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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

159. Joshua Glasgow — The Solace: Finding Value in Death Through Gratitude for Life

2/23/2021
How can we find solace when we face the death of loved ones? How can we find solace in our own death? When philosopher Joshua Glasgow’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, he struggled to answer these questions for her and for himself. Though death and immortality introduce some of the most basic and existentially compelling questions in philosophy, Glasgow found that the dominant theories came up short. Recalling the last months of his mother’s life, Glasgow reveals the breakthrough he...

Duration:01:41:26

158. Jason D. Hill — We Have Overcome: An Immigrant’s Letter to The American People

2/20/2021
In this episode Michael Shermer speaks with Jason D. Hill, a black immigrant from Jamaica, about his eloquent appreciation of the American Dream, and why his adopted nation remains the most noble experiment in enabling the pursuit of happiness. Dr. Hill came to this country at the age of 20 and, rather than being faced with intractable racial bigotry, Hill found a land of bountiful opportunity. It has been more than 50 years since the Civil Rights Act enshrined equality under the law for all...

Duration:01:38:03

157. Avi Loeb — Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth

2/16/2021
According to the Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, we have proof of alien existence, and more sightings are coming soon. In late 2017, scientists at a Hawaiian observatory glimpsed an object soaring through our inner solar system, moving so quickly that it could only have come from another star. Loeb argued that it was not an asteroid; it was moving too fast along a strange orbit and left no trail of gas or debris in its wake. There was only one conceivable explanation: the object was a piece of...

Duration:02:02:08

156. Ayaan Hirsi Ali — Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights

2/9/2021
Why are so few people talking about the eruption of sexual violence and harassment in Europe’s cities? No one in a position of power wants to admit that the problem is linked to the arrival of several million migrants — most of them young men — from Muslim-majority countries. In episode 155, Dr. Shermer speaks with Somali-born Dutch-American activist, feminist, scholar, and former politician, Ayaan Hirsi Ali about her new book Prey. She explains why so many young Muslim men who arrive in...

Duration:01:36:39

155. Martin Sherwin — Gambling with Armageddon: Nuclear Roulette from Hiroshima to The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1945–1962

2/2/2021
In episode 155, Dr. Shermer speaks with Martin Sherwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, about his new book Gambling with Armageddon, the definitive history of the Cuban Missile Crisis and its potential for nuclear holocaust, in a wider historical narrative of the Cold War — how such a crisis arose, and why at the very last possible moment it didn’t happen. Luck, coupled to reason and diplomacy, saved the world from...

Duration:01:43:05

154. David Sloan Wilson — Atlas Hugged: The Autobiography of John Galt III

1/26/2021
In episode 154, Michael speaks with renowned evolutionary theorist David Sloan Wilson about his new novel Atlas Hugged: The Autobiography of John Galt III, a devastating critique of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and its impact on the world. Shermer and Wilson discuss: the role of fiction and film in spreading ideas, good and bad; empirical/pragmatic/mythic truths; individualism vs. collectivism; why liberals/progressives/feminists don‘t like Rand; the nature of human nature; how small...

Duration:01:59:01

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