Rationally Speaking-logo

Rationally Speaking

Special Interest >

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 #222 - Spencer Greenberg and Seth Cottrell on "Ask a Mathematician, Ask a Physicist"

12/2/2018
More
This episode features the hosts of "Ask a Mathematician, Ask a Physicist," a blog that grew out of a Burning Man booth in which a good-natured mathematician (Spencer Greenberg) and physicist (Seth Cottrell) answer people's questions about life, the universe, and everything. Spencer and Seth discuss the weirdest and most controversial questions they've answered, why math is fundamentally arbitrary, Seth's preferred alternative to the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics, how a...

Duration:00:57:35

Rationally Speaking #221 - Rob Reich on "Is philanthropy bad for democracy?"

11/13/2018
More
This episode features political scientist Rob Reich, author of "Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy, and How it Can Do Better". Rob and Julia debate his criticisms of philanthropy: Does it deserve to be tax-deductible? Is it a violation of the autonomy of recipients to attach strings to their charitable gifts? And do philanthropists have too much power in society?

Duration:00:47:12

Rationally Speaking #220 - Peter Eckersley on "Tough choices on privacy and artificial intelligence"

10/28/2018
More
This episode features Peter Eckersley, an expert in law and computer science, who has worked with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Partnership on AI. Peter and Julia first delve into some of the most fundamental questions about privacy: What are the risks of losing privacy? Do we have more to fear from governments or industry? Which companies do a good job of protecting their users' privacy? Are there tradeoffs between supporting privacy and supporting competitive markets? Next,...

Duration:01:02:52

Rationally Speaking #219 - Jason Collins on "A skeptical take on behavioral economics"

10/14/2018
More
In this episode, economist Jason Collins discusses some of the problems with behavioral economics: Why governments have started to rely too much on the field, and why that's bad; why it's suspicious that there are over 100 cognitive biases; when "nudges" are problematic; and more.

Duration:00:55:50

Rationally Speaking #218 - Chris Auld on "Good and bad critiques of economics"

9/30/2018
More
In this episode, economist Chris Auld describes some common criticisms of his field and why they're wrong. Julia and Chris also discuss whether there are any good critiques of the field, and whether economists think that people with an addiction to alcohol or drugs are behaving rationally.

Duration:00:48:16

Rationally Speaking #217 - Aviv Ovadya on "The problem of false, biased, and artificial news"

9/16/2018
More
Aviv Ovadya, an expert on misinformation, talks with Julia about the multiple phenomena that get lumped together as "fake news." For example, articles that are straightforwardly false, misleading, or artificially created (think "Deepfakes," videos that make a politician appear to say something he didn't say). Which of those problems are more dangerous for our civilization? Are any of them tractable? And what might a solution look like?

Duration:00:38:44

Rationally Speaking #216 - Diana Fleischman on "Being a transhumanist evolutionary psychologist"

9/2/2018
More
On this episode of Rationally Speaking, professor Diana Fleischman makes the case for transhumanist evolutionary psychology: understanding our evolved drives, so that we can better overcome them. Diana and Julia discuss sexual preferences, jealousy, and other drives -- how immutable are they? How do we know? And how would it change society, if we could change the distribution of people we find attractive, or normalize new relationship structures such as polyamory?

Duration:00:46:08

Rationally Speaking #215 - Anders Sandberg on "Thinking about the long-term future of humanity"

8/19/2018
More
This episode features Anders Sandberg, a researcher at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, explaining several reasons why it's valuable to think about humanity's long-term future. Julia and Anders discuss the common objection that we can't predict or steer the future, and explore whether people really care if humanity dies out.

Duration:00:43:00

Rationally Speaking #214 - Anthony Aguirre on "Predicting the future of science and tech, with Metaculus"

8/5/2018
More
This episode features physicist Anthony Aguirre discussing Metaculus, the site he created to crowd-source accurate predictions about science and technology. For example, will SpaceX land on Mars by 2030? Anthony and Julia discuss details such as: why it's useful to have predictions on questions like these, how to measure Metaculus' accuracy, why Anthony chose not to run it like a traditional prediction market, and how to design incentives to reward good forecasters.

Duration:00:50:27

Rationally Speaking #213 - Dean Simonton on "The causes of scientific and artistic genius"

7/22/2018
More
This episode features Professor Dean Simonton, who has spent his life quantitatively studying geniuses, from Einstein to Mozart. Dean and Julia discuss his views on whether IQ is important, whether some innovations are "in the air" at given points in history, whether the "10,000 hours = mastery" theory promoted by Malcolm Gladwell is accurate, and more.

Duration:01:06:03

Rationally Speaking #212 - Ed Boyden on "How to invent game-changing technologies"

7/8/2018
More
This episode features neuroscientist Ed Boyden discussing two inventions of his that have revolutionized neuroscience: optogenetics and expansion microscopy. Ed and Julia talk about Ed's approach to coming up with good ideas, why he prefers reading old science to new science, his big-picture plan for what he wants to solve in his career, and his take on the rationalist versus Hayekian debate over how to make important progress.

Duration:00:48:52

Rationally Speaking #211 - Sabine Hossenfelder on "The case against beauty in physics"

6/24/2018
More
This episode features physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math, arguing that fundamental physics is too enamored of "beauty" as a criterion for evaluating theories of how the universe works. She and Julia discuss the three components of beauty (simplicity, naturalness, and elegance), why physicists think it's reasonable to put their trust in beauty, and why this might be merely a symptom of other underlying problems with physics as a discipline.

Duration:00:42:10

Rationally Speaking #210 - Stuart Ritchie on "Conceptual objections to IQ testing"

6/10/2018
More
This episode features Stuart Ritchie, intelligence researcher and author of the book "Intelligence: All That Matters." Stuart responds to some of the most common conceptual objections to the science of IQ testing. Can we even define intelligence? Aren't there lots of different kinds of intelligence? How do we know the tests are measuring intelligence at all instead of something like motivation or familiarity with the style of testing? Does it undermine the meaningfulness of IQ as a metric...

Duration:00:57:14

Rationally Speaking #209 - Christopher Chabris on "Collective intelligence & the ethics of A/B tests"

5/27/2018
More
This episode features cognitive psychologist Christopher Chabris discussing his research on "collective intelligence" -- why do some teams perform better than others at a wide variety of tasks? Julia discusses potential objections to the findings and how gender-related publication bias should affect our interpretation of them. In the second half of the episode, Julia and Chris discuss why people get so upset at companies like Facebook and OKCupid for doing experiments on their users, and...

Duration:00:51:54

Rationally Speaking #208 - Annie Duke on "Thinking in bets"

5/13/2018
More
This episode features Annie Duke, former pro poker player and author of the book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts. Julia and Annie debate why people tend to ignore the role of luck in their decisions, whether expressing uncertainty makes you seem weak, and how people end up engaging in "defensive decision-making," where they're not trying to make the best call so much as simply avoid being blamed for bad outcomes.

Duration:00:52:39

Rationally Speaking #207 - Alison Gopnik on "The wrong way to think about parenting, plus the downsides of modernity"

4/29/2018
More
Developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik explains why modern parenting is too goal-oriented. Alison and Julia discuss whether anything parents do matters, whether kids should go to school, and how kids learn discipline if you don't force them to do things. They also discuss Alison's reservations about Steven Pinker's book Enlightenment Now, and her concerns about potential downsides of modernity.

Duration:01:03:12

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

4/15/2018
More
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
More
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
More
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
More
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