Tag Archives: Truth

#76 – The Evolution of Alternative Facts

new-york-times-newspaper-1159719_1920 Cropped
[Problem with the web audio player? Click here for the full range of listening options]

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

#73 – Abraham’s Secular Covenant

sand-1696378_1920 Cropped
[Problem with the web audio player? Click here for the full range of listening options]

Abraham is the common patriarch of the three major world religions. Indeed, Abraham was supposedly a man of such faith in God that, when commanded to do so, he would have sacrificed his son, Isaac, to prove his devotion. Such fanciful tales are easily dismissed, but Aidan’s guest, Bernard Lamborelle, argues that the Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – very likely do have a real story to tell about a covenant, but not a religious one. Instead, an earthly tale, argues Lamborelle, would later be adapted and obscured until a simple handshake between Abraham and a mortal lord became a story which proclaimed a divine covenant with the almighty. Lamborelle’s industrious research resulted in a book, The Covenant: On the Origin of the Abrahamic Faith, by Means of Deification, which takes readers back to 3,500 years ago, to a time when men of power were viewed as living gods. Using a holistic, literal, and secular interpretation, this historical essay first demonstrates that the Abrahamic narrative from Genesis is far more coherent when considered from the standpoint of a mortal lord alongside the establishment of an earthly, rather than divine, covenant. In this episode, Aidan and Bernard discuss the fascinating reframing of Abraham’s covenant, the implications that the adoption of such an understanding could have for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, and a great deal more, including the battle between the forces of secularism and religious literalism.

Bernard has very kindly made the book available via Smashwords for a period of 30 days following the release of this episode. Head to 
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/766677 and simply enter the code HG64L at the checkout. The offer expires on 16 March 2018.

You can visit Bernard’s web site at http://www.earthlycovenant.com/ and follow Bernard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/blambore. Bernard would be delighted to hear from you.

Expanded show notes:


Bernard Lamborelle, Rehabilitating Sodom in support of the LGBT community.

The Aidan Project Live: Inside Veganism

#71 – Inspiring The Aidan Project

#66 – Hope and Chaos: 2017 Unpacked

pexels-photo-372038 Cropped
[Problem with the web audio player? Click here for the full range of listening options]

In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan is joined by cultural anthropologist, Jared Miracle, to review 2017. Taking a thematic approach, Aidan and Jared look at the stories which they believe will retain importance in the coming years. This is not a mere countdown show, but a considered appraisal of what 2017 will come to represent in the future. What will 2017 be remembered for in political circles? What issue of protest or division in 2017 will dominate the history books? And, amongst several stories which are perhaps not conducive to generating a smug sense of satisfaction about human progress, what was the most heartwarming moment of 2017? The year has not lacked in hatred, but what can it offer in hope?

Aidan and Jared have both chosen an option from the following themes:

The Biggest Story
Politics and International Relations
Protest and Division
Science, Technology and the Environment
Popular Culture

To all listeners of the podcast, thank you so much for listening this year – have a wonderful 2018.

If you would like to support the podcast, you can do so here.

References, useful links and further reading:

[In order of episode reference]

For more information on Jared, please visit his web site at http://www.jaredmiracle.com or his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/jaredmiraclewriter. Jared has also started guest-hosting for the New Books in Anthropology Podcast – see http://newbooksnetwork.com/category/anthropology/ for download links.

All False statements involving Donald Trump, PolitiFact, 2017.

For North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, 2017 has been a very good year, Washington Post, 24 December 2017.

Evergreen State College reopens after violent threat and property damage on campus, Washington Post, 5 June 2017.

Don’t shield students from opinions they don’t agree with, universities minister Jo Johnson warns, The Telegraph, 26 December 2017.

After Weinstein: 47 Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct and Their Fall From Power, New York Times, 22 December 2017.

Posthumous wedding for police officer killed in ​Champs-Élysées attack, The Guardian, 31 May 2017.

Related tweets:

#63 – Tribalism Aboard the Ship of Theseus

[Problem with the web audio player? Click here for the full range of listening options]

In this edition of The Aidan Project, Aidan welcomes back philosopher, Dr. Benedict Beckeld, for a conversation which explores the current political climate, and delves into intriguing questions regarding the self and personal agency. Why has the political climate become so polarised? What is causing this failure of communication? And how do we understand our own personal self – is the self an illusion and do we have the ability to have acted differently in a given situation? Could letting go of an illusory idea of ourselves liberate us to better live, love and learn? Aidan and Benedict discuss tribalism, free speech, political discourse, journalism, truth, relativism, and the deep questions of the self and free will. Aidan and Benedict also both share an example of an unwitting experience in less than honourable journalism – in Benedict’s case, his comments on inner and outer beauty were used in an egregiously misrepresentative manner by an American tabloid newspaper. The episode begins with a summary of the theme from Aidan and Benedict’s previous conversation, episode 12, Western Downfall: Why Trump Won. Benedict explains whether he feels the conditions which led to Donald Trump’s presidency have begun to change or have continued unabated. Dr. Beckeld was born in Sweden to Brazilian and Jewish parents, but emigrated with his family to New York City as a teenager. Dr. Beckeld’s philosophy has thus far focused primarily on matters of aesthetics, ethics, contemporary culture, political philosophy and the philosophy of history. For more information on Dr. Beckeld, you can find him online at http://www.benedictbeckeld.com and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/benedictbeckeld

Links to items discussed on this show:

Benedict Beckeld web site
Benedict Beckeld on YouTube
Benedict Beckeld, Monism and Inner Beauty, 1 June 2017.
Western Downfall: Why Trump Won