CO019 Larry Erickson on the American Left

Larry Erickson is the author of the blog Lotus – Surviving a Dark Time, and the presenter of Left Side of the Aisle show, and we discussed this blog post of his in particular.

CO018 Virginia Postrel on Donating a Kidney

Virginia Postrel is an author and columnist.

She writes for Bloomberg View and we talked about this column of hers. Virginia mentioned this book by Michele Goodwin, and I referenced this study of penalties for collecting children late from childcare.

CO017 Jennifer Briney on the ‘Congressional Dish’

Jennifer Briney is the presenter of the excellent Congressional Dish podcast.

In our discussion, we talked about the STOCK act which concerns transparency for how elected officials vote on issues that affect stocks they hold. She exposed how it was hobbled to prevent easy access by citizens.

CO015 Julie Davis on Being a Catholic

Julie Davis is a presenter of the podcast  A Good Story is Hard to Find and the author of the Happy Catholic blog.

This is the source for the quote from Sam Harris that I mentioned, and the papal encyclical that Julie referred to is Laudato Si.

This is Pascal’s Wager that Julie mentioned, and this is a trailer for Philomenia, the story of an Irish woman who had her child kidnapped and sold into adoption while she was incarcerated in a church-run institution. These are articles about Mary Merritt, whose story I mentioned. This is the trailer for Spotlight, about the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese.

Information on John Paul II and Benedict XVI instructing bishops to protect child abusers and not report them to police is here and here. The pattern appears to be continuing.

CO014 Nathan Damigo on White Nationalism Part 2

Nathan Damigo is the founder of Identity Evropa, and he and his organisation have widely been accused of racism, which he denies.

This is part two of the interview which began last Monday. You can hear part one here.

CO013 Rob Morse on Guns and Safety

Rob Morse is the author of Slow Facts and co-host of the Polite Society podcast.

I referred to this Swiss study which concluded “The restriction of firearm availability in Switzerland resulting from the Army XXI reform was followed by an enduring decrease in the general suicide rate.”

Rob and I disagreed on international crime rates. These rates are difficult to compare because of the different practices in reporting and recording crimes. Serious crimes give the most valid comparison because they are nearly always reported, and are considered crimes in all jurisdictions. The United States has a murder rate of 4.7, which is much lower than some Third World world countries, but the highest of any major developed country. Ireland has a murder rate of 1.2; source.

I got gun international ownerships rates slightly wrong, but was correct that the rate in the US is by a wide margin the highest in the world.

Rob and I differed on the ability of a ‘good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun‘. This was in the context of NRA president, Wayne LaPierre’s reaction to several mass shootings, saying that armed civilians can make society safer. Rob cited several examples from his page Saved by a Good Person with a Gun, which lists 10 examples. However, only four cases (10, 9, 4, 2) actually claim to be an incident where an American civilian with a gun stopped a shooting, and none meet the definition of a mass shooting, four or more victims shot in a single incident, although it is reasonable to think that they might have, without an intervention.

Rob doesn’t provide links, though I am happy to accept his word. However, to collect those four examples, Rob has to go back over almost 20 years, and by the stricter definition there have been many thousands of mass shootings in the US in that period, now at a rate of almost one per day. Four incidents is a vanishingly small proportion of gun crime. Rob makes the point:

We seldom see a ‘mass shooting’ when an armed civilian intervenes in an attempted public violence.  The civilian stops the murderer before 4 people get killed.  The average being 2.3 dead if a civilian on the scene intervenes, versus 14.3 dead if no armed civilian is present and the murders proceed until the police arrive.

It is certainly valid to count incidents where an attacker is stopped by a civilian and set them against mass shootings with more casualties because nobody intervened. I don’t know the source of the figures he quotes,  and I acknowledge that it is possible to end up with a different dataset by changing the criteria, but accepting all of the incidents he cites over the past 20 years, they don’t indicate that armed civilians can provide much protection from the rate of one mass shooting per day in the US in recent years.

This is the Democracy Index, ranking countries by the quality of their democracy. It is clear that there is no correlation between liberal gun laws and the quality of the democracy.

I overstated Somalia’s level of gun prevalence, it has about one gun for every 10 people.

CO012 Rob Lyons on Food Scares

Rob Lyons is the writer of the blog Panic on a Plate, and he wrote the book of the same name, which is availaible on Amazon.

In the interview, we talked about this article in the UK Daily Telegraph which talked about taking ‘Best Before’ dates off some food products such as salt and pasta in the European Union because those products have very long shelf lives.

CO011 Nathan Damigo on White Nationalism – Part 1

Nathan Damigo is the founder of Identity Evropa, and he and his organisation have widely been accused of racism, which he denies.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

In November 2007, [Damigo] had been home for a month after his second tour of duty and was suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, paranoia and flashbacks, court records show. A few days after the anniversary of a friend’s combat death, he spent a night drinking and went for a walk with a gun he’d gotten two days before as a gift. He came across a La Mesa cab driver who he thought was Iraqi, put a gun to his head and robbed the man of $43, records show.

He was convicted of armed robbery and spent a year in county jail and four years in prison for the crime.

Part two of this interview will be released next Monday, Apirl 10.

CO009 Chris Kelly on America’s Military Advenutres

Chris Kelly is the coauthor of the books Italy Invades and America Invades. He’s also writes the American Conservative in London blog.

The book Christopher Columbus and the Conquest of Paradise by Kirkpatrick Sale was where I got my references for Christopher Colombus.

CO008 John Snider on Reforming Islam

John Snider is a member of American Atheists, and a prominent member of the Atlanta Freethought Society. He’s also a celebrant with the Humanist Society which means he conducts weddings and other ceremonies. He’s also a prolific writer including for Skeptic, for Secular Nation, and for Philosophy Now, as well as being the founder of the American Free Thought Blog.

We discussed Omar Saif Ghobash’s book,  Letters to a Young Muslim.

CO007 Dr Jerome Huyler on Abolishing Welfare

Dr Jerome Huyler is the author of Everything You Have: The Case Against Welfare and Locke in America: The Moral Philosophy of the Founding Era. He is also a former assistant professor at Seton Hall University.

CO006 Dr Robert Waldmann on Healthcare Economics

Dr Robert Waldmann is a professor of economics at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and he’s the editor of the Angry Bear blog.

Here are some of the facts that we discussed about the cost of healthcare and the corresponding life expectancy in various countries.

CO004 Eric Schansberg on Libertarianism

Eric Schansberg is writer of the SchansBlog. He was a Libertarian candidate for the US Congress, and he’s the author of the books Turn Neither to the Right Nor to the LeftPoor Policy: How Government Harms the Poor and Inheriting the Promised Land: Lessons in Victorious Christian Living from the Book of Joshua.

As a professor of Economics at Indiana University Southeast, he is also the author of several academic articles.

CO003 RiShawn Biddle on Education Reform

RiShawn Biddle is the editor of, the leading online outlet covering and commenting on American public education and school reform. In the piece we mentioned the book Freakonomics.

CO001 Dr Mark Thornton on Austrian Economics

Dr Mark Thornton is an economist with the Mises Institute, which is named after the Austrian economist,  Ludwig von Mises, who was one of the inspirations for the Austrian school of economics.

I referred to in our conversation to the Clean Air Act of 1956, which was a successful government response to London’s Great Smog.