The annual conference of the Orange County Freethought Alliance took place over the weekend of 19 and 20 May 2012 at the University of California, Irvine. Neil Denny attended the conference on the Saturday 19 May and talked to some of the speakers. This podcast features five short interviews.
Richard Carrier is a writer for Internet Infidels and a historian of the historical Jesus; Aron Ra is an internet activist who uses phylogenetics to counter the claims of creationists; Heina Dadabhoy is a former muslim and a current writer for Skepchick; Dave Silverman is the president of American Atheists and organiser of the Reason Rally; Brian Dunning is the producer and presenter of the seminal podcast Skeptoid.
Between 12 May and 9 June 2012, Neil Denny embarked on a 6000 mile road trip across America. The aim of the trip was to produce a series of podcasts which present a wide-ranging overview of science and skepticism from an American perspective. Neil interviewed scientists working on ground-breaking, cutting edge science, educators combatting the encroachment of anti-science and irrationality into politics and the classroom, and writers attempting to popularise amazing ideas and concepts to the wider public. He also explored some major scientific (and some not so scientific) sites of interest along the way. This trip was made possible by a travelling fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. The theme tune of the podcast is a version of Black Top Blues by Acadian Driftwood.
In this week’s podcast, Neil Denny travels to Oakland, California, to the headquarters of the National Center for Science Education to talk to Eugenie Scott. Eugenie Scott is Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education.
She has written extensively on the evolution-creationism controversy and is a past president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. She is the author of Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction".
Jonathan Meades is a broadcaster and the author of several books including three works of fiction - Filthy English, Pompey and The Fowler Family Business - and several anthologies of which the most recently published is Museum Without Walls, which received 11 nominations as a book of the year in 2012.
Professor Will Alsop is one of Britain’s most renowned architects. He is currently a professor at the Technical University of Vienna.
Cordelia's latest book, Delusions of Gender: How our minds, society, and neurosexism create difference was short-listed for the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Non-Fiction, the Best Book of Ideas Prize 2011, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2010 and the biannual international cross-genre Warwick Prize 2013. Cordelia is a regular contributor to the popular media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Monthly and New Statesman. She also wrote the introduction for the Britannica Guide to the Brain.
Cordelia studied Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, followed by an M.Phil in Criminology at Cambridge University. She was awarded a Ph.D in Psychology from University College London. Between 2002 to 2011 she held research positions at Monash University, the Australian National University, then Macquarie University.
She is currently an ARC Future Fellow in Psychological Sciences and Associate Professor at the Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne.
Graham Farmelo is Senior Research Fellow at the Science Museum, London, and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Northeastern University, Boston, USA. Formerly a theoretical physicist, he is now an international consultant in science communication. He edited the best-selling It Must be Beautiful: Great Equations of Modern Sciencein 2002. Graham’s latest book is The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius.
Timothy Garton Ash is the author of eight books of political writing or “history of the present”. They include The Magic Lantern, The File, History of the Present and Free World. His latest is Facts Are Subversive: Political Writing From a Decade Without a Name.
He is Professor of European Studies and Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His essays appear regularly in the New York Review of Books and his weekly column for the Guardian is widely syndicated in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Garton Ash has received many awards for his writing, including the Somerset Maugham Award and the George Orwell Prize.
Aarathi Prasad is a biologist and science writer. She has appeared on TV and radio programmes, including as presenter of Channel 4's controversial ‘Is It Better to Be Mixed Race?' and ‘Brave New World with Stephen Hawking', as well as BBC Radio 4's ‘The Quest for Virgin Birth', and written for Wired, the Guardian, and many other publications. Previously a cancer genetics researcher at Imperial College London, she subsequently moved into the worlds of science communication and policy, in areas including passage of the human-animal chimaera stem-cell bill in the UK Parliament. Aarathi's first book is Like a Virgin: How Science is Redesigning the Rules of Sex.
First broadcast on 12th October 2012.
Adam Rutherford is a geneticist, writer and broadcaster, whose work includes the award-winning series The Cell (BBC4), The Gene Code (BBC4), Horizon: 'Playing God' (BBC2) as well as numerous programmes for BBC Radio 4 such as the recently launched Inside Science. Previously an editor at the science journal Nature, Adam often writes for the Guardian and has given numerous prestigious lectures, as well as appearing in the 'Uncaged Monkeys' tour. His first book is Creation: The Origin of Life/The Future of Life.
Interview one first broadcast on 16th October 2009.
Interview two first broadcast on 12th July 2013.
Paul Anderson is a former editor of Tribune and deputy editor of the New Statesman, currently a lecturer at City University. His book of George Orwell's columns for Tribune, Orwell in Tribune, is published next month by Politico's. Pauls Blog can be found here.
Interview first broadcast on 18th August 2006.
Adam Macqueen has been a hack at Private Eye magazine on and off for 14 years. He was assistant, deputy and finally acting editor of The Big Issue between 1999 and 2002. He’s on the editorial team of Popbitch.com, and was an associate producer on Adam Curtis’s BBC series All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace. Adam is the author of various books including The King of Sunlight, and his latest is Private Eye: The First 50 Years.
First broadcast on 18th November 2011.
Alex Cox is a film director, screenwriter, actor, and author. Among his features are Repo Man, Sid & Nancy, Walker, and Revengers Tragedy. Between 1998 and 1994 he hosted the BBC2 cult film series Moviedrome. He currently teaches film production and screenwriting at the University of Colorado. He is also the author of 10,000 Ways to Die: A Director's Take on the Spaghetti Western and most recently The President and The Provocateur: The Parallel Lives of JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald. Also this week, critic Miranda Sawyer on her love for the suppressed Rolling Stones documentary Cocksucker Blues.
First broadcast on 23rd November 2013.
Simon Ardizzone is a freelance editor and filmmaker living and working in the UK. Since graduating from the National Film and Television School in 1995, Simon has worked on over 50 films for English and American broadcasters. Hacking Democracy, his first documentary, co-produced and directed with Russell Michaels, was nominated for Outstanding Investigative Journalism at this year's Emmy Awards. Hacking Democracy which proved that vote-counting computers could reverse the results of an American election, was shown last year by HBO to widespread critical acclaim and has become a tool for election reform activists across the states.
Interview first broadcast on 7th December 2007.
Dr. Dennis C Reuter is a New Horizons co-investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the instrument scientist for Ralph, the New Horizons color imager and infrared spectrometer. New Horizons launched on 19 January 2006 and is scheduled to fly-by Pluto and its moons in July 2015. This is another interview recorded by Little Atoms for audio installation Mind's Eye,which will be coming to Manchester, Bristol and Bradford over the coming months.
Dr Hannah Fry is a mathematician and complexity scientist from University College London’s Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis. Fry also regularly presents the Number Hub strand of BBC Worldwide’s YouTube channel, and regularly appears on radio and tv in the UK, most recently Climate Change by Numbers on BBC4. Her first TED talk attracted more than 500,000 views and evolved into her first book, The Mathematics of Love.
Jon Ronson is an award-winning writer and documentary maker. He is the author of many bestselling books, including Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie, Lost at Sea: The Jon RonsonMysteries, The Psychopath Test, The Men Who Stare at Goats and Them: Adventures with Extremists. His first fictional screenplay, Frank, co-written with Peter Straughan, starred Michael Fassbender. Jon’s latest book is So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.
Salena Godden writes and performs poetry, fiction, memoir, radio drama and lyrics. Her latest book of poems, Fishing in the Aftermath, was published in 2014 by Burning Eye Books. She runs The Book Club Boutique, London's louchest literary salon, and is lead singer and lyricist of SaltPeter, alongside composer Peter Coyte. She can regularly be heard on Radio 4 and last year presented the documentary 'Try A Little Tenderness – The Lost Legacy of Little Miss Cornshucks'. Her literary memoir Springfield Road was recently published by Unbound.
Kate Hamer grew up in Pembrokeshire. She did a Creative Writing MA at Aberystwyth University and the Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course. She won the Rhys Davies short story award in 2011 and her winning story was read out on BBC Radio 4. She has recently been awarded a Literature Wales bursary. The Girl in the Red Coat is her first novel.
This week’s Little Atoms is a special edition recorded at FutureEverything 2015 in Manchester on 26 and 27 February 2015. The show features a long interview recorded live with writer, researcher and activist Alice Bell, and shorter interviews with FutureEverything CEO and founder Drew Hemment, Sonic Pi creator Sam Aaron, Hack Circus founder Leila Johnston and Data Artist Jer Thorp.
Arthur I. Miller is emeritus professor of history and philosophy of science at University College London. He is the author of several acclaimed books, including Einstein, Picasso, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Empire of the Stars, which was shortlisted for the 2006 Aventis Prize for Science Books, and 137, which we’re discussed on a previous Little Atoms. An experienced broadcaster, lecturer and biographer, he is particularly interested in the relationship between science and creativity, and his latest book is Colliding Worlds: How Cutting-Edge Science is Redefining Contemporary Art.
Late last year, Little Atoms took part in an audio installation, Mind’s Eye, which consisted of a number of interviews with scientists involved in current space missions.
Mind’s Eye is now on tour, and can been heard from 16 to 22 February as part of Smashfest UK at the Albany Theatre in Deptford. Here are two interviews recorded for this tour. Dr Shoshana Weider was a postdoctoral fellow on NASA’s Messenger mission to Mercury, and Dr Matt Taylor is currently Project Scientist on ESA’s Rosetta.
Greg Jenner is the historical consultant to CBBC's multi-award winning Horrible Histories,Horrible Histories with Stephen Fry, and the various HH spin-offs. As well as contributing sketches and co-writing Stephen Fry's links, over the past four years he has been solely responsible for the factual accuracy of nearly one thousand comedy sketches with subject matter that has spanned the entirety of human history.
Greg studied at the University of York and, after dropping initial plans for a life in academia, has worked on historical documentaries and dramas for the past seven years. Greg's first book is A Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Everyday Life from the Stone Age to the Phone Age.
J. Courtney Sullivan is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Commencement, Maine and The Engagements. Maine was named a Best Book of the Year by Time magazine, and a Washington Post Notable Book for 2011. The Engagements was one of People Magazine's Top Ten Books of 2013 and an Irish Times Best Book of the Year. It is soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon. Courtney's writing has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, New York magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Real Simple, and the New York Observer, among many others. She was a co-editor, with Courtney Martin, of the essay anthology Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists. Also this week, critic Robert Hanks talks about Comedians by Trevor Griffiths.
First broadcast on 18 January 2014.
“Everything that is done or written is done by someone who is half a chromosome away from being a chimpanzee. It’s not going to be any better than that.”
In this episode of Little Atoms, Christopher Hitchens explores the dangers of mans tendency towards religion and our attitudes to freedom. The ultimate fight, he argues, is against censorship.
Man created God, God didn’t create man. Hitchens describes this creation as an ineradicable problem that humanity cannot solve.
Religion takes advantage of our bad wiring and selfishness. We would be better off if we grew out of it, but until we give up wishful thinking and our fear of death, it is impossible”.
Although religion is an incurable affliction, Hitchens argues that western leaders must not dismiss the threat posed by it.
“The possible interception of messianic ideas with apocalyptic weaponry is increasingly something to be worried about.”
Our predisposition towards order and security undermines our struggle for liberty. For Hitchens, this explains why liberation struggles are so rare and so unsatisfactory.
“Most people, most of the time, have no great desire to be free. We would rather have the trouble of putting up with oppression rather than having the trouble of throwing it off.”
With the threat posed by religion and our apathy towards liberty, Hitchens believes the ultimate enemy we face is censorship. Hitchens argues that all things associated with enlightenment are worth dying for. He describes the struggle against censorship as “a fight that can be won but certainly one that cannot be lost”.
First broadcast 08/06/07
Julian Baggini is editor of The Philosophers' Magazine. His books include Atheism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP), What's It All About? Philosophy and the Meaning of Life (Granta) and The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten and 99 Other Thought Experiments (Granta), Welcome to Everytown: A Journey into The English Mind (Granta) and Complaint (Profile).
His journalism has appeared in publications such as the Guardian, Independent, Times Higher Education Supplement, Times Education Supplement and the Sunday Herald. He is frequently heard on BBC radio in programmes including In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg, Off the Page and Nightwaves.
Claudia Hammond is a writer, broadcaster and psychology lecturer. She is the voice of psychology on BBC Radio 4 where she is the presenter of All in the Mind and Mind Changers. She is also a part-time member of faculty at Boston University in London. She won the British Psychological Society's Public Engagement and Media Award in 2012, Mind's Making a Difference Award in 2011, the Society of Personality and Social Psychology's Media Achievement Award in 2012 and the Public Understanding of Neuroscience Award from the British Neuroscience Association in 2012. Claudia Hammond is the author of one previous book, Emotional Rollercoaster and in this interview we talk about her latest, Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception.
First broadcast on 9th August 2013.
Dr Cordelia Fine is an academic psychologist and writer. She is the author of A Mind of Its Own: How your brain distorts and deceives, and writes regularly for the press. She wrote the introduction for the Britannica Guide to the Brain, and her second book, Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Difference is now published.
Cordelia studied Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, followed by an M.Phil in Criminology at Cambridge University. She was awarded a Ph.D in Psychology from University College London. From 2002 to 2007 she was a Research Associate at Monash University, and then at the Australian National University. She is currently a Research Associate at the Centre for Agency, Values & Ethics at Macquarie University, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne.
First broadcast on 10th September 2010.