Science

Rationally Speaking

New York City Skeptics

+44 FANS

Rationally Speaking is the bi-weekly podcast of New York City Skeptics. Join hosts Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef as they explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely from unlikely, and science from pseudoscience. Any topic is fair ...Show More

Best
Newest
Looking for recently uploaded episodes
Rationally Speaking #212 - Ed Boyden on “How to invent game-changing technologies”

48:52 | Jul 8th, 2018

This episode features neuroscientist Ed Boyden discussing two inventions of his that have revolutionized neuroscience: optogenetics and expansion microscopy.

Rationally Speaking #220 - Peter Eckersley on "Tough choices on privacy and artificial intelligence"

1:02:52 | Oct 28th, 2018

This episode features Peter Eckersley, an expert in law and computer science, who has worked with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Partnership on AI. Peter and Julia first delve into some of the most fundamental questions about privacy.

Rationally Speaking #219 - Jason Collins on "A skeptical take on behavioral economics"

55:50 | Oct 15th, 2018

In this episode, economist Jason Collins discusses some of the problems with behavioral economics.

Rationally Speaking #218 - Chris Auld on "Good and bad critiques of economics"

48:16 | Oct 1st, 2018

In this episode, economist Chris Auld describes some common criticisms of his field and why they're wrong. Julia and Chris also discuss whether there are any good critiques of the field.

Rationally Speaking #217 - Aviv Ovadya on "The problem of false, biased, and artificial news"

38:44 | Sep 16th, 2018

Aviv Ovadya, an expert on misinformation, talks with Julia about the multiple phenomena that get lumped together as "fake news." For example, articles that are straightforwardly false, misleading, or artificially created.

Rationally Speaking #216 - Diana Fleischman on "Being a transhumanist evolutionary psychologist"

46:08 | Sep 3rd, 2018

On this episode of Rationally Speaking, professor Diana Fleischman makes the case for transhumanist evolutionary psychology: understanding our evolved drives, so that we can better overcome them..

Rationally Speaking #215 - Anders Sandberg on "Thinking about the long-term future of humanity"

43:00 | Aug 20th, 2018

This episode features Anders Sandberg, a researcher at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, explaining several reasons why it's valuable to think about humanity's long-term future.

Rationally Speaking #214 - Anthony Aguirre on "Predicting the future of science and tech, with Metaculus"

50:28 | Aug 6th, 2018

This episode features physicist Anthony Aguirre discussing Metaculus, the site he created to crowd-source accurate predictions about science and technology. For example, will SpaceX land on Mars by 2030?

Rationally Speaking #213 - Dean Simonton on "The causes of scientific and artistic genius"

1:06:03 | Jul 22nd, 2018

This episode features Professor Dean Simonton, who has spent his life quantitatively studying geniuses, from Einstein to Mozart.

Rationally Speaking #211 - Sabine Hossenfelder on "The case against beauty in physics"

42:10 | Jun 25th, 2018

This episode features physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math, arguing that fundamental physics is too enamored of "beauty" as a criterion for evaluating theories of how the universe works.

Rationally Speaking #210 - Stuart Ritchie on "Conceptual objections to IQ testing"

57:14 | Jun 11th, 2018

This episode features Stuart Ritchie, intelligence researcher and author of the book "Intelligence: All That Matters." Stuart responds to some of the most common conceptual objections to the science of IQ testing.

Rationally Speaking #209 - Christopher Chabris on "Collective intelligence & the ethics of A/B tests"

51:54 | May 28th, 2018

This episode features cognitive psychologist Christopher Chabris discussing his research on "collective intelligence" and why people get so upset at companies like Facebook and OKCupid for doing experiments on their users, and whether that's fair.

Rationally Speaking #208 - Annie Duke on "Thinking in bets"

52:40 | May 13th, 2018

This episode features Annie Duke, former pro poker player and author of the book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts. Julia and Annie debate why people tend to ignore the role of luck in their decisions.

Rationally Speaking #207 - Alison Gopnik on "The wrong way to think about parenting, plus the downsides of modernity"

1:03:12 | Apr 30th, 2018

Developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik explains why modern parenting is too goal-oriented. Alison and Julia discuss whether anything parents do matters, whether kids should go to school, and how kids learn discipline if you don't force them to do t...Show More

Rationally Speaking #206 - Kal Turnbull on "Change My View"

49:29 | Apr 15th, 2018

Julia and Kal Turnbull discuss the culture of the subreddit Change My View, what makes it such an oasis for reasonable discussion on the Internet, and what we've learned about what motivates people to change their minds or not.

Rationally Speaking #205 - Michael Webb on "Are ideas getting harder to find?"

48:38 | Apr 2nd, 2018

This episode features economist Michael Webb, who recently co-authored a paper titled "Are ideas getting harder to find?" It demonstrates that the number of researchers it takes to produce a technological innovation has gone up dramatically over time...Show More

Rationally Speaking #204 - Simine Vazire on "Reforming psychology, and self-awareness"

53:00 | Mar 19th, 2018

Simine Vazire is a professor of psychology, the author of the blog, "Sometimes I'm Wrong," and a major advocate for improving the field of psychology.

Rationally Speaking #203 - Stephen Webb on “Where is Everybody? Solutions to the Fermi Paradox.

40:46 | Mar 5th, 2018

The universe has been around for billions of years, so why haven't we seen any signs of alien civilizations? This episode features physicist Stephen Webb, who describes some of the potential solutions to the puzzle.

Rationally Speaking #202 - Bryan Caplan on "The Case Against Education"

47:59 | Feb 19th, 2018

In this episode, economist Bryan Caplan argues that the main reason getting a college degree is valuable is because of signaling, and not because college teaches you useful knowledge or skills.

Rationally Speaking #201 - Ben Buchanan on "The Cybersecurity Dilemma"

44:40 | Feb 5th, 2018

In this episode, Ben Buchanan (postdoctoral fellow at Harvard studying cybersecurity and statecraft) explores how the escalation dilemma plays out in the realm of cybersecurity.

Rationally Speaking #200 - Timothy Lee on "How much should tech companies moderate speech?"

44:21 | Jan 22nd, 2018

This episode features tech and policy journalist Timothy Lee, discussing a question that's increasingly in the spotlight: How much should tech companies be actively moderating their users' speech?

Rationally Speaking #199 - Jessica Flanigan on "Why people should have the right to self-medicate"

42:46 | Jan 8th, 2018

This episode features Jessica Flanigan, professor of normative and applied ethics, making the case that patients should have the right to take pharmaceutical drugs without needing to get a prescription from a doctor.

Rationally Speaking #198 - Timur Kuran on “Private Truths and Public Lies"

59:08 | Dec 11th, 2017

In this episode, economist Timur Kuran explains the ubiquitous phenomenon of "preference falsification" -- in which people claim to support something publicly even though they don't support it privately -- and describes its harmful effects on society...Show More

Rationally Speaking #197 - Doug Hubbard on “Why people think some things can’t be quantified (and why they’re wrong)”

53:08 | Nov 13th, 2017

In this episode Julia talks with Doug Hubbard, author of How to Measure Anything, about why people so often believe things are impossible to quantify like "innovation" or "quality of life."

Rationally Speaking #196 - Eric Schwitzgebel on "Weird ideas and opaque minds"

1:05:45 | Oct 30th, 2017

Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel returns to the show to explore several related questions: His taxonomy of the three different styles of thinker -- "Truth," "Dare," and "Wonder" -- and whether one of them is better than the others.

Rationally Speaking #195 - Zach Weinersmith on "Emerging technologies that'll improve and/or ruin everything"

50:07 | Oct 15th, 2017

This episode features Zach Weinersmith, creator of the philosophical webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and the co-author (with his wife Kelly Weinersmith) of the new book Soonish: 10 Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everyth...Show More

Rationally Speaking #194 - Robert Wright on "Why Buddhism is True"

50:33 | Oct 2nd, 2017

This episode features bestselling author Robert Wright making the case for why Buddhism was right about human nature: its diagnosis that our suffering is mainly due to a failure to see reality clearly.

Rationally Speaking #193 - Eric Jonas on "Could a neuroscientist understand a microprocessor?"

1:04:37 | Sep 18th, 2017

This episode features neuroscientist and computer scientist Eric Jonas, discussing his provocative paper titled "Could a Neuroscientist Understand a Microprocessor?" in which he applied state-of-the-art neuroscience tools to a computer chip.

Rationally Speaking #192 - Jesse Singal on “The problems with implicit bias tests”

51:47 | Sep 3rd, 2017

This episode features science journalist Jesse Singal, who argues that the Implicit Associations Test (IAT) has been massively overhyped, and that in fact there's little evidence that it's measuring real-life bias.

Rationally Speaking #191 - Seth Stephens-Davidowitz on "What the internet can tell us about human nature" (Fixed)

59:21 | Aug 21st, 2017

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz and Julia discuss the insights new research gives us into which parts of the USA are more racist, what kinds of strategies reduce racism, and whether the internet is making political polarization worse.

Rationally Speaking #190 - Amanda Askell on "Pascal's Wager and other low risks with high stakes"

46:29 | Aug 6th, 2017

This episode features philosopher Amanda Askell, who (though not religious herself) argues that it's much trickier to rebut Pascal's Wager than most people think.

Rationally Speaking #189 - Stephan Guyenet on "What causes obesity?"

1:06:49 | Jul 23rd, 2017

In this episode Julia sits down with neuroscientist and obesity researcher Stephan Guyenet, to talk about what scientists know so far about the causes of obesity, and in particular the brain's role in regulating weight gain.

Rationally Speaking #188 - Robert Kurzban on "Being strategically wrong"

45:48 | Jul 9th, 2017

In this episode, recorded live at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, Julia interviews evolutionary psychologist Rob Kurzban, author of "Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite."

Rationally Speaking #187 - Jason Weeden on "Do people vote based on self-interest?"

1:02:16 | Jun 26th, 2017

This episode features psychologist Jason Weeden, arguing that self-interest is a much bigger determinant of voter behavior than most political scientists think it is.

Rationally Speaking #186 - Tania Lombrozo on "Why we evolved the urge to explain"

1:08:33 | Jun 11th, 2017

Humans have an innate urge to reach for explanations of the world around us. This episode features psychologist and philosopher Tania Lombrozo, discussing her research on what purpose explanation serves.

Rationally Speaking #185 - Hans Noel on "The role of ideology in politics"

53:27 | May 28th, 2017

Julia talks with political scientist Hans Noel about why the Democrats became the party of liberalism and the Republicans the party of conservatism.

Rationally Speaking #184 - Gregory Clark on "What caused the industrial revolution?"

1:06:17 | May 14th, 2017

This episode features economic historian Gregory Clark, author of A Farewell to Alms and one of the leading scholars of the industrial revolution.

Rationally Speaking #183 - L. A. Paul on "Transformative Experiences"

52:36 | Apr 30th, 2017

In this episode, philosopher L. A. Paul and Julia discuss real life examples of transformative experiences -- such as having children -- and debate how to deal with them.

Rationally Speaking #182 - Spencer Greenberg on "How online research can be faster, better, and more useful"

52:07 | Apr 16th, 2017

This episode features mathematician and social entrepreneur Spencer Greenberg, talking about how he's taking advantage of the Internet to improve the research process.

Rationally Speaking #181 - William MacAskill on "Moral Uncertainty"

54:16 | Apr 2nd, 2017

Julia and William MacAskill discuss "moral uncertainty" and how to take multiple moral systems into account when making a decision, and how to deal with "absolutist" theories that insist some actions have infinite badness, like lying.

Rationally Speaking #180 - David Roodman on "The Worm Wars"

48:00 | Mar 20th, 2017

Julia talks with economics and public policy expert David Roodman about the "Worm Wars" in social science -- the debate over whether deworming pills are an effective way to fight poverty.

Rationally Speaking #179 - Dani Rodrik on "Is economics more art or science?"

48:44 | Mar 6th, 2017

This episode features Harvard economist Dani Rodrik, talking about the epistemology of economics: Are there any general "laws" of economics that we can be really confident in? Do economists discard models if the data doesn't support them?

Rationally Speaking #178 - Tim Urban on "Trying to live well, as semi-rational animals"

50:16 | Feb 20th, 2017

Julia and Tim Urban explore one of their common interests: the tension between the rational and irrational aspects of human nature. Is there any value in the "irrational" parts of us? And can recognizing that tension help us live better?

Rationally Speaking #177 - Dylan Matthews on "The science and ethics of kidney donation"

44:53 | Feb 5th, 2017

Journalist Dylan Matthews, who donated his kidney last year, and Julia discuss the clever design of "donor chains," how we should evaluate the science about whether kidney donation is safe, and whether we have an ethical obligation to donate.

Rationally Speaking #176 - Jason Brennan on "Against democracy"

51:32 | Jan 22nd, 2017

Julia chats with professor Jason Brennan, author of the book "Against Democracy," about his case for why democracy is flawed -- philosophically, morally, and empirically.

Rationally Speaking #175 - Chris Blattman on "Do sweatshops reduce poverty?"

57:38 | Jan 8th, 2017

Professor Chris Blattman has run some well-designed randomized controlled trials exploring low-paying factories (which some might call "sweatshops"), and he discusses what surprised him and how he's updated his views from his research.

Rationally Speaking #174 - John Ioannidis on "What happened to Evidence-based medicine?"

45:55 | Dec 11th, 2016

John Ioannidis and Julia discuss how Evidence-Based Medicine has been "hijacked," by whom, and what do do about it.

Rationally Speaking #173 - Brendan Nyhan on "What can we learn from the election?"

39:16 | Nov 27th, 2016

Julia talks with political scientist Brendan Nyhan about Trump's surprising win in the 2016 presidential election. Were the polls and models wrong? If so, why? How surprised should we have been by Trump's win? And why didn't the markets react badly t...Show More

Rationally Speaking #172 - Brian Nosek on "Why science needs openness"

48:13 | Nov 13th, 2016

This episode features Brian Nosek, a professor of psychology and founder of the Center for Open Science. He and Julia discuss what openness means, some clever approaches to boosting openness, and whether openness could have any downsides.

Rationally Speaking #171 - Scott Aaronson on "The ethics and strategy of vote trading"

55:34 | Oct 30th, 2016

Julia and professor Scott Aaronson explores the unorthodox idea of "swapping" your vote with someone in a swing state who was going to vote for a third party candidate.

Rationally Speaking #170 - Will Wilkinson on "Social justice and political philosophy"

50:27 | Oct 16th, 2016

How did "social justice" come to mean what it does today? Will Wilkinson and Julia discuss the libertarian reaction to social justice, whether or not social justice is a zero-sum game, and how the Internet exacerbates conflicts over social justice.

Rationally Speaking #169 - Owen Cotton-Barratt on "Thinking About Humanity's Far Future"

49:36 | Oct 2nd, 2016

What can we do now to affect whether humanity is still around in 1000 years (and what life will be like then)? In this episode, Julia talks with Owen Cotton-Barratt, a mathematician at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute.

Rationally Speaking #168 - Don Moore on "Overconfidence"

47:18 | Sep 18th, 2016

Don Moore and Julia discuss the various forms of overconfidence, whether its upsides are big enough to outweigh its downsides, and what people mean when they insist "I think things are better than they really are."

Rationally Speaking #167 - Samuel Arbesman on "Why technology is becoming too complex"

50:48 | Sep 4th, 2016

In this episode, Julia talks with complexity scientist Samuel Arbesman, about his new book Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension, why unprecedented levels of complexity might be dangerous, and what we should do about it.

Rationally Speaking #166 - Eric Schwitzgebel on "Why you should expect the truth to be crazy"

53:36 | Aug 21st, 2016

What role should "common sense" play in evaluating new theories? This episode features a discussion with philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel on his theory of "Crazyism," that we should expect the truth to be at least a little bit crazy.

Rationally Speaking #165 - Robert Frank on "Success and Luck"

56:12 | Aug 7th, 2016

Julia chats with professor of economics Robert Frank about his latest book, Success and Luck: The Myth of the Modern Meritocracy. Why do we discount the role of luck in success? And would acknowledging luck's importance sap our motivation to try?

Rationally Speaking #164 - James Evans on "Using meta-knowledge to learn how science works"

50:28 | Jul 24th, 2016

Has science gotten slower over the years? What unstated assumptions are shaping our research without us even realizing it? Julia talks with sociologist of science James Evans, who investigates questions like these using some clever data mining.

Rationally Speaking #163 - Gregg Caruso on "Free Will and Moral Responsibility"

59:38 | Jul 10th, 2016

If people don't have free will, then can we be held morally responsible for our actions? In this episode Julia talks with philosopher Gregg Caruso, who advocates a position of "optimistic skepticism" on the topic.

Rationally Speaking #162 - Sean Carroll on "Poetic Naturalism"

50:25 | Jun 26th, 2016

This episode features physicist Sean Carroll, author of the recent bestseller The Big Picture: on the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself. Sean and Julia talk about the new "ism" he introduces in the book, "poetic naturalism."

Rationally Speaking #161 - Tom Griffiths and Brian Christian on "Algorithms to Live By"

49:28 | Jun 12th, 2016

Julia chats with the authors of Algorithms to Live By, about how to apply key algorithms from computer science to our real life problems. For example, deciding which apartment to rent, planning your career, and prioritizing your projects.

Rationally Speaking #160 - Live at NECSS -- Jacob Appel on "Tackling bioethical dilemmas"

1:07:06 | May 29th, 2016

It's the annual live episode, taped at NECSS in NYC! This year features returning guest Jacob Appel, a bioethicist (and lawyer, and psychiatrist). Jacob and Julia discuss various bioethical dilemmas.

Rationally Speaking #159 - Colin Allen on "Do fish feel pain?"

55:38 | May 15th, 2016

Julia talks with philosopher of cognitive science Colin Allen about whether fish can feel pain. Are fish conscious, and how could we tell? What's the difference between pain and suffering?

Rationally Speaking #158 - Dr. George Ainslie on "Negotiating with your future selves"

47:22 | May 1st, 2016

Behavioral psychiatrist (and economist) George Ainslie demonstrates the existence of the ubiquitous phenomenon in human willpower, called hyperbolic discounting, in which our preferences change depending on how immediate or distant the choice is.

Rationally Speaking #157 - Dr. Herculano-Houzel on "What made the human brain special?"

51:40 | Apr 17th, 2016

In this episode, neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel lays out the mystery of the "Human advantage," and explains how a new technique she invented several years ago has shed light on what makes humans so much smarter than other species.

Rationally Speaking #156 - David McRaney on "Why it’s so hard to change someone’s mind"

55:41 | Apr 3rd, 2016

David McRaney describes his experiences with people who have done an about-face on some important topic, like 9/11 conspiracy theories. He and Julia discuss a technique for changing someone's mind with evidence.

Rationally Speaking #155 - Uri Simonsohn on "Detecting fraud in social science"

59:58 | Mar 20th, 2016

He's been called a "Data vigilante." In this episode, Prof. Uri Simonsohn describes how he detects fraudulent work in psychology and economics -- what clues tip him off? How big of a problem is fraud relative to other issues like P-hacking?

Rationally Speaking #154 - Tom Griffiths on "Why your brain might be rational after all"

53:11 | Mar 6th, 2016

What if our biases are actually a sign of rationality? Tom Griffiths, professor of cognitive science at University of California, Berkeley, makes the case for why our built-in reasoning strategies might be optimal after all.

Rationally Speaking #153 - Dr. Vinay Prasad on "Why so much of what we 'know' about medicine is wrong"

47:50 | Feb 21st, 2016

This episode features Dr. Vinay Prasad, author of "Ending Medical Reversal: Improving Outcomes, Saving Lives," who talks with Julia about why medical research is so often fatally flawed, and what we can do about it.

Rationally Speaking #152 - Dan Fincke on "The pros and cons of civil disagreement"

53:41 | Feb 7th, 2016

Julia and philosopher and blogger Dan Fincke discuss civility in public discourse. Do atheists and skeptics have a responsibility to be civil when expressing disagreement, and does that responsibility vary depending on who their target is?

Rationally Speaking #151 - Maria Konnikova on "Why everyone falls for con artists"

49:26 | Jan 24th, 2016

Julia interviews Maria Konnikova, science journalist and author of "The Confidence Game: Why we fall for it... Every time," who explains why con artists are so effective that even the best of us are vulnerable.

Rationally Speaking #150 - Elizabeth Loftus on "The malleability of human memory"

47:33 | Jan 10th, 2016

Julia interviews psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, whose pioneering work on human memory revealed that our memories can be contaminated by the questions people ask us, or by misinformation we encounter after the fact.

Rationally Speaking #149 - Susan Gelman on "How essentialism shapes our thinking"

47:26 | Dec 13th, 2015

In this episode, psychologist Susan Gelman describes her work on the psychological trait of essentialism: the innate human urge to categorize reality and to assume that those categories reflect meaningful, invisible differences.

Rationally Speaking #148 - David Kyle Johnson on "The Myths that Stole Christmas"

45:35 | Nov 29th, 2015

Julia interviews philosophy professor David Kyle Johnson, the author of "The Myths that Stole Christmas." Kyle explains the little-known origin story of Santa Claus and then Kyle and Julia debate the ethics of lying to children about Santa Claus.

Rationally Speaking #147 - Andrew Gelman on "Why do Americans vote the way they do?"

52:41 | Nov 15th, 2015

Professor of statistics and political science Andrew Gelman shines some clarifying light on the intersection between politics and class in America, explaining what the numbers really show. He and Julia also ask "Is it rational to vote?"

Rationally Speaking #146 - Jesse Richardson on "The pros and cons of making fallacies famous"

50:04 | Nov 1st, 2015

This episode of Rationally Speaking features Jesse Richardson, a creative director who has been using his advertising background "for good and not for evil," as he puts it -- by building skeptic sites that go viral. Jesse's most famous creation is "Y...Show More

Rationally Speaking #145 - Phil Tetlock on "Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction"

55:44 | Oct 18th, 2015

Professor Phil Tetlock discusses his team’s landslide wins in forecasting tournaments sponsored by the US government. Also, the problem of meta-uncertainty and how much we should expect prediction skill in one domain to carry over to other domains.

Rationally Speaking #144 - Bryan Caplan on "Does parenting matter?"

1:03:26 | Oct 4th, 2015

Economist Bryan Caplan argues that, despite our intuition that parenting choices affect children's life outcomes, there's strong evidence to the contrary. They also explore what that means for how people should parent and how many kids they should ha...Show More

Rationally Speaking #143 - Scott Aaronson on "The theorem that proves rationalists can't disagree"

50:16 | Sep 20th, 2015

Scott Aaronson. professor of computer science at MIT, discusses a theorem which implies that two people cannot rationally disagree after they've shared their opinions and information. Also, why should you favor your own beliefs just because they're y...Show More

Rationally Speaking #142 - Paul Bloom on "The case against empathy"

52:10 | Sep 6th, 2015

Psychologist Paul Bloom and Julia discuss what empathy is, why Paul is concerned that it's a terrible guide to moral decision making, and what the alternatives are.

Rationally Speaking #141 - Dan Sperber on "The Argumentative Theory of reason"

56:15 | Aug 23rd, 2015

Julia talks with guest Dan Sperber, professor of cognitive and social sciences and famous for advancing an alternate view of reason: that it evolved to help us argue with our fellow humans and convince them that we're right.

Rationally Speaking #140 - Kenny Easwaran on, "Newcomb's Paradox and the tragedy of rationality"

54:31 | Aug 9th, 2015

Philosopher Kenny Easwaran delves into the Newcomb's Paradox and how it is related to other puzzles in decision theory, like the Prisoners' Dilemma. Also, its implications for free will and what Kenny calls the "deep tragedy" at the heart of rational...Show More

Rationally Speaking #139 - Eric Schwitzgebel on "Moral hypocrisy: why doesn't knowing about ethics make people more ethical?"

48:10 | Jul 26th, 2015

If you expect that professional ethicists would behave more ethically than other people you'd be wrong. Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel and Julia discuss why the answer is no and explore questions like how do you decide how moral you're going to try to...Show More

Rationally Speaking #138 - Ian Morris on, "Why the West rules -- for now"

54:56 | Jul 12th, 2015

Ian Morris discusses his theory of why Western Europe and North America have become the dominant world powers. He takes a data-driven approach to measure social development over history to find explanations. Also, can we make inferences about history...Show More

Rationally Speaking #137 - Marc Lipsitch on, "Should scientists try to create dangerous viruses?"

44:48 | Jun 28th, 2015

Epidemiology Marc Lipsitch discusses a controversial field of research, gain-of-function, in which scientists take a virus and attempt to make it more dangerous. He argues that the risks outweigh the benefits and that we should halt it as soon as pos...Show More

Rationally Speaking #136 - David Roodman on Why Microfinance Won't Cure Global Poverty

42:51 | Jun 15th, 2015

Can we pull the world's poor out of poverty by giving them access to financial services? This episode features a conversation with economist David Roodman, formerly a fellow at the Center for Global Development and senior advisor to the Gates Foundat...Show More

Rationally Speaking #135 - Robin Hanson on: "Most human behavior is signaling"

47:17 | May 31st, 2015

In this episode, economist Robin Hanson explains the signaling theory of human behavior: That our motivations for our choices, about school, shopping, medical care, and so on, evolved primarily to shape other people's perceptions of us. In the proces...Show More

Rationally Speaking #134 - Michael Shermer on: "Science drives moral progress"

46:28 | May 17th, 2015

Common wisdom holds that the world is getting more violent, but is that really true? Leading skeptic Michael Shermer, professor and author of many books on science, morality and skepticism, argues to the contrary. Shermer's thesis in his recent book,...Show More

Rationally Speaking #133 - Sean Carroll on "The Many Worlds Interpretatioln Is Probably Correct"

47:44 | May 3rd, 2015

In this episode of Rationally Speaking, Caltech physicist Sean Carroll describes an "embarrassing" state of affairs in modern physics: that we still don't know how to interpret quantum mechanics, almost a century after its discovery. Sean explains wh...Show More

Rationally Speaking #132 - Live From NECSS 2015

1:01:46 | Apr 21st, 2015

This live episode of Rationally Speaking, taped at the 2015 Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, is a special one: it's Massimo's last episode as co-host! He and Julia look back over their history together and discuss which topics they've ...Show More

Rationally Speaking #131 - James Randi on Being An Honest Liar

48:18 | Apr 5th, 2015

The Amazing Randi, famous magician and a pioneer of Skepticism, joins this episode of Rationally Speaking for a conversation about the past and future of the Skeptic movement. Massimo and Julia's questions for Randi include: Do you think Skepticism h...Show More

Rationally Speaking #130 - The Atheists Own 10 Commandments

48:56 | Mar 22nd, 2015

Do atheists need their own 10 commandments? What would such a thing look like? In this episode, Julia and Massimo discuss a recent attempt to define some secular commandments. They debate the relevance of particular commandments, like "All truth is p...Show More

Rationally Speaking #129 - Would the World Be a Better Place Without Religion?

51:52 | Mar 8th, 2015

What is the evidence as to whether the world would be better off without religion? Research shows correlation between religiosity and prosocial traits. Also, are there other reasons to suspect that religion's net effect on the world is negative?

Rationally Speaking #128 - 5th Anniversary Live Show

1:09:24 | Feb 26th, 2015

On a live episode, M&J respond to live questions. Topics include: books to read to improve your rationality, the biggest problems in the skeptic community, and how to get politicians to be reasonable. Also, Massimo’s surprising and poignant announcem...Show More

Rationally Speaking #127 - Elise Crull on Philosophy of Physics

49:41 | Feb 8th, 2015

Philosopher of physics Elise Crull explains why some physicist’s view that a philosopher of science is as much use to scientists as an ornithologist is to birds is wrong. Also, what philosophers have to say about physics and whether anything really e...Show More

Rationally Speaking #126 - Preston Bost on Crazy Beliefs, Sane Believers

43:42 | Jan 25th, 2015

Prof. of psychology Preston Bost joins M&J to discuss whether it can be rational to believe in conspiracy theories. What kinds of people latch onto them, and why? Also, possible evolutionary reasons for their appeal, and which beliefs are rational an...Show More

Rationally Speaking #125 - The Quantified Self

49:56 | Jan 18th, 2015

M&J discuss the recent rise of the new "Quantified Self" movement in which people are mining their own data for insights about how to be happier and more effective. They discuss self tracking, what you can learn from it, and what its pitfalls might b...Show More

Rationally Speaking #124 - Stoicism

45:56 | Dec 28th, 2014

The ancient philosophy of stoicism, which advocates (among other things) practicing mindfulness, accepting the things you can't change, and regulating negative emotions. Also, the results of Massimo's experimentation with it and its potential problem...Show More

Rationally Speaking #123 - Daniel Lakens on P-Hacking and Other Problems in Psychology Research

45:56 | Dec 14th, 2014

Professor Daniel Lakens from the Eindhoven University of Technology joins M&J to discuss what's wrong with social sciences research. Why so many psychology papers can't be trusted, and what solutions might exist, including fixing skewed incentives.

Rationally Speaking #122 - The Science and Philosophy of Humor

50:49 | Dec 1st, 2014

M&J delve into the science and philosophy of comedy, questions like: Why did humans evolve to have a sense of humor? What's the relationship between comedy and existential terror? And how many bad philosophy jokes can Massimo tell before Julia loses ...Show More

Rationally Speaking #121 - Benjamin Todd on 80,000 Hours

50:59 | Nov 16th, 2014

Benjamin Todd, executive director of 80,000 Hours, on which career should people choose to help others effectively? Medicine? Research? Non-profit? Also, the heuristics that should go into career choices, and what exactly we mean by doing good.

Rationally Speaking #120 - Nihilism

51:38 | Nov 2nd, 2014

Massimo and Julia explain the different types of philosophical nihilism, reveal their own personal views on the subject, and explore why nihilism has such different emotional effects on different people.

Rationally Speaking #119 - Aaron James on Assholes (and Bitches)

46:38 | Oct 22nd, 2014

Philosophy professor Aaron James discusses what makes an asshole an asshole, and why they're so uniquely maddening. Also, the assholery of certain people in politics and atheism, the difference between an asshole and a bitch, and swap coping mechanis...Show More

Rationally Speaking #118 - Live From Baruch College With Dr. Steven Novella

1:50:08 | Oct 5th, 2014

Steve, Massimo, and Julia discuss the recent lawsuit facing the SGU, share their gripes about the ways that skeptics sometimes oversimplify the issues, and answer audience questions such as, "Is anything off-limits to skeptical activism?"

Rationally Speaking #117 - Maria Konnikova on How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes

48:47 | Sep 21st, 2014

Psychologist Maria Konnikova discusses how to use your logical, reflective side in everyday life. Also, tips on Holmesian thinking, Is your unreflective, Watsonian side really so bad, and did Sherlock make mistakes in his famous quotes about thinking...Show More

Rationally Speaking #116 - Jim Baggott and Massimo on Farewell to Reality

28:52 | Sep 7th, 2014

Jim Baggot, one of an increasingly vocal number of critics of some directions taken lately by fundamental theoretical physics, particularly string theory. They explore what it means for some physicists to call for a new era of “post-empirical” scienc...Show More

Rationally Speaking #115 - Maarten Boudry and Massimo On the Difference Between Science and Pseudoscience

33:24 | Aug 24th, 2014

Philosopher of science Maarten Boudry sits down with Massimo to chat about the difference between science and pseudoscience, and why it is an important topic not just in philosophy circles, but in the broader public arena as well.

Rationally Speaking #114 - Massimo and Julia Go Freestyle

51:32 | Aug 10th, 2014

M&J go rogue: no guest, no pre-set topics, just conversation about things on their mind. Among other things, the questions of how to change your mind, the "surprise journalling" method, and, importantly: How do you know if you're a jerk?

Rationally Speaking #113 - The Turing Test

52:22 | Jul 27th, 2014

J&M take a critical look at the Turing test as a standard for consciousness and at an artificial intelligence named “Eugine Goostman” which reportedly passed the test. Also, what it would mean for an AI to be conscious, and how we could ever tell.

Rationally Speaking #112 - Race: Just a Social Construct?

48:20 | Jul 13th, 2014

The problems with race as a genetically-based concept. Also, a controversial recent book on the subject and the problems with analyses that attempt to attribute differences such as those between rich and poor countries to innate racial differences.

Rationally Speaking #111 - Human Nature

55:12 | Jun 29th, 2014

The science and philosophy of human nature: what traits are "built in" to being human, and how would we know? And once we know what human nature consists of, should we try to protect it against changes?

Rationally Speaking #110 - Scientia, the Unity of Knowledge

55:38 | Jun 15th, 2014

M&J discuss "scientia," the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, and Massimo’s new "Scientia Salon" online journal. Also, how the boundaries blur between math, science and philosophy, and how the Internet can change scientific research.

Rationally Speaking #109 - Rebecca Newberger Goldstein on Plato at the Googleplex

50:38 | Jun 1st, 2014

Philosopher and author Rebecca Goldstein discusses her latest book: "Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away." Also, the value of philosophy in modern science and whether it makes sense to designate experts in ethical reasoning.

Rationally Speaking #108 - Suicide

55:00 | May 18th, 2014

M&J discuss the ethics of suicide through the lens of several major philosophies. They also explore the social science of suicide: how does one person's suicide affect the community?

Rationally Speaking #107 - MOOCs

48:31 | May 4th, 2014

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs for short, have been hailed as the next wave in secondary education. M&J discuss how to measure MOOCs' effectiveness, separating the hype from the genuine promise. Also, other forms of alternative higher educatio...Show More

Rationally Speaking #106 - Live From NECSS With Lawrence Krauss

1:02:40 | Apr 20th, 2014

Theoretical physicist and author Lawrence Krauss chats with M&J about whether the laws of the universe demand some kind of explanation, whether string theory should be deemed a failure, and how he ended up featured in a geocentrist documentary.

Rationally Speaking #105 - Greta Christina on Coming Out Atheist

59:24 | Apr 6th, 2014

Atheist activist Greta Christina and M&J disagree over the boundaries of the atheist movement, and discuss how cognitive biases make it hard to asses whether people regret coming out as atheists and what should atheist communities be modeled after.

Rationally Speaking #104 - Edward Frenkel on Love and Math

48:04 | Mar 24th, 2014

Mathematician Edward Frenkel, author of "Love and Math," talks about how the subject seduced him as a young man, how he believes it's generally mis-taught in schools, and how you can find beauty -- even romance -- in mathematics.

Rationally Speaking #103 - Neil deGrasse Tyson on Why He Doesn't Call Himself an Atheist

52:54 | Mar 9th, 2014

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses the question of whether he should call himself an atheist. In a Big Think video he explained that he avoids that label because it causes people to make all sorts of unflattering (and often untrue) assumpti...Show More

Rationally Speaking #102 - Zach Weinersmith on His "SMBC" Webcomic

50:38 | Feb 23rd, 2014

Guest Zach Weinersmith, author of SMBC, the popular “Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal" webcomic, clarifies his position in the ongoing philosophy vs. science fight, the ethics of offensive jokes, and discusses BAHFest and his movie ”Starpocalype."

Rationally Speaking #101 - Max Tegmark on the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis

51:08 | Feb 9th, 2014

Physicist Max Tegmark joins us to talk about his book "Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality" in which explains the controversial argument that everything around us is made of math.

Rationally Speaking #100 - Live Q&A: Massimo and Julia Answer Everything!

1:19:10 | Jan 27th, 2014

Q&A recorded live at the Jefferson Market Library in NYC. Topics range from science, philosophy and the borderlands between the two. The questions push the hosts to think on their feet, and even to admit their ignorance on stage!

Rationally Speaking #99 - Judith Schlesinger Exposes the Myth of the Mad Genius

43:42 | Dec 22nd, 2013

Psychologist Judith Schlesinger explains why she thinks that, despite the impression you'd get from TV, movies, and plenty of common wisdom, the "mad genius" archetype is simply the result of folklore, misunderstanding, and bad research.

Rationally Speaking #98 - Jerome Wakefield on Psychiatric Diagnoses: Science or Pseudoscience?

53:36 | Dec 8th, 2013

Dr. Jerome Wakefield, psychiatrist and PhD in philosophy, discusses the arbitrariness of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and the controversies around various mental disorders, including depression and sexual fetishes.

Rationally Speaking #97 - Peter Singer on Being a Utilitarian in the Real World

47:00 | Nov 25th, 2013

Ethicist Peter Singer discusses his utilitarian arguments about how we should treat animals, why we have a moral obligation to give to charity, whether infants should count as "people," and more that have won him widespread fame -- and notoriety.

Rationally Speaking #96 - Sally Satel and Scott Lilienfeld on the Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience

52:26 | Nov 10th, 2013

Psychiatrist Sally Satel and psychologyst Scott O. Lilienfeld discuss their book "Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience" and how much explanatory power does neuroscience really have on areas such as love, morality, addiction.

Rationally Speaking #95 - Gerard O'Brien On the Computational Theory of Mind

56:04 | Oct 27th, 2013

Philosopher Gerard O'Brien from the University of Adelaide, who specializes in the philosophy of mind, discusses the computational theory of mind and what it implies about consciousness, intelligence, and the possibility of uploading people onto comp...Show More

Rationally Speaking #94 - Maarten Boudry on Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem

1:00:24 | Oct 3rd, 2013

Massimo and philosopher Maarten Boudry from Ghent University discuss their new book, "Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem" on the difference between science and pseudocience. Also, learn how Maarten pranked theologians.

Rationally Speaking #93 - Dr. Michael E. Mann On The Science Of Climate Change

55:20 | Sep 29th, 2013

In this episode of Rationally Speaking, Julia and Massimo talk to physicist and climatologist Michael Mann about how we know the climate is getting warmer. Among other things, they cover the physical processes of climate change, the role that predict...Show More

Rationally Speaking #92 - Dr. Paul Offit On Believing in Magic

45:20 | Sep 15th, 2013

How has alternative medicine managed to become so mainstream? Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases discusses alternative medicine, why it's still unregulated, and whether or not to tell patients about placebos.

Rationally Speaking #91 - Kendrick Frazier On Skeptical Inquiry

49:26 | Sep 1st, 2013

Kendrick Frazier, editor of Skeptical Inquirer, talks about the present, past, and future of skepticism, how the movement's focus has changed, and what the frontiers of skepticism should be. And Ken's pick: "Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindl...Show More

Rationally Speaking #90 - On Wine, Water, and Audio

53:04 | Jun 30th, 2013

Connoisseurship -- or snobbery, depending on your point of view, of wines, bottled water, and high-end audio equipment. Is there evidence on whether connoisseurs can really tell the difference between, for example, the $7 wine and the $700 one? Plus ...Show More

Rationally Speaking #89 - Online Dating

51:02 | Jun 16th, 2013

M&J turn an analytical eye on the math and science of online dating sites like eHarmony and OKCupid. Also, what does cognitive psychology tell us about how this new choice context affects our happiness?

Rationally Speaking #88 - Mario Livio on Brilliant Blunders

43:10 | Jun 3rd, 2013

Astrophysicist and author Mario Livio joins us to talk about his latest book, "Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein - Colossal Mistakes by Great Scientists That Changed Our Understanding of Life and the Universe."

Rationally Speaking #87 - Sean Carroll on Naturalism

49:04 | May 19th, 2013

Astrophysicist and author Sean Carroll discusses naturalism, the philosophical viewpoint that there are no supernatural phenomena and the universe runs on scientific laws. Also, what distinguishes it from similar philosophies like physicalism and mat...Show More

Rationally Speaking #86 - Live From NECSS With Jim Holt On Why Does the World Exist?

1:05:11 | May 5th, 2013

Philosopher Jim Holt discusses his book "Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story" in this live episode of Rationally Speaking, taped at the 2013 Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism in New York City.

Rationally Speaking #85 - Live From NECSS With Michael Shermer On the Role of Science in Morality

36:18 | Apr 21st, 2013

Massimo and Michael Shermer discuss whether science can tell us what is "moral." This discussion comes after both men have tackled the question separately in their respective books and jointly in a recent debate on the Rationally Speaking blog.

Rationally Speaking #84 - Stephen Asma On the Myth of Universal Love

46:14 | Apr 7th, 2013

Philosopher Stephen Asma, author of "Against Fairness," talks about what he thinks is wrong with the concept of fairness -- and about certain traditional values he thinks are more important. Plus Stephens pick: "Affective Neuroscience: The Foundation...Show More

Rationally Speaking #83 - Samuel Arbesman On The Half-Life of Facts

45:04 | Mar 25th, 2013

Samuel Arbesman, applied mathematician and author of "The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an expiration Date", joins us to talk about the hidden patterns underlying how fast our understanding of science is changing. Plus Sam's pick: "T...Show More

Rationally Speaking #82 - It's Not Easy Being Green

52:48 | Mar 10th, 2013

Should you buy organic because it's better for the environment or fair-trade because it's better for foreign laborers? Well, It's not clear cut how much good you're accomplishing with your ethically minded purchases or whether you're doing any good a...Show More

Rationally Speaking #81 - Live! Ben Goldacre on Bad Pharma

1:03:02 | Feb 24th, 2013

Medicine is broken warns Ben Goldacre, author of the Bad Science website. He talks about his new book, Bad Pharma, and how the evidence about pharmaceutical drugs gets distorted due to shoddy regulations, missing data, and the influence of drug compa...Show More

Rationally Speaking #80 - Dear Abby

51:06 | Feb 10th, 2013

The history and philosophy of advice. How do you rationally evaluate advice and how do you give rational advice? Also, some of Dear Abby's snarkiest moments, the origins of the advice column in 1680, and some of the worst advice ever given. Plus the ...Show More

Rationally Speaking #79 - Chris Mooney on The Republican War on Science

50:50 | Jan 27th, 2013

Is there evidence to support Chris Mooney's thesis that there is something about the psychology of Republicans that makes them inclined to reject the scientific consensus on topics like evolution and climate change? Plus Chris's picks: "How to Think ...Show More

Rationally Speaking #78 - Intelligence and Personality Testing

51:38 | Jan 13th, 2013

The science and lack thereof of intelligence and personality testing. What's your IQ? Are you an ENTJ or an ISFP? What are your Openness, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism scores? And just how seriously should you take all those scores anyway? Plus ...Show More

Rationally Speaking #77 - Victoria Pitts-Taylor on Feminism and Science

55:06 | Dec 30th, 2012

Sociologist Victoria Pitts discusses sociology and feminism and explains how feminists are dealing with results in neuroscience and evolutionary biology, especially regarding the question: How much inborn difference is there really between women and...Show More

Rationally Speaking #76 - Crowdsourcing and the Wisdom of Crowds

50:44 | Dec 16th, 2012

What are crowdsourcing and the wisdom of crowds and what makes them work? Also, is crowdsoursing ever unethical? And what are the limits to the wisdom of crowds? Plus the hoist's Picks: "The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some...Show More

Rationally Speaking #75 - When Scientists Kill

48:04 | Dec 2nd, 2012

M&J discuss a recent case in Italy where scientists were sentenced to 6 years in jail for failing to warn the public of an earthquake that killed over 300 people. Was this fair? How should we decide where the boundaries of scientific accountability l...Show More

Rationally Speaking #74 - Live! John Shook on Philosophy of Religion

48:04 | Nov 18th, 2012

Live from a Center for Inquiry symposium M&J join with John Shook to debate questions like: Should science-promoting organizations claim publicly that science is compatible with religion and is philosophy incapable of telling us anything about the wo...Show More

Rationally Speaking #73 - Answers for Aristotle

1:13:42 | Nov 4th, 2012

Julia interviews Massimo about his new book, Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life. Massimo's central idea is that a combination of science and philosophy, what he calls "Sci-Phi," is the best guide t...Show More

Rationally Speaking #72 - Graham Priest on Paradoxes and Paraconsistent Logic

46:42 | Oct 21st, 2012

Philosopher and logician Graham Priest explains why we have to radically revise our notions of "true" and "false," and why a statement can be simultaneously "true" AND "false." Plus Graham's picks: "Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion" and "Logic:...Show More

Rationally Speaking #71 - On Science Fiction and Philosophy

52:56 | Oct 7th, 2012

M&J discuss how science fiction functions like extended philosophical thought experiments. They also recall some of their favorite philosophically-rich science fiction and debate the potential pitfalls in using them to reach philosophical conclusions...Show More

Rationally Speaking #70 - Graham Priest on Buddhism and Other Asian Philosophies

46:26 | Sep 23rd, 2012

Professor of philosophy Graham Priest offers a brief introduction to the philosophy of India, China, and Japan, and explains why he thinks it should be better known in the West. Plus Graham's pick: "The Tristan Chord: Wagner and Philosophy"

Rationally Speaking #69 - James Ladyman on Metaphysics

1:01:47 | Sep 9th, 2012

Guest James Ladyman, discusses metaphysic. What is it, exactly, and where, in his opinion has it gone off the rails? What would a new, improved, metaphysics look like, and "Is the world real?" Plus James's pick: Roger Penrose's "The Road to Realit...Show More

Rationally Speaking #68 - Applied Rationality

49:46 | Aug 26th, 2012

What has psychological research learned about "de-biasing," the challenges involved, and the de-biasing strategies Julia is implementing at her organization, the Center for Applied Rationality. Plus the host's picks: Dan Ariely and "Measuring the Evo...Show More

Rationally Speaking #67 - Freudianism as Pseudoscience, With Assorted Comments on Masturbation and Castration...

47:20 | Aug 12th, 2012

The pseudoscientific aspects of Freud's theories. Also, what philosophy of science has to say about testing theories -- and some of the similarities that Freudianism has with religion, new age mysticism, and psychic reading. Plus Massimo and Julia's ...Show More

Rationally Speaking #66 - Matthew Hutson on The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking

47:56 | Jul 29th, 2012

Matthew Hutson discusses some common, innate forms of superstition that affect even the most ardent skeptics, and why the human brain is predisposed to magical thinking. Plus Matthew's picks: "Believing in Magic," "SuperSense," and "The Belief Instin...Show More

Rationally Speaking #65 - Philosophical Shock Tactics

47:42 | Jul 15th, 2012

Why do philosophers sometimes argue for conclusions that are disturbing, even shocking? What can we learn from these shock tactics, the public reaction to them, and what role emotion should play in philosophy. Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "Graphi...Show More

Rationally Speaking #64 - Jesse Prinz on Looking Beyond Human Nature

46:29 | Jul 1st, 2012

Guest Jesse Prinz argues that human behavior is far more culturally determined than evolutionary psychologists would have you believe. Plus Jesse's pick: the movie "Black God, White Devil."

Rationally Speaking #63 - Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

48:44 | Jun 17th, 2012

Will all knowledge eventually be united? And what does that even mean, anyway? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: 10 Facts about Portable Electronics and Airplanes, MeasureOfDoubt videos, and Predictions from Philosophy?

Rationally Speaking #62 - Patricia Churchland on What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality

55:13 | Jun 4th, 2012

Guest Patricia Churchland discusses what philosophy has to say about neuroscience, what neuroscience has to say about philosophy, and what both of them have to say about morality. Plus Patricia's pick: "Language as a Cultural Tool"

Rationally Speaking #61 - Willpower

48:22 | May 20th, 2012

The science and philosophy of willpower: why don't we do what we know is best for us? Also, some practical solutions to the problem. Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: yourlogicalfallacyis.com and predictionbook.com.

Rationally Speaking #60 - Q&A With Massimo and Julia

1:03:24 | May 6th, 2012

M&J answer listeners' questions, including: how work of actions affect people's rationality, Bayesian vs. frequentist statistics, what is evidence, time travel, and whether a philosophically examined life is a better life.

Rationally Speaking #59 - Live at NECSS: David Kyle Johnson on the Simulation Argument

1:09:22 | Apr 25th, 2012

Guest David Kyle Johnson makes the case that it's roughly 20% likely that we live in a computer simulation. Plus Kyle's picks: The book "How To Think About Weird Things" and the band "Ethereal Collapse."

Rationally Speaking #58 - Intuition

47:20 | Apr 8th, 2012

What do people mean by "intuition," where does it come from, and when can intuition beat careful reasoning? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk among Us" and "Information is Beautiful - Snake Oil?"

Rationally Speaking #57 - Peer Review

48:18 | Mar 25th, 2012

How does the peer review process work and how did it originate? Also, what's wrong with it, how can it be fixed, and is the Internet changing the way we do research? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "Download The Universe" and the game "Zendo."

Rationally Speaking #56 - Howard Schneider on Science News Literacy

46:45 | Mar 11th, 2012

Guest Howard Schneider discusses how skeptics lay too much blame at the feet of the media for public misunderstandings and misconceptions about science. Plus Howard's pick: "Press Freedom Online - Committee to Protect Journalists"

Rationally Speaking #55 - Spirituality

55:06 | Feb 27th, 2012

Massimo and Julia try to pin down what people mean when they call themselves "spiritual." Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "Buddhist Retreat - Why I gave up on finding my religion." and "Critical Thinking - Why Is It So Hard to Teach"

Rationally Speaking #54 - The 'isms' Episode

52:06 | Feb 12th, 2012

M&J look at whether the fundamental nature of the world is knowable by science alone through the lenses of a series of related philosophical positions. Plus the hosts picks: "Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards" and "The Robot's Rebellion."

Rationally Speaking #53 - Parapsychology

57:13 | Jan 30th, 2012

Parapsychology: what is its scientific status, what is the best evidence for it, and what can we learn from it about the practice of science in general? Plus Massimo's pick: "Be it Resolved" and Julia's un-pick: "My Little Pony."

Rationally Speaking #52 - Donald Prothero on the Holocaust-Deniers' Playbook

49:18 | Jan 16th, 2012

Guest Donald R. Prothero discusses how the denial of scientific realities threatens our future and what we can do about it. Plus Donald's pick: skepticblog.org/author/prothero/

Rationally Speaking #51 - Joseph Heath on Economics Without Illusions

46:49 | Jan 1st, 2012

Guest Joseph Heath discusses his book "Economics Without Illusions: Debunking the Myths of Modern Capitalism." Plus Joseph's pick: "The Socialist System: The Political Economy of Communism."

Rationally Speaking #50 - Neurobabble

53:22 | Dec 18th, 2011

M&J discuss neurobabble: the phenomena of people and the media coming to the wrong conclusions when confronted with neuroscience evidence. Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "hypothes.is" and "Rationality and the Reflective Mind."

Rationally Speaking #49 - Eugenie C. Scott on Denialism of Climate Change and Evolution

47:00 | Dec 4th, 2011

Our guest Dr. Eugenie C. Scott discusses the National Center for Science Education's new initiative to combat denialism of the science of climate change in the public sphere. Plus Eugenie's pick: "SkepticalScience.com"

Rationally Speaking #48 - Philosophical Counseling

46:01 | Nov 20th, 2011

Our guest Lou Marinoff discusses the increasingly popular practice of philosophical counseling, used in many cases instead of traditional psychotherapy. Plus, Lou's Pick: "The Philosophical Practitioner."

Rationally Speaking #47 - SETI

54:23 | Nov 6th, 2011

Is the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence really science? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside (Popular Culture and Philosophy)" and "Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist"

Rationally Speaking #46 - The Varieties of Skepticism

52:21 | Oct 23rd, 2011

No, skeptics are not cynics and, well, perhaps some things are knowable. Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "On Bullshit" and "The Matrix as Metaphysics."

Rationally Speaking #45 - Rebecca Newberger Goldstein on Spinoza, Göedl, and Theories of Everything

54:24 | Oct 9th, 2011

Guest Rebecca Newberger Goldstein on betraying Spinoza, the proofs and paradoxes of Kurt Gödel, and the limits of reason and objective reality. Plus, Rebecca's pick: "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined."

Rationally Speaking #44 - Fluff that Works

51:02 | Sep 25th, 2011

Woo woo that works (at least some of the time.) Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "Plato, Not Prozac!: Applying Eternal Wisdom to Everyday Problems" and "Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training."

Rationally Speaking #43 - Women in Skepticism

51:03 | Sep 11th, 2011

Is there a misogyny problem in the skeptic and atheist communities? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities" and "Paul Graham Essays".

Rationally Speaking #42 - On the Limits of Reason

51:13 | Aug 28th, 2011

Is there an intrinsic limit to humans ability to reason? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "From Technologist to Philosopher Why you should quit your technology job and get a Ph.D. in the humanities" and "Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy."

Rationally Speaking #41 - Robert Zaretsky on Rousseau, Hume, and the Limits of Human Understanding

50:10 | Aug 14th, 2011

Guest Robert Zaretsky discusses the quarrel between philosophers Rousseau and Hume, their different world views, and their contributions to the Enlightenment. Plus Robert's pick: "How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempt...Show More

Rationally Speaking #40 - Q&A With Massimo and Julia

1:05:11 | Jul 31st, 2011

M&J answer listeners' questions, including: teaching rationality, the ethics of profiteering, what is the purpose of our species, and is there are rational argument proving the divine origin of the bible?

Rationally Speaking #39 - The Science and Philosophy of Free Will

48:12 | Jul 17th, 2011

What can modern neuroscience and philosophy tell us about free will and how may the two approaches complement each other. Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale : The Moral Limits of Markets" and "Fluid Concepts And ...Show More

Rationally Speaking #38 - Holden Karnofsky on Evidence-based Philanthropy

43:37 | Jul 3rd, 2011

Guest Holden Karnofky, founder of "Givewell" discusses charities: how to evaluate them and whether they can or should be evaluated objectively. Plus Holden's picks: "Core Economics", "More Than Good Intentions", and "Portfolios of the Poor".

Rationally Speaking #37 - The Science and Philosophy of Happiness

48:31 | Jun 19th, 2011

What is happiness? What makes people happy, and can it be measured? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "Flacking for Big Pharma" and "Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist"

Rationally Speaking #36 - Why Should We Care About Teaching the Humanities?

50:54 | Jun 5th, 2011

Is the ideal of a liberal education an antiquated leftover of bygones eras, or a necessary foundation for any open democratic society? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "The Philosophers' Quarrel" and Livewell.org

Rationally Speaking #35 - What is Philosophy of Science Good for?

48:57 | May 22nd, 2011

What role does philosophy play in science? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "The End of Discovery: Are We Approaching the Boundaries of the Knowable?" and "10 Important Differences Between Brains and Computers"

Rationally Speaking #34 - Celebrities and the Damage They Can Do

50:30 | May 8th, 2011

Celebrities: why do so many people listen to some of the nonsense they spew. Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence," and "Proust Was a Neuroscientist"

Rationally Speaking #33 - Live at NECSS: New Dilemmas in Bioethics

1:04:06 | Apr 24th, 2011

Live from NECSS, guests Jacob Appel and Jennifer Michael Hecht discuss dilemmas in bioethics.

Rationally Speaking #32 - Value-free Science?

49:58 | Apr 10th, 2011

Is science all about objective facts or are values inevitably an integral part of science? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: Slate's "What John Tierney Gets Wrong About Women Scientists" and "What Is History?"

Rationally Speaking #31 - Vegetarianism

51:50:00 | Mar 27th, 2011

Vegetarianism: what are its different forms, is it healthy, and what is the ethical case for it? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: The website "PhilPapers" and "WARNING: Physics Envy May Be Hazardous To Your Wealth!"

Rationally Speaking #30 - Cordelia Fine on Delusions of Gender

49:27 | Mar 13th, 2011

Guest Cordelia Fine rebuts what currently passes as the science behind sex differences. Plus Cordelia's picks: "Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal."

Rationally Speaking #29 - Q&A Live!

1:06:44 | Feb 27th, 2011

Massimo and Julia do their best to answer skeptical questions from a live audience.

Rationally Speaking #28 - Live! How To Tell Science From Bunk

49:15 | Feb 13th, 2011

Massimo and Julia sit down in front of a live audience for a conversation about science, non-science, and pseudo-science. All based on Massimo's book: "Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk."

Rationally Speaking #27 - The Perihelinox Episode, With Historian Timothy Alborn on Anniversaries

47:17 | Jan 30th, 2011

Guest, historian Timothy Alborn on the arbitrariness of anniversaries and holidays. Plus Timothy's pick: "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming."

Rationally Speaking #26 - Is Anthropology Still a Science?

46:21 | Jan 16th, 2011

Should anthropology be considered a science and what should be the role of advocacy in science. Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: The New York Times' "There Goes the Sun" and "Stories of Your Life and Others."

Rationally Speaking #25 - Q&A With Massimo and Julia

1:03:05 | Jan 2nd, 2011

Massimo and Julia do their best to answer listeners' skeptical questions.

Rationally Speaking #24 - Memetics!

47:31 | Dec 19th, 2010

Memes, good science or confusing metaphor? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: The New York Times' "The Stone" and "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality."

Rationally Speaking #23 - Carol Tavris on Everybody Making Mistakes, Except Us...

48:02 | Dec 5th, 2010

Guest Carol Tavris discusses why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts. Plus Carol's picks: "Delusions of Gender", "Brain Storm", and "Not by Chance Alone."

Rationally Speaking #22 - Steven Novella on Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science

47:11 | Nov 21st, 2010

Guest Steven Novella on the state of medical research and on Science vs. Evidence based medicine. Plus Steven's pick: AMC's "The Walking Dead."

Rationally Speaking #21 - Joshua Knobe on Experimental Philosophy

45:29 | Nov 7th, 2010

Guest Joshua Knobe on experimental philosophy. And no, not actually an oxymoron! Plus Joshua's picks: "The genealogy of morals", "You Must Go and Win: Essays", and the video "Experimental Philosophy Anthem."

Rationally Speaking #20 - Q&A With Massimo and Julia

1:03:36 | Oct 24th, 2010

Massimo and Julia do their best to answer listeners' skeptical questions.

Rationally Speaking #19 - Brendan Nyhan on False Beliefs that Refuse to Die

30:52 | Oct 10th, 2010

Guest Brendan Nyhan on False Beliefs that Refuse to Die. Plus Brendan's picks: "True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society", "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts", and "The M...Show More

Rationally Speaking #18 - Evolutionary Psychology

31:05 | Sep 26th, 2010

Evolutionary Psychology: does it makes sense to apply evolutionary principles to the study of human behavior? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "A Short Course in Intellectual Self-Defense" and "Stumbling on Happiness"

Rationally Speaking #17 - Transhumanism

33:55 | Sep 12th, 2010

Transhumanism: What's so great about being human, anyway? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "Being Wrong" and "Expert Political Judgment"

Rationally Speaking #16 - Deferring to Experts

34:51 | Aug 29th, 2010

When, and how much, should we take someone's expertise into account in considering his claim? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . ." and "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion"

Rationally Speaking #15 - Q&A With Massimo and Julia

1:02:20 | Aug 15th, 2010

Massimo and Julia do their best to answer listeners' skeptical questions.

Rationally Speaking #14 - Jennifer Michael Hecht on Science, Religion, Happiness, and Other Myths

33:08 | Aug 1st, 2010

Guest Jennifer Michael Hecht discusses whether we take science too seriously and perhaps we should look more at poetry. Plus Jennifer's picks: hilobrow.com and The Best American Poetry Blog.

Rationally Speaking #13 - Superstition, Is It Good For You?

29:48 | Jul 18th, 2010

In this episode we tackle superstition, It would be bad luck to talk about anything else, it is episode 13 after all! Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: Epistemelinks and How Pleasure Works.

Rationally Speaking #12 - What About Thought Experiments?

33:58 | Jul 4th, 2010

Are thought experiments in science and philosophy just armchair speculation? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: John Norton Goodies and Great Myths of Popular Psychology.

Rationally Speaking #11 - Guest Eugenie Scott on the Status of the Creationism and ID Wars

37:14 | Jun 20th, 2010

Guest Eugenie Scott updates us on the status of the intelligent design wars. Plus Eugenie's "un-pick": The website of the Institute for Creation Research.

Rationally Speaking #10 - Nonsense on Stilts

31:13 | Jun 6th, 2010

A conversation about Massimo's book: "Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk." Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: philosophypathways.com/questions and "Historians' Fallacies : Toward a Logic of Historical Thought "

Rationally Speaking #9 - When Smart People Endorse Pseudoscience

31:53 | May 23rd, 2010

Why is it that smart people who make it a point of being skeptical and of promoting critical thinking fall for notions that are barely more defensible than astrology, or criticize well established scientific notions. Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: i...Show More

Rationally Speaking #8 - The Anthropic Principle

33:18 | May 9th, 2010

Is the universe finely tuned for human life to exist? Does the Anthropic Principle add anything to our understanding of the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everyhing? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: andphilosophy.com and "House."

Rationally Speaking #7 - Peter Woit discusses whether string theory is “not even wrong”

33:13 | Apr 25th, 2010

Columbia Univ.mathematical physicist Peter Woit discusses whether is string theory “not even wrong.” Plus our guest's pick: the book "The End of Science."

Rationally Speaking #6 - Fluffy Thinking

33:13 | Apr 10th, 2010

Fluffy Thinking: a peculiar type of uncritical thinking that sounds sophisticated. Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: the "Omnipotence Paradox" and "The Book of Genesis Illustrated."

Rationally Speaking #5 - Neil deGrasse Tyson and the Need for a Space Program

33:38 | Mar 28th, 2010

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses the Need for a Space Program. Will we ever go back to the Moon or to Mars? Plus Dr. Tyson's surprising "un-pick": The movie Avatar

Rationally Speaking #4 - The Great Atheist Debate Over the Limits of Science

31:03 | Mar 14th, 2010

The atheist debate between the “accommodationist" and the "rationalists" on the epistemic limits of science. Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: The book "Conversations on Consciousness" and the website of the National Center for Science Education

Rationally Speaking #3 - Can History Be a Science?

28:44 | Feb 28th, 2010

Guest: Prof. Peter Turchin of the U. of Conn. discusses whether history can be studied and understood in a scientific manner. Plus our guest's pick: Victor Lieberman's book "Strange Parallels"

Rationally Speaking #2 - Love, a Skeptical Inquiry

33:34 | Feb 14th, 2010

Will science ever really be able to explain love? Should it try? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: The book "What is this thing called science" and the NY Times article "Making College 'relevant'."

Rationally Speaking #1 - Why be rational?

32:34 | Jan 21st, 2010

Are rationality and emotion at odds, and is it ethical to promote rationality? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: Wikipedia's List of Paradoxes and the Fallacy Files.