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Related Readings
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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
Nov282010

RS23 - Carol Tavris on Everybody Making Mistakes, Except Us...

Release date: December 5, 2010


Our guest, Carol Tavris discusses her book (co-authored with Elliot Aronson) "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. In it they describe how our powerful cognitive dissonance engine of self-justification gives us the incredible ability to rationalize events and beliefs so that we always end up being better than average at being right.  Also, how we are forced into these rationalizations by our absolute need to somehow square our most dearly held opinions of ourselves with the nasty tendency of some facts to contradict them.

Carol Tavris is a social psychologist who has tought at UCLA. She has written for many publications, including the NY Times and the LA Times. She is the author of a number of books, including "The Mismeasure of Women" and the recently re-released, "Psychobabble and Biobunk."

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Carol's picks: 

Saturday
Nov132010

RS22 - Steven Novella on Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science

Release date: November 21, 2010


Our Guest, Dr. Steven Novella discusses a recent article in The Atlantic in which researcher John Ioannidis shows that 40% of papers published in top medical journals are either wrong or make exaggerated claims (and those are the top journals!).  He also discusses the difference between Science and Evidence based medicine. Also, Zombies: are they epidemiologically possible?

Steven Novella is an academic clinical neurologist at the Yale University School of Medicine. He is the host of the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast, author of the Neurologica blog, and co-editor of the Science Based Medicine blog.

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Steven's pick: AMC's "The Walking Dead"

Saturday
Oct302010

RS21 - Joshua Knobe on Experimental Philosophy

Release date: November 7, 2010


 

Our guest, Joshua Knobe, is a philosopher interested in cognitive science, so interested, in fact, that he has contributed to establishing a whole new branch of inquiry known as experimental philosophy — and he plausibly claims that the name is not actually an oxymoron!

The idea is summarized in this way on one of the major web sites devoted to the enterprise: "Experimental philosophy, called x-phi for short, is a new philosophical movement that supplements the traditional tools of analytic philosophy with the scientific methods of cognitive science. So experimental philosophers actually go out and run systematic experiments aimed at understanding how people ordinarily think about the issues at the foundation of the philosophical discussion.”

Joshua Knobe is an assistant professor at Yale University, affiliated both with the Program in Cognitive Science and the Department of Philosophy. Most of his work involves using the kinds of experimental methods associated with cognitive science to address the kinds of questions associated with philosophy.

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Joshua's picks:

Thursday
Oct212010

RS20 - Q&A With Massimo and Julia

Release date: October 24, 2010


Massimo and Julia answer listeners' questions. In this installment the topics include: can political discourse be rational, who changed M&J's opinion on something and when have they changed someone's opinion, how do they guard against biases when they debate people, the morality of bestiality, and did Samir Okasha really solve the induction problem?

Plus, M&J's favorite sources for philosophy:

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Sunday
Oct032010

RS19 - Brendan Nyhan on False Beliefs that Refuse to Die

Release date: October 10, 2010


 

Ever notice how some beliefs only seem to become stronger, even as they're repeatedly debunked? For example, the belief that Barack Obama is a Muslim, or that Bush banned all stem cell research in the country. Brendan Nyhan tells about what he's learned from his research studies and his experience maintaining Spinsanity, a watchdog blog monitoring political misinformation. Is there any hope of clearing up false beliefs if denials simply make the problem worse? Brendan does offer hope, but it won't be easy.

Brendan Nyhan is a a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of Michigan. He received a Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at Duke University in May 2009. In 2011, He will join the Department of Government at Dartmouth College as an assistant professor. His research focuses on political scandal and misperceptions. He also conducts research on social networks and applied statistical methods.

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Brendan's picks:

 

Friday
Sep242010

RS18 - Evolutionary Psychology

Release date: September 26, 2010



You’ve heard the claims: men are inclined to cheat on women because natural selection favors multiple offspring from multiple mates, especially if you don’t have to pay child support. Even rape has been suggested to be the result of natural selection in favor of “secondary mating strategies” when the primary ones fail. Welcome to evolutionary psychology, a discipline curiously situated at the interface between evolutionary science and pop psychology, where both wild and reasonable claims seem to clash against the wall of an incredible scarcity of pertinent data.

The issue is not whether it makes sense to apply evolutionary principles to the study of human behavior. Of course it does, human beings are no exception to evolution. But the devil is in the details, and the details deal with the complexities and nuances of how exactly evolutionary biologists test adaptive hypotheses, as well as with the nature of historical science itself.

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Julia's pick:  "Stumbling on Happiness"

Massimo's pick: "A Short Course in Intellectual Self-Defense"