The Humanist Hour
Summary: A typical episode of the HH podcast features interviews, commentary, news, and music. Notable guests have included Sir Salman Rushdie, Prof. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, E.O. Wilson, Alan Dershowitz, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Andy Rooney, Greg Graffin of Bad Religion, Holly Near, Dar Williams and Julia Sweeney. The HH podcast is hosted and produced by Bo Bennett, PhD, from the American Humanist Association.
In this episode, Jenn Wilson introduces our new producer, Stephanie Zvan, and Kim Ellington talks to Frank Edwards, Ronald F. Murphy, Cheryl Abram, and Darrell Smith – authors who presented at the Black Nonbelievers fifth anniversary celebration in Atlanta last month. On January 16, 2016, Black Nonbelievers from all over gathered together in Atlanta to celebrate the organization’s five year anniversary. One of the day's panels focused on black atheist and humanist authors. Kim Ellington attended the anniversary celebration and took the opportunity to talk to these panelists. --- Frank Edwards is the author of the Jupiter Strong series, books designed for children and parents. The focus of this series was to showcase images of African people in dignifying terms and rebuild family values. From our series, children will learn critical thinking skills, self love, communal responsibility and have fun doing it! --- Ronald F. Murphy, one of three children born to Raymond and Catherine Murphy, was raised in the quiet town of Maplewood, New Jersey. Having parents as educators, his upbringing was layered with the clichéd notions that education is the key to a better future, and moreover a necessity for acceptance in our modern society. Thus, it was Mr. Murphy’s inquisitive nature and desire for learning that bred in him a healthy skepticism and ultimately led to his pragmatic search for answers to life’s biggest questions. --- Cheryl Abram was born in 1975 in Houma, Louisiana. She is a mother of four and currently lives in Northern Virginia. A graduate of the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. she holds a Master's degree in Social Work and a Master's of Science in Quality Systems Management. A life-long learner, Cheryl is an Army veteran working as a learning and development specialist in a federal government agency in Washington DC. Firing God is Cheryl's memoir of her "leap of doubt" that led her to fire God. --- Darrell Smith is an educator, author, writer, lecturer, and atheist advocate. When he came out atheist to his children, they told him he couldn't be an atheist because there were no black atheist. You Are Not Alone was Darrell's answer to that charge.
In this episode, Bo Bennett has a conversation with Dr. Michael Britt about the genre of books and programs known as “self-help,” a roughly $11 billion industry. As Bo says, the self-help movement is not much different from many religious movements, and, like many religions, self-help does have some good things to offer. The key is to be knowledgeable in this area and to think critically. Bo’s guest, Michael Britt, has a Ph.D. in psychology from The State University of New York at Albany (specialization in social and industrial/organizational psychology). He is an adjunct professor in psychology and runs the most popular psychology podcast, The Psych Files.
In this episode, Kim Ellington welcomes new Humanist Hour co-host Jenn Wilson to the podcast and they both speak with author Dr. Mark Smith about his new book, "Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics." Mark A. Smith provocatively argues that religion is not nearly the unchanging conservative influence in American politics that we have come to think it is. In fact, in the long run, religion is best understood as responding to changing political and cultural values rather than shaping them. Smith makes his case by charting five contentious issues in America’s history: slavery, divorce, homosexuality, abortion, and women’s rights. For each, he shows how the political views of even the most conservative Christians evolved in the same direction as the rest of society—perhaps not as swiftly, but always on the same arc. During periods of cultural transition, Christian leaders do resist prevailing values and behaviors, but those same leaders inevitably acquiesce—often by reinterpreting the Bible—if their positions become no longer tenable. Secular ideas and influences thereby shape the ways Christians read and interpret their scriptures.
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington speak with Associate Professor of Sociology Ryan T. Cragun about the sociology of religion. Are religious people more generous than the non-religious? Smarter? Better looking? (Actually, we don’t ask that last one) Ryan T. Cragun is a husband, father, and sociologist of religion (in order of importance). Originally from Utah, he now lives in Florida and works at the University of Tampa. His research and writing focuses on religion, with an emphasis on Mormonism and the nonreligious. His research has been published in a variety of academic journals, including: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Sociology of Religion, Nova Religio, Journal of Religion and Health, and Journal of Contemporary Religion. When he's not working, he's spending time with his wife and son, watching science fiction, hiking, playing soccer, or tinkering with FOSS, Gnu/Linux, or computer hardware. Cragun is the author of two books: What You Don’t Know About Religion (but Should) (2013), and How to Defeat Religion in 10 Easy Steps: A Toolkit for Secular Activists (2015).
In this episode, Kim Ellington speaks with author and activist Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson about her latest book, "White Nights, Black Paradise", and the state of race in America today. Later, Peggy Knudtson speaks with Dr. Richard Carrier about the “evidence” of miracles. Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson is an American feminist, atheist and author. She is the author of "Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels" (2013), "Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars" (2011), and "Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles (Travel Writing Across the Disciplines)" (2003). Moral Combat is the first book on atheism to be published by an African-American woman. In 2013 she was named Secular Woman of the year. Dr. Richard Carrier is a world-renowned author and speaker. As a professional historian, published philosopher, and prominent defender of the American freethought movement, Dr. Carrier has appeared across the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and on American television and London radio, defending sound historical methods and the ethical worldview of secular naturalism.
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Peggy Knudtson speak with author Dr. Daniel Everett. Dr. Everett is an American author and academic best known for his study of the Amazon Basin's Pirahã people and their language. He serves as Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Daniel L. (Dan) Everett holds a ScD and a Masters of Linguistics from the Universidade Estadual in Campinas (UNICAMP), both based upon years of field research among the Pirahã people of the Brazilian Amazon jungle. He taught as an instructor and later Assistant Professor at UNI-CAMP, 1981-1986, until leaving Brazil to return to the USA. He next was appointed full professor of linguistics and anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh, where he also chaired the Department of Linguistics until 1999. At that time, Dan moved to the Amazon to live the majority of the next three years in the jungle among the Pirahãs. He left the jungle when the University of Manchester, England, offered him the position of Professor of Phonetics and Phonology.
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Peggy Knudtson speak with comedian Stewart Huff about the joys and pains of performing liberal, secular comedy across the country, especially in places that aren’t so, well… liberal or secular. Stewart Huff was born in Campbellsville, Kentucky and grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. He has been performing comedy for over 15 years, beginning when he decided to drop out of college to become a writer. Currently touring theatres, comedy clubs and special events across the country, Huff reaches past the norm for his genuine — and genuinely unexpected — comedy. His knack for embracing the foibles of humanity and his refreshing originality make him as likeable as he is hilarious. A storyteller at heart, Huff continues to amaze with his clever material and personal wit. Huff has performed in comedy clubs nationally and internationally, including the Improv in Los Angeles and New York, the Punchline in Atlanta and the Funny Bone in Omaha, as well as countless others. A finalist in the 2006 Boston Comedy Festival, Huff was also invited to perform in the HBO Las Vegas Festival, where his act can be viewed on pay-per-view. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his girlfriend. There he drops off the various items he collects while on the road, including an antique barber chair, countless vintage photographs, and an extensive collection of LP’s. She likes this. He is featured in the documentary Road Comics: Big Work on Small Stages, which was released in Fall 2009.
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington speak with Mark W. Gura, a Secular Buddhist, humanist, and freethinker. They talk about a “woo-free” version of mediation and spirituality. Mark W. Gura has more than 20 years of experience in practicing mindfulness meditation. He is the Executive Director of the nonprofit Association of Mindfulness Meditation and Secular Buddhism. He is also an atheist, humanist, freethinker and practitioner of vipassana, a mindfulness meditation technique that was developed more than 2,500 years ago and does not require faith in gurus, religion, God(s), or the supernatural.
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Peggy Knudtson speak with author James A, Lindsay about his new book, Everybody is Wrong About God. Later, Kim Ellington speaks with Derek Colanduno, director of the Skeptical track at DragonCon. James A. Lindsay is an author and outspoken atheist voice who holds degrees in physics and mathematics, including a doctorate in the latter. Motivated by a love of knowledge and learning, along with his life experience of growing up and living in the Southeastern United States--on the buckle of the Bible Belt, as they say--he writes and speaks in an attempt to clarify our religious and cultural landscape and by doing so to help heal the related harms.
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington interview Dr. David Kyle Johnson about his new book, "The Myths that Stole Christmas: Seven Misconceptions that Hijacked the Holiday (and How We Can Take It Back)". Later, Humanist Hour correspondent Patty Traynor interviews Kevin Davis, executive director of Young Skeptics. Dr. David Kyle Johnson is an associate professor of philosophy at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and is also a professor for The Great Courses. His courses include Exploring Metaphysics (2014) and The Big Questions of Philosophy (2016). In addition to being the author of The Myths that Stole Christmas, he also blogs for Psychology Today, has written and edited extensively for Wiley-Blackwell’s Philosophy and Pop Culture series, and has a popular Authors@Google talk on the movie Inception. He has published work in journals such as Religious Studies, Sophia, Philo, Think, and Science, Religion and Culture regarding metaphysics and philosophy of religion. Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor at DividedUnderGod.com, and the author of "Understanding an Atheist: A Practical Guide to Relating to Nonbelievers", a book aimed at improving relationships between the religious and their atheist loved ones.
In this episode, Bo Bennett speaks with Dr. Abby Hafer live, in studio, about her new book, "The Not-So-Intelligent Designer: Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not." Dr. Hafer is a speaker, writer, and humorist who particularly loves taking about Intelligent Design & Creationism, the politics surrounding them, and science denialism in general. A few years ago she realized that Intelligent Design is a political pressure group, not a scientific issue. With this figured out, she realized that what we need are political-style arguments in defense of evolution. Her presentations contain bulletproof science, and she uses humor to puncture bad arguments. Crucial questions are raised, such as, “Why do men's testicles have such a bad location?” and, “Who does God like better, us—or squid?” She finds that once she mentions testicles, everybody pays attention. Dr. Hafer has given talks at the American Humanist Association’s Annual Conferences in 2009 and 2011, and at the American Atheists' 50th Anniversary Conference in 2013. She has a doctorate in zoology from Oxford University, and teaches human anatomy and physiology at Curry College in Milton, MA.
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington interview Amanda Knief, the National Legal and Public Policy Director for American Atheists, touching on several issues relating to law and politics. Later, correspondent Gina James interviews Joe Dougherty about the militarization of American law enforcement and the psychological effect it can have on police officers and civilians. Amanda Knief is a public policy and constitutional expert on religious freedom and civil liberties. She is the author of The Citizen Lobbyist: A How-to Manual for Making Your Voice Heard in Government. Knief has a JD from Drake University Law School and a BS in journalism and science communication from Iowa State University. She has previously worked as a legal counsel and legislative drafter for the Iowa Legislature and the lobbyist for the Secular Coalition for America. Currently, she serves as the National Legal and Public Policy Director for American Atheists, where she directs policy advocacy, legal strategy, and serves and In-House Counsel.
In this episode, Bo Bennett teams up with guest co-host Peggy Knudtson at FREEFLO in Orlando, Florida for a live Humanist Hour recording. They begin with Woo Jeopardy, featuring an all-star panel of contestants including Matt Dillahunty, Seth Andrews, and Sarah Morehead. Keep listening for a religious jokes contest followed by a “wackiest beliefs” contest! FREEFLO is the annual conference of the Florida Humanist Association.
In this episode, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington speak with Dr. Peter Boghossian about the “Regressive Left,” safe spaces, trigger warnings, and what appears to be an alarming change in American university culture. Dr. Peter Boghossian’s main focus is bringing the tools of professional philosophers to people in a wide variety of contexts. Peter has a teaching pedigree spanning more than 20 years and 30 thousand students – in prisons, hospitals, public and private schools, seminaries, colleges and universities, Fortune 100 companies, and small businesses. His fundamental objective is to teach people how to think through what often seem to be intractable problems. Dr. Boghossian’s primary research areas are critical thinking and moral reasoning. His doctoral research studies, funded by the State of Oregon and supported by the Oregon Department of Corrections, consisted of using the Socratic method to help prison inmates to increase their critical thinking and moral reasoning abilities and to increase their desistance to criminal behavior.
In this episode, Bo Bennett speaks with Guy P. Harrison about his latest book, Good Thinking: What You Need to Know to be Smarter, Safer, Wealthier, and Wiser. Later, Peggy Knudtson speaks with Dr. Jeffrey Jarman at The Skeptics of Oz conference about the art and science of debate. Guy P. Harrison has held numerous positions in the news industry, including editorial writer, world news editor, sports editor, photographer, page designer, and columnist. He is a veteran travel writer, having visited and written about more than 25 countries on five continents. He has also had some very rewarding jobs teaching history and science to bright kids.Guy holds a degree in history and anthropology from the University of South Florida. He has won many awards for his writing, including the World Health Organization Award for Health Reporting and the Commonwealth Media Award for Excellence in Journalism. Dr. Jeffrey Jarman teaches courses in strategic communications at Wichita State University’s Elliott School of Communication, including communication analysis and criticism, argumentation and advocacy, and various seminars on political communication.