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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

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EPISODE # 146

Donald R. Prothero — Weird Earth: Debunking Strange Ideas About Our Planet

Shermer and Prothero discuss:

  • flat earth theories and how we know the earth is round,
  • hollow earth theories and how we know it’s not hollow,
  • the return of Ptolemy and an earth-centered solar system model (and how we know it’s wrong),
  • how science deals with anomalies, fringe claims, and challenges to the orthodoxy,
  • whether humans were in the San Diego area 130,000 years ago,
  • how consensus is achieved in science (and the messy road to get there),
  • from Newton to Einstein and what ultimately determines if a theory is true or not,
  • flood myths and what causes such stories to arise in some cultures but not others,
  • catastrophism vs. uniformitarianism in geology,
  • the age of the earth and how geologists determined it,
  • the myth of Atlantis and what Plato really intended with his account,
  • biblical accounts of the world and how we should read the book as literature, not science,
  • how science won the evolution-creation wars,
  • science denial and how to deal with it, and
  • the real-world consequences of denying science.

Dr. Donald R. Prothero has taught geology for over 33 years as Professor of Geology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and currently at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, CA. He earned M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in geological sciences from Columbia University in 1982. He is currently the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of 33 books and over 250 scientific papers, including five leading geology textbooks and three trade books as well as edited symposium volumes and other technical works. He is on the editorial board of Skeptic magazine, and in the past has served as an associate or technical editor for Geology, Paleobiology and Journal of Paleontology. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, and the Linnaean Society of London, and has also received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Science Foundation. In 1991, he received the Schuchert Award of the Paleontological Society for the outstanding paleontologist under the age of 40. He has also been featured on several television documentaries, including episodes of Paleoworld (BBC), Prehistoric Monsters Revealed (History Channel), Entelodon and Hyaenodon (National Geographic Channel) and Walking with Prehistoric Beasts (BBC).

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This episode was released on December 8, 2020.

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