Arnell Dowret: Naturalistic Take on 2016 Election Results

Free Will and Building a Humanistic Society w/Gregg D. Caruso

In recent decades, with advances in the behavioral, cognitive, and neurosciences, the idea that patterns of human behavior may ultimately be due to factors beyond our conscious control has increasingly gained traction and renewed interest in the age-old problem of “Free Will.”

A Free-Will Skeptic might believe that whatever you choose to do at any given moment in time is ALL you could have done given your determinants. You could not have done otherwise. But if “Free Will” is indeed an illusion, not only might we have to rethink how and why we do what we do as regards efforts to change the world, but how we understand key aspects of how we treat one another today’s society. Does judgment make any sense if but there for the determinants go I? What about the bootstrapping ideology of the right and the notion of the self-made man/woman? Perhaps most significantly, however, might be how we view our entire criminal justice system.

Today we will explore with philosopher Gregg Caruso what we mean by free will, what the arguments for and against  it have been in the past and currently, and what it would mean  if we DON’T have free will – for ourselves and for society.

George Lakoff on The Political Mind

This week, Matthew LaClair speaks with cognitive linguist George Lakoff. Professor Layoff is the author of eleven books including NY Times bestsellers The Political Mind: Why you Can’t Understand 21st Century American Politics with an 18th Century Brain, and The All New Don’t Think of an Elephant, and he has just retired from teaching after 50 years, 44 years which he spent at the University of California at Berkley.

How do political ideas spread? Why do people often vote against their own interests? Why have ultra-Conservatives been so successful in controlling American discourse? What message should liberals and progressives focus on going forward?

To Boldly Go: Toward a New Political Hegemony w/Nick Srnicek & Manu Saadia

With the current crises here in the early years of the 21st Century, Star Trek’s optimism, humanism, and scientific outlook may be more important than ever. For that reason, and the fact that the original series is what first brought me to the humanist perspective, I want to recognize and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the most popular science fiction enterprise in mainstream American culture, and perhaps the most influential television franchise ever. I’ve covered a few aspects of the philosophy, politics, and science of Star Trek on programs in the past, but I hadn’t had the opportunity to discuss the underlying thesis which allowed Star Trek to BE Star Trek.

But fiction is not the only place where utopian thinking is present. In fact, to some thinkers, such thinking is not necessarily utopian at all–at least not in the sense of creating an unachievable goal. There are many serious thinkers who are coming at this from various academic fields.

Today’s show will explore the possible humanistic future we can achieve in the real world, and celebrate a fictional future which anticipated and expected that we’d make it there. To do this we will be speaking with both Nick Srnicek & Manu Saadia.

This week we will be speaking with theoretical physicist and cosmologist Sean Carroll who returns to the show to discuss his new book, The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself. His book is every bit as ambitious as it sounds, delving into philosophy, physics, biology, chemistry, and much more as he seeks to tie what we know into a “big picture” of existence itself.

Carroll is a research associate in the department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology where he specializes in Dark Energy and General Relativity.  He’s been published in scientific journals such as Nature and New Scientist, and has appeared on episodes of Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, the History Channel’s The Universe, and the Colbert Report. He’s written several popular science books including From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time.

Local artists Vincent Czyz and Chris Johnson talk about their work concerning religion!

Today, Matthew LaClair speaks with Chris Johnson about his new book A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God.

Also, Barry Seidman talks with author Vincent Czyz about his new novel (concerning whether or not a historical Jesus existed) – The Christos Mosaic.

Consciousness, American Empire, and “Sacred Humanism” w/ Morris Berman

Whether discussing racism and ‘whiteness’ with Tim Wise and Robin DeAngelo, reviewing the natural and social scientific examinations of American society, or discussing the relationship between capitalism and what results from it regards the physical and psychological lives of each one of us, we have tried to go deeper than the symptoms of our current state of the nation and address the disease(s).

We have tried to remain optimistic that somehow the knowledge we share, and the growing discontent in the country, could lead us towards progressive social change. But not everyone is convinced this is possible. A few of our previous guests including Chris Hedges, and today’s guest, Morris Berman are looking at America and preparing her epitaph. But while Hedges has a rather Hobbesian take on human nature in general, Morris might yet see a positive outcome for humanity…only probably not in the USA.

Today, as we head into the 4th of July holiday, we will speak to Professor Berman and see if we can pull some of these things together. Morris Berman is an American historian and social critic. Berman won the Rollo May Center Grant for Humanistic Studies in 1992, and the Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity (from the Media Ecology Association) in 2013. Berman relocated to Mexico in 2006, and for a couple of years was a Visiting Professor at the Tecnologico de Monterrey, in Mexico City.

Why The Right Went Wrong w/ E.J. Dionne Jr.

This Saturday, Matthew LaClair will be speaking with professor of g0vernment issues and author, E.J. Dionne Jr. Dionne is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a government professor at Georgetown University and a frequent commentator on politics for NPR, ABC’s “This Week” and MSNBC.  He is also a long-time columnist for the Washington Post and spent 14 years at the New York Times, where he covered politics and reported from Albany, Washington, Paris, Rome and Beirut.

Dionne is the author of six books including his latest and the subject of our discussion, Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism from Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond.  He tells the story of the evolving (or rather devolving) Conservative movement, starting with Barry Goldwater and resulting in the politics of today including the extremist views of Donald Trump, the current presidential nominee of the Republican Party.  Dionne weaves together the cast of characters that have shaped the Republican party and the political right, interviewing many of them in the hopes of understanding their movement from within. What happened to mainstream Conservatism? What role has religion played in its development? How has liberalism grappled with the evolving political right and how should honest journalists grapple with the vitriol and extremism of it?

Fund-Drive Special!


A discussion about Dr. Joy DeGruy and Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome.

(audio coming)

Economic Inequality & the Problem with Work w/Kathi Weeks and Michael D. Yates

Many secular humanists traditionally focused on the so-called hard sciences and religion in their analyses but this is clearly not enough. In time, many also address the social sciences and key political issues from Human Rights to Separation of Church and State to the crises of Climate Change. However, the willingness to apply the scientific method, healthy skepticism, and humanistic ethics to our more central political structures has been very lacking…even the willingness to take on the illusion of “free will” gets more traction with humanist in America. This is why we try to cover these issues when we can on this show. Today we will address our economic system and what it means to be a contributor within its boundaries…as well as what is at the core of one of our greatest problems today, massive inequality.

Capitalism can be, and has been, described in a great many ways. From the Austrian and Chicago Schools of economic thought to the Keynesian models to the Marxist and Anarchist analyses. Among those who do the academic work required to grapple with all of this, we will find sometimes complex, often contradictory, and always passionate points-of-view on what we should do about capitalism here in the 21st Century. Among the general populous in the United States, on the other hand, we find confusion, misapplied labels, dogmatism and not a little anger.

We’ve talked about this from different angles and tried to make sense of it all via political science, history, social science, and even evolutionary biology and neuroscience. After all, Capitalism didn’t spring up out of nowhere, and it doesn’t exist in vacuum – being value-neutral as some might want to believe. So today we are going to look at the capitalist condition from both overarching and under-arching perspectives…The former being the huge inequality problem we now face, and the latter being what is at the core of the capitalist system…Work. To do this, we will be speaking with two special guests: Kathi Weeks and Michael D. Yates.