Category: Announcements

Announcing the Next Point of Inquiry: David Frum and Kenneth Silber

By Chris Mooney | July 28, 2011 11:26 am

Clarification: This show does not air until Monday. I was getting reader suggestions for interview questions. We pre-record the show, usually the week before it airs. Stand by for the link…

In about three and a half hours, I interview David Frum of and Kenneth Silber, a frequent contributor on science over there. The topic of the show is conservatism, science, and reality–and I’ve gotten two conservatives, albeit pretty much the opposite of Tea Partiers, to talk about it.

It is my perception that across a wide array of issues–from health care to, uh, light bulb policy–the U.S. political right today just views the world differently, and has a different set of facts (which, I’m afraid, tend to be wrong). I want Frum, and Silber, to tell me to what extent I’m right, and to what extent I’m wrong–and also to show me where the liberal blind spots are.

But of course, you may also have questions for them–so suggest away. They’ll be considered if posted in the next three hours or so….

By the way, here is a piece by Silber, entitled “How I Joined the Vast RINO Conspiracy.” And here is Frum’s classic article taking on Rush Limbaugh.

A Brief Note From Your Blogger

By Chris Mooney | July 25, 2011 9:31 am

This post is a placeholder to apologize for the fact that, over the last week or so, posting slowed down noticeably at the Intersection. This wasn’t intentional–but it was probably inevitable, as I was traveling and have also been digging in deep on a new book project…about which more soon.

Jon and Jamie have continued to contribute great stuff, though, and being travel-free, I’ll be ramping back up this week. There will also be more announcements coming about further directions at the blog, as this remains a time of transition.

So, stand by…and also stand by for a particularly provocative episode of Point of Inquiry coming up, which I’ll also announce soon.

Now back to regular programming.


New Point of Inquiry: Rebecca Watson — Skepticism and Feminism

By Chris Mooney | July 19, 2011 4:40 pm

The new show just went up–sorry for the slight tardiness. Here’s the description:

Our guest this week is Rebecca Watson, the founder of the Skepchick blog. Recently, she’s been at the center of an explosive controversy over the relationship between feminism and the skeptic/atheist movement.

It all started when Watson made a relatively casual remark in a video to her followers. She was discussing her travels and a talk she’d given in Ireland about sexism in the atheist/skeptic community. Overall, Watson said, the response to her remarks had been great—but then she added something else. After the talk, she said, she’d received an advance from a man in an elevator—a man who apparently didn’t get the message.

“Guys, don’t do that,” said Watson. “I was a single woman in a foreign country at 4 am in a hotel elevator with you. Just you. Don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner.”

In one way or another—and with many other debate participants involved-this story led to thousands upon thousands of blog comments, and an outpouring of support-and criticism. So Point of Inquiry asked Watson to address the controversy, and to talk more generally about atheism and feminism.

Rebecca Watson is the founder of the Skepchick blog, a co-host of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast, and a prominent speaker and commenter on skepticism, feminism, freethought, and the religious right.

You can listen here.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Announcements, point of inquiry

Announcing My Next Point of Inquiry Guest: Rebecca Watson

By Chris Mooney | July 12, 2011 8:31 am

Today, for the show airing next Monday, I’m interviewing Skepchick founder Rebecca Watson. She’s a fast rising star in the skeptic movement, and one who–as many already know–has recently been at the center of a huge controversy involving how some in the skeptic/atheist movement treat the concerns of women.

You can read about it here, and Phil Plait has the full back story: Suffice it to say that it involves not only what one skeptic man (now infamously) said to Watson in an elevator at 4 in the morning, but how Richard Dawkins then dove in and minimized the incident.

We’ll be discussing this and the lessons to be taken from it–as well as Watson’s important work to spread skepticism and, especially, to make the skeptic movement a more welcoming place for women. Comments here will be considered as possible questions and jumping-off points for the show.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Announcements, point of inquiry

New Point of Inquiry: Matthew Chapman–The Ledge

By Chris Mooney | July 4, 2011 8:50 pm

Recently I blogged about Matthew Chapman’s “The Ledge,” which I called a “true atheist movie.” Now, Chapman is the guest of our latest Point of Inquiry episode, where we discuss the film. Here’s the write-up:

It’s not often that Hollywood takes up the subject of atheism directly—much less sympathetically.

Even rarer is finding this in a film starring major names like Liv Tyler and Terence Howard.

But that’s what Matthew Chapman has achieved in The Ledge—which also stars Patrick Wilson and Charlie Hunnan.

Besides being a screenwriter and author, Chapman himself is an atheist, freethinker, science advocate, and great-great grandson of Charles Darwin.

Without giving away the plot of The Ledge—which opens on July 8 in New York and Los Angeles—suffice it to say that it is a gutsy defense of freethinking and unbelief, framed as a star-studded romantic thriller. And perhaps even more than any work of nonfiction, it may have a unique potential to drive a national conversation about atheism.

So recently, Chris Mooney caught up with Matthew Chapman for lunch in New York City to interview him about the film, what inspired it, and what he hopes its impact will be.

You can listen to the interview here. And here, again, is the trailer for The Ledge, which premieres this July 8 in New York City and Los Angeles (details here):

Off to Doha and Cairo

By Chris Mooney | June 25, 2011 9:30 pm

I’m at Dulles airport, about to board a plane to Doha, Qatar for the World Conference of Science Journalists. Then, a small group of us are going on to Egypt for a workshop on science journalism.

I’m not entirely sure how blogging will fare during all this–I return July 5. It may be easy and normal, or not so much.

I know Jon and Jamie will be pitching in, as always. Indeed, check out Jamie’s great fracking post (below), and look forward to more…

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Announcements, Personal

Am I a Science Journalist?

By Chris Mooney | June 23, 2011 10:10 am

It’s quite the question these days, for all of us. And it’s the subject of a panel I have organized for the World Conference of Science Journalists in Doha, which begins in just a few days now:

Am I a Science Journalist?

In the evolving world of science communication, how do we define a science journalist? This panel will discuss whether the venerable word “journalist” can or should be applied to some, all, or none of the new generation of science bloggers and educators who are remaking the field.


Chris Mooney, Discover; Point of Inquiry (USA)


Ed Yong, Not Exactly Rocket Science (UK)
Moheb Costandi, Neurophilosophy (UK)
Homayoun Kheyri, freelance; BBC World Service (Australia/Iran)
Cristine Russell, Council for the Advancement of Science Writing; Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (USA)

The panelists have to figure out the “answer” to the question more than I do, but it is certainly a conundrum, when almost nobody has a staff job at a publication any longer. Do all science bloggers count as science journalists? The thought gives me pause–I don’t think all of them practice the norms of journalism, though some clearly do.

I know and practice the norms, meanwhile, but many things that I do professionally–like science communication work and training–clearly aren’t journalism. Everybody is piecing it together in different ways. Maybe the problem is that the concept of “journalism” partly bears the stamp of an era that’s behind us.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Announcements, Media and Science

New Point of Inquiry: Rick Perlstein–Is There a Republican War on History?

By Chris Mooney | June 20, 2011 8:11 pm

The latest show has just gone up–here is the write-up:

Recently, we’ve seen a spate of news stories—and news incidents—involving conservative politicians and activists getting details wrong about American history.

There was, most infamously, Sarah Palin saying that Paul Revere, on his famous midnight ride, rang bells and “warned the British.”

There was Michele Bachman, claiming that the founding fathers “worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” Actually, the constitution explicitly treated slaves as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of apportioning representatives to different states.

And then was David Barton, conservatives’ go-to guy on history, suggesting that Tom Paine was, basically, a supporter of creationism.

To try to figure out what’s going on lately with conservatives and history, we turn to a historian, Rick Perlstein. Perlstein is the author of several books including Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of American Consensus, and Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. He’s also a regular contributor to a variety of publications including The American Prospect and Mother Jones.

You can listen to the show here….

PBS's "Need to Know" on Motivated Reasoning

By Chris Mooney | June 18, 2011 11:19 am

You can watch the full 7 minute segment here. It came out great. I’m trying to figure out how to embed it…ah ha!

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

PBS's "Need to Know" Will Cover Motivated Reasoning Tomorrow Night

By Chris Mooney | June 16, 2011 5:48 pm

Here’s the announcement:

And: Science journalist Chris Mooney explains the psychological factors behind science denial and how our pre-existing beliefs affect our capacity for logic. Author Benjamin Skinner speaks to us about his work exposing the world of modern-day slavery, and Jon Meacham delivers an “In Perspective” essay on the West Virginia coal mining disaster and the need for a national energy plan.

Check your local listings for details.


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