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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
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 

Tuesday
Nov132018

RS 221 - Rob Reich on "Is philanthropy bad for democracy?"

Release date: November 13th, 2018

Rob Reich

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?

Links 

Rob's book: "Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy, and How it Can Do Better"

"Famine, Affluence, and Morality" by Peter Singer

"Doing Good Better" by Will MacAskill

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Oct282018

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

Release date: October 28th, 2018

Peter Eckersley

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, they discuss Peter's work measuring recent progress in AI, and debate to what extent recent progress is cause for optimism.

Links 

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Partnership on AI

Peter's survey of AI progress

"Debt: The First 5,000 Years" by David Graeber

"The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined" by Steven Pinker

Aceso Under Glass, the blog that does epistemic spot checks

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts