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June 30, 2014
Many of today's bestsellers are nonfiction books that manage to tackle big societal issues in a concisely personal way. With these audio & video titles, LearnOutLoud.com collects free talks that will help you learn about literary journalism. Included here are authors, essayists, and investigative journalists that have made a career writing about politics, economics, sports, crime, women's issues, and more. Some of the names we showcase here are Right Stuff author Tom Wolfe, Year of Magical Thinking author Joan Didion, and Michael Lewis, author of the recent bestseller Flash Boys. Learn about the history of creative journalism, and the authors have have defined the genre by clicking any of the links below:
This is the first lecture from the Modern Scholar course Stranger Than Fiction: The Art of Literary Journalism taught by Professor William McKeen. In this lecture Professor William McKeen discusses the history of journalism in America and specifically journalism which took on a literary quality of storytelling. Through his research Professor McKeen unearths journalism which resembles what would become the late 20th century art form of literary journalism espoused by authors such as Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, and other creative nonfiction writers. The last half of this lecture focuses on Mark Twain and the literary merit he brought to his journalistic efforts. McKeen reads an extensive excerpt from Mark Twain's amusing report on the state of journalism in Tennessee in 1869. This lecture is available on streaming audio and MP3 download exclusively through LearnOutLoud.com.
In this streaming video from C-SPAN's BookTV, Tom Wolfe talks about his career as writer from The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby which he wrote back in the 1960s all the way up to his latest novel I Am Charlotte Simmons which explores the college campus life in the present day. He fields call-in questions from people across the United States and tells us the secrets of his craft. Few writers today are as fun to listen to as Tom Wolfe!
In this conversation with American writer Joan Didion, she discusses her 2001 collection of essays Political Fictions in which she explores the disconnect between the political class and the American public. She touches on many issues addressed in her book regarding the electoral process, political pundits, Clinton's impeachment, and the election of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. This talk was conducted at UC-San Diego and is available on streaming video through YouTube.
In one of Norman Mailer's last public appearances (he passed away a few months later in November of 2007), this acclaimed author talks about his complex relationship with America. He looks back at his own literary career and offers his ideas on existentialism. Towards the end of the interview German author Gunter Grass joins him in conversation and they discuss Adolf Hitler who was the subject of Mailer's final novel The Castle in the Forest. In this interview Mailer conveys his sharp wit and clear insights that were with him until the end. This talk was moderated by Andrew O'Hagan and conducted at the New York Public Library. It is available on streaming video from FORA.tv.
In this talk Hunter S. Thompson's partner in crime Ralph Steadman shows illustrations from their life together along with other drawings he's come up with. Thompson and Steadman's political views come shining through as Steadman bashes Republicans with his art work. Recorded shortly after Hunter S. Thompson's death, Steadman provides a visual accompaniment to the "gonzo" prose of the late Thompson. From Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to more recent adventures, Steadman tells many enjoyable tales.
Best selling author Eric Schlosser breaks down the key components of his book Fast Food Nation in this classic lecture provided by C-SPAN. Schlosser says that the mid-20th century rise of fast-food giants like McDonalds have forever altered the way we eat and created dubiously managed business monopolies. He goes on to detail how the goal of making a faster, cheaper burger has led to dangerous, unsanitary conditions in the meat packing industry, how it's played a key factor in the worldwide obesity epidemic, and where it all may be going as we enter the 21st century.
Michael Lewis discusses his works and tells interesting stories about how they all came to be. He also gives advice to aspiring writers (e.g. "Don't be writer!"), and gives humorous anecdotes about how he stumbled in the profession. It's an enjoyable talk with one of America's most popular non-fiction writers. This talk is available on streaming video through YouTube.
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June 27, 2014
If you are an aspiring writer, LearnOutLoud.com has collected a helpful list of free audio & video titles featuring writing advice from various authors and experts. Starting with educational resources, we include instructions on how to speak and write correctly, and tips from grammar girl on how to improve your writing from the ground up. You'll also hear from authors such as William Faulkner, Stephen King, Allen Ginsberg, and Margaret Atwood on what it takes to write professionally and how they developed their own writing careers. Click on any of the links below to begin your writing journey:
In this fun talk about writing, Anne Lamott provides as much writing wisdom as she can jam into an hour. Encouraging everyone to write almost everyday, she provides suggestions for how you can carve out time to write and also what you can write about. She says you should always have paper on you because you can never get down on paper what you don't remember. There are many other helpful hints to writers in this entertaining talk from Anne Lamott.
Listen to this classic text on how to speak and write correctly in English. The author Joseph Devlin purports that the book "is merely an effort to help ordinary, everyday people to express themselves in ordinary, everyday language, in a proper manner." Published in 1910 this book is still useful for learning how to create sentences, use figures of speech, write letters, and more. This download is available from Librivox.org on MP3 download and it is read by a number of their volunteer narrators including David Barnes, Kara Shallenberg, and Hugh McGuire. Start improving your writing and speaking today!
Take writing classes from the great American author William Faulkner! In 1957 and 1958 Nobel Prize-winning American novelist William Faulkner served two terms as the University of Virginia's first Writer-in-Residence. During this time Faulkner spoke and answered questions at many of the writing and literature classes and these lectures were recorded on audio. In these classes Faulkner speaks about his craft and what he feels the role of the writer is. He also answers questions about his novels and comments on many writers of the 20th century. Throughout the talks he reads a dozen times from eight of his works. Also featured in the archive are addresses he gave at numerous university events. This audio archive is available from the University of Virginia on streaming audio through Quicktime. The audio quality varies, but for the most part it is very listenable. An invaluable resource for anyone interested in literature!
Best-selling horror author Stephen King is joined by his wife Tabitha and youngest son Owen to talk with students in Washington, DC about the importance of reading and writing in this streaming lecture hosted by BookTV. After taking time for each of the Kings to read from their most recent work (including the recently adapted Under the Dome) the three answer questions from eager high-school students about what inspires them, what scares them and what keeps them writing. All three Kings share an abiding love for reading, which Stephen argues is a key component for anyone that is seeking success in life. This discussion is a must for any King fan, and serves as a wonderful introduction to the work of his talented wife and son.
Grammar Girl's Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing is a podcast devoted to helping listeners improve their writing skills. Taking a nuts and bolts approach, these short podcasts clarify common errors in English grammar in precise detail. If you've ever wondered whether or not you should use lie or lay in a sentence, or if that comma splice was used correctly, this podcast will give you the answers. Listen to over 100 podcasts from Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty.
In this archive lecture from Naropa University recorded in 1984, beat poets Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs discuss their views on writing. Burroughs fields questions from Ginsberg & the students on a wide variety of topics, and he delivers many amusing responses and anecdotes. This lecture is available on streaming audio and MP3 download from Archive.org.
Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood talks about her Canadian roots and the development of her career in this streaming interview hosted by BookTV. In this discussion, Atwood tries to give listeners an idea of the regional differences that make Canada distinctive from America. She also goes into the elements of feminism that have cropped up in her work, and how she's been able in some ways to make a career out of mashing genres that are typically stigmatized by serious critics. Dry-witted and friendly, Atwood offers an unpretentious look at how she developed her talent in an interesting era for female authors.
This free audio book was published through TeachOutLoud service recently and we'd pass it on as our free resource of the day. In this 2-hour audio book, author Brian Scott provides helpful advice for writing your book, getting it published, and then making a profit from it. Topics covered include what publishers look for in a book, how to self-publish, how to packag physical books and e-books, and much more. The narration is a bit robotic and it might be computer-generated, but if so it is some of the best computer-generated narration we've heard. Thanks to Payday Publishing for offering this audio book for free. Download this free audio book on MP3 directly through LearnOutLoud.com.
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June 27, 2014
The planets, stars, and what might lay beyond have been a topic of extreme fascination for us ever since early man first looked up into the heavens. With this list of 10 free audio and video titles, LearnOutLoud has put together an awe-inspiring way to help you learn more about astronomy. Topics covered include an overview of the cosmic landscape, an intro to stars, black hboles, and even something on how wormholes might help us figure out time travel. Big names in the field, such as Cosmos host Neil deGrasse Tyson help answer cosmic queries and Richard Dawkins takes us on a tour of the queerer corners of the universe. Look to the sky and explore the cosmic neighborhood by clicking any of the links below:
This is the first lecture from the Modern Scholar course Astronomy I: Earth, Sky and Planets taught by Professor James Kaler. In this lecture Professor James Kaler puts Earth in perspective within the solar system, the galaxy, and the whole universe. He covers what makes a planet and the diversity of planets in our solar system discussing their size and their distance from the sun. Professor Kaler provides dozens of awe-inspiring facts about our solar system in this fascinating introductory astronomy lecture. This lecture is available for MP3 download on LearnOutLoud.com.
In this interview with Dr. Leonard Susskind offered by the Commonwealth Club of California, the noted physicist discusses the latest discoveries that are helping us better understand the Universe. Using accessible analogues, Susskind explains how the mysterious existence of a universal dark energy is altering previously held concepts of how human life came to be. Using an accessible and humorous style, Susskind manages to explain incredible concepts such as Multiverses and String Theory in a fashion that is both easy to understand and exciting to consider. This interview is available on streaming video from FORA.tv.
In this mind-bending lecture from TED.com, biologist Richard Dawkins examines the universe from the standpoint of contemporary science and finds that our universe is much stranger than we are capable of supposing. He provides many examples in the biological world about how assumptions such as a rock being solid and our bodies being the same throughout our life are incorrect. Stretch your perspective with Dawkin's case for "thinking the improbable". This talk is available on streaming video and MP3 download from the TED.com website.
In this talk Tyson muses on why he's always getting questions about natural disasters. Starting with a detailed description of what might happen to someone unlucky enough to get sucked into a Black Hole, he then discusses the more realistic threat of asteroids impacting the earth. He asks his colleagues why we often run from these potential disasters, when we might productively devise a means of stopping them from happening in the first place. After all, this is the 21st century!
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking's recently had his 70th birthday! We're celebrating this amazing scientific mind by featuring his 2008 TED talk in which he addresses some of the big questions about the universe such as: How did the universe begin? How did life begin? Are we alone?
One of the best science podcasts available is Quirks and Quarks from CBC Radio. Host Bob McDonald speaks with scientists around the globe about the latest in science, technology, medicine and the environment. They feature two podcast feeds: one of the complete hour-long show and one that breaks the show up into its three or four topical segments. In the latest podcasts McDonald explores the science of the brain in love in both humans and other animals, and he speaks with three different authors about the legacy of Charles Darwin. Subscribe to this podcast from CBC Radio.
This is the first lecture from the Modern Scholar course Heavens Above: Stars, Constellations, and the Sky taught by Professor James Kaler. Professor James Kaler shares his genuine awe and lifelong fascination with the stars in this opening lecture. He describes what a star is and provides a lot of info about our closet star, the Sun. Kaler covers the colors, brightness, and sizes of stars, the history of stars, and the number of visible stars in our night sky. The lecture will help you put things in perspective in relation to our vast universe. This free lecture is available to download exclusively through LearnOutLoud.com on MP3.
This thirteen-part television series was written by astronomer Carl Sagan, his wife Ann Druyan, and astrophysicist Steven Soter. From the very first episode called "The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean" Sagan takes us on a wonderful voyage across the cosmos as his spaceship travels through the universe's hundred billion galaxies, the Local Group, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, our Solar System, and finally the planet Earth. Sagan also describes the Cosmic Calendar and where humanity lies on its 13.8 billion year timeline. Watch all 13 hour long episodes of the original 1980 television series.
In this streaming video presented by Vega Science Trust, physicist Paul Davies gives viewers a crash course on current scientific theories surrounding time travel. In this video you will see how scientists like Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan have broadened our understanding of how to bend the very fabric of space-time. Find out how the discovery of black holes and wormholes have given us a new way to utilize the cosmos in order that we may someday peek into the future.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses his newest book on Pluto's recent demotion in this humorous interview conducted at the Los Angeles Public Library. In a style all his own, Tyson describes the uproar created when he helped demote Pluto to a new class of planetoid, even going as far as to cite letters from school children decrying his stance. He also goes on to answer many pressing (and not so pressing) scientific questions; including the role science has played in the Bush administration, and whether or not the world will end in 2012. This talk is available on streaming video from FORA.tv.
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June 25, 2014
The theory of evolution is one of the keystone concepts in modern biological science. With this list of 7 talks, LearnOutLoud.com has selected a great list of free audio & video designed to help you learn about evolutionary biology. Collected here you will find several talks about evolution's founding father Charles Darwin, as well as discussions that trace his theories into the modern era. Speakers and topics include primate specialist Jane Goodall, a concise introduction to dinosaurs, a history of human behavioral biology, and much more. Get started by clicking any of the links provided below:
Certainly one of the best courses we've added into our new Free Courses Collection is Stanford University Professor Robert Sapolsky's course on "Human Behavioral Biology". Sapolsky is an award-winning professor, superstar lecturer, and author of numerous books including Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: A Guide To Stress, Stress Related Diseases, and Coping. His course on "Human Behavioral Biology" is so good that The Great Courses (formerly The Teaching Company) invited him to teach the course for their customers in an audio & video course entitled Biology and Human Behavior: The Neurological Origins of Individuality. We've purchased and listened to that course in its entirety and it's incredible! Now the course is being offered for free on video from Stanford University and it seems like basically the same course except more! The Teaching Company course runs 12 Hrs. and the free video edition at Stanford runs 36 Hrs. The course comprehensively covers human behavior from the perspective of biology from an in-depth look at the nervous system, limbic system, and hormones to the latest discoveries in neuroscience, genetics, and human evolution. Sapolsky attempts to give you a well rounded picture of the biology of human behavior today. And after that, he then takes a look at certain human behaviors which can be examined from this perspective including lectures on human sexual behavior, aggression, language, schizophrenia, and what makes up for the individual differences in humans. This 25-lecture course is available on video on YouTube.
This is the first lecture from the Modern Scholar course Darwin, Darwinism, and the Modern World taught by Professor Chandak Sengoopta. In this lecture professor Chandak Sengoopta discusses the life of Charles Darwin covering the major events in Darwin's life including his voyage on the HMS Beagle and his eventual publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859. Professor Sengoopta covers a lot of Darwin's life in a short amount of time while providing many interesting facts about the man whose theory of evolution by natural selection revolutionized biology and greatly affected many other areas of society from the late 19th century up to the present day.
Watch this streaming video from MeaningOfLife.tv featuring two-time Pulitzer Prize winning biologist Edward O. Wilson. Host Robert Wright questions Wilson on many of his ideas including his once controversial thesis of sociobiology in which he argued that the human mind is shaped as much by genetic inheritance as it is by culture. Wright questions Wilson on his beliefs as a materialist, a biological determinist, and a secular-humanist. Wilson provides his opinions on intelligent design, free will, and how science and religion can potentially come together in order to save life on earth. This interview serves as an excellent introduction to the ideas of this highly influential biologist.
In this TED Talk from primatologist Jane Goodall, she discusses her many years spent with chimpanzees in Tanzania and the many ways in which she and other researchers have discovered that chimpanzees are similar to humans. From their ability to make tools to their emotional lives, Goodall lays out the characteristics of chimps that may make us second guess how they are viewed and treated. She then talks about how chimpanzees are being endangered and she connects this to the many ways in which the diversity of life and our environment are being threatened. At the end of the talk she gives reasons for hope by telling of some of the courageous acts of young people throughout the world that participate in the Roots & Shoots program she started. This talk is available on streaming video and video download from TED.com.
Delivered to the Stanford University graduating class, Professor Sapolsky sets out in just 30 minutes to describe the ways in which humans are separate from the rest of the animal kingdom. Topics discussed include aggression, theory of mind, and the golden rule. He ends the lecture on an inspiring note sharing how humans are the only species that can view a seeming impossibility and dedicate their lives to making it happen. This lecture is available on streaming video and downloadable MP4 video (click on the description on the YouTube page to access the MP4).
Charles Darwin turns 200 years old today and 2009 marks the 150th anniversary of his publication of On the Origin of Species. In this show from Speaking of Faith, host Krista Tippett speaks with Darwin biographer James Moore about Darwin's relationship with religion and the spirituality of the natural sciences. Moore argues that Darwin was not attacking the idea of God with his theory of evolution, but was pointing to the mystery and complexity of the natural world. This talk is available on streaming audio and MP3 download through the Speaking of Faith website.
This is the first lecture from the Modern Scholar course Behold the Mighty Dinosaur taught by Professor Michael Drout. In this lecture Professor John Kricher provides a concise overview of what modern science currently knows about dinosaurs. A lifelong dinosaur lover, Kricher explains the basic facts, including size and weight ranges, dinosaur intelligence, and how they have survived into modern day in the form of birds. Ever since the first fossils were identified in the early 19th century, our dinosaur knowledge has evolved rapidly, and this lecture represents the most current developments.
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June 25, 2014
If you are seeking spiritual nourishment, we invite you to listen to this list of free spiritual growth talks on audio & video. In this selection, we hear from Deepak Chopra on how to develop spiritual solutions to everyday problems, listen to Thomas Moore on the proper care of the soul, and learn timeless wisdom from the documentary The Secret. Whether you are looking for ways to find deeper communion with your inner self, or need tips on how to solve problems from a more spirit-centered place, this list offers insightful avenues for growth:
In 2008 Oprah Winfrey launched a series of podcasts. Her first and most popular podcast featured Eckhart Tolle teaching a 10-part course on his book A New Earth. That podcast has since become Oprah.com's Spiritual Channel Podcast and she continues to update it with interviews she conducted on her Soul Series on Oprah Radio and other spiritual audio programs from Oprah.com. Now on the podcast you'll find hour-long Oprah interviews with spiritual teachers such as Wayne Dyer, Elizabeth Lesser, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Larry Dossey, Byron Katie, and many other teachers and bestselling authors in the field of spiritual growth. And of course the Eckhart Tolle 10-part course is still on the podcast. These podcasts are available on MPEG-4 audio & video and can be played through Quicktime or iTunes.
2. The Secret
You can now watch the 2006 film The Secret for free on Hulu.com. Produced by Rhonda Byrne, this self-help film focuses on the "Law of Attraction" and how it can be applied in one's life. It features many popular self-help authors including Michael Beckwith, Bob Proctor, Jack Canfield, Joe Vitale, Lisa Nichols, and many more. Championed by Oprah Winfrey, beloved by many, criticized by some, see what may be the most successful self-help film of all time. 7 years later and it is the most popular documentary on Hulu.com. Note: It seems that only U.S. viewers can watch this for free. Sorry to our international audience. Also this movie has limited commercial interruption from Hulu.com.
Listen to the best podcast yet from the publisher Sounds True! In this podcast Tami Simon, Founder of Sounds True, interviews spiritual teachers, visionary writers, and living luminaries about their newest work and current challenges of their inner inquiry and outer contribution to the world. In the podcast she interviews Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Tami asks him questions about his life as a peace activist. Other authors she interviews include Jack Kornfield, Geneen Roth, Dr. Ervin Laszlo, Peter Levine, Bruce H. Lipton, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Caroline Myss, Gary Renard, Ken Wilber, Bodhipaksa, Daniel J. Siegel, Judith Orloff, Michael Bernard Beckwith, and more. Subscribe to this great podcast today!
This talk from the Urban Zen Foundation, features author Deepak Chopra, EnlightenNext magazine founder Andrew Cohen, and political activist Arianna Huffington discussing the role of spirituality in our current global situation. Chopra & Cohen describe how to bring together spiritual practice with active participation in working to create the change in the world that one envisions. Huffington adds her practical and political insights into how spirituality can be applied towards bringing about positive change. They also discuss the role of technology and its potential to connect people throughout the globe in uniting for common causes. This talk is available on streaming video from FORA.tv.
Listen to classic recordings of author and spiritual teacher Ram Dass (also known as Dr. Richard Alpert) on his "Ram Dass Here And Now Podcast". Each 30 minute podcast is introduced by Raghvindra Das (Raghu Markus) of the Love Serve Remember Foundation who has long been a follower of Ram Dass. After the intro we hear one of Ram Dass' unique talks about his discoveries as a psychologist at Harvard, his psychedelic research with Timothy Leary, and his travels to India where he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba. The podcasts are delivered in the form of a narrative of Ram Dass' life, so start out with the first podcast (located at the bottom of the podcast feed) in which Ram Dass discusses his frustrations with being an "empire builder" during his professorship at Harvard, and the psychedelic trip which changed his state of consciousness.
Dr. Martha Beck is a sociologist, life coach, and best-selling author of books like the The Four-Day Win and Steering by Starlight. In this TEDx talk from San Diego, Dr. Beck discusses some of the human technologies that connect us with the natural world and how our rational minds have tuned out some of the "magic" that they used to perform. She tells some interesting stories of individuals she encountered in her travels to traditional cultures all over the world. The abilities of these people were like magic in the same way that our technologies like smart phones and the internet seems like magic to those who don't understand their inner workings. This "magic" that Dr. Beck discovered were skills developed over many years and they required four steps that these people of traditional cultures practiced: Wordlessness, Oneness, Imagination, and Forming. Listen to these four steps and think about how you can tap into the natural technologies that much of modern society has left behind. This 18-minute talk is available on streaming video from YouTube.
Thomas Moore is the author of numerous books on the soul, most notably Care of the Soul. In this talk that he delivered at Marlboro College, Moore argues for the consideration of the soul in everyday life including education, medicine, and many other areas. He talks about the importance of a liberal arts education where students are free to reflect on the big questions of life. Moore discusses the limitations of the modern worldview which often ignores spirituality and the mystery of human life. He also reads some of his favorite soul-nuturing passages. This talk is available on streaming video on YouTube. Note: The audio isn't great on this on, but it's understandable and the content is worth a close listen!
Author Deepak Chopra recently stopped by at Google and gave this talk on his latest book Spiritual Solutions. The thesis of his book is that no problem can be solved at the level of awareness in which it was created. In this hour-long talk he discusses some of the ways we can overcome contracted awareness and enter the realm of spiritual solutions. The last half of the talk he answers questions about being overwhelmed with global problems, remote viewing, and near-death experiences.
We have a podcast at LearnOutLoud.com entitled Spiritual Classics. It feature passages of classics texts from a variety of spiritual traditions. We've started the podcast off with an excerpt from William James' classic work The Varieties of Religious Experience in which he lectures on mystical experience. You'll also find selections from The Bhagavad Gita, The Talmud, The Koran, The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and much more.
Listen to 18 Self-Healing Exercises from Sounds True with their Guide to Energy Healing. In these exercises you'll hear teachers such as Andrew Weil, Cyndi Dale, Caroline Myss, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and many more. Listen to Andrew Weil teaches his most powerful breathing technique for relaxation or to Shiva Rea as she leads a 20-minute yoga relaxation exercise covering the entire body.
OSHO International features a podcast that has the teachings of the Indian mystic and spiritual teacher Osho. They only have one talk on the podcast feed currently but it is definitely worth listening to. The talk is entitled "The Attachment to Misery" and in the talk Osho expresses that people are attached to misery because it encourages other people to care for them and allows them to cling to their egos. He relates this to saints and ascetics who pursue suffering as a means of gaining respect. Osho thinks happiness and bliss are often unknown territory and that they often can lead to others being jealous of a happy person. Osho feels that creativity is happiness and in creativity a person breaks free from conformity of society. It's a radical and amusing talk from this unique spiritual teacher.
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June 24, 2014
Recent years have seen an upswell of debate between theologians and prominent voices in the scientific community over the existence of God. With this selection, LearnOutLoud has brought together a series of debates on audio & video asking "Does God Exist?" Below you'll find key figures in the new atheism movement, such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins as they square off against defenders from the spiritual side of the table, such as Deepak Chopra, Al Sharpton, and more. Though sometimes contentious, the debates provided here offer useful food for thought for anyone that is questioning a secular vs. spiritual worldview. Get started by clicking any the links below:
In this lively debate from Intelligence Squared U.S., atheists Lawrence Krauss and Michael Shermer take on Christians Ian Hutchinson and Dinesh D'Souza over whether "Science Refutes God". Krauss and Shermer look at the achievements of modern science and see no evidence for God. Hutchinson and D'Souza argue the limitations of science in determining morality and look to religion as the source for many truths. Topics discussed include miracles, the Big Bang, and much more. At then end both sides take some questions from the audience, and then they give the debate results.
Listen to a stimulating debate between the Reverend Al Sharpton and God Is Not Great author Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens provides many arguments against religion, arguing against religious texts, dogmatic beliefs, and a creator God. Al Sharpton contends that Hitchens cannot prove the non-existence of God and argues that if immoral acts are performed in the name of God that they have no relation to the great character of God. They both reflect on the modern implications of a belief in God, as Hitchens denounces the intrusion of religion into politics and culture (particularly in the Middle East) and Sharpton emphasizes the role of religion in positive social change such as in the American Civil Rights Movement. The whole debate is handled with good humor, even if neither Sharpton nor Hitchens are able to change one another's minds. This debate was held at the New York Public Library and is available on streaming video from FORA.tv.
Start your week with this stimulating debate between spiritual author Deepak Chopra and physicist Leonard Mlodinow on spirituality and science in the contemporary world. Chopra starts the debate by pointing to the mystery of consciousness as proof that God's design of our universe is beyond scientific comprehension. Mlodinow contends that we may understand a great deal more about consciousness in the future and that religion is often there to explain what science can't explain yet. Chopra aruges that with our great gains in science, we have also created some of the greatest threats to life on Earth including nuclear war and global warming, and that we need to emphasize global spiritual development in order to create a sustainable future. Mlodinow agrees that we need spirituality and that science can't answer all questions, but he still doesn't see the need for God and religion in order to explain our universe. Watch this excellent 50 minute debate from FORA.tv.
Christopher Hitchens debates conservative author and Christian apologist Dinesh D'Souza in this debate from the University of Notre Dame. D'Souza argues on the grounds of reason that God is best explanation for the origins of life, the human moral compass, and our capacity of good and evil. Hitchens argues that the universe isn't as ordered as D'Souza would like to believe and that science can prove how the universe came from nothing without the need of a Creator or intelligent design. This debates is available on for free on streaming video on YouTube.
In this video debate provided by Notre Dame, Christian apologist William Lane Craig debates with best-selling atheist author Sam Harris on whether or not God should be the basis of human morality. Craig frames the debate with the question of whether or not human beings can formulate a solid moral foundation without the existence of God, refuting the claim made by Harris and others that morality is an evolutionary process designed to help humans flourish together in harmony. Harris counters by arguing scientists can come to the question of morality unclouded by religious bias and therefore rely on clear reasoning to help guide humanity to a better future that does not require the sanction of a divine lawgiver. Lively, intelligent, and friendly, Craig and Harris hold their debate on common, respectful grounds before describing where there thinking diverges.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens debate "Is Religion a Force for Good in the World?". Blair, who recently converted to Catholicism, uses his oratory skills to passionately argue that religion motivates a great deal of good in the modern world, and that a world without religion would be worse off for many reasons. Blair concedes that a great deal of harm has been committed by religious fanatics throughout history, but that this is not a reason to get rid of religion anymore than bad politicians are a valid reason to get rid of politics. Hitchens agrees that religion is not going away, but counters that the world would be better with a great deal more secularism and less religion. He focuses on problems which are compounded when religion intrudes such as poverty and its relation to the subjugation of women. They field over an hour of questions from the audience. It's an excellent debate from two very talented rhetoricians. It is available on streaming video from the C-SPAN video library.
In this lively debate from Intelligence Squared U.S., four speakers argue whether or not the World would be better without religion. On the faith-based side of the aisle, Dinesh D'Souza and Rabbi David Wolpe point out several strong cases for how religion has provided human beings with a framework for moral action and meaning. Countering these claims are Matthew Chapman and A.C. Grayling, both of whom enumerate on the historically negative social influence of religious belief and do not necessarily agree that faith is synonymous with ethical living.
It's not every week that a public debate video gets over 2 million views on YouTube. Yet Bill Nye's recent debate with Ken Ham over evolution and creationism has gained that many views. Ken Ham is a young-Earth creationist who advocates a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. He is also the president of the Creation Museum where this debate is held. Bill Nye is an American science educator who argues that creationism is not a viable model of origins in light of the evidence for Darwinian evolution. They each have a slide show and demonstration for their case which they each present in 30 minutes and then go back and forth in this 3-hour debate. Watch one of the most popular videos on YouTube.
In this debate Hitchens and Rabbi David Wolpe take a look at many aspects of religion starting with answering "What is God?" and then arguing the various merits of the religious and secular worldviews. Rabbi Wolpe argues that religious belief leads to more basic goodness for the individual and for society as a whole as believers are more charitable and do more good works than non-believers. Hitchens argues that much of religious practice is wicked such as missionaries who prosthelytize to those who are weak and vulnerable. It's a very well conducted debate with both sides contributing strong arguments. This debate is available on streaming video from the Forum Network.
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June 24, 2014
Without a doubt, the world's great religious figures have had a profound effect on human history and provided a deep reservoir of wisdom, inspiration, and moral instruction. With this in mind, LearnOutLoud.com has compiled this list of free audio & video titles designed to help you learn about key religious figures, such as Jesus, the Buddha, Muhammad, and Confucius. In these talks and lectures, you'll learn more about The Buddha and Eastern philosophy, the historical Jesus and the birth of Christianity, Confucius and his influence on Chinese culture, and Muhammad's life leading up to the formation of Islam. Reintroduce yourself to these figures and the religions they founded by clicking any of the links below:
Three advocates argue for their differing belief systems in this downloadable audio lecture released by the Veritas Forum. Christian, Buddhist and Secular perspectives are each given equal weight in addressing humanity's long quest for knowledge and meaning. Issues such as religious fanaticism, the existence of evil, the afterlife, and social justice are all given balanced appraisal in this remarkably even- handed debate. Available on streaming video.
Watch this free video from the Asia Society featuring author Ann-Ping Chin discussing her book The Authentic Confucius: A Life of Thought and Politics. She tries to present a more human view of this religious and philosophical leader. Her research covered everything from The Analects of Confucius to modern archaeological discoveries of texts referencing Confucius. She relates many stories about Confucius and discusses one important philosophical excerpt from The Analects which confronts the relative importance of the family and the state. This video can be viewed through FORA.tv.
In this lecture from the Veritas Forum, Christian philosopher and author Dallas Willard talks about the importance of Jesus of Nazareth throughout history when it comes to confronting the reality of existence. Willard feels that present-day universities apply a materialistic knowledge or a New Age philosophy when it comes to confronting moral life, which leaves out the essential teachings of Jesus. He posits four great questions of existence and explains the answers which Jesus gave to these questions. This lecture is available on streaming audio from the Veritas Forum.
With her talk on "Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time", Armstrong first takes on the definition of Jihad, explaining that as opposed to "Holy War", the term more appropriately describes a "struggle" all believers must wage on their way to spiritual clarity. What's more, she dispels the idea that Islam has always had a compulsive, violent agenda, and instead cites historical cases where Muhammad himself brought peace to Arabia by means of sit-in protest. Tracing her biography of Islam's founder to the present day, Armstrong demonstrates that cultural forces such as encroaching secularism and modernization led to violent reactions within extremist circles that bear no resemblance to Muhammad's original principles.
Bestselling religious author Bruce Feiler discusses the Jewish patriarch Abraham and how his example unifies three faith traditions in this streaming video lecture provided by UCTV. In the wake of the September 11th attacks, the call for more religious tolerance has come from all corners of the world. As the founder of what became Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Feiler believes Abraham stands at the heart of an interfaith discussion that is very much needed in these turbulent times. Feiler argues that despite the various interpretations of Abraham's legacy, the core message of his life is inclusion, peaceful discussion, and united interface with the divine.
Religious scholar Reza Aslan discusses his takes on who the historical Jesus really was in this streaming talk provided by Politics & Prose. Coming from a non-religious Iranian family, Aslan converted to Christianity in his teens, but found his faith challenged as he grew into adulthood. His latest book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth reveals a Jesus that bears little resemblance to the pacifistic teacher of good works, and instead reveals a dynamic Jewish preacher who was deeply concerned with the problems of his era. Trying to reconcile Christ's divinity with Christ the man, Aslan feels that the Jesus he has uncovered offers believers and non-believers alike a model of how to bravely confront the social ills we face today.
Watch this superb 2-hour PBS documentary on the life and teachings of the Buddha. The first half of the documentary covers the Buddha's life from his sensual life as Prince Siddhartha to his departure into the ascetic life, and then to his awakening. The second half of the documentary covers many of the Buddha's key teachings. This documentary features insights from Buddhist teachers such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Pulitzer Prize winning poet W.S. Merwin, and American Buddhist writer Robert Thurman. The documentary in narrated by Richard Gere and features many great visuals to accompany the story of the Buddha.
New Testament scholar and best-selling author Bart Ehrman is interviewed by Reverend Alan Jones on who really wrote the Gospels in this streaming interview provided by the CommonWealth Club. Ehrman's latest work explores the possibility that many of the key books of the New Testament were not actually written by Paul, Luke and other early Christians. Following Ehrman's opening arguments, Former Grace Cathedral reverend Alan Jones discusses what this might mean for anyone that holds the Bible up as the Word of God. A former evangelical turned agnostic, Ehrman's position on the matter is more concerned with scholarship, while Jones counters with a believer's perspective, making for a well-rounded discussion on the Bible's history and importance.
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June 24, 2014
Since the 1960s, humanity has seemed destined for Space, but how are current scientists planning to keep us there? With this list of 6 free audio and video resources, LearnOutLoud.com traces the history and future of space travel. Here you will find a history of NASA hosted by Neil Armstrong, learn how we plan to put humans on both the Moon and eventually Mars, and find out how scientists are planning out the next 100 years of space exploration. From the rocket age, to the Space Shuttle program, to the Mars Rover, to our next great adventures in the Solar System, we've got it covered here. Click below to get started:
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking marks NASA's 50th birthday by giving his hopes for the future of space travel in this streaming video lecture provided by C-SPAN. Joined by his daughter Lucy, Hawking makes the case for why the human race should reach for the stars, arguing that it will completely change our perspective on our own planet, and may actually determine if our species has a future at all. After plotting out a 200+ year plan that starts with the moon, moves on to Mars, and then contemplates eventual interstellar travel, Hawking speculates on the alien life we may encounter and explores why we haven't made contact just yet. The talk offers a wonderful vision of the future from a man dedicated to exploring the cutting edge of what's possible for mankind.
In this streaming discussion provided by the Forum Network, Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of the hit show Cosmos, discusses what has stalled recent space exploration and what strategies we might employ to get us moving towards the stars again. The 2003 Columbia disaster gave cause for many in the government to reassess NASA's mission statement. Then President George W. Bush announced a bold new initiative to launch man to the Moon, and eventually Mars. However, as DeGrasse Tyson points out, the drivers we had in the past, such as the space race in the 1960s, are no longer existent, and the motivation to fund such a huge endeavor has been slight. In the discussion, he lays out various ways private industries can help lower the costs of space travel and convert the space program into a space industry that will move us forward.
In this streaming video panel discussion from MIT, three space experts make their predictions about what the next 100 years will bring when it comes to exploring space. They talk about potential ways to make space travel cheaper and more accessible along with power point presentations of images to help us visualize some of these developments. The talk is quite informal, and the lecturers have fun with it. There's a lot of interesting topics addressed such as the state of the U.S. space program, the possibilities of asteroids hitting the earth, and much more.
Over forty years ago the Apollo 11 landed on the moon carry astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins. This 30-minute 1969 documentary from the National Archives depicts the Apollo 11 mission from launching through post-recovery activities. The National Archives features five more documentaries about the space program in the 1960s and their mission to go to put a man on the moon including The John Glenn Story (1963), Assignment, Shoot the Moon (1967), America in Space - The First Decade (1968), Within This Decade (1969), and Debrief: Apollo 8 (1969). You can watch these documentaries on streaming video on YouTube.
For this streaming video lecture released by MIT World, Mars mission specialist Jim Garvin discusses how NASA plans to explore the Red Planet in the coming decade. After disappointing technical failures in the late 90's, the Mars team made headway with its rover missions, and here Garvin details how forthcoming missions will take advantage of burgeoning technology to continue the search for life on our neighbor's surface. Garvin makes a convincing argument for how a more complete understanding of Mars may offer invaluable insight into the way life operates outside the confines of earth.
Neil Armstrong will forever be known as the first person to walk on the Moon. In commemoration of Neil Armstrong and the whole NASA space program, NASA TV has posted to YouTube their documentary on the 50th Anniversary of National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Hosted by Neil Armstrong and featuring dozens of great American astronauts and scientists, this 90-minute documentary gives us a whirlwind tour of NASA since its formation in 1958. The documentary features amazing imagery and classic footage from the history of NASA, and it is available to watch on high definition video. From the Apollo missions of the 1960s, the Skylab space station of the 1970s, the Space Shuttle of the 1980s, the Hubble Telescope of the 1990s, and all the way up to the creation of the massive International Space Station in the 2000s, this documentary is a great introduction to the history of NASA complete with fun popular music of each era. Enjoy this look back at some of the greatest scientific achievements in the past 50 years.
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June 21, 2014
The science fiction genre has long offered a playground for creative writers to explore what the future of humanity might look like. In this list of 8 free video talks, we dedicate space for famous science fiction authors to discuss their work. Beginning with a historical overview of the genre, we feature titles that delve into the craft of science fiction, and then devote space to lectures and talks from famous SF authors. Names showcased here include sci-fi luminaries such as 2001 author Arthur C. Clarke, an evening with Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury, and modern masters such as Snowcrash author Neal Stephenson. Learn more about the speculative fiction of the future by clicking any of the links here:
Renowned science fiction author Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles) gives aspiring writers some encouraging insight in this short lecture provided on streaming video by UCTV. Beginning with a list of essential practices he feels all writers should adhere to, Bradbury then demonstrates how events and people in his personal life fed his classic stories. Inspiring, funny and delivered with irreverent wisdom, Bradbury's account of his career is a sincere argument for "writing what you know". This talk is available on streaming video through YouTube.
Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke passed away yesterday at the age of 90. In this brief video supplied by TVE Asia Pacific, Clarke reflects on his life from his home in Sri Lanka as he turned 90 in December of 2007. He considers the great achievements in space travel which he saw during his lifetime and is hopeful that space travel will be something that many can enjoy in the future. He also provides three wishes for the planet as he surpasses his 90th orbit around the sun. This video is available through YouTube.
In this streaming archived interview, scientist and science fiction author Isaac Asimov discusses his craft and gives thoughts on the future of humanity. A large amount of time is devoted to Asimov's autobiography, and the importance he found in keeping a daily diary. He then answers questions on where his ideas come from, how he manages his work load, and how science fiction writers in particular are charged to push boundaries. Asimov also offers speculation on where human beings are headed and meditates on how our natural curiosity is sometimes undercut by self-destructiveness.
Cutting edge science fiction writer Neal Stephenson attempts to assess SF as legitimate literature in this lecture from Gresham College. Beginning with an interesting dissection of how genre itself has splintered and found separate niches within various popular entertainment mediums, he then illustrates how SF in particular has settled into itself as "idea porn" for a generally intelligent readership. In the end Stephenson claims that science fiction fans exemplify a societal trend towards knowledge specification; a world where everyone is a genius (or geek) in one specific area. This talk is available on streaming video from FORA.tv.
Immerse yourself into the mind of Douglas Adams. The author The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy graced the world with one final appearance just days before his tragic death from a heart attack on May 11, 2001. Delivered at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Adams discusses his own personal favorite of his books Last Chance to See about his travels to faraway lands to see firsthand many endangered animal species such as the Aye-aye lemur of Madagascar, the Komodo dragon on the island of Komodo in Indonesia, and the Yangtze River Dolphin in China. With his own hilarious insights he describes these animals and his wild travels to observe them. He ends the talk by urging humanity to envision their place in the world in a way that can sustain all species including humans. This talk is available through YouTube on streaming video and video download.
William Gibson, the forefather of "cyberpunk" science fiction, discusses genre, changing technology, and future trends in this streaming interview. Gibson started his writing career as an avid science fiction fan, but came to his first book, Neuromancer with a list of genre conventions he swore he'd never bring to his own work. The resultant mix of science fiction, detective noir, and cultural satire provided a potent mix that infused SF with new life in the 1980s and has proved influential on subsequent writers such as Neal Stephenson and films such as The Matrix. Also credited with coining the term "cyberspace", Gibson comments that the phrase has lost some of its meaning now that the distinction between real life and virtual reality is blurring. Ultimately Gibson is still an open advocate of technological progress but remains watchful of the perilous ways our latest tools can harm us.
In this intimate discussion presented on streaming video by MIT World, noted science fiction author Joe Haldeman reads a selection from his current book and discusses the value of his chosen genre. An MIT professor and war veteran himself, Haldeman discusses how his interest in science has dovetailed with his experience during the Vietnam War. The author also gives a valuable account of the genre's history, illustrating how it has provided fertile ground for speculation on how human beings may or may not evolve.
Ender's Game author Orson Scott Card praises the cultural value of fiction (science-fiction or otherwise) in this streaming video lecture provided by Brigham Young University. Stating that history, biography and other factual accounts are prone to correction and amendment over time, Card believes that is only with fiction that we can find the meaningful, unchangeable truth of an era and its people. Though a novel is admittedly filled with events that are made up, Card feels that every writer is unconsciously writing an accidental biography, not only of himself or herself, but of what he or she believes about their culture, revealing more about their reality than any history book can ever hope to achieve.
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June 18, 2014
With these audio & video lectures, LearnOutLoud showcases 6 of our best talks on stress management and relief. Taken from the pages of our Free Audio & Video Resource Emails, this list gives you clear tips on how to relax and de-stress and cope with the daily pressures we face in a fast-paced modern world. Among the resources below, Kelly McGonigal talks about how to make the stresses of life your friend, Andrew Bernstein takes on the myths we've surrounded around stress and tries to dispel them, and you will also learn why worrying may not be such a bad thing. Learn how to deal with stress and relax amid the storm by clicking any of the links below:
Learn about the science behind the beneficial effects of mind/body relaxation! Dr. Herbert Benson is an American cardiologist, a bestselling author on health and well-being, and the founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. In this talk Dr. Benson discusses his latest book Relaxation Revolution which details the science behind the benefits of relaxation practices such as meditation, yoga, and repetitive prayer. While traditional medicine focuses on surgery and medication, Dr. Benson explains that more and more studies are showing the significance of stress and the importance of relaxation when it comes to holistic mind/body health. This talk is available on the Forum Network on streaming video and MP3 download.
In this audio & video presentation from UCTV Martin L. Rossman, MD takes a look at good worry and bad worry and the stress and anxiety bad worry can cause. He examines what is going on in the brain with these emotions and how we can use the power of the healing mind to reduce stress and anxiety. At the end he leads the group on a guided imagery meditation for reducing stress. This talk is available on MP3 download from the UCTV website and on streaming video from YouTube.
Andrew Bernstein is the author of the book The Myth of Stress: Where Stress Really Comes From and How to Live a Happier and Healthier Life. In this talk he delivered at Google, Bernstein takes listeners through 7-step process he calls ActivInsight which analyzes the thoughts that cause us stress and turns them on their head. In the end he hopes we can cognitively shift our focus from the stressful fantasy world of the way things should be to a more accepting approach which provides stimulation without the negative stressful thoughts that wear us down.
Learn about stress in this 15-minute TED talk. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal looks at good stress and bad stress and how perception can influence the effect of stress on individuals. She discusses the stress of reaching out to others for help or the stress of helping others and how this kind of stress can be beneficial to your health. She uses the "stress" hormone oxytocin as an example of this kind of positive stress. This talk is available on streaming video and video download through the TED website.
Dr. Emmett Miller is known as one of the pioneers of holistic mind/body medicine. In this Google Talk he describes how he came to study holistic medicine and get beyond the specialization of most doctors. He eventually looked at stress and the far reaching implications it has on a variety of diseases. Dr. Miller dynamically demonstrates how humans have maladapted to the stresses of modern civilization and he suggests ways that we can release and relax from the ongoing stresses we face. He ends the talk with an excellent guided relaxation complete with music. Learn to maintain balance and reduce stress in your own life. This talk is available on streaming video on YouTube.
Get down to the nuts and bolts of the stress response with this talk from neuroendocrinologist Robert Sapolsky. Sapolsky's research has focused on stress, neuronal degeneration, and the many stress-related diseases that afflict our chronically stressed Western societies. In this talk he focuses on the stress-induced hormone glucocorticoids and their disabling effects on the brain, specifically on the region known as the hippocampus that is vital to memory. At the end of the talk Sapolsky looks at the potential of gene therapy to protect neurons from the damaging effects of glucocorticoids. Sapolsky uses many real life examples of how our maladapted stress responses wreak havoc on our health.
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