My Favorite Podcasts

by Luke Muehlhauser on June 14, 2010 in Resources

I’ve listened to thousands of podcasts in my time, but these are the only ones I like consistently enough to make it worth my time to listen to most every episode:

  1. Radiolab [iTunes]. A stunningly edited and produced, more-philosophical version of ‘This American Life.’
  2. Philosophy Bites [iTunes]. Philosopher Nigel Warburten interviews world-class philosophers about fascinating subjects, in 15-minute bites.
  3. This American Life [iTunes]. Fascinating and often enlightening stories, built around a particular theme.
  4. Reasonable Doubts [iTunes]. Three guys discuss the latest religious news, speak with a guest, and often focus on debunking a particular argument from Christian apologetics.
  5. The Partially-Examined Life [iTunes]. Three guys who dropped out of philosophy grad school revisit the classics of philosophy and discuss them irreverently but seriously. Funny, knowledgeable, and informative. Does not assume you know anything about philosophy: no name-dropping allowed!
  6. The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe [iTunes]. Hosted by neurologist Steven Novella and a panel of skeptics, including Rebecca Watson of Skepchick. The team covers recent science stories with fun banter and usually interviews a guest.
  7. Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean [iTunes]. Ancient historian Philip Harland shares his graduate and undergraduate lectures on religions of the Ancient Mediterranean. Extremely informative. More than half the lectures so far are about the origins of Christianity.
  8. Philosophy Talk [no iTunes]. Two professional philosophers sit down to discuss a philosophical topic with a guest who has written a book about it. Light, fun, and very accessible. No free downloads; you must go to the site and stream each episode.
  9. Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot [iTunes]. :-)

What are your favorites?

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

kyle June 14, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Excellent list! Radio Lab is my favorite as well.

Reasonable Doubts consists of 3, not 4, individuals: Jeremy, Dave and Luke. My guess is that Luke is not ex-Christian, but I could definitely be wrong there.

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Alex June 14, 2010 at 8:01 pm

CFI’s Point of Inquiry often has interesting guests on. And Chris Mooney is a decent new host, although sadly doesn’t compare to DJ Grothe.

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Rob June 14, 2010 at 8:38 pm

DJ has a new show, For Good reason. I also like American Freethought, and dare I admit it, MonsterTalk. Hardcore History and A History of Rome are good fillers if I’m all caught up on the science skeptic stuff.

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lanky June 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm

I think Reasonable Doubts is my favorite, those guys do a great job of keeping the discussion moving and interesting. I also really like Apologia, though sometimes I feel like they let the theists get away with more than they should.

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lukeprog June 14, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Alex,

Point of Inquiry very nearly made the list.

I also like American Freethought, and For Good Reason and Rationally Speaking are showing good promise so far. Apologia is cool but they’ve posted only 2 episodes in the last year.

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Mark June 14, 2010 at 9:23 pm

I tried to get into The Partially Examined life, but somehow I just didn’t find their discussions organized or informative enough. Surprising given their academic backgrounds and the ridiculously long episodes.

Right now my favorite podcast is In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg. It’s a lot of fun.

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Zeb June 14, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Entitled Opinions with Robert Harrison is probably my second favorite intellectual podcast after Philosophy Bites. It has a refreshingly wide range of subjects and an unusual, literary sort of approach. He’s done quite a few episodes on religion and philosophy, all very interesting.

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Hermes June 15, 2010 at 2:22 am

Folks, provide links (page, RSS) if you’ve got them.

As for me, I’ll provide some oddities. Some underrated, most just strange.

All links below are RSS feeds;

Sects and Violence in the Ancient World (mostly text, but some audio)
http://sawiggins.wordpress.com/feed

Chariots of Iron
http://www.chariotsofiron.com/feed/podcast

The Moth (true stories, as memory and impulse allows)
http://feeds.themoth.org/themothpodcast

The History of Rome (excellent)
http://feeds2.feedburner.com/TheHistoryOfRome

The Amateur Scientist Podcast (defies summarization)
http://ww2.amateurscientist.org/xml/amateur.xml

* * *

Dead or just sleeping…

Apologia (dead — but old shows are good to excellent)
http://feeds2.feedburner.com/apologiapodcast

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Hermes June 15, 2010 at 3:10 am

On Apologia:

The impression I got from the series is that while the intent of the show is to have an open and cordial discussion, this didn’t work out. It was a dainty tea party format bounded with content springing from a comedy of errors and guttural unashamed absurdities.

Last year the theists (often Christians) were running out of responses that sounded credible. Meanwhile, the atheists were restraining themselves so as not to emphasize that set of problems, not the least is that it becomes quietly embarrassing or adding the pressure of being uncomfortable and cornered.

If you want to have a good conversation, yet the other people hold ideas that simply do not stand up to scrutiny, the only alternative you have is to talk around or to assume their position so they can save face.

Yet, to take up someone else’s point of view persistently and uncritically is a false position; it is politeness that devolves into dishonesty. In one stroke you compromise yourself and rob the other person of any real discussion.

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lanky June 15, 2010 at 3:30 am

Im about a third of the way through the backlog of Apologia, so I was unaware of there lack of recent activity, and only starting to become aware of the dearth of theist arguments. Right now (2007) it seems more like they just have uninformed theists bitting off more than they can chew. You’d think a guy who broadcasts with WLC would be able to hold up his end of the bargain. Also, I have been disappointed with Point of Inquiry, Apologia may be lacking some, but at least they have a lively discussion, Point of Inquiry can be extremely stiff sometimes, and uncomfortable to listen to. Luke, you and the guys at reasonable doubts do a better job than anyone at making shows that are just very easy to listen to and enjoy.

For those interested in something completely unrelated to religion, Technically Legal is a good one as well.

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Hermes June 15, 2010 at 3:39 am

Right now (2007) it seems more like they just have uninformed theists bitting off more than they can chew.

I didn’t get the impression that it was for a lack of trying on both the theist and atheist sides.

It would have been good if it were possible to have an open and even conversation, yet I don’t think without stacking the deck with top theists and mediocre atheists that it would be possible.

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juho June 15, 2010 at 5:26 am

Luke,

Philosophy Talk seems to links to Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean…

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Lilrobbie June 15, 2010 at 7:25 am

Nice list, Luke! I’ll have to check out some of the ones you’ve listed, as I’m getting caught up on a lot of the ones I am currently listening to.

FWIW, here are the 10 Podcasts on iPod that I stay current with right now:
(not all of these are religious / atheist / skeptic based)

1. Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot – Always good discussion with good guests on the topics I find most interesting. Plus, I love the fact that you always allow your guests plenty of time to really flesh out their talking points / arguments.

2. Reasonable Doubts – Jeremy, Luke and Dave are great at providing well-thought, accurate counter-apologetic arguments. Never miss an episode of this podcast.

3. RadioLab – Love, love, love this podcast. My only complaint is that there’s so much downtime between new episodes. Besides that, it’s definitely one of the most well-produced and interesting podcasts out there.

4. For Good Reason – Always appreciated the way DJ Grothe conducts an interview – he hasn’t lost a step since leaving Point of Inquiry. He usually has very good guests, and I always get good book suggestions from the show.
feed://forgoodreason.libsyn.com/rss

5. Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe – My favorite way to keep up with science-based news items and get my weekly fill of pseudoscience smack-down.

6. Philosophy Bites – Great guests discussing interesting philosophical topics. My only complaint is that, at 15 minutes per episode, the “bites” can be a bit too small.

7. Big Ideas by TVO – Interesting audio and video lectures by various professors, authors and experts on a wide range of topics, including; religion, politics, science, economics and sociology.
Video Feed: http://feeds.tvo.org/tvobigideasVideo
Audio Feed: http://feeds.tvo.org/tvobigideas

8. NPR Live Concerts from All Songs Considered – Audio and Video performances from all manner of unique bands and artists, with a mainly indie, alt/rock slant.
http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast.php?id=510253

9. Point of Inquiry – Not a big fan of the new multi-host / multi-theme format ( I’m especially disappointed at Dr. Robert Price’s episodes so far) Still, the topics are typically relevant, and the guests are usually good.
feed://pointofinquiry.libsyn.com/rss

10. Real Time with Bill Maher – Don’t get HBO, so the podcast is the only way I have access to the show. I realize that Bill’s essentially a left-leaning contrarian, and his pseudoscience views on vaccination and health can be embarrassing – but, I still usually enjoy the round table political discussions on the relevant topics of the day, as well as some of the pot-shots he takes at religion.
feed://www.hbo.com/podcasts/billmaher/podcast.xml

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lukeprog June 15, 2010 at 7:54 am

Thanks, juho!

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lukeprog June 15, 2010 at 7:56 am

Thanks for the flattery, Lilrobbie. :)

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Mastema June 15, 2010 at 10:02 am

I already subscribe to a few of the ones mentioned, but there are a couple more that I’ll be sure to check out now. Here are a couple others.

Secular Nation – It’s done by one of the guys of American Freethought on behalf of Atheist Alliance International.

Skeptoid

Skepticality

Atheist Experience – it’s easier for me to listen in the car than sit down at my computer for long periods of time

Non Prophets – currently on hiatus, but I have my fingers crossed that they’ll be back soon

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Almost Chris June 15, 2010 at 12:48 pm

One of my favorite topics I love podcasts and listen to so many I have to speed them up through Audacity before loading my ipod to try keep up with them. In addition to the ones listed above, here are a few of the ones I most look forward to.

My favorite podcasts

The Bugle – political and very funny. Starring John Oliver of Daily Show fame.

The Atheist Experience – Very aggressive but well reasoned guys.

The Bible Geek show – with Robert Price

Brother Russell – long ago pod-faded, but if you haven’t heard it, it is quite clever atheist satire

Comedy and Everything Else

A History of the World in 100 Objects

Jordan Jesse Go! – probably my #1 favorite

The Moth

Mr. Deity

NPR: Krulwich on Science

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

QuackCast

Ricky Gervais

TED talks – always blows my mind

A Christian and an Atheist- they don’t put out much, but are always interesting when they do. Emory Wong is polite but quite sharp on the fly.

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Almost Chris June 15, 2010 at 12:51 pm

And as much as I’ve been enjoying Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot, I’ve been looking forward more to Counter-Apologetics. I do hope there is a future there.

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Rob June 15, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
http://rss.oucs.ox.ac.uk/oxitems/generatersstwo2.php?channel_name=philfac/uehiro-podcasts

Philosopher’s Zone
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/feeds/pze.xml

London School of Economics (I especially recommend, as a corrective to New Atheist optimism, the podcasts featuring John Gray)
http://www.lse.ac.uk/resources/podcasts/rss/publicLecturesAndEvents.rss

Keynote speakers — particularly, Strawson, Leiter, and Richardson — at last autumn’s “Nietzche on Mind and Nature” conference at Oxford
http://rss.oucs.ox.ac.uk/oxitems/generatersstwo2.php?channel_name=philfac/nietzsche-audio&destination=poau

Rethinking the Genealogy of Morals (highly recommend Prinz, Kail, and Batson)
http://www.law.uchicago.edu/genealogyofmorals

Elucidations (U of Chicago philosophers)
http://philosophy.uchicago.edu/podcasts/elucidations.rss

A cornucopia of material available from U of Oxford, though you have to do keyword searches (“philosophy”, “religion”) to sort through it:
http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/

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Noophy June 15, 2010 at 9:51 pm

Love the list, thanks for the couple I don’t have.
It’s not a skeptic or philosophy themed podcast, but I love ‘Q’ with Jian Gomeshi! I know it’s not the right sort of theme, but imho he’s the best radio host since Peter Gzowski passed.
http://www.cbc.ca/q/
PS – He had Ayaan Hirsi Ali on last week.

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Devlin June 16, 2010 at 9:52 am

Reasonable Doubts is great! As is Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean. Similar to that podcast you should check out The History of Ancient Rome Podcast.

It is funny and very informative, it’s a weekly podcast tracing the history of the Roman Empire, beginning with Aeneas’s arrival in Italy and ending (someday) with the exile of Romulus Augustulus, last Emperor of the Western Roman Empire. The most current podcast episode dealt with the Death of Commodus, so there’s still a few centuries worth of podcasts left!

http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/

Totally unrelated to this blog, but if any one on here is a graphic designer or interested in photoshop and digital imaging you should check out the Martini Hour with Deke McCelland and Colleen Wheeler. Very irreverent and knowledgeable podcast:

http://www.deke.com/

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smijer June 21, 2010 at 8:40 am

I’ll plug Mark Goodacre’s NTPod.

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Zeb July 19, 2010 at 7:45 am

Colin Marshall’s Market Place of Ideas is a pretty good general interest/intellectual interview show. Readers here might be especially interested in the episode featuring atheist Buddhist Stephen Batchelor.

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Harry June 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I second Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – great show. My current favorite is a tech podcast called Techzing. Lots of interesting tangential subjects and a focus on tech startups.

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