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Science Salon

Science Podcasts

In the tradition of the Enlightenment salons that helped drive the Age of Reason, Science Salon is a series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, scholars, and thinkers, about the most important issues of our time.

In the tradition of the Enlightenment salons that helped drive the Age of Reason, Science Salon is a series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, scholars, and thinkers, about the most important issues of our time.

Location:

Altadena, California

Description:

In the tradition of the Enlightenment salons that helped drive the Age of Reason, Science Salon is a series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, scholars, and thinkers, about the most important issues of our time.

Language:

English

Contact:

1-626-794-3119


Episodes

104. Judith Finlayson — You Are What Your Grandparents Ate: What You Need to Know About Nutrition, Experience, Epigenetics and the Origins of Chronic Disease

2/18/2020
In this wide ranging conversation Judith Finlayson reviews the research she writes about in her new book that takes conventional wisdom about the origins of chronic disease and turns it upside down. Rooted in the work of the late epidemiologist Dr. David Barker, it highlights the research showing that heredity involves much more than the genes your parents passed on to you. Thanks to the relatively new science of epigenetics, we now know that the experiences of previous generations may show...

Duration:01:25:15

103. Robert Frank — Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work

2/11/2020
Psychologists have long understood that social environments profoundly shape our behavior, sometimes for the better, often for the worse. But social influence is a two-way street — our environments are themselves products of our behavior. Under the Influenceexplains how to unlock the latent power of social context. We are building bigger houses, driving heavier cars, and engaging in a host of other activities that threaten the planet — mainly because that's what friends and neighbors do. In...

Duration:01:49:06

102. Christopher Ryan — Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress

2/4/2020
Most of us have instinctive evidence the world is ending — balmy December days, face-to-face conversation replaced with heads-to-screens zomboidism, a world at constant war, a political system in disarray. We hear some myths and lies so frequently that they feel like truths: Civilization is humankind’s greatest accomplishment. Progress is undeniable. Count your blessings. You’re lucky to be alive here and now. Well, maybe we are and maybe we aren’t. Civilized to Deathcounters the idea that...

Duration:01:44:45

101. Hugo Mercier — Not Born Yesterday: The Science of Who We Trust and What We Believe

1/28/2020
Not Born Yesterday explains how we decide who we can trust and what we should believe — and argues that we’re pretty good at making these decisions. Hugo Mercier demonstrates how virtually all attempts at mass persuasion — whether by religious leaders, politicians, or advertisers — fail miserably. Drawing on recent findings from political science and other fields ranging from history to anthropology, Mercier shows that the narrative of widespread gullibility, in which a credulous public is...

Duration:01:59:15

100. Episode Special: Ask Me Almost Anything

1/21/2020
In this 100 episode of the Science Salon podcast Dr. Shermer gives a brief overview and history of the salon and how it evolved from the Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech, which began in 1992, along with the founding of the Skeptics Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit science education organization, and it’s publication Skepticmagazine. Following this brief history Dr. Shermer answers questions sent to him on social media, on such topics as: Listen to Science Salon via Apple...

Duration:01:01:45

99. Bobby Duffy — Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything: A Theory of Human Misunderstanding

1/14/2020
What percentage of the population are immigrants? How bad is unemployment? How much sex do people have? These questions are important and interesting, but most of us get the answers wrong. Research shows that people often wildly misunderstand the state of the world, regardless of age, sex, or education. And though the internet brings us unprecedented access to information, there’s little evidence we’re any better informed because of it. We may blame cognitive bias or fake news, but neither...

Duration:01:33:32

98. Robert Pennock — An Instinct for Truth: Curiosity and the Moral Character of Science

1/7/2020
An exploration of the scientific mindset — such character virtues as curiosity, veracity, attentiveness, and humility to evidence — and its importance for science, democracy, and human flourishing. Exemplary scientists have a characteristic way of viewing the world and their work: their mindset and methods all aim at discovering truths about nature. In An Instinct for Truth, Robert Pennock explores this scientific mindset and argues that what Charles Darwin called “an instinct for truth,...

Duration:01:59:32

97. Amber Scorah — Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life

12/31/2019
In this revealing conversation Amber Scorah opens the box into the psychology of religious belief to show how, exactly, religions and cults convince members that theirs is the one true religion, to the point, she admits, that she would have gladly died for her faith. As a third-generation Jehovah’s Witness, Amber Scorah had devoted her life to sounding God’s warning of impending Armageddon. She volunteered to take the message to China, where the preaching she did was illegal and could result...

Duration:01:35:31

96. Catherine Wilson — How to Be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well

12/24/2019
In this wide-ranging conversation the philosopher Catherine Wilson makes the case that if the pursuit of happiness is the question, Epicureanism is the answer. Not the mythic Epicureanism that calls to mind gluttons with gout or an admonition to eat, drink, and be merry. Instead, in her new book How to Be an Epicurean, Wilson shows that Epicureanism isn’t an excuse for having a good time: it’s a means to live a good life. Although modern conveniences and scientific progress have...

Duration:01:11:51

95. John Martin Fischer — Death, Immortality and Meaning in Life

12/17/2019
John Martin Fischer’s Death, Immortality, and Meaning in Lifeoffers a brief yet in-depth introduction to the key philosophical issues and problems concerning death and immortality. In this wide-ranging and thoughtful conversation, Shermer and Fisher discuss: John Martin Fischer is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, and a University Professor at the University of California. He is coauthor of Near-Death Experiences: Understanding Visions of the...

Duration:01:34:39

94. David Leiser — How We Misunderstand Economics and Why it Matters

12/10/2019
This is the first book to explain why people misunderstand economics. From the cognitive shortcuts we use to make sense of complex information, to the metaphors we rely on and their effect on our thinking, this important book lays bare not only the psychological traits that distort our ability to understand such a vital topic, but also what this means for policy makers and civil society more widely. Shermer and Leiser dive into the mismatch between the complexities of economics and the...

Duration:01:22:38

93. Geoffrey Miller — Virtue Signaling: Essays on Darwinian Politics & Free Speech

12/2/2019
Michael Shermer talks with the polymathic polyamorous sapiosexual classically liberal evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller about: Geoffrey Miller is a tenured evolutionary psychology professor at University of New Mexico. He’s been writing and teaching about the origins and functions of moral virtues for decades. His previous books include The Mating Mind, Spent, Mating Intelligence, and What Women Want. He got his B.A. from Columbia University, and his Ph.D. from Stanford University....

Duration:02:04:19

92. Tim Samuels — Future Man: How to Evolve and Thrive in the Age of Trump, Mansplaining, and #MeToo

11/19/2019
If ever there was an urgent need for a frank understanding of what’s going on with men, it is now. Male rage and frustration have driven resurgent populism, mass shootings, and epidemics of addiction and violence. Powerful men who have abused their positions for decades have been and are being #MeToo-outed and dismissed. The patriarchy, that solid bedrock of male power for thousands of years, seems to be crumbling. In Future Man, with his characteristic intelligence and humor, Tim Samuels...

Duration:01:47:11

91. James Traub — What Was Liberalism? The Past, Present, and Promise of a Noble Idea

11/12/2019
In this wide-ranging conversation James Traub and Michael Shermer discuss: James Traub has spent the last forty years as a journalist for American’s leading publications, including the New Yorker and the New York Times magazine. He now teaches foreign policy and intellectual history at New York University and at NYU Abu Dhabi, and is a columnist and contributor at Foreign Policy. He is the author of six previous books on foreign and domestic affairs. His most recent work is John Quincy...

Duration:01:21:29

90. Melvin Konner — Believers: Faith in Human Nature

11/5/2019
World renowned biological anthropologist Mel Konner examines the nature of human nature, including and especially in his new book the nature of religiosity. In Believers, Konner, who was raised in an orthodox Jewish home but has been an atheist his entire adult life, responds to attacks on faith by some well-meaning scientists and philosophers, most notably the “new atheists” Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens―known for writing about religion as something...

Duration:01:39:17

89. Richard Dawkins — Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide

10/29/2019
In 12 fiercely funny, mind-expanding chapters, Richard Dawkins explains how the natural world arose without a designer — the improbability and beauty of the “bottom-up programming” that engineers an embryo or a flock of starlings — and challenges head-on some of the most basic assumptions made by the world’s religions. In this wide-ranging conversation Shermer and Dawkins discuss: Outgrowing God Richard Dawkins is a fellow of the Royal Society and was the inaugural holder of the Simonyi...

Duration:00:40:08

88. Daniel Oberhaus — Extraterrestrial Languages

10/22/2019
The endlessly fascinating question of whether we are alone in the universe has always been accompanied by another, more complicated one: if there is extraterrestrial life, how would we communicate with it? In his book Extraterrestrial Languages, Daniel Oberhaus leads readers on a quest for extraterrestrial communication. Exploring Earthlings’ various attempts to reach out to non-Earthlings over the centuries, he poses some not entirely answerable questions. If we send a message into space,...

Duration:01:21:25

87. Douglas Murray — The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity

10/15/2019
In his devastating new book The Madness of Crowds, Douglas Murray examines the 21 century’s most divisive issues: sexuality, gender, technology and race. He reveals the astonishing new culture wars playing out in our workplaces, universities, schools and homes in the names of social justice, identity politics and intersectionality. We are living through a postmodern era in which the grand narratives of religion and political ideology have collapsed. In their place have emerged a crusading...

Duration:01:10:44

86. Neil deGrasse Tyson — Letters from an Astrophysicist

10/8/2019
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has attracted one of the world’s largest online followings with his fascinating, widely accessible insights into science and our universe. Now, Tyson invites us to go behind the scenes of his public fame by revealing his correspondence with people across the globe who have sought him out in search of answers. In this hand-picked collection of 101 letters, Tyson draws upon cosmic perspectives to address a vast array of questions about science, faith,...

Duration:01:08:28

85. Deepak Chopra — Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential

10/1/2019
In this conversation long-time adversaries and now friends Michael Shermer and Deepak Chopra make an attempt at mutual understanding through the careful unpacking of what Deepak means when he talks about the subject-object split, the impermanence of the self, nondualism, the mind-body problem, the nature of consciousness, and the nature of reality. Shermer also pushes Deepak to translate these deep philosophical, metaphysical, and psychological concepts into actionable take-home ideas that...

Duration:00:55:11