Friendly Atheist Podcast Episode 64: Dr. Paul Offit, Vaccine Expert

Our latest podcast guest is Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccine expert.

Dr. Offit is the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a professor of Vaccinology and Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. He’s written tons of published peer-reviewed papers and received countless awards for his work. His latest book, Bad Faith, is all about how religious belief can undermine modern medicine.

On the day of taping, California had just passed a law making vaccinations all but mandatory, Jim Carrey had gone on a Twitter rant about vaccines, and a woman had died of measles.

We spoke with Dr. Offit about why people still don’t get vaccinated, how he responds to the most common arguments offered by anti-vaxxers, and why Bill Maher is wrong when he says we don’t need to get flu shots.

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In Defense of the $100 Million Donation Toward the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

After all those pictures of Pluto came back last week, plenty of people oohed and aahed over the details in the images. It’s really incredible that we landed on the moon 46 years ago and we’re already exploring the edge of our solar system.

But for all the jaw-dropping pictures, there are still people who wonder why we spent money on the journey at all… even though the $720 million New Horizons satellite cost less money than a football stadium. For that cash, we now have a slightly better understanding of the universe we live in and our place within it, arguably the biggest ideas humanity has ever grappled with. More directly, scientists will be parsing through the mission data for years to come, so there’s more information coming down the pipeline, and that doesn’t even address all the economic benefits that come from space exploration in general.

Following that, it’s exciting (yes, really) to hear that philanthropist and Internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner has just put down $100 million of his own money over the next decade to further the search for extraterrestrial life:

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Texans Oppose Muslim Cemetery for All Sorts of Racist, Ignorant Reasons

This is what Islamophobia actually looks like.

In Farmersville, Texas, just outside of Dallas, there’s a proposal by the Islamic Association of Collin County to build a cemetery in the town. That shouldn’t be a concern. After all, there are Catholic cemeteries all over the place and you’ll never hear a single complaint about them.

But, you know, Muslims are brown. So. Um… logic.



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After Coaches Repeatedly Push Christianity on Players, Georgia School District Will Pay Costly Penalty

Last year, we learned about a public high school football team that was just overwhelmingly infused with religion. And there was proof.

Like a picture of a team prayer (that included coaches):



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Professor Resigns from Christian College After It Mandates Acceptance of Young Earth Creationism

A couple of years ago, Bryan College in Tennessee (a Christian school) altered its Statement of Faith to say that the Earth was created a few thousand years ago. If professors couldn’t admit they were Young Earth Creationists, then they could find another job.

It’s bad enough for a school to fire faculty members who accept basic science, but to also kick out Creationist professors who didn’t buy in to the Ken Ham-approved timeline? That’s some crazy level of fundamentalism.

Bethel College in Indiana is now heading down a similar path.



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