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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.

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

Life on Mars? (Robert Zubrin)

4/13/2024
When Robert Zubrin published his classic book The Case for Mars a quarter century ago, setting foot on the Red Planet seemed a fantasy. Today, manned exploration is certain, and as Zubrin affirms in The New World on Mars, so too is colonization. From the astronautical engineer venerated by NASA and today’s space entrepreneurs, here is what we will achieve on Mars and how. Shermer and Zubrin discuss: why not start with the moon? • what it is like on Mars • whether Mars was ever like Earth • how much it will cost to go to Mars • how to get people to Mars • resources on Mars • colonization of Mars • public vs. private enterprise for space exploration • economics, politics, and government on Mars • lessons from the Red Planet for the Blue Planet • liberty in space. Robert Zubrin is former president of Pioneer Astronautics, which performs advanced space research for NASA, the US Air Force, the US Department of Energy, and private companies. He is the founder and president of the Mars Society, leading the Society’s successful effort to build the first simulated human Mars exploration base in the Canadian Arctic.

Duration:01:40:43

Robots and the People Who Love Them

4/9/2024
Shermer and Herold discuss: social robots, sex robots, robot nannies, robot therapists • flying cars, jetpacks and The Jetsons • Masahiro Mori • emotions, animism, mind • emotional intelligence • artificial intelligence • large language lodels • ChatGPT, GPT-4, GPT-5 and beyond • the alignment problem • robopocalypse • robo soldiers • robot sentience • autonomous vehicles • AI value systems, and their legal and ethical status. Eve Herold is an award-winning science writer. She has written extensively about issues at the crossroads of science and society, including stem cell research and regenerative medicine, aging and longevity, medical implants, transhumanism, and robotics and AI.

Duration:01:13:15

The Formation, Diversification, and Extinction of World Religions

4/6/2024
Thousands of religions have adherents today, and countless more have existed throughout history. What accounts for this astonishing diversity? This extraordinarily ambitious and comprehensive book demonstrates how evolutionary systematics and philosophy can yield new insight into the development of organized religion. Lance Grande―a leading evolutionary systematist―examines the growth and diversification of hundreds of religions over time, highlighting their historical interrelationships. Combining evolutionary theory with a wealth of cultural records, he explores the formation, extinction, and diversification of different world religions, including the many branches of Asian cyclicism, polytheism, and monotheism. Lance Grande is the Negaunee Distinguished Service Curator, Emeritus, of the Field Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Chicago. He is a specialist in evolutionary systematics, paleontology, and biology who has a deep interest in the interdisciplinary applications of scientific method and philosophy. His many books include Curators: Behind the Scenes of Natural History Museums (2017) and The Lost World of Fossil Lake: Snapshots from Deep Time (2013). His new book is The Evolution of Religions: A History of Related Traditions.

Duration:02:01:25

The Wisdom and Wonder of Being Uncertain

4/2/2024
In an era of terrifying unpredictability, we race to address complex crises with quick, sure algorithms, bullet points, and tweets. How could we find the clarity and vision so urgently needed today by being unsure? Uncertain is about the triumph of doing just that. A scientific adventure tale set on the front lines of a volatile era, this epiphany of a book by award-winning author Maggie Jackson shows us how to skillfully confront the unexpected and the unknown, and how to harness not-knowing in the service of wisdom, invention, mutual understanding, and resilience. Long neglected as a topic of study and widely treated as a shameful flaw, uncertainty is revealed to be a crucial gadfly of the mind, jolting us from the routine and the assumed into a space for exploring unseen meaning. Far from luring us into inertia, uncertainty is the mindset most needed in times of flux and a remarkable antidote to the narrow-mindedness of our day. In laboratories, political campaigns, and on the frontiers of artificial intelligence, Jackson meets the pioneers decoding the surprising gifts of being unsure. Each chapter examines a mode of uncertainty-in-action, from creative reverie to the dissent that spurs team success. Step by step, the art and science of uncertainty reveal being unsure as a skill set for incisive thinking and day-to-day flourishing. Maggie Jackson is an award-winning author and journalist known for her pioneering writings on social trends, particularly technology’s impact on humanity. Winner of the 2020 Dorothy Lee Book Award for excellence in technology criticism, her book Distractedwas compared by FastCompany.com to Silent Spring for its prescient critique of technology’s excesses, named a Best Summer Book by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and was a prime inspiration for Google’s 2018 global initiative to promote digital well-being. Jackson is also the author of Living with Robots and The State of the American Mind. Her expertise has been featured in The New York Times, Business Week, Vanity Fair, Wired.com, O Magazine, and The Times of London; on MSNBC, NPR’s All Things Considered, Oprah Radio, The Takeaway, and on the Diane Rehm Show and the Brian Lehrer Show; and in multiple TV segments and film documentaries worldwide. Her speaking career includes appearances at Google, Harvard Business School, and the Chautauqua Institute. Jackson lives with her family in New York and Rhode Island.

Duration:01:29:18

The End of Race Politics (Coleman Hughes)

3/30/2024
As one of the few black students in his philosophy program at Columbia University years ago, Coleman Hughes wondered why his peers seemed more pessimistic about the state of American race relations than his own grandparents–who lived through segregation. The End of Race Politics is the culmination of his years-long search for an answer. Coleman Hughes is a writer, podcaster and opinion columnist who specializes in issues related to race, public policy and applied ethics. Coleman’s writing has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Quillette, The City Journal and The Spectator. He appeared on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2021. Shermer and Hughes discuss: why he is considered “black” if he is “half-black, half-Hispanic” • what it means to be “colorblind” • population genetics and race differences • Base Rate Neglect, Base Rate Taboos • institutionalized neoracism • viewpoint epistemology • affirmative action • gaps in income, wealth, home ownership, CEO representation, Congressional representation • myths of Black Weaknes, No Progress, Undoing the Past • reparations • the future of colorblindness. Contemplative yet audacious, his new book, The End of Race Politics, is necessary reading for anyone who questions the race orthodoxies of our time. Hughes argues for a return to the ideals that inspired the American Civil Rights movement, showing how our departure from the colorblind ideal has ushered in a new era of fear, paranoia, and resentment marked by draconian interpersonal etiquette, failed corporate diversity and inclusion efforts, and poisonous race-based policies that hurt the very people they intend to help. Hughes exposes the harmful side effects of Kendi-DiAngelo style antiracism, from programs that distribute emergency aid on the basis of race to revisionist versions of American history that hide the truth from the public. Read Michael H. Bernstein's review of Coleman Hughes book, The End of Race Politics: Arguments for a Colorblind America: https://www.skeptic.com/reading_room/revisiting-colorblindness/

Duration:01:34:33

How to Repair America’s Broken Democracy

3/26/2024
Order the Artificial Intelligence issue of SKEPTIC magazine at https://www.skeptic.com/magazine/archives/29.1/ (available in print or digital format). Looking ahead to the 2024 election, most Americans sense that something is deeply wrong with our democracy. We face extreme polarization, increasingly problematic candidates, and a government that can barely function, let alone address urgent challenges. Maxwell Stearns has been a constitutional law professor for over 30 years. He argues that our politics are not merely dysfunctional. Our constitutional system is broken. And without radical reform, the U.S. risks collapse or dictatorship. The Framers never intended a two-party system. In fact, they feared entrenched political parties and mistakenly believed they had designed a scheme that avoided them. And yet the structures they created paved the way for our entrenched two-party system. that now undermines our basic constitutional structures, with separation of powers and checks and balances yielding to hyper-partisan loyalties. Rather than compromises arising from shifting coalitions, we experience ever-widening policy swings in increasingly combative elections. This two-party stranglehold on our politics is exactly what the Framers feared. To survive as a democracy, we must end the two-party deadlock and introduce more political parties. But viable third parties are a pipe dream in our system given the current rules of the game. Stearns argues that we must change the rules, amend the Constitution, and transform America into a parliamentary democracy. Although difficult to do, Stearns explains why his specific set of proposals is more politically viable than other increasingly prominent reform proposals, which cannot be enacted, will not end our constitutional crisis, or both. Maxwell L. Stearns is the Venable, Baetjer & Howard Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. He has authored dozens of articles and several books on the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and the economic analysis of law.

Duration:01:07:44

Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren't Growing Up (Abigail Shrier)

3/23/2024
In virtually every way that can be measured, Gen Z’s mental health is worse than that of previous generations. Youth suicide rates are climbing, antidepressant prescriptions for children are common, and the proliferation of mental health diagnoses has not helped the staggering number of kids who are lonely, lost, sad and fearful of growing up. What’s gone wrong with America’s youth? In Bad Therapy, bestselling investigative journalist Abigail Shrier argues that the problem isn’t the kids—it’s the mental health experts. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with child psychologists, parents, teachers, and young people, Shrier explores the ways the mental health industry has transformed the way we teach, treat, discipline, and even talk to our kids. She reveals that most of the therapeutic approaches have serious side effects and few proven benefits. Among her unsettling findings: Mental health care can be lifesaving when properly applied to children with severe needs, but for the typical child, the cure can be worse than the disease. Bad Therapy is a must – read for anyone questioning why our efforts to bolster America’s kids have backfired – and what it will take for parents to lead a turnaround. Abigail Shrier received the Barbara Olson Award for Excellence and Independence in Journalism in 2021. Her bestselling book, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters (2020), was named a “Best Book” by the Economist and the Times. It has been translated into ten languages. Her new book is Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren’t Growing Up. Shermer and Shrier discuss: Irreversible Damage redux: WPATH Files • what view this book for or against • what is the problem to be solved? • theories: coddling, social media, screen time, generations/life history theory • good and bad therapists and therapies • anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, autism • ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) • trauma, stress, PTSD • anti-fragility and resilience • Goodwill Hunting view of therapy • previous quack therapies and psychological pseudoscience that have plagued psychology and psychiatry.

Duration:01:08:23

An Unfinished History of the Holocaust

3/19/2024
The Holocaust is much discussed, much memorialized, and much portrayed. But there are major aspects of its history that have been overlooked. Spanning the entirety of the Holocaust, this sweeping history deepens our understanding. Dan Stone—Director of the Holocaust Research Institute at Royal Holloway, University of London—reveals how the idea of “industrial murder” is incomplete: many were killed where they lived in the most brutal of ways. He outlines the depth of collaboration across Europe, arguing persuasively that we need to stop thinking of the Holocaust as an exclusively German project. He also considers the nature of trauma the Holocaust engendered, and why Jewish suffering has yet to be fully reckoned with. And he makes clear that the kernel to understanding Nazi thinking and action is genocidal ideology, providing a deep analysis of its origins. Drawing on decades of research, The Holocaust: An Unfinished History upends much of what we think we know about the Holocaust. Stone draws on Nazi documents, but also on diaries, post-war testimonies, and even fiction, urging that, in our age of increasing nationalism and xenophobia, it is vital that we understand the true history of the Holocaust. Shermer and Stone discuss: what is unfinished in the history of the Shoah • Holocaust denial • psychology of fascist fascination and genocidal fantasy • alt-right • ideological roots of Nazism and German anti-Semitism • industrial genocide • magical thinking • Hitler’s willing executioners • the Holocaust as a continent-wide crime • motivations of the executioners • the banality of evil • Wannsee Conference (1942). Dan Stone is Professor of Modern History and Director of the Holocaust Research Institute at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the author or editor of numerous articles and books, including: Histories of the Holocaust (Oxford University Press); The Liberation of the Camps: The End of the Holocaust and its Aftermath (Yale University Press); and Concentration Camps: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press). His new book is The Holocaust: An Unfinished History.

Duration:01:36:35

The Weirdness of the World

3/16/2024
Do we live inside a simulated reality or a pocket universe embedded in a larger structure about which we know virtually nothing? Is consciousness a purely physical matter, or might it require something extra, something nonphysical? According to the philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel, it’s hard to say. In The Weirdness of the World, Schwitzgebel argues that the answers to these fundamental questions lie beyond our powers of comprehension. We can be certain only that the truth—whatever it is—is weird. Philosophy, he proposes, can aim to open—to reveal possibilities we had not previously appreciated—or to close, to narrow down to the one correct theory of the phenomenon in question. Schwitzgebel argues for a philosophy that opens. According to Schwitzgebel’s “Universal Bizarreness” thesis, every possible theory of the relation of mind and cosmos defies common sense. According to his complementary “Universal Dubiety” thesis, no general theory of the relationship between mind and cosmos compels rational belief. Might the United States be a conscious organism — a conscious group mind with approximately the intelligence of a rabbit? Might virtually every action we perform cause virtually every possible type of future event, echoing down through the infinite future of an infinite universe? What, if anything, is it like to be a garden snail? Schwitzgebel makes a persuasive case for the thrill of considering the most bizarre philosophical possibilities. Shermer and Schwitzgebel discuss: bizarreness • skepticism • consciousness • virtual reality • AI, Turing Test, sentience, existential threat • idealism, materialism • ultimate nature of reality • solipsism • evidence for the existence of an external world • computer simulations hypothesis • mind-body problem • truths: external, internal, objective, subjective • mind-altering drugs • entropy • causality • infinity • immortality • multiverses • why there is something rather than nothing. Eric Schwitzgebel is professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of A Theory of Jerks and Other Philosophical Misadventures; Perplexities of Consciousness; and Describing Inner Experience?

Duration:02:03:15

The Story of Female Empowerment & Getting Canceled: Elite Commando and Kickboxing World Champion Leah Goldstein

3/12/2024
A conversation with Leah Goldstein on becoming a kickboxing world champion, ultra-endurance cyclist, and an elite commando combating terrorism. For this she was to be honored at the International Women's Day event… until she was disinvited and canceled. This is her story.

Duration:01:28:03

Who Wrote the Qur’an, Why, and What Does it Really Say?

3/9/2024
Over a billion copies of the Qur’an exist – yet it remains an enigma. Its classical Arabic language resists simple translation, and its non-linear style of abstract musings defies categorization. Moreover, those who champion its sanctity and compete to claim its mantle offer widely diverging interpretations of its core message – at times with explosive results. Building on his intimate portrait of the Qur’an’s prophet in Muhammad the World-Changer, Mohamad Jebara returns with a vivid profile of the book itself. While viewed in retrospect as the grand scripture of triumphant empires, Jebara reveals how the Qur’an unfolded over 22 years amidst intense persecution, suffering, and loneliness. The Life of the Qur’an recounts this vivid drama as a biography examining the book’s obscured heritage, complex revelation, and contested legacy. Shermer and Jebara discuss: who wrote the Qur’an and why • translation and interpretation • Is the Muslim world stagnating? How does this book aim to help? • semitic mindset • Many Westerners believe that the Qur’an endorses violence, Jihad, and Sharia Law over secular laws and constitutions. What does it really say? • Has Islam had its Enlightenment? • Does Islam and the Muslim world need reforming? • women in Islam • what percentage of Muslims want Sharia Law, and where in the world? Mohamad Jebara is a scriptural philologist and prominent exegetist known for his eloquent oratory style as well as his efforts to bridge cultural and religious divides. A semanticist and historian of Semitic cultures, he has served as Chief Imam as well as headmaster of several Qur’anic and Arabic language academies. Jebara has lectured to diverse audiences around the world; briefed senior policy makers; and published in prominent newspapers and magazines. A respected voice in Islamic scholarship, Jebara advocates for positive social change.

Duration:01:35:54

Purpose in the Eyes of a Psychiatrist

3/5/2024
Generations have been taught that evolution implies there is no overarching purpose to our existence, that life has no fundamental meaning. We are merely the accumulation of tens of thousands of intricate molecular accidents. Some scientists take this logic one step further, suggesting that evolution is intrinsically atheistic and goes against the concept of God. With respect to our evolution, nature seems to have endowed us with competing dispositions, what Wilkinson calls the dual potential of human nature. We are pulled in different directions: selfishness and altruism, aggression and cooperation, lust and love. By using principles from a variety of scientific disciplines, Yale Professor Samuel Wilkinson provides a framework for human evolution that reveals an overarching purpose to our existence. Wilkinson claims that this purpose, at least one of them, is to choose between the good and evil impulses that nature has created within us. Our life is a test. This is a truth, as old as history it seems, that has been espoused by so many of the world’s religions. From a certain framework, Wilkinson believes that these aspects of human nature—including how evolution shaped us—are evidence for the existence of a God, not against it. Closely related to this is meaning. What is the meaning of life? Based on the scientific data, it would seem that one such meaning is to develop deep and abiding relationships. At least that is what most people report are the most meaningful aspects of their lives. This is a function of our evolution. It is how we were created. Shermer and Wilkinson discuss: • evolution: random chance or guided process? • selfishness and altruism • aggression and cooperation • inner demons and better angels • love and lust • free will and determinism • the good life and the good society • empirical truths, mythic truths, religious truths, pragmatic truths • Is there a cosmic courthouse where evil will be corrected in the next life? • theodicy and the problem of evil: Why do bad things happen to good people? Samuel T. Wilkinson is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University, where he also serves as Associate Director of the Yale Depression Research Program. He received his MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His articles have been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. He has been the recipient of many awards, including Top Advancements & Breakthroughs from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation; Top Ten Psychiatry Papers by the New England Journal of Medicine, the Samuel Novey Writing Prize in Psychological Medicine (Johns Hopkins); the Thomas Detre Award (Yale University); and the Seymour Lustman Award (Yale University). His new book is Purpose: What Evolution and Human Nature Imply About the Meaning of our Existence.

Duration:01:38:56

Does Humanity Function as a Single Superorganism?

3/2/2024
Could humans unknowingly be a part of a larger superorganism—one with its own motivations and goals, one that is alive, and conscious, and has the power to shape the future of our species? This is the fascinating theory from author and futurist Byron Reese, who calls this human superorganism “Agora.” In We Are Agora, Reese starts by asking the question, “What is life and how did it form?” From there, he looks at how multicellular life came about, how consciousness emerged, and how other superorganisms in nature have formed. Then, he poses eight big questions based on the Agora theory, including: In this unique and ambitious work that spans all of human history and looks boldly into its future, Reese melds science and history to look at the human species from a fresh new perspective. We Are Agora will give readers a better understanding of where we’ve been, where we’re going, and how our fates are intertwined. Shermer and Reese discuss: • organisms and superorganisms • origins of life • the self • emergence • consciousness • Is the Internet a superorganism? • Will AI create a superorganism? • Could AI become sentient or conscious? • the hard problem of consciousness • cities as superorganisms • planetary superorganisms • Are we living in a simulation? • Why are we here? Byron Reese is an Austin-based entrepreneur with a quarter-century of experience building and running technology companies. A recognized authority on AI who holds a number of technology patents, Byron is a futurist with a strong conviction that technology will help bring about a new golden age of humanity. He gives talks around the world about how technology is changing work, education, and culture. He is the author of four books on technology; his previous title The Fourth Agewas described by the New York Times as “entertaining and engaging.” Bloomberg Businessweek credits Reese with having “quietly pioneered a new breed of media company.” The Financial Times reported that he “is typical of the new wave of internet entrepreneurs out to turn the economics of the media industry on its head.” He and his work have been featured in hundreds of news outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Entrepreneur, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, and NPR.

Duration:01:35:19

The Power of Noticing What Was Always There

2/27/2024
Have you ever noticed that what is thrilling on Monday tends to become boring on Friday? Even exciting relationships, stimulating jobs, and breathtaking works of art lose their sparkle after a while. People stop noticing what is most wonderful in their own lives. They also stop noticing what is terrible. They get used to dirty air. They stay in abusive relationships. People grow to accept authoritarianism and take foolish risks. They become unconcerned by their own misconduct, blind to inequality, and are more liable to believe misinformation than ever before. But what if we could find a way to see everything anew? What if you could regain sensitivity, not only to the great things in your life, but also to the terrible things you stopped noticing and so don’t try to change? Shermer and Sharot discuss: the best day of her life • the evolutionary origins of habituation • habituation at work, at home, and in the bedroom • Why don’t we habituate to extreme pain? • marriage, romance, monogamy, infidelity • depression • depression, happiness, and variety • negativity nias • creativity and habituation disruption • lying and misinformation • illusory truth effect • truth bias • moral progress • preference falsification • pluralistic ignorance. Tali Sharot is a professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London and MIT.

Duration:01:34:55

China's Grip on Rare-Earth Elements and the Future of Global Energy Security

2/24/2024
To build electric vehicles, solar panels, cell phones, and millions of other devices means the world must dig more mines to extract lithium, copper, and other vital building blocks. But mines are deeply unpopular, even as they have a role to play in fighting climate change and powering crucial technologies. Shermer and Scheyder discuss: • How much rare earth metals will we need by 2050, 2100, and beyond? • How do lithium-ion batteries work compared to lead-acid? What are the alternatives? • Will EVs completely replace all other cars? • Can renewables completely replace fossil fuels without nuclear? • How mining works in the U.S., China, Chile, Russia, elsewhere. Ernest Scheyder is a senior correspondent for Reuters, covering the green energy transition and the minerals that undergird it. He previously covered the US shale oil revolution, politics, and the environment at the Associated Press.

Duration:01:05:20

mRNA Vaccines, Mask Mandates, and the COVID-19 Response (Paul Offit)

2/20/2024
As a member of the FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee and a former member of the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices to the CDC, Dr. Paul Offit has been in the room for the creation of policies that have affected hundreds of millions of people. Four years after the outbreak of COVID-19, he reflects on our response to the pandemic: what went well and what didn't. Shermer and Offit discuss: mRNA vaccines • loss of trust in medical and scientific institutions • overall assessment of what went right and wrong • mandates vs. recommendations • economic costs • lab leak hypothesis vs. zoonomic hypothesis • debating anti-vaxxers • treatments • high risk vs. low risk groups Paul Offit is the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Professor of Vaccinology and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania. Offit has published more than 170 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety. He is also the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq, recommended for universal use in infants by the CDC and WHO.

Duration:01:13:29

Foster Care, Family, and Social Class

2/17/2024
Rob Henderson was born to a drug-addicted mother and a father he never met, ultimately shuttling between ten different foster homes in California. When he was adopted into a loving family, he hoped that life would finally be stable and safe. Divorce, tragedy, poverty, and violence marked his adolescent and teen years, propelling Henderson to join the military upon completing high school. His greatest achievements — a military career, an undergraduate education from Yale, a PhD from Cambridge — feel like hollow measures of success. He argues that stability at home is more important than external accomplishments, and he illustrates the ways the most privileged among us benefit from a set of social standards that actively harm the most vulnerable. Shermer and Henderson discuss: hindsight bias • genes, environment, luck, contingency • foster care • incarceration rates • marriage, divorce, childhood outcomes • poverty, welfare programs, and social safety nets • the young male syndrome • alcohol, drugs, depression • luxury beliefs of educated elites • wealthy but unstable homes vs. low-income but stable homes • inequality • Henderon's experience in the military, at Yale and Cambridge • the Warrior-Scholar Project. Rob Henderson grew up in foster homes in Los Angeles and the rural town of Red Bluff, California. He joined the US Air Force at the age of seventeen. Once described as “self-made” by the New York Times, Rob subsequently received a BS from Yale University and a PhD in psychology from St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and more. His weekly newsletter is sent to more than forty thousand subscribers. Learn more at RobKHenderson.com. His new book is Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class.

Duration:02:07:59

How U.S. Public Health Has Strayed From Its Liberal Roots

2/13/2024
The Covid-19 response was a crucible of politics and public health—a volatile combination that produced predictably bad results. As scientific expertise became entangled with political motivations, the public-health establishment found itself mired in political encampment. It was, as Sandro Galea argues, a crisis of liberalism: a retreat from the principles of free speech, open debate, and the pursuit of knowledge through reasoned inquiry that should inform the work of public health. Across fifty essays, Within Reason chronicles how public health became enmeshed in the insidious social trends that accelerated under Covid-19. Galea challenges this intellectual drift towards intolerance and absolutism while showing how similar regressions from reason undermined social progress during earlier eras. Within Reason builds an incisive case for a return to critical, open inquiry as a guiding principle for the future public health we want—and a future we must work to protect. Dr. Sandro Galea is a physician, epidemiologist, author and the Robert A. Knox Professor at Boston University School of Public Health. He previously held academic and leadership positions at Columbia University, the University of Michigan, and the New York Academy of Medicine. He has published more than 1000 scientific journal articles, 75 chapters, and 24 books, and his research has been featured extensively in current periodicals and newspapers. Galea holds a medical degree from the University of Toronto and graduate degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University. Dr. Galea was named one of Time magazine’s epidemiology innovators and has been listed as one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.” He is past chair of the board of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and past president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research and of the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Epidemiological Society. He is the author of The Contagion Next Time and Well: What We Need to Talk About When We Talk About Health. His new book is Within Reason: A Liberal Public Health for an Illiberal Time.

Duration:01:25:29

Against the New Politics of Identity

2/10/2024
In Against the New Politics of Identity, philosopher Ronald A. Lindsay offers a sustained criticism of the far-reaching cultural transformation occurring across much of the West by which individuals are defined primarily by their group identity, such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Driven largely by the political Left, this transformation has led to the wholesale grouping of individuals into oppressed and oppressor classes in both theory and practice. He warns that the push for identity politics on the Left predictably elicits a parallel reaction from the Right, including the Right’s own version of identity politics in the form of Christian nationalism. As Lindsay makes clear, the symbiotic relationship that has formed between these two political poles risks producing even deeper threats to Enlightenment values and Western democracy. If we are to preserve a liberal democracy in which the rights of individuals are respected, he concludes, the dogmas of identity politics must be challenged and refuted. Against the New Politics of Identity offers a principled path for doing so. Shermer and Lindsay discuss: identity politics: identity or politics? • woke ideology • overt racism vs. systemic racism • liberalism vs. illiberalism • woke progressive leftists motivations? • Critical Race Theory (CRT) • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) • What is progressive? What is woke? • standpoint epistemology • equality vs. equity • race • class • cancel culture • Christian nationalism. Dr. Ronald Lindsay, a philosopher (PhD, Georgetown University) and lawyer (JD, University of Virginia) is the author of The Necessity of Secularism and Future Bioethics. Although his non-fiction works focus on different topics, two threads unite them: Lindsay’s gift for thinking critically about accepted narratives and his strong commitment to individual rights, whether it’s the right to assisted dying, the right to religious freedom, or the right of individuals to be judged on their own merit, as opposed to their group identity. In addition to his books, Lindsay has also written numerous philosophical and legal essays, including the entry on Euthanasia in the International Encyclopedia of Ethics. In his spare time, Lindsay plays baseball—baseball, not softball. The good news is he maintains a batting average near .300; the bad news is his fielding average is not much higher. A native of Boston, Ron Lindsay currently lives in Loudoun County, Virginia with his wife, Debra, where their presence is usually tolerated by their cat. His new book is: Against the New Politics of Identity: How the Left’s Dogmas on Race and Equity Harm Liberal Democracy and Invigorate Christian Nationalism.

Duration:01:28:51

What Determines Who Succeeds in the NBA?

2/6/2024
Former Google data scientist and bestselling author of Everybody Lies Seth Stephens-Davidowitz turns his analytic skills to the NBA. Shermer and Stephens-Davidowitz discuss: why some countries produce so many more NBA players than others • the greatest NBA players adjusted for height • why tall NBA players are worse athletes than short NBA players • How much do NBA coaches matter and what do they do? • In a population of 8 billion today compared to centuries past, where are all the Mozarts, Beethovens, Da Vincis, Newtons, Darwins, etc.? Seth Stephens-Davidowitz is a contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times, a lecturer at The Wharton School, and a former Google data scientist. He received a BA from Stanford and a PhD from Harvard. He is the author of Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are and Don’t Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life.

Duration:01:23:23