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United States

Language:

English

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Episodes

Episode 143: The Psychology of Personality

7/10/2018
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David and Tamler tackle the topic selected by their Patreon supporters - the psychology of personality. What are the different dimensions of personality that distinguish one person from another? How many dimensions are there - do the Big Five capture all of them? Do we share some of these differences with other species? Why don't personality psychologists include moral character traits? Plus - are you curious about your partner's true political commitments? No problem, just install a...

Duration:01:39:40

Episode 142: Suicide (with Matthew Nock)

6/26/2018
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In what has to be the most somber VBW to date, David and Tamler welcome Harvard psychologist Matthew Nock to the podcast to talk about suicide and other forms of self-harm. Matt tells us what we know – and what we don’t know - about the causes of suicide and the ways to prevent it. In the first segment we talk about the recent exposé of Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment. Were the guards told to be brutal? Were the prisoners never aware that could have left the study at any time? What...

Duration:01:30:41

Episode 141: Implicit Bias

6/5/2018
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David and Tamler tackle the topic of implicit bias and the controversy surrounding the implicit association test (IAT). What is implicit bias anyway? Does it have to be linked to behavior in order to truly count as a "bias"? Has the IAT been overhyped as a reflection of individual or group prejudice? And why is the debate on this topic so depressing? Plus, some deep thoughts on the intellectual dark web, how to join it, and what the analogy is supposed to reflect.

Duration:01:21:28

Episode 140: Milgram's Mice

5/22/2018
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Honor shmonor, David and Tamler return to their repugnant roots for this one. First, we pay an overdue homage to the great anonymous blogger and twitter-redeemer Neuroskeptic. We pick a few of our favorite pithy tweets and crazy science article links from his @neuroskeptic twitter account. Topics include: How much would you pay for porn? Should we be stereotyping zoophiles? Animal or fist - how to distinguish? And what do the left and right brain actually do? In part 2, we discuss an...

Duration:01:33:21

Episode 139: Honor, Identity, and Headbutts

5/12/2018
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It took two tries (the first one led to a big non-productive fight), but David and Tamler end up with a good discussion of honor and its connection to identity, pride, and personal relationships. Why have we rejected honor in favor of dignity? What are the costs and benefits of doing that? How do people "find themselves" in an industrialized anonymous society? What should you do when someone insults your sister and you're playing in the final of the World Cup? The seminal paper by Peter...

Duration:01:31:25

Episode 138: Memory, Pain, and Relationships (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

4/24/2018
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Award-winning screenwriter and medieval philosophy scholar Yoel Inbar joins us for a deep dive on the Charlie Kaufman/Michel GondREY masterpiece Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. When relationships go bad is it better to believe they never happened? What is the nature of memory, how is it constructed, and is it possible to zap them out existence with an Apple IIe? Will Tamler have a more optimistic take on the ending of the movie than David? (Hint: yes) Also--only two more weeks to...

Duration:01:45:37

Episode 137: Are Buddhists Afraid to Die? (with Shaun Nichols)

4/10/2018
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Why are we always attracted to people who mock us, resist our advances, and play hard to get? Maybe because it’s extra satisfying when you finally get them to… appear on your podcast. In our first live episode (recorded in San Antonio), the philosopher Shaun Nichols joins us to discuss his recent article “Death and the Self”. You might think that Buddhist conceptions of the self as illusory would reduce their fear of death (after all, if there’s no real self, why worry about it ceasing to...

Duration:01:03:25

Episode 136: The Good Life (with Laurie Santos)

3/27/2018
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From Very Bad Wizards to Megyn Kelly Today back to Very Bad Wizards, Laurie Santos has traveled the typical trajectory of the celebrity academic. Laurie joins us to talk about her cult status after creating the most popular course in Yale University history: Psychology and the Good Life. Why are we so bad at predicting what will make us happy? What makes it so hard to do the things we know are good for us? Why are young people more stressed, anxious, and overworked than they used to be?...

Duration:01:32:09

Episode 135: Utilitarianism and Moral Identity

3/13/2018
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David and Tamler take a break from complaining about psychological studies that measure utilitarianism to complain about the moral theory itself. We talk about one of the most famous critiques of utilitarian theories from Bernard Williams. Does utilitarianism annihilate our integrity--our unity--as people? Would trying to maximize well-being fracture our identities, and swallow up our projects, motivations, and moral convictions--the same convictions that make utilitarianism seem appealing...

Duration:01:16:42

Episode 130: Dehumanization and Disintegration (with Paul Bloom)

12/26/2017
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In this Very Special Boxing Day edition of the podcast, Tamler and David welcome back honorary Third Wizard Paul Bloom to discuss his latest article in the New Yorker about dehumanization and cruelty. Is it really the case that we dehumanize in order to harm others? Or does most violence actually require us to view others as fundamentally human, agentic, and capable of true suffering? But first, we discuss the stages of Star Trek transporter cognition, whether Paul and David are...

Duration:01:32:37

Episode 128: Fragmented Values and Sex Panics (with Christina Hoff Sommers)

11/28/2017
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David and Tamler keep their Nagel streak alive, discussing the essay "The Fragmention of Value" from his collection "Mortal Questions." How should we address our fragmented moral landscape, with multiple sources of value that can't be reduced or systematically ordered? Does this make all of our moral decisions arbitrary? Plus, we talk about Louis CK and in a Thanksgiving tradition special guest Christina Hoff Sommers rejoins the podcast in a moderately drunken debate with Tamler about a...

Duration:01:50:03

Episode 98: Mind the Gap

9/13/2016
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David and Tamler break down the biggest question in moral philosophy -- can we derive value judgments from a set of purely factual claims? Like the Scottish Philosopher David Hume they're surprised when the usual copulation of propositions 'is' and 'is not' suddenly turn into conclusions in the form of 'ought' and 'ought not.' And what's the deal with all these copulating propositions anyway? Aren't they a little young for that? Do propositions practice safe copulation? Is proposition porn...

Duration:01:22:27

Episode 97: Dogmatic Slumber Party

8/30/2016
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Do you have strong views on climate change, taxes, health care, or gun control? Do you think the evidence and reason support your side of the debate? How do you know you’re right? David and Tamler discuss a recent paper by Dan Kahan and colleagues showing how prone people are to make errors in processing information to favor positions they are predisposed to believe. And even more shocking: the higher your numeracy skills, the more prone you are to fall prey to this bias. So how do we...

Duration:01:23:01

Bonus Episode: More Doobie-ous Theories About "Mr. Robot" (Season 2)

8/9/2016
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Hello friend, did you come from the Berenstein with an 'E' universe? Or have you lived in the Berenstain with an 'A' universe? David and Tamler try to make sense of what's going on in Season 2 of Mr. Robot (Ep.1-5). You're gonna want to dig through your vomit for adderall for this one. Links The Berenstain BearsThe Berenstein Bears: We Are Living in Our Own Parallel UniverseOn the Berenstein Bears Switcheroo

Duration:00:29:55

Episode 95: The Repugnance of Repugnance

8/2/2016
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We all remember the famous iTunes review calling David and Tamler "repugnant." (And the T-shirt/mugs are coming soon, we promise!) But what did the reviewer mean by that? Was he calling us "immoral"? Did he actually feel disgust when he listened to the podcast? And if so, was there wisdom in his repugnance--did the feeling offer any moral insight about the podcast's value? How did an emotion that originally evolved for pathogen avoidance get into moralizing business anyway? And why do...

Duration:01:28:34

Episode 94: Buttery Friendships

7/19/2016
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Dave and Tamler don’t agree about much, but one thing they do share is an affinity for character-based approaches to ethics. Using Tamler’s interview with Georgetown Philosopher Nancy Sherman as their guide (link to chapter included), they discuss two ancient perspectives on how to develop good character and live happy, virtuous lives: Aristotle's and that of the Stoics. Why did Aristotle focus so much on friendship and what happens when those friendships get too "watery"? Are emotions...

Duration:01:36:32

Episode 93: Avalanches, Blame, and Cowardice (With Yoel Inbar)

7/5/2016
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Scandinavian film scholar Yoel Inbar joins the podcast for a deep dive on the Swedish film Force Majeure, a darkly funny meditation on what our instinctive behavior in a moment of panic can reveal about our characters and relationships. The story: while having lunch on a ski slope in the French Alps, a family believes that an avalanche is bearing down on them. Just as it seems the avalanche is going to hit them, the father (Tomas) grabs his phone and gloves and runs indoors, abandoning his...

Duration:01:39:01

Episode 92: Jonathan Edwards' Basement

6/21/2016
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David and Tamler continue their intermittent “classic paper series” with an episode on Jonathan Bennett’s “The Conscience of Huckleberry Finn” (published in 1974—before the reason vs. emotion debate was all cool again). Using fictional and historical examples, Bennett raises a number of questions that are central to our understanding of human morality, such as what ought to guide our behavior--human sympathy or moral beliefs? Do emotions like empathy/sympathy have judgments built into...

Duration:01:08:28

Episode 90: Of Mice and Morals

5/24/2016
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David and Tamler have their first real fight in a while over an article defending "social mixing"--distributing babies randomly across families such that no infant is genetically related to the parents who raise them.. Then they discuss a study published in Science in 2013 in which participants could earn money if they agreed to let mice be killed in a gas chamber. Do free markets threaten our moral characters and cause us to abandon our principles? What are mechanisms behind this...

Duration:01:20:48

Episode 89: Shame on You (with Jennifer Jacquet)

5/10/2016
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David and Tamler welcome author and environmental science professor Jennifer Jacquet to the podcast to discuss the pros and cons of shame. What's the difference between shame and guilt? Is shaming effective for generating social progress or getting tax cheats to pay up? Is twitter shaming on the rise or on its way out? And what does David do when he's alone in the dark? But before all of that, David and Tamler introduce a new way to support the podcast--through our Patreon account...

Duration:01:37:53