"Grave Expectations: Planning for the End Like There's No Tomorrow" (B&I 26)

graveexpectation1.jpg Episode 26 of Books and Ideas is an interview with Sue Bailey and Carmen Flowers, the authors of Grave Expectations: Planning the End Like There's No Tomorrow. This book helps readers to plan for their funeral or memorial service. While this might seem like a strange idea Flowers and and Bailey explain that this can actually be a wonderful gift to leave for one's family and loved ones.

In this interview Bailey and Flowers share the personal experiences that led them to write this unusual book and they explain why they wrote it in an overtly humorous style. This interview will help listeners see death and funeral planning in a new way.

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Episode Transcript (Download PDF)

carmen-sue-web100 Carmen Flowers and Sue Bailey

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Send Dr. Campbell email at gincampbell@mac.com or join the Discussion Forum.


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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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Follow-up interview with Frank Wilczek (B&I 24)

wilczek Episode 24 of Books and Ideas is a follow-up interview with Nobel Prize winning physicist. Dr. Frank Wilczek. We discuss the questions that we didn't get around to in Episode 23, including the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics, String Theory, and dark matter and dark energy. Dr. Wilczek also answers some questions from listeners and tells us a little about his current work.

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Click here if you missed Dr. Wilczek's first interview

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Main Topics from this Episode:

  • 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics
  • String Theory: a look at how it differs from the standard model and the question of whether it can be tested
  • Dark Matter and Dark Energy: 95% of the matter in the universe remains unexplained!
  • Anti-matter: where science meets science fiction
  • Dr. Wilczek's research: Could axions be dark matter? Using quantum mechanics to create new electronics.
  • Questions from listeners
Announcements: Episodes 23 and 24 are based on Dr. Wilczek's excellent book:

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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:

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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

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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.

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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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Mindfulness Meditation with Delany Dean (B&I 20)

Delany DeanEpisode 20 of Books and Ideas is an interview with forensic psychologist Delany Dean, PhD. Dr. Dean began her career as a criminal lawyer but his interest in the mind and the brain lead her to a second career as a clinical psychologist. Besides forensic psyschology she has extensive experience with therapies based on the use of mindfulness meditation. In this interview, Dr. Campbell and Dr. Dean share there personal experiences with meditation, and Dr. Dean explains why she feels mindfulness meditation provides a extremely valuable tool for helping people deal with a wide range of problems, including the stress that we all face from time to time. They also give practical advise for listeners interested in beginning a mindfulness practice.

Listen to Delany Dean's Interview.

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Links and References:

Mind Expressions: Delany's Dean's blog Teachers and Scientists mentioned in the interview: Books and Other Resources for Beginners: You can find more references at the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum where there is on-going thread devoted to meditation and the Brain. There is also a section for discussing episodes of Books and Ideas.

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Tabitha Grace Smith from "Buffy Between the Lines" (B&I 18)

tabz-small.jpgTabitha Grace Smith Episode 18 of Books and Ideas is an interview with writer and podcaster Tabitha Grace Smith. Tabitha is the creator of Buffy Between the Lines, an award-winning podcast set in the universe of my favorite TV show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She is also a writer and works on several other podcasts. In her interview we talk about writing, podcasting, and why we love the work of Joss Whedon. Included in this episode is the Valentine episode of Buffy Between the Lines, which is the episode in which I had my voice-acting "debut." Listen to Episode 18 Now. Download Episode Transcript Links: Tabitha Grace Smith Buffy Between the Lines Jane Espenson's blog: (Jane is one of our favorite TV writers) goaskmalice.jpgGo Ask Malice: A Slayer's Diary (2006) by Robert Joseph Levy The Myth of Free Will: Revised & Expanded Edition (2008) by Cris Evatt (I have a short chapter in this edition.) Listen to Episode 18 Download Episode Transcript Subscribe to this podcast Subscribe via iTunes™ Subscribe by email Subscribe to Books and Ideas Blog Leave comments at the Discussion Forum
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Mur Lafferty: writer and podcasting pioneer (B&I 17)

mur-gin-07.jpgGinger and Mur Episode 17 of Books and Ideas is an interview with writer Mur Lafferty. Mur's podcasts I Should Be Writing and Geek Fu Action Grip helped inspire me to start podcasting, so I was excited to get a chance to talk with her about her new novel, Playing for Keeps. We also talk a little about the challenges of podcasting. Listen to episode 17 Download Episode Transcript pfk_icon.jpgPart 1 of the audio version of Playing for Keeps is included in this episode. It starts at 30:48. You can find the novel at http://playingforkeepsnovel.com or at http://podiobooks.com. Mur emphasized that her "street team" has done a lot to promote Playing for Keeps. Special thanks go to Natalie Metzger and Jarod Axelrod for artwork, and to Chris Miller for the companion video podcast, which is available on youtube. tricksofthepodcastingmasters.jpg Mur co-wrote Tricks of the Podcasting Masters with Rob Walch. She has also had several great stories on Escape Pod. My favorite is "I look Forward to Remembering You," which is scheduled to become a video on http://strangerthings.tv. To find more of Mur's work go to http://murlafferty.com. Listen to Episode 17 of Books and Ideas Download Episode Transcript Subscribe to this podcast Subscribe via iTunes™ Subscribe by email Subscribe to Books and Ideas Blog Leave comments at the Discussion Forum
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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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Dr. Robert Schleip discusses Fascia (B&I 15)

schleip-science.jpg Books and Ideas Podcast #15 is an interview with Robert Schleip, PhD from the University of Ulm in Germany. Dr. Schleip is an experienced practioner of the body work method known as rolfing, but several years ago he went back and earned his PhD in Biology and began a second career as a research scientist. In our interview we discuss some of the recent discoveries that may revolutionize the way we look at the connective tissue that is commonly called fascia. We also talk about the importance of applying the scientific method to the evaluation of alternative and complimentary healing methods (CAM). Dr. Schleip's enthusiasm for science made this a very enjoyable interview. Listen to the interview now.

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References and Links: Dr. Schleip recommends the Wikipedia entry on Fascia if you would like to learn the basics. To learn more about Dr. Schleip's work visit the Fascia Research Project website at http://www.fasciaresearch.de/ The First International Congress International Research Congress was held in October, 2007 in Boston, MA. You can find some of the scientists Dr. Schleip mentions on this speaker page. Click here for more references, including those written in German. Listen to Books and Ideas Episode 15 Subscribe to this podcast Subscribe via iTunes™ Subscribe by email Leave comments at the Discussion Forum
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Dr. Pamela Gay from "Astronomy Cast" (B&I 14)

pgay_headshot.jpg Listen Now Show Notes for Books and Ideas Podcast #14 This episode is a conversation with Dr. Pamela Gay from the Astronomy Cast. Dr. Gay teaches astronomy and physics at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Before the Astronomy Cast she was one of the hosts of one of the first science podcasts, Slacker Astronomy. I think her enthusiasm for science and especially for astronomy comes through in this interview. Besides astronomy we talked about the challenges of teaching science as well as the challenges of being a female scientist. Links: Astronomy Cast Pamela Gay's Blog FemaleScienceProfessor Blog Chandra: A Biography of S. Chandrasekhar by Kameshwar C. Wali Buffy Between the Lines: an audio drama definitely worth checking out if you love the Buffyverse Pushing Daisies my favorite new TV show Listen to Books and Ideas Episode 14 Download Episode Transcript Subscribe to this podcast Subscribe via iTunes™ Subscribe by email Leave comments at the Discussion Forum
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Harry Potter with Guest Co-host, Patrick Pricken (B&I 13)

kelly-web.jpg Even if you haven't finished reading Book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by JK Rowling you can enjoy this podcast, which features guest co-host Patrick Pricken, from Germany. Patrick's blog, which features movie and book reviews can be found at http://www.p-pricken.de/. (The blog is in German, but translation to English is available from Google.) We talked about what why JK Rowling's work has international appeal, even among adult readers. We explore our favorite characters and talk about whether Book 7 lived up to our expectations. The episode is spoiler-free up to the 17 minute mark. The last 15 minutes does contain specific material from the last book, so if you haven't read it yet you will want to stop listening at 17:00, until you finish the book. If you would like to talk about the podcast or share your favorite Harry Potter memories, please join us in the the special section with in the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum. Listen to Episode 13 Download Episode Transcript Subscribe to this podcast Subscribe via iTunes™ Join email list
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Does Free Will Exist? (B&I 12)

This episode is my response to the The Myth of Free Will (2007), which was sent to me by the book's editor Cris Evatt. I felt the topic was very relevant to my recent discussions on the Brain Science Podcast, where we have been exploring the evidence that a surprising amount of decision-making occurs beyond our conscious control. Listen to Books and Ideas #12 Now I have tried to include some interesting references and links below, but I hope you will share more links (especially good blogs) at the new Brain Science Podcast Forum, which is located at http://brainscienceforum.com. I have set aside a section under "Off-Topic Discussions" for discussions about Books and Ideas. The subject of free will is quite controversial. This episode is intended to stimulate thought and discussion, rather than to convince you that I have the answers. Show Notes The difference between political and psychological free will Can a non-physical soul or spirit be controlling our brain's decisions? Naturalism (What is Naturalism? by Thomas W. Clark founder of The Center For Naturalism) What about choice and responsibility? What does neuroscience have to say about free will? Partial List of Writers Whose Work I discuss References and Further Reading Why Choose This Book?: How We Make Decisions (2006) by Read Montague (Dr. Montague was interviewed on the Brain Science Podcast #15.) The Problem of the Soul: Two Visions of Mind and How to Reconcile Them (2003) by Owen Flanagan Freedom Evolves (2003) by Daniel C. Dennett Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul (1994) by Francis Crick Links of Interest Center For Naturalism The Garden of Forking Paths-A philosophy blog devoted to agency theory, including related issues in Philosphy of Action, Moral Psychology, Metaphysics and Ethics I will try to expand this list in the future.
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Interview with Harvard's Neel Varshney (B&I 11)

neel2.jpg Show Notes The latest episode of Books and Ideas is a little unusual. I interviewed Neel Varshney of Harvard Medical School as he looks forward to his imminent graduation and residency in neurology. Despite his young age, Varshney has already had extensive research experience in neuroscience, beginning during he undergraduate years as an electrical engineering student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He was the first student from UAB to receive the Rhodes Scholarship. In this interview Neel reflects on his experiences in England, and the challenges of adjusting to medical school. He offers sound advice to anyone considering medical school. We also talked about the research he has done so far. I look forward to hearing great things from him in the future. This is a very personal episode for me because I met Neel when he was one of my husband, Dennis Smith's most outstanding undergraduate students at UAB. Dennis is about to retire after teaching at UAB for 30 years and I know that it is student's like Neel who made his career satisfying. Listen to the corrected version of Episode 11 Now Download Episode Transcript Subscribe to this podcast Subscribe via iTunes™ Join email list
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An American Living in France (B&I 10)

guillestre202.jpgGuillestre in the French Alps Show Notes Make sure you got episode 10 because episode 1 was accidentally uploaded. It was only up a few minutes but if you got the wrong episode please note that this has been corrected. This episode of Books and Ideas is a conversation with writer Kirk Mcelhearn , a native New Yorker, who has lived in France for over 20 years. We talk about the challenges of learning a second language, and what it is like to live in France after 9/11. McElhearn is able to bring some interesting historical perspective to current events. Unfortunately there is some echo in the second half of this interview, which was recorded using Skype™ and Audio Hijack Pro™. Listen to #10 Now Download Episode Transcript Subscribe to this podcast Subscribe via iTunes™ Join email list Additional Links: Kirkville is Kirk McElhearn's excellent blog where you can find Mac™ and iTunes™ hints, as well as commentary on books and digital music. Here is a list of his books from Amazon.com The Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War by Michael Shaara This is an excellent novel that I talked about briefly on an earlier podcast. It is also available in audio download format from Audible.com. Kirk said he has this book coming from BookMooch. BookMooch started by the founder of Magnatune, this is a great place to exchange books
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