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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
Mar042018

RS 203 - Stephen Webb on “Where is Everybody? Solutions to the Fermi Paradox.”

Release date: March 4th, 2018

Stephen Webb

In 1950, the great physicist Enrico Fermi posed a question that people have been puzzling over ever since: Where is everybody? The universe has been around for billions of years, so why haven't we seen any signs of alien civilizations? This episode features physicist Stephen Webb, who describes some of the potential solutions to the puzzle. Stephen and Julia also discuss questions such as: What evidence have we gotten so far that helps us answer the Fermi problem? How do we estimate how rare/difficult it is for human-level intelligence to evolve? And why does it matter what the answer to Fermi's question is?

Stephen's Website

Stephen's Pick: "The Cosmic Zoo: Complex Life on Many Worlds"

Eternity in Six Hours by Stuart Armstrong and Anders Sandberg

Dissolving the Fermi Paradox by Anders Sandberg

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Feb182018

RS 202 - Bryan Caplan on "The Case Against Education"

Release date: February 18th, 2018

Bryan Caplan

In this episode, economist Bryan Caplan argues that the main reason getting a college degree is valuable is because of signaling (i.e., it proves that you have traits that employers value, like conscientiousness and conformity), and not because college teaches you useful knowledge or skills. Julia proposes several potential challenges to Bryan's argument, and they discuss why it matters how much of education's value is signaling.

Bryan's Website

Bryan's Book: "The Case Against Education"

Bryan's Pick: Eric Hanushek's body of work

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Feb042018

RS 201 - Ben Buchanan on "The Cybersecurity Dilemma"

Release date: February 4th, 2018

Ben Buchanan

The security dilemma is a classic problem in geopolitics: Often when one nation takes measures to protect itself from attack (like adding to their stockpile of missiles), other nations see that and worry it means the first nation is preparing to attack them, which leads to a dangerous feedback loop of escalation. In this episode, Ben Buchanan (postdoctoral fellow at Harvard studying cybersecurity and statecraft) explores how this dilemma plays out in the realm of cybersecurity: Why is the dilemma harder to resolve than it used to be with traditional warfare? And is there anything that might help?

Ben's Book: "The Cybersecurity Dilemma"

Ben's Pick: "Rise of the Machines: A Cybernetic History" by Thomas Rid

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

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