Tag Archives: social media

#83 – Leaving the Mormon Church

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In this edition of the podcast, Aidan is speaking to Eric Pratt, a former radical member of the Mormon Church. Born and raised in Utah, Eric was a follower of Mormonism for over 20 years, including two years spent as a proselytizing Mormon missionary. In this intriguing audio, Eric tells the story of his indoctrination into, and his escape out of, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Eric also talks about the infamous founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, what it was like to be a missionary, the prevalence of misogyny within religion, living a moral life as an atheist, and much more. A prequel of sorts to this episode is also available, see episode 82 – Project Extra: The Legacy of Christopher Hitchens.

Expanded show notes:

Recovering from Religion offers resources to people who are seeking advice on leaving religion.

Related episodes:

#82 – Project Extra: The Legacy of Christopher Hitchens

#81 – Project Extra: Revisiting The Covenant

#80 – Richard Carrier on Christianity, Jesus, and Christian Apologetics

#45 – De-Platformed: Challenging Bad Ideas [a wide-ranging conversation with British ex-Muslim, Sadia Hameed]

#77 – Defending Trump’s Presidency

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Dr. Larry Fedewa says that Donald Trump would do well to tweet less often and to rein in some of his unseemly language, but, nevertheless, Dr. Fedewa argues that Trump is doing a good job as United States President. In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan is speaking to Dr. Larry Fedewa, a conservative political commentator, with countless media contributions to his name, including the Washington Times. How successful has Trump’s administration been in gaining legislative support? What can be said of Trump’s foreign policy? Is Trump a new Ronald Reagan or is he more akin to a much earlier President, Andrew Jackson? Could Trump face impeachment, and if so, how does the impeachment process work? What is the future of the odd relationship between Trump and the mainstream media? All of these questions, and much more, are considered during this intriguing episode.

Aidan also spoke to Dr. Fedewa for the bonus audio episode, #75 – Project Extra: The Gun Debate.

For more information on Dr. Larry, you can visit his website at http://www.mypoliticalinsights.com. Larry is also on Twitter at https://twitter.com/lawrencefedewa, and you can view his Amazon author page at https://www.amazon.com/Lawrence-J.-Fedewa/e/B076P8Q1W8 (US) and https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lawrence-J.-Fedewa/e/B076P8Q1W8 (UK).

Expanded show notes:

‘Trump says Kim meeting is ‘in the making’ despite concerns’, BBC News website, 10 March 2018.

‘Even when Trump is right, mainstream media downplays it rather than be honest — and more media embarrassments’, Fox News website, 10 March 2018.

“He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion.”

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

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#76 – The Evolution of Alternative Facts

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In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan is talking to Dr. Gleb Tsipursky of the Pro-Truth Pledge about the battle for honest discourse. This is an important consideration. During a speech at the White House in January 2017, Donald Trump’s Press Secretary at the time, Sean Spicer, famously said: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.” This statement has been endlessly mocked, but, in more serious terms, it has come to represent, as stated shortly afterwards without irony by Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway, as not being a lie, but an entirely different version of the truth. Spicer, explained Conway, was not being dishonest, but was dealing in “alternative facts”. Comparisons to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four were manifestly obvious and, indeed, were deeply indicative of a very real problem. What is the answer to alternative facts? Utilising research in behavioral science, Dr. Tsipursky is leading a team effort to address post-truth politics, fake news, and those unscrupulous alternative facts. Dr. Tsipursky is asking people, be they members of congress or members of the public, to sign the Pro-Truth Pledge as a commitment to deal in only one type of fact, and not the alternative variety. Dr. Tsipursky explains the motivation behind this movement, and outlines his hopes for a more honest arena of public discourse. Why are humans so easily misled? What can be done about fake news? Is it possible that Donald Trump would sign such a pledge? How has social media been manipulated to spread misinformation, and can this be prevented? These questions, including a fascinating look at why humans are, from an evolutionary standpoint, poorly equipped to deal with the modern age, are featured in this episode.

For more information on the Pro-Truth Pledge, or to sign the pledge, head to https://www.protruthpledge.org/take-the-pro-truth-pledge/

Expanded show notes:

‘Richard Dawkins: We’re too stupid to decide on EU (that includes me)’, The Times, 23 May 2016.

‘Nigel Farage backtracks on Leave campaign’s ‘£350m for the NHS’ pledge hours after result’, The Independent, 24 June 2016.

Related episode:

#10 – George Orwell Versus Alternative Facts
#17 – The Fake News Agenda
#63 – Tribalism Aboard the Ship of Theseus

#74 – Déjà Vu: Consciousness and Free Will

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In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan is joined by Mary Shores, author of Conscious Communications: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Harnessing the Power of Your Words to Change Your Mind, Your Choices, and Your Life, to discuss neuroscience, positive thinking, free will, the self, consciousness, stress, the negative aspects of social media, and much more. In fact, Aidan and Mary are having this conversation for the second time, the previous conversation having been lost due to the capricious nature of technology. This time, however, nothing was lost, and a wide-ranging conversation has been preserved. Recognized as a leader of innovative thought, Mary travels across the United States giving lectures, and teaching courses, and has been featured on local and national radio and television shows, podcasts, and blogs. Within this episode, Mary speaks candidly about life’s challenges, providing practical guidance, alongside first-hand experience, to explain the power of positive thinking. 

For more information on Mary, you can head to Mary’s website at http://www.maryshores.com/, you can find Mary on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mary_shores, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/shoresmary/ and on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/c/maryshores. For options on purchasing Conscious Communications, head to http://maryshores.com/the-book/.

Expanded show notes:

As a thank you for listening to the podcast, Mary is currently offering a free download for the Conscious Communications Guidebook, which serves as a companion course for Conscious Communications. Featuring over 35 pages of exercises, you can sign-up for your free copy at http://maryshores.com/guidebook.

#73 – Abraham’s Secular Covenant

#58 – Notes on Shame and the Modern Pillory

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Shaming is a form of social control. When a person violates the established norms of their community, the group may respond by condemning, avoiding and ostracizing the ‘guilty’ person. In this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan examines public shaming in 18C London – where the guilty were placed in the pillory and pelted with various objects, including dead cats – and compares this to social media shaming. Is the treatment meted out on Twitter in 2017 little better than a 1717 stint in the pillory? Why do people join in to attack people they barely know or, more importantly, why do people attack others for ‘offences’ that are often spurious, subjective or not even understood? Aidan looks at one of the most famous cases of social media shaming, the only positive aspect of which was that no dead cats were hurled at the offender. The inherent danger in assisting with frantic social media shaming is that of potentially trivialising something real or exaggerating something trivial. There are, of course, many reasons to be genuinely outraged; Aidan is arguing that by rising up to engage in purely-reactionary shaming, the sphere of honest public discourse is suffering as a result.

Bibliography [by appearance]

Robert Shoemaker, The London Mob: Violence and Disorder in Eighteenth-Century England, (London: Hambledon Continuum, 2004).

‘The price of public shaming in the Internet age’, CNN web site, 16 April 2015, http://www.edition.cnn.com/2015/04/16/living/feat-public-shaming-ronson/index.html

‘A Terrible Shame. Enforcing moral norms without the law is no way to create a virtuous society’, Slate web site, 9 April 2015, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/view_from_chicago/2015/04/internet_shaming_the_legal_history_of_shame_and_its_costs_and_benefits.html

‘How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life’, New York Times web site, 12 February 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html

 

Donald Trump: Man of Letters

[This is a podcast companion article for episode 38 – ‘Notes on Making America Great Again‘.]

Listen to #38 – Making America Great Again

Many of Donald Trump’s tweets have not aged well. And some tweets have certainly aged worse than others.

It seems apparent that neither Trump nor his supporters are affected by the shame or embarrassment of what have proven to be ridiculous statements. Meanwhile, the rest of the world experiences astonishment at the rich irony to be found from such broken proclamations. Indeed, even the pariah of the international community, North Korea, has been critical of Trump’s Twitter outbursts, noting that Trump posts “ego-driven thoughts” and “rubbish” (Independent, 23 August 2017).

Here is my countdown, from 10 down to one, of the most, in hindsight, embarrassing tweets that the current United States President has bestowed upon the world. This is not a list of the most egregious attacks on individuals nor the most troubling anti-democratic statements, but a look back at utterances which, for a morally conscious human, would be the most cringe-worthy to reflect on in terms of their later inaccuracy or hypocrisy.

Before we begin the countdown, there is a bonus tweet which I could not quite justify including in the top ten, though it may perhaps find its way there in the future. This potential promotion depends on the outcome of the ongoing investigation regarding alleged collusion between Trump and the Russian government.

The bonus tweet:

Hold on tight, here is the top ten:

Do you agree or disagree on the top ten? Please do tweet me and let me know. In any case, we can be sure there are numerous more tweets which will look utterly horrendous in the dark days yet to come.

[Further commentary: All Aidan Project Podcasts and Articles on Donald Trump]

 

#40 – Downloading a President

The United States Intelligence Community concluded with high confidence that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan is joined on the line from Israel by Ran Levi, an accomplished technology expert, science author and podcaster. In this episode, Aidan and Ran discuss the Russian hacking and/or cyber-meddling, and whether this type of outside interference can be stopped or whether it will also affect the 2020 U.S. presidential election. What exactly did the Russians do? And how did they do it? This episode also takes a look at the recent ransomware attacks which counted the British National Health Service amongst its victims, Donald Trump’s use of Twitter, the echo chamber mentality of social media, a possible showdown between NATO and North Korea, and much more. Born in Israel in 1975, Ran studied electrical engineering, and has worked as an electronics engineer and programmer for several high tech companies in Israel. Ran has written three books in Hebrew, Perpetuum Mobile, The Little University of Science, and Battle of Minds.  You can find Ran on Twitter @ranlevi or visit his web site at www.ranlevi.com. Ran’s new podcast, ‘Malicious Life’, has topped the iTunes charts in Israel and is available at www.malicious.lifeYou can tweet Aidan with your thoughts @theaidanproject.

Aidan and Ran’s previous episode together is called ‘Malicious Assured Destruction‘.

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