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The Michael Shermer Show

Science Podcasts

The Michael Shermer Show is a series of long-form conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

The Michael Shermer Show is a series of long-form conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

Location:

Altadena, California

Description:

The Michael Shermer Show is a series of long-form conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

Language:

English

Contact:

1-626-794-3119


Episodes

284. Yoram Hazony on Traditional Conservatism vs. Enlightenment Liberalism

6/28/2022
In this conversation based on his new book, political theorist Yoram Hazony argues that the best hope for Western democracy is a return to the empiricist, religious, and nationalist traditions of America and Britain, a distinctive alternative to divine-right monarchy, Puritan theocracy, and liberal revolution. After tracing the tradition from the Wars of the Roses to Burke and across the Atlantic to the American Federalists and Lincoln, Hazony describes the rise and fall of Enlightenment...

Duration:01:50:09

283. Michael Strevens — The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science

6/25/2022
Shermer and Strevens discuss: irrationality and how it drives science • the scientific method • the knowledge machine • irrationality • the replication crisis, what caused it, and what to do about it • verification vs. falsification • the iron rule of explanation • Bayesian reasoning vs. falsification • climate/evolution skeptics • model dependent realism • morality • humanism • theistic arguments for: God, origin of life, morality, consciousness • known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown...

Duration:01:32:21

282. Anil Seth on the Hard Problem of Consciousness, the Self, and the Essence of Volition

6/21/2022
Shermer and Seth discuss: “mind” and “consciousness” in context of understanding how molecules and matter give rise to such nonmaterial processes • controlled hallucinations • the hard problem of consciousness • the self and other minds • consciousness and self-awareness as emergent properties • Where does consciousness go during general anaesthesia? After death? • Star Trek TNG episode 138 “Ship in a Bottle”: a VR inside a VR that is indistinguishable from reality • Are we living in a...

Duration:02:09:33

281. Moneyball For Your Life: Seth Stephens-Davidowitz on Using Data to Get What You Really Want

6/18/2022
Most people rely on their gut instinct to decide how to date, who to marry, where to live, what career path to take, how to find happiness, but what if our gut is wrong? Biased, unpredictable, and misinformed, our gut, it turns out, is not all that reliable. Data from hundreds of thousands of dating profiles have revealed surprising successful strategies to get a date; data from hundreds of millions of tax records have uncovered the best places to raise children; data from millions of career...

Duration:01:41:49

280. Sam Rosenfeld on Party Polarization in the Postwar United States

6/14/2022
Shermer and Rosenfeld discuss: why we have a duopoly • gerrymandering • voting restrictions • how we know all elections are not rigged • abortion • immigration • US foreign policy • the rise of conservative and liberal think tanks • ideology • political polarization • political leanings of industrialists vs. tech billionaires and rural poor vs. urban poor • Trump and 2016, 2020, and 2024 (are we facing civil unrest as never seen before?), and more… Sam Rosenfeld is Associate Professor of...

Duration:02:00:47

279. Ian Morris on Deep Time and Big History

6/11/2022
Shermer and Morris discuss: the history of Big/Deep History • the US, UK, Europe and the West in the context of Russia and China and his book Why the West Rules — for Now • Russia’s war on Ukraine in the context of his book War: What is it Good For? • the future of energy and civilization in the context of his book Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels • “national character” • the similarities and differences in people from the US, UK, and Europe • China and the future of energy and political...

Duration:01:48:21

278. “Big Historian” David Christian on Time, the Near and Far Future, Transhumanism, Interstellar Migrations, the Fate of Our Species, and the End of Time

6/7/2022
The future is uncertain, a bit spooky, possibly dangerous, maybe wonderful. We cope with this never-ending uncertainty by telling stories about the future: future stories. How do we construct those stories? Where is the future, the place where we set those stories? Can we trust our future stories? And what sort of futures do they show us? David Christian is renowned for pioneering the emerging discipline of Big History, which surveys the whole of the past. In this conversation, he reveals...

Duration:01:47:45

277. Michel Gagné — How to Think About Conspiracy Theories

6/4/2022
As we approach the sixtieth anniversary of the violent public assassination of President John F. Kennedy, over half of all Americans surveyed continue to believe that he was killed by a conspiracy involving multiple assassins. Shermer and Gagné discuss: conspiracies and conspiracy theories • what role conspiracy theories play in society • who believes conspiracy theories and why • why conspiracy theorists rewrite the past • paranoid skepticism as a role in conspiracism • Oliver Stone’s...

Duration:02:03:23

276. Andrew Yang — Not Left. Not Right. Forward.

5/31/2022
Michael Shermer speaks with Andrew Yang about the Forward Party, the future of politics in a party duopoly, political partisanship, and how to bring about the change we need. This conversation is based on Yang’s new book Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy. Shermer and Yang discuss: why we have a political duopoly, instead of, say, 7 parties like in Germany • ranked-choice voting and open primaries • gerrymandering and voting restriction laws and policies • the Rational Public •...

Duration:01:08:00

275. The Disrupted Mind: Noga Arikha on What Happens to Identity When the Brain Is Assaulted by Disease and Injury

5/28/2022
Shermer and Arikha discuss: what it means for a mind to be disrupted • dementia, senility, and Alzheimer’s disease • mental illness and the labeling problem • the social construction of mental illness • neurology and psychiatry • agency and volition • memory and amnesia • autobiographical memory • self and embodied self • brain modularity • brain as a machine • emotions and cognition: bodily changes first then the awareness of the emotion • conversion disorder/hysteria • depression •...

Duration:01:13:21

274. Frans De Waal on Sex and Gender Across the Primate Spectrum

5/24/2022
What is gender? How different are men and women? Are differences due to biological sex or to culture? How do they compare with what is known about our fellow primates? Do apes also culturally learn their sex roles or is “gender” uniquely human? Shermer and de Waal discuss: sex and gender in humans, primates, and mammals • who you identify as vs. who you’re attracted to • binary vs. nonbinary vs. continuum: how fuzzy can human sex categories be for a sexually reproducing species? • gender...

Duration:01:27:56

273. Cathy Young — The Russian Riddle Wrapped in a Ukrainian Mystery Inside an American Enigma

5/21/2022
Shermer and Young discuss: Florida’s “Don’t say ‘gay’” law • What is the appropriate age to discuss sex and gender issues with children? • sex, gender, and trans matters • Critical Race Theory, race and racism, and age appropriate discussions • white privilege and racial profiling • social media and political polarization • Putin, Russia, and Ukraine • Is there a Russian character that differs from that of Europeans or Americans? • What is Putin’s character and what does he want? • Aleksandr...

Duration:02:05:52

272. Stuart Vyse — The Uses of Delusion: Why It’s Not Always Rational to Be Rational

5/17/2022
Shermer and Vyse discuss: What is a delusion? • veridical perception • perceptual illusions and irrationalities • Kahneman vs. Gigerenzer: rationality, irrationality, and bounded rationality • Rational Choice Theory and Homo economicus • William Clifford v. William James: When is it ok to believe anything upon insufficient evidence? • pragmatic truths, 3 conditions: living hypothesis, forced question, momentous • death and delusion: Is it useful to believe death is not the end of...

Duration:01:25:24

271. Peter Ward — The Price of Immortality: The Race to Live Forever

5/14/2022
Shermer and Ward discuss: religious immortality • Church of Perpetual Life in Florida • what it means to live forever • why lives have doubled in length the past century • Stein’s Law: things that can’t go on forever won’t • Why do we age and die? • how to live to 100, 1000, 10,000 years • escape velocity to reach immortality • Aubrey de Grey’s program • tech billionaires programs • transhumanists/extropians • diet, exercise, supplements, stem cells, telomeres, and other aging hacks • Ray...

Duration:01:26:23

270. Surprising Power of Game Theory to Explain Irrationality (Moshe Hoffman and Erez Yoeli)

5/10/2022
Shermer, Hoffman, and Yoeli discuss: the problems game theory was developed to solve • How rational or irrational an animal are we? • the evolutionary logic of game theory • Alan Fiske’s four relationships • kin selection, altruism and reciprocal altruism • deception and self-deception • costly signaling theory • pirate rationality • virtue signaling • Putin, Russia, and Ukraine • Israeli-Palestinian conflict • justice, self-help justice, norms and laws • chemical weapons/nuclear weapons...

Duration:01:57:57

269. Richard Dawkins — Flights of Fancy: Defying Gravity by Design and Evolution

5/7/2022
Do you sometimes dream you can fly like a bird? Gliding effortlessly above the treetops, soaring and swooping, playing and dodging through the third dimension. Computer games, virtual reality headsets, and some drugs can lift our imagination and fly us through fabled, magical spaces. But it’s not the real thing. No wonder some of the past’s greatest minds, including Leonardo da Vinci’s, have yearned for flying machines and struggled to design them. Shermer and Dawkins discuss: nationalism •...

Duration:01:29:01

268. Douglas Murray on The War on the West: Race, Politics, and Culture

5/3/2022
Shermer and Murray discuss: what it takes to become a successful writer • Is this “war” on Western civilization just a necessary course correction from the sins of the past? • Is at least some of the criticisms of Western civilization a form of revenge for past wrongs? • CRT: If racism is not the explanation for the present Black/White differences in income, wealth, home ownership, and representation in professional careers, what is? • Racism and Antiracism • 1619 Project • BLM movement •...

Duration:00:59:31

267. Louis Theroux on Neo-Nazis, Jimmy Savile, UFO Cults, and Scientology

4/30/2022
Shermer and Theroux discuss: how documentary films are made • religious fanaticism and why people believe • UFO cults, end-times sects, and cognitive dissonance • Scientology: religion or cult? • neo-Nazis and anti-Semitism • prisons, pornography, and prostitution • Jeffrey Epstein and Jimmy Savile • self-help movements and gurus • deception and self-deception • social proof and human conformity • are humans naturally rational, irrational, or both? Louis Theroux is a genre-defining...

Duration:01:29:07

266. Jesse Singal on Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills

4/26/2022
Michal Shermer and Jesse Singal discuss: how social scientists determine causality • Primeworld: cognitive priming and how it works (and doesn’t work) • The Malcolm Gladwell-effect (named after the 10,000-hour effect, by Anders Ericsson) • the self-esteem and self-help personal-empowerment movements • power posing and positive psychology • New Age self-help movements • Grit (stick-to-itiveness) (Darwin’s “dogged as does it.”) • Persistence is task specific and context dependent • Big 5...

Duration:01:29:35

265. Christopher Blattman on Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace

4/23/2022
Shermer and Blattman discuss: Putin, Russia, and Ukraine • game theory and violent conflict • 5 Reasons for conflict and war • common elements of conflict in Medellin, Chicago, Sudan, Somalia, etc. • U.S. foreign policy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and elsewhere, and its consequences • human nature and conflict: are we wired to fight or do environments push us into conflicts? • cooperation vs. competition / selfish genes vs. collection action problems • inner demons and better angels •...

Duration:01:43:55