Quick Year-End Podcast Statistics

 Posted by on 31 December 2012 at 1:00 pm  Statistics Review
Dec 312012

I’m going to write up an official year-end report later, but I can’t resist mentioning these statistics, which I just quickly compiled for a post to Facebook:

Just from 6 months on BlogTalkRadio, we’ve had over 100,000 listens. From my own archive on Podbean, we’ve had about 135,000 downloads or listens for the whole of 2012.

That’s just awesome, if I do say so myself!

Remember, today is your last chance to support Philosophy in Action’s work in 2012! Every week, we apply rational principles to the challenges of real life, and we’re heard by thousands of listeners. In 2013, I want to reach an even larger audience, and you can help us do that!

Thank you, to everyone who contributed in 2012! You’ve helped us make those super-awesome numbers so super-awesome!


 Posted by on 31 December 2012 at 12:00 pm  Cora Valenzuela
Dec 312012

I’ve been babysitting the lovely little Cora Valenzuela lately, and she’s become quite mobile:

She still loves napping in the mobi wrap though!


Podcast #184: The Good in American Culture and More

 Posted by on 31 December 2012 at 8:00 am  Podcasts
Dec 312012

On Sunday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, Greg Perkins and I answered questions on the good in American culture, and more. The podcast of that episode is now available for streaming or downloading.

You can automatically download podcasts of Philosophy in Action Radio by subscribing to Philosophy in Action’s Podcast RSS Feed:

Whole Podcast: 30 December 2012

Listen or Download:

Remember the Tip Jar!

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life… far and wide. That’s why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.

Podcast Segments: 30 December 2012

You can download or listen to my answers to individual questions from this episode below.


My News of the Week: I’ve been busy celebrating Christmas, watching Doctor Who, and programming for Philosophy in Action.

Question 1: The Good in American Culture

Question: How is American culture better today better than people think? I’ve heard lots of depressing claims about the abysmal state of American culture lately, particularly since Obama won the election. You’ve disputed that, arguing that America is better in its fundamentals that many people think. What are some of those overlooked but positive American values? How can they be leveraged for cultural and political change?

My Answer, In Brief: American culture, while not perfect, is so much better than most people realize. Notice, enjoy, and promote that goodness!

Listen or Download:


To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

Rapid Fire Questions


  • I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone today who thinks that guilt or debts are inherited by one’s children. So why do people continue to believe in Original Sin?
  • Should a person be proud of correcting his previous mistakes in a similar way that he is proud of his productive achievements?

Listen or Download:

  • Start Time: 58:22
  • Duration: 6:25
  • Download: MP3 Segment

To comment on these questions or my answers, visit its comment thread.


Be sure to check out the topics scheduled for upcoming episodes! Don’t forget to submit and vote on questions for future episodes too!

  • Start Time: 1:04:47

About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

Philosophy in Action's NewsletterPhilosophy in Action's Facebook PagePhilosophy in Action's Twitter StreamPhilosophy in Action's RSS FeedsPhilosophy in Action's Calendar

Activism Recap

 Posted by on 30 December 2012 at 3:45 pm  Activism Recap
Dec 302012

This week on We Stand FIRM, the blog of FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine):

Follow FIRM on Facebook and Twitter.

This week on The Blog of The Objective Standard:

Follow The Objective Standard on Facebook and Twitter.

This week on The Blog of Modern Paleo:

Follow Modern Paleo on Facebook and Twitter.

Open Thread #375

 Posted by on 30 December 2012 at 12:00 pm  Open Thread
Dec 302012

Fire in the skies

For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with other NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. As always, please refrain from posting inappropriate comments such as personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.

NoodleFood’s Open Threads feature creative commons photographs from Flickr that I find interesting. I hope that you enjoy them!


 Posted by on 28 December 2012 at 1:00 pm  Link-O-Rama
Dec 282012

New Questions in the Queue

 Posted by on 28 December 2012 at 11:00 am  Question Queue
Dec 282012

As you know, on Sunday morning’s Philosophy in Action Radio, I answer four questions chosen in advance from the Question Queue. Here are the most recent additions to that queue. Please vote for the ones that you’re most interested in hearing me answer! You can also review and vote on all pending questions sorted by date or sorted by popularity.

Also, I’m perfectly willing to be bribed to answer a question of particular interest to you pronto. So if you’re a regular contributor to Philosophy in Action’s Tip Jar, I can answer your desired question as soon as possible. (The question must already be in the queue, so if you’ve not done so already, submit it. Just e-mail me at [email protected] to make arrangements.

Now, without further ado, the most recent questions added to The Queue:

Is happiness overrated?

Recently, I had a conversation in which the other person told me that “happiness is overrated.” Basically, the person claimed that people should spend less time thinking about their own personal happiness. Instead, people should focus on acting rightly, and then take pleasure in that. Is that view right or wrong?

Is atheism just another form of religion?

I often hear that religious people that atheism is just another form of religion – and just as much based on faith as Christianity and the like. Is that right or wrong?

Should government employees be permitted to unionize?

In your 12/16/12 discussion of “right to work” laws, you said that business owners should have the right to refuse to hire union members (or to fire them). How would that work for government employees? In a free society, could legislators (or departments) forbid government workers from being union members? Could they require union membership? Might unions serve some functions – like providing insurance and other benefits to members – but not engage in collective bargaining over wages or benefits?

Do I have to spend money to use the potty?

I recently blogged about an incident at a gas station: http://treygivens.com/?p=4613As a basic rule of courtesy, I spend money in places when I stop to use the bathroom on road trips. I don’t believe there’s any moral demand for this nor do I think there there is any proper legal requirement here. I just think it’s good manners. They provide good, clean facilities that happen to be convenient for me, so I spent a little money to repay them.What do you think about this?

What should a person do to bear psychological needs he temporarily can’t satisfy?

For right now, the context of my life makes it so that it’s hard to satisfy the needs for companionship. Most of the people around me don’t offer deep and intense enough values to satisfy it, even as I do have friends. The majority of the people who could fulfill my needs live out of state. Furthermore, the industry I work in, by and large, prohibits me from being able to attend clubs and whatnot, as I usually work when they run.As such, I’ve got to grin and bear my loneliness for the meanwhile, temporarily. How can I make myself feel better in doing so?

Should it be legal for individuals to own automatic weapons?

I unequivocally think that people have a right to own handguns. Tentatively, though, I have difficulty in arguing that it should be legal for private households to own sniper rifles or automatic weapons. I’m definitely far from an expert on guns, but I don’t think you need a sniper rifle or an automatic weapon to protect yourself from burglars or muggers. I’m under the impression that an automatic weapon inflicts mass destruction, like a tank or a hand grenade. Are there good philosophic arguments for it being legal for individuals to own sniper rifles and/or automatic weapons?

How is American culture better today better than people think?

I’ve heard lots of depressing claims about the abysmal state of American culture lately, particularly since Obama won the election. You’ve disputed that, arguing that America is better in its fundamentals that many people think. What are some of those overlooked but positive American values? How can they be leveraged for cultural and political change?

What should a person do about a neighbor’s aggressive dog?

My husband was attacked (but barely injured) by a neighbor’s dog. No one else was in the room at the time. Our children often play at this person’s house, and the dog has always been friendly in the past. How do you suggest handling the situation? Should we allow our children to play with the dog, as we always have in the past? What should the owner do about the dog?

To submit a question, use this form. I prefer questions focused on some concrete real-life problem, as opposed to merely theoretical or political questions. I review and edit all questions before they’re posted. (Alas, IdeaInformer doesn’t display any kind of confirmation page when you submit a question.)

Dec 272012

My latest piece is now up at Forbes, “The Battle Of The Narrative: How Ordinary Americans Can Fight ObamaCare“.

Here is the opening:

The 2012 election ensured that ObamaCare will not be repealed anytime soon. But opponents continue to fight back. 26 state governments have declined to establish insurance “exchanges.” 40 lawsuits are still pending against various aspects of ObamaCare. Ordinary Americans may not be able to directly affect these battles. But they can play a key role in the all-important battle of the “narrative.”

As the problems of ObamaCare inevitably emerge, the big question will be whether they will be blamed on the residual free-market elements of our health system or on the new government controls. This will be the battle of the “narrative.”

I discuss how ordinary Americans can take part in this battle for their health freedom.

(Read the full text of “The Battle Of The Narrative: How Ordinary Americans Can Fight ObamaCare“.)

The Mathematics of Voting

 Posted by on 26 December 2012 at 10:00 am  Election, Mathematics, Politics
Dec 262012

Undoubtedly, the award for “The Funniest Story of the 2012 Election” goes to “Candidate’s Wife Sleeps In, Misses Tie-Breaking Vote“:

Katie MacDonald was joking the night before Tuesday’s election when she told her husband – a candidate for city council in the small town of Walton, Kentucky – that if he didn’t wake her up to vote the next day, the race would end up as a tie. He should have taken her more seriously.

Katie, who works night shifts at a hospital as a nurse assistant while finishing up training as a nurse, didn’t wake up in time to vote. Now her husband, Robert, is involved in a 669 to 669 vote tie with his opponent Olivia Ballou.

“Well, obviously she was upset about it,” Robert MacDonald told ABC News. “She feels bad, but it was me who was in charge of waking her up and making sure she got out to vote. I’ve tried to be nice to her today. It’s her birthday.”

Robert MacDonald, 27, intends to request a re-canvassing, a simple re-tally of the vote, which will take place next Thursday. If the result is the same, the winner will be determined by coin toss.

Even with in such small races with just a few hundred voters on each side, such an outcome is highly, highly unlikely. As Katherine Mangu-Ward explains in this article in Reason:

In all of American history, a single vote has never determined the outcome of a presidential election. And there are precious few examples of any other elections decided by a single vote. A 2001 National Bureau of Economic Research paper by economists Casey Mulligan and Charles Hunter looked at 56,613 contested congressional and state legislative races dating back to 1898. Of the 40,000 state legislative elections they examined, encompassing about 1 billion votes cast, only seven were decided by a single vote (two were tied). A 1910 Buffalo contest was the lone single-vote victory in a century’s worth of congressional races. In four of the 10 ultra-close campaigns flagged in the paper, further research by the authors turned up evidence that subsequent recounts unearthed margins larger than the official record initially suggested.

The numbers just get more ridiculous from there. In a 2012 Economic Inquiry article, Columbia University political scientist Andrew Gelman, statistician Nate Silver, and University of California, Berkeley, economist Aaron Edlin use poll results from the 2008 election cycle to calculate that the chance of a randomly selected vote determining the outcome of a presidential election is about one in 60 million. In a couple of key states, the chance that a random vote will be decisive creeps closer to one in 10 million, which drags voters into the dubious company of people gunning for the Mega-Lotto jackpot. The authors optimistically suggest that even with those terrible odds, you may still choose to vote because “the payoff is the chance to change national policy and improve (one hopes) the lives of hundreds of millions, compared to the alternative if the other candidate were to win.” But how big does that payoff have to be to make voting worthwhile?

If you’re interested more on this topic, I interviewed historian Dr. Eric Daniels on “Why Voting Doesn’t Matter” in this October 2012 episode of Philosophy in Action Radio:

Merry Christmas

 Posted by on 25 December 2012 at 12:20 pm  Announcements
Dec 252012

Merry Christmas, everyone! Just remember…

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha