Hi Peter,

Having watched many videos of your reverse Q&A's and street epistemology (and learning so much as a family!), we have a question about practical application with our friends and family members. We'd like to plant some seeds of doubt on the topic of "drag queen story hour" which they all seem to have embraced as a civil rights issue. We see their posts on social media such as, "It's not just about drag queens just like it was never just about water fountains" and "The biggest danger of taking your child to a drag show is that a christian could show up with a gun." We aren't going to engage on social media. In person, however, what would be a good, non-threatening opener so we could invite a conversation? Given that people tend to cling to their beliefs more when you offer them evidence, we're a little stuck since they may not be aware of some of the overtly sexual content or the predatory history of some of these men masquerading as exaggerated versions of women. Or, they may think this is all perfectly OK! What would be some strategies we could use to at least start a friendly conversation? Thank you! FYI, my son (16) just quoted you in a project on free speech for his class at PCC.

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It has been so interesting to see you taking the street epistemology abroad. I was thinking about the degrees to which people are open to playing the game, and what inspires that openness vs. the 'epistemological constipation' displayed by my social work colleagues in Portland. I wonder how much of it is temperament versus lived experience? What's your take?

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I will get straight to the question.

What are some of your own personal observations, regarding previously unknown differences AND similarities with the younger generation across the multiple nations that you have done the Street Epistemology?

Thank you

Hope your move was smooth and your not living out of boxes, at this point.

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Thank you for hosting these AMAs, I am excited to hear what Reid has to say! Thank you, Peter, Gina, and Reid! I have the NPR question that I would love to hear Peter and Gina’s thoughts on since they both were in the “All Things Reconsidered” series. I also have a new question for both Peter and Reid. It is perhaps the same question asked in two different ways, so I welcome their answers on either or both questions.

The NPR Question

When the ENCODE project claimed roughly 80% of the human genome has purpose, NPR ran an article framing the new discoveries as the biological functions of "junk DNA" potentially eventually explaining how macro-evolution occurred. https://www.npr.org/2011/08/19/139757702/dont-throw-it-out-junk-dna-essential-in-evolution Do you think NPR's article is a fair representation of the significance of this discovery and the historical debate surrounding the term "junk DNA"?

Example article about the ENCODE project findings: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature11247

The New Questions

For Peter:

Should humanoid aliens be a surprise or an expectation? If, given the right conditions in the correct sequence, the probability of life in other parts of the universe has a probability approaching 1 or 100% because the fossil record is evidence that there exists a natural pathway to life here on earth similar to a recipe, would this diminish the weight of the argument of homology as evidence of common ancestry? If it is bound to happen elsewhere in the universe multiple times, why not here as well?

For Reid:

If scientists could prove that two specific animals never shared a common ancestor, would that convince you that macro-evolution never happened, and would your answer change as the “number of animals without a common ancestor” grows larger? Which two or more animals would scientists need to prove did not have a common ancestor [observed evidence E] for you to conclude the following statement is true?

[Observed evidence E] combined with reason is sufficient, to assume that the “gaps” in our knowledge of how macro-evolution occurred, will [never] be filled by further scientific inquiry.

Thank you for considering my questions!

As a side note, I can’t take credit for coming up with this question. I was introduced to the puzzle concerning probability by Paul Nelson. I hope I reproduced his question accurately. Here is his relevant presentation for reference:

Testing Universal Common Descent - Part 4 - Dr Paul Nelson


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Mar 19·edited Mar 19

Have you used techniques in "How to have Impossible Conversations" on your kids? How have you fared throughout different ages?

I like the "say ummmm" and count 5 seconds to get out of having to give the other person an answer when they ask you a question.

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Are we on the precipice of societal collapse?

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Following up on my question from last time about objective morality, you were correct that what I was looking for was that at some point you have to smuggle something in as assumptions or presuppositions to have any kind of moral facts. The same is true for objective rationality. I have been talking about this with James Lindsay. As a thought experiment, I asked him about a hypothetical society where all non-Jews decided to kill all the Jews because they were deemed through smuggled in presuppositions to be an inferior race worthy of extermination. You would agree that would be morally wrong, which means you would say their smuggled in presuppositions are wrong, and thus smuggled in presuppositions are not the ultimate root of moral facts. This means you are asserting some kind of transcendental standard beyond smuggled in presuppositions, which must be universally valid over all people including the hypothetical genocidal society, out of which valid smuggled in presuppositions are produced. What is this transcendental standard and where does it come from?

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Sending my last daughter off to college. Any suggestions on classes to look out for or advice to support my daughter in not get taken in by the woke cult? Thanks for all you do! BTW, one of the colleges she is interested in is Portland State, she is also interested in UNM and U of Utah.

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Peter, last month you mentioned there were a handful of topics on which you could expound, and it probably doesn’t take a genius to infer that one of those topics is Star Trek. What would you say to a reasonable person who has watched little to no Star Trek in their lives, but who is open to begin watching if given the right nudge. What would you recommend a Star Trek novice to begin viewing? You can assume whatever you want about this person, including that this person happens to have similar taste as you in other regards.

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Thanks Leslie! I have checked there, they have a good site. Was just curious to hear Peter's perspective as a professsor.

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