? Why is the peer review process important for keeping science the most reliable method for gaining knowledge on how things really are? Is science’s success best understood through the sensational discoveries we learn about in the media, or the day-to-day work of scientists everywhere — which may, occasionally, lead to such discoveries?

Today, E.T.F.F. will be taking a peak into the ordinary life of a peer-reviewer as she helps maintain the integrity of an extraordinary human endeavor–to understand the Universe. To do this, Xaquri Rzetelny will be talking with German quantum physicist Sabine Hossenfelder who in addition to her scientific work, runs a Blog in which she ‘peer reviews’ both fellow scientists’ work, and how this work is presented in the media.

A Discussion on the Confederate Flag in the 21st Century

The state of South Carolina has taken a positive step towards combating discrimination as state representatives came together to remove the Confederate flag from the State House lawn.  But other potentially discriminatory practices, such as voter ID laws and South Carolina’s constitutional prohibition on non-theists holding public office, remain intact.

On this weeks program, Matthew LaClair speaks with two members of the house of representatives: “white” Republican Jenny Horne and “black” Democrat Joseph Neal, who came together on the issue of the Confederate flag while disagreeing vehemently on related issues such as the voter ID laws.

You may recognize Rep. Horne from the passionate speech she delivered on the floor of the house on the Confederate flag issue.  We will ask her about this speech, her views on the Confederate flag — both before and after the shooting in Charleston, SC — her justification for passing a voter ID law that was proposed just a few weeks after the first black president was sworn into office, and her views on the South Carolina constitution.

Rev. Neal was chairman of the South Carolina Black Legislative Caucus back in 2000, when citizens gathered before the State House demanding that the Confederate flag be removed from the State House dome.  The decision to remove it from the dome to a flag pole out front was challenged by Neal and the Black legislative caucus, where it remained until last month.  We will discuss this experience with Rev. Neal and asks him about the walkout staged by the 2009 Legislative Black Caucus in opposition to the voter ID bill.

Tune in this Saturday at 2PM on WBAI 99.5FM for this exciting discussion, and be sure to join us for our post-show discussion with Professor Orville Vernon Burton, who delivered expert testimony on behalf of the Department of Justice on the issue of South Carolina’s voter ID bill. Visit to listen to our conversation and learn about the legislative history of the voter ID laws, as well as his take on our program with Ms. Horne and Rev. Neal.

Chasing the Scream!: ETFF Fund Drive special!

This week we are once again asking our listeners and supporters to help WBAI and ETFF stay on the air. This special edition of Equal Time will be a discussion on the War on Drugs policies in the US.

It is now 100 years since drugs were first banned in the United States. On the eve of this centenary, journalist Johann Hari set off on an epic three-year, thirty-thousand-mile journey into the war on drugs. What he found is that more and more people all over the world are beginning to recognize three startling truths: Drugs are not what we think they are. Addiction is not what we think it is. And the drug war has very different motives to the ones we have seen on our TV screens for so long.

So please tune in on Saturday at 2pm and donate to keep this kind of programing alive in the ever-corporatizing mass media market of the U$A.  We will be offering Chasing the Scream (the book, and a DVD interview of the author) as a gift for those who do!

Developing a Progressive Narrative

As many may already know, science fiction and speculative fiction in general can investigate and articulate the state of our nation and/or world in very direct but also metaphorical ways. We have talked about Star Trek, for instance, on Equal Time and how Gene Roddenberry was able to discuss humanism and naturalism via the small and large screen. And there have been many novels and short stories since at least the late 19th Century which have done the same.

Victoria N Alexander and Adrienne Maree Brown are two authors who have relatively new speculative fiction books out. Victoria, who has a PhD in English and philosophy of science, is also a novelist and the founder of Dactyl, a foundation that fosters dialogue between artists and scientists. She is the author of several novels including the topic of today’s discussion, Locus Amoenus. The novel brings Shakespeare into the post-9/11 world we currently experience and sows an emotionally powerful geopolitical drama.

Adrienne Maree Brown is an author, a life/love work coach, a singer (including wedding singer), events facilitator and a scholar on the late Science Fiction novelist Octavia Butler. In Octavia’s Brood, Adrienne has co-edited a collection of both speculative and science fiction stories founded on the spirit and creativity of the late author.

New Economy Project, a Conversation at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture w/ Matthew LaClair

What are the problems facing New York City’s under-served communities and how can we work to fix them? The New Economy Project‘s co-director Deyanira Del Río and communications coordinator Luis Caridad sit down with Matthew LaClair to discuss social and economic justice in New York City. The heart of the interview was conducted in front of an audience, thanks to the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture.

Goodbye God?

We will speak with comic-book author Sean Michael Wilson, whose graphic novel “Goodbye God?” takes readers on a tour of many of the issues surrounding religion and the consequences of belief.

Wilson explores the creationism/evolution controversy, ultimately showing that the arguments in favor of it are weak and that the evidence favors evolution – despite the controversy among the general public.

We’ll discuss these topics and more, as well as how Wilson shows in the graphic novel that belief ultimately doesn’t make as much sense as it may at first seem – leading us to say a final goodbye to god.

Sean Michael Wilson is a comic-book writer from Scotland, living in Japan. He has had many books published with a variety of US, UK and Japanese publishers, such as a graphic-novel version of  ‘A Christmas Carol (‘Best of 2008’, Sunday Times), ‘AX:alternative manga’ (‘Best ten books of 2010’, Publishers Weekly), ‘Parecomic’ (with an introduction by Noam Chomsky), and a manga version of the Japanese classic ‘The Book of Five Rings’. His books are often on themes of history, biography and social issues.

Arnell Dowet will host this seasons program which will focus on the many problems with the Corporate Media and just why Pacifica is so important in these very regressive times. There will be a variety of thank-you items if you donate including the documentary Shadows of Liberty.

In this documentary, “filmmaker Jean-Philippe Tremblay takes a journey through the darker corridors of the US media, where global conglomerates call the shots. For decades, their overwhelming influence has distorted news journalism and compromised its values. In highly revealing stories, renowned journalists, activists and academics give insider accounts of a broken media system. Controversial news reports are suppressed, people are censored for speaking out, and lives are shattered as the arena for public expression is turned into a private profit zone. Tracing the story of media manipulation through the years, Shadows of Liberty poses a crucial question: why have we let a handful of powerful corporations write the news? Media reform is urgent and freedom of the press is fundamental.”

Pain: A Political History w/Keith Wailoo

Amazon Blurb: People in chronic pain have always sought relief―and have always been judged―but who decides whether someone is truly in pain? In this history of American political culture, Keith Wailoo examines how pain and compassionate relief define a line between society’s liberal trends and conservative tendencies. Tracing the development of pain theories in politics, medicine, law, and society, and battles over the morality and economics of relief, Wailoo points to a tension at the heart of the conservative-liberal divide.

Conversations on Race, Authority, and all that Divides Us w/Tim Wise and Kristian Williams

Over the last few years we have seen an increase in state-sponsored violence in America. We have seen the militarization of the police departments and the continued racist-inspired arrests and killings. We have also seen Right Wing politicians trying to out-extreme each other to the degree that they make the Tea Party movement seem tame. There has also been increasing discrimination towards the LBGT community and an explosion of conservative and pro-authoritarian television programs such as Blue Bloods and NCIS, and films such as American Sniper. What ties all these things together?

In 2009, we had Kristian Williams on the program to talk about his book, Our Enemies in Blue. The book is out in a new edition and the timing could not be better with the police murders of black men rising across the nation. We also talked more broadly about the underlying philosophy of a policed society, and what we might do to change things. So today, we will revisit some of these ideas and bring things up to date. Afterwards, we will be talking with anti-racist activist Tim Wise, who has been on Equal Time a few times in the past as well, about some of these same things from a different point of view. His upcoming book is called Under the Affluence.