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Science Salon

Michael Shermer

96
Followers
920
Plays
Science Salon

Science Salon

Michael Shermer

96
Followers
920
Plays
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About Us

In the tradition of the Enlightenment salons that helped drive the Age of Reason, Science Salon is a series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, scholars, and thinkers, about the most important issues of our time.

Latest Episodes

99. Bobby Duffy — Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything: A Theory of Human Misunderstanding

What percentage of the population are immigrants? How bad is unemployment? How much sex do people have? These questions are important and interesting, but most of us get the answers wrong. Research shows that people often wildly misunderstand the state of the world, regardless of age, sex, or education. And though the internet brings us unprecedented access to information, there’s little evidence we’re any better informed because of it. We may blame cognitive bias or fake news, but neither tells the complete story. In Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything, Bobby Duffy draws on his research into public perception across more than forty countries, offering a sweeping account of the stubborn problem of human delusion: how society breeds it, why it will never go away, and what our misperceptions say about what we really believe. We won’t always know the facts, but they still matter. Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything is mandatory reading for anyone interested making humankind a little bit smarter. Duffy and Shermer also discuss: cognitive biases and how they distort what we think about the world do men really have more sexual partners than women (and if so, who are they having sex with?) why we lie to ourselves and others about almost everything fears about immigrants and immigration Brexit: leave or remain and why people vote each way why we are more polarized politically than ever before (and what we can do about it) the “backfire effect”: the bad news and the good why we are not living in a post-truth era why facts matter and why free speech matters, and kids these days… Bobby Duffy is director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London. Formerly, he was managing director of the Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute and global director of the Ipsos Social Research Institute. He lives in London. Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

93 MIN4 d ago
Comments
99. Bobby Duffy — Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything: A Theory of Human Misunderstanding

98. Robert Pennock — An Instinct for Truth: Curiosity and the Moral Character of Science

Anexplorationof the scientific mindset — such character virtues as curiosity, veracity, attentiveness, and humility to evidence — and its importance for science, democracy, and human flourishing. Exemplary scientists have a characteristic way of viewing the world and their work: their mindset and methods all aim at discovering truths about nature. In AnInstinct for Truth, Robert Pennock explores this scientific mindset and argues that what Charles Darwin called “an instinct for truth, knowledge, and discovery” has a tacit moral structure — that it is important not only for scientific excellence and integrity but also for democracy and human flourishing. In an era of “post-truth,” the scientific drive to discover empirical truths has a special value. Taking a virtue-theoretic perspective, Pennock explores curiosity, veracity, skepticism, humility to evidence, and other scientific virtues and vices. Shermer and Pennock discuss: the nature of science why Intelligent Design creat...

119 MIN1 w ago
Comments
98. Robert Pennock — An Instinct for Truth: Curiosity and the Moral Character of Science

97. Amber Scorah — Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life

In this revealing conversation Amber Scorah opens the box into the psychology of religious belief to show how, exactly, religions and cults convince members that theirs is the one true religion, to the point, she admits, that she would have gladly died for her faith. As a third-generation Jehovah’s Witness, Amber Scorah had devoted her life to sounding God’s warning of impending Armageddon. She volunteered to take the message to China, where the preaching she did was illegal and could result in her expulsion or worse. Here, she had some distance from her community for the first time. Immersion in a foreign language and culture — and a whole new way of thinking — turned her world upside down, and eventually led her to lose all that she had been sure was true. As a proselytizer in Shanghai, using fake names and secret codes to evade the authorities’ notice, Scorah discreetly looked for targets in public parks and stores. To support herself, she found work at a Chinese language le...

95 MIN2 w ago
Comments
97. Amber Scorah — Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life

96. Catherine Wilson — How to Be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well

In this wide-ranging conversation the philosopher Catherine Wilson makes the case that if the pursuit of happiness is the question, Epicureanism is the answer. Not the mythic Epicureanism that calls to mind gluttons with gout or an admonition to eat, drink, and be merry. Instead, in her new book How to Be an Epicurean, Wilson shows that Epicureanism isn’t an excuse for having a good time: it’s a means to live a good life. Although modern conveniences and scientific progress have significantly improved our quality of life, many of the problems faced by ancient Greeks — love, money, family, politics — remain with us in new forms. To overcome these obstacles, the Epicureans adopted a philosophy that promoted reason, respect for the natural world, and reverence for our fellow humans. By applying this ancient wisdom to a range of modern problems, from self-care routines and romantic entanglements to issues of public policy and social justice, Wilson shows us how we can all fill our l...

71 MIN3 w ago
Comments
96. Catherine Wilson — How to Be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well

95. John Martin Fischer — Death, Immortality and Meaning in Life

John Martin Fischer’s Death, Immortality, and Meaning in Lifeoffers a brief yet in-depth introduction to the key philosophical issues and problems concerning death and immortality. In this wide-ranging and thoughtful conversation, Shermer and Fisher discuss: meaning in life meaning in death the badness of death different philosophical, religious, and scientific ideas on immortality near-death experiences extending life through medical technology medical immortality vs. real immortality the problem of identity for immortality (who or what becomes immortal?) living for 100 years vs. 1000 years vs. forever responding to the theistic argument that without God anything goes, there is no objective morality, and no meaning to life If you don’t believe in God or the afterlife, what do you say to someone who is dying or has lost a loved one? Is immortality, like existence, one thought too many? John Martin Fischer is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Ri...

94 MIN2019 DEC 17
Comments
95. John Martin Fischer — Death, Immortality and Meaning in Life

94. David Leiser — How We Misunderstand Economics and Why it Matters

This is the first book to explain why people misunderstand economics. From the cognitive shortcuts we use to make sense of complex information, to the metaphors we rely on and their effect on our thinking, this important book lays bare not only the psychological traits that distort our ability to understand such a vital topic, but also what this means for policy makers and civil society more widely. Shermer and Leiser dive into the mismatch between the complexities of economics and the constraints of human cognition that lie at the root of our misconceptions, as well as explore: folk economics and why our intuitions are so often wrong the evolutionary origins of our thinking about economics and why we are not prepared cognitively to understand complex economic ideas Universal Basic Income income inequality CEO pay and why we think it’s too high the importance of trust in economic exchanges tariffs and Trump China, and reparations for slavery vs. reparations for the Holocaust. David...

82 MIN2019 DEC 10
Comments
94. David Leiser — How We Misunderstand Economics and Why it Matters

93. Geoffrey Miller — Virtue Signaling: Essays on Darwinian Politics & Free Speech

Michael Shermer talks with the polymathic polyamorous sapiosexual classically liberal evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller about: virtue signaling and why we all do it how the phrase “virtue signaling” became a derogatory political meme how virtue signaling really works and why it is not a bad thing why evolutionary psychology is not based on “just so” story telling how multiple traits can be selected at once individual selection vs. group selection the role of virtue signaling in the evolution of the moral sentiments how virtue signaling helps produce real morality (and not just fake altruism) abortion, immigration, Trump, the Far Right, the Far Left, and other topical controversies gender differences in career preferences neurodiversity and speech codes cultural diversity and the Harvard lawsuit over discrimination why social groups tend to splinter and defenestrate members who are not virtuous enough. Geoffrey Miller is a tenured evolutionary psychology professor at Univ...

124 MIN2019 DEC 3
Comments
93. Geoffrey Miller — Virtue Signaling: Essays on Darwinian Politics & Free Speech

92. Tim Samuels — Future Man: How to Evolve and Thrive in the Age of Trump, Mansplaining, and #MeToo

If ever there was an urgent need for a frank understanding of what’s going on with men, it is now. Male rage and frustration have driven resurgent populism, mass shootings, and epidemics of addiction and violence. Powerful men who have abused their positions for decades have been and are being #MeToo-outed and dismissed. The patriarchy, that solid bedrock of male power for thousands of years, seems to be crumbling. In Future Man, with his characteristic intelligence and humor, Tim Samuels assesses the state of contemporary manhood, its conflicts, confusions, and challenges. Trapped in bodies barely changed since cavemen days, men are contending with the stresses of corporate culture, lifelong commitment, rampant depression, and crazy expectations to be successful at work and at home. But how can you hunt and gather in an open-plan office? Why do men make up to 95 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs yet 93 percent of the prison population? Why do men commit suicide at more than three times ...

107 MIN2019 NOV 19
Comments
92. Tim Samuels — Future Man: How to Evolve and Thrive in the Age of Trump, Mansplaining, and #MeToo

91. James Traub — What Was Liberalism? The Past, Present, and Promise of a Noble Idea

In this wide-ranging conversation James Traub and Michael Shermer discuss: the changing meaning of “liberalism” over the centuries and decades why the first liberals were deeply skeptical of majority rule how, by the second half of the 20th century, liberalism become the national creed of the most powerful country in the world why this consensus did not last the giants of liberalism: James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mill, Isiah Berlin Karl Popper, the Open Society, and the paradox of tolerance (that tolerating intolerance is self-defeating) Donald Trump as the first American president to regard liberal values with open contempt illiberalism in the UK, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Turkey, and Germany why liberalism lost the support it once enjoyed the intolerance of the illiberal left, identity politics, and political correctness what a potential future for liberalism would look like. James Traub has spent the last forty years as a journalist for American’s leading publicat...

81 MIN2019 NOV 12
Comments
91. James Traub — What Was Liberalism? The Past, Present, and Promise of a Noble Idea

90. Melvin Konner — Believers: Faith in Human Nature

World renowned biological anthropologist Mel Konner examines the nature of human nature, including and especially in his new book the nature of religiosity. In Believers, Konner, who was raised in an orthodox Jewish home but has been an atheist his entire adult life, responds to attacks on faith by some well-meaning scientists and philosophers, most notably the “new atheists” Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens―known for writing about religion as something irrational and ultimately harmful. Konner explores the psychology, development, brain science, evolution, and even genetics of the varied religious impulses we experience as a species. Konner and Shermer discuss: the nature of human nature what is religion? what is faith? is religion and faith adaptive or the byproduct of some other evolved adaptation? his experience living among hunter-gatherers how hunter-gatherers conceive of religion vs. modern peoples the “Big Gods” theory of religion th...

99 MIN2019 NOV 5
Comments
90. Melvin Konner — Believers: Faith in Human Nature

Latest Episodes

99. Bobby Duffy — Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything: A Theory of Human Misunderstanding

What percentage of the population are immigrants? How bad is unemployment? How much sex do people have? These questions are important and interesting, but most of us get the answers wrong. Research shows that people often wildly misunderstand the state of the world, regardless of age, sex, or education. And though the internet brings us unprecedented access to information, there’s little evidence we’re any better informed because of it. We may blame cognitive bias or fake news, but neither tells the complete story. In Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything, Bobby Duffy draws on his research into public perception across more than forty countries, offering a sweeping account of the stubborn problem of human delusion: how society breeds it, why it will never go away, and what our misperceptions say about what we really believe. We won’t always know the facts, but they still matter. Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything is mandatory reading for anyone interested making humankind a little bit smarter. Duffy and Shermer also discuss: cognitive biases and how they distort what we think about the world do men really have more sexual partners than women (and if so, who are they having sex with?) why we lie to ourselves and others about almost everything fears about immigrants and immigration Brexit: leave or remain and why people vote each way why we are more polarized politically than ever before (and what we can do about it) the “backfire effect”: the bad news and the good why we are not living in a post-truth era why facts matter and why free speech matters, and kids these days… Bobby Duffy is director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London. Formerly, he was managing director of the Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute and global director of the Ipsos Social Research Institute. He lives in London. Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

93 MIN4 d ago
Comments
99. Bobby Duffy — Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything: A Theory of Human Misunderstanding

98. Robert Pennock — An Instinct for Truth: Curiosity and the Moral Character of Science

Anexplorationof the scientific mindset — such character virtues as curiosity, veracity, attentiveness, and humility to evidence — and its importance for science, democracy, and human flourishing. Exemplary scientists have a characteristic way of viewing the world and their work: their mindset and methods all aim at discovering truths about nature. In AnInstinct for Truth, Robert Pennock explores this scientific mindset and argues that what Charles Darwin called “an instinct for truth, knowledge, and discovery” has a tacit moral structure — that it is important not only for scientific excellence and integrity but also for democracy and human flourishing. In an era of “post-truth,” the scientific drive to discover empirical truths has a special value. Taking a virtue-theoretic perspective, Pennock explores curiosity, veracity, skepticism, humility to evidence, and other scientific virtues and vices. Shermer and Pennock discuss: the nature of science why Intelligent Design creat...

119 MIN1 w ago
Comments
98. Robert Pennock — An Instinct for Truth: Curiosity and the Moral Character of Science

97. Amber Scorah — Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life

In this revealing conversation Amber Scorah opens the box into the psychology of religious belief to show how, exactly, religions and cults convince members that theirs is the one true religion, to the point, she admits, that she would have gladly died for her faith. As a third-generation Jehovah’s Witness, Amber Scorah had devoted her life to sounding God’s warning of impending Armageddon. She volunteered to take the message to China, where the preaching she did was illegal and could result in her expulsion or worse. Here, she had some distance from her community for the first time. Immersion in a foreign language and culture — and a whole new way of thinking — turned her world upside down, and eventually led her to lose all that she had been sure was true. As a proselytizer in Shanghai, using fake names and secret codes to evade the authorities’ notice, Scorah discreetly looked for targets in public parks and stores. To support herself, she found work at a Chinese language le...

95 MIN2 w ago
Comments
97. Amber Scorah — Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life

96. Catherine Wilson — How to Be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well

In this wide-ranging conversation the philosopher Catherine Wilson makes the case that if the pursuit of happiness is the question, Epicureanism is the answer. Not the mythic Epicureanism that calls to mind gluttons with gout or an admonition to eat, drink, and be merry. Instead, in her new book How to Be an Epicurean, Wilson shows that Epicureanism isn’t an excuse for having a good time: it’s a means to live a good life. Although modern conveniences and scientific progress have significantly improved our quality of life, many of the problems faced by ancient Greeks — love, money, family, politics — remain with us in new forms. To overcome these obstacles, the Epicureans adopted a philosophy that promoted reason, respect for the natural world, and reverence for our fellow humans. By applying this ancient wisdom to a range of modern problems, from self-care routines and romantic entanglements to issues of public policy and social justice, Wilson shows us how we can all fill our l...

71 MIN3 w ago
Comments
96. Catherine Wilson — How to Be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well

95. John Martin Fischer — Death, Immortality and Meaning in Life

John Martin Fischer’s Death, Immortality, and Meaning in Lifeoffers a brief yet in-depth introduction to the key philosophical issues and problems concerning death and immortality. In this wide-ranging and thoughtful conversation, Shermer and Fisher discuss: meaning in life meaning in death the badness of death different philosophical, religious, and scientific ideas on immortality near-death experiences extending life through medical technology medical immortality vs. real immortality the problem of identity for immortality (who or what becomes immortal?) living for 100 years vs. 1000 years vs. forever responding to the theistic argument that without God anything goes, there is no objective morality, and no meaning to life If you don’t believe in God or the afterlife, what do you say to someone who is dying or has lost a loved one? Is immortality, like existence, one thought too many? John Martin Fischer is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Ri...

94 MIN2019 DEC 17
Comments
95. John Martin Fischer — Death, Immortality and Meaning in Life

94. David Leiser — How We Misunderstand Economics and Why it Matters

This is the first book to explain why people misunderstand economics. From the cognitive shortcuts we use to make sense of complex information, to the metaphors we rely on and their effect on our thinking, this important book lays bare not only the psychological traits that distort our ability to understand such a vital topic, but also what this means for policy makers and civil society more widely. Shermer and Leiser dive into the mismatch between the complexities of economics and the constraints of human cognition that lie at the root of our misconceptions, as well as explore: folk economics and why our intuitions are so often wrong the evolutionary origins of our thinking about economics and why we are not prepared cognitively to understand complex economic ideas Universal Basic Income income inequality CEO pay and why we think it’s too high the importance of trust in economic exchanges tariffs and Trump China, and reparations for slavery vs. reparations for the Holocaust. David...

82 MIN2019 DEC 10
Comments
94. David Leiser — How We Misunderstand Economics and Why it Matters

93. Geoffrey Miller — Virtue Signaling: Essays on Darwinian Politics & Free Speech

Michael Shermer talks with the polymathic polyamorous sapiosexual classically liberal evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller about: virtue signaling and why we all do it how the phrase “virtue signaling” became a derogatory political meme how virtue signaling really works and why it is not a bad thing why evolutionary psychology is not based on “just so” story telling how multiple traits can be selected at once individual selection vs. group selection the role of virtue signaling in the evolution of the moral sentiments how virtue signaling helps produce real morality (and not just fake altruism) abortion, immigration, Trump, the Far Right, the Far Left, and other topical controversies gender differences in career preferences neurodiversity and speech codes cultural diversity and the Harvard lawsuit over discrimination why social groups tend to splinter and defenestrate members who are not virtuous enough. Geoffrey Miller is a tenured evolutionary psychology professor at Univ...

124 MIN2019 DEC 3
Comments
93. Geoffrey Miller — Virtue Signaling: Essays on Darwinian Politics & Free Speech

92. Tim Samuels — Future Man: How to Evolve and Thrive in the Age of Trump, Mansplaining, and #MeToo

If ever there was an urgent need for a frank understanding of what’s going on with men, it is now. Male rage and frustration have driven resurgent populism, mass shootings, and epidemics of addiction and violence. Powerful men who have abused their positions for decades have been and are being #MeToo-outed and dismissed. The patriarchy, that solid bedrock of male power for thousands of years, seems to be crumbling. In Future Man, with his characteristic intelligence and humor, Tim Samuels assesses the state of contemporary manhood, its conflicts, confusions, and challenges. Trapped in bodies barely changed since cavemen days, men are contending with the stresses of corporate culture, lifelong commitment, rampant depression, and crazy expectations to be successful at work and at home. But how can you hunt and gather in an open-plan office? Why do men make up to 95 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs yet 93 percent of the prison population? Why do men commit suicide at more than three times ...

107 MIN2019 NOV 19
Comments
92. Tim Samuels — Future Man: How to Evolve and Thrive in the Age of Trump, Mansplaining, and #MeToo

91. James Traub — What Was Liberalism? The Past, Present, and Promise of a Noble Idea

In this wide-ranging conversation James Traub and Michael Shermer discuss: the changing meaning of “liberalism” over the centuries and decades why the first liberals were deeply skeptical of majority rule how, by the second half of the 20th century, liberalism become the national creed of the most powerful country in the world why this consensus did not last the giants of liberalism: James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Stuart Mill, Isiah Berlin Karl Popper, the Open Society, and the paradox of tolerance (that tolerating intolerance is self-defeating) Donald Trump as the first American president to regard liberal values with open contempt illiberalism in the UK, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Turkey, and Germany why liberalism lost the support it once enjoyed the intolerance of the illiberal left, identity politics, and political correctness what a potential future for liberalism would look like. James Traub has spent the last forty years as a journalist for American’s leading publicat...

81 MIN2019 NOV 12
Comments
91. James Traub — What Was Liberalism? The Past, Present, and Promise of a Noble Idea

90. Melvin Konner — Believers: Faith in Human Nature

World renowned biological anthropologist Mel Konner examines the nature of human nature, including and especially in his new book the nature of religiosity. In Believers, Konner, who was raised in an orthodox Jewish home but has been an atheist his entire adult life, responds to attacks on faith by some well-meaning scientists and philosophers, most notably the “new atheists” Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens―known for writing about religion as something irrational and ultimately harmful. Konner explores the psychology, development, brain science, evolution, and even genetics of the varied religious impulses we experience as a species. Konner and Shermer discuss: the nature of human nature what is religion? what is faith? is religion and faith adaptive or the byproduct of some other evolved adaptation? his experience living among hunter-gatherers how hunter-gatherers conceive of religion vs. modern peoples the “Big Gods” theory of religion th...

99 MIN2019 NOV 5
Comments
90. Melvin Konner — Believers: Faith in Human Nature
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