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Podcast Profile: Rationally Speaking Podcast

podcast imageTwitter: @Rspodcast@juliagalef
263 episodes
2010 to 2021
Average episode: 52 minutes
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Categories: Interview-Style • Philosophy+/Philosophyish/Ideas/Etc.

Podcaster's summary: Rationally Speaking is the bi-weekly podcast of New York City Skeptics. Join host Julia Galef and guests as they explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely from unlikely, and science from pseudoscience. Any topic is fair game as long as we can bring reason to bear upon it, with both a skeptical eye and a good dose of humor! | We agree with the Marquis de Condorcet, who said that in an open society we ought to devote ourselves to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them."Rationally Speaking was co-created with Massimo Pigliucci, is produced by Benny Pollak, and is recorded in the heart of New York City's Greenwich Village.

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List Updated: 2024-Apr-14 06:08 UTC. Episodes: 263. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

2021-Dec-23 • 52 minutes
Is cash the best way to help the poor? (Michael Faye)
The idea of giving poor people cash, no strings attached, is "very unappealing" for most donors, admits economist Michael Faye -- but it's still one of the best ways to help the poor. Michael and Julia discuss the philosophy behind his organization...
2021-Dec-10 • 69 minutes
Humanity on the precipice (Toby Ord)
Humanity could thrive for millions of years -- unless our future is cut short by an existential catastrophe. Oxford philosopher Toby Ord explains the possible existential risks we face, including climate change, pandemics, and artificial intelligence....
2021-Nov-30 • 68 minutes
Dangerous biological research - is it worth it? (Kevin Esvelt)
Kevin Esvelt, a scientist at MIT, argues that research intended to prevent pandemics is actually putting us in a lot more danger. Also discussed: Kevin's own research on engineering wild animal species. Are the risks worth the benefits?
2021-Nov-05 • 79 minutes
Why we're polarized (Ezra Klein)
Ezra Klein explains how Republican and Democrats in the US became so different from each other, ideologically and demographically, and why that trend + our institutions = political gridlock. Questions covered include: Is polarization necessarily...
2021-Oct-15 • 64 minutes
The genetic lottery (Kathryn Paige Harden)
Kathryn Paige Harden, author of “The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality” explains what scientists have learned about how our genes affect our educational success. Why is this research so controversial? And is it worth doing anyway?
2021-Sep-14 • 78 minutes
How to reason about COVID, and other hard things (Kelsey Piper)
Journalist Kelsey Piper (Future Perfect / Vox) discusses lessons learned from covering COVID: What has she been wrong about, and why? How much can we trust the CDC's advice? What does the evidence look like for different drugs like Fluvoxamine and...
2021-Aug-19 • 52 minutes
"Price gouging" in emergencies
Every time there’s an emergency, the prices of certain goods skyrocket -- like masks and hand sanitizer during COVID -- and the public gets angry about price gouging. In this episode, two economists (Raymond Niles and Amihai Glazer) make the...
2021-Jun-10 • 63 minutes
How to be a data detective (Tim Harford)
When you see a statistic reported in the news, like "10% of University of California Berkeley students were homeless this year," how do you evaluate it? You shouldn't blindly accept every statistic you read. But neither should you reject everything...
2021-Apr-09 • 62 minutes
Are Uber and Lyft drivers being exploited?
How much do Uber and Lyft drivers really earn, after expenses? Are they getting a raw deal by being classified as 'independent contractors' instead of employees? I explore the debate over these questions with three guests: Louis Hyman (Cornell), Veena...
2021-Mar-19 • 63 minutes
Unfair laws / Why judges should be originalists (William Baude)
Is there any justification for seemingly unjust laws like "qualified immunity," which allows cops to get away with bad behavior? William Baude, a leading scholar of constitutional law, explores how these laws came to be and why they're so hard to...
2021-Mar-04 • 77 minutes
Intellectual honesty, cryptocurrency, & more (Vitalik Buterin)
Julia and guest Vitalik Buterin (creator of the open-source blockchain platform Ethereum) explore a wide range of topics, including: Vitalik's intellectually honest approach to leadership, why prediction markets appear to be biased in favor of Trump,...
2021-Feb-18 • 66 minutes
Understanding moral disagreements (Jonathan Haidt)
Julia and social psychologist (The Righteous Mind) discuss his moral foundations theory and argue about whether liberals should “expand their moral horizons” by learning to think like conservatives. Julia solicits Jon’s help in understanding...
2021-Feb-03 • 101 minutes
The case for one billion Americans, & more (Matt Yglesias)
Matt Yglesias talks about One Billion Americans, his book arguing that it’s in the United States’ national interest to dramatically boost its population, by expanding immigration and having more babies. Matt and Julia also discuss arguments for...
2021-Jan-20 • 57 minutes
What’s wrong with tech companies banning people? (Julian Sanchez)
Companies like Twitter and Facebook are increasingly willing to ban users -- and even if you agree with their decisions, is it worrying that a few companies have so much power? Julia discusses with Julian Sanchez, expert on tech and civil liberties.
2021-Jan-05 • 70 minutes
The case for racial colorblindness (Coleman Hughes)
Coleman Hughes explains why he favors a "colorblind" ideal and why the "race-conscious" camp disagrees with him. Coleman and Julia also discuss whether reparations are just, and what counts as racism.
2020-Dec-22 • 82 minutes
Are Democrats being irrational? (David Shor)
Data scientist David Shor discusses some of the bad choices made by Democratic political campaigns. What's the cause of the errors? Is it irrationality, coordination problems, or something else?
2020-Dec-08 • 59 minutes
The moral limits of markets / The problem with meritocracy (Michael Sandel)
Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel argues with Julia about human dignity, consensual cannibalism, and the case in his new book, The Tyranny of Merit, that meritocracy is to blame for recent populist backlashes in the U.S.
2020-Nov-24 • 64 minutes
Deaths of despair / Effective altruism (Angus Deaton)
Economist and Nobel Laureate Angus Deaton discusses the rise in “deaths of despair” in the U.S. – deaths from drugs, alcohol or suicide. What's causing it, and how do we know? Also, Julia and Angus debate whether effective altruism can help the...
2020-Nov-09 • 60 minutes
Are Boomers to blame for Millennials' struggles?
Rationally Speaking returns from hiatus with a look at a clash between two generations: Millennials, and their parents' generation, the Baby Boomers. Faced with stagnant wages and rising costs of education, rent, and health care, Millennials have a...
2019-Nov-30 • 42 minutes
Rationally Speaking #244 - Stephanie Lepp and Buster Benson on "Seeing other perspectives, with compassion"
This episode features a pair of interviews. First, Stephanie Lepp discusses what she's learned from interviewing people who had a serious change of heart. Second, Buster Benson shares his tips for coming away from a disagreement feeling more alive.
2019-Nov-12 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #243 - Bryan Caplan on "The Case for Open Borders"
Economist Bryan Caplan makes a compelling case for open borders in his new graphic nonfiction book, "Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration," illustrated by cartoonist Zach Weinersmith.
2019-Oct-29 • 43 minutes
Rationally Speaking #242 - Keith Frankish on "Why consciousness is an illusion"
Philosopher of mind Keith Frankish is one of the leading proponents of "illusionism," the theory that argues that your subjective experience -- i.e., the "what it is like" to be you -- is a trick of the mind.
2019-Oct-15 • 55 minutes
Rationally Speaking #241 - Thibault Le Texier on "Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment"
On this episode, Thibault Le Texier and Julia discuss his findings on the Stanford Prison Experiment, how the experimenters got away with such a significant misrepresentation for so long, and what this whole affair says about the field of psychology.
2019-Sep-17 • 59 minutes
Rationally Speaking #240 - David Manheim on "Goodhart's Law and why metrics fail"
In this episode, decision theorist David Manheim explains the dynamics behind Goodhart's Law ("When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to become a good measure") and some potential solutions to it.
2019-Sep-03 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #239 - Saloni Dattani on "The debate over whether male and female brains are different"
Several recent books have argued there's no difference between male and female brains. Saloni Dattani, a PhD in psychiatric genetics, discusses some of the problems with the argument, and what we really know so far about gender and the brain.
2019-Aug-20 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #238 - Razib Khan on "Stuff I've Been Wrong About"
It's rare for public intellectuals to talk about things they've gotten wrong, but geneticist Razib Khan is an exception. He and Julia discuss a list of 28 things he's changed his mind about in the last decade.
2019-Aug-06 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #237 - Andy Przybylski on "Is screen time bad for you?"
It's common wisdom that spending a lot of time on your smartphone, or checking social media like Facebook and Twitter, takes a psychological toll. But is there any research to back that up? Julia discusses the evidence with professor Andy Przybylski.
2019-Jul-23 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #236 - Alex Tabarrok on "Why are the Prices So D*mn High?"
In this episode, economist Alex Tabarrok discusses his latest book, co-authored with Eric Heller, "Why are the Prices So D*mn High?," which blames rising costs on a phenomenon called the Baumol Effect.
2019-Jun-25 • 60 minutes
Rationally Speaking #235 - Tage Rai on "Why people think their violence is morally justified"
We typically think of violence as being caused by a lack of control, or by selfish motives. But what if, more often than not, violence is intended to be morally righteous? Author Tage Rai debates this with Julia.
2019-May-28 • 78 minutes
Rationally Speaking #234 - Dylan Matthews on "Global poverty has fallen, but what should we conclude from that?"
The global poverty rate has fallen significantly over the last few decades, but there's a heated debate over how to view that fact. Vox journalist Dylan Matthews explains the disagreement.
2019-May-13 • 58 minutes
Rationally Speaking #233 - Clive Thompson on "The culture of coding, and how it’s changing the world"
Technology writer Clive Thompson discusses his latest book, "Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World."
2019-Apr-30 • 64 minutes
Rationally Speaking #232 - Tyler Cowen on "Defending big business against its critics"
Economist Tyler Cowen discusses his latest book, "Big Business: A love-letter to an American anti-hero." Why has anti-capitalist sentiment increased recently, and to what extent is it justified?
2019-Apr-16 • 59 minutes
Rationally Speaking #231 - Helen Toner on "Misconceptions about China and artificial intelligence"
Helen Toner, the director of strategy at Georgetown's Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), shares her observations from the last few years of talking with AI scientists and policymakers in the US and China.
2019-Apr-02 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #230 - Kelsey Piper on “Big picture journalism: covering the topics that matter in the long run”
This episode features journalist Kelsey Piper, blogger and journalist for "Future Perfect," a new site focused on topics that impact the long-term future of the world.
2019-Mar-19 • 65 minutes
Rationally Speaking #229 - John Nerst on "Erisology, the study of disagreement"
This episode features John Nerst, data scientist and blogger at, discussing a potential new field called "erisology," the study of disagreement.
2019-Mar-05 • 59 minutes
Rationally Speaking #228 - William Gunn and Alex Holcombe on "Is Elsevier helping or hurting scientific progress?"
William Gunn, director of scholarly communications for Elsevier, and Alex Holcombe, cognitive scientist and open science advocate, discuss the U. of California's decision to end their contract with Elsevier, the world's largest scientific publisher.
2019-Feb-18 • 58 minutes
Rationally Speaking #227 - Sarah Haider on "Dissent and free speech"
This episode features Sarah Haider, the president of Ex-Muslims of North America. Julia and Sarah discuss why it's important to talk about the challenges of leaving Islam, and why that makes people uncomfortable or angry.
2019-Feb-05 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #226 - Rob Wiblin on "An updated view of the best ways to help humanity"
If you want to do as much good as possible with your career, what problems should you work on, and what jobs should you consider? This episode features Rob Wiblin, director of research for effective altruist organization 80,000 Hours.
2019-Jan-21 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #225 - Neerav Kingsland on "The case for charter schools"
This episode features Neerav Kingsland, who helped rebuild New Orleans' public school system after Hurricane Katrina, converting it into the country's first nearly-100% charter school system.
2019-Jan-07 • 60 minutes
Rationally Speaking #224 - Rick Nevin on "The long-term effects of lead on crime"
This episode features Rick Nevin, an economist who is known for his research suggesting that lead is one of the main causes of crime.
2018-Dec-17 • 44 minutes
Rationally Speaking #223 - Chris Fraser on "The Mohists, ancient China's philosopher warriors"
Not enough people know about the Mohists, a strikingly modern group of Chinese philosophers active in 479-221 BCE. This episode features Chris Fraser, expert on Mohism and professor of philosophy at the University of Hong Kong.
2018-Dec-03 • 58 minutes
Rationally Speaking #222 - Spencer Greenberg and Seth Cottrell on "Ask a Mathematician, Ask a Physicist"
This episode features the hosts of "Ask a Mathematician, Ask a Physicist," a blog that grew out of a Burning Man booth in which a Spencer Greenberg and Seth Cottrell answer people's questions about life, the universe, and everything.
2018-Nov-14 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #221 - Rob Reich on "Is philanthropy bad for democracy?"
This episode features political scientist Rob Reich, author of "Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy, and How it Can Do Better". Rob and Julia debate his criticisms of philanthropy.
2018-Oct-28 • 63 minutes
Rationally Speaking #220 - Peter Eckersley on "Tough choices on privacy and artificial intelligence"
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.
2018-Oct-15 • 56 minutes
Rationally Speaking #219 - Jason Collins on "A skeptical take on behavioral economics"
In this episode, economist Jason Collins discusses some of the problems with behavioral economics.
2018-Oct-01 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #218 - Chris Auld on "Good and bad critiques of economics"
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.
2018-Sep-16 • 39 minutes
Rationally Speaking #217 - Aviv Ovadya on "The problem of false, biased, and artificial news"
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.
2018-Sep-03 • 46 minutes
Rationally Speaking #216 - Diana Fleischman on "Being a transhumanist evolutionary psychologist"
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.
2018-Aug-20 • 43 minutes
Rationally Speaking #215 - Anders Sandberg on "Thinking about the long-term future of humanity"
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.
2018-Aug-06 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #214 - Anthony Aguirre on "Predicting the future of science and tech, with Metaculus"
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?
2018-Jul-22 • 66 minutes
Rationally Speaking #213 - Dean Simonton on "The causes of scientific and artistic genius"
This episode features Professor Dean Simonton, who has spent his life quantitatively studying geniuses, from Einstein to Mozart.
2018-Jul-09 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #212 - Ed Boyden on "How to invent game-changing technologies"
This episode features neuroscientist Ed Boyden discussing two inventions of his that have revolutionized neuroscience: optogenetics and expansion microscopy.
2018-Jun-25 • 42 minutes
Rationally Speaking #211 - Sabine Hossenfelder on "The case against beauty in physics"
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.
2018-Jun-11 • 57 minutes
Rationally Speaking #210 - Stuart Ritchie on "Conceptual objections to IQ testing"
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.
2018-May-28 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #209 - Christopher Chabris on "Collective intelligence & the ethics of A/B tests"
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.
2018-May-13 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #208 - Annie Duke on "Thinking in bets"
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.
2018-Apr-30 • 63 minutes
Rationally Speaking #207 - Alison Gopnik on "The wrong way to think about parenting, plus the downsides of modernity"
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 things
2018-Apr-15 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #206 - Kal Turnbull on "Change My View"
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.
2018-Apr-02 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #205 - Michael Webb on "Are ideas getting harder to find?"
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.
2018-Mar-19 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #204 - Simine Vazire on "Reforming psychology, and self-awareness"
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.
2018-Mar-05 • 41 minutes
Rationally Speaking #203 - Stephen Webb on "Where is Everybody? Solutions to the Fermi Paradox."
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.
2018-Feb-19 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #202 - Bryan Caplan on "The Case Against Education"
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.
2018-Feb-05 • 45 minutes
Rationally Speaking #201 - Ben Buchanan on "The Cybersecurity Dilemma"
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.
2018-Jan-22 • 44 minutes
Rationally Speaking #200 - Timothy Lee on "How much should tech companies moderate speech?"
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?
2018-Jan-08 • 43 minutes
Rationally Speaking #199 - Jessica Flanigan on "Why people should have the right to self-medicate"
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.
2017-Dec-11 • 59 minutes
Rationally Speaking #198 - Timur Kuran on "Private Truths and Public Lies"
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.
2017-Nov-13 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #197 - Doug Hubbard on "Why people think some things can’t be quantified (and why they’re wrong)"
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."
2017-Oct-30 • 66 minutes
Rationally Speaking #196 - Eric Schwitzgebel on "Weird ideas and opaque minds"
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.
2017-Oct-15 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #195 - Zach Weinersmith on "Emerging technologies that'll improve and/or ruin everything"
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 Everythings.
2017-Oct-02 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #194 - Robert Wright on "Why Buddhism is True"
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.
2017-Sep-18 • 65 minutes
Rationally Speaking #193 - Eric Jonas on "Could a neuroscientist understand a microprocessor?"
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.
2017-Sep-03 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #192 - Jesse Singal on “The problems with implicit bias tests”
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.
2017-Aug-21 • 59 minutes
Rationally Speaking #191 - Seth Stephens-Davidowitz on "What the internet can tell us about human nature" (Fixed)
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.
2017-Aug-06 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #190 - Amanda Askell on "Pascal's Wager and other low risks with high stakes"
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.
2017-Jul-23 • 67 minutes
Rationally Speaking #189 - Stephan Guyenet on "What causes obesity?"
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.
2017-Jul-09 • 46 minutes
Rationally Speaking #188 - Robert Kurzban on "Being strategically wrong"
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."
2017-Jun-26 • 62 minutes
Rationally Speaking #187 - Jason Weeden on "Do people vote based on self-interest?"
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.
2017-Jun-11 • 69 minutes
Rationally Speaking #186 - Tania Lombrozo on "Why we evolved the urge to explain"
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.
2017-May-28 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #185 - Hans Noel on "The role of ideology in politics"
Julia talks with political scientist Hans Noel about why the Democrats became the party of liberalism and the Republicans the party of conservatism.
2017-May-14 • 66 minutes
Rationally Speaking #184 - Gregory Clark on "What caused the industrial revolution?"
This episode features economic historian Gregory Clark, author of A Farewell to Alms and one of the leading scholars of the industrial revolution.
2017-Apr-30 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #183 - L. A. Paul on "Transformative Experiences"
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.
2017-Apr-16 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #182 - Spencer Greenberg on "How online research can be faster, better, and more useful"
This episode features mathematician and social entrepreneur Spencer Greenberg, talking about how he's taking advantage of the Internet to improve the research process.
2017-Apr-02 • 54 minutes
Rationally Speaking #181 - William MacAskill on "Moral Uncertainty"
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.
2017-Mar-20 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #180 - David Roodman on "The Worm Wars"
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.
2017-Mar-06 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #179 - Dani Rodrik on "Is economics more art or science?"
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?
2017-Feb-20 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #178 - Tim Urban on "Trying to live well, as semi-rational animals"
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?
2017-Feb-05 • 45 minutes
Rationally Speaking #177 - Dylan Matthews on "The science and ethics of kidney donation"
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.
2017-Jan-22 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #176 - Jason Brennan on "Against democracy"
Julia chats with professor Jason Brennan, author of the book "Against Democracy," about his case for why democracy is flawed -- philosophically, morally, and empirically.
2017-Jan-08 • 58 minutes
Rationally Speaking #175 - Chris Blattman on "Do sweatshops reduce poverty?"
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.
2016-Dec-11 • 46 minutes
Rationally Speaking #174 - John Ioannidis on "What happened to Evidence-based medicine?"
John Ioannidis and Julia discuss how Evidence-Based Medicine has been "hijacked," by whom, and what do do about it.
2016-Nov-27 • 39 minutes
Rationally Speaking #173 - Brendan Nyhan on "What can we learn from the election?"
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 to it?
2016-Nov-13 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #172 - Brian Nosek on "Why science needs openness"
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.
2016-Oct-30 • 56 minutes
Rationally Speaking #171 - Scott Aaronson on "The ethics and strategy of vote trading"
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.
2016-Oct-16 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #170 - Will Wilkinson on "Social justice and political philosophy"
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.
2016-Oct-02 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #169 - Owen Cotton-Barratt on "Thinking About Humanity's Far Future"
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.
2016-Sep-18 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #168 - Don Moore on "Overconfidence"
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."
2016-Sep-04 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #167 - Samuel Arbesman on "Why technology is becoming too complex"
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.
2016-Aug-21 • 54 minutes
Rationally Speaking #166 - Eric Schwitzgebel on "Why you should expect the truth to be crazy"
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.
2016-Aug-07 • 56 minutes
Rationally Speaking #165 - Robert Frank on "Success and Luck"
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?
2016-Jul-24 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #164 - James Evans on "Using meta-knowledge to learn how science works"
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.
2016-Jul-10 • 60 minutes
Rationally Speaking #163 - Gregg Caruso on "Free Will and Moral Responsibility"
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.
2016-Jun-26 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #162 - Sean Carroll on "Poetic Naturalism"
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."
2016-Jun-12 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #161 - Tom Griffiths and Brian Christian on "Algorithms to Live By"
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.
2016-May-29 • 67 minutes
Rationally Speaking #160 - Live at NECSS -- Jacob Appel on "Tackling bioethical dilemmas"
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.
2016-May-15 • 56 minutes
Rationally Speaking #159 - Colin Allen on "Do fish feel pain?"
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?
2016-May-01 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #158 - Dr. George Ainslie on "Negotiating with your future selves"
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.
2016-Apr-17 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #157 - Dr. Herculano-Houzel on "What made the human brain special?"
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.
2016-Apr-03 • 56 minutes
Rationally Speaking #156 - David McRaney on "Why it’s so hard to change someone’s mind"
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.
2016-Mar-20 • 60 minutes
Rationally Speaking #155 - Uri Simonsohn on "Detecting fraud in social science"
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?
2016-Mar-06 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #154 - Tom Griffiths on "Why your brain might be rational after all"
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.
2016-Feb-21 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #153 - Dr. Vinay Prasad on "Why so much of what we 'know' about medicine is wrong"
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.
2016-Feb-07 • 54 minutes
Rationally Speaking #152 - Dan Fincke on "The pros and cons of civil disagreement"
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?
2016-Jan-24 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #151 - Maria Konnikova on "Why everyone falls for con artists"
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.
2016-Jan-10 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #150 - Elizabeth Loftus on "The malleability of human memory"
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.
2015-Dec-13 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #149 - Susan Gelman on "How essentialism shapes our thinking"
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.
2015-Nov-29 • 46 minutes
Rationally Speaking #148 - David Kyle Johnson on "The Myths that Stole Christmas"
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.
2015-Nov-15 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #147 - Andrew Gelman on "Why do Americans vote the way they do?"
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?"
2015-Nov-01 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #146 - Jesse Richardson on "The pros and cons of making fallacies famous"
Jesse Richardson, a creative director who has been using his advertising background "for good and not for evil" by building skeptic sites including "Your Logical Fallacy Is.” Julia asks: Aren't many so-called logical fallacies not actually fallacious?
2015-Oct-18 • 56 minutes
Rationally Speaking #145 - Phil Tetlock on "Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction"
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.
2015-Oct-04 • 63 minutes
Rationally Speaking #144 - Bryan Caplan on "Does parenting matter?"
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 have.
2015-Sep-20 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #143 - Scott Aaronson on "The theorem that proves rationalists can't disagree"
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 yours?
2015-Sep-06 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #142 - Paul Bloom on "The case against empathy"
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.
2015-Aug-23 • 56 minutes
Rationally Speaking #141 - Dan Sperber on "The Argumentative Theory of reason"
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.
2015-Aug-09 • 55 minutes
Rationally Speaking #140 - Kenny Easwaran on "Newcomb's Paradox and the tragedy of rationality"
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 rationality.
2015-Jul-26 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #139 - Eric Schwitzgebel on "Moral hypocrisy: why doesn't knowing about ethics make people more ethical?"
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 be?
2015-Jul-12 • 55 minutes
Rationally Speaking #138 - Ian Morris on, "Why the West rules -- for now"
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?
2015-Jun-28 • 45 minutes
Rationally Speaking #137 - Marc Lipsitch on, "Should scientists try to create dangerous viruses?"
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 possible
2015-Jun-15 • 43 minutes
Rationally Speaking #136 - David Roodman on Why Microfinance Won't Cure Global Poverty
Economist David Roodman casts a critical eye on microfinance as a panacea for global poverty. Why it's hard to design a good study, even a randomized one; different conceptions of development, and why he doesn't think we should give up on microfinance.
2015-May-31 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #135 - Robin Hanson on: "Most human behavior is signaling"
Economist Robin Hanson explains the signaling theory of human behavior: That motivations for our behaviors, such as school choice, evolved primarily to shape other people's perceptions of us. Also, what makes a good theory and why simplicity is a virtue
2015-May-17 • 46 minutes
Rationally Speaking #134 - Michael Shermer on: "Science drives moral progress"
Michael Shermer argues against the common wisdom which holds that the world is getting more violent. His thesis is that as science advances our understanding of the world we are becoming more able to design our societies to encourage human flourishing.
2015-May-03 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #133 - Sean Carroll on "The Many Worlds Interpretatioln Is Probably Correct"
Physicist Sean Carroll describes the embarrassing fact that we still don't know how to interpret quantum mechanics and why he thinks the MWI is the best one. Also, can it be tested, is it simpler, and does it threaten to destroy our systems of ethics?
2015-Apr-21 • 60 minutes
Rationally Speaking #132 - Live From NECSS 2015
This live episode, taped at the 2015 NECSS conference in NYC, 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 changed their mind about since the podcast began.
2015-Apr-05 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #131 - James Randi on Being An Honest Liar
The Amazing Randi discusses the past and future of the Skeptic movement. Does he think Skepticism has shaped public opinion in any significant ways, what he wants the JREF to look like several years from now, and what he has changed his mind about and why
2015-Mar-22 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #130 - The Atheists Own 10 Commandments
J&M discuss a recent attempt to define a list of 10 secular commandments. They debate the relevance of particular ones, like "All truth is proportional to the evidence," and the purpose of the project overall, and address some criticisms of them.
2015-Mar-08 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #129 - Would the World Be a Better Place Without Religion?
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?
2015-Feb-26 • 69 minutes
Rationally Speaking #128 - 5th Anniversary Live Show
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 announcement
2015-Feb-08 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #127 - Elise Crull on Philosophy of Physics
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 exis
2015-Jan-25 • 44 minutes
Rationally Speaking #126 - Preston Bost on Crazy Beliefs, Sane Believers
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 anyway?
2015-Jan-18 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #125 - The Quantified Self
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 be.
2014-Dec-28 • 60 minutes
Rationally Speaking #124 - Stoicism
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 problems.
2014-Dec-14 • 46 minutes
Rationally Speaking #123 - Daniel Lakens on P-Hacking and Other Problems in Psychology Research
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.
2014-Dec-01 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #122 - The Science and Philosophy of Humor
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 it?
2014-Nov-16 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #121 - Benjamin Todd on 80,000 Hours
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.
2014-Nov-02 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #120 - Nihilism
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.
2014-Oct-22 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #119 - Aaron James on Assholes (and Bitches)
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 mechanisms.
2014-Oct-05 • 110 minutes
Rationally Speaking #118 - Live From Baruch College With Dr. Steven Novella
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?"
2014-Sep-21 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #117 - Maria Konnikova on How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes
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?
2014-Sep-07 • 29 minutes
Rationally Speaking #116 - Jim Baggott and Massimo on Farewell to Reality
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” science
2014-Aug-24 • 33 minutes
Rationally Speaking #115 - Maarten Boudry and Massimo On the Difference Between Science and Pseudoscience
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.
2014-Aug-10 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #114 - Massimo and Julia Go Freestyle
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?
2014-Jul-27 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #113 - The Turing Test
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.
2014-Jul-13 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #112 - Race: Just a Social Construct?
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.
2014-Jun-29 • 55 minutes
Rationally Speaking #111 - Human Nature
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?
2014-Jun-15 • 56 minutes
Rationally Speaking #110 - Scientia, the Unity of Knowledge
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.
2014-Jun-01 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #109 - Rebecca Newberger Goldstein on Plato at the Googleplex
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.
2014-May-18 • 55 minutes
Rationally Speaking #108 - Suicide
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?
2014-May-04 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #107 - MOOCs
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 education.
2014-Apr-20 • 63 minutes
Rationally Speaking #106 - Live From NECSS With Lawrence Krauss
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.
2014-Apr-06 • 59 minutes
Rationally Speaking #105 - Greta Christina on Coming Out Atheist
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.
2014-Mar-24 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #104 - Edward Frenkel on Love and Math
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.
2014-Mar-09 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #103 - Neil deGrasse Tyson on Why He Doesn't Call Himself an Atheist
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) assumptions.
2014-Feb-23 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #102 - Zach Weinersmith on His "SMBC" Webcomic
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."
2014-Feb-09 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #101 - Max Tegmark on the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis
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.
2014-Jan-27 • 79 minutes
Rationally Speaking #100 - Live Q&A: Massimo and Julia Answer Everything!
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!
2013-Dec-22 • 44 minutes
Rationally Speaking #99 - Judith Schlesinger Exposes the Myth of the Mad Genius
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.
2013-Dec-08 • 54 minutes
Rationally Speaking #98 - Jerome Wakefield on Psychiatric Diagnoses: Science or Pseudoscience?
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.
2013-Nov-25 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #97 - Peter Singer on Being a Utilitarian in the Real World
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.
2013-Nov-10 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #96 - Sally Satel and Scott Lilienfeld on the Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience
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.
2013-Oct-27 • 56 minutes
Rationally Speaking #95 - Gerard O'Brien On the Computational Theory of Mind
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 computers
2013-Oct-03 • 60 minutes
Rationally Speaking #94 - Maarten Boudry on Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem
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.
2013-Sep-29 • 55 minutes
Rationally Speaking #93 - Dr. Michael E. Mann On The Science Of Climate Change
Physicist and climatologist Michael Mann discusses climate change, the physical processes of climate change, the predictive models used, the uncertainties involved, and how optimistic we should be about technological solutions to the problem.
2013-Sep-15 • 45 minutes
Rationally Speaking #92 - Dr. Paul Offit On Believing in Magic
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.
2013-Sep-01 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #91 - Kendrick Frazier On Skeptical Inquiry
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.
2013-Jun-30 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #90 - On Wine, Water, and Audio
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?
2013-Jun-16 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #89 - Online Dating
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?
2013-Jun-03 • 43 minutes
Rationally Speaking #88 - Mario Livio on Brilliant Blunders
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."
2013-May-19 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #87 - Sean Carroll on Naturalism
Astrophysicist 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 materialism.
2013-May-05 • 65 minutes
Rationally Speaking #86 - Live From NECSS With Jim Holt On Why Does the World Exist?
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.
2013-Apr-21 • 36 minutes
Rationally Speaking #85 - Live From NECSS With Michael Shermer On the Role of Science in Morality
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.
2013-Apr-07 • 46 minutes
Rationally Speaking #84 - Stephen Asma On the Myth of Universal Love
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.
2013-Mar-25 • 45 minutes
Rationally Speaking #83 - Samuel Arbesman On The Half-Life of Facts
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.
2013-Mar-10 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #82 - It's Not Easy Being Green
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 at all
2013-Feb-24 • 63 minutes
Rationally Speaking #81 - Live! Ben Goldacre on Bad Pharma
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 companies.
2013-Feb-10 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #80 - Dear Abby
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.
2013-Jan-27 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #79 - Chris Mooney on The Republican War on Science
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?
2013-Jan-13 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #78 - Intelligence and Personality Testing
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?
2012-Dec-30 • 55 minutes
Rationally Speaking #77 - Victoria Pitts-Taylor on Feminism and Science
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 men?
2012-Dec-16 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #76 - Crowdsourcing and the Wisdom of Crowds
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?
2012-Dec-02 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #75 - When Scientists Kill
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 lie?
2012-Nov-18 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #74 - Live! John Shook on Philosophy of Religion
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 world.
2012-Nov-04 • 74 minutes
Rationally Speaking #73 - Answers for Aristotle
Massimo's new book, Answers for Aristotle, whose central idea is that a combination of science and philosophy, or "Sci-Phi," is the best guide to the big questions in life, from issues of morality and justice to the meaning of love and friendship.
2012-Oct-21 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #72 - Graham Priest on Paradoxes and Paraconsistent Logic
Philosopher 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: A Very Short Introduction"
2012-Oct-07 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #71 - On Science Fiction and Philosophy
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.
2012-Sep-23 • 46 minutes
Rationally Speaking #70 - Graham Priest on Buddhism and Other Asian Philosophies
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"
2012-Sep-09 • 62 minutes
Rationally Speaking #69 - James Ladyman on Metaphysics
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 Reality."
2012-Aug-26 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #68 - Applied Rationality
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.
2012-Aug-12 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #67 - Freudianism as Pseudoscience, With Assorted Comments on Masturbation and Castration...
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.
2012-Jul-29 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #66 - Matthew Hutson on The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking
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 Instinct"
2012-Jul-15 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #65 - Philosophical Shock Tactics
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.
2012-Jul-01 • 46 minutes
Rationally Speaking #64 - Jesse Prinz on Looking Beyond Human Nature
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."
2012-Jun-17 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #63 - Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
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?
2012-Jun-04 • 55 minutes
Rationally Speaking #62 - Patricia Churchland on What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality
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"
2012-May-20 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #61 - Willpower
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: and
2012-May-06 • 63 minutes
Rationally Speaking #60 - Q&A With Massimo and Julia
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.
2012-Apr-25 • 69 minutes
Rationally Speaking #59 - Live at NECSS: David Kyle Johnson on the Simulation Argument
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."
2012-Apr-08 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #58 - Intuition
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?"
2012-Mar-25 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #57 - Peer Review
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."
2012-Mar-11 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #56 - Howard Schneider on Science News Literacy
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"
2012-Feb-27 • 55 minutes
Rationally Speaking #55 - Spirituality
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"
2012-Feb-12 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #54 - The 'isms' Episode
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."
2012-Jan-30 • 57 minutes
Rationally Speaking #53 - Parapsychology
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."
2012-Jan-16 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #52 - Donald Prothero on the Holocaust-Deniers' Playbook
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:
2012-Jan-01 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #51 - Joseph Heath on Economics Without Illusions
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."
2011-Dec-18 • 53 minutes
Rationally Speaking #50 - Neurobabble
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: "" and "Rationality and the Reflective Mind."
2011-Dec-04 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #49 - Eugenie C. Scott on Denialism of Climate Change and Evolution
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: ""
2011-Nov-20 • 46 minutes
Rationally Speaking #48 - Philosophical Counseling
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."
2011-Nov-06 • 54 minutes
Rationally Speaking #47 - SETI
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"
2011-Oct-23 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #46 - The Varieties of Skepticism
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."
2011-Oct-09 • 54 minutes
Rationally Speaking #45 - Rebecca Newberger Goldstein on Spinoza, Göedl, and Theories of Everything
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."
2011-Sep-25 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #44 - Fluff that Works
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."
2011-Sep-11 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #43 - Women in Skepticism
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".
2011-Aug-28 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #42 - On the Limits of Reason
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."
2011-Aug-14 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #41 - Robert Zaretsky on Rousseau, Hume, and the Limits of Human Understanding
Guest Robert Zaretsky discusses the quarrel between 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 Attempts at an Answer"
2011-Jul-31 • 65 minutes
Rationally Speaking #40 - Q&A With Massimo and Julia
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?
2011-Jul-17 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #39 - The Science and Philosophy of Free Will
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" and "Fluid Concepts And Creative Analogies"
2011-Jul-03 • 44 minutes
Rationally Speaking #38 - Holden Karnofsky on Evidence-based Philanthropy
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".
2011-Jun-19 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #37 - The Science and Philosophy of Happiness
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"
2011-Jun-05 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #36 - Why Should We Care About Teaching the Humanities?
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
2011-May-22 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #35 - What is Philosophy of Science Good for?
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"
2011-May-08 • 51 minutes
Rationally Speaking #34 - Celebrities and the Damage They Can Do
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"
2011-Apr-24 • 64 minutes
Rationally Speaking #33 - Live at NECSS: New Dilemmas in Bioethics
Live from NECSS, guests Jacob Appel and Jennifer Michael Hecht discuss dilemmas in bioethics.
2011-Apr-10 • 50 minutes
Rationally Speaking #32 - Value-free Science?
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?"
2011-Mar-27 • 52 minutes
Rationally Speaking #31 - Vegetarianism
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!"
2011-Mar-13 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #30 - Cordelia Fine on Delusions of Gender
Guest Cordelia Fine rebuts what currently passes as the science behind sex differences. Plus Cordelia's picks: "Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal."
2011-Feb-27 • 67 minutes
Rationally Speaking #29 - Q&A Live!
Massimo and Julia do their best to answer skeptical questions from a live audience.
2011-Feb-13 • 49 minutes
Rationally Speaking #28 - Live! How To Tell Science From Bunk
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."
2011-Jan-30 • 47 minutes
Rationally Speaking #27 - The Perihelinox Episode, With Historian Timothy Alborn on Anniversaries
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."
2011-Jan-16 • 46 minutes
Rationally Speaking #26 - Is Anthropology Still a Science?
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."
2011-Jan-02 • 63 minutes
Rationally Speaking #25 - Q&A With Massimo and Julia
Massimo and Julia do their best to answer listeners' skeptical questions.
2010-Dec-19 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #24 - Memetics!
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."
2010-Dec-05 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #23 - Carol Tavris on Everybody Making Mistakes, Except Us...
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."
2010-Nov-21 • 48 minutes
Rationally Speaking #22 - Steven Novella on Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science
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."
2010-Nov-07 • 45 minutes
Rationally Speaking #21 - Joshua Knobe on Experimental Philosophy
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."
2010-Oct-24 • 64 minutes
Rationally Speaking #20 - Q&A With Massimo and Julia
Massimo and Julia do their best to answer listeners' skeptical questions.
2010-Oct-10 • 31 minutes
Rationally Speaking #19 - Brendan Nyhan on False Beliefs that Refuse to Die
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)", and "The Macro Polity (Cambridge Studies in Public Opinion and Political Psychology) "
2010-Sep-26 • 31 minutes
Rationally Speaking #18 - Evolutionary Psychology
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"
2010-Sep-12 • 34 minutes
Rationally Speaking #17 - Transhumanism
Transhumanism: What's so great about being human, anyway? Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: "Being Wrong" and "Expert Political Judgment"
2010-Aug-29 • 35 minutes
Rationally Speaking #16 - Deferring to Experts
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"
2010-Aug-15 • 62 minutes
Rationally Speaking #15 - Q&A With Massimo and Julia
Massimo and Julia do their best to answer listeners' skeptical questions.
2010-Aug-01 • 33 minutes
Rationally Speaking #14 - Jennifer Michael Hecht on Science, Religion, Happiness, and Other Myths
Guest Jennifer Michael Hecht discusses whether we take science too seriously and perhaps we should look more at poetry. Plus Jennifer's picks: and The Best American Poetry Blog.
2010-Jul-18 • 30 minutes
Rationally Speaking #13 - Superstition, Is It Good For You?
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.
2010-Jul-04 • 34 minutes
Rationally Speaking #12 - What About Thought Experiments?
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.
2010-Jun-20 • 37 minutes
Rationally Speaking #11 - Guest Eugenie Scott on the Status of the Creationism and ID Wars
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.
2010-Jun-06 • 31 minutes
Rationally Speaking #10 - Nonsense on Stilts
A conversation about Massimo's book: "Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk." Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: and "Historians' Fallacies : Toward a Logic of Historical Thought "
2010-May-23 • 32 minutes
Rationally Speaking #9 - When Smart People Endorse Pseudoscience
Why is it that smart people fall for notions that are barely more defensible than astrology, or criticize well established scientific notions. Plus Massimo and Julia's picks: and "The Miracle Detective"
2010-May-09 • 33 minutes
Rationally Speaking #8 - The Anthropic Principle
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: and "House."
2010-Apr-25 • 34 minutes
Rationally Speaking #7 - Peter Woit discusses whether string theory is “not even wrong”
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."
2010-Apr-10 • 33 minutes
Rationally Speaking #6 - Fluffy Thinking
a peculiar type of uncritical thinking
2010-Mar-28 • 34 minutes
Rationally Speaking #5 - Neil deGrasse Tyson and the Need for a Space Program
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
2010-Mar-14 • 31 minutes
Rationally Speaking #4 - The Great Atheist Debate Over the Limits of Science
"Accommodationist" is a word that began to appear in recent months during public debates over science and religion. The derogatory term has been applied to atheists and rationalists like Eugenie Scott, at the National Center for Science Education, and...
2010-Feb-28 • 29 minutes
Rationally Speaking #3 - Can History Be a Science?
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"
2010-Feb-14 • 34 minutes
Rationally Speaking #2 - Love, a Skeptical Inquiry
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'."
2010-Jan-21 • 33 minutes
Rationally Speaking #1 - Why be rational?
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.