Founded in 2018, the Pondering Primates podcast is a series of conversations about issues in philosophy, politics, religion, reason, and much else besides. It is brought to you by students of the University of Edinburgh Atheist, Humanist, and Secularist Society.
In this unexpected addition to the series, Daniel speaks to Dr. Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens. Meleagrou-Hitchens is a lecturer in Terrorism and Radicalisation at King’s College London and Research Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. He is an expert on extremist movements whose research on jihadism has taken him as far afield as Iraq and East Africa and whose articles have appeared in Foreign Policy and The Wall Street Journal among many other outlets. His first book, Incitement: Anwar al-Awlaki’s Western Jihad was released last month; it is an analysis of perhaps the foremost English-language jihadist recruiter and propagandist of recent years, and the book, Awlaki, and jihad are the main topics of this episode. You can follow Alexander on Twitter here.
NOTE: The last five minutes-ish of the audio in this episode is a bit dysfunctional, which means both Daniel and Alexander's tracks play over each other a little and there are a few awkward seconds of silence where there weren't any. It is still audible, though, and the rest of the episode is fine. Just in case anyone was wondering!
Professor A.C. Grayling is a British philosopher and writer and Master of the New College of the Humanities in London. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of Arts, a Vice-President of Humanists UK, and an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, he is a frequent contributor to magazines and newspapers such as Prospect and The Guardian. He has written over 30 books on topics ranging from philosophy and politics to ethics and friendship. Some of his most recent books include Towards The Light, Ideas That Matter: A Personal Guide for the 21st Century, Liberty in the Age of Terror : A Defence of Civil Society and Enlightenment Values, The God Argument, Democracy and its Crisis, and The History of Philosophy. He has just recently released a new book on constitutions and reform, The Good State: On the Principles of Democracy. In this episode, the final regular one of this run, Daniel speaks to him on a variety of subjects ranging from humanism and philosophy to Brexit and wine-drinking.
Visit Anthony's website, which includes information on him and links to his articles and books, here. Follow him on Twitter here.
Andrew Copson is the Chief Executive of Humanists UK and President of Humanists International. Andrew has represented humanist organisations to places such as the House of Commons and the United Nations and has contributed to many outlets including New Humanist, The Guardian, and New Statesman and has appeared on TV and radio many times. He is the author of Secularism: A Very Short Introduction and, with A.C. Grayling, he edited The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Humanism. With Alice Roberts, he has authored the upcoming The Little Book of Humanism which relates wisdom from thousands of years of humanist thought. Visit his website here for more, including information on his previous books, and see here to preorder The Little Book of Humanism. You can also follow Andrew on Twitter here.
Peter Hitchens is an English journalist and author who writes for The Mail on Sunday. Once a revolutionary socialist, he has long since been a Burkean conservative and Anglican Christian who believes that Britain has lost its way over the past century. He views British society as irredeemably fallen thanks to the decline of Christianity, marriage, and traditional values. Once a foreign correspondent in Moscow and Washington, he has travelled widely and written on a multitude of topics. His books include The Abolition of Britain, The Abolition of Liberty, The Rage Against God, Short Breaks in Mordor, and, most recently, The Phoney Victory. In this episode, recorded not long before Boris Johnson's announcement of a national lockdown on 23rd March 2020, Daniel speaks to him on a variety of topics including coronavirus, dissent, conformity, Scotland, history, and literature.
Read Peter's Mail on Sunday column here (information about his books can be found there) and follow him on Twitter here.
In this episode, Daniel and Conrad discuss China and the Chinese Communist Party, the rights and wrongs of Chinese policy, democracy, freedom, revolution and much else. This second part of the discussion was an unplanned digression so it made sense to separate the conversation into two episodes; in the notes for the previous episode can be found details about Conrad and his work, and that episode deals primarily with Jordan Peterson.*
*Disclaimer- I should add that the figures I cited for the Uighur demographic shift in Xinjiang were unfounded. I read them in an article but couldn't find the source to back the figures up, so I retract that. -Daniel
Conrad Hamilton is a doctoral student with Catherine Malabou and lecturer at Paris 8 university. He is a contributor to What Is Post-Modern Conservatism: Essays On Our Hugely Tremendous Times edited by Matthew McManus, is currently writing Dialectic of Escape: A Conceptual History of Video Games and is a co-author of the upcoming Myth and Mayhem: A Leftist Critique of Jordan Peterson wherein he provides a chapter critiquing Peterson’s understanding of postmodernism and Marxism, among other things- which is what Conrad discusses in this episode with Daniel.*
*Conrad and I went on a rather wide tangent debating China and the CCP; since that seemed suited to being part of a separate episode, this conversation has been divided into two parts. This first part mostly deals with Jordan Peterson, while the second part features our enjoyable debate on China. As a disclaimer I should also say I didn't get the chance in either part to respond to Conrad's point about Mao's China which appears in this episode- needless to say, his views are his own as my views are my own! Perhaps another time, Conrad; there was much we didn't get to discuss... -Daniel
Daniel talks to Dr Patrick Lockwood, a Los Angeles based psychologist who’s lectured on trauma, neuroscience, critical theory, and many other topics. He offers science-based psychological help for those at risk of or dealing with burnout and makes YouTube videos in which he discusses psychology, politics, and culture. He’s also the author of the book The Fear Problem: How Technology and Culture Have Hijacked Our Minds and Lives and is working on a new book entitled The Mind Diet. Patrick discusses the psychology of fear and its effects on society and culture, among other things.
The Psychology Checkup- Patrick's YouTube channel, with many videos addressing mental health issues.
Seth Andrews was a Christian fundamentalist and radio host for decades before he left faith behind and founded The Thinking Atheist in 2009. TTA is an online community, YouTube channel, website, and podcast and is one of the biggest communities of nonbelievers online. Seth has been actively engaged in atheist activism in the US for a decade and has authored the books Deconverted: A Journey from Religion to Reason, Sacred Cows: A Lighthearted Look at Belief and Tradition Around the World, and Ghost Stories: Original Tales & Ghostly Urban Legends. Here he discusses his personal journey, his activism, US politics, the Game of Thrones finale, and much more. He lives in Oklahoma with his wife Natalie and enjoys gaming (badly, by his own admission).
The Thinking Atheist website.
TTA on YouTube.
TTA on Facebook.
TTA on Twitter.
Seth's personal website.
Seth on Twitter.
Seth gaming badly.
Daniel talks to Ben Sixsmith, an Englishman living in Poland and writer of fiction, poetry, essays, articles, and reviews among other things; his writing has been featured in an array of publications, including Quillette, The Spectator USA, The American Conservative, Areo, and Arc Digital. He’s also the author of the book Kings & Comedians: A Brief History of British Polish Relations. He writes from a self-described conservative, agnostic perspective. You can find out more about him and his work at his website and on Twitter.
Daniel is joined by Dr Nathan G. Alexander, a Canadian historian who specialises in the history of race and racism as well as the history of atheism and secularisation and often combines the two, as in his recent book Race in a Godless World: Atheism, Race, and Civilization, 1850-1914- the subject of this episode. Nathan is working on a new book about the history of the word ‘racism’ itself. See his website for more details about his work, including books and articles.
Matt McManus is Professor of Politics and International Relations at TEC de Monterrey. He is author of the books Making Human Dignity Central to International Human Rights Law and The Rise of Post-Modern Conservatism: Neoliberalism, Post-Modern Culture, and Reactionary Politics. His upcoming books include the edited version of essays What Is Post-Modern Conservatism: Essays On Our Hugely Tremendous Times and, with others, Myth and Mayhem: A Leftist Critique of Jordan Peterson. He has written for outlets such as Merion West, Areo, and Quillette, and in this episode he talks to Daniel about the idea of postmodern conservatism and Jordan Peterson.
Follow Matt on Twitter here if you want to find out more about his articles and books.
Professor Richard Wiseman is the Professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, a fellow for the Committee of Skeptical Inquiry, and a patron of Humanists UK. He has written many books on psychology which discuss, among other things, the paranormal, luck, sleep, and the moon landings. Daniel chats to him about some of these issues in this short interview he kindly agreed to before giving a talk for the Society. See Richard’s website here: https://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/.
Maryam Namazie is a famed British-Iranian human rights activist and secularist, spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and One Law for All, and hated enemy of the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In this episode, Daniel speaks to her about these, and other, matters. Please find her website, with links to all of her associated organisations among other things, here.
Adam Ramsay is a journalist and writer at Open Democracy, and is co-editor of its UK branch. He tweets @adamramsay and his articles for OD can be found here. In this episode of the podcast, Daniel talks to Adam before his talk to the Society about OD and Adam's recently co-authored report into US Christian fundamentalist funding of the European far-right, among other things, and then Adam takes audience questions after the talk (the talk itself was not recorded).
Daniel talks to Helen Pluckrose, writer, editor of Areo Magazine, self-described "exile from the humanities", one of the trio behind the Grievance Studies sting (with Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay), and with Lindsay co-author of the upcoming book 'Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity--And Why This Harms Everybody'. In this podcast Helen discusses the sting and the problems with critical theory in academia among many other things.
Peruse Areo Magazine, and find Helen's essays here.
Pre-order Helen and James Lindsay's upcoming book here.
In which Daniel and his dear friend Duncan Sutherland, an aspiring filmmaker and connoisseur of that art form, have a pleasantly rambling conversation on film and TV.
Duncan's Twitter can be found here: @DuncanSLand
Professor Chris French is head of the Anomalistic Research Unit at the University of London and a noted skeptic. Here Daniel asks him a few questions before the talk he gave to the Society; also presented is the Q + A session after the talk. See Prof French’s academic website here: https://www.gold.ac.uk/psychology/staff/french/.
Frank Cogliano is Professor of American History at the University of Edinburgh, specialising in the early Republic. Daniel sat down to ask him a few questions before he gave a talk on Thomas Jefferson, religion, and secularism; after the talk there was a Q + A, recorded here. Frank is the author of various books on American history. His academic page can be found here: https://www.ed.ac.uk/history-classics-archaeology/about-us/staff-profiles/profile_tab1_academic.php?uun=fcoglian. With Dr David Silkenat he hosts the Whiskey Rebellion podcast, which takes a look at current events in America through a historical lens: https://whiskeyrebellion.podbean.com/
On 4th October the Society hosted a film screening of Collision, a documentary featuring atheist Christopher Hitchens and Christian pastor Douglas Wilson on a debate tour (link below). After the film we had an open discussion on the issues raised by the film, and faith more generally: both believers and non-believers made contributions, and it was a fascinating discussion. The audio might be ropey given the acoustics of the room, but it should be reasonably audible (but it’s probably best to listen to this one with earphones!). Collision: https://youtu.be/ljGv2bJyR0k
We're back! The first episode of the second series (which will comprise the conversations recorded during the 2019-2020 academic year) is hosted by Daniel Sharp, president of the Society, and features him in conversation with Dr Iona Italia on many subjects ranging from Hindu nationalism to the grievance studies probe, by way of masturbation and Richard Dawkins. Daniel would like to emphasise that this is his first time hosting a podcast- but worry not, his amateurishness is offset by Iona’s eloquence and insight! Enjoy!
Iona's website: http://www.ionaitalia.com/
Two for Tea podcast: https://soundcloud.com/user-761174326
Iona's Twitter: @IonaItalia
Adam and Sam sit down with Milan Marcus, president of the University of Edinburgh Jewish Society for a conversation centred around his thoughts and personal experience with Judaism, antisemitism, Israel, and much more.
Hosted by Adam Frisk and Sam Angell, the 2018-2019 President and Treasurer of the Society respectively, this is the first episode of the first series of Pondering Primates. This first series comprises all the conversations recorded in the 2018-2019 academic year. Here Adam and Sam have a conversation with Amrita Krishnakumar, President of the university's Hindu Society.