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Conversations about philosophy, science, religion and spirituality

Conversations about philosophy, science, religion and spirituality
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Conversations about philosophy, science, religion and spirituality




Spirituality East and West (Robert Wright & Michael Holleran)

Father Michael's 22 years as a Carthusian Monk ... The contemplative tradition in Christianity ... How Zen captivated Father Michael ... Do Buddhist and Hindu mystics experience the same thing? ... Zen's influence on Father Michael’s theology ... God, creation, and evolution ... What insights does Christianity add to Buddhism? ... Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's influence on Father Michael ...


What Is Action? (Daniel Kaufman & Massimo Pigliucci)

What distinguishes “action” from simple motor movement? ... Can animals take deliberate action? ... Why narrative has a place in science and physics ... Biology, evolution, and the emergence of action ... Why does Massimo want a beer? ... Dan: The “free will problem” is ill-formed ... How the evolution of language brought meaning to human behavior ... Massimo and Dan's latest projects ...


How Beauty Leads Physics Astray (Robert Wright & Sabine Hossenfelder)

Sabine's new book, Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray ... Sabine: There’s no reason to think the four fundamental forces can be unified ... What "beauty" means to a physicist ... The weirdness of the Higgs Boson ... Must there be an explanation for the fundamental forces? ... Sabine: Multiverse theory isn't science ... What Sabine wants physicists to be doing instead of chasing beauty ...


Evolutionary Biologist Robert Trivers (John Horgan & Robert Trivers)

A social theory based on natural selection ... "This whole gender thing that’s blown up in the last 10 years..." ... Women, men, and intelligence ... Could evolutionary psychology explain honor killings? ... “The older I get, the more I turn to prayer and meditation” ... Robert’s recurring problem with spite ...


The New Cosmic Story (Robert Wright & John Haught)

The prescience of theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin ... Teilhard's synthesizing of the "above" and the "ahead" ... John: The creation of humans is not the universe's climax ... John: God is "not yet" ... Science and faith as different layers of explanation ... Searching for God in a scientific age ... Why John rejects perennialism ... Questions from the live audience ...


Does Compatibilism Solve Free Will? (Robert Wright & Eddy Nahmias)

Explaining “compatibilism,” the view that there’s no conflict between free will and determinism ... Without free will, what happens to moral responsibility? ... Eddy tells Bob he errs in saying determinism means events are "inevitable" ... Free will is hard to imagine, but not nonsensical ... Why most philosophers today are compatibilists ... Bob: Compatibilists are just playing word games ... Were prisoners destined from birth to wind up in prison? ... Waiting for the "Einstein of...


The Science of Animal Training (Aryeh Cohen-Wade & Rebecca Lohnes)

Rebecca's path from the Ivy League to an animal shelter ... The science of animal training ... The many reasons why you shouldn't try to be your dog's "alpha" ... What we know about animal personality ... What goes on inside an animal shelter? ... Is there such a thing as a "bad dog"? ... What's actually happening when your pet looks ashamed ... Aryeh and Rebecca debate whether their dog loves them ...


Coffee with Jesus, Meme Magick with Kek (Nikita Petrov & Tanya Luhrmann)

Tanya’s “local theory of mind” ... Harry Potter, prayer, and other “cultural invitations” ... Psychotherapy in the US and witchcraft in Ghana ... American individualism and Asian interdependence ... The differences between hearing God in Ghana and the US ... The Internet as externalized imagination: Pepe and Kek ... A “hyper-real God”: having coffee with Jesus ... Thoughts, perceptions, the world, and the self ...


Philosopher and Novelist Rebecca Goldstein: From Physics to Art (John Horgan & Rebecca Newberger Goldstein)

Rebecca’s childhood: poor, religious, and patriarchal ... How Bertrand Russell helped Rebecca lose her faith ... The problem of beauty ... When Rebecca shared a transcendent moment with a troop of baboons ... From physics to philosophy ... From philosophy to fiction ... Does art better address the mind-body problem than philosophy does? ... Reasons to feel optimistic about the world ...


How Soon Is Now? (Colin Pugh & Daniel Pinchbeck)

Daniel's book, How Soon Is Now? ... An example of a modern myth: the GDP ... Can society be reborn into new myths? ... Daniel: We need to devote most of our efforts to sustaining the health of the planet ... Why Daniel calls his beliefs "post-New Age" ... What is "neo-Shamanism"? ...


Gun Control and the Social Contract (Daniel Kaufman & David Ottlinger)

What role should guns play in a liberal society? ... What American deference to police says about authority and force ... Why we leave justice in the government’s hands ... Defining modern conservatism: Is Matt Lewis a “liberal”? ... Do pro-gun arguments consider the social contract? ... David: Do open-carriers want to live in a Mad Max movie? ... Dan: Grover Norquist’s model citizen isn’t a citizen at all ...


Ask a F*ck-Up (Aryeh Cohen-Wade & Brandy Jensen)

How Brandy came to write an advice column called "Ask a F*ck-Up" ... Young people's problems: depression, alienation, loneliness ... Brandy's central theme: the responsibilities we bear to each other ... Can "bad men" change? ... The different questions men and women ask ... Brandy: A "sex strike" would never work ... In defense of being in your own Twitter bubble ... Why are there so many depressed people on Twitter? ...


Philosopher Owen Flanagan: Doubt Yourself (John Horgan & Owen Flanagan)

Owen's transition from Catholicism to "quiet skepticism" ... The problem of evil ... The hubris of modern philosophers ... Can we live with the scientific image of man? ... The origin of the universe, life, and consciousness ... Owen: Doubt yourself ... Does philosophy lead to practical wisdom? ... Mind-altering chemicals and free will ...


The Neuroscience of Memory (Robert Wright & Eric Kandel)

The research on memory that won Eric the Nobel Prize ... The difference between normal memory loss and Alzheimer's ... Eric's new book, The Disordered Mind ... Eric's breakthrough study of marine snails with giant nerve cells ... What it's like to win the Nobel Prize ... Eric's childhood escape from Nazi-ruled Vienna to America ... Why Vienna was a center of intellectual ferment in the early 20th century ...


Scientology's "Tech," and Why You Should Care About It (Nikita Petrov & Tony Ortega)

Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard's most compelling story ... Hubbard as a writer ... Hubbard’s mystical experience during a dental surgery ... “Study tech”: Scientology’s obsession with dictionaries ... Bullbaiting, or pushing one’s buttons ... How Scientology teaches followers to identify enemies ... The Matrix scenario ...


Minding Emotions: Music Edition (Stephen Asma & Rami Gabriel)

Minding Emotions: music edition ... The emotional shift between minor and major chords ... Examining tonal dissonance in Western music ... When melodies become “pregnant with meaning” ... Why we find beauty in disharmony ... Rami: Social class and culture imbue music with meaning, too ... Is music hardwired in humans? ... How practicing art and music hones the eye and the ear ...


The Science Advice Goddess (Robert Wright & Amy Alkon)

Amy's self-help book, Unf*ckology ... Amy’s path from “the cooties girl” to advice columnist ... Impersonating your way to the real you ... How to overcome fear and anxiety ... Why shame is neither good nor bad ... Amy: Be authentic to your values, not to your self ... The wrong way to get people to change ...


Deepak Chopra: "I Don't Think There's a Universe" (John Horgan & Deepak Chopra)

Introducing the Mind-Body Problems podcast ... The controversy around Chopra's views on healthcare ... Does Deepak have an ulterior motive? ... Monistic materialism: there’s only matter ... Dualism: mind and matter are separate things ... Panpsychism: all matter is conscious ... Deepak’s consciousness-only theory ...


Human Clickbait (Aryeh Cohen-Wade & Max Read)

Viewing the Trump-Kanye meeting through the lens of mental illness ... The shared traits that make Trump and Kanye irresistible to the media ... How online news and social media created the "attention economy" ... Did reality TV remake reality? ... Jake and Logan Paul: brothers, YouTube superstars, and possible sociopaths ... How social media helps people with mental illness ...


The Lottocracy (Colin Pugh & Alex Guerrero)

Alex explains "lottocracy," a system using random selection to choose politicians ... Does democracy have to mean voting? ... Democratic systems as forms of technologies ... Imagining many legislatures, each devoted to a single issue ... Capture and accountability in elections ... How would randomly selected politicians learn about policy? ... Leveraging collective knowledge for political decisions ... Alex: Elections encourage short-term focus and tribalism ...