show episodes
 
Each episode, long-time worldbuilding duo Lauren Harris and Adryn Erickson pair with Farm to Taber's plant medicine PhD, Dr. Sarah Taber to interview experts on topics like Ancient Trade Routes or 3D Printing in Space, then use what they learned to brainstorm a sci-fi or fantasy world listeners can use and make their own.
 
Point of Inquiry is the Center for Inquiry's flagship podcast, where the brightest minds of our time sound off on all the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: science, religion, and politics. Guests have included Brian Greene, Susan Jacoby, Richard Dawkins, Ann Druyan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Eugenie Scott, Adam Savage, Bill Nye, and Francis Collins. Point of Inquiry is produced at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, N.Y.
 
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show series
 
What does it mean to be alive? Does life have a clear definition? On this week's episode, Carl Zimmer joins host Jim Underdown to discuss his new book, Life's Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive to help answer those questions. Can we clearly define what it means to be alive? Scientists have been struggling with this question for centurie…
 
Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God who walked the Earth as a human being. Some Atheists believe none of the God bits but that there was a man named Jesus who did exist. There is also an ever growing community who believe Jesus did not exist at all. Not as the son of God nor as a man. On today's episode we speak to someone with evidenc…
 
On today's episode we introduce the show's new guest host, Julia Sweeney and her interview with author David G. McAfee on his new book, Hi, I'm an Atheist!: What That Means and How to Talk About It with Others. McAfee and Sweeney speak about the new book, how it helped Sweeney get back in touch with her atheism roots, his journey being raised in a …
 
In which Lauren, Adryn, Sarah, and special guest Susan Martinez of NASA create a science-fantasy world involving questionable solar mining practices, wizard cloning, a sidebar into Adryn's brain boner for Dyson spheres, and a potential foray into space piracy.By Lauren Harris, Adryn Erickson, Sarah Taber, Susie Martinez
 
Throughout the modern world trust in science has continued to erode at dangerous speeds. From anti-vaxxers to climate change deniers, there is an ever growing movement of people that deny science at the peril of us all. The shift towards a public with increasing lack of scientific literacy and critical-thinking skills combined with the proliferatio…
 
In which Lauren, Adryn, and Sarah thinly conceal their excitement at having a NASA Additive Manufacturing Engineer on the show, space radishes make a comeback, and the story of Food Safety's advent has its gut-rumbling beginnings in a shitty little story that put Pilsbury on the....F.O.D. map.By Lauren Harris, Adryn Erickson, Sarah Taber, Susie Martinez
 
It’s a rare person indeed who can trick and amaze people on one hand while reassuring them that what they are experiencing is not real. Meet Banacek. He’s not only an illusionist, magician, mentalist extraordinaire, he’s a skeptic’s skeptic who for decades has been instrumental in exposing fraud and deception. In this episode of Point of Inquiry, J…
 
In which Adryn finds a new way to annoy Lauren, and Sarah describes the advent of electric reefs (spoilers: it has to do with oil rigs), what makes current breakwater construction ineffective, and why municipalities are so hesitant to adopt electric reefs as protection for their coastlines. It's like no one told them electric reefs are the tits!…
 
Have you ever been curious about what other people believe in or how they navigate the ethical challenges of life? Ancient philosophy was partly used as a way to better understand the best way to live life. In this episode of Point of Inquiry, Jim Underdown talks to two of the editors of How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Ph…
 
A question on the minds of many theists and non-theists alike is why are so many Americans leaving religion and becoming religiously unaffiliated? What are the underlying factors causing this shift? In today's episode we dive into what the data shows about this movement with Ryan Burge, author of the new book The Nones: Where They Came From, Who Th…
 
In the June/July issue of Free Inquiry, today's guest Greg Paul makes the case that a loving God cannot possibly exist next to all the suffering and death, children have had to endure throughout human history. In his piece, he claims this fact has the, "...potential to accelerate the already rapid decline of the illusion that is theism." On today's…
 
The Center for Inquiry Investigations Group tests extraordinary claims from anyone who believes they have paranormal or supernatural abilities like telekinesis, mind reading, and many otherworldly talents. The group offers a $250,000 prize for anyone able to prove a paranormal ability under mutually agreed upon test conditions. The group then repor…
 
Annabelle Gurwitch is an award-winning actress, comedian, and writer. She's also a secular humanist and a skeptic, though that hasn't always been the case -- at least not the skeptic part. On this episode Annabelle speaks with host, Jim Underdown about her beliefs, her new book, life as a performer, new age religions and cults, and dealing with adv…
 
The Story Soil trio and guest host, herbalist Isaac Vars, brainstorm a science fiction world involving herby space monks. So, basically, Isaac. Listen in for the process of going from information to inspiration to full-on idea as we build the bones of a sci-fi system and religious group you can take and make your own.…
 
David Javerbaum is the guest on this week's episode of Point of Inquiry. David discusses his early writing career and his current gig as God. David discusses starting out with The Onion and what it was like working with David Letterman, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert. As former head writer and producer on the Daily Show, David gives his insights …
 
Ever want to know what a trained herbalist would keep in his saddle bag, or how he might poison an evil witch king? In this episode, Lauren, Adryn, and Sarah interview their first guest--herbalist and spiritual cunning man, Isaac Vars of Deep Earth Arts and the Three of Cups Podcast.By Story Soil Podcast, Isaac Vars
 
Have you wondered what it's like to get caught up in a conspiracy theory? QAnon, the 9/11 truth movement, lizard people who want to take over the world. What does it take for rational humans to believe such outstandingly irrational beliefs? In this week's episode, Leighann Lord speaks to Stephanie Kemmerer about her personal journey falling in and …
 
Crop scientist Dr. Sarah Taber explains how ancient Amazonians terraformed their cities and utilized agroforestry, and what this form of land management looks like for authors who want to make unique farming systems for their worlds that aren't based on the familiar Eurocentric paradigm.By Lauren Harris
 
Worldbuilding with Experts for Authors of Scifi and Fantasy Adryn and Lauren create a science fiction world inspired by the discussion on how plants grow in microgravity, while Sarah goes deeper into topics like bubbles as pollinators and why ethylene causes plants to act out Shakespearean death scenes.…
 
Crop scientist Dr. Sarah Taber answers questions about whether plants can grow in space, while fantasy author Lauren Harris and story builder Adryn Erickson interrogate her for all the details an SFF author could use for worldbuilding. Gamma-ray eating Hulk fungus is involved.By Lauren Harris, Adryn Erickson, Sarah Taber
 
An Atheist and a Christian Walk Into a Bar | Overcoming Differences America is as polarized as it's been in decades as our citizenry draws lines in the sand over a variety of issues. Friends and family who hold different political or religious persuasions may find it hard to impossible to hold civil conversation together. One friendship hasn't suff…
 
Calling all worldbuilders! My name is Lauren Harris, a fantasy author and cohost of the Story Soil Podcast. If you’re a willing victim of the Wikipedia rabbit hole like me, chances are you love the story inspo of history, science, and anything obscure or shiny. Well, on story soil, my 20-year co-author, a rogue scientist, and I interview experts on…
 
Christmas in 2020 will be unlike any other in recent history due to COVID 19. Nevertheless, Christians around the world will be finding ways to celebrate the birth of Christ. On this episode of Point of Inquiry, Jim speaks to Tom Flynn, editor of Free Inquiry magazine and author of The Trouble With Christmas. Affectionately known as the Anti-Claus,…
 
In 1997 Jim produced and directed a short documentary called “A Day in the Life of Frank Sinatra” that was an exploration of what it was like to be a homeless man with a famous name. Twenty three years later, Frank Sinatra is recently off the streets, lives in a government-funded camper in Los Angeles, and is trying to live a normal life. In this e…
 
What does the Puritan founder of both the state of Rhode Island and the Baptist Church have to say about modern evangelicals? Roger Williams had certain ideas that didn't fit into 17th century England or its American colonies. Freedom of conscience, separation of church and crown, fair treatment of indigenous peoples, and supporting the rights of w…
 
Author J.R. Becker joins Leighann Lord in this episode of Point of Inquiry to speak about his book series, Annabelle & Aiden. The series is a pro-science children's book series that explores science, philosophy, and critical thinking. Their conversation dives into: What inspired Becker to write the series How the books teach critical thinking and a…
 
Screenwriter and author Chris Matheson joins Jim in this episode which touches on the recently released Bill & Ted Face the Music, then dives deeply into Matheson's two comedic books on the Bible and the Buddha. In his The Story of God, Chris gets into the mind of what must be an insane and sadistic deity by using the Bible itself to retell the sto…
 
The recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has left many shaken. A few weeks prior to her passing, Leighann Lord had the opportunity to speak with Rev. Barry Lynn, former executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the Constitution’s religious liberty provisions.…
 
One professor is using social media to remind us that physics is the real magic of the universe. Through showing off his massive collection of science gadgets and physics toys, Dr. Raymond Hall is teaching many, young and old, the wonderful world of physics and how everyday phenomena is just science in action. In this episode of Point of Inquiry, D…
 
Would you rather have your children looking at QAnon conspiracy Youtubers or porn online? That's a question author Erin Louis has had to confront with her teenage son. How do you employ critical thinking, media literacy, and a skeptical mindset in the every day world to make a real impact. In this episode of Point of Inquiry, Erin Louis joins Leigh…
 
The names Jim Jones, L.Ron Hubbard, David Koresh, and Sun Myung Moon might come to mind when someone uses the term cult leader. Many have suggested that Donald Trump falls into the category. But does Trump himself truly qualify as a cult leader? Can Trump's followers be correctly described as a cult? In this episode of Point of Inquiry, Steven Hass…
 
In this episode of Point of Inquiry, co-host Leighann Lord talks with professor, writer, and humanist Dr. Anthony Pinn. Lord and Pinn discuss the power and persistence of magical thinking as we face the current pandemic, the role of the church at a time when science is so important, Black Lives Matter and Pinn's opinion on struggle and progress, ho…
 
Looming over the sidewalk of Hollywood, California are tens of millions of dollars of buildings owned by the Church of Scientology. This beleaguered religion may have had a decade of bad PR, but they still own a substantial amount of real estate in California and Florida. In this week's episode of Point of Inquiry, Jim Underdown decided to ride his…
 
A short drive south of Cincinnati, OH, lie two well-funded, well-executed museums dedicated to the telling of biblical "history." The Creation Museum and the Ark Experience came about through Answers in Genesis, a Christian Apologetics organization, and its founder and CEO, Ken Ham. While the modern science-based community always found fault in the…
 
In this episode of Point of Inquiry, cohost Leighann Lord talks with famous skeptic and Assistant Professor of Neurology, Steven Novella, MD. Novella is also the founder and current Executive Editor of Science-Based Medicine which explores issues and controversies between science and medicine and works to expose dangerous medical scams and practice…
 
In this episode of Point of Inquiry, cohost Leighann Lord talks with fellow comic Ian Harris. Besides being a comedian, Harris is a voice actor, writer, director, and MMA trainer. He is also an outspoken atheist and skeptic who confronts magical thinking and religion in his comedy. In 2019, Leighann Lord and Harris joined forces and performed their…
 
On this week's episode, Leighann Lord speaks with Mandisa Thomas, president of Black Nonbelievers. Black Nonbelievers connect with other Black folks and allies who have chosen to live without religion. They serve as a community for those who have been otherwise shunned by family and friends. From the Black Nonbelievers' website, "Instead of accepti…
 
Kurt Andersen is the author of the novels Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (2017), True Believers (2012), Heyday (2007), and Turn of the Century (1999). He's also written for film, television, and the stage and is the former host and co-creator of the Peabody Award winning Studio 360, a weekly radio show about arts and cult…
 
Coronavirus continues to infect more and more people around the world. As the number of infected grows so does the misinformation surrounding the virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. From fake and explicitly dangerous cures, like drinking bleach to folklorish myths and conspiracies on the origins of the virus, institutions like the CDC and th…
 
Can our memories be trusted if they are easily manipulated by suggestions? Where is the line between repressed memories that bubble up to the surface and false memories that never existed? In this week's episode, Jim Underdown speaks to Professor Elizabeth Loftus on what happens in the courtroom when a person's memory of events are a result of sugg…
 
Where does the separation of church and state stand with a conservative majority in the Supreme Court? The short answer: not great. In this week's episode, Jim Underdown speaks to CFI board member, lawyer, atheist, and human rights activist, Eddie Tabash on how the Founding Fathers viewed religion and law, the religious ties of the newest Supreme C…
 
James Sterba is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, USA. His book, Is a Good God Logically Possible? deals with the Argument from Evil and whether a God who is all good and all powerful is logically compatible in a world where moral and natural evil exists. Sterba sits down with Underdown to discuss the arguments for and agains…
 
Ian Ruskin is a producer, writer, actor and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He has starred in theatre, television, and film in both the UK and the US. He has written and performed in various one man plays, From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks which details the life of Australian-born American union leader, Harry Bridges and…
 
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