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DECEMBER 20 @ 2 PM PACIFIC

The Quotable Feynman (& His Van)

Michelle Feynman will discuss the life and legacy of her father: Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard P. Feynman. Physicist Seamus Blackey will bring Feynman’s van, newly restored and recently featured on The Big Bang Theory, so you can get your photograph taken with the famous vehicle featuring Feynman diagrams. And, joining us will be special guest Dr. Leonard Mlodinow, physicist and author of Feynman’s Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life and The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Cosmos.

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I Don’t Know What You Mean

Daniel Loxton describes recent research "On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit," and reflects on the communications chasm that can exist between skeptics and believers.

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Dr. Dean Edell (By BDEngler (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
A Moment With Edell
SKEPTICALITY EPISODE 265

In this episode of Skepticality, Derek presents an interview with Dr. Dean Edell recorded at The Amazing Meeting (TAM) 13. Dr. Edell had an impressive array of popular media shows on radio and television over the course of his career. He promoted science based medicine to the masses and fought against shoddy medical reporting and pseudoscience throughout his time communicating to the public. Back in 2010, he announced his retirement from his media career. Derek got to catch up with Dr. Edell at TAM to talk about his retirement, and what drove him to keep fighting against anti-science and promoting well-founded medical information when much of the mainstream media seems so lax to do so.

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About this week’s eSkeptic

The blurry line between Islam and Islamism must be made clear. In this week’s eSkeptic, Drs. Peter Boghossian and James A. Lindsay discuss the choice faced by Muslims to distinguish themselves from Islamists, noting that Muslims who denounce Islamism take an enormous risk with their lives.

The Appeal of ISIS:
Islamism, Trust, and Costly Signaling

by Peter Boghossian & James A. Lindsay

As refugees flood to the West in unprecedented numbers, and in the wake of a series of terrorist acts directly linked to Islamism, the chorus asking Muslims to explicitly denounce the violence of Islamism is growing ever louder. Others decry this request as inappropriate, unnecessary, patronizing, or even racist (Muslims are not a race, but this goes under the banner of “Islamophobia”). Mainstream Muslims should denounce Islamism and violence, but not because of the reasons many take as obvious.

First, however, we must define Islamism as a fundamentalist and militant religious and political ideology that drives for global conquest of an extreme Islamic theocracy and the application of strict Sharia law under its dominion. That Islamism is inspired by Islam via certain literal readings of the Quran is unambiguous, yet it remains just one draconian and acutely regressive interpretation of the religion. Islamism is dangerous and often deadly, and its broad conflation with Islam—and thus association with all Muslims—is deeply unfair. The violence that is associated with Islamism, then, is best understood as Islamist terrorism, not Islamic terrorism. Islam may be adhered to by Muslims who embrace nonviolent secularism. Islamism does not.

The reason Muslims need to condemn Islamism and Islamist terrorism is due to what social scientists call costly signaling—the performance of a symbolic act to indicate to other members of a social group that one is playing for their team and doing so at a price. It evokes trust—an indispensable commodity currently in short supply. Costly signaling taps into fundamental aspects of human psychology. Many Westerners—those on both sides of the political spectrum, from liberals who accuse critics of Islamophobia to conservatives who lump all Muslims into one category—do not appear to distinguish between Muslims and Islamists. Yet this distinction is critical to Western acceptance of progressive Muslims—those who do not embrace the violence of Islamism. The condemnation of Islamism and Islamist terrorism is an important, if not crucial, costly signal by which progressive Muslims can demarcate Islamism from Islam and simultaneously generate trust…

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