Monday, February 19, 2018

Rob Riggle On Reading The Bible

Opening to a random page of the Bible is not for the faint of heart.

Pete Holmes and "The Pete Holmes Show."

Monday, February 5, 2018

World Religions Through Their Scriptures

The texts of the world's major religions have impact throughout all of human experience. Join professors from across Harvard as they discuss those texts during an event coinciding with the launch of HDS's new online course, "World Religions Through Their Scriptures."

The course is Harvard Divinity School's second massive open online course offered through the edX platform. Led by HDS Senior Lecturer Diane Moore, director of the Religious Literacy Project, the course will be taught by six faculty members and launched March 1, 2016.

Learn more about Harvard Divinity School and its mission to illuminate, engage, and serve at

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Why Skepticism Is the Right Approach to the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia

Bear with us for a second, but do you know the Belinda Carlisle song "Heaven is a Place on Earth"? It's actually scientifically accurate. American public intellectual Michael Shermer says that any idea of the afterlife makes zero sense: your mind and therefore your memories are beholden to your body and that any version of you that made it into heaven, should there actually be one, would just be a copy of you and unable to register that they were actually in heaven.

Likewise, should you be able to scan your brain and "live forever" by being uploaded to a body in the future, it still wouldn't be you, just a copy. Confused? The explanation makes more sense from the mouth of Shermer himself... writing the theory behind multiple you's living in various timelines gets a little too Back to the Future... another sweet '80s reference if we do say so ourselves.

Michael Shermer: Well, Heavens on Earth was something of an extension of my previous books, I have not covered the afterlife in any kind of detail from my previous books on the paranormal, the supernatural, religion, God, morality—and so this was sort of a natural extension of “well if you’re skeptical of all these other things what about the afterlife?” and my standard one liner is: “I’m for it.”

But the fact that I’m for it doesn’t make it true, in fact if anything the more passionately we want something to be true the more skeptical we should be of our own beliefs because we know how powerful these cognitive biases are to lead us to want to find evidence for what we already want to be true.

So I really kind of went in search of just all the standard religious theories of the afterlife and heaven. I go through the big three monotheisms, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and right there all of them have a history in the sense of all the different versions that there are of the afterlife and heaven and they’re quite different histories than say if you read a history of cosmology, which sort of shows a progression from the ancients through the scientific revolution, through the early modern period all the way up to today of us getting closer and closer to an understanding of the real nature of the cosmos.

But there’s nothing like that in religious histories of the afterlife, they’re all scattershot: this theory, this theory; there’s no sense of progress.

So that alone tells us that these are culturally determined, geographically located. like reincarnation, the belief that we come back in this world, our souls somehow migrate into other bodies: Why do they seem to hover all those souls in this subcontinent of India? There’s very few other places around the world where the souls seem to go. That’s an indication that these things are not real out there in the real world sense but real inside people’s heads as determined by their cultures.

But the core of Heavens on Earth really is the scientific search for the afterlife. And so this is what I do science writing and research and scientific areas, believe it or not this is no longer a fringe idea, this idea that we could live forever.

There are scientists today who say that the first person to live 1000 years is alive today. Okay I’m skeptical, but still these aren’t fringe nuts, these are billionaires like Peter Thiel, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, the Google guys Larry and Sergey have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in this company Calico, Ray Kurzweil is their chief engineer who believes in the singularity. So this whole idea of radical life extension, cryonics, trans humanism, the singularity, “we’re going to upload our minds into a computer,” these form the core center of my book and why I’m skeptical, why really all of us should be skeptical.

Because first, although it’s not impossible that these researchers and scientists are wrong, it’s just very unlikely, because the problems of say duplicating your soul whatever that would be, in science that would be your pattern of information—your genome—and then the equivalent of that, your “connect-ome,” that is the tracings of all your memories everything that’s you, this is their theory, you copy it and you upload it into a computer.

Let’s say you have it backed up every night when you die, you just put it into a clone or inside a computer or something like that. That’s the idea. And I think the underestimation of the complexity of the problem is orders of magnitude off. We are not even close to doing anything like this. I mean Ray Kurzweil projects 2040 is the singularity and after that we might be able to live forever. How is that going to happen, and who is the we? So then I have a chapter on “Who are we? Who are you? What does it mean to be you?”

Why Skepticism Is the Right Approach to the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia | Michael Shermer

Big Think, October 2017

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Stephen Lie-Checks Trump's Climate Change Claim

President Donald Trump crammed an impressive amount of nonsense about climate change into a single run-on falsehood.

"Fun fact. Nothing he (Donald Trump) said there is a fact. All lies."

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, January 2018

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Clip from a bonus feature included in Volume Three of The Complete QI DVD Box Set: An animated guide to the philosophy behind QI, narrated by the show's creator John Lloyd.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Qi Series O: Episode 12 XL

Sandi Toksvig looks into the occult. With Aisling Bea, Russell Brand, Noel Fielding and Alan Davies.

Qi Series O: Episode 12 XL

BBC 2018

Saturday, January 20, 2018

How religion turned American politics against science | Kurt Andersen

In the last 30 years religion has radicalized American politics and seriously harmed the perception of science, says journalist and author Kurt Andersen. This can be directly tied to the rise of the Christian Right in the 20th century.

To see this, you only have to look at the response to the same question posed to Republican presidential candidates over three election cycles, from 2008 to 2016: "Do you believe in Darwinian biological evolution?"

In 2008, the majority answered yes. In 2012, there were notably less. In 2016? There was only one of 17 candidates who said he did—Jeb Bush, and even he began to backpedal as he answered.

"I don’t believe all those people believed what they said," says Andersen, "I don’t think all of them disbelieve in evolution, just some of them—but they were all obliged to say 'yes' to falsehood and magical thinking of this religious kind, and that’s where it becomes problematic."

From climate change to Creationism and outright conspiracy theories, Andersen points to how the Republican party has come to increasingly incorporate fantasy and wishful untruths into its approach to social, economic, and foreign policy—and it's turning America into an anti-science spectacle. Kurt Andersen is the author of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire.

How religion turned American politics against science | Kurt Andersen

Friday, January 19, 2018

QI Unaired: Why do people still believe in bronze age mythology?

Alan Davis and Stephen Fry get all worked up over how so many people still believe in bronze age mythology.

Allan Davis is much more on point than Stephen Fry.

Stephen Fry is just angry about people jugde him for being gay.

This excerpt was cut from QI series B, episode 4 (Bible). The panellists are Jeremy Clarkson, Barry Cryer, Jeremy Hardy, and of course Alan Davies.

QI Unaired: Why do people still believe in bronze age mythology?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Richard Dawkins and Dave Rubin: Live

In an era of fake news, “truthiness” and outright lies, Richard Dawkins has an urgent message for the world: we need reason and science now more than ever before.

****** Richard Dawkins
Evolutionary Biologist and Author

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Richard Dawkins and Dave Rubin: Live at the 92nd Street Y
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