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Very Bad Wizards

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Location:

United States

Language:

English

Contact:

607-342-7557


Episodes

Episode 121: The Beauty of Illusion - David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive"

8/15/2017
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Guest Yoel Inbar joins David and Tamler to break down David Lynch’s dreamy masterpiece Mulholland Drive. (FULL SPOILERS – watch before you listen!) What’s real and what’s illusion? What happens when our illusions unravel? How do expectations affect our experience? How can artists use our expectations to manipulate our emotions? Come for the questions, stay for the answers – or at least for more questions. Special Guest: Yoel Inbar.

Duration: 01:36:30


Episode 120: Clap Your Hand for Robert Wright

7/25/2017
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Special guest Robert Wright joins the podcast to discuss his latest book "Why Buddhism is True." What is the Buddhist conception of not-self? When we become aware that the boundaries between us and the world are fluid, what is the “we” that arrives at this insight? Can daily meditation make you less of a dick? How does evolutionary psychology bear on these questions? Plus, Dave horrifies Tamler with his new hipster habit. Special Guest: Robert Wright.

Duration: 01:53:56


Episode 99: Mockingbirds, Destructo-Critics, and Mr. Robot

9/27/2016
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David and Tamler tackle three topics on their last double digit episode. First, should a middle school perform "To Kill a Mockingbird" even if they have to use bad language the "n-word," and talk about sexual assault? Tamler relates a story involving his daughter (who was supposed to play Scout) and a playwright who refused to allow his play to be censored. But when it comes to drama, middle school's got nothing on social psychology. Next, David and Tamler break down the latest controversy...

Duration: 02:03:28


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

8/31/2016
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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)

8/10/2016
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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

7/20/2016
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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

6/22/2016
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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 91: Rage Against the Machines

6/8/2016
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Inspired by a recent ProPublica report on racial bias in an algorithm used to predict future criminal behavior, David and Tamler talk about the use of analytic methods in criminal sentencing, sports, and love. Should we use algorithms to influence decisions about criminal sentencing or parole decisions? Should couples about to get married take a test that predicts their likelihood of getting divorced? Is there something inherently racist about analytic methods in sports? Plus, David asks...

Duration: 01:24:03


Episode 90: Of Mice and Morals

5/25/2016
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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)

5/11/2016
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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


Episode 88: A Doobie for Elijah

4/26/2016
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David and Tamler celebrate Passover with a high-spirited episode on guns, revenge, liberals, being offended, the fear of death, and whether kids have a right to be loved. Thanks to all you listeners for emailing your questions, comments, and complaints--this was a fun, energetic discussion. Plus, a blast from the past from an unusually alert Pizarro: Michael Shannon reading a sorority letter. But won't somebody please think of the children???!! Links Mr. Robot Season 2 premiere...

Duration: 01:20:54


Episode 87: Lucky You (with Robert Frank)

4/12/2016
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We hit the jackpot with this one! Economist Robert Frank (you may remember him from such episodes as The Greatest Books Ever Written) joins David and Tamler to talk about his new book Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy. What role does pure chance play in making or breaking our careers and lives? Are effort and talent enough to succeed, or does the ball need to bounce our way? Where do we get our will-power and talent--is that ultimately a matter of luck as well? And...

Duration: 01:19:52


Episode 86: Guns, Shame, and the Meaning of Punishment

3/22/2016
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We know that criminal punishment has consequences, both good and bad, and that many people think that offenders deserve it. But what does punishment mean? What is society trying to express in the way it punishes criminals? And since people from all sides of the political spectrum agree that the prison population is way too big, is there a way to convey that meaning with alternative forms of sanctions? David and Tamler discuss Yale Law Professor Dan Kahan's classic paper "What do...

Duration: 01:01:34


Episode 85: A Zoo with Only One Animal (with Paul Bloom)

3/12/2016
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Philosophers can be funny and funny movies can be philosophical. David and Tamler welcome frequent VBW guest and arch-enemy of empathy Paul Bloom to discuss their five favorite comic films with philosophical/psychological themes. Groundhog Day was off-limits for our top five (we would've all chosen it) so we start by explaining why it's the quintessential movie for this topic. Links [all movie links are to imdb.com] The Big LebowskiShaun of the DeadThe Man with Two BrainsAll of MeStranger...

Duration: 01:09:44


Episode 84: Lifting the Veil

2/24/2016
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David and Tamler talk about the perils of trying to step outside of your own perspective in ethics, science, and politics. What do Rawls' "original position" thought experiment, Pascal's Wager, and Moral Foundations Theory have in common? (Hint: it involves baking.) Plus, what movies (and other things) would serve as a litmus test when deciding on a potential life partner? What might liking or not liking a certain film, book, or TV series tell you about a person, and whether or not the...

Duration: 01:33:19


Episode 83: Ego Trip

2/10/2016
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David and Tamler continue their series of breaking down a classic essay/article in their fields. For this installment, David assigns Tamler Anthony Greenwald's fascinating 1980 review article "The Totalitarian Ego." What do totalitarian regimes, scientific theories, and your own cognitive biases have in common? As it turns out, quite a bit. Why do egos rewrite our memories, preserve our beliefs in the face of contradictory evidence, and make us think we're way more important than we are? And...

Duration: 01:01:34


Episode 82: Totalitarian Slide-Rulers

1/26/2016
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David and Tamler take a break from their main jobs as TV critics to talk about a masterpiece in political philosophy: "Two Concepts of Liberty" by Isaiah Berlin. While they both celebrate the style and substance of this classic essay, in a startling twist Tamler praises conceptual analysis and David expresses a few misgivings about his Kantianism. What is the elusive idea of positive liberty, and how can its pursuit lead to totalitarian rule? When is it more important to buy boots than read...

Duration: 01:05:30

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