Faith v. Fact: Audiobooks and recent broadcasts

I have four business items—the announcement of an audiobook and three broadcasts.

First, I’ve signed a contract that will make Faith Versus Fact into an audiobook. For those of you who prefer listening, you will eventually have it on CD (or however they do these things; I’ve never listened to an audiobook). Someone told me that most audiobooks are abridged; I have no idea whether that’s true, or whether mine will be.

Second, an audio transcript of my appearance on last Friday’s Brian Lehrer show is available here.  Lehrer did ask a rather invidious question at the end, but I deflected it.

Also, my 17-minute interview on Sunday’s Left Jab Radio is also archived here. The interviewer was remarkably sympathetic, though I see that I need to work on saying “you know” less often!

Finally, for Canadian readers, you can catch my television appearance on Steve Paikin’s The Agenda tonight on TVO; the show starts at 8 pm and is repeated at 11 pm (presumably Toronto time). I’m not sure when I come on, but our one-on-one chat lasted about 25 minutes. I’ll put up a link later when it’s archived.) One reader informs me that based on the ordering in the show’s schedule, I may go first.

As lagniappe (?), here are a few more photos of my trip to Canada.

First, here are the speakers and organizers of the INR5 conference in Vancouver. I won’t list the names; you’ll surely recognize some of them. I believe the photo was taken by Melissa Chen and circulated by Vyckie Garrison, who’s in the front row with a drink. I will point out the two main organizers: Bill and Kathy Ligertwood: Bill’s second from right in the front row, and Kathy is slightly crouched down in front of him, her hands on the shoulders of Tom Melchiorre, a key person in the meeting’s logistics. Lawrence Krauss and Seth Andrews had departed before the photo was taken.


I chat with Eric Adriaans, the new head of the Centre for Inquiry, Canada, in the CfI offices (the two photos below are from Mark Taylor). He kindly gave me a copy of the Charlie Hebdo that came out after the terrorist attack—the issue with the weeping Muhammad on the cover. It’s a collector’s item now.


Buy the damn book, already!



  1. sgo
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Any idea on who will read the audiobook?

    Audiobooks are great, I listen to them all the time on my commute.

    They’re often shown as unabridged which also means that some are abridged, but I don’t think most of them are. I’ve only come across a few in the library, and I tend not to listen to them as I want the whole book. The exception was I Claudius, read by Derek Jacobi – he’s a great performer for audiobooks.

    • Posted June 16, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      I have no control over who reads the audiobook, and in fact I’ve never listened to a word of the audiobook of WEIT, though I’m told it’s fine. I wish I could read my own books!

      • Scote
        Posted June 16, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        So, why don’t you? I guess the FvF audio book contract is a done deal, but for your next Albatross…

        When the author is a good presenter, I generally prefer author-read books because they infuse the reading, with their personality and their original intent, after all, they wrote it in their own voice. The audiobook of God Not Great by Christopher Hitchens is a good good example. Hitchens delivers the material with his trademark wit, and it just wouldn’t have sounded the same read by someone else. However, authors who are really good at narration are the exception. I’m thinking you might be one of those exceptional people. I’d love to hear Faith vs Fact read with your trademark erudtuon and wit.

        I hope you’ll look into audio books more because I really enjoy them. However, the quality of narration really, really makes a difference. A bad narrator can ruin a good book. A good narator can make an okay book interesting. And a good narrator reading a good book is a wonderful experience.

        • The Eh'theist
          Posted June 17, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          Agreed. I hear your voice in my head when reading FvF, as I did with WEIT, so it would be great to have the recording so I could enjoy it while driving as well. The reader for WEIT, while good, simply doesn’t bring the nuances to the reading of it that have developed from your recorded presentations on the topic.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      I like audiobooks as I tend to remember things better if I hear them (although while listening in the car, my brain tends to turn off my audio processing when I need to pay attention to some doofus driver so I need to rewind a lot).

      Jerry – audiobooks are electronic now and you usually can download them on Audible (which seems to be the largest distributor of audiobooks). I imagine your publisher will probably work with Audible (now owned, like many things, by Amazon).

      • Posted June 16, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        I, too, listen to a lot of audio books (including WEIT). I don’t buy the abridged versions…and most of the books I’ve been interested in (either to purchase or get from the library) are unabridged.

        Also, most publishers will include a pdf of pictures, charts, and other visuals from the book, so you can listen and see at the same time…unless you’re driving, of course.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Stephen Fry would be a good candidate for FvF.

      • Posted June 16, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

        Not as good as Philomena.


        • Posted June 16, 2015 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

          YES! Sadly, though, I don’t think the word “monkey” appears in the book . . .

          • Posted June 16, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

            You know…in all seriousness, I think she’d probably be more than happy to get the gig, and that she’d do it superbly. Should be good work for actor types. Perhaps have your people talk to her people?


          • Posted June 17, 2015 at 7:56 am | Permalink

            Yes, you did mention ‘monkeys’ in your book, Dr. C. On page 171: ‘In experimental tests, for instance, capuchin monkeys show more “prosocial” (i.e. helping) behaviors than do chimps…. ‘. I can’t remember is the Scope Monkey Trial was mentioned.

            As much as I love Philomena, I’d prefer to someone with more gravitas, given the importance of this book. Then again, it would be good to reach the younger generation, as they might more open to change, so it could be someone currently popular with the younger/youngish generation, someone they’d take seriously.

      • Posted June 16, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        Second that! Fry would be “awesome”!

        But I agree with Scote above also, your voice would be probably be the best fit.
        Not sure if it is a Canadian thing, like Diana I also tend to remember things better if I hear them. What I sometimes do is buy the book on paper, and the audiobook for a second “reading” and at times I have also bought the eBook to make take notes on and to keep my paper version intact. I might do the same with FvF dear Prof. Ceiling Cat. And then I should go out door to door with my copy of FvF under my arm!

      • The Eh'theist
        Posted June 17, 2015 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        There’s a wonderful reading of some Chekhov stories narrated by Fry on Audible. He did a wonderful job of those.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      I love audio books when I’m travelling, especially driving.

  2. atheist in a foxhole
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    I pre-ordered my copy of Faith V Fact last year and have already received it. Its the next book in my reading list.

  3. Chris Walker
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I work for a division of the Library of Congress that makes audioboooks for a program for the blind and physically handicapped. We usually record our own version of the book, but sometimes we have a contract to adapt the commercial version for our program. My experience working with commercial audiobooks is that they are usually abridged in the sense that they do not include footnotes, endnotes, photograph or illustration captions, and backmatter sections such as acknowledgments and bibliographies. Though this varies depending on publisher.

    This bothers me, because there is often useful information in these sections. I’m proud to say that the government program’s books include almost all of these things. The exception is that, for footnotes and endnotes we include those that provide explanatory material, but we don’t include notes that are strictly source material.

    We recorded an audiobook version of WEIT back in 2012 (though I wasn’t involved with it) so I hope that we are also able to add Faith vs. Fact to our collection.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Yes, shame they don’t have the Endnotes and what not for the blind. Sighted people could always look that stuff up elsewhere but the blind rely on that information being included in their book.

      And now I’m reminded of the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza hated the sound of his own voice in his head when he read books so he found a way to get his book read as a book for the blind. However, he settled down to listen to it only to discover the narrator had his exact voice.

      More and more I identify with the Costanza character – especially when he took naps under his desk.

      • bric
        Posted June 16, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        So what are you doing for Festivus this year? (Airing Grievences, obviously :))

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted June 16, 2015 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

          Yes and looking forward to the feats of strength.

    • Posted June 16, 2015 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Most of Dawkins’ work includes the footnotes, especially “The Selfish Gene” and “The Greatest Show On Earth” includes tones to indicate images included in the PDF download. The fact these are read by Dawkins himself adds much to the experience, though I’ve read these books I also enjoyed listening to them on my commute.

  4. Randy Schenck
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I am sure that lots of people listen to books and it is a great thing for those who cannot see or have poor sight. My wife listens to tons of books and then donates them to the local library for others to read.

  5. Posted June 16, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Jeez. Look at all those strident, joyless people. See what a Jesus-shaped hole in your heart looks like?


  6. TJR
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Is it just me, or does Jerry look a bit like John Major?

    • Randy Schenck
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      No, but he does look like a guy in cowboy boots.

  7. Susan
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Yeah audiobook!

    Most audiobooks these days are unabridged, in that they include the intro/preface and all the chapters as written. It is true that endnotes and the index might be omitted. Audible dot com is the major vendor. Books can be listened to on ipods or smart phones. If you have any say, unabridged is best.

    I love audiobooks and listen on the train, during kids soccer practice, while cooking dinner, etc. Usually I split my time between brain rot (Rex Stout, Dick Francis etc.) and non fiction (science and history, for example WEIT, The Adventure of English, The Battle of Midway, etc.) Operation Mincemeat is nonfiction but such fun it practically qualifies as brain rot.

    I’m always looking for suggestions for good books to, er, listen

  8. Posted June 16, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I had a pleasure of listening to Jerry during his presentation in Toronto, and wrote a review that generally praises his address, and has some constructive criticism for the Q&A.

  9. Kevin
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I still have my copies of FvF, some of which i shall hand out to inspired folk. But now I shall wait for the audiobook and have it read to me. How awesome is that! I will also ask the local library to pick it up (audio).

    My experience is that most books I have listened to are not abridged, but I expect there may be a few out there that are…

  10. Mal
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Just looked up the Audible version of WEIT. It’s unabridged and lasts 10 hours.

  11. Posted June 16, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps gravity, as proposed by Newton, is the only constant universal force and, for that matter, may institute a god. Therefore, Lemmings are right!

  12. Scott Draper
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I buy about 3 audiobooks per month and have for years, and I don’t think any of them have been abridged.

    • Scote
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      I think abridgement was more common back when audio books were on cassette tape and much less common. Now with easy digital distribution and playback abridgement seems to be less important. I certainly am not a fan of abridged books, so I’m glad that unabridged versions seem to be the rule these days.

  13. kelskye
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    “For those of you who prefer listening, you will eventually have it on CD (or however they do these things; I’ve never listened to an audiobook)”
    I usually listen to audiobooks while I’m walking, or there’s downtime at work. Though I always make sure to get unabridged books.

  14. eTourist
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m also an audio book fan. These days most seem to have unabridged versions. Chris Walker’s comment @3 is an important caveat as to what is and isn’t abridged. Lots of times it’s not readily apparent when footnotes are dropped. No one reads an index. However, Gretta Christina has included a pdf of her sources when she has issued an audio book.

    A good author is not necessarily a good narrator. Bill Nye narrated his book and I found his presentation to be annoying at best. On the other hand, Aron Ra did a magnificent job on P.Z.’s book.

  15. Diana MacPherson
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I just watched The Agenda and it looked like a pretty good discussion with Paiken asking asking really good questions.

    The guy who came after Jerry – Andrew Newberg totally missed what incompatible meant as when Paiken asked him if he agreed with Jerry, he said he didn’t and then went on to say that most people who say this are thinking of extreme religious views like YECs. Then he asserted that since there were scads of scientists and doctors (who he lumped in with scientists) who are believers, QED religion and science are compatible. He also used the little people argument about why we should have faith — you know, get people to do the good things of religion and not the bad things so we, who know best, need to encourage people along the “good” religious lines.

    There was an annoying third piece about new atheism where a professor of Religious Studies at UofT, Pamela Klasse, bemoaned that the books of the Horsemen were written by white males and that Sam Harris uses “sexuality and gender” in a way women don’t. Huh? I think I missed that in Sam’s books.

    She went on to say that women don’t get published because they are less strident and that Harris et al. say things to shock. I’m embarrassed to be a woman sometimes.

    • Mark Reaume
      Posted June 16, 2015 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      Yes, that third segment was awful.

  16. Mark Reaume
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Just finished watching the Agenda on Tvo. I thought it was an excellent interview – both guest and interviewer. The second guest (Andrew Newberg)that was on after Jerry was pretty lame – the definition of an accomadationist. He’s the author of “How God changes your brain”, while the study of brain activity while practicing religious activities is interesting I think he bends over backwards to appease religionists.

  17. Bill P.
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Here is the TVO interview from The Agenda with Steve Paikin

  18. Posted June 17, 2015 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    Amazon tells me that I’ll get FvF on Thursday! YAY! Finally! The Albatros surely took his time flying over the ocean to Germany.

    • Posted June 17, 2015 at 4:42 am | Permalink

      Mine arrived last week (in Germany), after a delay and a day after they’d told me it wouldn’t be delivered till August.

      • Posted June 17, 2015 at 8:22 am | Permalink

        The miracles of international logistics… but as long as I get the book, I’m happy!

  19. Posted June 17, 2015 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    Re audio book — according to Amazon Germany, where the audio book can be pre-ordered, it will be unabridged.

  20. barn owl
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Another audiobook lover here, and none of the audiobooks I have (fiction and non-fiction) is abridged. Most are not narrated by the author; one that is, Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, has an excellent match between narrator and characters. The reviews of narrators on Audible weigh pretty heavily in my choices of audiobooks. I love listening to audiobooks while I’m knitting, spinning, prepping garden produce, or cleaning at home.

    I’d think that the scheduling for audiobook production would be demanding on the narrator’s voice. It’s interesting to compare the voice stamina of colleagues who give a relative handful of 50-minute lectures or talks each year, to us heavy-duty teaching faculty who might give two such lectures in a morning, and then have to give 4 to 6 successive 10-minute spiels on anatomy demos to groups of students in lab that afternoon. I frequently have several days like that within one week, and it took awhile to build up the voice stamina, after being more research-intensive for years.

  21. Posted June 17, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Another good interview, Dr. C. I enjoyed your discussion with Steve Paikin on The Agenda. Well done!

    I also found the interview with Andrew Newberg very interesting. He talked about his research into “the connection between the brain and theology”. Like Neil deGrasse Tyson, I’m curious to hear about research on scientists who are religious.

  22. Scientifik
    Posted June 17, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    “Lehrer did ask a rather invidious question at the end, but I deflected it.”

    I was dumbfounded to hear such a shallow and tendentious final question from the show’s host. I mean to ask such a question at the end of a discussion in which you brought to light problems such as: opposition to vaccination, exemption laws allowing parents to withhold medical treatment from their children, denying action on climate change — all having their roots in unsubstantiated religious beliefs, was to misunderstand the gravity of the whole conversation.

  23. Posted June 17, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    I love audiobooks and hate abridgments. I don’t listen to them much since I retired and don’t have that long commute.

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