Video Game Music with Emily Reese (Books and Ideas podcast)

Emily Reese (Photo by Nate Ryan)Episode 49 of Books and Ideas is an interview with Emily Reese from Minnesota Public Radio. Reese is the host of two podcasts that I enjoy: Top Score and Learning to Listen. In this interview we focus on Top Score, which is a podcast about video game music. Reese interviews the composers and gives listeners an inside look at the challenges that face composers in this new, but growing field. You don't need to be a muscian or a gamer to enjoy Emily's podcasts. 

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Philosophy of Science with Massimo Pigliucci (podcast 37)

Ginger and Massimo Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk by scientist-turned-philosopher, Massimo Pigliucci is an excellent discussion of the challenges faced by the average non-scientist in today's information-rich world. After explaining what distinguishes science from pseudoscience (a major source of "bunk"), his book gives practical advice about trusting experts. (hint: having a PhD doesn't make one an expert!) Pigliucci also discussed these themes during a talk he gave last month at The Amazing Meeting 8, which was held in Las Vegas, NV. That's where I recorded the interview that I am posting today as Books and Ideas Episode 37. The focus of the interview is the role of philosophy of science in today's complex world.

Listen to Episode 37 of Books and Ideas

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Episode 37 Show Notes:

Further Reading: Announcements:
  • The next episode of Books and Ideas will be recorded LIVE at 8:30 PM (Eastern Time) Sunday September 5 at Dragon*Con in Atlanta, Georgia. I will be interviewing novelists Skyler White and Christiana Ellis.
  • I am also scheduled to interview Dr. Scott Lilenfield co-author of 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior. This interview will be posted in the Brain Science Podcast feed in late September.
  • For updates please subscribe to Ginger Campbell's newsletter.
  • You can now stream or download episodes and transcripts of this podcast directly to your iPhone®, Touch® or iPad® using the Books and Ideas application.
  • Please share Books and Ideas with your friends and don't forget to leave reviews in the iTunes® Store.

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New Facebook Fan Page for Books and Ideas Podcast

I just started a new Facebook Fan Page for the Books and Ideas podcast. If you listen to the podcast I hope you will join. I hope to use the page as a launching pad for promoting the podcast to a larger audience. Books and Ideas Podcast The next episode of Books and Ideas will be out on 9/25/09.
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Dr. Robert Martensen Returns to Books and Ideas (B&I 29)

life-worth-living In Episode 29 of Books and Ideas Robert Martensen, MD returns to talk about his book A Life Worth Living: A Doctor's Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era. Last month we talked about Dr. Martensen's career as both an emergency physician and as an historian. This month we concentrate on the issues facing patients with life threatening illnesses, including making decisions about end of life care. Dr. Martensen and I agree that the American emphasis on high tech care tends to ignore the needs of people in these situations. We discuss the importance of better communication between physicians and patients as well as the need for fundamental changes in our system.

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ninakimberlythemerciless This episode includes a short promo for Nina Kimberly the Merciless by Christiana Ellis. You can learn more about Christiana's work at http://ninakimberly.com.

Send feedback to Dr. Campbell at gincampbell at mac dot com or join the Discussion Forum at http://brainscienceforum.com

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Interview with Robert Martensen, MD (B&I 28)

martensen-crop Books and Ideas #28 is an interview with Robert Martensen, MD, author of A Life Worth Living: A Doctor's Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era. Dr. Martensen worked for 25 years as an emergency physician, but about mid-way through his career he went to graduate school and earned a PhD in history, while continuing to work in the ER at night and on weekends. He is now the Director of the NIH Office of History. This interview is actually the first of two parts. In this first part we talked about Dr. Martensen's career and we also reflected briefly on the history of emergency medicine in the United States. Dr. Martensen also explained the purpose fo the NIH Office of History and described its current and upcoming projects. When Dr. Martensen returns (hopefully next month) we will discuss his book A Life Worth Living: A Doctor's Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era.

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Send feed back to Dr. Campbell at gincampbell at mac dot com or join our Discussion Forum.

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Jennifer Michael Hecht: Historian & Poet (B&I 27)

jmhecht Episode 27 of Books and Ideas is an interview with Jennifer Michael Hecht, author of Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson and The Happiness Myth. As a poet and historian Hecht brings a unique perspective to her examination of the role of science in modern society. She also shares how writing Doubt changed her attitude toward religion. I have wanted to interview Jennifer for several years so I was very grateful that my recent appearance on Point of Inquiry led to this conversation. Hecht earned her PhD in the History of Science and while Doubt was an examination of the history of belief (and non-belief), she said that The Happiness Myth shares  key ideas from the history of science. Hecht argues convincingly that the arrogance of modern science can not be justified,  because history shows how much science, despite its best efforts, is always influenced by the cultural fads of its time. She feels that this knowledge could free us from unnecessary guilt, but that it should also motivate us to question our priorities (such as placing so much emphasis on long life instead of the quality of life). You won't want to miss this thought-provoking conversation.

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Vaccines DO NOT cause Autism (B&I 25)

offit-1 Paul Offit, MD Episode 25 of Books and Ideas is an interview with Dr. Paul Offit, author of Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure. I consider this the most important episode that I have ever released because despite overwhelming scientific evidence that shows NO connection between vaccines and autism, vaccine opponents continue to discourage parents from having their children vaccinated against preventable and potentially fatal childhood diseases. Epidemics of measles and hemophilis influenza type B meningitis are beginning to emerge among unvaccinated children. In this interview we talk about the scientific evidence that vaccines DO NOT cause autism, but we also examine why the controversy continues despite the evidence. Most importantly we examine the growing threat posed by the increasing number of unvaccinated children in the US. As Dr. Offit observes "The threat is not theoretical anymore." It is very real.

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ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES

I recommend Dr. Offit's book Autism's False Prophets to everyone because of its thorough examination of the vaccine-autism controversy. He examines the evidence from both sides, while showing compassion for why parents are easily confused and frightened by claims that physicians and scientists have dismissed. The book is unlikely to dissuade those who are convinced by the tactics of vaccine opponents, but it will be a valuable resource to parents who want a clear explanation that includes a sober account of the risks of not vaccinating their children. Physicians and scientists will also benefit from reading this book because it provides an important case study in how lack of scientific literacy can threaten public health.

Links:

References:

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New! Transcripts are now available for Frank Wilczek's Interviews

It was a great privelege to interview Nobel-winning physicist, Dr. Frank Wilczek twice last year (Books and Ideas: Episode 23 and Episode 24). So I am pleased to announce that full-transcripts of both episodes are now available.

Transcript of Episode 23 (Download PDF)

Transcript of Episode 24 (Download PDF)

We are currently working on the back log of transcripts for the Brain Science Podcast, but I hope eventually to have transcripts for all the episodes of Books and Ideas. Please send me email at docartemis at Gmail.com if you are waiting for a particular episode.
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Why everyone should read "Dreams from My Father"

During the 2004 Democratic Convention Barack Obama burst onto the US national political scene with a speech that included this line: “I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.” (Click here for full transcript.) Reading Dreams from My Father gives readers an important glimpse of part of that story. This autobiography was originally published in 1995, shortly after Obama became the first black editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. Because it was written before he entered politics, we are given an unusually candid account of his youth and young manhood, which included drugs, personal doubts, and a search for his identity as a black man in America. It is the unusual candor of his writing that leads me to recommend  Dreams From My Father to readers of all colors and political persuasions. In The Audacity of Hope, which was published to support Obama’s run for President, one gains an appreciation for his unique blend of idealism and pragmatism, but Dreams From My Father provides a glimpse into how he became the man who defied the odds to become the first Black President of the United States. As a white American I gained a new appreciation of the inner struggles of Black Americans, but I also got the impression that because Obama was raised by his white mother and grandparents, he has the ability to see past issues of race. This ability is one that our nation sorely needs to move forward in tackling the problems that face people of all races and backgrounds. Watching the crowds on election night I was struck by the joy and hope I saw on the faces of young people, both black and white. I think this book is the sort of book one should share with young people because it speaks to the search for identity that drives many young people. One does not get the sense one is reading the autobiography of a future president. Rather it could be any young man’s story. What about those who voted for McCain and who are afraid that Obama is some sort of left-wing radical? Instead of listening to Rush Limbaugh (and others) I would encourage them to read Obama’s words for themselves.
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Interview with Nobel Physicist Frank Wilczek (B&I 23)

Episode 23 of Books and Ideas is an interview with Frank Wilczek, PhD from MIT. Dr. Wilczek won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2004 and recently published an excellent book aimed at general readers: Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces. This book provides an excellent review of current ideas about the meaning of both matter and space. In his interview Dr. Wilczek helps us understand the current evidence that matter is actually made of particles that are massless. He says "I jokingly say that the more important law is Einstein's Second Law m=E/c² (which is of course just a rearrangement of E=mc²) but this suggests that what we really should be doing is not explaining energy in terms of mass, but explaining mass in terms of energy." The second surprisingly concept that Dr. Wilczek helps us tackle in this interview is the idea that space is not empty. "Space is a medium with a variety of properties that make it, not only an important component of reality, but really the primary component of reality." These ideas are supported by experimental evidence, but the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland is expected to expand knowledge even further. The purpose of the LHC is a main focus of this interview. Dr. Wilczek has agreed to come back on Books and Ideas to answer questions about dark matter and string theory.

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Additional Show Notes and Links: Frank Wilczek, PhD Other podcasts mentioned in this episode Recommended Reading: Announcements:

Listen to Episode 23 of Books and Ideas

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Highlights from Dragon*Con 2008 (B&I 22)

"The Mayor"Ginger as "The Mayor" (see below) Episode 22 of Books and Ideas is my summary of my recent trip to Dragon*Con 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a great opportunity to spend time with other podcasters, but the highlight of the weekend was our late night performances of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. I had a non-singing part in Act 3 (as the mayor).

Listen to Episode 22 of Books and Ideas

Show Notes and Links

Stuff I did:

Podcasters:

Podcasting Awards As I mentioned above I really enjoyed being a part of the first live performances of Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (think Rocky Horror Picture Show) which was put on by the cast and crew of Buffy Between the Lines. Writer Tabitha Grace Smith was interviewed in Episode 18 of Books and Ideas. Kinsey, who made a video of my brief appearance does a very interesting podcast about living in Brazil (called Brazilianisms). Go to http://buffybetweenthelines.com to learn more about the rest of the cast. Special thanks to Beatnik Turtle for the new theme song "The Open Door."

Listen to Episode 22 of Books and Ideas

Subscribe to Books and Ideas Podcast Subscribe to Books and Ideas in iTunes™ Subscribe Books and Ideas Podcast by email Leave comments at the Discussion Forum If I met you at Dragon*Con but forgot to link to your site please send me email at docartemis at gmail.com!
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Check out Our New Theme Song from Beatnik Turtle

Since I am busy preparing for my upcoming presentations at Dragon*Con I have decided to postpone the next episode of the Books and Ideas Podcast until September, 2008. I have just posted a brief audio annoucement in my regular feed. I also included a song by the Beatnik Turtle called "The Open Door," which I intend to use as the new them music for Books and Ideas. If you have feedback on the music please send me email at docartemis at gmail.com or visit the Books and Ideas section of the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum.

Listen to the audio announcement

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Dr. Pamela Gay talks about the Milky Way on Brains Matter

Dr. Pamela Gay, host of the popular Astronomy Cast was interviewed for the latest episode of Brains Matter. In this interview Dr. Gay discusses the recent discovery that our Milky Way has only two arms instead of four. I recommend this episode to everyone who enjoyed Pam's interview in Episode 14 of Books and Ideas and to all the fans of the Astronomy Cast.

Listen to Dr. Gay's Interview

Brains Matter is part of SCIENCEPODCASTERS.ORG. We recently moved our website, so be sure to update your book marks.

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Dr. Eugenie Scott on Teaching Evolution (B&I 21)

Eugenie Scott, the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, was interviewed in Episode 21 of Books and Ideas. The focus of our conversation was the importance of teaching evolution in the public schools. Dr. Scott and the NCSE have worked for over 20 years to promote the teaching of evolution because it is an essential component of a modern education in the life sciences. Unfortunately, nearly 150 years after Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859) many Americans still reject this fundamental idea and much of Scott's work is focused on trying to keep creationism and so-called Intelligent Design out of school curriculum. Recently the NCSE launched a very valuable site called Expelled Exposed, which focuses on exposing the many inaccuracies presented in Ben Stein's recent pro-intelligent design "documentary" Expelled. One of the things that has come out in numerous interviews is that the producers of the film mislead all the pro-evolution guests that appear in the film. We discuss this briefly near the end of the interview, but it was not the focus of our discussion. (see below for more links regarding Expelled) Since Dr. Scott has been interviewed about Expelled and Expelled Exposed on several other podcasts, I wanted to focus our interview more on the importance of accurate science education. Also, we discussed the fact that despite the claims of right-wing fundamentalists there are many Christians and people of other faiths who accept the theory of evolution as scientifically valid. Accepting evolution does not mean one is choosing atheism. I think this is a very important distinction because while atheists are outspoken in their support of evolution they represent a small minority. I was encouraged to learn from Dr. Scott that the NCSE is working closely with religious leaders and scientists of faith to try to educate their members. Since Books and Ideas reaches an international audience I thought that it was important that we discuss the origins of the evolution versus creationism controversy, which is unique to the United States. Scott does an excellent job of explaining how our unique religious heritage along with our locally controlled school systems combine to create a situation that most of the world find's rather mystifying. Her book Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction also provides an excellent overview of the subject from both an historical and scientific prospective. Finally, we talk about the importance of evolution as a basic idea in modern biology. While we didn't dwell on this, I think we are both concerned about the implications for the future if a majority of young Americans are reaching college without a solid foundation in the principles of evolution. We also talked about why intelligent design fails to meet the basic definition of a scientific theory since it provides no testable hypotheses. Dr. Scott also provides a excellent review of the basic writings for those who want to learn more.

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Links and References: Other Books mentioned by Dr. Scott:
  • Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins by Percival Davis and Dean H. Kenyon : the 1989 textbook that introduced the term “intelligent design”
  • Darwin on Trial by Phillip E. Johnson, 1991.
  • Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution by Michael J. Behe
  • The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities by William A. Dembski
  • Behe MJ, Snoke DW. 2004. Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues. Protein Science 10:2651-64.
Responses to Expelled Exposed by Christians

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Dr. Steven Novella from "The Skeptics Guide to the Universe" (B&I 16)

steve_bw.jpg Episode 16 of Books and Ideas is a conversation with Dr. Steven Novella from the popular podcast The Skeptics Guide to the Universe. This interview is a response to numerous requests from fans of the Brain Science Podcast, but I put it in the Books and Ideas feed so that Dr. Novella could share some of his personal experiences both as a physician and as a podcaster. Listen to Dr. Novella's interview Subscribe to this podcast Subscribe via iTunes™ Subscribe by email Subscribe to Books and Ideas Blog Leave comments at the Discussion Forum Show Notes: Dr. Novella talked a little bit about why he became a physician and about choosing neurology as his specialty. We talked about the role of imaging and how recent advances in neuroscience are influencing patient care. We also talked about the importance of helping patients get accurate information, both from the internet and from their physicians, and how the pressure for physicians to see large numbers of patients hinders good communication. Dr. Novella is committed to evidence-based medicine and we talked about the role of skepticism in evaluating medical claims, both from mainstream and alternative sources. Dr. Novella also talked briefly about his podcast and his blogs, including a new blog specifically devoted to promoting evidence-based medicine. In the last section of this episode I looked back on the first 15 episodes of Books and Ideas. I particularly want to thank Matthew Cobb for being my first guest back in episode 7. You can get his book Generation at the Books and Ideas aStore at Amazon.com. Links:
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