Show 296: Personal Responsibility and Society w/ Dr. Les Garwood

Personal Responsibility and Society w/ Dr. Les Garwood

In addition to having a deep distrust of government, those who oppose health care being extended to the uninsured will often express utter disgust for people who they see as “refusing” to take responsibility for themselves. Welfare to them is not about caring for the citizenry of the country, but the way the State babies and pampers to the “lazy” and “irresponsible.” Indeed, “personal responsibility” seems to be at the foundation of American Conservatism and R-Libertarianism, both often tied to an almost pathological “rugged individualism.”

But “personal responsibility” is a term widely used, but not often really understood…even by those few who agree with the idea that our behaviors are completely determined…who seem to embrace traditional ideas of “holding people responsible” and “keeping people in line” with punishment and rewards. Continue reading “Show 296: Personal Responsibility and Society w/ Dr. Les Garwood”

Show 289: “On Human Nature and the Potential for Peace”

“On Human Nature and the Potential for Peace” w/ Anthropologist Douglas Fry

This program aired in honor of Universal Peace Day!

A few weeks ago on Equal Time for Freethought, Arnell Dowret interviewed two social scientists and a bio-engineer on the validity and importance of social science – what it can tell us about human nature, whether or not it was a rigorous enough a science to inform us on how to develop healthier societies, and if all the recent attacks on it by skeptics, evolutionary psychologists, and indeed some social scientists, have been deserved or not.  It is perhaps not unreasonable to suggest that by the end of the program, the validity of the social sciences had been fairly proven – with all due respect to the bio-engineer participant.

Still, if my experience discussing social science and human nature – particularly with regards to violence, warlike behavior, authoritarianism and selfishness – with scientifically and politically serious people on Facebook is any indication on where many people today stand on the validity of social science… things look weak at best for those defending sciences like sociology, anthropology and psychology.

And while I have found, without much surprise, that most people who reject social science tend to be political centrists, conservatives or r-libertarians, I have also found what seems to be a deep suspicion of the merits of these sciences even from those left of center. – Barry F. Seidman

Douglas P. Fry teaches in the Faculty of Social and Caring Sciences at Abo Akademi University in Finland and is an adjunct research scientist in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology at the University of Arizona. A renowned anthropologist and a leading authority on aggression, conflict, and conflict resolution, he has worked in this field for over twenty-five years and has published many articles and books on this subject. His latest text is ‘Beyond War: The Human Potential For Peace.’

This program aired on WBAI on July 26th and August 2nd, but the full audio can be found here!

Show 287: Social Science Under Fire

Is Social Science bunk?

Were Stanley Milgram’s “Obedience Experiments,” and Philip Zimbardo’s “Stanford Prison Experiments,” unscientific and immoral?

Is Social Science even science?

Join us as ETFF focuses in on questions such as these with three extraordinary guests for this one hour special presentation!

Challenging the value and accuracy of the social scientific enterprise will be Dr. Barbara Oakley, author of “Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend.” Dr. Oakley has been doing interviews (including for the Center For Inquiry’s podcast, ‘Point of Inquiry’), attacking social science and some of its seminal studies.

Standing up for social science in general will be Dean of Social Sciences and University Professor of the Social Sciences at New York University, Dr. Dalton Conley.  And back with us for a second time to address criticisms regarding his Stanford Prison Experiment will be Social Science legend, Dr. Philip Zimbardo.

The Sequel to this program can be found here!

Special Repeat: An Interview with Alfie Kohn

Special Re-airing of an Interview with Alfie Kohn

Beyond the majority of narrow faith-based and traditional thinking about want motivates humans to learn about, and contribute to the world around them, what we find is that much of the way we presently educate and raise our children is based on beliefs that are simply false.

The traditional beliefs upon which we’ve built our entire system of education assume that unless children are threatened and/or bribed into learning they would never become able to contribute what society needs from them. The evidence however challenges this cynical view and suggests that human beings are natural learners born with an intrinsic drive to know their world around them and to contribute to it.

Despite this, in schools and homes everywhere, teachers and parents utilize ever intensifying extrinsic means of motivation – punishments and rewards – such as high stakes testing and cash incentives. The consequence of using such tactics is that we are disconnecting children from their natural inclination to be curious about their world – and greatly diminishing their chances of ever experiencing one of the most important benchmarks of living a fulfilling life – the life long joy of loving to learn.

Continue reading “Special Repeat: An Interview with Alfie Kohn”

Show 253b: A Victory for Vengeance?: America’s Methods of Domination; Part Two

A Victory for Vengeance?: America’s Methods of Domination; Part Two

For more than 30 years now, the United States has taken a turn to the Right in how we organize our society. Prison populations have skyrocketed, prison sentences and anti-crime laws have become more and more draconian, torture has been used at home and abroad in the name of security, and the state has tightened its noose around those of us not in the upper classes… especially non-whites and the poor. Why has this occurred? What role has the rise in political Christianity played in the push for far right policies? Are there underlying reasons for this sad state of affairs beyond religion and the conservative politics of the Reagan/Bush era that are not even being talked about? And what can we do to make America more democratic, egalitarian and humanistic?

These are the questions we asked of journalists’ Sasha Abramsky, author of American Furies: Crime, Punishment and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment and Kristian Williams, author of American Methods: Torture and the Logic of Domination and Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America.

Show 206a: Noam Chomsky – “Chomsky on Humanism”

Listen to more Chomsky here! 

Noam Chomsky has been a leading intellectual of the Left for more than 35 years, and has written about, and spoke to, a variety of issues including capitalist economics, the nation-state – focusing on an extensive critique of the powers that be and the policies of the United States – education, socialism, war and peace and anarchism. He began his career in the study of language and is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar, considered to be one of the most significant contributions to the field of linguistics made in the 20th Century. He is currently the Institute Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Recently, Professor Chomsky, author of over 30 books of science and of politics, has been the subject of an interview (along with Gilbert Achcar) by New Jersey based political scientist Stephen Shalom in the book titled, “Perilous Power: The Middle East and US Foreign Policy.” In this book, he discuses, among other things, the resurgence of religious fundamentalism in both the Middle East and within this country, and offers some perspective on what might be the cause(s) of the trend.

Also, in a recent interview in the Humanist, the flagship magazine of the American Humanist Association, Professor Chomsky continues his analysis of religious fundamentalism as well as talks about other issues at the core of the humanist worldview.

Continue reading “Show 206a: Noam Chomsky – “Chomsky on Humanism””

Show 193: Darwin Day Special: David Buller

Darwin Day Special: Adapting Minds:Evolutionary Psychology and the Persistent Quest for Human Nature

From the Publisher:

Was human nature designed by natural selection in the Pleistocene epoch? The dominant view in evolutionary psychology holds that it was — that our psychological adaptations were designed tens of thousands of years ago to solve problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. In this provocative and lively book, David Buller examines in detail the major claims of evolutionary psychology — the paradigm popularized by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate and by David Buss in The Evolution of Desire — and rejects them all. This does not mean that we cannot apply evolutionary theory to human psychology, says Buller, but that the conventional wisdom in evolutionary psychology is misguided.

Continue reading “Show 193: Darwin Day Special: David Buller”

Show 186a: Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior

Humanism requires unselfish behavior and human cooperation for it to relevant to the future of human society.  It has become popular – perhaps as a backlash to the 1960s liberal strides – to think of humans as selfish, greedy and uber-competitive… A Hobbesian take on human nature which has been promoted to justify dangerous economic systems such as capitalism, as well as authoritarian fascist states such as the Bush Administration has been taking us toward.

Some scientists such as Richard Dawkins, Robert Trivers and Stephen Pinker, while not backing the latter, have backed the former, and now claim that science backs such draconian perceptions of our basic nature.

Others haven’t made such claims.

Continue reading “Show 186a: Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior”