Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

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Humanist Disaster Recovery Teams

After putting her life in order since her home was destroyed by a tornado in May of 2013, Rebecca Vitsmun has been hard at work on creating and launching Humanist Disaster Recovery Teams with the Foundation Beyond Belief. Welcome back to the show!

The article from Sam mentioned is here.


Moment of Science Cited Sources

1. Nowakowski, R. S. (2006). Stable neuron numbers from cradle to grave.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(33), 12219-12220.

2. Gould, E., & Gross, C. G. (2002). Neurogenesis in adult mammals: some progress and problems. The Journal of Neuroscience, 22(3), 619-623.

3. Sabyasachi Sircar (2007). Medical Physiology. Thieme Publishing Group. p. 536.

4. Jacobs, D. K., Nakanishi, N., Yuan, D., Camara, A., Nichols, S. A., & Hartenstein, V. (2007). Evolution of sensory structures in basal metazoa.Integrative and Comparative Biology, 47(5), 712-723.

5. Ruppert EE, Fox RS, Barnes RD (2004).Invertebrate Zoology (7 ed.). Brooks / Cole. pp. 111–124.


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I wonder has the HDRT trained in the event that the person(s) that they are trying to help refuses that help after they find out that they aren’t “good Christians” ?

Rebecca Vitsmun

Hi there! Thanks for the question! Yes, this is a scenario we will be addressing in our training.


JASON PADGETT (of Takoma): “Acquired savant”. FYI, pi is only one aspect of his mathematical transformation.
– Local news report:

SCOTT FLANSBURG: “The Human Calculator”. Alive; age 51.

KIM PEEK: Inspiration for “Rain Man”. Died 2009 at age 58.

*More on math prodigies and geniuses (including Padgett, and others) at


For the record, PEEK was not a math savant.

Rebecca Vitsmun

31:48 minutes: More full answer for the question:

There are two forms of training.

* Online training which will be available to everyone to take which will prepare them for disasters, mostly covering logistics and preparing people for what to expect.

* On the ground training which will include CRM (unless it is one day available online). It is currently an experiential training and will only be given on the ground to deployed volunteers.


Thanks for the discussion of ctenophore neurobiology in the moment of science, and for the links for further study. A lot to found a quality discussion of possible xenobiological epistemologies. Or, simply put: would ctenophore zombies find hominin brains satisfying?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x