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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.


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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.






Ways of Thinking That Power Successful People

Shermer and Pompliano discuss: personal journey from college to Fortune to The Profile • what distinguishes the truly exceptional from the merely great • What is genius? • hindsight bias • David Goggins: Do something that sucks every single day • stress-testing yourself through regular hardship • victimhood: “Suffering is universal but victimhood is optional” • fear • updating existing beliefs • pursuing meaningful goals • trust = consistency + time. Polina Marinova Pompliano is the founder of The Profile, a new media company that features longform profiles of successful people and companies each week. Previously, she spent five years at Fortune where she wrote more than 1,300 articles. Her new book is Hidden Genius: The Secret Ways of Thinking That Power the World’s Most Successful People.


How to Fight for Truth and Protect Democracy

Lee McIntyre is Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University. Formerly Executive Director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, he has taught philosophy at Colgate University, Boston University, Simmons University, Tufts Experimental College, and Harvard Extension School. He is the author of Dark Ages, Post-Truth, The Scientific Attitude, and How to Talk to a Science Denier. His new book is On Disinformation: How to Fight for Truth and Protect Democracy. Shermer and McIntyre discuss: default to truth theory • RFK Jr. • whether reason evolved for veridical perception or group identity? • How do we know what is true and what to believe? • What is disinformation? • worst case scenarios if Donald Trump wins in 2024 • trans issues, race issues, GMOs, nuclear power, climate doomsdayism • facts and values • science and morality • What went wrong during the COVID-19 pandemic? • lies and disinformation about masks and vaccines • social media companies responsibility for disinformation • what we should do personally and politically about disinformation.


The Law vs. Separation of Church and State

Shermer and Tabash discuss: the history of the relationship between church and state • the founding framers of the U.S. Constitution and their arguments for separating church and state • Madison and Jefferson • how most of the 13 colonies had government-sanctioned religions and religious tests for office • the Constitutional Convention and the First Amendment • the push by some Republicans to hold a new Constitutional Convention and redesign the entire U.S. Constitution • the religious beliefs and attitudes of the current SCOTUS. Eddie Tabash is a constitutional lawyer in Los Angeles. He graduated magna cum laude from UCLA in 1973. He graduated from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles in 1976. He is known for his expertise in demonstrating how the religion clauses of the First Amendment require the separation of church and state, which includes equality before the law for nonbelievers. He is an atheist who endeavors to secure a society in which no branch of government can treat people differently because of either accepting or rejecting any tenet of religious belief.


Based on DNA Testing, Only One Twin Was Granted U.S. Citizenship. Why?

This episode is a conversation based on two of Nancy Segal’s books The Twin Children of the Holocaust: Stolen Childhood and the Will to Survive and Gay Fathers, Twin Sons: the Citzenship Case that Captured the World. Shermer and Segal discuss: her historical interest in twins research and behavior genetics • the many different types of twins and family arrangements • twins separated accidentally • twins separated intentionally • twins reunited • a brief history of twins research • Josef Mengele • Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart • the gay fathers and twin sons story • immigration and naturalization law related to IVF, twins, gay couples, etc. • abortion • eugenics and the Nobel Prize sperm bank • the meaning of “heritability” • the relative role of nature and nurture in how lives turn out • the “nonshared environment.” Nancy Segal is a Psychology Professor, and Director and Founder of the Twin Studies Center at California State University, Fullerton. She has authored over 300 scholarly articles and eight books. Her 2012 book, Born Together-Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study, won the American Psychological Association’s William James Book Award. Her recent work, Deliberately Divided: Inside the Controversial Study of Twins and Triplets Adopted Apart, was the focus of a July 2022 BBC-TV documentary. She's a member of the editorial board of Skeptic magazine.


Evidence of Aliens? Harvard Astronomer Avi Loeb

Did Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb discover the remnants of an interstellar meteor in the form of spherules on the ocean floor? Could they be of alien origin? In today’s special edition of The Michael Shermer Show the guest, Harvard astrophysicist Dr. Avi Loeb announces that he has discovered material from a large interstellar object from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean near Papua New Guinea in an expedition he led over the summer. The object, which he labels IM1—Interstellar Meteor 1—collided with Earth nearly a decade ago and was tracked by U.S. government satellites, which gave Loeb and his team coordinates of where to look. Most of the meteor burned up in the atmosphere but tiny spherules remained on the ocean bottom, which Loeb retrieved and had analyzed in labs at Harvard, UC Berkeley, and the Broker Corporation. These spherules are tiny—smaller than a grain of sand—and there are literally trillions of them around the world of both terrestrial and extraterrestrial origin, so whether or not these particular spherules are Interstellar in origin remains to be seen, despite Loeb’s confidence that they are. Here is what he announced today in a press release: The Interstellar Expedition of June 2023–led by the expedition’s Chief Scientist, Harvard University Astrophysicist Avi Loeb and coordinated by Expedition Leader Rob McCallum of EYOS Expeditions retrieved hundreds of metallic spheres thought to be unmatched to any existing alloys in our solar system from the seafloor in the Pacific Ocean near Papua New Guinea. Early analysis shows that some spherules from the meteor path contain extremely high abundances of Beryllium, Lanthanum and Uranium, labeled as a never-seen-before “BeLaU” composition. These spherules also exhibit iron isotope ratios unlike those found on Earth, the Moon and Mars, altogether implying an interstellar origin. The loss of volatile elements is consistent with IM1’s airburst in the Earth’s atmosphere. “The “BeLaU” composition is tantalizingly different by factors of hundreds from solar system materials, with beryllium production through spallation of heavier nuclei by cosmic-rays flagging interstellar travel,” says Avi Loeb. The press release of August 29, 2023 was timed with the publication date of Dr. Loeb’s new book, Interstellar, whose subtitle hints at the scientist’s larger ambitions: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Our Future in the Stars. Dr. Loeb’s co-authored paper has not been peer reviewed. In fact, none of the world’s leading experts on spherules from space have even seen any of Dr. Loeb’s evidence. So in preparation for this episode, I contacted Peter Brown, an astronomer at Western University, Ontario, who specializes in the physics of meteors, and he directed me to the five leading experts in the world on spherules. These include: George Flynn, SUNY, Plattsburgh; Don Brownlee, University of Washington; John Bradley, University of Hawaii; Michael Zolensky, NASA; and Matthew Genge, Imperial College, London. I also consulted Steven Desch, from Arizona State University, as he has been quoted elsewhere as a critic of Avi Loeb’s research. All expressed their skepticism about Dr. Loeb’s findings, which I read on air to Avi to get his response. (See the show notes for this episode on Listen to the experts and Dr. Loeb’s response to their skepticism in this episode. (Note: Steven Desch’s initial statement, included in the show notes, was so negative that I chose not to read it on air, but include it in the show notes on for full disclosure of what he thinks about this research. I also included Dr. Desch’s additional comments on why many scientists are skeptical of the U.S. government data on the meteor’s trajectory and impact site.) I should note that I am a member of the Galileo Project team, which organized this expedition, and I consider Avi a friend and colleague who always welcomes my skepticism in our weekly team meetings. To that end let me emphasize...


Slavery in the U.S. Analyzed by a Pulitzer Prize-Winning Lawyer and Historian (Ed Larson)

New attention from historians and journalists is raising pointed questions about the founding period: was the American revolution waged to preserve slavery, and was the Constitution a pact with slavery or a landmark in the antislavery movement? We have long needed a history of the founding that fully includes Black Americans in the Revolutionary protests, the war, and the debates over slavery and freedom that followed. We now have that history in Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Edward J. Larson’s insightful synthesis of the founding. Throughout Larson’s brilliant history, it is the voices of Black Americans that prove the most convincing of all on the urgency of liberty. Shermer and Larson discuss: Was America founded in 1619 or 1776? • What is/was an “American”? • Founding Fathers attitudes toward slavery • What was the justification of slavery? • constitutional convention and slavery compromises • U.S. Constitution and slavery • Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments • Atlantic slave trade • Fugitive Slave Act and Clause • Native Americans • monogenism vs. polygenism • slavery abolition • Quakers push for abolition • Three-fifths Compromise • The Dread Scott Decision and the Civil War • Abraham Lincoln and his rational argument for ending slavery • the future of race relations in America. Edward J. Larson is the author of many acclaimed works in American history, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning history of the Scopes Trial, Summer for the Gods. He also authored Franklin and Washington: The Founding Partnership, The Return of George Washington 1783-1789, A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800—America’s First Presidential Campaign, An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science, To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration, and the textbook Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory. He is University Professor of History and Hugh and Hazel Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University.


Maybe "Good Enough" Is Actually Enough? When Perfectionism Backfires.

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” —anonymous “Perfection is man’s ultimate illusion. It simply doesn’t exist in the universe. If you are a perfectionist, you are guarantee to be a loser in whatever you do.” —David Burns Today, burnout and depression are at record levels, driven by a combination of intense workplace competition, oppressively ubiquitous social media encouraging comparisons with others, the quest for elite credentials, and helicopter parenting. Society continually broadcasts the need to want more, and to be perfect. Shermer and Curran discuss: • Curran’s own perfectionism and how that led him to research perfection • What is perfection? Is he measuring perfection or something else? • The Big Five Personality Scale (OCEAN) and where perfection falls in it • goals, meritocracy, high standards, and conscientiousness • self-oriented vs. other-oriented vs. socially prescribed perfectionism • Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong • origins of perfectionism • consequences of perfectionism • social media • income inequality, UBI, GDP, economics • helicopter parenting and coddling • generational differences in perfectionism. Thomas Curran is a professor of psychology at the London School of Economics and author of a landmark study that the BBC hailed as “the first to compare perfectionism across generations.” His TED talk on perfectionism has received more than three million views. His research has been featured in media ranging from the Harvard Business Review to New Scientist to CNN and he has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. He is the author of The Perfection Trap: Embracing the Power of Good Enough.


Is a Human Life Worth $10 Million or Only $187,000? (Bjorn Lomborg)

World leaders have promised everything to everyone. But they are failing. Together with more than a hundred of the world’s top economists, Bjorn Lomborg has worked for years to identify the world’s best solutions. Based on 12 new, peer-reviewed papers, forthcoming in Cambridge University Press’ Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, Lomborg’s latest book highlights the world’s best policies. Shermer and Lomborg discuss: perfect solutions vs. practical trade-offs • benefit-cost analysis • time horizons and discounting the future • the value of a statistical life • saving the environment, the poor, the diseased • the millennium development goals • the sustainable development goals • tuberculosis • education • maternal and newborn health • agricultural R&D (more and cheaper food) • malaria • land tenure security • nutrition • chronic diseases • childhood immunization • corruption • highly skilled migration. Bjorn Lomborg is an academic and the author of the best-selling The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It. He is a visiting professor at Copenhagen Business School, and president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center which brings together top economists, including seven Nobel Laureates, to set data-driven priorities for the world. Lomborg is a frequent commentator in print and broadcast media, for outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, CNN, FOX, and the BBC. His monthly column is published in 19 languages, in 30+ newspapers with more than 30 million readers globally. Follow him on twitter @BjornLomborg.


Why We Get Fooled

From phishing scams to Ponzi schemes, fraudulent science to fake art, chess cheaters to crypto hucksters, and marketers to magicians, our world brims with deception. In Nobody’s Fool, psychologists Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris show us how to avoid being taken in. They describe the key habits of thinking and reasoning that serve us well most of the time but make us vulnerable—like our tendency to accept what we see, stick to our commitments, and overvalue precision and consistency. Each chapter illustrates their new take on the science of deception, describing scams you’ve never heard of and shedding new light on some you have. Simons and Chabris provide memorable maxims and practical tools you can use to spot deception before it’s too late. Christopher Chabris is a professor at Geisinger, a Pennsylvania healthcare system, where he co-directs the Behavioral Insights Team. He previously taught at Union College and Harvard University, and is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. Chris received his Ph.D. in psychology and A.B. in computer science from Harvard. His research focuses on decision-making, attention, intelligence, and behavior genetics. His work has been published in leading journals including Science, Nature, PNAS, and Perception, and he has published essays in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post. Chris is also a chess master, games enthusiast, and co-author of the bestselling book The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us. Together Daniel and Christopher co-authored the new book Nobody’s Fool: Why We Get Taken In and What We Can Do about It. Shermer, Simons, and Chabris discuss: • How rational vs. irrational are humans? (Daniel Kahneman vs. Gerd Gingerenzer) • Truth Default Theory, or Truth Bias • deception vs. deception detection • social proof and the influence of others on our beliefs • cults • Bernie Madoff • Harvey Weinstein • Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos • Nigerian spam scam • cheating in chess • habits of thought that can be exploited • information hooks we find especially enticing instead of triggering skepticism • scientific fraud and the replication crisis • how to prevent from being a victim of fraud or a con.


The Saad Truth About Happiness

Everyone wants to be happy. The question “How can I be happy?” drives countless decisions across the world, and billions of dollars are spent on marketing a wide variety of answers to it. Increasing evidence shows, however, that unhappiness is on the rise. Already known to an audience of hundreds of thousands as “the therapist for everyone,” Dr. Saad contends that happiness is not merely a changeable mood, but a process toward which all people can strive by following basic steps known to humans for millennia; happiness can be measured and assessed, and strategies devised to achieve it. Drawing on scientific studies, the wisdom of ancient philosophy and religion, and his extraordinary personal experience as a refugee from war-torn Lebanon, Gad offers a provocative, helpful, and entertaining treatise on how to strive for happiness, win it, and keep it. Gad Saad, PhD, one of the best-known public intellectuals fighting the tyranny of political correctness, is a professor of marketing at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University, where he held the Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption from 2008 to 2018. A pioneer in the application of evolutionary psychology to consumer behavior, he is the author of The Evolutionary Bases of Consumption, The Consuming Instinct, and numerous scientific papers and the editor of the book Evolutionary Psychology in the Business Sciences. His previous bestselling popular trade book is The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense. His new book is The Saad Truth about Happiness: 8 Secrets for Leading the Good Life. Shermer and Saad discuss: operational definitions of the “good life,” “happiness,” and “well being” • emotions • eudaimonia (the pursuit of meaning) versus hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure) • genetics and heritability • cultural components • the Big Five (OCEAN) • marriage (mate selection) • health • exercise and stress reduction • religion • anti-fragility • a playful outlook and curiosity • variety (the “spice of life”) • what the ancient Greeks got right about living the good life • how failure may actually be a key to more happiness • persistence, grit, and risk taking • regret and the dark side of consumption and addictions.


Christopher Rufo Decodes Cultural Shifts in America

In this conversation based on his new book, America’s Cultural Revolution, Christopher Rufo exposes the inner history of the intellectuals and militants who slowly and methodically captured America’s institutions. With profiles of Herbert Marcuse, Angela Davis, Paulo Freire, and Derrick Bell, Rufo shows how activists have profoundly influenced American culture with an insidious mix of Marxism and racialist ideology. Through deep historical research, Rufo shows how the ideas first formulated in the pamphlets of the Weather Underground, Black Panther Party, and Black Liberation Army have been sanitized and adopted as the official ideology of America’s prestige institutions, from the Ivy League universities to the boardrooms of Walmart, Disney, and Bank of America. Shermer and Rufo discuss: race as America’s original sin • civil rights movement then and now • liberalism vs. illiberalism • equality vs. equity • overt racism vs. systemic racism • intellectual origins of the cultural revolution: Herbert Marcuse, Angela Davis, Paulo Freire, Derrick Bell, Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton • Black Lives Matter origins in the Black Liberation Army and the Black Panthers • critical race theory (CRT) • diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and more… Christopher Rufo is a writer, filmmaker, and activist. He has directed four documentaries for PBS, including America Lost, which tells the story of three forgotten American cities. He is a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of the public policy magazine City Journal. His reporting and activism have inspired a presidential order, a national grassroots movement, and legislation in 22 states. Christopher holds a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a Master’s of Liberal Arts from Harvard University.


The Truth About Martin Luther King Jr.

Vividly written and exhaustively researched, Jonathan Eig’s King: A Life is the first major biography in decades of the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. — and the first to include recently declassified FBI files. In this revelatory new portrait of the preacher and activist who shook the world, the bestselling biographer gives us an intimate view of the courageous and often emotionally troubled human being who demanded peaceful protest for his movement but was rarely at peace with himself. He casts fresh light on the King family’s origins as well as MLK’s complex relationships with his wife, father, and fellow activists. King reveals a minister wrestling with his own human frailties and dark moods, a citizen hunted by his own government, and a man determined to fight for justice even if it proved to be a fight to the death. As he follows MLK from the classroom to the pulpit to the streets of Birmingham, Selma, and Memphis, Eig dramatically re-creates the journey of a man who recast American race relations and became our only modern-day founding father — as well as the nation’s most mourned martyr. Shermer and Eig discuss: how to write biography • the history of the King family going back to slavery, Jim Crow, etc. • the influence of King Sr. on Martin’s intellectual and emotional development and the Ebenezer Baptist Church • King’s early experience with racism in the south • King’s religious beliefs and the influence of his faith on his civil rights activism • the influence of Gandhi and Reinhold Niebuhr on King’s strategic activism and deep belief in nonviolence • King’s politics • Malcolm X • Native Americans • gay rights • accusations of plagiarism, and more… Jonathan Eig is a former senior writer for the Wall Street Journal. He is the New York Times bestselling author of several books, including Ali: A Life; Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig; and Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season. Ken Burns calls him “a master storyteller,” and Eig’s books have been listed among the best of the year by the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated, and Slate. He lives in Chicago with his wife and children.


An Outsider’s Perspective on American Culture Wars

Right now, someone, somewhere is being cancelled. Off-the-cuff tweets or “harmless” office banter have the potential to wreck lives. The Left condemns the Right, and the bigotry of the old elites. The Right complains about brain-dead political correctness, and the erosion of liberal values. In reality, both sides are colluding in a reactionary, exclusionary politics that is as self-defeating as it is divisive. Can the Left escape this extremism and stay true to the progressive ideals it once professed? In this provocative conversation based on his new book, Umut Özkirimli reveals the similarities between right-wing populism and radical identity politics, and sets out an alternative vision. Shermer and Özkirimli discuss: identity politics, cancel culture • woke, TERF, anti-fragility, anti-racism • diversity, equity, and inclusion • Ibram X. Kendi, Robin DiAngelo • Loretta Ross, rape, retributive vs. restorative justice • Woman’s March • leftism, progressivism, democratic socialism, liberalism, classical liberalism, libertarianism, conservatism, populism, nationalism, white nationalism, authoritarianism, tyranny • moral panics • MAGA, Trump • victimhood • safetyism • trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions • What Went Wrong? Umut Özkirimli is a senior research fellow at IBEI (Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals), a professor at Blanquerna, Ramon Llull University, and a senior research associate at CIDOB (Barcelona Centre for International Affairs). His writings appear in the Guardian, openDemocracy, Times Higher Education, Huffington Post, among others. Find him on Twitter at @UOzkirimli and


Children and Politics

According to conservative commentator Bethany Mandel, “the Left is waging an all-out battle on the American family, particularly the youngest members. If they can make our children miserable, lead them to question every building block of society, and rebuild their entire concept of reality, then the Left and their woke indoctrinators will consider that a victory.” She firmly believes “Our children’s lives and the survival of our families are at stake.” In this honest conversation, Dr. Shermer disagrees with some of Mandel's conclusions, agrees with others, and pushes back against certain aspects of her worldview. Shermer and Mandel discuss: • anecdotes vs. data about children and politics • What is a woman? What is a man? • sex and gender • woke medicine • transgender affirming care • libraries and publishers of children’s books • abortion: pro-Choice or pro-Life? • support for children: government or private? Bethany Mandel is a columnist for Fox News and a homeschooling mother of six. She has written for the New York Times, Newsweek, Spectator, and more. Her new book is Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation.


The Future of Medicine: What You Need to Know

We are on the cusp of a major transformation in healthcare. Using information gleaned from our blood and genes and tapping into the data revolution made possible by AI, doctors can catch the onset of disease years before symptoms arise, revolutionizing prevention. At top hospitals and a few innovative health-tech startups, scientists are working closely with patients to dramatically extend their “healthspan”―the number of healthy years before disease sets in. In The Age of Scientific Wellness, two visionary leaders of this revolution in health take us on a thrilling journey to this new frontier of medicine. Hood, Price, and Shermer discuss: why we age and die • sickcare vs. healthcare • the 10 most popular drugs in the U.S. work for only about 10% of treated people • chronological age ≠ biological age • life expectancy, life span, longevity, and healthspan • why eliminating all cancers would only increase average life span by 3 years • genome vs. phenome • gut biome • optimizing brain function • brain plasticity • sleep, nutrition, exercise • Alzheimer’s • AI and quantum computing for better health.


Michael Shellenberger on UFO Whistleblowers

Shermer and Shellenberger discuss: the original article in Debrief • the authors Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal • why this story was not covered by the New York Times or the Washington Post • whistleblower David Grusch and his claim that the U.S. government and its allies have in their possession “intact and partially intact craft of non-human origin,” along with the dead alien pilots • claims of the many types of alien ships and alien beings, and that the aliens might be multi-dimensional in nature • that there is a sophisticated cover-up by the military of which even the POTUS isn’t aware • what Shellenberger’s new sources told him about Grusch’s claims, and more… Michael Shellenberger is an investigative journalist who has broken major stories on crime and drug policy; homelessness; Amazon deforestation; rising climate resilience; growing eco-anxiety; the U.S. government’s role in the fracking revolution; climate change and California’s fires, and now UFO whistleblowers, which he revealed in his substack article in Public. He was on the show previously to discuss his book Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, and since then he wrote San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities. Earlier this year he worked with Elon Musk, Bari Weiss, and Matt Taibbi on the “Twitter Files,” which revealed the extent to which censorship of unpopular ideas and politically incorrect beliefs was rampant at Twitter before Musk purchased the company. In his Public Substack article Shellenberger revealed what he learned from UFO whistleblowers, which he shares with us in this episode.


Is the Government Hiding Aliens?

A commentary on the latest UAP/UFO story about the whistleblower and the government UFO retrieval program. In this special episode of The Michael Shermer Show, Dr. Shermer addresses the latest claims by a whistleblower that the U.S. government and its allies has spacecraft that are “off-world,” meaning extraterrestrial in nature. If true, it would be one of the greatest discoveries in human history, but is it, in fact, true? Very very unlikely, for a number of reasons that Dr. Shermer considers as he puts this story into historical context after 30+ years of studying UFOs, a topic of regular coverage in Skeptic magazine. Also, read Dr. Shermer’s article in Quillette: “Aliens…Again! This time, they always say, it could be different.”


A Guide to Violence and Self-Defense.

Shermer and Thornton discuss: aggression: passive, proactive, reactive, relational • moralistic punishment and the game theory analysis of the logic of violence • gun violence (homicide, suicide, accidents) • violence against women/children • male-on-male violence • alcohol, drugs, infidelity • race • self-control • training soldiers • male role models • Rodney King, Michael Brown, George Floyd • police violence • bullying • fatherless homes • rape and sexual violence • self-defense. Matt Thornton has been teaching functional martial arts for more than thirty years and holds a 5 degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His organization, Straight Blast Gym, has more than seventy locations worldwide and has produced champion MMA fighters as well as world-class self-defense and law enforcement instructors. He lives with his wife Salome and their five children in Portland, Oregon. His new book is The Gift of Violence: Practical Knowledge for Surviving and Thriving in a Dangerous World.


Identity or Merit: What Matters More? (Heather Mac Donald)

Shermer and Mac Donald discuss: race as America’s original sin • civil rights • equality vs. equity • disparate impact • overt racism vs. systemic racism • why Blacks make less money, own fewer and lower quality homes, work in less prestigious jobs, hold fewer seats in the Senate and House of Representatives, run fewer Fortune 500 companies • race and science, medicine, classical music, opera, Juilliard, Swan Lake, museums, and the law • crime and mass shootings • George Floyd and race riots. Heather Mac Donald is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and a New York Times bestselling author. She is a recipient of the 2005 Bradley Prize. Mac Donald’s work at City Journal has covered a range of topics, including higher education, immigration, policing, homelessness and homeless advocacy, criminal-justice reform, and race relations. Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, and The New Criterion. Her new book is When Race Trumps Merit: How the Pursuit of Equity Sacrifices Excellence, Destroys Beauty, and Threatens Lives.


Are We Risking Our Ability to Think?

How humans transfer knowledge through time might affect our ability to think. With the advent of the internet, any topic we want to know about is instantly available with the touch of a smartphone button. With so much knowledge at our fingertips, what is there left for our brains to do? At a time when we seem to be stripping all value from the idea of knowing things — no need for math, no need for map-reading, no need for memorization — are we risking our ability to think? Simon Winchester takes a deep dive into learning and the human mind, and forces us to ponder what rational humans are becoming. Shermer and Winchester discuss: how to become a professional writer • ChatGPT, GPT-4, and AI • knowledge as justified true belief • What is truth? • Are we living in a post-truth world? • education, past and present • books and the printing press • the history and future of encyclopedias • museums: repatriating objects taken during colonialism • print and broadcast journalism • internet and knowledge. Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman, The Men Who United the States, The Perfectionists, The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906, Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World, and Krakatoa, most of which were New York Times bestsellers and appeared on numerous best and notable lists. In 2006, Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. He resides in western Massachusetts. His new book is Knowing What We Know: The Transmission of Knowledge: From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Magic.