Episode 131: Witch-Hunt (with guest Leo Igwe)

leo_igweInterview: Leo Igwe

The award-winning human rights activist Leo Igwe exposes how witchcraft accusations are used to prey upon societies most vulnerable, often with tragic consequences. He recounts how the study of philosophy emboldened him to speak out against the dangers of superstitious and magical thinking in his home country of Nigeria and some of the challenges of promoting critical thinking and humanism in Africa.

Articles by Leo Igwe
Foundation Beyond Belief – Pathfinders Project

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God Thinks Like You: The Evil Eye, God & Moral Typecasting


Witch-hunts often begin because of the natural envy felt by members of small communities towards their more successful peers. A related superstition, fear of “the evil eye”, is common in a variety of cultures and might play a role in managing envy among close neighbors. Moral typecasting theory might help explain why the human mind is so prone to seeing supernatural agency both tragic and uplifting events that have strong moral importance.

Blaming God for Our Pain by Gray and Wegner (2009)
Warding Off the Evil Eye by Van de Ven, Zeelenberg and Pieters

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Counter-Apologetics: The Fallacy of Understated Evidence


Some of the best arguments for theism begin with general facts of the world that seem more likely if a god were to exist, but as Paul Draper argues, further examination of specific facts complicates the picture, making theism seem less likely. Justin Schieber argues that the fine tuning of the universe and the existence of biological beings capable of agency, are two such facts that on the surface seem more probable on theism, until one digs deeper.

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Religion in the Headlines:


A Catholic Archdiocese objects to the “Ice Bucket Challenge”

Orthodox beliefs complicate organ donation in Israel

Openly religions & non-religious job candidates receive fewer calls.

Battle over whether guru is dead or just meditating
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  1. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    The full episode is 274 megs!?
    I haven’t finished downloading (estimated total time to fetch: 2 hours), but the file looks to have been encoded at 320 kb/s.

  2. Laura Brown says

    I’m having the same issue with downloading. Good to know it isn’t my Internet connection.

  3. MK says

    Yea the file clearly isn’t compressed. Other podcast episodes are in the tens of megabytes, this is nearly 300mb.

  4. rc says

    Any possibility you can re-encode this podcast? The last podcast of similar size was “only” 65 MB in stark contrast to the current 274 MB. My poor basic DSL service is crying for mercy :)

  5. BluePrint says

    The organ donation situation in Israel isn’t as bad as you think.
    It’s worse.
    The religious edict is not against donating organs, but against accepting donated organs from Jews.
    This was made clear 4 years ago by a religious woman, who’s life was saved by receiving a “second hand” lung (from another Jewish woman, but the lung was originally from a non-Jew), when she was asked if she would now sign a donor card.
    After praising god (for giving another Jewish woman a fatal stroke), she said no, because it is forbidden by the religious authority.

    And then, only months later, a famous former football player, brain dead after a road accident, who signed a donor card years prior, was buried whole because the wife was pressured by religious people not to comply with her husband’s wishes.

    If I’m not mistaken, that was the trigger to create the preferred recipient status of donors over non-donors, and the card now have a “ask a religious authority” check box, the donor can leave empty.

  6. MK says

    Top notch episode guys. I’m really glad you introduced me to Leo. What an awesome guy.

    Keep it up.

  7. Chris Wecks says

    Great episode as usual. And Justin, very excited to see you debate in San Jose this coming Wednesday. See you there ~Chris

  8. Latverian Diplomat says

    Just wanted to pop in and say this was a great episode and I especially enjoyed Luke’s segment. I really enjoy his clear, thoughtful presentations of interesting and important results from the psychology and sociology of religion, belief, and morality, and this particular segment was a stellar example.

  9. Mike R says

    Not on topic, but wondered if you had covered this, or have any pointers on the topic.

    A friend “liked” the following story, which to me is the case of a sad deluded soul “curing” themselves through the emotional off loading/surrender of their ego to a more benevolent imagined persona (similar to AA, I think and what I knew of the born again movement in UK universities back in the eighties). This troubles me as, although I am delighted she has found a way to improve her life, it is at the cost of investing in further delusion, which could have other pernicious effects later in life depending on the community she is within and their other beliefs. That said, it seems to shows a positive transformative power through faith and I wonder if there is a way to harness this with mainstream psychology, as this sort of thing seems to be the foundation of many friends beliefs. I would love to have the information to discuss it with them in more detail. Thanks!


    Mike Pilavachi
    4 September at 20:30 ·

    How about this as a testimony from this summer:
    “I am 14 years old & I came to Soul Survivor last year, but was struggling with self harm, believing all the lies people were telling me about myself, and was having many conversations with God on why my life had become so rubbish. While lots of other people were crying because of the Holy Spirit, I was crying because I was tired of trying to stay strong and failing. One time near the end of last year, I was cutting and I just wanted comfort, so that’s what I prayed for. I felt God put His arm around me. This year, I came already as a lot happier person, but scared that I’d go back to the person I was before, and I managed to tell myself what happened on the one night a while ago never happened. On the second to last night, the youth intern at my church was trying to get me to say out loud “Jesus loves me, I am His daughter and He has a place in heaven for me”… it took a long time for me to just say that Jesus loves me, I just didn’t feel it was true. But on the last night, I stood up for healing. My youth leader prayed for me, I cried a lot, shook a bit, and when my youth leader let go of my shoulder, it felt like someone was still there. When I need comforting, I often rock myself, and just before worship on the last night, when we were all standing up, I rocked, but this time I felt God say “you don’t need to comfort yourself because I’m here”.
    This year at Soul Survivor, I’ve learnt that Jesus loves me, I have amazing friends I can count on and if I ever did go back to the person I was before and slip up, Jesus will never slip up because He is stronger and bigger. In October, I’ll be half a year clean from cutting.”


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