September 2012

Monthly Archive

Ecotopia #207: The Evolution of Good and Evil

Posted by on 20 Sep 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

18 September 2012

This Week on Ecotopia we’ll be taking a look at evolution, but evolution as it may be shaping human values. We’ll talk first with Steve McIntosh, author of a new book called Evolution’s Purpose, where he argues that such values as truth and beauty may well be part of our evolutionary path.

Then we’ll talk with Michael Shermer, author of  The Science of Good and Evil, who believes that conflicting evolutionary paths pitting flight-or-fight against a need for community can explain good and evil, peace and war.

Our Questions for Steve McIntosh
Listen to the Interview

Tonight’s “ecosystem” connects human values with evolution. How do our values develop and emerge? Are we “hard wired” to adopt some value systems over others? Are human values evolving in positive ways?

On the phone with us to discuss these questions is Steve McIntosh, author of Evolution’s Purpose: An Integral Interpretation of the Scientific Story of Our Origins. It has just been published by SelectBooks. [] Steve has formal education in law and is founder and president of a consumer products company Now & Zen, and a leader in the integral philosophy movement. Welcome, Steve McIntosh.

–Please tell us about “integral philosophy.” What are its aims and basic tenets? What led you from law school and business school to being a writer and speaker on integral philosophy?

–The central argument of your book is that a theory of evolution must be more than just “science”; to be complete, it must be linked to human history and to our morals, values, and cultures. Please explain.

–Many philosophers have said that ours is a “value free” universe. Other people have argued that a transcendent power or divine being created and passed down the laws of human behavior and the laws of physics. And still others see evolution as having just one value: survival in a dog-eat-dog, winner-take-all universe. How does your integral interpretation respond to these claims?

–What are the values that we humans have evolved/are evolving/might evolve?

–Stephen Jay Gould (whom you cite multiple times in your book) has argued in The Mismeasure of Man that it is an error to perceive of evolution as making “progress,” especially if that trajectory places human beings at the apex of evolution. How does your view differ from Gould’s?

–You argue that evolution is leading us to value truth, beauty, and goodness. Why is there so much of the opposite in our world? Why are we failing to exercise some fundamental truths that have been given us by mother nature?

–What are your best hopes for the evolution of our values and behaviors? Are you optimistic that we can evolve toward a kinder, gentler, possibly smog free universe?

Our guest has been Steve McIntosh, author of Evolution’s Purpose: An Integral Interpretation of the Scientific Story of Our Origins, just published by SelectBooks. You can learn more about the book at and more about Steve and the integral philosophy movement at .

Our Discussion with Michael Shermer
Listen to the Interview

This is Ecotopia on KZFR, and tonight we are examining connections between science and morality. Our guest on the phone is a writer, editor, skeptic, and scholar—Michael Shermer—whose book, The Science of Good and Evil, has given us food for thought for a number of years. Michael has written a number of books and articles about how morals, ethics, and choices emerge from human consciousness. He’s also a monthly columnist for Atlantic and founder and editor of The Skeptic magazine. Welcome Michael Shermer.

–In The Science of Good and Evil, you argue that morals and ethics are neither god given nor formed in a vacuum. You say there are genetic characteristics or traits that (help to) determine values. What are those characteristics? Is it in our nature to be moral, immoral, or amoral?

–You write of conflicting genetic tendencies: flight-or-fight versus the formation of communities. Please describe this, particularly the value of community. Is there an optimal size for communities? Can we have a global community? Is this tendency (toward community) an explanation of why the golden rule is so common to cultures and religions?

–You have done a great deal of study of neurology and how it affects perception and behavior. And you say that beliefs are formed “ for a variety of subjective, personal, emotional, and psychological reasons in the context of environments created by family, friends, colleagues, culture, and society at large.” How can we sort through those complex factors, plus genetics and the neural system, to figure out where our values come from?

–Your newest book is The Believing Brain From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. You say, “Beliefs come first, explanations for beliefs follow.” Are we at all in charge of our own values?

[You tell a story that recently in a restaurant you were tempted to order “a heavy stout beer, a buttery escargot appetizer, a marbled steak, cheesecake” and chose “ a light beer, salmon and a salad with vinaigrette dressing and split a mildly rich chocolate cake with my companion.” You also say that you had no choice in the matter. What’s up with that?!]

–Obviously, ours is a deeply, possibly fatally, troubled world. Why do we continually select war over peace, hierarchy over equality, consumption over sustainability?

–What is your degree of optimism that humanity will, in the long run make sustainable choices or choose “good” over “evil”?

–Where can listeners learn more about your work?

Our guest has been Michael Shermer, founder of The Skeptics Society, and Editor in Chief of its magazine Skeptic, columnist for Atlantic, and author of a number of books, including Why Darwin Matters, Why People Believe Weird Things, and his newest, The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. Thank you for being with us on Ecotopia.

Ecotopia #206 Civic Engagement

Posted by on 14 Sep 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

September 11, 2012

This program features our interview with Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times. We also talk with Kelly Munson about Paul Loeb’s upcoming visit to Butte College and to Chico.

Paul Loeb will be speaking at the Peace and Justice Center on Friday, September 28, and will be the keynote speaker at the Butte College Leadership and Civic Engagement Conference on Saturday, September 29.

Listen to the Paul Loeb Interview

Questions for Paul Loeb

Paul Loeb is author of Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times. Paul has been working on citizen engagement since the Vietnam War and is currently leading a campus engagement project that, in 2008, engaged over 500 campuses in 14 states, enrolling 3 million undergraduates. Paul is coming to Chico later this month, speaking at the Peace & Justice Center Friday evening, September 28, and keynoting the Butte College Leadership and Civic Engagement Conference on Saturday the 29th. .

Part I: Engagement in Challenging Times

–You’ve spent over thirty-five years as an activist and helping others make their activism effective. What first led you to be engaged in these ways? How did your philosophy evolve over the years?

–In the introduction to your book, you express concern about low levels of citizen involvement, “We’ve all but forgotten that public participation is the very soul of democratic citizenship,…” How do you measure this lack of participation . . . voter turnout? engagement in community activities? neighborhood involvement? Are we less engaged that at some other time in US and/or world history? the Greek democracy? the war of independence or Civil War? Vietnam era?

–What has led to this level of disengagement? Why do people feel apathetic or hopeless? Has our country (and the world) grown too large for people to feel engaged? Has the military/industrial/economic juggernaut rendered us powerless? “the culture of distraction”?

–We’ve just been through two political conventions with pre-ordained outcomes. No surprises. How can the average citizen even begin to feel engaged in the process . . . that his or her vote will make a difference?

–You’re a storyteller (“The Call of Stories”), and your book contains dozens of narratives of people who have made a difference in their communities. Could you please share a story or two with us to illustrate the level and kind of engagement you have in mind?

–A question we often ask on this program: What will it take to bring about change on a scale great enough to make a difference? government mandates and new laws? being driven to the brink? social/environmental collapse? citizen engagement? can engage effectively in creating change.

Part II: Engagement in Challenging Times

In the first part of the program, we discussed the difficulties facing citizen activists in these challenging times. In this segment, let’s help our listeners (and ourselves) learn a little more about how to do it.

–Right now, you’re working on the Campus Engagement Project to encourage college students to be involved in the coming elections. Please tell us how that’s going. How many people are involved? What are your goals? What are your strategies for overcoming student voter apathy?

–You believe strongly in the power of the individual to make a difference. Could we review some of the steps? For example, you say, “You Don’t Have to be a Saint,” and you urge people to take “One Step at a Time.”

–How do existing local organizations fit into the pattern? (Chico has a great many small activist organizations on the environment, civil rights, social justice, and so on. But there is also sometimes lack of communication among them, differences of purposes, and competition for dwindling funds.) Could you offer suggestions about engaging with community organizations? How does the activist “Widen the Circle”?

–Burnout. How do citizens cope with that?

–You write: “Cynicism or hope? That’s the real question, the choice all of us face, as individuals, families, neighborhoods, communities, nations, and members of a species whose continued survival is by no means guaranteed” (345). What is your personal level of hope and optimism?”

–What projects are coming up in your personal journey?

–Where might our listeners go for more information?

Questions for Kelly Munson

With us in the studio now is Kelly Munson. She’s the advisor to the Associated Students and student activities at Butte College. Welcome Kelly.

  1. Please tell us about the Butte College Student Leadership & Civic Engagement Conference taking place on Saturday, September 29th, 2012.
  2. Who is the conference intended for? Who should attend?
  3. What time will Paul Loeb be speaking?
  4. What else will be happening at the conference?
  5. How can people register?
  6. And tell us again when and where the events will be held


Play list for Ecotopia #206

1. Talkin’ Bout a Revolution 3:49 Playing for Change Playing for Change

2. The Times They Are a Changin’ (Live) 3:10 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary

3. Change is Gonna Come 6:07 Playing for Change Playing for Change

4. Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary

5. Vote For Hope 4:49 M.C. Yogi Vote For Hope Hip Hop


Ecotopia #205 Wild and Scenic Film Festival

Posted by on 04 Sep 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

September 4, 2012

[get website of the films for the festival up on the computer:}

This week we’re talking about the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Chico and the organization that sponsors the festival, The Friends of Butte Creek. Joining us by phone will be the Executive Director of the Friends of Butte Creek, Allen Harthorn.  And in the studio, we’ll be talking with Pamela Posey, the program director of the organization, and Liz Gardner, the Wild and Scenic Film Festival coordinator.

Our Questions for Allen

On the phone is Allen Harthorn, and in the studio are Liz Gardner, and Pamela Posey. Allen is Executive Director of Friends of Butte Creek, Pamela is Program Director and Liz is the Festival Coordinator for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival. They are here to talk about the Sixth Annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival, which will be held here in Chico on Friday, September 21 at the Sierra Nevada Big Room. The doors open at 5:00 and films start at 6:00. A Farmers’ Market Buffet Dinner will be served.  Tickets are available at Pure Skin and Chico Natural Foods Coop in Chico and online now. 

1. First of all, can you tell us what Friends of Butte Creek is? What is your mission, and what are some ways in which you enact your mission?

2. For those who don’t know much about our watershed, can you tell us why Butte Creek is important? And can you also just give us a little visual about where it comes from and where it goes, how it’s part of the larger system, and how it’s being used?

3. What is the DeSabla Centerville project? What’s happening there? What are your concerns? Where does the hydroelectric project stand right now?

4. Why should we care about salmon? What’s their status generally?

5. What are some other events and activities the Friends of Butte Creek sponsor and promote? (education, film festivals, salmon festivals, etc.)

6. Tell us about some of the resources that are available on your website that might help us understand our water system better? Are there other resources you could recommend to us for understanding the water and its uses in our area and beyond?

Our Questions about the Wild and Scenic Film Festival

This is Ecotopia on KZFR, and we’re talking about the Friends of Butte Creek’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival with Allen Harthorn, Executive Director, Pamela Posey, Program Director, and Liz Gardner, Festival Coordinator for the Wild and Scenic Film Festival Thanks to all of you for joining us.

1. This is the Sixth Annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival, which will be held here in Chico on Friday, September 21 at the Sierra Nevada Big Room. Can you tell us a little about how the film festival began?

2. And let’s make sure we get the details of the event in. When and where? And where can people get tickets? And you can get tickets just for the films or for dinner plus the films? What else can people expect at the event?

3. Let’s talk a big about the films. How many films will be showing?

4. The Chico film festival is a part of a larger series. How does the process of getting the films for the local festival work? How are films selected?

5. Can you tell us a little about the films? Do you have a favorite?

6. And again, can you give us the details of time and place and where people can get tickets?


You’re listening to Ecotopia on KZFR 90.1 Chico, and we’ve been talking with Allen Harthorn, Executive Director of Friends of Butte Creek, Pamela Posey, Program Director, Liz Gardner, Festival Coordinator. Thanks so much for joining us, and good luck with the festival.

Playlist for Ecotopia #205

1. Wilderness 3:20 Ann Marie Sheridan Intuition

2. Cool, Cool River 3:56 Paul Simon Rhythm Of The Saints

3. Shared Light 2:30 Abakus That Much Closer to the Sun

4. Yes, The River Knows 2:36 The Doors Waiting For The Sun

5. Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary

6. Supernova 4:42 Liquid Blue Supernova

7. Sacrament of Wilderness 4:16 Nightwish Oceanborn

8. 06 – Marching Through the Wilderness 4:20 David Byrne Live from Austin TX

9. Take Me to the River 3:33 Annie Lennox Medusa

10. The River 2:26 Brian Eno & David Byrne Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

11. River 5:32 Natalie Merchant Tigerlily Alternative