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The Michael Shermer Show

Science Podcasts

The Michael Shermer Show (formerly Science Salon) 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 (formerly Science Salon) 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 (formerly Science Salon) 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

153. Kevin Dutton — Black-and-White Thinking: The Burden of a Binary Brain in a Complex World

1/19/2021
In episode 153, Michael speaks with University of Oxford research psychologist Dr. Kevin Dutton about his new book Black-and-White Thinking: The Burden of a Binary Brain in a Complex World. Shermer and Dutton discuss a wide gamut including black-and-white thinking in physics, biology, psychology, politics, economics, society; categories, stereotypes, bigotries; the dark side of black-and-white thinking: tribalism, xenophobia, and racism; abortion, gender, cults, sects, religions, mental...

Duration:01:46:30

152. Politics & Truth — Michael Shermer Responds to Critics of His Commentary “Trump & Truth”

1/17/2021
Dr. Michael Shermer received a lot of interesting and constructive responses to episode 151, his commentary on the events of January 6, 2021 — the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters. In episode 152, Shermer responds to critics, reminding us that the truth or falsity of a claim of any kind that can be adjudicated by science and reason applies not just to astrologers, psychics, UFO proponents, and Big Foot hunters (all of which we cover in Skeptic magazine), but to conspiracy...

Duration:00:21:53

151. Trump & Truth — A Commentary by Michael Shermer

1/12/2021
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” — Voltaire In this monologue commentary on the events of January 6, 2021, Dr. Shermer applies causal inference theory to Trump’s speech that morning, the violent assault on the Capitol that followed, the banning of Trump off social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, the fears on the Right of social media censoriousness on the Left, the breaking up of big tech social media companies, and related topics,...

Duration:00:46:35

150. Daniel Lieberman — Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding

1/5/2021
“Nothing about the biology of exercise makes sense except in the light of evolution, and nothing about exercise as a behavior makes sense except in the light of anthropology.” In this myth-busting book, Daniel Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and a pioneering researcher on the evolution of human physical activity, tells the story of how we never evolved to exercise — to do voluntary physical activity for the sake of health. Using his own research and...

Duration:01:30:10

149. The After Time: The Future of Civilization After COVID-19

12/29/2020
In this special episode of the Science Salon podcast, the last of 2020, Dr. Michael Shermer offers some reflections on 2020, starting with race and the Black Lives Movement, putting it into perspective from other books he read this year, along with podcast guests who appeared in 2020, such as Shelby Steele. Dr. Shermer recently read Isabel Wilkerson’s book Caste and Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Anti-Racist, and offers some thoughts on them, along with other issues competing for our...

Duration:00:43:34

148. Have Archetype — Will Travel: The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon

12/22/2020
In this special episode of the Science Salon podcast Dr. Michael Shermer reflects on the recent resurrection of Jordan Peterson, the resurgent criticism of him and why so many people attack him, why similar such unwarranted attacks have been made against public intellectuals like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris today, and of Stephen Jay Gould and Carl Sagan in the past. Dr. Shermer then reads his essay of this title that was originally published in Skepticmagazine 23.3 (2018), and on ...

Duration:00:41:17

147. David Barash — On the Brink of Destruction

12/15/2020
In a conversation based on the book Threats: Intimidation and its Discontents, Shermer and Barash discuss: David P. Barash is an evolutionary biologist and Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Washington. He has written more than 280 peer-reviewed articles and 40 books. Barash has penned op-eds in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The Chicago Tribune, as well as numerous pieces in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nautilus, and Skeptic.

Duration:01:49:44

146. Donald Prothero — Weird Earth: Debunking Strange Ideas About Our Planet

12/8/2020
Shermer and Prothero discuss: Dr. Donald R. Prothero has taught geology for over 33 years as Professor of Geology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and currently at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, CA. He earned M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in geological sciences from Columbia University in 1982. He is currently the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of 33 books and over 250 scientific papers,...

Duration:01:18:07

145. Greg Lukianoff — How Free is Free Speech?

12/1/2020
In this wide ranging conversation focused on Greg Lukianoff’s co-authored (with Jonathan Haidt) book The Coddling of the American Mind, and his new documentary film Mighty Ira: A Civil Liberties Story, about the free speech champion Ira Glassner, who headed the ACLU for decades, he and Shermer discuss: Greg Lukianoff is the president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Lukianoff is a graduate of American University and Stanford Law School. He specializes in...

Duration:01:10:29

144. Agustín Fuentes — Why We Believe: Evolution and the Human Way of Being

11/24/2020
Why are so many humans religious? Why do we daydream, imagine, and hope? Philosophers, theologians, social scientists, and historians have offered explanations for centuries, but their accounts often ignore or even avoid human evolution. Evolutionary scientists answer with proposals for why ritual, religion, and faith make sense as adaptations to past challenges or as by-products of our hyper-complex cognitive capacities. But what if the focus on religion is too narrow? Renowned...

Duration:01:40:23

143. Nicholas Christakis — Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live

11/17/2020
Apollo’s Arrow offers a riveting account of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as it swept through American society in 2020, and of how the recovery will unfold in the coming years. Drawing on momentous (yet dimly remembered) historical epidemics, contemporary analyses, and cutting-edge research from a range of scientific disciplines, bestselling author, physician, sociologist, and public health expert Nicholas A. Christakis explores what it means to live in a time of plague — an...

Duration:01:22:32

142. Philip Goff — Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness

11/9/2020
Understanding how brains produce consciousness is one of the great scientific challenges of our age. Some philosophers argue that consciousness is something “extra,” beyond the physical workings of the brain. Others think that if we persist in our standard scientific methods, our questions about consciousness will eventually be answered. And some even suggest that the mystery is so deep, it will never be solved. Decades have been spent trying to explain consciousness from within our current...

Duration:01:52:57

141. Richard Kreitner — Break it Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America’s Imperfect Union

11/2/2020
The provocative thesis of Break It Up is simple: The United States has never lived up to its name—and never will. The disunionist impulse may have found its greatest expression in the Civil War, but as Break It Up shows, the seduction of secession wasn’t limited to the South or the 19century. It was there at our founding and has never gone away. Investigative journalist Richard Kreitner takes readers on a revolutionary journey through American history, revealing the power and persistence of...

Duration:01:31:26

140. Rebecca Wragg Sykes — Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art

10/27/2020
The common narrative of Neanderthals is that they were a group of dullard losers whose extinction 40,000 years ago was due to smarter competition and a little of interbreeding with our own forebears. Likening someone to a Neanderthal was and, most likely, still is a top-rate anthropological insult. But, in the past few decades, Neanderthal finds have greatly contradicted our perception of the species. In Kindred, Rebecca Wragg Sykes combs through the avalanche of scientific discoveries of...

Duration:01:39:14

BONUS: James Randi—A Report from the Paranormal Trenches (1992)

10/25/2020
This classic lecture on skepticism was given by James Randi on March 22, 1992 at the inaugural session of the Distinguished Science Lecture Series hosted by Michael Shermer and presented by The Skeptics Society in California (1992–2015). The transcript for this lecture appeared in Skeptic magazine 1.1 (1992). James Randi presents an amazing first-hand analysis of astonishing claims encountered in his European visit. New-found freedoms stimulate rampant pseudoscientific practices in eastern...

Duration:01:32:41

139. Shelby Steele — Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country & the film What Killed Michael Brown?

10/20/2020
The United States today is hopelessly polarized; the political Right and Left have hardened into rigid and deeply antagonistic camps, preventing any sort of progress. Amid the bickering and inertia, the promise of the 1960s—when we came together as a nation to fight for equality and universal justice—remains unfulfilled. As Shelby Steele reveals in Shame, the roots of this impasse can be traced back to that decade of protest, when in the act of uncovering and dismantling our national...

Duration:01:38:07

138. Douglas Murray — The Madness of 2020

10/16/2020
In this special episode of the Science Salon Podcast, Michael Shermer catches up with Douglas Murray one year after the publication of his bestselling book The Madness of Crowds, which was featured in Science Salon # 87 in October 2019. Murray’s book is now out in paperback with an Afterword update on all that has happened the past year, one of the most momentous in living memory. Shermer and Murray discuss: The Madness of CrowdThe Madness of Crowds In The Madness of Crowds Douglas Murray...

Duration:01:12:06

137. Marta Zaraska — Growing Young: How Friendship, Optimism, and Kindness Can Help You Live to 100

10/13/2020
From the day her daughter was born, science journalist Marta Zaraska fretted about what she and her family were eating. She fasted, considered adopting the keto diet, and ran a half-marathon. She bought goji berries and chia seeds and ate organic food. But then her research brought her to read countless scientific papers and to interview dozens of experts in various fields of study, including molecular biochemistry, epidemiology and neuroscience. What Marta discovered shattered her long-held...

Duration:01:34:17

136. Gad Saad — The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense

10/6/2020
There’s a war against truth and if we don’t win it, intellectual freedom will be a casualty. The West’s commitment to freedom, reason, and true liberalism has never been more seriously threatened than it is today by the stifling forces of political correctness. Dr. Gad Saad exposes the bad ideas—what he calls “idea pathogens”—that are killing common sense and rational debate. Incubated in our universities and spread through the tyranny of political correctness, these ideas are endangering...

Duration:01:37:03

135. Paul Halpern — Synchronicity: The Epic Quest to Understand the Quantum Nature of Cause and Effect

9/29/2020
Does the universe have a speed limit? If not, some effects could happen at the same instant as the actions that caused them — and some effects, ludicrously, might even happen before their causes. By one hundred years ago, it seemed clear that the speed of light was the fastest possible speed. Causality was safe. And then quantum mechanics happened, introducing spooky connections that seemed to circumvent the law of cause and effect. Inspired by the new physics, psychologist Carl Jung and...

Duration:01:17:12