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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


Monday
Jun252018

RS 211 - Sabine Hossenfelder on "The case against beauty in physics"

Release date: June 24th, 2018

Sabine Hossenfelder

This episode features physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math, arguing that fundamental physics is too enamored of "beauty" as a criterion for evaluating theories of how the universe works. She and Julia discuss the three components of beauty (simplicity, naturalness, and elegance), why physicists think it's reasonable to put their trust in beauty, and why this might be merely a symptom of other underlying problems with physics as a discipline.

Links:

Sabine's Book: "Lost in Math"

Sabine's Blog: Backreaction

Sabine's Pick: "The Big Picture" by Sean Carroll

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Monday
Jun112018

RS 210 - Stuart Ritchie on "Conceptual objections to IQ testing"

Release date: June 10th, 2018

Stuart Ritchie

This episode features Stuart Ritchie, intelligence researcher and author of the book "Intelligence: All That Matters." Stuart responds to some of the most common conceptual objections to the science of IQ testing. Can we even define intelligence? Aren't there lots of different kinds of intelligence? How do we know the tests are measuring intelligence at all instead of something like motivation or familiarity with the style of testing? Does it undermine the meaningfulness of IQ as a metric that people can improve over time, with practice, or over generations?

Links:

Stuart Ritchie, "Intelligence: All that Matters"

Stephen Gould, "The Mismeasure of Man"

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
May272018

RS 209 - Christopher Chabris on "Collective intelligence & the ethics of A/B tests"

Release date: May 27th, 2018

Christopher Chabris

This episode features cognitive psychologist Christopher Chabris discussing his research on "collective intelligence" -- why do some teams perform better than others at a wide variety of tasks? Julia discusses potential objections to the findings and how gender-related publication bias should affect our interpretation of them. In the second half of the episode, Julia and Chris discuss why people get so upset at companies like Facebook and OKCupid for doing experiments on their users, and whether that's fair.

Chris' Website

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
May132018

RS 208 - Annie Duke on "Thinking in bets"

Release date: May 13th, 2018

Annie Duke

This episode features Annie Duke, former pro poker player and author of the book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts. Julia and Annie debate why people tend to ignore the role of luck in their decisions, whether expressing uncertainty makes you seem weak, and how people end up engaging in "defensive decision-making," where they're not trying to make the best call so much as simply avoid being blamed for bad outcomes.

Annie's Book: Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts

David French at The National Review

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Apr292018

RS 207 - Alison Gopnik on “The wrong way to think about parenting, plus the downsides of modernity”

Release date: April 29th, 2018

Alison Gopnik

Developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik explains why modern parenting is too goal-oriented. Alison and Julia discuss whether anything parents do matters, whether kids should go to school, and how kids learn discipline if you don't force them to do things. They also discuss Alison's reservations about Steven Pinker's book Enlightenment Now, and her concerns about potential downsides of modernity.

Alison Gopnik's website

Alison Gopnik's "The Gardener and the Carpenter"

Noam Chomsky's "Rules and Representations"

Jerry Fodor's "The Language of Thought"

Alison Gopnik's "Words, Thoughts, and Theories"

Alison Gopnik's "The Scientist in the Crib"

Alison Gopnik's review of "Enlightenment Now"

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Apr152018

RS 206 - Kal Turnbull on "Change My View"

Release date: April 15th, 2018

Kal Turnbull

When people argue on the internet, you never expect anyone to actually say "You know what, that's a good point, you've changed my view somewhat." But Change My View, a fast-growing subreddit founded by Kal Turnbull, is an exception to the rule. Julia and Kal discuss the culture of Change My View, what makes it such an oasis for reasonable discussion on the Internet, and what we've learned about what motivates people to change their minds or not.

Kal's Website: Change My View

Kal's Pick: "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

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