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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.
More Information

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

Rationally Speaking #206 - Kal Turnbull on "Change My View"

4/15/2018
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When people argue on the internet, you never expect anyone to actually say "You know what, that's a good point, you've changed my view somewhat." But Change My View, a fast-growing subreddit founded by Kal Turnbull, is an exception to the rule. Julia and Kal discuss the culture of Change My View, what makes it such an oasis for reasonable discussion on the Internet, and what we've learned about what motivates people to change their minds or not.

Duration:00:49:29

Rationally Speaking #205 - Michael Webb on "Are ideas getting harder to find?"

4/1/2018
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This episode features economist Michael Webb, who recently co-authored a paper titled "Are ideas getting harder to find?" It demonstrates that the number of researchers it takes to produce a technological innovation has gone up dramatically over time. Michael and Julia discuss various possible explanations for why this is happening, along with several challenges to his paper.

Duration:00:48:38

Rationally Speaking #204 - Simine Vazire on "Reforming psychology, and self-awareness"

3/18/2018
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Simine Vazire is a professor of psychology, the author of the blog, "Sometimes I'm Wrong," and a major advocate for improving the field of psychology. She and Julia discuss several potential objections to Simine's goal, how to handle criticism, and Simine's psychology research on the question: How self-aware are people about the way they behave?

Duration:00:53:00

Rationally Speaking #203 - Stephen Webb on “Where is Everybody? Solutions to the Fermi Paradox.

3/4/2018
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In 1950, the great physicist Enrico Fermi posed a question that people have been puzzling over ever since: Where is everybody? The universe has been around for billions of years, so why haven't we seen any signs of alien civilizations? This episode features physicist Stephen Webb, who describes some of the potential solutions to the puzzle. Stephen and Julia also discuss questions such as: What evidence have we gotten so far that helps us answer the Fermi problem? How do we estimate how...

Duration:00:40:46

Rationally Speaking #202 - Bryan Caplan on "The Case Against Education"

2/18/2018
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In this episode, economist Bryan Caplan argues that the main reason getting a college degree is valuable is because of signaling (i.e., it proves that you have traits that employers value, like conscientiousness and conformity), and not because college teaches you useful knowledge or skills. Julia proposes several potential challenges to Bryan's argument, and they discuss why it matters how much of education's value is signaling.

Duration:00:47:59

Rationally Speaking #201 - Ben Buchanan on "The Cybersecurity Dilemma"

2/4/2018
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The security dilemma is a classic problem in geopolitics: Often when one nation takes measures to protect itself from attack (like adding to their stockpile of missiles), other nations see that and worry it means the first nation is preparing to attack them, which leads to a dangerous feedback loop of escalation. In this episode, Ben Buchanan (postdoctoral fellow at Harvard studying cybersecurity and statecraft) explores how this dilemma plays out in the realm of cybersecurity: Why is the...

Duration:00:44:40

Rationally Speaking #200 - Timothy Lee on "How much should tech companies moderate speech?"

1/21/2018
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This episode features tech and policy journalist Timothy Lee, discussing a question that's increasingly in the spotlight: How much should tech companies be actively moderating their users' speech? For example, should Facebook be trying to fight fake news? Should Twitter ban bullying? Should Reddit ban subreddits that they consider hate speech? Timothy and Julia look at the question not just from the legal perspective, but also from the moral and strategic perspectives as well.

Duration:00:44:20

Rationally Speaking #199 - Jessica Flanigan on "Why people should have the right to self-medicate"

1/7/2018
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This episode features Jessica Flanigan, professor of normative and applied ethics, making the case that patients should have the right to take pharmaceutical drugs without needing to get a prescription from a doctor. Jessica and Julia discuss a series of related questions, such as: Should there be exceptions made for drugs that have negative repercussions on society as a whole? And what is the morally relevant difference between a doctor imposing treatment on someone without consent, and...

Duration:00:42:46

Rationally Speaking #198 - Timur Kuran on “Private Truths and Public Lies"

12/10/2017
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In this episode, economist Timur Kuran explains the ubiquitous phenomenon of "preference falsification" -- in which people claim to support something publicly even though they don't support it privately -- and describes its harmful effects on society. He and Julia explore questions like: Is preference falsification all bad? Are there ways to reduce it? And how much has the Internet changed the dynamics around preference falsification?

Duration:01:15:51

Rationally Speaking #197 - Doug Hubbard on “Why people think some things can’t be quantified (and why they’re wrong)”

11/12/2017
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In this episode Julia talks with Doug Hubbard, author of How to Measure Anything, about why people so often believe things are impossible to quantify like "innovation" or "quality of life." For example, because people often have a deep misunderstanding of the meaning of probability. Or because they're reluctant to violate "sacred taboos" by putting a number on something like the value of human life. Or because it feels vulgar to "reduce" important things to a number. Doug explains how he...

Duration:01:01:51

Rationally Speaking #196 - Eric Schwitzgebel on "Weird ideas and opaque minds"

10/29/2017
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Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel returns to the show to explore several related questions: His taxonomy of the three different styles of thinker -- "Truth," "Dare," and "Wonder" -- and whether one of them is better than the others. His case for why it's bad to interpret people "charitably." And his seemingly paradoxical claim that we are frequently wrong about our own conscious experience.

Duration:01:11:04

Rationally Speaking #195 - Zach Weinersmith on "Emerging technologies that'll improve and/or ruin everything"

10/15/2017
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This episode features Zach Weinersmith, creator of the philosophical webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and the co-author (with his wife Kelly Weinersmith) of the new book Soonish: 10 Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything. Julia and Zach talk about which new technology is the most likely to happen, which would be most transformative, and which would pose the most risk to the world. Also, has our society become too risk-averse? And what are the main...

Duration:00:50:07

Rationally Speaking #194 - Robert Wright on "Why Buddhism is True"

10/1/2017
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This episode features bestselling author Robert Wright making the case for why Buddhism was right about human nature: its diagnosis that the our suffering is mainly due to a failure to see reality clearly, and its prescription that meditation can help us see more clearly. Robert and Julia discuss whether it's suspicious that a religion turned out to be "right" about human nature, what it means for emotions to be true or false, and whether there are downsides to enlightenment.

Duration:00:50:32

Rationally Speaking #193 - Eric Jonas on "Could a neuroscientist understand a microprocessor?"

9/17/2017
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The field of neuroscience has been collecting more and more data, and developing increasingly advanced technological tools in its race to understand how the brain works. But can those data and tools ever yield true understanding? This episode features neuroscientist and computer scientist Eric Jonas, discussing his provocative paper titled "Could a Neuroscientist Understand a Microprocessor?" in which he applied state-of-the-art neuroscience tools, like lesion analysis, to a computer chip....

Duration:01:04:37

Rationally Speaking #192 - Jesse Singal on “The problems with implicit bias tests”

9/3/2017
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You may have heard of the Implicit Associations Test (IAT) -- one of the most famous instruments from social psychology, it's frequently cited as evidence that most people harbor implicit racism or sexism, even if they aren't aware of it. This episode features science journalist Jesse Singal, who argues that the IAT has been massively overhyped, and that in fact there's little evidence that it's measuring real-life bias. Jesse and Julia discuss how to interpret the IAT, why it became so...

Duration:00:51:47

Rationally Speaking #191 - Seth Stephens-Davidowitz on "What the internet can tell us about human nature" (Fixed)

8/20/2017
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There are a lot of sensitive topics about human nature that would be interesting to study, such as people's sexual behavior, or how racist people really are. Researchers studying those questions have always faced the problem that we tend to lie on surveys -- but we don't lie to Google. This episode features Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, economist and data scientist, and author of the book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are. Seth and...

Duration:00:59:21

Rationally Speaking #190 - Amanda Askell on "Pascal's Wager and other low risks with high stakes"

8/6/2017
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You've probably heard of Pascal's Wager: That it's rational to believe in God, because if you're wrong it's no big deal, but if you're right then the payoff is huge. This episode features philosopher Amanda Askell, who (though not religious herself) argues that it's much trickier to rebut Pascal's Wager than most people think. Amanda and Julia also discuss how to handle other decisions where a risk has very low probability but would matter a lot if it came true -- should you round them...

Duration:00:46:29

Rationally Speaking #189 - Stephan Guyenet on "What causes obesity?"

7/23/2017
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In this episode Julia sits down with neuroscientist and obesity researcher Stephan Guyenet, to talk about what scientists know so far about the causes of obesity, and in particular the brain's role in regulating weight gain. Julia and Stephan cover questions such as: Why did obesity start to increase in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century? Does the body have a "set point" of fat that it tries to defend, and what affects those set points? Are low-carb diets more...

Duration:01:06:48

Rationally Speaking #188 - Robert Kurzban on "Being strategically wrong"

7/9/2017
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In this episode, recorded live at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, Julia interviews evolutionary psychologist Rob Kurzban, author of "Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite." Rob describes the "modular mind" hypothesis, and how it explains hypocrisy, self-deception, and other seemingly irrational features of human nature. Rob and Julia argue about how useful these kinds of "strategic wrongness" really are.

Duration:00:45:48

Rationally Speaking #187 - Jason Weeden on "Do people vote based on self-interest?"

6/25/2017
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What determines which policies a person votes for? Is it their personality, their upbringing, blind loyalty to their political party? Or is it self-interest -- people voting for policies that will benefit themselves and the groups they belong to? This episode features psychologist Jason Weeden, arguing that self-interest is a much bigger determinant of voter behavior than most political scientists think it is. Jason and Julia talk about why researchers disagree over this question, and what...

Duration:01:02:16

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