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Episode 142 :: Melissa Lee, Matt Lowry, Melissa Kaercher :: Dealing with Different Views

Matt Lowry

How often do we have conversations where all participants agree, completely, on all points? Just shy of never. Every day, we are going to run into an expected variety of thoughts, opinions, and beliefs. Some of these will be held quite strongly, others not so much. It gets difficult when the passion about ideas is fierce, and the divergence between ideas is wide.

When we do find ourselves in situations where the discussion is going to happen, how can we engage in ways that not only leave doors open, but actively create bridges? Today’s episode is based on a situation that occured at DragonCon, during the science track in a panel discussion about evolution and creationism. It was recorded in a crowded bar, so I thank you for your patience with the background sounds and ask for your understanding that we don’t always have the benefits of quiet, Skype based conversations.

Matt Lowry is a high school physics teacher with a strong interest in promoting science education & critical thinking among his students and the population in general. He is a self-described skeptic, someone who believes in Carl Sagan’s adage that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” His blog The Skeptical Teacher is to allow Matt to expound upon various topics related to skepticism, science, and education.

Melissa Kaercher

Melissa Kaercher is a professional colorist, letterer, and web designer from Minneapolis. She is an active part of the skeptic community, participating in Mad Art Lab events, and is a frequent panelist in conventions across the country. Melissa is also co-host of The Geek Life podcast.

Melissa Lee

Melissa (“Missy”) Lee is the head of Minnesota Skeptics, and is what you might call a “convert” skeptic: once a true believer in all kinds of assorted woo. She values critical thinking skills, and hosts the MN Skeptics Newbie Nights and monthly Drinking Skeptically get togethers in Minneapolis.


“Physics is for everyone.” — Matt Lowry


Web Links


Music for This Episode Courtesy of Rodrigo Rodriguez

The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez. The track used in this episode is “This Time to the West” from his CD, Traditional and Modern Pieces: Shakuhachi.

No Comments

  1. PatrickT on November 10, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Great podcast! Lots of useful advice on how to encourage people to see reason. More importantly though, lots of useful advice on how to treat people with respect and kindness.

  2. Dana Nourie on November 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Matt, share the link to the podcast you did with the ghost hunter!

  3. Doug Smith on November 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks for the interesting discussion, Ted. I’ve had similar discussions among folks at the forum I administer. The general point I make (which someone — maybe it was you — made here) is that it’s great that there are some skeptics who are willing to discuss these topics in an open, non-judgmental and genuine manner with those who disagree. It’s really necessary and great to have such people in the movement.

    But as is shown by some on your panel’s appreciation for the SGU podcast (not to mention PZ!), which does not usually take such a non-judgmental tack, it’s also really great that some are willing to call a troll a troll. Because these are serious matters, they have plainly correct solutions, and not everyone has the interest, the stomach, or (let’s face it) the luxury to debate creationists forever.

    It’s also important to have a plain and articulate statement of what the movement stands for, and some people who are talented at speaking to those already convinced or wavering.

    So the skeptical movement generally is best advanced along a broad front.

    Lastly, it bears saying there really are some folks who are just trolling.

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