TrueSciPhi logo



Podcast Profile: Very Bad Wizards

podcast imageTwitter: @verybadwizards@peez@tamler
285 episodes
2012 to present
Average episode: 90 minutes
Open in Apple PodcastsRSS

Categories: Interview-Style • Two Hosts

Podcaster's summary: Very Bad Wizards is a podcast featuring a philosopher (Tamler Sommers) and a psychologist (David Pizarro), who share a love for ethics, pop culture, and cognitive science, and who have a marked inability to distinguish sacred from profane. Each podcast includes discussions of moral philosophy, recent work on moral psychology and neuroscience, and the overlap between the two.

Discover other podcasts.

List Updated: 2024-Apr-14 06:08 UTC. Episodes: 285. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

2024-Mar-26 • 83 minutes
Episode 281: Choose Your Fighter
We dig into the biggest rivalry in Tamler’s profession, analytic vs. continental philosophy. Are analytic philosophers truly the rigorous, precise, clear thinkers they take themselves to be? And is continental philosophy really just a...
2024-Mar-12 • 100 minutes
Episode 280: Mad Masque (with Phil Ford and J.F. Martel)
Phil Ford and J.F. Martel from the great "Weird Studies" podcast join us for a whirling discussion of Edgar Allan Poe’s mesmerizing tale of decadence and disease “The Masque of the Red Death." We also talk about weird fiction more generally, why...
2024-Feb-27 • 70 minutes
Episode 279: The Greenhouses We Burned Along the Way (Lee Chang-dong's "Burning" Pt. 2)
David and Tamler conclude their discussion of Lee Chang-dong’s "Burning" – we talk about the hunger dance at twilight, Ben’s greenhouse burning habit, Shin Hae-mi’s mysterious disappearance, Lee Jong-su’s clumsy and doomed quest to...
2024-Feb-13 • 92 minutes
Episode 278: Schrödinger's Everything (Lee Chang-dong's "Burning" Pt. 1)
David and Tamler fall under the spell of Lee Chang-dong’s 2018 masterpiece Burning, a movie where nothing is what it seems, or maybe it is. An alienated young man meets what seems like his dream girl from his small town, but she’s...
2024-Jan-30 • 96 minutes
Episode 277: The Merits of Buggery (Nagel's "Sexual Perversion")
David and Tamler play the old hits – Thomas Nagel and sex robots. In the main segment we talk about Nagel’s essay “Sexual Perversion”, a surprising essay on many fronts (Sartre, erotic fiction, conceptual analysis, much more). What’s the...
2024-Jan-16 • 87 minutes
Episode 276: Attention Please
David and Tamler are back for the new year and one of our resolutions was to do more episodes on William James. Today we talk about his account of ‘Attention’ from his 1890 volume The Principles of Psychology – another remarkably prescient...
2023-Dec-26 • 94 minutes
Episode 275: The Ineffable Center (Borges' "The Aleph")
An episode interesting from every point of view, we train our eyes on Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Aleph.” The first segment wins the kudos of the learned, the academician, the Hellenist, as we talk about the favorite things we saw this year. The...
2023-Dec-13 • 95 minutes
Episode 274: Can I Get a Kidney Voucher? (with Vlad Chituc)
RETURNING guest Vlad Chituc joins us for a wide-ranging discussion about donating his kidney to a stranger, the effective altruism movement, and his sexuality. Was EA’s turn to ‘long-termist’ goals like preventing evil AI inevitable? Have...
2023-Nov-29 • 118 minutes
Episode 273: Ah. Ah. (Miyazaki's "Spirited Away")
David and Tamler board the train for Hayao Miyazaki’s mystical dreamy coming of age masterpiece Spirited Away. This is a true VBW deep dive. Plus a study by our secret crush suggests we may not be optimizing the value of our conversations. ...
2023-Nov-15 • 85 minutes
Episode 272: Neigh Means Yay
The morality of zoophilia has received shockingly little attention in contemporary ethical discourse…until now. David and Tamler break down the paper “Zoophilia is Morally Permissible” from the latest issue of The Journal of...
2023-Nov-13 • 59 minutes
Episode 271: Concept-Con 2023
It’s the first annual “Concept-Con” – a not at all cringe episode where David and Tamler apply the methods and rigor of analytic philosophy to dissect not one, not two, but four new concepts. We start out with a Gen-Z special “mid” and...
2023-Oct-10 • 103 minutes
Episode 270: Take Me to the River (Blood Meridian, Pt. 3)
David and Tamler conclude their three-part discussion of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. We talk about the Judge’s coin trick by the fire and the question of the supernatural in the novel. Next we dive into the imbecile’s “baptism” by the...
2023-Oct-10 • 92 minutes
Episode 269: Death Hilarious (Blood Meridian, Pt. 2)
In part 2 of our journey into Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Tamler and David talk about the kid and his form of resistance to the judge’s gleeful nihilism - does he (as the man) ultimately succumb at the end of the novel? We also discuss...
2023-Sep-12 • 77 minutes
Episode 268: Blood Meridian, Part 1
In part one of our two-part episode on Cormac McCarthy’s blood-soaked phantasmagorical 1985 masterpiece Blood Meridian, David and Tamler talk about the historical sources of the novel, the cosmic questions the book poses, the capriciousness of the...
2023-Aug-22 • 73 minutes
Episode 267: The Thickness of Reality
David and Tamler return to the work of old favorite William James and argue about the 6th lecture (inspired by the French philosopher Henri Bergson) of his 1909 book “A Pluralistic Universe.” James attacks the philosophical habit of elevating...
2023-Aug-08 • 83 minutes
Episode 266: I Want to Half-Believe
Last December, with Argentina minutes away from a World Cup championship, friend of the show Yoel texted David “congratulations.” David was furious, and soon after (with less than 2 minutes left in extra time) France’s Mbappe scored a game-tying...
2023-Jul-25 • 80 minutes
Episode 265: Kekulé (Oh Yeah!)
The Summer of Cormac McCarthy continues – this time we dive into his one piece of non-fiction, the short essay “The Kekulé Problem.” How does our unconscious mind solve problems that conscious deliberation can’t crack? Why does...
2023-Jul-18 • 69 minutes
[BONUS] Overton Windows Episode 1: Israel and Palestine
A new mini-series with Tamler Sommers and Robert Wright on the range of politically acceptable discourse for a given topic and how this “Overton window” changes over time. This episode is available for free for everyone, the...
2023-Jul-11 • 131 minutes
Episode 264: The Rule You Follow (The Coen Brothers' "No Country for Old Men")
David and Tamler dive into the Coen brothers’ bleak and beautiful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel "No Country for Old Men." What’s the underlying philosophy that animates Anton Chigurh? Does he have a code of any kind, or is he just a...
2023-Jun-27 • 95 minutes
Episode 263: Free Yoel
A VBW exclusive report! For years David and Tamler have been a little dismissive of fears about cancel culture in academia but now the SJWs have come for one of our own! We welcome back Yoel Inbar to talk about his experience applying for a position...
2023-Jun-13 • 89 minutes
Episode 262: Supposing Truth is a Woman (Nietzsche's "Beyond Good and Evil")
David and Tamler dive into the first two parts of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil which contain some of Nietzsche’s best drive-bys on philosophers like Plato, Descartes, the Stoics, Kant, and Hegel along with beliefs in free will, hard...
2023-May-30 • 83 minutes
Episode 261: Death of the Author
What’s the meaning of a work of art? Does the text mean just what the author intends it to mean? Does it matter what Kubrick and Arthur C. Clark thinks about the end of 2001? Or is the artist’s interpretation just one interpretation among many...
2023-May-09 • 89 minutes
Episode 260: The Scream That Never Found a Voice (Murakami's "Sleep")
David and Tamler take the first excursion into the work of Haruki Murakami and talk about his short story “Sleep.” A thirty-year-old woman, the wife of a dentist and mother of a young boy, has a terrifying dream and when she wakes up, she no longer ne
2023-Apr-25 • 117 minutes
Episode 259: Losing Time ("Tár" with Paul Bloom)
The great Paul Bloom returns to the show to explore the many mysteries of Todd Field’s 2022 film “Tár.” Is it a ghost story? A movie about cancel culture and abuse of power? Guilt? Professional disappointment? The anxiety of getting old, losing tou
2023-Apr-11 • 94 minutes
Episode 258: Mystic Peeza
David and Tamler talk about William James’ chapter on mysticism from his book "Varieties of Religious Experience." What defines a mystical experience? Why do they defy expression and yet feel like a state of knowledge, a glimpse into the window of some
2023-Mar-28 • 100 minutes
Episode 257: Aural Fixation
David and Tamler deliver a PODCAST episode, one of many that comes from the INTERNET, that you’ll probably listen to through Air Pods or some other kind of WIRELESS HEADPHONES as you go about your day. (Incidentally, the topic of the episode is Marshal
2023-Mar-14 • 97 minutes
Episode 256: The Right to Punish?
Here’s an episode with something for both of us – a healthy serving of Kantian rationalism for David with a dollop of Marxist criminology for Tamler. We discuss and then argue about Jeffrie Murphy’s 1971 paper “Marxism and Retribution.” For Murp
2023-Feb-28 • 104 minutes
Episode 255: Beloved Child of the House (Susanna Clarke's "Piranesi")
David and Tamler get lost in the world of Susanna Clarke’s "Piranesi," a hauntingly beautiful and thrilling novel with echoes of Borges, Plato, C.S. Lewis, and even Parfit. The first part of our conversation is spoiler-free so you can listen to that sec
2023-Feb-14 • 80 minutes
Episode 254: Nobody's Parfit
Tamler’s earlier self committed to doing an episode on Parfit, and David holds his current self to that promise, which shows how unconvinced David was by Parfit’s skepticism about personal identity. Or something like that. We argue about the value of
2023-Jan-31 • 128 minutes
Episode 253: Tarkovsky's Starchild
It’s the episode that Tamler has been waiting for – a long deep dive into Andrei Tarkovsky’s mysterious masterpiece "Stalker." A writer and professor are led by their guide (Stalker) into a cordoned off “zone” that may have been visited by a me
2023-Jan-10 • 94 minutes
Episode 252: Yes We Sene-can
David and Tamler dive into Seneca’s “On the Happy Life” and stoicism, the topic selected by our beloved patreon supporters. Why is stoicism so popular today? What does Seneca actually think about Epicureanism? Can Seneca's philosophy be reconciled w
2022-Dec-20 • 94 minutes
Episode 251: First Order, Then Chaos
David and Tamler wind their way through another Borges story - "The Immortal"- about a Roman soldier who seeks the secret of immortality and, much to his horror, finds it. Plus some thoughts on the utterly shameless ChatGPT.
2022-Dec-06 • 91 minutes
Episode 250: Metaphors All the Way Down
We often think of metaphors as poetic flourishes, a nice way to punctuate your ideas and make them more relatable. But what if metaphors aren’t simply tools of language but part of thought itself? David and Tamler “dive into” George Lakoff’s theor
2022-Nov-22 • 85 minutes
Episode 249: Phlegm and Carelessness (Hume's "The Sceptic")
David and Tamler gild and stain David Hume’s essay “The Sceptic” with their sentiments. If nothing is inherently valuable or despicable, desirable or hateful, then what do philosophers have to offer when it comes to happiness? If reason is powerless
2022-Nov-01 • 83 minutes
Episode 248: Checkmate, Grasshopper
In this podcast we examine a recent argument for the view that chess is not, in fact, a game. We discuss the Grasshopper’s claim that all games must have a prelusory goal, as well as Skepticus’ objection to the giant Grasshopper concerning chess. We t
2022-Oct-18 • 155 minutes
Episode 247: Open the Pod, Dave (with Sam Harris)
David and Tamler welcome Sam Harris back to the show for a deep dive into Stanley Kubrick’s confounding 1968 masterpiece "2001: A Space Odyssey." How long is the Dawn of Man? What does the second monolith do exactly? Why are the humans so banal and exp
2022-Oct-04 • 106 minutes
Episode 246: Existential Poker-Face (David Foster Wallace's "E Unibus Pluram")
Episode 246: Existential Poker-Face (David Foster Wallace's "E Unibus Pluram")
2022-Sep-20 • 92 minutes
Episode 245: Pragmatically Speaking
David and Tamler take their first real look at pragmatism via Richard Rorty’s “Solidarity or Objectivity.” Can we discover facts about the world as it “really is,” independent of our own culturally influenced methods of inquiry? If not, does tha
2022-Sep-06 • 111 minutes
Episode 244: Thanks for the Memories? (Borges' "Funes the Memorious)
David and Tamler return to Borges land to get lost in the infinite, this time with his legendary and tragic character Funes the memorious. What would it be like to have perfect memory, to have full access to every perceived detail no matter how trivial? W
2022-Aug-16 • 93 minutes
Episode 243: Finding My Religion
David and Tamler continue their discussion of Leo Tolstoy’s 'Confession.' When we left him last time, the famous author had bottomed out just years after writing two of the greatest novels ever written. Our eventual death, Tolstoy thought, strips life o
2022-Aug-09 • 90 minutes
Bonus Episode: The Ambulators (A "Deadwood" Podcast)
We have a sneak peek for our listeners--the first episode our new Patreon bonus series on David Milch's brilliant (but short-lived) series "Deadwood." In this inaugural edition of "The Ambulators" (we promise the name makes sense), Tamler and David discus
2022-Aug-02 • 93 minutes
Episode 242: Losing My Religion
David and Tamler find themselves unable to attach rational meaning to a single act in their entire lives. Let’s say we publish more articles and books. What then? What about our kids? They’re going off to college. Why? What for? We think about the fut
2022-Jul-19 • 155 minutes
Episode 241: Very Bad Orgies (Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut")
David and Tamler mask up and wander through the audio and visual orgy of Stanley Kubrick’s final masterpiece "Eyes Wide Shut". What is this movie really about? Dreams? Wealth and power? Marriage? Jealousy? Female sexuality? Masculinity issues? The Illum
2022-Jul-06 • 94 minutes
Episode 240: Evil
David and Tamler descend into the dark pits of Hell to look Satan in the eyes and discover the nature of evil. OK…that’s not fully accurate, we just read and talk about a couple of philosophy articles that analyze the concept. What are the features of
2022-Jun-21 • 83 minutes
Episode 239: Lose Yourself
David and Tamler lose themselves in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (pr. ‘chick sent me high’) classic paper on the concept of flow. We talk about the features of flow activities – loss of ego, the merging of your awareness with the activity, and autote
2022-Jun-07 • 118 minutes
Episode 238: I Am Not Ivan Ilyich...Am I?
Ivan Ilyich is a man. All men are mortal. So Ivan Ilyich is mortal. Sure absolutely, that’s true for Ivan Ilyich and for all men. But we’re not Ivan Ilyich and we’re not ‘all men’- so what does this have to do with us? Right? David and Tamler co
2022-May-24 • 103 minutes
Episode 237: Glitches Ain't Shit
David and Tamler explore the many variations of simulation theory, the view that our universe is just a computer generated model created by an advanced civilization that has reached “technological maturity.” What does the growing popularity of simulat
2022-May-03 • 131 minutes
Episode 236: Your Outie Is Skilled at Lovemaking (With Paul Bloom)
We welcome Paul Bloom to talk about the first season of "Severance," the new mind-bending and mind-splitting TV series on Apple TV+. What happens when you separate your home life from your work life? Do you create a completely different person? Is it a fo
2022-Apr-19 • 111 minutes
Episode 235: Animated Objects
We didn’t get river spirits and mischievous sootballs from panpsychism, so this time we go straight to the source - a defense of animism, and in a top 10 analytic philosophy journal. Could a failed argument for the existence of God establish the existen
2022-Apr-05 • 113 minutes
Episode 234: Like A Dog (Kafka's "The Trial" Pt. 2)
David and Tamler conclude their discussion of "The Trial," Franz Kafka's darkly comic vision of an opaque and impenetrable bureaucracy that comes for us all in the end. Plus we interrupt our previously scheduled opening segment because apparently somethin
2022-Mar-22 • 113 minutes
Episode 233: Keeping It Surreal (Kafka's "The Trial" Pt. 1)
David and Tamler wander through the bewildering dream-like world of Franz Kafka’s "The Trial." In part one of a two-part discussion we discuss the circumstances of its publication, the various interpretative approaches that can be taken to the novel, an
2022-Mar-08 • 99 minutes
Episode 232: Mind Over Matter
It’s the topic voted on by our beloved Patreon patrons, panpsychism! David and Tamler delve into the resurgent debate over whether consciousness is the fundamental stuff that makes up the universe. We hoped we might be entering Miyazaki land - river spi
2022-Feb-22 • 111 minutes
Episode 231: Ideal Critics (Hume's "Of the Standard of Taste")
Many of us think that art is subjective, but at the same time it seems like some artistic judgments are better than others. Do you think "Crash" deserved to receive an award for Best Picture? Did you like Season 2 of "Ted Lasso"? Well you’re wrong. So h
2022-Feb-08 • 110 minutes
Episode 230: Be Happy (Lars von Trier's "Melancholia")
David and Tamler sink deeper and deeper into Melancholia, Lars von Trier’s harrowing and stunningly beautiful depiction of depression, anxiety, and a wedding reception that just won’t end. They bring Freud’s “Mourning and Melancholia” into the c
2022-Jan-25 • 99 minutes
Episode 229: Skin Deep?
We think racism is wrong but what about “lookism” – a bias that favors attractive people over unattractive ones? If it’s wrong to judge people by the color of their skin, what about judging people for something that is only skin deep? We talk abou
2022-Jan-11 • 94 minutes
Episode 228: Forever Jung
David and Tamler confront their shadows and dive into Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious. What are the central differences between Jung and Freud? What did Jung mean by archetypes and what’s his evidence for their centrality in the human
2021-Dec-21 • 99 minutes
Episode 227: A Terrible Master (David Foster Wallace's "This Is Water").
David and Tamler dive into David Foster Wallace’s celebrated and surprisingly earnest Kenyon College commencement speech “This is Water”. How can we escape the prison and prism of our (literally) self-centered perspective? Can we choose to adjust o
2021-Dec-07 • 117 minutes
Episode 226: Unraveling Time Traveling (with Barry Lam and Christina Hoff Sommers)
First, it’s the return of the annual drunken Thanksgiving segment! Tamler and based wicked stepmom Christina Hoff Sommers fight about JFK, systematic racism, corporations, and how to pronounce valium. (We find more common ground than usual though on Cov
2021-Nov-16 • 102 minutes
Episode 225: Forbidden Modules
David and Tamler talk about the often rancorous debate among cognitive scientists and evolutionary psychologists over whether the mind is modular -- composed of discrete systems responsible for vision, reasoning, cheater detection, sexual jealousy, and so
2021-Nov-02 • 103 minutes
Episode 224: Hurts So Good (With Paul Bloom)
VBW favorite Paul Bloom joins us to talk about the pleasures of suffering, flow states, Sisyphus, meaning, and dating questions. Check out his new book "The Sweet Spot" which comes out today! Plus what are NFTs and why does every hate them?
2021-Oct-19 • 88 minutes
Episode 223: The Hopeless Dream of Being (Bergman's "Persona")
David and Tamler dive into Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 masterpiece “Persona”, a film about two (?) women, Elisabet, a famous stage actress who has stopped speaking, and Alma the chatty young nurse assigned to care for her at an island cottage. What happen
2021-Oct-05 • 98 minutes
Episode 222: Choosing Sartre for All Mankind
David and Tamler don black turtlenecks and light up a couple of Gauloises to talk about Jean Paul Sartre's classic essay “Existentialism is a Humanism.” Why are choices so fundamental to our experience? What does Sartre mean when he says that “exist
2021-Sep-21 • 111 minutes
Episode 221: Granite Cocks vs Robot Overlords
David and Tamler wind their way through the long-requested “Meditations on Moloch” by Scott Alexander, a comprehensive account of the coordination problems (personified by Allan Ginsberg’s demon-entity Moloch) that lead to human misery and values to
2021-Sep-07 • 111 minutes
Episode 220: On Your Marx
In honor of Labor Day, David and Tamler dive into two works by Karl Marx - "The Communist Manifesto" and "Estranged Labor." What is Marx's theory of historical change? Why does capitalism produce an alienated workforce? What role does philosophy play in
2021-Aug-17 • 105 minutes
Episode 219: Multiplied by Mirrors
It’s a Borges bonanza! David and Tamler dive into two stories: “Emma Zunz” and “Borges and I.” The first seems like a straightforward daughter revenge story (Tamler’s favorite genre), but Borges being Borges there are layers of doubt and fuzzi
2021-Aug-03 • 119 minutes
Episode 218: ...But You Can't Hide (Michael Haneke's "Caché")
David and Tamler go deep on Michael Haneke’s unnerving psychological thriller Caché. An upper middle class French intellectual couple receives mysterious videotapes of the exterior of their house, forcing them to confront their past and present. Can we
2021-Jul-20 • 126 minutes
Episode 217: Dropping Paradigms (Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions")
David and Tamler hit the books and cram for their beloved Patreon listener-selected episode – this time on Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.” David thinks Kuhn is a great sociologist of science but recoils at the relativistic
2021-Jul-06 • 101 minutes
Episode 216: Oral Judgments
We’ve promised you for years that we would do an episode on apologies and never got to it until today. So we both want to say from the bottom of our hearts: we’re sorry. We recognize we’ve let so many of our listeners down, and we feel just awful if
2021-Jun-22 • 98 minutes
Episode 215: Touch My Pink Monkey
David and Tamler argue about the philosopher L.A. Paul’s ideas on “transformative experiences” – big life decisions that will change you and your values so much that our normal decision-making models break down. Tamler is fully on board and hopefu
2021-Jun-08 • 81 minutes
Episode 214: You Shouldn't Feel Bad (Except You Should)
Tamler welcomes social psychologist David Pizarro of Cornell University to the podcast to talk about his recent article (along with Raj Anderson, Shaun Nichols, and Rachana Kamtekar) on “false-positive emotions.” When agents commit accidental harms, w
2021-May-25 • 118 minutes
Episode 213: What Is It Like To Be a Robot Fish Man? (with Ted Chiang)
We’ve done deep dives on three of his stories, and now THE MAN HIMSELF, multi-award winning science fiction author Ted Chiang, joins us to explore the post-apocalyptic world of the video-game SOMA. You play Simon Jarrett, a man who goes for a brain scan
2021-May-11 • 105 minutes
Episode 212: Follow Your Nose (with Yoel Inbar)
Canada’s leading Russian literature scholar Yoel Inbar joins us to try to make sense of Gogol’s 1836 short story “The Nose.” A nose goes missing from a Russian official’s face and winds up in the barber’s loaf of bread. A few hours later, the
2021-Apr-20 • 106 minutes
Episode 211: To Live and Die in Kurosawa's "Ikiru"
"Sometimes I think of my death," Akira Kurosawa said, "I think of ceasing to be...and it is from these thoughts that Ikiru came.” David and Tamler explore what it means to truly live in Kurosawa’s 1952 masterpiece about a bureaucrat in postwar Japan w
2021-Apr-06 • 121 minutes
Episode 210: The Priming of the American Mind (with Jesse Singal)
Journalist, podcaster, and rapper Jesse Singal joins us to talk about his new book The Quick Fix, positive psychology (scam?), cancel culture in the media and academia (overblown?), Substack incentives, and lots more. Plus David and Tamler argue about the
2021-Mar-23 • 97 minutes
Episode 209: Basic Instincts (with Paul Bloom)
VBW favorite Paul Bloom joins us to talk about William James’ account of instinct and its parallels to the nativism/empiricism debates in developmental psychology today. Also discussed: Richard Dawkins trolling philosophy, the ghost in Tamler’s kitche
2021-Mar-09 • 102 minutes
Episode 208: Dream Theater
We’ve always had nothing but praise for neuroscientists and their work, and today is no exception. We talk about a fantastically rich and ambitious essay by Erik Hoel that offers a theory of dreams and connects it to storytelling, the self, and the impo
2021-Feb-23 • 89 minutes
Episode 207: Sometimes a Paper Tray is Just a Paper Tray
David and Tamler wander through the maze of Room 237, the great documentary by Rodney Ascher about five people and their views about what Stanley Kubrick’s "The Shining" is really about. When do interpretations become conspiracy theories? Why does Asche
2021-Feb-09 • 98 minutes
Episode 206: Angel Chasing (Ted Chiang's "Hell is the Absence of God")
David and Tamler return to the TCU (Ted Chiang Universe) to talk about his short story “Hell is the Absence of God." How would we behave if we had unequivocal proof of God, heaven, hell, and angels? Would that answer our questions about meaning and purp
2021-Jan-26 • 93 minutes
Episode 205: Making Your Nervous System Your Ally (William James on "Habit")
Ever wonder why you’re still listening to VBW all of these years? Or why you check your phone 50 times a day? Or why you put on your pants the same way every morning? (If you still wear pants these days.) David and Tamler talk about William James’ ess
2021-Jan-12 • 97 minutes
Episode 204: Happy Freedom Day! (with Lauren Anderson)
The legendary Houston Ballet dancer Lauren Anderson joins us to talk about the Atlanta Episode “Juneteenth” (Season 1, Episode 9), a hilarious exploration of race, class, identity, and carrying around your sister’s underwear. But first David and Tam
2020-Dec-22 • 95 minutes
Episode 203: Gorgias, Tell Me Something I Don't Know (with Agnes Callard)
Philosopher Agnes Callard joins us to talk about Plato and his dialogue the Gorgias. Why did Plato write dialogues – are they the best way of presenting arguments? Is Plato cheating when characters contradict themselves by making dumb concessions, or is
2020-Dec-08 • 92 minutes
Episode 202: Not as It Ought to Be (H.P. Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space")
A phosphorescence casts a pale sickly glow on David and Tamler as talk only in verbs and pronouns about H.P. Lovecraft’s 1927 story “The Colour Out of Space.” What is this creature or substance that has color only by analogy, that spreads through ea
2020-Nov-24 • 117 minutes
Episode 201: Very Bad Lizard People
David and Tamler dive deep into the psychology and epistemology of conspiracy theories. What makes people so prone to believe in complex malevolent plots that require meticulous organization and utter secrecy at the highest levels of power? Are some consp
2020-Nov-03 • 105 minutes
Episode 200: Our 200th Episode Spectactular
David and Tamler celebrate their 200th episode with bourbon and a return to their potty humor roots. First we talk about holes, zoom dicks, and the election. Then we relitigate our bitter debate (from episode 45) over gender, toys, and balanced play diets
2020-Oct-20 • 100 minutes
Episode 199: When Philosophy Goes Sideways
David and Tamler check out some recent work in metaphysics and applied ethics. Does playing a Nina Simone song sideways show that Einstein was wrong about spacetime? Does a Dali painting nailed to the wall backwards have intrinsic value (see figure 1)? Is
2020-Oct-06 • 92 minutes
Episode 198: Is Mental Illness a Myth? (Thomas Szasz's "The Myth of Mental Illness")
David and Tamler explore Thomas Szasz’s provocative and still relevant 1961 book “The Myth of Mental Illness,” the topic selected by our beloved Patreon supporters. When we think of mental disorders as “diseases,” are we making a category mistak
2020-Sep-22 • 113 minutes
Episode 197: The Long Slow Death That Is Life
The psychologist Yoel Inbar has always tried to imbue his work with a sort of interiority, and now he joins us for a deep dive into Charlie Kaufman’s baffling and distressing new film “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.” Why does Jessie Buckley’s na
2020-Sep-08 • 110 minutes
Episode 196: The Loneliest Paper in Philosophy
She’s beautiful, smart, funny, and head over heels in love with you. There’s only one problem – she’s from a possible world, not the actual one. What we thought would be a funny opening segment idea turns into a semi-serious discussion of Neil Si
2020-Aug-25 • 116 minutes
Episode 195: Jesus on Trial (Dostoevsky's "The Brothers Karamazov")
David and Tamler dive into the most celebrated and philosophically rich scenes in Dostoevsky’s masterpiece "The Brother’s Karamozov." Alyosha gets in the middle of a rock-fight, Ivan Karamazov makes a devastating moral case against God, and the Grand
2020-Aug-11 • 114 minutes
Episode 194: God Has No Mother (with Chris Matheson)
David and Tamler welcome special guest Chris Matheson - co-writer of the "Bill and Ted" movies and author of "The Story of God" and "The Buddha’s Story" - to talk about religion, immortality, comedy, Freud, and why the secret ingrediet to good satire is
2020-Jul-21 • 88 minutes
Episode 193: Free Wanting (Frankfurt's "Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person")
David and Tamler want to go old school and discuss a classic Frankfurt paper on free will. But do they want to want that? Are they free to want what they want to want? Are they free to will what they want to will or to have the will they want? And if th
2020-Jul-07 • 97 minutes
Episode 192: Postmodern Wet Dreams (Borges' "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote")
David and Tamler dive into “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” a very funny Borges story that also raises deep questions about authorship, reading, and interpretation. What would it mean for the same text to be written by two different authors mor
2020-Jun-23 • 97 minutes
Episode 191: All the Rage
A lotta anger out there right now, but does it do more harm than good? Is anger counterproductive, an obstacle to progress? And even if it is, can anger still be appropriate? We talk about two excellent articles on anger by the philosopher Amia Srinivasan
2020-Jun-09 • 121 minutes
Episode 190: We Pod. We Pod-Cast. We Podcast. (Frankfurt’s “On Bullshit”)
David and Tamler talk about police violence, the protests, and Harry Frankfurt's journal article turned bestseller ”On Bullshit." Plus we dive into a comic masterpiece of late capitalism: the University of Oregon's brand guidelines.
2020-May-26 • 98 minutes
Episode 189: The Anality of Evil (Freud's "Civilization and its Discontents")
David and Tamler dive into Sigmund Freud’s world of unconscious drives, death instincts, and thwarted incestuous urges in his classic text “Civilization and its Discontents.” If society has made so much progress, why are human beings perpetually dis
2020-May-12 • 102 minutes
Episode 188: Conceptual Mummies (Nietzsche's "Twilight of the Idols")
Socrates was ugly and tired of life, his dialectic was a weapon of revenge against the nobility. Philosophers are mummies who hate the body and the senses. Reason is a tricky old woman. Morality is a misunderstanding. Kant is a sneaky Christian. And don't
2020-Apr-21 • 101 minutes
Episode 187: More Zither
With a global pandemic and a collapsing economy upon us, it's time to ask ourselves some tough questions. Sex robots or platonic love robots - what are you more excited for? If you walked in on your partner with one of them, which would make you more je
2020-Apr-07 • 90 minutes
Episode 186: The One with Peter Singer
The legendary Peter Singer joins us to talk about effective altruism, AI, animal welfare, esoteric morality, future Tuesday indifference, and more. I mean, it’s Peter freakin’ Singer - what more do we need to say? Plus, the explosive ‘one or two spa
2020-Mar-24 • 85 minutes
Episode 185: The Devil's Playground
David and Tamler begin by talking about the question on everyone’s mind right now – are we obligated to be pansexual? Then, since many of us have more free time on our hands these days, we thought it might be a good idea to revisit Bertrand Russell’
2020-Mar-17 • 87 minutes
Bonus Episode: Top 5 Deadwood Characters
Here's something that might help with the Coronavirus blues: we're releasing our latest Patreon bonus episode for everyone. In this (unedited) episode, Tamler and David talk about their Top 5 "Deadwood" characters. If you've seen the show, let us know if
2020-Mar-10 • 85 minutes
Episode 184: Tainted Glove
David and Tamler start off talking about the infamous Richard Dawkins eugenics tweet. What does it mean for eugenics to “work”? And given the sensitive nature and horrific history of eugenics, is it wrong to raise the topic even if you’re just focus
2020-Feb-25 • 99 minutes
Episode 183: Accept the Mystery (with Paul Bloom)
VBW favorite Paul Bloom takes a short break from his Sam Harris duties to help us break down the Coen Brothers' ode to uncertainty, "A Serious Man." Does inaction have consequences? Can you understand the cat but not the math? Why are there Hebrew letters
2020-Feb-11 • 118 minutes
Episode 182: The Paper That Launched a Thousand Twitter Wars (With Yoel Inbar)
Podcasting legend Yoel Inbar (from Two Psychologists Four Beers) joins us to break down Tal Yarkoni's "The Generalizability Crisis,” the paper that launched a thousand Twitter wars. Psychologists make verbal claims about the world, then conduct studies
2020-Jan-28 • 129 minutes
Episode 181: The Fraudulence Paradox (David Foster Wallace's "Good Old Neon")
Our whole lives we’ve been frauds. We’re not exaggerating. Pretty much all we’ve ever done is try to create a certain impression of us in other people. Mostly to be liked or admired. This episode is a perfect example, Tamler pretending to be a cinep
2020-Jan-14 • 116 minutes
Episode 180: Chekhov's Schrödinger's Dagger (Kurosawa's "Rashomon")
Eleventh Century Japan. A samurai and his wife are walking through the forest and come across a bandit. The bandit attacks the samurai and has sex with/rapes his wife. A woodcutter finds the samurai, stabbed to death. Who killed the samurai and with what
2019-Dec-24 • 123 minutes
Episode 179: Talking Shit
David and Tamler wrap up the decade with an episode on trash-talking that morphs into a debate over the value of experimental inquiry. Participants in a lab put more effort into a slider task after they’re insulted by a confederate. Do experiments like
2019-Dec-10 • 101 minutes
Episode 178: Borges' Obsession-Obsession ("The Zahir")
David and Tamler happen across Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Zahir” and now they can’t stop thinking about it. What is the ‘Zahir’ – this object that can take many forms and that consumes the people who find it? What does it represent? Is it the f
2019-Nov-26 • 125 minutes
Episode 177: Pure Linguistic Chauvinism
Tamler learns something new about menstruation. David weighs in on the democratic debates and the impeachment hearings. Then we map the various social and political factions onto the factions in our respective fields. Who are establishment neoliberals of
2019-Nov-12 • 108 minutes
Episode 176: Split-Brains and the (Dis)Unity of Consciousness
David and Tamler discuss famous 'split brain' experiments pioneered by Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga. What happens when you cut off the main line of communication between the left and right hemispheres of our brain? Why under certain conditions do th
2019-Oct-29 • 103 minutes
Episode 175: At Least We Didn’t Talk About Zombies (Nagel’s “What is it Like to be a Bat?”)
We try (with varying success) to wrap our heads around Thomas Nagel’s classic article “What is it Like to be a Bat?" Does science have the tools to give us a theory of consciousness or is that project doomed from the outset? Why do reductionist or fun
2019-Oct-15 • 107 minutes
Episode 174: More Chiang for Your Buck ("Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom" Pt. 2)
Is character destiny, or can fluky decisions or tiny shifts in weather patterns fundamentally change who we are? Does the existence or non-existence of alternate universes have any bearing on freedom and responsibility? David and Tamler conclude their dis
2019-Oct-01 • 100 minutes
Episode 173: Talking to Your (Alternate) Self [Ted Chiang's "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom"]
David and Tamler dive back into the Ted Chiang well and explore the fascinating world described in "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom." What if you could interact with alternate versions of yourself - versions that made different choices, had different
2019-Sep-17 • 101 minutes
Episode 172: Are You Free (to like the Chappelle special)?
David and Tamler start out with a discussion of the new Chappelle special and the negative reaction from many critics. Is Chappelle trolling his audience? Has he lost touch with the powerless people he used to champion? Or have critics missed his larger p
2019-Aug-27 • 92 minutes
Episode 171: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Theodicy? (The Book of Job)
David and Tamler dive back into the Bible, this time to the perplexing and poetic Book of Job. What does this book have to say about the theodicy, the problem of evil? Why does Job (and his children) have to suffer so much just so God can prove a point to
2019-Aug-13 • 110 minutes
Episode 170: Social Psychology Gets an Asch-Kicking
Is social psychology just a kid dressing up in grown-up science clothes? Are the methods in social psychology--hypothesis-driven experiments and model-building--appropriate for the state of the field? Or do these methods lead to a narrowing of vision, sti
2019-Jul-30 • 110 minutes
Episode 169: A Bug's Life (Kafka's "The Metamorphosis")
David and Tamler try to control their emotions (with varying success) as they go deep into Franz Kafka's masterful novella "The Metamorphosis." What kind of a story is this? A Marxist or religious allegory? A work of weird fiction? A family drama? A dark
2019-Jul-16 • 93 minutes
Episode 168: The Big Lebowski vs Pulp Fiction (Pt. 2)
It's Part 2 of the Lebowski vs. Pulp Fiction showdown. This time we focus on the Dude, Walter, Donny, and most importantly Jesus Quintana. (Nobody fucks with the Jesus). What's the ethos of this stoner masterpiece? Is it a nihilstic movie? A deconstructio
2019-Jul-03 • 68 minutes
Episode 167: The Big Lebowski vs Pulp Fiction (Pt. 1)
There are only two kinds of people in the world, Pulp Fiction people and Big Lebowski people. Now Pulp Fiction people can like Big Lebowski and vice versa, but nobody likes them both equally. Somewhere you have to make a choice. And that choice tells you
2019-Jun-18 • 109 minutes
Episode 166: Total Recall (Ted Chiang's "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling")
Memory is highly selective and often inaccurate. But what if we had an easily searchable video record of all our experiences and interactions? How would that affect our relationships? What would it reveal about our characters and our sense of who we ar
2019-Jun-04 • 136 minutes
Episode 165: Life With No Head (With Sam Harris)
Sam Harris returns to the podcast to talk about meditation and his new _Waking Up_ meditation app. What are the goals of mindfulness practice - stress reduction and greater focus, or something much deeper? Can it cure David's existential dread? Tamler's f
2019-May-14 • 82 minutes
Episode 164: Choosing to Believe
David and Tamler argue about William James' classic essay "The Will to Believe." What's more important - avoiding falsehood or discovering truth? When (if ever) is it rational to believe anything without enough evidence? What about beliefs that we can't b
2019-May-01 • 94 minutes
Episode 163: Should I Stay or Should I Go? (Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas")
David and Tamler are pulled into Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas." Omelas is a truly happy city, except for one child who lives in abominable misery. Is that too high a moral cost? Why do some people walk away from the city? Why do
2019-Apr-16 • 87 minutes
Episode 162: Parents Just Don't Understand (with Paul Bloom)
As parents we like to think we have an impact on our children - their future, their happiness, the kinds of people they turn out to be. But are we deluded? Dave and Tamler are joined by empathy's kryponite, the great Paul Bloom, to talk about Judith Rich
2019-Apr-02 • 85 minutes
Episode 161: Reach-Around Knowledge and Bottom Performers (The Dunning-Kruger Effect)
The less we know, the more we know it. David and Tamler talk about the notorious Dunning-Kruger effect, which makes us overconfident in beliefs on topics we're ignorant about and under-confident when we're experts. Plus, we break down an evolutionary psyc
2019-Mar-19 • 94 minutes
Episode 160: Everything is Meaningless: The Book of Ecclesiastes
David and Tamler dive into the book of Ecclesiastes, an absurdist classic that is somehow also a book of the Bible. Is everything meaningless, vain, and a chasing after the wind? Are humans just the same as animals? Are wise people no better off than fool
2019-Mar-05 • 76 minutes
Episode 159: You Have the Right to Go to Prison
Poor and black defendants have more legal rights than ever, but that didn't stop mass incarceration. Why is that? We talk about a paper by Paul Butler called "Poor People Lose: Gideon and the Critique of Rights." Plus, we answer the question that’s on
2019-Feb-19 • 96 minutes
Episode 158: False Dichotomies and Oral Reciprocity
David and Tamler talk about the invasion of dual process theories in psychology. Why do we love theories that divide complex phenomena into just two categories? Is there any evidence to back up these theories? Are we distorting our understanding of the mi
2019-Feb-05 • 81 minutes
Episode 157: Notes From Underground (Pt. 2)
David and Tamler continue their discussion of Dostoevsky's funny, sad, philosophical novella _Notes From Underground_. We focus on part 2 this time - three stories from the Underground Man's past - and explore what the stories tell us about his existentia
2019-Jan-22 • 104 minutes
Episode 156: Notes From Underground (Pt. 1)
We’re sick men. We’re spiteful men. We’re unpleasant men. We think our livers are diseased (especially Tamler’s). So we talk about Dostoevsky’s wild, complex, stream of consciousness masterpiece _Notes From Underground_. For this episode we focu
2019-Jan-08 • 99 minutes
Episode 155: Alfred Hitchcock's Money Shot
David and Tamler dive deep into Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 hallucinatory classic, "Vertigo". Why does this movie seem to gain stature among critics and academics every year? Is this a really a exploration of Hitchcock's own obsessions and sexual repression?
2018-Dec-18 • 117 minutes
Episode 154: Metaphysical Vertigo (Borges's "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius")
In the famous words of the idealist philosopher George Berkeley, “To exist is to be perceived.” Our ideas and perceptions are the fundamental objects in the universe; there is no real world beyond them. Hume wrote (I think) that Berkeley’s arguments
2018-Dec-04 • 107 minutes
Episode 153: Progress in Psychology: A Reply to BootyBootyFartFart
David dies for science’s sins and addresses the failed replication of one of his studies (conducted with three former VBW guests) by the _Many Labs Project_. But first, the guys try to gauge their intuitions about the phenomenal experience of their mole
2018-Nov-20 • 81 minutes
Episode 152: Ruthlessness, Public and Private
Tamler and David continue their Nagel-gazing by discussing another essay from _Mortal Questions_: "Ruthlessness in Public Life." Why do we treat the immorality of politicians, military leaders, and others in power differently than the immorality of indivi
2018-Nov-06 • 124 minutes
Episode 151: Viddy Well, My Listeners (Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange")
There was me, that is Tamler, and my droog, that is David, and we sat in our living rooms on Skype trying to make up our rassoodocks what Stanley Kubrick's a Clockwork Orange was really about? Free will? We didn't think so. Punishment? Yeah but what about
2018-Oct-23 • 86 minutes
Episode 150: Paul Bloom Insisted That We Talk About Sex Robots
What better way to celebrate our 150th episode than to bring back our favorite guest – Paul Bloom! We riff on a series of topics: the new “grievance studies” hoax, sex robot brothels, perverse desires, and perverse beliefs. Then we get a little nave
2018-Oct-02 • 102 minutes
Episode 149: Death, Immortality, and Porn (Intuition) Pumps
Is living forever a good thing? Could we maintain our values and personal attachments throughout eternity? Would we be motivated to accomplish anything? Can we make sense of a human life that doesn't have a fixed endpoint? We try to alleviate David's para
2018-Sep-19 • 101 minutes
Episode 148: Am I Wrong?
Tamler wades into a Twitter controversy about Serena Williams - could this be his fast-track pass into the IDW? And since we're talking about that, why not throw in a discussion of Louis CK's surprise set at the Comedy Cellar? In the second segment, we st
2018-Sep-04 • 103 minutes
Episode 147: Effective Altruism and Moral Uncertainty (with The One True Scotsman, Will MacAskill)
Oxford philosophy professor Will MacAskill joins us to talk about effective altruism, moral uncertainty, and why you shouldn’t eat your grandmother (even if consequentialism is true). How should we act when we’re not sure which moral theory is the rig
2018-Aug-21 • 73 minutes
Episode 146: Sore Losers (Does Sports Make Us Unhappy?)
Is being a sports fan irrational? Does it lead to more suffering than happiness? David and Tamler discuss a recent study that suggests the answers to these question is "yes." But does the study really capture what it means to be a sports fan, and how it c
2018-Aug-07 • 97 minutes
Episode 145: Lost in Borges' Garden
David and Tamler go deep into Borges’ labyrinth to discuss the fascinating, multi-dimensional story “The Garden of Forking Paths.” What is the underlying reality of this story? What demands does Borges make of his readers? What is Borges telling us
2018-Jul-24 • 84 minutes
Episode 144: Borges' Babylon
David and Tamler try to wrap their heads around Jorge Luis Borges' “The Library of Babel” – a short story about a universe/library that contains every possible book with every possible combination of characters. How many books would this library co
2018-Jul-10 • 100 minutes
Episode 143: The Psychology of Personality
David and Tamler tackle the topic selected by their Patreon supporters - the psychology of personality. What are the different dimensions of personality that distinguish one person from another? How many dimensions are there - do the Big Five capture all
2018-Jun-26 • 91 minutes
Episode 142: Suicide (with Matthew Nock)
In what has to be the most somber VBW to date, David and Tamler welcome Harvard psychologist Matthew Nock to the podcast to talk about suicide and other forms of self-harm. Matt tells us what we know – and what we don’t know - about the causes of sui
2018-Jun-05 • 81 minutes
Episode 141: Implicit Bias
David and Tamler tackle the topic of implicit bias and the controversy surrounding the implicit association test (IAT). What is implicit bias anyway? Does it have to be linked to behavior in order to truly count as a "bias"? Has the IAT been overhyped as
2018-May-22 • 93 minutes
Episode 140: Milgram's Mice
Honor shmonor, David and Tamler return to their repugnant roots for this one. First, we pay an overdue homage to the great anonymous blogger and twitter-redeemer Neuroskeptic. We pick a few of our favorite pithy tweets and crazy science article links from
2018-May-12 • 91 minutes
Episode 139: Honor, Identity, and Headbutts
It took two tries (the first one led to a big non-productive fight), but David and Tamler end up with a good discussion of honor and its connection to identity, pride, and personal relationships. Why have we rejected honor in favor of dignity? What are th
2018-Apr-24 • 106 minutes
Episode 138: Memory, Pain, and Relationships (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Award-winning screenwriter and medieval philosophy scholar Yoel Inbar joins us for a deep dive on the Charlie Kaufman/Michel GondREY masterpiece Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. When relationships go bad is it better to believe they never happened?
2018-Apr-10 • 79 minutes
Episode 137: Are Buddhists Afraid to Die? (with Shaun Nichols)
Why are we always attracted to people who mock us, resist our advances, and play hard to get? Maybe because it’s extra satisfying when you finally get them to… appear on your podcast. In our first live episode (recorded in San Antonio), the philosophe
2018-Mar-27 • 92 minutes
Episode 136: The Good Life (with Laurie Santos)
From Very Bad Wizards to Megyn Kelly Today back to Very Bad Wizards, Laurie Santos has traveled the typical trajectory of the celebrity academic. Laurie joins us to talk about her cult status after creating the most popular course in Yale University histo
2018-Mar-13 • 77 minutes
Episode 135: Utilitarianism and Moral Identity
David and Tamler take a break from complaining about psychological studies that measure utilitarianism to complain about the moral theory itself. We talk about one of the most famous critiques of utilitarianism from Bernard Williams. Does utilitarianism a
2018-Feb-27 • 112 minutes
Episode 134: Digital Outrage (with Molly Crockett)
It's been 5 years since Molly Crockett has been guest on VBW. During that time she's completed a post-doc at University College, London and become a professor at Yale University. And we're...well, we're still doing the podcast. Today Molly joins us to tal
2018-Feb-06 • 75 minutes
Episode 133: Death and Dreams
David and Tamler talk about the nature of death. Is being dead a bad thing? If so, what makes it bad? How can anything be bad for a subject that no longer exists? We didn't have a problem with oblivion for the thirteen billion years before we were born, w
2018-Jan-23 • 96 minutes
Episode 132: Emotional Willpower (with David DeSteno)
What's the best way to build self-control, patience, productivity, and delayed marshmallow eating? For decades psychologists and economists have told us to develop traits like willpower and grit. But psychologist David DeSteno describes a better, easier,
2018-Jan-09 • 100 minutes
Episode 131: I Have No Genitals and I Must Scream
David and Tamler break down two episodes (with full spoilers) from the new season of Charlie Brooker's bleaker-than-bleak Netflix series Black Mirror. First up, "The USS Callister," a Star Trek parody that becomes a meditation on fandom, humiliation, and
2017-Dec-26 • 93 minutes
Episode 130: Dehumanization and Disintegration (with Paul Bloom)
In this Very Special Boxing Day edition of the podcast, Tamler and David welcome back honorary Third Wizard Paul Bloom to discuss his latest article in the New Yorker about dehumanization and cruelty. Is it really the case that we dehumanize in order to h
2017-Dec-12 • 106 minutes
Episode 129: Dystopias
David and Tamler assert their autonomy as individuals by discussing their favorite dystopian works of art. Rebelling against a repressive regime, they refuse to sacrifice their privacy, uniqueness, and reproductive freedom. Through sheer force of will - t
2017-Nov-28 • 110 minutes
Episode 128: Fragmented Values and Sex Panics (with Christina Hoff Sommers)
David and Tamler keep their Nagel streak alive, discussing the essay "The Fragmention of Value" from his collection "Mortal Questions." How should we address our fragmented moral landscape, with multiple sources of value that can't be reduced or systemati
2017-Nov-14 • 85 minutes
Episode 127: Moral Luck
David and Tamler dip back into the Thomas Nagel well, and discuss the problem of "moral luck." Why do we blame drunk drivers who hit someone more than drunk drivers who make it home OK? Why do we judge people for things that are beyond their control (whe
2017-Oct-24 • 92 minutes
Episode 126: The Absurd
Is life meaningless? Are we just glorified dung beetles, pushing around our piles of poop with no greater purpose? What would it take for life to actually be meaningful? In this episode, Tamler and David discuss Thomas Nagel’s essay on the sense of mean
2017-Oct-10 • 92 minutes
Episode 125: Can You Feel It?
What do we mean when we say someone is angry? Can we identify anger (or any other emotion) via facial expressions, physiological changes, or neural markers? Is anger simply a feeling, something that happens to us, or does it involve a judgment? How much c
2017-Sep-26 • 82 minutes
Episode 124: Dr. Strawson or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Episodic Life
Do you think of your life as a story? Does your life have a narrative structure or form? Do you identify with your past selves and your future selves? If not, can you live a good life, a moral life, an authentic life? Can you feel guilt, regret, and resen
2017-Sep-12 • 88 minutes
Episode 123: What Chilling Effect? (Intelligence Pt. 2)
It’s Part 2 of the Patreon listener selected episode! David and Tamler continue their discussion on intelligence from our last episode by tackling the radioactive topic of group differences and IQ. Are there reliable differences in IQ across races? Give
2017-Aug-29 • 101 minutes
Episode 122: Nothing but a "G" Thing (Intelligence Pt. 1)
David and Tamler do their best to talk frankly about intelligence and IQ research. (It's our Patreon listener-selected topic! We probably would never have chosen this one on our own...). Is intelligence a meaningful, definable concept? Can we reliably tes
2017-Aug-15 • 90 minutes
Episode 121: The Beauty of Illusion - David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive"
Guest Yoel Inbar joins David and Tamler to break down David Lynch’s dreamy masterpiece Mulholland Drive. (FULL SPOILERS – watch before you listen!) What’s real and what’s illusion? What happens when our illusions unravel? How do expectations affec
2017-Jul-25 • 107 minutes
Episode 120: Clap Your Hand for Robert Wright
Special guest Robert Wright joins the podcast to discuss his latest book "Why Buddhism is True." What is the Buddhist conception of not-self? When we become aware that the boundaries between us and the world are fluid, what is the “we” that arrives at
2017-Jul-12 • 86 minutes
Episode 119: A Brief History of Values
What happens when we discover why we believe the things we believe? What if we discover that our values are the product of our cultural tradition, or personal experience, or natural selection? Should we be more skeptical of our values once we learn their
2017-Jun-28 • 73 minutes
Episode 118: We Don't Love Them Hoax
David and Tamler try to put the topic of campus politics to bed once and for all – with limited success. First, we get into a big fight about the prevalence and danger of political correctness in American universities. We junked that recording, and trie
2017-Jun-13 • 71 minutes
Episode 117: Extended Minds, Extended Foreskins
David and Tamler break down a recent classic in the philosophy of mind: "The Extended Mind" by Andy Clark and David Chalmers. What is boundary of your mind? Is it contained with your body, or does it extend to the external environment--to your laptop, not
2017-May-31 • 77 minutes
Episode 116: Pain, Pleasure, and Peer-Reviewed Penises
David and Tamler break down the latest small-stakes academic controversy--yes the one about conceptual penises. Does the recent "Sokal-like" hoax expose the ideological extremism of gender studies? Or does it show that certain portions of the "skeptic" c
2017-May-16 • 97 minutes
Episode 115: Which Field is More Fu@%ed: Philosophy or Psychology?
David and Tamler go ambulance chasing for scandals in their own fields. Inspired by a tweet from Jay Van Bavel, they argue about which of their disciplines--philosophy or psychology--is more completely and irredeemably fucked. Is the recent controversy at
2017-May-04 • 81 minutes
Episode 114: Great Vengeance and Furious Anger (Top 5 Movies About Revenge)
Somehow, after 113 episodes David and Tamler have never done a top 5 movie episode about revenge (so unbelievable that we had to double-check). That changes today. Among the things we learned: good revenge movies are harder to find than we thought, reveng
2017-Apr-18 • 78 minutes
Episode 113: Pascal, Probability, and Pitchforks
David and Tamler break down what may be the best argument that it's rational to believe in God: Pascal's Wager. (No, we're not just trolling our Sam Harris listeners.) Does the expected value of believing in God outweigh the probability that you're wrong?
2017-Apr-04 • 92 minutes
Episode 112: Gettier Goggles
For four years Tamler has been bitching about Gettier cases without even explaining what they are or why he hates them. That ends today. David and Tamler talk about the famous paper that challenged the (widespread? non-existent?) notion that knowledge is,
2017-Mar-22 • 63 minutes
Episode 111: Our Language Doesn't Have a Word For This Title (with Yoel Inbar)
In Part 2 of our episode with film scholar Yoel Inbar (AOS: Quebecois New Wave Cinema), we break down the philosophy and psychology of the movie Arrival.
2017-Mar-14 • 42 minutes
Episode 110: Stepsisters and Neck Braces (with Yoel Inbar)
Special guest Yoel Inbar joins Tamler and David to discuss the Charles Murray protest at Middlebury College (and the top porn searches by State).
2017-Feb-28 • 72 minutes
Episode 109: Moral Pluralism: Behind the Lube
Tamler and Dave discuss moral pluralism.
2017-Feb-07 • 75 minutes
Episode 108: The Gimp Exception
Tamler and David discuss moral hypocrisy.
2017-Jan-24 • 81 minutes
Episode 107: Winking Under Oppression (with Manuel Vargas)
Philosopher Manuel Vargas joins us to talk about moral responsibility under oppression.
2017-Jan-10 • 78 minutes
Episode 106: American Grandstand
David and Tamler take a break from moral grandstanding to talk about moral grandstanding, focusing on a recent paper by philosophers Justin Tosi and Brandon Warmke.
2016-Dec-28 • 83 minutes
Episode 105: Wizards With (Reactive) Attitudes
Tamler and David discuss the increasingly trollish nature of Aeon Magazine articles, then discuss (and argue about) philosopher Victoria McGeer's 2012 article "Co-reactive attitudes and the making of moral community."
2016-Dec-14 • 94 minutes
Episode 104: Smelling Salts for Morality: Our Top 3 Movies About Empathy (with Paul Bloom)
Paul Bloom joins Tamler and David to discuss their picks for the top three movies about empathy.
2016-Nov-29 • 67 minutes
Episode 103: Very Bad Utopias
David and Tamler give thanks to their listeners and Patreon supporters with an episode chosen by our top Patreon subscribers--the drafting of a "constitution" for our very own Utopia.
2016-Nov-15 • 98 minutes
Episode 102: Red, Black, and Blue
Tamler and David talk about the 2016 US presidential election, and more serious things like Black Mirror's "San Junipero" episode.
2016-Nov-01 • 88 minutes
Episode 101: Having Desert and Eating It Too
David and Tamler argue over how much we can learn about moral responsibility from the way we attribute blame and praise in the domains of art and sports.
2016-Oct-13 • 98 minutes
Episode 100: It's a Celebration
David and Tamler celebrate their 100th episode with champagne, bourbon, an online test of our moral judgments, and an AMA.
2016-Sep-27 • 123 minutes
Episode 99: Mockingbirds, Destructo-Critics, and Mr. Robot
David and Tamler tackle claims of decepto-criticism in psychology, discuss the dilemmas of 7th grade theater production, and have a lengthy discussion of Mr. Robot Season 2.
2016-Sep-13 • 82 minutes
Episode 98: Mind the Gap
David and Tamler tackle the naturalistic fallacy.
2016-Aug-30 • 83 minutes
Episode 97: Dogmatic Slumber Party
David and Tamler take on motivated reasoning and our biased processing of information to favor positions we are predisposed to believe.
2016-Aug-16 • 87 minutes
Episode 96: Memory and Meaning in "Memento" (with Paul Bloom)
Paul Bloom joins us to discuss Christopher Nolan's "Memento."
2016-Aug-09 • 30 minutes
Bonus Episode: More Doobie-ous Theories About "Mr. Robot" (Season 2)
In this bonus emergency episode Tamler and David talk about mid-season Mr. Robot (S2) theories.
2016-Aug-02 • 89 minutes
Episode 95: The Repugnance of Repugnance
Tamler and David tackle the emotion of disgust and the role it should play in moral judgment
2016-Jul-19 • 97 minutes
Episode 94: Buttery Friendships
Tamler and David discuss Nancy Sherman's thoughts on Aristotle, Stoicism, and how to live a good, happy life.
2016-Jul-05 • 99 minutes
Episode 93: Avalanches, Blame, and Cowardice (With Yoel Inbar)
Tamler and David are joined by VBW regular Yoel Inbar to discuss the themes of cowardice and character in the recent Swedish film "Force Majeure."
2016-Jun-21 • 69 minutes
Episode 92: Jonathan Edwards' Basement
David and Tamler discuss Jonathan Bennett's classic paper "The Conscience of Huckleberry Finn."
2016-Jun-07 • 84 minutes
Episode 91: Rage Against the Machines
Tamler and David discuss a recent article that claims that an algorithm used to predict criminal behavior is racially biased, and argue about the wisdom of using algorithms across other domains in life.
2016-May-25 • 81 minutes
Episode 90: Of Mice and Morals
David and Tamler have their first real fight in a while over an article defending "social mixing"--distributing babies randomly across families such that no infant is genetically related to the parents who raise them. Then they discuss a study published i
2016-May-10 • 98 minutes
Episode 89: Shame on You (with Jennifer Jacquet)
David and Tamler welcome author and environmental science professor Jennifer Jacquet to the podcast to discuss the pros and cons of shame.
2016-Apr-26 • 81 minutes
Episode 88: A Doobie for Elijah
David and Tamler celebrate Passover with a high-spirited episode on guns, revenge, liberals, being offended, the fear of death, and whether kids have a right to be loved.
2016-Apr-12 • 80 minutes
Episode 87: Lucky You (with Robert Frank)
The economist Robert Frank joins us for a discussion of success and luck.
2016-Mar-22 • 75 minutes
Episode 86: Guns, Shame, and the Meaning of Punishment
Tamler and David discuss the meaning of punishment and the recent decision in Texas that will allow students to carry guns on campus.
2016-Mar-12 • 70 minutes
Episode 85: A Zoo with Only One Animal (with Paul Bloom)
Philosophers can be funny and funny movies can be philosophical. David and Tamler welcome frequent VBW guest and arch-enemy of empathy Paul Bloom to discuss their five favorite comic films with philosophical/psychological themes.
2016-Feb-23 • 93 minutes
Episode 84: Lifting the Veil
Tamler and David discuss Bernard Williams' "Rawls and Pascal's Wager"
2016-Feb-09 • 62 minutes
Episode 83: Ego Trip
Tamler and David discuss Anthony Greenwald's classic article "The Totalitarian Ego."
2016-Jan-26 • 66 minutes
Episode 82: Totalitarian Slide-Rulers
Tamler and David discuss Isaiah Berlin's influential essay, "Two Concepts of Liberty"
2016-Jan-12 • 107 minutes
Episode 81: Domo Arigato, Mr. Robot (With Yoel Inbar)
Special guest Yoel Inbar joins Dave and Tamler to talk about the best show of last year. Warning: This episode is full of spoilers. Do not listen until you've seen Season 1 of Mr. Robot.
2015-Dec-21 • 101 minutes
Episode 80: The Coddling of the Wizard Mind (with Vlad Chituc and Christina Hoff Sommers)
It's our last episode on campus protests and political correctness for a while, we promise! But it's a fun one. David and Tamler welcome two guests on the opposite side of the debate spectrum: Recent Yale Alum, cognitive scientist, freelance writer, (and
2015-Dec-04 • 108 minutes
Episode 79: Good Lives, Good Friends, and Gay Mormons (with Valerie Tiberius)
Special guest Valerie Tiberius joins us to talk about values, well-being, and friendship. In the first segment, David and Tamler list a few things they're grateful for on Thanksgiving, including you, the listeners (awwwwww...).
2015-Nov-24 • 69 minutes
Episode 78: Wizards Uprising
David and Tamler return to the minefield of campus politics and talk about recent events at Yale, Missouri, and Amherst. Are the protests are long overdue response to systematic oppression and prejudice? Or is this new generation of students coddled, hype
2015-Nov-09 • 80 minutes
Episode 77: On the Moral Nature of Nazis, Jerks, and Ethicists (with Eric Schwitzgebel)
Special guest Eric Schwitzgebel joins David and Tamler to discuss the moral behavior (or lack thereof) of ethicists. Does moral reflection make us better people, or does it just give us better excuses to be immoral? Who's more right about human nature--Me
2015-Oct-26 • 63 minutes
Episode 76: Cha-Cha-changes
David and Tamler list three things they've changed their minds about in their careers.
2015-Oct-06 • 150 minutes
Episode 75: A Golden Shower of Guests
Dave and Tamler celebrate their 75th episode by welcoming six BFFs of the podcast and asking them to share the biggest thing they've changed their minds about in their professional careers.
2015-Sep-16 • 114 minutes
Episode 74: Lies, Damned Lies, and Ashley Madison
David and Tamler return after an end of summer hiatus to finally talk about the ethics of deception….eventually. But first they break down recent article in the journal "Science" documenting an attempt to replicate 100 recent psychology experiments.
2015-Aug-12 • 69 minutes
Episode 73: Authentic Apes and Infinite Torture
In what is possibly our most repugnant first segment ever, David and Tamler break down the ethics of zoophilia and investigate the true nature of consent. In the second segment we answer some listener emails and address our first question in our new
2015-Jul-28 • 93 minutes
Episode 72: Tweenie Turing Tests, AI, and Ex Machina (with Joshua Weisberg)
It finally happened: David and Tamler welcome special guest Joshua Weisberg to the podcast to talk about Turing machines, Chinese Rooms, and AI. Plus, a spoiler-filled discussion of the recent movie "Ex Machina."
2015-Jul-14 • 67 minutes
Episode 71: The Murky Morals and Mysterious Metaphysics of "Mr. Robot"
David and Tamler go deep into the best TV show of the summer, "Mr. Robot."
2015-Jun-29 • 95 minutes
Episode 70: Some Favorite Things
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, papers by Williams and movies from Sweden. Long graphic novels that celebrate being. These are a few of our favorite things.
2015-Jun-17 • 94 minutes
Episode 69: CHiPs on Our Shoulders (Lessons in Objectivity)
Dave and Tamler try to figure out what we talk about when we talk about objectivity.
2015-Jun-01 • 74 minutes
Episode 68: Risky, Reckless, and Regretful
Dave drags Tamler into the nerd abyss by making him watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (“Tapestry,” from the 6th season). We talk about the themes of the episode: regret, risk aversion, the arrogance of hindsight, and the dream of livi
2015-May-18 • 77 minutes
Episode 67: Funny How?
Dave and Tamler break the cardinal rule of comedy by trying to analyze it. What are the origins and functions of humor? Can a theory explain what makes us laugh? Is humor entirely subjective?
2015-Apr-20 • 85 minutes
Episode 66: Übermensch at Work
Special guest Yoel Inbar joins us to talk about Hitchcock’s masterpiece/gimmick "Rope."
2015-Apr-06 • 79 minutes
Episode 65: Philocalypse Now
Holy crap, it's the apocalypse!!!!...for philosophy. Maybe.
2015-Mar-19 • 73 minutes
Episode 64: Believing in a Just World
Dave and Tamler talk about the human tendency to believe in a just world. Why do we have the belief? Does it make us less motivated to fight injustice? How does it connect to our beliefs about free will and punishment?
2015-Feb-28 • 167 minutes
Episode 63: Stalemates and Closets (with Sam Harris)
Sam Harris gets back in the VBW ring for another round on moral responsibility, ethical theories, and the grounds for our obligations to other people.
2015-Feb-09 • 61 minutes
Episode 62: Brain Jizz and "Black Mirror"
Dave and Tamler discuss a new study that, according to Tamler, offers decisive support for restorative approaches to criminal punishment (the only problem is he didn't read past the introduction). And speaking of justice, we talk about "White Bear"--the m
2015-Jan-19 • 75 minutes
Episode 61: Putting a Little Meaning in Your Life
Dave and Tamler take a break from blame and responsibility to tackle a much easier subject: meaning in life.
2015-Jan-02 • 73 minutes
Episode 60: Drunk on Intuitions
Dave and Tamler argue some more about the role of emotion and intuition in blame judgments, and then offer some moral psychology-related recommendations for your New Year’s viewing and reading pleasure.
2014-Dec-16 • 152 minutes
Episode 59: Tumors All the Way Down (With Sam Harris)
Bestselling author and friend of the podcast Sam Harris joins Tamler and Dave for a marathon podcast. (Seriously, pack two pairs of astronaut diapers for this one).
2014-Dec-02 • 90 minutes
Episode 58: Do the Right Thing (with Yoel Inbar)
Film critic, VBW regular, and social psychologist Yoel Inbar joins David and Tamler to talk about Spike Lee's controversial 1989 film "Do the Right Thing," a movie about a day in the life of a small Brooklyn community on the hottest day of summer, and how
2014-Nov-18 • 46 minutes
Episode 57: Free Willie
David and Tamler talk about a new study that links your belief in free will to the fullness of your bladder. How do our bodily states influence our metaphysical commitments? What's the best way to measure beliefs about free will? Can you get your prostate
2014-Nov-03 • 71 minutes
Episode 56: Moral Heroes and Drunk Utilitarians
Following up their discussion of moral villains, Dave and Tamler argue about what makes a moral hero. Tamler defends Sharon Krause’s view that honor values can motivate heroic behavior. Dave accuses Tamler of being inconsistent...
2014-Oct-21 • 78 minutes
Episode 55: Rooting for Evil (With Paul Bloom)
Paul Bloom joins us to talk all things villainous -why we sometimes root for the bad guys, why we admire them even when we don't, why they are much more compelling than some of our heroes.
2014-Sep-24 • 78 minutes
Episode 54: Pooping on Ecstasy (Pain, Pleasure, and the Ethics of Breeding)
Tamler and David get bullied into talking about "anti-natalism," (the view that it is unethical to bring a being into existence), and to defend our ethical position as "breeders." Well, one of us defends it, at least. The other one? Well, you'll have to j
2014-Sep-08 • 75 minutes
Episode 53: The Psychology People Love to Hate (Evolutionary Psychology Pt.1)
Dave and Tamler take a shot at answering the question: what is an evolutionary psychologist?
2014-Aug-25 • 77 minutes
Episode 52: Thought Experiments (Huh!) What Are They Good For? (Part 2)
Experience Machines, Chinese Rooms, Original Positions, and Ice Buckets ("I don't know what you have in mind for this evening Homer, but count me out!") Dave and Tamler continue their discussion on thought experiments--how they can be effective, the diffe
2014-Aug-12 • 79 minutes
Episode 51: Zombies, Trolleys, and Galileo's Balls
Dave and Tamler talk about the value and purposes of thought experiments in philosophy and science.
2014-Jul-15 • 87 minutes
Episode 50: Keeping it Unreal
We honestly can't believe we made it to 50 episodes, so we must be brains in a vat. But we play along and celebrate with...a movie episode! We list our five favorite films about the subjective or questionable nature of reality. Our only rule: we couldn't
2014-Jun-23 • 104 minutes
Episode 49: Psychopaths and Contrastivizzzzzzzz (With Walter Sinnott-Armstrong)
Special guest Walter Sinnott-Armstrong joins the podcast to explain how his theory which desperately needs a new name ("contrastivism") can dissolve most of the fundamental problems and paradoxes in philosophy.
2014-Jun-09 • 68 minutes
Episode 48: Restorative Circle Jerk
Dave and Tamler take a mulligan and try to resolve their conflict about restorative justice. Do restorative processes lead to more just outcomes than other approaches? Is it more vulnerable to instances of prejudice and bias? Is revenge a form of restorat
2014-May-22 • 62 minutes
Episode 47: Schooled By Our Listeners
Tamler and David leech off of their listeners and dedicate an episode to their favorite comments, questions, and criticisms from the past few weeks (but not before Tamler goes on a rant about bicycle helmets).
2014-May-05 • 64 minutes
Episode 46: The Real Josh Knobe
May I have your attention please? Will the real Josh Knobe please stand up? Will the real... [you know what, screw this--we're just dating ourselves.] X-phi phenom Josh Knobe rejoins the podcast to talk about the true self, naked people, gay preachers, an
2014-Apr-21 • 68 minutes
Episode 45: Rounded Brains and Balanced "Play Diets"
A British tabloid article about kids, brains, and spatial skills somehow provokes the biggest argument ever on the podcast. Dave and Tamler get into it about gender, toys, properly rounded brains, and balanced "play diets."
2014-Apr-05 • 69 minutes
Episode 44: Killer Robots
David and Tamler argue about the use of autonomous robots and drones in warfare. Could it lead to less suffering during wars and afterwards? Would nations be motivated to design robots that behave ethically on the battlefield? Can...
2014-Mar-17 • 50 minutes
Episode 43: The Nature of Nudges
Dave and Tamler talk about a recent study that seems to support the view that "justice is what the judge had for breakfast" (or at least how long ago the parole board had breakfast), and we discuss the ethics of "nudges" in government and consumer marketi
2014-Mar-03 • 68 minutes
Episode 42: Reason, Responsibility, and Roombas (With Paul Bloom)
Can a fully determined creature deliberate? How big a role does conscious reasoning play in moral judgment and everyday life? Are we responsible for our thoughts and actions? Paul Bloom rejoins us against his better judgment to discuss his book "Just Babi
2014-Feb-19 • 98 minutes
Episode 41: Moral Dilemmas at the Movies
Dave keeps trying to explain to Tamler that we're not a movie podcast, but somehow they're doing another podcast about movies. This time they each list their top 5 movies featuring moral dilemmas. Also, Tamler tries to rationalize the Woody Allen controve
2014-Feb-03 • 80 minutes
Episode 40: How Many Moralities Are There? Pt. 2 (with Jesse Graham)
Jesse Graham joins us for part 2 of our discussion on the nature of morality, and his recent paper on Moral Foundations Theory. He highlights the key components of MFT, defends himself against our accusations of weaseling out of the normative implications
2014-Jan-20 • 60 minutes
Episode 39: How Many Moralities Are There? (Pt.1)
Dave and Tamler bounce back this week after having to trash the last episode. Does morality ultimately boil down to a single principle (such as harm or justice), or is there more to ethical life than is dreamt of in the minds of philosophers? We settle th
2013-Dec-31 • 81 minutes
Episode 38: The Greatest Movies Ever Made about Personal Identity
Who is the real you? What happens to your identity when your body gets cloned or reconstituted with all the same memories and character traits? Does society construct our true selves or repress them? Can we ever escape our pasts and become different peopl
2013-Dec-17 • 46 minutes
Episode 37: Porn, Poop, and Personal Identity (with Nina Strohminger)
The guest we've been waiting for--Nina Strohminger--joins us to talk about the connection between disgust and humor, cheap laughs, moral character and personal identity, and the British opt-in plan for porn.
2013-Nov-25 • 55 minutes
Episode 36: An Irresponsible Meta-Book Review of Joshua Greene's "Moral Tribes"
Our most irresponsible episode ever! Dave and Tamler talk about two reviews of a book they haven't read--Joshua Greene's "Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them"--and feel only a little shame.
2013-Nov-11 • 61 minutes
Episode 35: Douchebags and Desert
Dave and Tamler talk about the influence of character judgments on attributions of blame. What is the function of the blame--to assign responsibility or to judge a person's character? Is it fair that we blame douchebags more than good people who commit ex
2013-Oct-28 • 74 minutes
Episode 34: Does Reading Harry Potter Make You Moral? (with Will Wilkinson)
Special guest Will Wilkinson joins the podcast to talk about whether fiction makes us better people, and to discuss his recent Daily Beast article that trashed Dave's profession and livelihood.
2013-Oct-14 • 57 minutes
Episode 33: Monkeys, Smurfs, and Human Conformity (With Laurie Santos)
Special guest Laurie Santos (Psychology, Yale) joins us to talk about what animal cognition can tell us about human nature. Why are other primates better at resisting the misleading influence of others than humans? Is conformity a byproduct of our sophist
2013-Sep-30 • 79 minutes
Episode 32: Disagreeing About Disagreement
Part II of our discussion on Rai and Fiske (sort of): We answer a listener's email and in the process get into an episode long argument about moral intuitions, psychological facts, the implications of moral disagreement.
2013-Sep-16 • 55 minutes
Episode 31: An Anthropologist's Guide to Moral Psychology (Pt. 1)
In the first of a two-part episode, we discuss one of our favorite recent papers--Tage Rai and Alan Page Fiske's 2011 paper on how social relationships shape and motivate our moral emotions and judgments. We also talk about Sam Harris' $20,000 "Mora
2013-Sep-02 • 72 minutes
Episode 30: The Greatest Books Ever Written
Dave and Tamler celebrate their one year anniversary and 30th episode with one of their least cynical episodes yet. They talk about 5 philosophy/psychology(-ish) books that influenced and inspired them throughout the years.
2013-Aug-19 • 48 minutes
Episode 29: PEDs, Tenure Pills, and "Hyberbolic Chambers"
Dave and Tamler try to artificially bulk up their expertise on the ethics of performance enhancing drugs and end up raising a lot more questions than they answer.
2013-Aug-05 • 69 minutes
Episode 28: Moral Persuasion
Dave and Tamler try their best to do a show without guests--we talk about moral persuasion, motivated reasoning, and whether it's legitimate to use emotionally charged rhetoric in a philosophical argument. Plus, we describe how students proceed through th
2013-Jul-22 • 82 minutes
Episode 27: You, Your Self, and Your Brain (With Eddy Nahmias)
Our streak of very special guests continues! Philosopher Eddy Nahmias joins the podcast to us why people mistakenly think they're not morally responsible, and how his new study casts doubt on Sam Harris's view on free will. Eddy also describes his new pro
2013-Jul-08 • 82 minutes
Episode 26: Evolution and Sexual Perversion (with Jesse Bering)
Psychologist and author Jesse Bering joins us to talk about evolutionary psychology and his forthcoming book "Perv." In the relatively uncontroversial part of the episode, we ask if homophobia is an adaptation and if women have evolved rape defenses. Aft
2013-Jun-24 • 58 minutes
Episode 25: Burning Armchairs (with Joshua Knobe)
Josh Knobe, the Michael Corleone of experimental philosophy, joins us to talk about taking philosophy into the lab and the streets. We discuss how people moralize everyday concepts like intention, causation, and innateness. Dave wonders if X-phi people ar
2013-Jun-10 • 83 minutes
Episode 24: The Perils of Empathy (with Paul Bloom)
Paul Bloom joins us in the second segment for a lively discussion about the value of empathy as a guide our moral decisions. And in our first scoop, we talk about Paul's new book "Just Babies: The Origin of Good and Evil,"racist babies, and how 80s
2013-May-27 • 76 minutes
Episode 23: Straw Dogs (with Yoel Inbar)
Dave, Tamler, and special guest Yoel Inbar break down Sam Peckinpah's brilliant (at least according to one of us) 1971 film Straw Dogs.
2013-May-12 • 64 minutes
Episode 22: An Enquiry Concerning Slurs and Offensiveness
In what might very well be the last episode before we're pulled off the air, Tamler outlines his data-free "theory" of what makes something offensive. What makes a joke about race, ethnicity, gender, disability funny sometimes, and deeply hurtful at other
2013-May-06 • 93 minutes
Episode 21: Grad School
Dave and Tamler shrug off inside baseball concerns and argue whether to go to grad school, what to do when you get there, and share horror stories about the job market.
2013-Apr-21 • 60 minutes
Episode 20: Boston, Brains, and Bad Pronunciation (with Molly Crockett)
Dave and Tamler begin with a brief, heartfelt discussion about the Boston Bombings. In the second and third segments, Molly Crockett joins us to challenge Fiery Cushman for the prize of classiest episode ever.
2013-Apr-06 • 63 minutes
Episode 19: The Burning Bridges Episode (Pt. 2)
Re-recording a not-so-tragically lost episode (it kinda sucked), Dave and Tamler talk about the things they hate most about philosophy and psychology.
2013-Mar-22 • 50 minutes
Episode 18: "Boy If Life Were Only Like This" (With Joe Henrich)
Joe Henrich joins the podcast to tell us that we know nothing about his work and that how we got to teach a class in anything is absolutely amazing. We continue our discussion from Episode 17 about his critique of the social and behavioral sciences in "Th
2013-Mar-16 • 50 minutes
Episode 17: Learning about Bushmen by Studying Freshmen?
Thousands of studies in psychology rely on data from North American undergraduates. Can we really conclude anything about the "human" mind from such a limited sample-- especially since Westerners are probably more different from the rest of the world's po
2013-Mar-02 • 60 minutes
Episode 16: Race, Reparations, and American (In)Justice (with Damani McDole)
For those who thought our most uncomfortable topics were behind us, on this episode we are joined by David's childhood friend Damani McDole to discuss several potentially offensive topics surrounding race and justice in America, such as slavery, reparatio
2013-Feb-16 • 54 minutes
Episode 15: The Burning Bridges Episode (Pt. 1)
You don't need to be a psychologist or a philosopher to enjoy a good, old-fashioned bitch-fest. In the first of a two-part episode (no single compact disc, 8-track, or LP could hold all our complaints), Tamler and David list two of the things that bug the
2013-Feb-08 • 27 minutes
Episode 14: Bonus Episode on Snitches, Tattletales, and Whistleblowers
In a break from tradition, we recorded a 25-minute episode on the morality of tattletaling, snitching, ratting, and whistleblowing. We discuss why these people seem especially despicable (except for maybe "Bubbles" from "The Wire" and the guy from "The In
2013-Jan-22 • 60 minutes
Episode 13: Beanballs, Blood Feuds, and Collective Moral Responsibility (With Fiery Cushman)
Our classiest episode yet (OK, that's not saying much, but still...)--Psychologist Fiery Cushman joins us for a discussion about collective punishment and collective responsibility. We use Fiery's recent paper on the practice of "beaning" in baseball (pun
2013-Jan-14 • 73 minutes
Episode 12: Justice for #!$@ ?
Dave and Tamler square off the role of the victim in criminal punishment and find little to agree about. Tamler defends the restorative justice approach, while Dave expresses skepticism about its value and worries it might even be damaging.
2012-Dec-28 • 76 minutes
Episode 11: It is Morally Wrong to Kill Morgan Freeman (with Yoel Inbar)
Social psychologist Yoel Inbar joins Tamler and David to discuss Clint Eastwood's masterpiece of the Western genre: "Unforgiven." The discussion includes the nature of revenge, the requirements of justice, the rules of nicknaming, and who or what was bein
2012-Dec-11 • 59 minutes
Episode 10: Religion, Meaning, and Morality
Does life have meaning if there is no God? Why should I be a good person if there's no reward or punishment waiting for me in the afterlife? Why does religion seem to make people happier and healthier? Dave and Tamler heroically try to answer these questi
2012-Dec-03 • 69 minutes
Episode 9: Social Psychology, Situationism, and Moral Character
After discussing some listener feedback about the movie Swingers, Tamler and David talk about two classic experiments in social psychology: the Milgram Experiments and the Zimbardo Prison experiment. They discuss the power of the situation, its influence
2012-Nov-12 • 71 minutes
Episode 8: Dishonesty, Character, and Dan Ariely
In a very special episode of Very Bad Wizards, Dan Ariely joins David to chat about cheating, character, and the importance of moral rules. Tamler and David sandwich the chat with a discussion about the US Presidential election, the irony of moral psycho
2012-Nov-04 • 67 minutes
Episode 7: Psychopaths and Utilitarians Pt. 2 (Now with more poo poo)
Tamler and David continue their discussion of utilitarian psychopaths (and psychopathic utilitarians), then broaden the discussion to include disgust and empathy. In the end, they resolve all questions about the proper role of emotions in moral judgment.
2012-Oct-20 • 62 minutes
Episode 6: Trolleys, Utilitarians, and Psychopaths (Part 1)
Tamler contemplates ending it all because he can't get 'Call Me Maybe' out of his head, and Dave doesn't try to talk him out of it. This is followed by a discussion about drones, psychopaths, Canadians, Elle Fanning, horrible moral dilemmas, and the bigge
2012-Oct-08 • 65 minutes
Episode 5: Revenge, Pt. 2: The Revenge
Dave and Tamler continue their discussion about their favorite topic. They talk about the evolutionary origins of retributive behavior, cross-cultural differences in revenge norms, and the proportionate punishment for someone who gives your wife a foot ma
2012-Sep-20 • 52 minutes
Episode 4: Revenge, Pt. 1
Dave allows Tamler to rant about Sam Harris’s straw man attacks on moral relativism before launching into discussion about revenge, justice, "True Grit," and Michael Dukakis. Though they differ on many issues, Tamler and Dave agree that it’s hard to s
2012-Sep-08 • 62 minutes
Episode 3: "We believe in nothing!" (Cultural diversity, relativism, and moral truth)
Tamler and Dave discuss recent work in philosophy and psychology about the differences in moral values and practices across cultures.
2012-Sep-01 • 74 minutes
Episode 2: The "Dangerous Truth" about Free Will (Free Will and Morality, Pt. 2)
Tamler and David discuss whether giving up our belief in free will makes us more likely to abandon our moral standards.
2012-Aug-30 • 71 minutes
Episode 1: Brains, Robots, and Free Will (Free Will and Morality Pt. 1)
Dave and Tamler talk about the new wave of skepticism about free will and moral responsibility in the popular press from people like Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne, and argue that neuroscientific data adds little of substance to the case other than telling u