Inquisitive Minds Podcast Critical Thinking on History, Religion, Politics and Culture

We are happy to be back with our first episode of 2017! We wish all of our listener all the best in this new year. This episode contains the third and last part of a conference given by André Gagné during the first Global Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Forum organized by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS). The event was held on November 16 & 17, 2016 at Concordia University.

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This is part 2 of a conference given by André Gagné during the first Global Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Forum organized by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS). The event was held on November 16 & 17, 2016 at Concordia University.

* Please note that our next episode of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast will air on January 16th, 2017. We would like to wish all our listeners a Happy Holiday Season and all the best for the new year!
 
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This episode covers the first part of a conference given by André Gagné during the first Global Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Forum organized by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS). The event was held on November 16 & 17, 2016 at Concordia University and was made possible by the generous support of the Consulate General of the United States in Montreal. This forum brought together experts and practitioners from academia, the government and civil society. The goal was to discuss and find solutions to the current threat that violent extremism is posing to societies across the world.

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* Please note that our next episode will be on Monday, November 28th, 2016.
 
In this week's episode of the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we look at how education can play a significant role in preventing religious radicalization leading to violence. The type of education needed should equip students to discern between what is mythological and what is historical; students essentially need to acquire critical thinking skills in order to protect themselves against fundamentalism. A lack of critical thinking about religion is precisely what can lead to radicalization. Students, therefore, should not be given religious education in high school or in college - this should rather be the role of religious communities - but rather, students should be taught about religion from historical, comparative, anthropological, social, and cognitive perspectives.

 

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In this third episode dedicated to Tim Whitmarsh's book, Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World, we review his section on the Hellenistic Era where kings were sometimes worshiped as "gods". Some philosophers, however, were skeptical of such ideas and adopted an agnostic position toward the existence of gods. Epicureans, on the other hand,believed in gods but not in their involvement in the world, and since the gods were different in matter and not part of this world, they even thought that there existed a plurality of universes; a concept similar to what is now referred to as "multiverse".


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This week on the Inquisitive Minds Podcast, we analyse Hector Avalos' book Fighting Words. The Origins of Religious Violence in light of the recent clash between Ben Affleck and Sam Harris on Real Time with Bill Maher (see clip here). The question was whether or not one can critique religion, especially when it promotes bad ideas. Believing that one's religion holds the truth over all others will inevitably lead to conflict. Some see religious pluralism as a way out of this impasse, but according to Avalos, religious pluralism can be good only if it is subservient to secular humanist values. It is truly the only way to bring about non-violent global peace. But how do we contend with the fact that religions often oppose secular humanism's view of the world? Can we truly reconcile religious pluralism and secular humanism? We tackle these and other questions in this week's podcast.

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In our new series dedicated to the Religion and Violence, we will be discussing Hector Avalos' relevant book: Fighting Words. The Origins of Religious Violence (Prometheus, 2005). Is religion is prone to violence? What are different theories of violence and how does one define religion? Is religion the cause of all violence? If not, what are the differences between religious violence and secular violence? According to Avalos, religion causes violence when it creates scarce resources. As a result, the benefits of that religion are not equally distributed among everyone, and this is what essentially lies at the root of religious violence.

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In this last podcast dedicated to Critical Thinking, we tackle more common logical fallacies such as: Personal Incredulity, Burden of Proof, Tu Quoque, Reductio ad Absurdum, Begging the Question, Red Herring, Argumentum e Silentio, Straw Man, Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc, No True Scotsman, and Appeal to Emotion. We wish to remind our listeners that you can also find us on iTunes and Stitcher, as well as on many other providers. Please take a minute to follow us on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook!

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In our series on Critical Thinking, we will are now turning our attention to Logical Fallacies. A fallacy is an error in reasoning and inconsistency in Critical Thinking. Inconsistent ways of thinking are also manifest through contradictions and hypocrisy. This being said, people can also commit fallacies unknowingly. The important thing is to learn to identify bad thinking habits and correct them. People need to learn to stick to arguments and not engage in personal attacks, shift the burden of proof or make unreasonable appeals to authority to substantiate their claims. Building arguments on logical premises will lead to coherent and reasonable conclusions.

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As a follow-up to last weeks episode, we continue our discussion on the value of critical thinking. But one might ask: What exactly is critical thinking and what are the steps of inquiry needed to engage in such a practice? When tackling specific questions, people need to go beyond the descriptive and carefully analyse the topic at hand through the use of a coherent methodology, as well as to evaluate the outcome of any given inquiry. Failing to identify the implications of our reasoning is the most common mistake when attempting to apply critical thinking.

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