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The Origins Podcast with Lawrence Krauss
A Dialogue with Label-Defying Journalist Jonathan Kay

A Dialogue with Label-Defying Journalist Jonathan Kay

Jonathan Kay cannot be easily labelled, with a background in engineering and law, and writing that spans the political spectrum. That is one of the things that makes his writing so interesting.

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I first became aware of Jonathan Kay through his writing for the online magazine, Quillette. And for full disclosure, I got to know him better because he is one of their editors, and he has edited several of my own pieces for that magazine. Before that, however, I had been a fan of his writing, and was happy to be able to have an extended conversation with him about writing, journalism, false news, and politics, to name a few of the topics we discussed.

Our dialogue occurred shortly after the appearance of a comprehensive 15,000 word piece of investigative journalism piece by Kay about a supposed organized sex-ring in the Psychology Department at McMaster University in Canada. Outrageous claims had surfaced, which ignited the university, and the local media, destroying the careers of various faculty and others, all of which eventually turned out to be false. Kay carefully explored how the original story developed, what factors prompted the University to act, and how local media played up the salacious claims without much investigation. It was a typical example of how false news can propagate, and also an indictment of the way Universities handle such claims, and local media may promote them.

The appearance of this story gave us the opportunity to talk about the state of journalism in general. Jonathan has had a unique career and background, which made him a particularly interesting dialogue partner about this issue. He actually was educated as a metallurgical engineer, and following that he pursued a law degree at Yale University, and was a tax lawyer before eventually becoming disenchanted and deciding to pursue a career in writing and journalism.

He also defies easy labelling. While he was a founding editor of the conservative Canadian newspaper The National Post, he also helped Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau write his memoirs. It is Jonathan’s non-ideological bent, perhaps due to his early training as a scientist and engineer that makes his perspective on today’s news so refreshing. We discussed his own background, what got him into writing, his experiences, and stories including the recent claimed Indigenous Residential School scandal in Canada, and the controversy surrounding the naming of the James Webb Space Telescope in the U.S.

When I contacted Jon this week to let him know the podcast is coming out, I learned that he had just completed a lengthy investigative piece about University of New Hampshire astrophysicist/gender studies social justice warrior Chanda Prescod Weinstein who, in the process of claiming victimization for herself and others, has apparently been bullying, harassing, and intimidating a host of others online, leading to complaints recently being filed at her institution. It coincidentally just came out yesterday, so this podcast is particularly timely. I hope you enjoy the discussion as much as I enjoyed talking to this fascinating man.

As always, an ad-free video version of this podcast is also available to paid Critical Mass subscribers. Your subscriptions support the non-profit Origins Project Foundation, which produces the podcast. The audio version is available free on the Critical Mass site and on all podcast sites, and the video version will also be available on the Origins Project Youtube channel as well.

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The Origins Podcast with Lawrence Krauss
The Origins Podcast features in-depth conversations with some of the most interesting people in the world about the issues that impact all of us in the 21st century. Host, theoretical physicist, lecturer, and author, Lawrence M. Krauss, will be joined by guests from a wide range of fields, including science, the arts, and journalism. The topics discussed on The Origins Podcast reflect the full range of the human experience - exploring science and culture in a way that seeks to entertain, educate, and inspire.