In Which I Am Not Filled With Optimism

In Which I Am Not Filled With Optimism February 2, 2010

Via Ophelia Benson, this unwelcome news: the Center for Inquiry’s podcast Point of Inquiry, which I listened to regularly until now, is seeing a change in hosts. D.J. Grothe, who formerly conducted the interviews, is leaving to serve as the president of the James Randi Educational Foundation. He’ll be replaced by a rotating series of hosts, and the most important of which, who’s expected to conduct approximately half of Point of Inquiry’s new interviews, is Chris Mooney.

On its face, this is a bizarre choice. No one has expressed more consistently than Chris Mooney the view that atheists should sit down, shut up, and not speak our minds if doing so might upset or offend anyone. Yet he’s now the head interviewer for a podcast whose stated purpose is to interview the leading minds of today, including a majority of guests who are well-known atheists and religious skeptics. What is he going to ask them? Will the interview be thirty minutes of silence, since he’s against giving such people additional opportunity to air their views? More plausibly, will he steer clear of any interview topic that might give his guests the opportunity to express opinions he dislikes, or select only guests who agree with his accommodationist viewpoint of silence and surrender?

Although I have nothing against the other named interviewers, Robert Price and Karen Stollznow, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can no longer in good conscience listen to or promote Point of Inquiry. D.J. Grothe conducted interviews with skill and professionalism, regardless of his guest’s viewpoint, and I’m sorry to see him go (though I am glad to see the atheist movement developing the kind of infrastructure that leads to competition for outreach jobs like these). But I’m not optimistic about his replacement.

So, it seems I need to find some new atheist/skeptic-themed podcasts. Anyone have any suggestions? Feel free to recommend your favorite in the comments.

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