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Rationally Speaking Podcast

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Rationally Speaking is the bi-weekly podcast of New York City Skeptics. Join host Julia Galef and guests as they explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely from unlikely, and science from pseudoscience. Any topic is fair game as long as we can bring reason to bear upon it, with both a skeptical eye and a good dose of humor! We agree with the Marquis de Condorcet, who said that in an open society we ought to devote ourselves to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them."Rationally Speaking was co-created with Massimo Pigliucci, is produced by Benny Pollak, and is recorded in the heart of New York City's Greenwich Village.

Rationally Speaking is the bi-weekly podcast of New York City Skeptics. Join host Julia Galef and guests as they explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely from unlikely, and science from pseudoscience. Any topic is fair game as long as we can bring reason to bear upon it, with both a skeptical eye and a good dose of humor! We agree with the Marquis de Condorcet, who said that in an open society we ought to devote ourselves to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them."Rationally Speaking was co-created with Massimo Pigliucci, is produced by Benny Pollak, and is recorded in the heart of New York City's Greenwich Village.

Location:

New York City, NY

Description:

Rationally Speaking is the bi-weekly podcast of New York City Skeptics. Join host Julia Galef and guests as they explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely from unlikely, and science from pseudoscience. Any topic is fair game as long as we can bring reason to bear upon it, with both a skeptical eye and a good dose of humor! We agree with the Marquis de Condorcet, who said that in an open society we ought to devote ourselves to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them."Rationally Speaking was co-created with Massimo Pigliucci, is produced by Benny Pollak, and is recorded in the heart of New York City's Greenwich Village.

Twitter:

@rspodcast

Language:

English


Episodes

How to be a data detective (Tim Harford)

6/10/2021
When you see a statistic reported in the news, like "10% of University of California Berkeley students were homeless this year," how do you evaluate it? You shouldn't blindly accept every statistic you read. But neither should you reject everything that sounds surprising. Tim Harford, economist and author of The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics, talks about the heuristics he recommends using, and the mistakes people tend to make.

Duration:01:12:06

Are Uber and Lyft drivers being exploited?

4/9/2021
How much do Uber and Lyft drivers really earn, after expenses? Are they getting a raw deal by being classified as 'independent contractors' instead of employees? I explore the debate over these questions with three guests: Louis Hyman (Cornell), Veena Dubal (UC Hastings College of the Law), and Harry Campbell (The Rideshare Guy).

Duration:01:14:50

Unfair laws / Why judges should be originalists (William Baude)

3/19/2021
Is there any justification for seemingly unjust laws like "qualified immunity," which allows cops to get away with bad behavior? William Baude, a leading scholar of constitutional law, explores how these laws came to be and why they're so hard to change. Also, Baude makes the case for originalism, the view that judges should base their rulings on the original meaning of the Constitution. And Baude explains how rationalist principles have influenced his teaching and legal scholarship.

Duration:01:12:21

Intellectual honesty, cryptocurrency, & more (Vitalik Buterin)

3/4/2021
Julia and guest Vitalik Buterin (creator of the open-source blockchain platform Ethereum) explore a wide range of topics, including: Vitalik's intellectually honest approach to leadership, why prediction markets appear to be biased in favor of Trump, whether it was rational to invest in Bitcoin ten years ago, Vitalik's defense of life extension research against its critics, and more.

Duration:01:28:38

Understanding moral disagreements (Jonathan Haidt)

2/18/2021
Julia and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind) discuss his moral foundations theory and argue about whether liberals should “expand their moral horizons” by learning to think like conservatives. Julia solicits Jon’s help in understanding her disagreement with philosopher Michael Sandel, in episode 247, over the morality of consensual cannibalism.

Duration:01:18:11

The case for one billion Americans, & more (Matt Yglesias)

2/3/2021
Matt Yglesias talks about One Billion Americans, his book arguing that it’s in the United States’ national interest to dramatically boost its population, by expanding immigration and having more babies. Matt and Julia also discuss arguments for and against the “YIMBY” movement, which pushes for building more housing; what they’ve both learned from reflecting on their misguided support for the Iraq War in 2003; and why (and how) Matt is trying to be more of a rationalist.

Duration:01:49:24

What’s wrong with tech companies banning people? (Julian Sanchez)

1/20/2021
Companies like Twitter and Facebook are increasingly willing to ban users -- and even if you agree with their decisions, is it worrying that a few companies have so much power? Julia discusses with Julian Sanchez, expert on tech and civil liberties.

Duration:01:01:08

The case for racial colorblindness (Coleman Hughes)

1/5/2021
Coleman Hughes explains why he favors a "colorblind" ideal and why the "race-conscious" camp disagrees with him. Coleman and Julia also discuss whether reparations are just, and what counts as racism.

Duration:01:11:02

Are Democrats being irrational? (David Shor)

12/22/2020
Data scientist David Shor discusses some of the bad choices made by Democratic political campaigns. What's the cause of the errors? Is it irrationality, coordination problems, or something else?

Duration:01:19:52

The moral limits of markets / The problem with meritocracy (Michael Sandel)

12/7/2020
Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel argues with Julia about human dignity, consensual cannibalism, and the case in his new book, The Tyranny of Merit, that meritocracy is to blame for recent populist backlashes in the U.S.

Duration:01:01:06

Deaths of despair / Effective altruism (Angus Deaton)

11/23/2020
Economist and Nobel Laureate Angus Deaton discusses the rise in “deaths of despair” in the U.S. – deaths from drugs, alcohol or suicide. What's causing it, and how do we know? Also, Julia and Angus debate whether effective altruism can help the poor.

Duration:01:10:36

Are Boomers to blame for Millennials' struggles?

11/9/2020
Rationally Speaking returns from hiatus with a look at a clash between two generations: Millennials, and their parents' generation, the Baby Boomers. Faced with stagnant wages and rising costs of education, rent, and health care, Millennials have a tougher path to economic security than Boomers did. And a growing number of millennial writers argue that their situation is the result of misguided and irresponsible policy choices made by the Boomers themselves. Are they right? Are Boomers to...

Duration:01:05:29

Rationally Speaking #244 - Stephanie Lepp and Buster Benson on "Seeing other perspectives, with compassion"

11/30/2019
This episode features a pair of interviews on a similar topic: First, Stephanie Lepp (host of the Reckonings podcast) discusses what she's learned from interviewing people who had a serious change of heart, or "reckoning," including a former Neo-nazi and a former sex offender. What causes a reckoning? Second, Buster Benson (author of Why Are We Yelling? The art of productive disagreement) shares his tips for coming away from a disagreement feeling more alive -- for example, don't just focus...

Duration:00:42:14

Rationally Speaking #243 - Bryan Caplan on "The Case for Open Borders"

11/11/2019
The idea of open borders -- letting people move freely between countries, taking a job wherever they can find a job they want -- is still a pretty fringe position, politically speaking. But economist Bryan Caplan makes a compelling case for it in his new graphic nonfiction book, "Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration," illustrated by cartoonist Zach Weinersmith. In this episode, Julia questions Bryan about several aspects of his case.

Duration:00:49:19

Rationally Speaking #242 - Keith Frankish on "Why consciousness is an illusion"

10/28/2019
Philosopher of mind Keith Frankish is one of the leading proponents of "illusionism," the theory that argues that your subjective experience -- i.e., the "what it is like" to be you -- is a trick of the mind. It's a counterintuitive theory, but Keith makes the case for it in this episode, while explaining the other leading theories of consciousness and why he rejects them.

Duration:00:43:26

Rationally Speaking #241 - Thibault Le Texier on "Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment"

10/14/2019
The Stanford Prison Experiment is one of the most famous psychology experiments in history. For decades, we've been told that it proves how regular people easily turn sadistic when they are asked to role play as prison guards. But the story now appears to be mostly fraudulent. Thibault Le Texier is a researcher who dug into the Stanford archives and learned that the "prison guards" were actually told how to behave in order to support the experimenters' thesis. On this episode, Thibault and...

Duration:00:54:58

Rationally Speaking #240 - David Manheim on "Goodhart's Law and why metrics fail"

9/16/2019
If you want to understand why things go wrong in business, government, education, psychology, AI, and more, you need to know Goodhart's Law: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to become a good measure." In this episode, decision theorist David Manheim explains the dynamics behind Goodhart's Law and some potential solutions to it.

Duration:00:59:09

Rationally Speaking #239 - Saloni Dattani on "The debate over whether male and female brains are different"

9/2/2019
Several recent books have argued there's no difference between male and female brains. Saloni Dattani, a PhD in psychiatric genetics, discusses some of the problems with the argument, and what we really know so far about gender and the brain.

Duration:00:48:04

Rationally Speaking #238 - Razib Khan on "Stuff I've Been Wrong About"

8/19/2019
It's rare for public intellectuals to talk about things they've gotten wrong, but geneticist Razib Khan is an exception. He recently published list of 28 things he's changed his mind about in the last decade, not just in genetics, but in other fields of science, politics, society, and religion. Julia interviews Razib about some of the items on the list -- why did he change his mind, and what lessons does he feel he's learned from his past errors?

Duration:00:51:20

Rationally Speaking #237 - Andy Przybylski on "Is screen time bad for you?"

8/5/2019
It's common wisdom that spending a lot of time on your smartphone, or checking social media like Facebook and Twitter, takes a psychological toll. It makes us depressed, insecure, anxious, and isolated -- or so people say. But is there any research to back that up? Julia discusses the evidence with professor Andy Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute.

Duration:00:53:17