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Rationally Speaking is the official podcast of New York City Skeptics. Join Julia Galef and guests as they explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely and unlikely, science and pseudoscience. Rationally Speaking was co-created with Massimo Pigliucci.

Current Episodes


Sunday
Jan062019

RS 224 - Rick Nevin on "The long-term effects of lead on crime"

Release date: January 6th, 2019

Rick Nevin (Photo: The Washington Post)

This episode features Rick Nevin, an economist who is known for his research suggesting that lead is one of the main causes of crime. Rick and Julia discuss: how do we know the correlation between lead and crime is a sign of a causal relationship? Has the lead-crime theory made any successful predictions? And is it possible that getting rid of lead could reduce the crime rate down to zero?

Links 

Rick Nevin's website

"Lucifer Curves: The Legacy of Lead Poisoning" by Rick Nevin

"The Rising Curve" by Ulric Neisser

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Dec162018

RS 223 - Chris Fraser on "The Mohists, ancient China's philosopher warriors"

Release date: December 16th, 2018

Chris Fraser (Photo: Chan Kang 詹康)

Not enough people know about the Mohists, a strikingly modern group of Chinese philosophers active in 479–221 BCE. This episode features Chris Fraser, expert on Mohism and professor of philosophy at the University of Hong Kong. Chris and Julia discuss how the Mohists put their philosophy into practice and got Chinese leaders to hold off on starting wars; how their philosophy was similar to and different from modern consequentialism; why their movement died out, and what modern groups like Effective Altruists can learn from their story.

Links 

"Heaven and Earth Are Not Humane" by Franklin Perkins

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Dec022018

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

Release date: December 2nd, 2018

Spencer Greenberg and Seth Cottrell

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 weird group of parapsychologists changed the field of physics, and whether you could do a Double Slit Experiment with a Cat Cannon.

Links 

"Ask A Mathematician, Ask a Physicist" blog

"Do Colors Exist?" by Seth Cottrell (book and ebook)

"Bell Inequality for Position and Time" by J. D. Fransen

"On the Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin

"The Discoveries: Great Breakthroughs in 20th Century Science, including the original papers" by Alan Lightman

"Can you do the double-slit experiment with a cat cannon?"

Spencer's website

Spencer's startup foundry, Spark Wave

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts