Jonathan Noyes joins Tim to talk about why he gave up on atheism and how he came to where he is today. This is a conversation about logic, about reasoning and research, about doubt, and ultimately, about faith. Jonathan is a former atheist who has lived a journey that few have. He’s now a Christian.
The Civil Liberties Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), David Greene, joins Tim to talk about current efforts to ban the social media app TikTok from American users. The EFF describes itself as the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF says its “mission is to ensure that technology supports freedom, justice, and innovation for all people of the world.” In this episode, David talks about current legislation in the U.S. to ban the popular social media app called TikTok, but it has more far-reaching impacts than just TikTok.
Professor Ken Brown joins Tim to talk about a psychological phenomenon you see any time you log on to social media and no one is helping a victim of harassment or violence. It’s called the bystander effect. Ken teaches organizational psychology at the University of Iowa, and is perhaps best known for a TED talk he gave on the bystander effect. Why don’t people step forward and help when someone is in need? That answer may not be what you think.
Author and former “Economic Hit Man” John Perkins joins Tim to talk about his New York Times best-selling book that’s now become a classic. That book is, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: China’s EHM Strategy, Ways to Stop the Global Takeover.” He just released an updated version of the book that covers the tactics that China, the U.S. and other major powers have used to wage economic “warfare” in 2023.
Princeton professor and author Keith Whittington joins Tim to talk about the current state of free speech, or not-so-free-speech on the American college campus. Keith has a long resume of accomplishments, including the authoring of the award-winning book, “Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech.” But in this episode, we talk about Keith’s role in the formation of a new and already growing organization that champions freedom of speech called the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA).
Gavin McIlvenna joins Tim on the Centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Gavin is president of the Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He had a long and distinguished career in the U.S. Army, but one of the more unique experiences he’s had is the time he spent guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery. In this episode, Gavin tells the story behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the symbolic and real significance of one of the most hallowed places on American soil. This episode was first releases on June 14, 2021.
Fred Cate joins Tim to talk about how big tech companies could use your personal data without your knowledge or explicit consent and some of the legal issues involved. Fred is vice president for research, a distinguished professor of law and a senior fellow at Indiana University’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research. This espisode was first released April 26, 2021.
Kelley Vlahos joins Tim to talk about how big tech companies are starting to use your data to grade you in ways that may surprise and shock you. The focus of our discussion is your Social Credit Score and how China may be illustrating just how alarming its applications can be. Kelley is a senior advisor at the Quincy Institute and editorial director at Responsible Statecraft. She’s written about this population monitoring tool that before now was unthinkable in America. That’s the focus of this episode, which was originally released on May 3, 2021.
Former Soviet KGB undercover spy Jack Barsky joins Tim to tell his story, and his long journey from Soviet Cold War operative to American citizen. Jack spent ten years in America as an undercover agent for the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. He’s the author of a book called, “Deep Under Cover: My Secret Life & Tangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America.” And he’s the subject of the podcast called The Agent.
Nadine Strossen joins Tim to talk about how to fight “hate speech” or harmful speech without censorship. She’s a best-selling author and a Professor of Constitutional Law at New York Law School. She’s also the first woman national President of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In this episode, she talks about private company censorship, the challenges, some solutions and all of it as addressed in her book “Hate: Why we should resist it with free speech, not censorship. This episode was first released April 12, 2021.
New York Times bestselling author Martin Dugard joins Tim to talk about his newest book called “Taking Berlin: The Bloody Race to Defeat the Third Reich.” It’s the story of the Allies’ campaign across Europe during World War II as seen through the eyes of five key figures. This book is part of the “Taking” trilogy on World War II, and follows Martin’s work with Bill O’Reilly on the popular “Killing” series of books.
Former FBI profiler James R. Fitzgerald joins Tim to talk about his key role in cracking one of the most notorious serial killer cases in American history – the Unabomber. James was involved in the pioneering of something called forensic linguistics. The FBI used this profiling approach to identify and capture one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, Ted Kaczynski, otherwise known as the Unabomber.
Attorney Aaron Mackey joins Tim to talk about how intelligence agencies, law enforcement and private companies are buying your data as part of larger surveillance operations. Is this against the spirit of the Fourth Amendment rights to privacy? Aaron works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or the EFF. The foundation is the leading nonprofit organization defending civil liberties in the digital world. It champions user privacy, free expression, and innovation. In this episode, Aaron talks about your privacy. How much you have, who’s invading it, how they’re doing it. And most importantly, what they’re doing with your personal information.
U.S. Marine veteran Worth Parker joins Tim to talk about an unprecedented story that centers on the shadow evacuation of Afghanistan in 2021. The operation was conducted by veterans and others from throughout all of the U.S. military branches to evacuate civilians caught in the chaos of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Worth is a retired United States Marine turned writer, who tells us about his role in what we’ve dubbed, “Escape from Afghanistan.”
Former covert CIA intelligence officer and U.S. Air Force combat veteran Andrew Bustamante joins Tim to talk about his life as a CIA operative, the lessons he’s learned, and we get some insights into the world of the CIA. Today, Andrew is a Fortune 10 corporate advisor, and he’s the man behind the EveryDay Spy self-improvement program, and the host of the EveryDay Espionage podcast.
O’Brien Communications’ Shaping Opinion Podcast is an award-winning podcast about people, events and things that have shaped the way we think. It sits at the corner of culture, history and communication.
We publish new episodes on Mondays. Each episode features a conversation between Tim O’Brien and a guest.
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Tim O’Brien is a Pittsburgh-based communications veteran with experience in complex matters that have ranged from marketing and C-suite issues, to crisis and issues management. He’s the producer and host of Shaping Opinion, where he talks to guests on a wide range of topics at the intersection of communications, history and culture. He’s available to provide media interview coaching, consulting and speaking, and of course, he is always interested in your thoughts for the podcast. Just get in touch.