Episode 112: The Great Agnostic with guest Susan Jacoby

dude_was_great_and_an_agnosticToday most Americans have never heard of Robert Green Ingersoll but in the 19th century he was considered one of the greatest orators of his age. Known as “the Great Agnostic”, Ingersoll criticized religion and championed progressive political causes with great ferocity, wit and humor. Though his writings are controversial even by today’s standards his personal charm was so disarming that people would travel miles for a chance to hear him speak. Susan Jacoby, author of Freethinkers and the Age of American Unreason joins us to talk about her new biography of Ingersoll and to illuminate how his courage and integrity continues to inspire to this day. Also on this episode: Unlike Ingersoll, Pope Francis seems to have more charm than courage and the doubtcasters enjoy a hearty “I told you so” moment thanks to a new study on the impact of free will/ determinism belief on ones larger worldview.

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  1. Annie S. says

    Thank you for another great podcast, I always look forward to your show. I was very glad to hear about Ingersol and his social outreach, Susan Jacoby was really interesting. Could you provide a link to the study you discuss at the end on people’s beliefs and determinism? Thanks!

  2. says

    I would like to wish the cast and all the fans of Reasonable Doubts a joyous Zombie Awareness Day otherwise known to the less fortunate as Easter! ZAD commemorates one of the first, best documented, and most tragic cases of a Zombie outbreak that took place in 30 CE.

    This horrific event took place nearly two millennia ago, yet the dire consequences of that one fateful night of the living dead have spanned the globe and have stretched throughout all of history, including today.

    I enthusiastically encourage all to dedicate this weekend to contemplating the importance of “aiming for the head” to help prevent such a catastrophe from ever occurring again.

    Is it just a coincidence that The Walking Dead season finale is the very same weekend, or is some secret society or the universe itself trying to warn us of the approaching Zombie Apocalypse? I smell a new conspiracy theory brewing.

    Many thanks Reasonable Doubts for the informative and inspirational podcast,
    Andrew Antaro, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada!

  3. Lausten North says

    Thanks for the props for Liberation Theology. Always good to acknowledge progress, even if it was small and even if the major Catholic leaders have since back tracked. Liberation Theology continues today, called Latin American Theology by some. Gustav Gutierrez is now at Notre Dame.

  4. grizzle says

    Can anyone provide a link to the study that was discussed at towards the end of this episode? Haven’t managed to find it online yet but I don’t recall ever hearing the article’s title — just the authors names.

  5. Medulloman says

    There’s no polite way of saying this but this podcast was made better by Dave’s absence.

  6. Jan says

    Thanks for a great interview. I’m reading the book now and wonder if any of you have visited the Beckwith Theatre in Dowagiac, MI mentioned on pages 74-76. I was raised in Detroit and never heard of the city let alone the theatre, what a loss to my education! It is still holding plays; this one of the few reasons for me to return to Michigan.

  7. says

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  8. corky says

    In your discussion of beliefs and free-will or determinism,etc. you mention the example of MDs who can espouse beliefs that completely deny any scientific thinking. As a college educator who teaches many premed students, I can tell you that this is because many of these students have NO interest in SCIENCE or learning to think like a scientist. They want to become DRs and do not see this as involving science. A colleague of mine told me about a staunch creationist who is currently in medical school at a major university. Medical school does not teach people to be scientists, there are some scientists who go to medical school, but they learned to be scientists before they got there.

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