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Category Archives: Canada

I haven’t posted in some time. It hasn’t been because I haven’t anything to say, but because I have starte actually saying it. My brother B and I had been wanting to start up a podcast for some time, but with the arrival of my niece and nephew things got put on the back burner. I didn’t want to start things up on my own, but when a new homeopathy store opened up and started advertising on Facebook, I could no longer wait.

It was at this time that I put out a cattle all to my Center for Inquiry friends and was pleasantly surprised to receive numerous requests to be involved. We made our first recording a little after Xmas and we’re getting set to record our eighth episode tomorrow evening.

So what’s the podcast about? Well, the vision I have is quite broad. Essentially, it involves discussing topics anywhere that evidence-based thinking can be applied. This can involve public policy, woo woo, religion, science, education, etc. There are many great podcasts out there about atheism (The Non-Prophets, for example) or applied skepticism which exclude religious claims (e.g., The Skeptics Guide to the Universe), but almost none that make no distinction where critical thinking gets applied. (The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Skeptics with a K.)

As I like to say, I am an atheist for the same reason that I am a-reiki, a-homeopathic, a-yeti, or a-quantum healing. I see no difference in any of these claims or the requirements they need to meet before acceptance is justified. However, religion is a big component of the podcast for the simple reason that it pervades so much of society. I wouldn’t give a tinker’s damn about it except for one thing: Beliefs inform actions and believing in things without the requisite evidence often lead to harm, not to mention that it is an impoverished way of living. The universe is amazing enough without diminishing it by making up far less interesting stuff about it.

A case in point (which I would like to make into a podcast topic): a recent crime bill passed here in Canada increases prison time and takes funding away from programs which may help make inmates productive members of society when released. There is not one shred of evidence that increasing prison time makes society any safer or better off. Quite the opposite, in fact. But such thinking arises from and panders to an electorate with a religious conservative point of view that is demonstrably false. This is not how public policy should be created and does real harm to society.

The topics we discuss are as relevant to the Canadian prairies as possible (or at least nationally). There are already podcasts out there which ably cover the tribulations south of the 49th parallel. But topics which are of interst to everyone are covered as well, though we give them a decidedly local flavor.

In the first seven episodes we have talked about Xerion Homoeopathie (a Calgary purveyor of magic sugar pills) and their dissemination of anti-vaccination nonsense, the effectiveness so-called ‘liberation’ therapy as a proposed treatment of multiple sclerosis (which has a very high incidence in the prairie provinces), the absence of secular education in the town of Morinville (just north of Edmonton), and in the episode we are recording tomorrow we have an interview with rock star cosmologist Lawrence Krauss about science education and why the non-religious are labeled “strident” (or worse) just for daring to question religious claims. His new book A Universe From Nothing (which I guiltlessly plug here) is a great companion to the viral YouTube video of the same name.

Come visit us at the Legion of Reason and give us a listen, or you can find us on iTunes.

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Yesterday the Government of Canada lost a vote of confidence over the new budget, necessitating an election on May 2.

While I don’t know yet who will be getting my vote, I most certainly know which party I will not be voting for, putting me squarely in the ABC (Anybody But Conservative) camp. The current regime is the most undemocratic group I have ever seen in Canada. The sheer contempt this Prime Minister has shown parliament and the citizens of Canada is appalling in the extreme:

  • The ill-fated attempt to end party funding (the obvious result of which would have been that party policy would be dictated by those “donating” the most money to a party and not about doing what is best for the electorate);
  • Not once, but twice prorogued parliament not for what proroguing is supposed to be used for (end the session when the business of the house is finished early), but to cynically avoid a non-confidence vote in the House in 2008 and again in 2009 to avoid answering tough questions about the Afghan detainee affair. In both cases legislation was still waiting to be dealt with by Parliament, thus shutting down the House violated the spirit of prorogation entirely and abrogated the rights of Canadians to ask questions and demand answers of the government.;
  • Witholding information asked for by the House on costs associated with crime bills and thus were found in contempt of Parliament;
  • Ending of mandatory submission of the long census for those that receive it. (Any statistician will tell you just how skewed data critical for developing public policy will now be….);
  • illegally financed campaigns in the last election through money shuffles, a scandal called the “in and out” scheme;
  • Maintaining a cabinet minister who, while leader of the Conservative Party, as condition to garnering support for his leadership promised never to merge with the Alliance Party (headed by Stephen Harper). He got what I think is his own just desserts when his girlfirend and fellow caucus member crossed the floor to the Liberal camp without telling him of this action beforehand. Delicious!
  • Was admonished by Hillary Clinton for not including funding abortion in foreign aid packages…. The United States lecturing another country on family planning! Abortion is considered a necessary medical service legal in Canada, but apparently not for other countries where access is also needed. This action by Harper clearly shows his religious beliefs affect his policies, and relgion has no place in politics. Not now, not ever!
  • The pièce de résistance, Harper shows his respect for science by appointing to the office of the Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology a chiroptractor. You read that right- a fucking chiropractor! Anyone with an ounce of scientific knowledge wouldn’t be a chiropractor.

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