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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
Oct142018

RS 219 - Jason Collins on "A skeptical take on behavioral economics"

Release date: October 14th, 2018

Jason Collins

In this episode, economist Jason Collins discusses some of the problems with behavioral economics: Why governments have started to rely too much on the field, and why that's bad; why it's suspicious that there are over 100 cognitive biases; when "nudges" are problematic; and more.

Links 

Jason Collins' Blog

"MacArthur 'Genius' Angela Duckworth Responds To A New Critique Of Grit" by Anna Kamenetz

"Angela Duckworth on Grit" from Econtalk

"On the Reality of Cognitive Illusions" by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky

"How to Make Cognitive Illusions Disappear: Beyond 'Heuristics and Biases'" by Gerd Gigerenzer

"On Narrow Norms and Vague Heuristics: A Reply to Kahneman and Tversky" by Gerd Gigerenzer

"Putting nudges in perspective" by George Loewenstein and Nick Chater

"Much Ado About Nudging" by Tony Hockley

"Do people really want to be nudged towards healthy lifestyles?" by Robert Sugden

"'Better Off, as Judged by Themselves': A Comment on Evaluating Nudges" by Cass R. Sunstein

"‘Better off, as judged by themselves’: a reply to Cass Sunstein" by Robert Sugden

"Nudging and the Problem of Context Dependent Preferences" by Jason Collins

"Overrepresentation of extreme events in decision making reflects rational use of cognitive resources." by Lieder, Falk,Griffiths, Thomas L.,Hsu, Ming

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Sep302018

RS 218 - Chris Auld on "Good and bad critiques of economics"

Release date: September 30th, 2018

Chris Auld

In this episode, economist Chris Auld describes some common criticisms of his field and why they're wrong. Julia and Chris also discuss whether there are any good critiques of the field, and whether economists think that people with an addiction to alcohol or drugs are behaving rationally.

Links 

"18 Signs You're Reading Bad Criticism of Economics" by Chris Auld

"The Price of Inequality" by Joseph E. Stiglitz

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Sep162018

RS 217 - Aviv Ovadya on "The problem of false, biased, and artificial news"

Release date: September 16th, 2018

Aviv Ovadya

Aviv Ovadya, an expert on misinformation, talks with Julia about the multiple phenomena that get lumped together as "fake news": articles that are straightforwardly false, misleading, or artificially created (think "Deepfakes," videos that make a politician appear to say something he didn't say). Aviv and Julia discuss questions like: Which of those problems are more dangerous for our civilization? Are any of them tractable? And what might a solution look like?

Links 

Aviv's Website

"Is the First Amendment Obsolete?" by Tim Wu

"What Hath We Wrought" by Danah Boyd

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Sep022018

RS 216 - Diana Fleischman on "Being a transhumanist evolutionary psychologist"

Release date: September 2nd, 2018

Diana Fleischman

On this episode of Rationally Speaking, professor Diana Fleischman makes the case for transhumanist evolutionary psychology: understanding our evolved drives, so that we can better overcome them. Diana and Julia discuss sexual preferences, jealousy, and other drives -- how immutable are they? How do we know? And how would it change society, if we could change the distribution of people we find attractive, or normalize new relationship structures such as polyamory?

Links 

"Uncanny Vulvas" by Diana Fleischman

"Essays on Reducing Suffering" by Brian Tomasik (includes essays on animal suffering)

"The Manipulated Man" by Esther Vilar

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Tuesday
Aug212018

RS 215 - Anders Sandberg on "Thinking about the long-term future of humanity" 

Release date: August 19th, 2018

Anders Sandberg

This episode features Anders Sandberg, a researcher at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, explaining several reasons why it's valuable to think about humanity's long-term future. Julia and Anders discuss the common objection that we can't predict or steer the future, and explore whether people really care if humanity dies out.

Links 

Anders Sandberg's website

"Dissolving the Fermi Paradox" by Anders Sandberg, Eric Drexler, and Toby Ord

"Blueberry Earth" by Anders Sandberg

"Death and the Afterlife" by Samuel Scheffler

"Life Extension Versus Replacement" by Gustaf Arrhenius

"An Impossibility Theorem for Welfarist Axiologies" by Gustaf Arrhenius

"Long-Term Trajectories of Human Civilization"

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Aug052018

RS 214 - Anthony Aguirre on "Predicting the future of science and tech, with Metaculus"

Release date: August 5th, 2018

Anthony Aguirre

This episode features physicist Anthony Aguirre discussing Metaculus, the site he created to crowd-source accurate predictions about science and technology. For example, will SpaceX land on Mars by 2030? Anthony and Julia discuss details such as: why it's useful to have predictions on questions like these, how to measure Metaculus' accuracy, why Anthony chose not to run it like a traditional prediction market, and how to design incentives to reward good forecasters.

Links:

Metaculus

"Why We Should Think Twice About Colonizing Space" by Phil Torres

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

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