Exploring Alabama with Roger Reid (BI 46)

Roger ReidRoger Reid has a job that every kid and most adults would find fascinating. He works for the Alabama Museum of Natural History and travels all over Alabama as a writer and producer for the Emmy Award winning TV show, Discovering Alabama with Dr. Doug Phillips . He also shares his passion for natural history in a series of novels written for middle school age readers. I decided to interview him for Books and Ideas because I wanted to share these novels with my listeners. They combine mystery and science in an original way, but they also contain compelling characters that readers will care about.

Episode 46 of Books and Ideas is an unusual episode because we don't just talk about Reid's novels. We also explore some of the little known treasures of Alabama's natural history. I guarantee surprises, even for those of you who call Alabama home. But I also hope that listeners around the world will gain a new appreciation for the natural resources of Alabama.

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Books by Roger Reid:

  • Longleaf (2006): set in the Conecuh National Forest
  • Space (2008): set at the Swanson Observatory on Monte Sano in Huntsville, Alabama.
  • Time (2011): set at the Stephen C Menkin Paleozoic Footprint Site, near Jasper, Alabama

References and Links:

Tell Me What You Think!

Ginger Campbell Celebrates Five Years of Podcasting (BI 45)

Ginger Campbell and GretaIn December 2006 I launched 2 podcasts: Books and Ideas and the Brain Science Podcast. In Episode 45 of Books and Ideas I take a few minutes to look back on my five years in podcasting and to thank some of my many guests.

 

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Show Notes:

The focus of this episode was to thank each of the 33 people who have been featured on Books and Ideas so far. 

  • Historians: Matthew Cobb, Holly Tucker, and Jennifer Michael Hecht
  • Scientists: Lee Silver, Pamela Gay, Robert Schleip, Eugenie Scott, Les Johnson, Daniel George, Sheril Kirshenbaum, and Frank Wilczek
  • Philosophers: Massimo Pigliucci and Tom Clark
  • Physicians: Paul Offit, Robert Martenson, Neel Varshney, and Steven Novella
  • Fiction Writers: Mur Lafferty, Christiana Ellis, Scott Sigler, Tabitha Grace Smith, Skyler White, and Karen Traviss
  • Psychologists: Delany Dean, Eric Maisel, Bruce Hood and Carol Tavris
  • Other Writers: Dan Ariely, Sue Bailey, and Carmen Flowers 
  • Special Guests: Patrick Pricken, Kirk McElhearn and Kyla Duffy

Click here for a complete list of guests (in alphabetical order).

Click here for a complete list of episodes.

Announcements:

 

Karen Traviss on Writing for Gears of War (BI 44)

Karen TravissThe thing that draws me to novels by Karen Traviss is her characters and her recent series of novels based on the popular Gears of Wars videogame delivers a character-driven story of surprising depth. In fact, even though the recently released game Gears of War 3 (also written by Traviss) brings the games to an end, Traviss is still working on the 5th and final Gears of War novel, which is scheduled for release next spring.

I was fortunate to interview Traviss last month, shortly after the release of Gears of War 3. The interview is spoiler free, but even if you don't play video games this interview will give you a new insight the role of writing in this emerging genre. 

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Episode Transcript (Free PDF)

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References and Links:

  • KarenTraviss.com
  • Aspho Fields by Karen Traviss
  • Dr. Campbell's mini-review of Hard Contact (Star Wars: Republic Commando, Book 1) by Karen Traviss
  • "Mad World" video from YouTube (embedded below)

 

 More Fiction Authors: 

  • BI 17: Mur Lafferty, podcasting pioneer and author of Playing for Keeps
  • BI 18: Tabitha Grace Smith lead writer of Buffy Between the Lines
  • BI 35: Scott Sigler, best-selling author of Contagious and Galactic Football League series
  • BI 38: Christiana Ellis (Nina Kimberly the Merciless) and Skyler White (and Falling, Fly)

Announcements:

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Episode Transcript (Free PDF)

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Cognitive Dissonance with Carol Tavris, PhD (Books and Ideas #43)

Carol Tavris, PhD Click for audioThe theory of cognitive dissonance is not new but Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson makes cognitive dissonance accessible to everyone, and, more importantly, Tavris and Aronson make it clear why we should care. As Dr. Tavris explained in a recent interview (Books and Ideas #43), "cognitive dissonance is a theory of blind spots." Appreciating how our brains automatically strive to decrease the discomfort we feel when faced with conflicting beliefs, can help us become aware of how these blind spots effect our behavior and attitudes.

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Cognitive dissonance is also revelevant to anyone with an interest in science because as Dr. Tavris noted: "the scientific method is designed to create dissonance—in a way, we could say this.  This is one of the reasons science is so unpopular—I should say is so difficult—because scientists are humans, and scientists don’t like it when their predictions are disconfirmed.  But, you see, as we now understand, the mind is designed for consistency, for consonance; it’s designed to notice, and remember, and confirm evidence that supports our beliefs, and to forget and ignore information that is dissonant with our beliefs.

It’s such an interesting thing for those of us interested in skepticism and science, because the scientific method is designed to create dissonance—in a way, we could say this.  This is one of the reasons science is so unpopular—I should say is so difficult—because scientists are humans, and scientists don’t like it when their predictions are disconfirmed.  But, you see, as we now understand, the mind is designed for consistency, for consonance; it’s designed to notice, and remember, and confirm evidence that supports our beliefs, and to forget and ignore information that is dissonant with our beliefs."

Links and References

Listener donations help make Dr. Campbell's podcasts possible. 

Announcements

 

 

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Why Neuroscience Matters (Books and Ideas #42)

On May 11, 2011 Ginger Campbell, MD gave a talk entitled "Why Neuroscience Matters" at the London Skeptics in the Pub. Episode 42 of Books and Ideas is an edited version of that talk, including the lively Q and A with the audience.

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Free Episode Transcript (Download PDF)

 

 

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References 

From the Brain Science Podcast

Announcements:

 

  • Dr. Campbell will be a speaker at The Amazing Meeting 9, which is coming up in Las Vegas, Nevada July 14-17.

 

Please send your feedback to Dr. Campbell at gincampbel at mac dot com, or post a comment on the Facebook Fan Page.

Don't forget to sign up for Ginger Campbell's Newsletter so you can get show notes for every podcast.

Exploring 17th Century Medicine with Holly Tucker

This month’s Books and Ideas podcast (#41) is an interview with Holly Tucker, author of Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution.  Dr. Tucker’s book is about the first blood transfusions—which, surprisingly, occurred way back in the 1660’s; 150 years before the first successful human-to-human transfusions.

The thing that makes Blood Work compelling is that Dr. Tucker puts these early efforts into the context of their time, and she helps us to consider how these events could be relevant to the medical controversies of our own time.  And, as we will allude to during our conversation, the story includes a fascinating murder mystery.

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 Links of Interest:

References:

Announcements:

 

Send feedback to Dr. Campbell at gincampbell at mac dot com or leave voice mail at 205-202-0663. 

 

How the Anti-vaccine Movement Threatens Us All



Paul Offit, MDIn his new book Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All pediatrican Dr Paul A. Offit traces the history of the anti-vaccine movement from opposition to the small pox vaccine in the 19th century up through recent events. Unfortunately, the results are predictable. Reducing vaccination rates lead to reemergence of dangerous preventable infectious diseases. That is why the decision not to vaccinate is not a personal decision. It is one that involves the whole community.

This is the focus of the conversation I had with Dr. Offit in Episode 40 of Books and Ideas. This is a follow-up to Dr. Offit's first interview here in Episode 25.

Because I think this issue is literally a matter of life and death, I encourage you to share this podcast with others.

Listen to Dr. Offit's interview (Books and Ideas #40)

Episode Transcript (Download PDF)

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Links and References

  • Paul Offit, MD: Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Books and Ideas Episode 25: In this 2008 interview we talked about Offit's book Autism's False Prophets and our shared fears about the consequences of falling vaccination rates.
  • van den Hof S, Conyn-van Spaendonck MA, van Steenbergen JE. Measles epidemic in the Netherlands, 1999-2000.  J Infect Dis. 2002 Nov 15;186(10):1483-6. Epub 2002 Oct 29. During a measles outbreak that occurred in the Netherlands between 1990 and 2000 researchers found that fully vaccinated children living in communities with low rates of vaccination were at greater risk than unvaccinated children living in highly vaccinated communities.
  • Brian Deer on Andrew Wakefield's conflicts of interest: "MMR:The Truth Behind the Crisis," Sunday Times (London), February 24, 2004.
  • I mentioned two important court decisions made in 2009 and 2010 by the Omnibus Autism Proceedings. In 2009 the court ruled that there is no evidence that thimrosal-containing vaccines cause autism and in 2010 it ruled that there is no evidence that thimirosal alone causes autism. The complete docket of the Omnibus Autism Proceedings are available at http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/node/2718.
  • All of Dr. Offits books (listed above) contain extensive references for those wishing to do more research.
  • Jenny McCarthy Body Count: there were at least 662 deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases between June 3, 2007 and February 19, 2011.

Announcements

  • Please feel free to share this podcast with others. Please contact me if you would like to use the interview-only in another podcast or for patient education.
  • I have moved the Brain Science Podcast Discussion Forum to Goodreads.com and I have started a thread for discussing Deadly Decisions and Episode 40.
  • I will be speaking to the London Skepticis in the Pub on May 11, 2010. Visit http://london.skepticsinthepub.org/ to learn more.
  • Don't forget to join the Books and Ideas Facebook Fan Page.
  • Leave reviews of Books and Ideas on iTunes® or wherever you get the podcast.
  • Join me next month for a new episode of the Brain Science Podcast. The next episode of Books and Ideas will be posted in April, 2011.

Send email feedback to Dr. Campbell at gincampbell at mac dot com or leave voicemail at 205-202-0663.

Eric Maisel talks about Productive Obsessions (Books and Ideas #39)

Eric Maisel, PhDEric Maisel, PhD is a prolific author and his latest book Brainstorm: Harnessing the Power of Productive Obsessions challenges the assumption that all obsessions are bad. In Episode 39 of the Books and Ideas podcast we talk about how to cultivate what Maisel calls "productive obsessions." We also talk about the relationship between creativity and meaning. Dr. Maisel emphasizes the "necessary paradigm shift from seeking meaning to making meaning." Such a shift offers the possibility of making meaning out of any life circumstance.

Listen to Episode 39

Episode Transcript (Download PDF)

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Links and References:

Announcements:

Send your feedback to gincampbell at mac dot com or leave voicemail at 205-202-0663.

 

 

Novelists Christiana Ellis and Skyler White (B&I 38)

Books and Ideas Episode 38 was recorded live at Dragon*Con 2010, and it is an interview with novelists Skyler White (and Falling, Fly) and Christiana Ellis (Nina Kimberly the Merciless). Ellis and White talk about their work, and share lessons they have learned. This episode will be of particular interest to aspiring writers.

 Listen to Episode 38 of Books and Ideas

Episode Transcript (Download PDF)

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Show Notes and Links:

Books by Skyler White and Christiana Ellis:

Other Books and Resources:

Special Thanks To:

 Announcements:

  • Get a discount on Scott Sigler's new book The Starter by using the code GINGER
  • I have an essay in the revised and expanded edition of The Myth of Free Will by Chris Evatt
  • Books and Ideas is moving to a bi-monthly schedule, so the next episode should be out in mid-December.

Please send your comments and feedback to gincampbell at mac dot com.

 

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

Episode Transcript (Download PDF)

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.

Subscribe to Books and Ideas Podcast:

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Another look a "The Myth of Alzheimer's" (B&I 36)

The Myth of Alzheimer's: What You Aren't Being Told About Today's Most Dreaded Diagnosis (2008) argues that we should re-evaluate our current approach to dementia. Earlier this month I posted an interview with the book's main author, Dr. Peter Whitehouse (BSP 68). Episode 36 of my Books and Ideas podcast is a follow-up interview with his co-author, Daniel George. As a medical anthropologist George helps put current attitudes into an historical perspective. Labeling  large numbers of older people with the diagnosis of "Alzheimer's Disease" is a relatively new practice and a closer examination of how this occurred provides an interesting example of how the history of medicine (and science) is interwoven with political and social history. While Whitehouse and George challenge the current approach to dementia, there message is actually one of hope. I am recommending The Myth of Alzheimer's to people of all ages.

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References:

Useful Links: Announcements:

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Scott Sigler on Incorporating Science into Horror Writing (B&I 35)

Episode 35 of the Books and Ideas podcast is an interview with best-selling horror writer, Scott Sigler. Scott is widely admired for pioneering the use of podcasting to promote his fiction writing, but so far hasn't gotten the recognition I think he deserves for incorporating hard science into his unique blend of horror and science fiction. This interview gave me the opportunity to talk with Scott about how he meets the challenge of incorporating accurate science without sacrificing storytelling. I think this is an excellent follow-up to the interview I did with Sheril Kirshenbaum (co-author of Unscientific America) back in Episode 32.

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Recommended Reading: Useful Links: Announcements:
  • Don't forget to check out the Books and Ideas application for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
  • Books and Ideas will be on hiatus for the next few months while I work on producing and promoting the new premium versions of the Brain Science Podcast.
  • You can get updates by joining our Facebook Fan page or my subscribing to my newsletter.
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Bruce Hood, author of "SuperSense" (B&I 34)

Episode 34 of Books and Ideas is an interview with Bruce M Hood, author of SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable.Dr. Hood is a developmental psychologist with a long-standing interest in why people believe weird things. In SuperSense he argues that innate cognitive structures (how we think without being taught) give people a natural tendency toward belief in the supernatural. Our intuitive sense of how the world works is often at odds with the findings of modern science. In this interview we discuss the evidence for these conclusions and their implications.

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References and Links:

  • Bruce Hood's website
  • SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable by Bruce M. Hood
  • Hood, BM, "Gravity Rules for Two-  to Four-Year-Olds?" Cognitive Development 10 (1995): 577-98.
  • Lindeman & Aarnio (2007), "Superstitious, magical, and paranormal beliefs: An integrative model." Journal of Research in Personality 41, 731–744
  • Lindeman, M. & Saher, M. (2007). "Vitalism, Purpose and Superstition." British Journal of Psychology, 98(1), 33-44.
  • Lindeman, M. & Aarnio, K. (2006).  "Paranormal beliefs: Their dimensionality and correlates." European Journal of Personality, 20: 585-602.
Announcements:
  • Get episode transcripts on your iPhone or iPod Touch with the Books and Ideas application.
  • Join the Books and Ideas FaceBook Fan Page.
  • Books and Ideas and the Brain Science Podcast are supported by listener donations.
  • Coming Soon! Premium versions of both podcasts.

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Please send your comments and feedback to Dr. Campbell at gincampbell at mac dot com.

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Kyla Duffy from Happy Tails Books (B&I 33)

Kyla_Bill-200 Episode 33 of Books and Ideas an interview with Kyla Duffy, the founder of Happy Tails Books where she publishes stories about dog rescue. Her goal is to raise awareness of the plight of puppy mill dogs and to raise funds for a wide variety of canine rescue organizations. I discovered her work through my contact with German Shepherd Rescue of Central Alabama. This episode is more personal than most because I share some of the story of my rescued German Shepherd Jake, and of course, Kyla talks about rescuing a Boston Terrier named Bill (pictured above) led her to start a publishing company.

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Links of Interest:

Holiday-doxies-400photo courtesy of Courtney Po

Don't forget to visit http://happytailsbooks.com!

Rush Delivery is Available.

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"Unscientific America" with Sheril Kirshenbaum (B&I 32)

Sheril-150 Episode 32 of Books and Ideas is an interview with Sheril Kirshenbaum, co-author (with Chris Mooney) of Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future. The focus of our interview was on why it is increasingly important that scientists become skilled at communicating what we do to political leaders and to our fellow citizens. Our future depend on solving complex problems (such as global warning and energy issues), which will require accurate scientific knowledge. Unscientific America provides a fresh look at the on-going problem of scientific illiteracy while offering practical suggestions about how we can re-incorporate science into mainstream culture. It calls on scientists of all ages to embrace the role of citizen-scientist.

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References and Links:

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Send feedback to gincampbell at mac dot com or leave voicemail at 206-984-0358.

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Books and Ideas iPhone application is now available

bai_300x300 Last week I announced the new iPhone (and iPod Touch) application for the Brain Science Podcast. This week we are launching  a similar application for the Books and Ideas podcast. It features access to all episodes the episodes going back to December 2006, episode transcripts, and direct links to this website, my email and our new voice mail line at (206) 984-0358.

Go to the iTunes Store

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NASA's Les Johnson live at Dragon*Con 2009 (B&I 31)

LesDC4 Episode 31 of Books and Ideas is an interview with NASA physicist Les Johnson, PhD. We talked about his new book Paradise Regained: The Regreening of Earth. Although Dr. Johnson is a lifelong fan of science fiction he challenges the common assumption that eventually we will pollute or damage the earth so badly that humans will be forced to move to outer space. Instead, Dr. Johnson argues that we should develop the technology to get resources from outer space so that we can preserve the Earth for Life.

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Additional Links and References:

Books mentioned in this episode: Announcements:
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Books and Ideas Podcast #30: Tom Clark on Naturalism

TomClark-150 Episode 30 of Books and Ideas is an interview with Tom Clark, the head of the Center for Naturalism and author of Encountering Naturalism: A Worldview and Its Uses. I first became aware of Clark's work when I reviewed Chris Evatt's book The Myth of Free Will back in Episode 12. In this interview we talk about naturalism as a world view and examine its implications for important questions like free will and morality. Naturalism is a world view that is based on using the scientific method to discover the truth about the world. It rejects supernatural explanations. Clark explains that this means that naturalism rejects the idea of contra-causal free will but that it embraces a more compassionate approach to personal responsibility. We also talked about Clark's review of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will by Nancey Murphy and Warren S. Brown. I discussed this book in Episode 53 of the Brain Science Podcast and its co-author Warren Brown will be my guest on next month's Brain Science Podcast (Episode 62).

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LINKS:

REFERENCES: RELATED PODCAST EPISODES:
  • Episode 12 (Books and Ideas): Discussion of The Myth of Free Will, edited by Chris Evatt.
  • Episode 53 (Brain Science Podcast): Discussion of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will by Nancey Murphy and Warren S. Brown
  • Episode 62 (Brain Science Podcast): Interview with Warren Brown.

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Send Dr. Campbell feedback at gincampbell at mac.com and don't forget to join our new Facebook Fan PagefacebookFanBooks

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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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Schedule Announcement for Books and Ideas Podcast

Alaska-gin-glacier-web200

I have just posted a brief announcement in the feed for my Books and Ideas podcast. I have decided to take a break for the rest of the summer.

This will allow me to catch up on some professional activities (re-certifying my ACLS and ATLS) and perhaps get some other new projects off the ground. I have several great guests lined up and intend to post the next new episode at the end of September, 2009.

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