Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

The Winter 2013 Listener Poll

poll_lowresAsk an Atheist has been going, practically non-stop, for about three years now. We’ve managed to do a lot of really cool stuff including debates, End-of-the-World parties, and now, polka versions of our theme song.  Since the beginning of the show, Ask an Atheist has gone through a fair number of changes, including the most obvious change from a television show to talk radio.

Things will continue to change, of course.   But we’d like to make sure that the changes we have in mind will be positively received by our listeners.  To that end, we’ve established a listener poll to help us figure out what people would like to see.

We ask about how you’re liking the show and what you’d like to see more of.  We also ask about some ideas we’ve had for raising money to continue operating the show, and some general questions about you to figure out who our listeners are.  Feel free to answer only the questions you care about, and each question has a discussion section set aside for you to tell us how terrible we are for asking the question in the first place.

No personally identifying information is captured by the poll. We ask you not to identify yourself in the poll, but if you want to talk to us about in email or at a later time, we give you a code, which is the only thing we keep to identify the individual responses.

Take the Winter 2013 Listener Poll Here!

It’s about as scientific as my cold fusion device, which I’ve included a picture of, but it will certainly help out the show.   Which my device will not.

Meanwhile, we got this email after our last episode:

I was supprissed to hear the last episode talk about the pope resignation. An talk as if fact that his resignation had to do with a legal action, based on a story put out by ITCCS. Being a skeptic I researched this claim days ago an found nothing to support it. I expected more from you being a group of skeptical thinkers.
Dennis from Yakima

This one’s my fault, so I guess I’ll field it.

We get these, every once in a while.  For the post part, if there are no clear claims or corrections,  I don’t want to talk about them on the show.   Off the show, we do.   Maybe for a giggle, usually to make sure we didn’t slip up, but we talk about them.

Most of these comments are less a critique of our skepticism and more of a critique of our opinions.   But “I don’t like what you said about X” is a much less compelling argument, so the commenter goes for something they know we care about.

If I take this one at face value, I think there’s a misunderstanding of skepticism.   Let me hash this out a little to see if the misunderstanding becomes clear:

For one thing, I wasn’t claiming that the Pope was leaving because of legal trouble.   I said that the stated reason was health, but I did say that I wonder if there might be some other reason.   In other words, I asked a question.  Inherent in my question was doubt about the official explanation for the Pope’s retirement, I do admit.   But doubt is not evidence and I did not portray my question as evidence.

I agree about the credibility of the ITCCS as the reason for the Pope’s retirement.   We talked about it before the show, decided it didn’t make sense.   Which is why I didn’t mention it.

I don’t find the ITCCS claim credible, but I also don’t find “because the Catholic Church said so in a major press release” to be credible information, either.  Similarly, I am skeptical of 9/11 Truther claims because the evidence, social and scientific, doesn’t match the claims.   I am not skeptical of the 9/11 Truther movement because it gets a lot of bad press in major media.

So I have doubt, I question, but I have a standard of evidence to determine the answers to my question.  It seems like a pretty skepticism-friendly position, but if I’m wrong, I’d be happy to hear otherwise.

About the Author: Sam Mulvey

Sam Mulvey is a producer and the technical brain behind Ask an Atheist. He is a collector of vinegar varieties, vintage computers, antique radios, and propaganda.

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