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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


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 

Sunday
Jul222018

RS 213 - Dean Simonton on "The causes of scientific and artistic genius"

Release date: July 22nd, 2018

Dean Simonton

This episode features Professor Dean Simonton, who has spent his life quantitatively studying geniuses, from Einstein to Mozart. Dean and Julia discuss his views on whether IQ is important, whether some innovations are "in the air" at given points in history, whether the "10,000 hours = mastery" theory promoted by Malcolm Gladwell is accurate, and more.

Links:

"The Genius Checklist" by Dean Simonton

"Hereditary Genius" by Francis Galton

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Monday
Jul092018

RS 212 - Ed Boyden on “How to invent game-changing technologies”

Release date: July 8th, 2018

Ed Boyden

This episode features neuroscientist Ed Boyden discussing two inventions of his that have revolutionized neuroscience: optogenetics and expansion microscopy. Ed and Julia talk about Ed's approach to coming up with good ideas, why he prefers reading old science to new science, his big-picture plan for what he wants to solve in his career, and his take on the rationalist versus Hayekian debate over how to make important progress.

Links:

Ed's Research: Synthetic Neurobiology Group

Ed's Pick: "Time, Love, Memory" by Jonathan Weiner

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

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 

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