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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, is produced by Benny Pollak and recorded in the heart of Greenwich Village.

Current Episodes


Sunday
Jun252017

RS 187 - Jason Weeden on "Do people vote based on self-interest?"

Release date: June 25th, 2017

Jason Weeden

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 "self-interest" even means.

Jason's Blog: Pleeple

Jason's Book: "The Hidden Agenda of the Political Mind"

Jason's Pick: "Dragons of Eden" by Carl Sagan

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Monday
Jun122017

RS 186 - Tania Lombrozo on “Why we evolved the urge to explain”

Release date: June 11th, 2017

Tania Lombrozo

Humans have an innate urge to reach for explanations of the world around us. For example, "What caused this tragedy?" or "Why are some people successful?" This episode features psychologist and philosopher Tania Lombrozo, discussing her research on what purpose explanation serves -- i.e., why it helps us more than our brains just running prediction algorithms. Tania and Julia also discuss whether simple explanations are more likely to be true, and why we're drawn to teleological explanations (e.g., "Why does the sun shine? So that plants can grow.")

Tania's Website: Tania Lombrozo

Blog #1 Tania Contributes to: "13.7 Cosmos and Culture"

Blog #2 Tania Contributes to: "Explananda"

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Tania's Pick: "Language and Thought" by Noam Chomsky

Tania's Other Pick: "The Language Instinct" by Steven Pinker

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Monday
May292017

RS 185 - Hans Noel on "The role of ideology in politics"

Release date: May 28th, 2017

Hans Noel

We're used to conflating political parties (Republican and Democrat) with political ideologies (conservative and liberal), but the two were very distinct only a few decades ago. In this episode of Rationally Speaking, Julia talks with political scientist Hans Noel about why the Democrats became the party of liberalism and the Republicans the party of conservatism, whether voters are hypocrites in the way they apply their ostensible ideology, and whether politicians are motivated by ideals or just self-interest.

Han's Book: "Political Ideologies and Political Parties in America" by Hans Noel

Hans' Pick: "Party Government" by E.E. Schattschneider

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts