RealClear Radio Hour – Special Podcast From Beirut

20 Jul

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Lebanon as Fault Line

JUL 19, 2014

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Ghassan Moukheiber, Lebanese Member of Parliament, describes Lebanon’s complex history of conflict and 15 years of evolving civil war. Considered a confederated pluralist democracy along confessional religious lines, Lebanon continues to struggle to balance its tradition of theocracy and secularist constitutional.

LISTEN (full-length interview)
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WATCH (on YouTube)

On the Syrian Refugee Crisis

JUL 19, 2014

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Dr. Alain Hakim, Lebanon’s Minister of Economy and Trade, compares the country’s Palestinian refugee crisis of the 1960s and its lasting effects to its Syrian refugee population today and offers proposals for reform.

LISTEN (full-length interview)
DOWNLOAD from iTunes (as aired)
WATCH (on YouTube)

 

Huffington Post – Go Ahead, Blame The Jews For All The Troubles In The World

16 Jul

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Their invention of monotheism has proven to be the curse that keeps on giving

No, don’t blame contemporary Israelis. Blame Bronze Age Semitic Canaanites circa 800 B.C.. When Yahweh whipped Baal in the battle of the barbecued bulls (1 Kings 18) the one-and-only jealous God began his ascendance. Except he didn’t stay one-and-only for long as Judaism metastasized into Christianity, Islam, and countless derivatives that have since delivered centuries of strife as zealots practiced the commandment “Thou Shalt Put No Other Gods Before Me” with a vengeance.

As long as a pantheon of gods and goddess rich with foibles cavorted about spawning fantastical tales that could be taken with a grain of salt, there was plenty of room to absorb new deities, rites, and traditions. Want to build a temple to your favorite local god? Knock yourself out. Conquer a strange new land full of unfamiliar deities? Welcome them to the family, or convince the yokels that one of your gods is really theirs under another name. (You have a god of wine? Waddya know, so do we!) Never foment rebellions by putting the local priests out of business. Just put them on the payroll, they can help collect taxes and pacify the natives.

Religion taught civic virtues, not personal redemption. And it certainly wasn’t used to recruit suicide bombers with promises of 72 virgins. Piety could be practiced with or without the intervention of paid professionals, festivals were frequent and fun, myths and legends both instructed and amused, sacred art, theater, and architecture flourished, and sex was celebrated, not twisted into a tool to peddle guilt, frustration, and abnegation.

But when the Romans came up against the Temple Cult Jews, there was no civilizing them. (You sacrifice bull, I burn entrails, make Yahweh happy. Uh, I eat the meat. Thanks for the hide. Next!) Even burning down their abattoir temple didn’t help. And once Paul of Tarsus spread the seeds of monotheism outside the Levant, discovering how to turn misery in this life into history’s greatest gold mine by promising everlasting joy in the next, clerics stumbled onto a business model that couldn’t be beat. Flowering in the detritus of the Roman Empire with help from a hallucinating warlord, monotheism multiplied then divided, as schisms, reformations, and fresh revelations spawned new generations of holy men who heard voices in their heads.

You can read the rest of the column in the HuffingtonPost here.

Forbes – Bad Science Muckrakers Question the Big Science Status Quo

14 Jul

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All is not well in publish-or-perish, peer review, government grant land

Among the American public, trust in professional scientists and scientific journals is declining. Yet an overwhelming majority still believes that science “remains a source for good in the world.” Could the public be on to something? Medical-doctor-turned-journalist Ivan Oransky thinks so. And it’s a growing problem.

As editor and publisher of Retraction Watch, a closely followed industry blog that tracks peer-reviewed journal articles withdrawn from publication, Oransky is raising awareness of the impact that competition for grants and career advancement is having on the quality of the science being produced. Far from being above the fray and immune to corrupting influences, “Scientists are just as human as anyone else,” says Oransky. And increasingly, “People are starting to see scientists the way they really are.”

One of the deeper problems is the publish-or-perish fight for resources, tenure, and prestige among the elite scientists whose living depends on maintaining the trust of the taxpayers who foot their bills. “Publication is the coin of the realm in academia,” says Oransky. “If you want to get tenure, if you want to get grants, if you want get promoted, if you want to get exposed to companies that might license your products, you have to publish in top journals.”

The academic pecking order is based on the number of papers a scientist gets published in high impact factor journals, that is, journals whose papers are heavily cited by other scientists. And yet, “The vast majority of scientific publications are never cited. There are something like 30,000 [published papers] a week.” How many of those can be first rate? How much second- and third-rate science is being funded? And how can we know?

To read the rest of the column in Forbes click here.

RealClear Radio Hour – Bad Science Special Podcast

13 Jul

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Increasing Retractions Mark Misconduct

JUL 12, 2014

Ivan Oransky, co-founder of the academic watchdog Retraction Watch, professor of medical journalism at New York University, and global editorial director of the medical news site MedPage Today, discusses the trend of increasing fraud, falsification, and plagiarism in the scientific community and the disincentives to retracting bad science reporting.

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LISTEN (full-length interview)
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WATCH (on YouTube)

Conflict of Interest Mania

JUL 12, 2014

Tom Stossel, MD, Director of Translational Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and American Cancer Society Professor of Medicine, talks about the artificial, government-driven divide between academics and the medical and drug industries, enforced by the threat of prosecutorial extortion and debarment.

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LISTEN (full-length interview)
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Forbes – NPR’s Seven Secrets of Feigning Objectivity

8 Jul

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Most media outlets try, but few can top NPR’s enduring success

Fox News declares itself fair and balanced. MSNBC leans forward. The Gray Lady promises All the News that’s Fit to Print. Yes, most media organizations work hard to convince their audience that they cover every angle of every story in pursuit of objectivity. Of course, most modern professional journalists would dismiss the notion that there’s such a thing as “objectivity,” and insist that all we can strive for is “balance.”

Yet, the ideal of news organizations as dispassionate observers persists. And few have been as successful at perpetuating it as National Public Radio (NPR). How do they do it? Through what I call the Seven Secrets of Feigning Objectivity:

1) Topic Selection
2) Guest Selection
3) Framing
4) Questions Asked
5) Questions Not Asked
6) Editing
7) Civility

To read the rest of the column in Forbes click here.

RealClear Radio Hour – Kaplan CEO Tom Leppert Podcast

7 Jul

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Raising Barriers to Education
JUL 5, 2014

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Tom Leppert, former mayor of Dallas and CEO of Kaplan Inc., discusses Kaplan’s career colleges, how they serve largely at-risk communities, and their success rates with graduation and career placement compared to those of traditional institutions. Leppert discusses why proposed rules like the Department of Education’s gainful employment regulation unfairly target for-profit schools and will eliminate access to education for those in greatest need.

LISTEN (full-length interview)
DOWNLOAD from iTunes (as aired)

WATCH (on YouTube)

RealClear Radio Hour – Ethernet Inventor Bob Metcalfe Podcast

6 Jul

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Practicing and Preaching Technological Innovation
JUL 5, 2014

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Bob Metcalfe, University of Texas at Austin Professor of Innovation and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise, provides his take on the classic success story of the Internet since its birth in 1969. Metcalfe discusses his contributions in founding 3Com and inventing the Ethernet, his enduring love of startups, and his commitment to help Austin surpass Silicon Valley.

LISTEN (full-length interview)
DOWNLOAD from iTunes (as aired)
WATCH (on YouTube)

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