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Steven Pinker

90 Podcast Episodes

Latest 2 Oct 2022 | Updated Daily

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Ep 130: Steven Pinker’s ”Rationality” Ch 6 ”Risk and Reward” (Rational Choice & Expected Utility). Analysis.

ToKCast

This chapter continues the themes from Chapter 5 and purports to be an exploration of the use of so-called "rational choice theory". I discuss this "theory" and how well it applies to the "real life process of the same name". How do we make rational choices? By assigning probabilities? By weighing our options? Something else?

1hr 27mins

13 Aug 2022

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Ep 128: Steven Pinker’s ”Rationality” Chapter 5 ”Beliefs & Evidence (Bayesian Reasoning” Remarks & Analysis

ToKCast

This chapter continues the themes from Chapter 4 as well as my episode all about probability, risk and Bayesianism found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOK5aiASmKM which is an exploration of another talk given by David Deutsch on the nature of probability given what we know about physics. So this chapter of Pinker's book Rationality - being centrally concerned about the use of what is called "Bayesian Reasoning" is compared in this episode to alternative explanations of what rationality and reason amount to. More than previous episodes so far that I have published on the book "Rationality" this one is very much a critique. There is much to recommend the book "Rationality" for two reasons (1) it does summarise and explain some common misconceptions about how to reason or common mistakes people make when reasoning - and these are worth knowing (2) it works as an excellent summary of the prevailing intellectual/academic perspective on these matters for people who are interested in what the truth of the matter is. Knowing what "academic experts" think about this stuff means knowing what gets taught and what filters eventually into culture itself via the "top down" education system we presently have. All that is worth knowing. But here, in this chapter, we encounter the fundamental clash of epistemological worldviews: the mainstream intellectual *prescription* of what they think should be the way people think as against Karl Popper's *description* of the reality as to how knowledge is generated and progress made through incremental identification of errors and their correction. Have fun listening!

1hr 24mins

22 Jul 2022

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Steven Pinker Discusses Rationality and Humanist Values

Point of Inquiry

This special episode of Point of Inquiry is brought to you by our friends at CFI Canada from their new podcast, Podcast for Inquiry. They recently spoke with author Steven Pinker and we wanted to make this special conversation available to everyone. Even as a young teenager, Dr. Steven Pinker (@sapinker) prized rationality as a virtue, and considered himself an anarchist. He changed that belief, however, when evidence indicated that anarchy was not a path to human flourishing. In this special episode, a co-production with the New Enlightenment Project, previous Podcast for Inquiry guest Lloyd Hawkeye Robertson returns as a co-host. Together, Lloyd and Leslie explore with Dr. Pinker whether universities are betraying their mission, how the human brain spectacularly fails while also working wonders, the loose connections between science and technology with social and moral progress, and what humanity needs to do to continue to thrive for the next 50 to 100 years.

1hr 4mins

7 Jul 2022

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131 - Steven Pinker - Rationality

Two for Tea with Iona Italia and Helen Pluckrose

GeneralVisit Steven’s website, which includes information about all his books, including his latest, ‘Rationality’, and how to purchase them:https://stevenpinker.com/ Follow Steven on Twitter:https://twitter.com/sapinker Timestamps00:00 Opening and introduction.2:17 The conventional wisdom that humans are irredeemably irrational is wrong: rationality is actually prevalent and innate. Iona reads passages from Steven’s newest book ‘Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters’ about the “scientific mindset” of hunter-gatherers.8:09 The evolution of human rationality - our “environmental/ecological rationality.” The “premature consensus” that humans are fundamentally irrational. But why are we so bad at dealing with logical problems in the modern world? How to reconcile this apparent paradox - a new conceptualisation of human rationality: we become expert logicians when logical problems are presented in concrete, human-relevant ways and when we are pursuing goals.18:32 William James’s example of Romeo and Juliet as rational actors pursuing a goal (as opposed to iron filings attracting each other).21:05 An analogy with quantum theory’s unintuitiveness. The mismatch between our ancestral environment(s) and our modern environment(s): we didn’t evolve to apply the tools of science. The roots and varieties of irrationality. 25:16 How does ‘Rationality’ relate to Steven’s other work? What is the common thread throughout all of his work?35:28 On lightly held irrational beliefs - distal vs. testable beliefs, the “willing suspension of disbelief”, and indulging in irrationality. Why do we hold such beliefs? Why does fiction appeal to us? The Enlightenment paradigm of verifying one’s beliefs - revolutionary and almost unique in history, a mindset that we are not adapted to. 46:45 The real meaning of David Hume’s famous statement that “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”48:55 How do we get an ought from an is? How can morality be derived from rationality? Iona reads a passage from ‘Rationality’ dealing with these questions. Steven explains his view of how reason relates to ethics. 54:53 How can reason be justified in the first place? Isn’t it circular to justify reason using reason? 59:17 Base rates and group differences - does a contradiction between rationality and morality lie here?1:07:27 Difficulties in defining categories and the family resemblances solution. Iona reads a passage about pattern-finding, stereotypes, and fairness from ‘Rationality.’ Using abstract rules to set aside stereotypes for purposes of law, morality, etc. Logic vs. rationality.1:13:46 Rationality’s relationship to progress. Many social justice movements have begun with appeals to rationality and logical coherence: how can a society claim, for example, to be against absolute monarchy yet allow men to have total power over their wives? How rationality is a good guide to which movements for change deserve support.1:18:00 How highfalutin methods of logic and reasoning are in fact at the centre of our everyday lives - we just formalise them and we need to apply them more at all levels.1:25:05 The current “pandemic of poppycock” - is Steven optimistic about the future of rationality?1:28:16 Iona reads a passage from the end of ‘Rationality.’1:28:55 Last words and outro.

1hr 30mins

5 Jul 2022

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Steven Pinker on Rationality and Humanist Values

The Podcast For Inquiry

Even as a young teenager, Dr. Steven Pinker (@sapinker) prized rationality as a virtue, and considered himself an anarchist. He changed that belief, however, when evidence indicated that anarchy was not a path to human flourishing. In this special episode, a co-production with the New Enlightenment Project, previous Podcast for Inquiry guest Lloyd Hawkeye Robertson returns as a co-host. Together, Lloyd and Leslie explore with Dr. Pinker whether universities are betraying their mission, how the human brain spectacularly fails while also working wonders, the loose connections between science and technology with social and moral progress, and what humanity needs to do to continue to thrive for the next 50-100 years.  This episode of Podcast for Inquiry is brought to you by the Centre for Inquiry Canada and the New Enlightenment Project. Produced by Matt Payne. Graphic design by Nikolay Nikitushkin. Music by Anthony Lazaro. Send your thoughts and feedback to podcast@centreforinquiry.ca

1hr 2mins

1 Jun 2022

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We Should Be Rational Optimists with Steven Pinker - Ep 18

FAIR Perspectives

Our guest this week is Steven Pinker. Steven is a cognitive psychologist, psycholinguist, popular science author, and public intellectual. He has won numerous prizes for his research, his teaching, and his books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, The Sense of Style, Enlightenment Now, and most recently, Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters.In this episode we speak with Steven about his books, the public’s responses to them, and whether those books have had a positive effect. We talk about the euphemism treadmill and whether we can ever escape it, the misunderstandings of terms like optimism and idealism, the tensions between human nature and the potential for progress, social media and the ways we can improve it, and how we can all be more rational.Announcement : We're excited to share that members of FAIR Community can now submit questions for upcoming Q&A episodes of FAIR Perspectives. To ask questions about FAIR, the pro-human movement, the podcast and more, sign up for FAIR Community at fairperspectives.org.

1hr 14mins

24 May 2022

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Episode 13 - Beyond Reason: Life, Logic & Language with Steven Pinker

Psycho Schizo Espresso

Why does ‘done and dusted’ sound better than ‘dusted and done’? What makes a good swear word? Are we really as rational as we make out? In this, the final episode of Season 1 of Psycho Schizo Espresso, Bruce and @TheRealDrKev chat to Harvard linguist, cognitive scientist, and bestselling author Steven Pinker about the science of talking and thinking…and discover that, sometimes, a good insult can be worth a thousand compliments. Stupid f@*kwits!We'll be back in a month! So keep subscribed to Psycho Schizo Espresso for the first episode of Season 2.You can listen to and watch longer episodes of Psycho Schizo Espresso AD FREE if you become a Patreon at www.patreon.com/psychoschizoespressoTo access the YouTube version of this episode ofPsycho Schizo Espresso, please visit https://youtu.be/wA_guPNYGKkPlease make sure you like, subscribe, rate, review and comment wherever you get your Podcasts from. To get in touch, please email PSE@PodProd.co.uk and follow the hashtag #PsychoSchizoEspresso and @TheRealDrKevPsycho Schizo Espresso is a Pod Prod Production. For more information, please go to www.podprod.co.uk

57mins

19 Apr 2022

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Ep: 113 Steven Pinker’s ”Rationality” Chapter 4 ”Probability and Randomness” Remarks and Analysis

ToKCast

Pinker lecturing on Rationality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gW43X... Link to "psychological study" on what people think about meteorological predictions: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/1... titled “A 30% Chance of Rain Tomorrow”: How Does the Public Understand Probabilistic Weather Forecasts?” This video and associated podcast are about Steven Pinker's book "Rationality". Today I am looking at the chapter titled "Probability and Randomness". Well, to be fair: more than "looking" I am doing a close reading...perhaps an excruciating close reading for some. However the book is about rationality and I think we need to be especially careful when explaining this concept to be precise and careful and - yes - perhaps even consistent (as far as is possible). This episode of ToKCast can be watched or listened to in conjunction with episode number 111 titled "Probability: Reality, Rationality and Risk" because in that episode I summarise David Deutsch's lecture on the topic of probability which brings to bear physical realism to the topic and so what I am doing here is comparing the perspective on "Probability" (and randomness) as described in the book "Rationality" with the perspective on probability as viewed under David Deutsch's realistic conception of the concept given what we know from physics (and philosophy). Todays episode serves 3 functions: (1) as a close reading (i.e: a critique in places) of how the concepts "probability" and "randomness" are used in the book - sometimes, as I argue in ways that appear to be inconsistent (2) as a summary of much of the good content in the chapter - for example anyone who wants a refresher on the high school mathematics of probability - we go through some of that (this is not meant to be a backhanded comment - it is interesting material!) and (3) as I have already said this version of probability which I might call the "mainstream academic" vision of probability as compared with probability in light of more recent discoveries in physics. At this point I should also advertise: my newsletter (see episode 112 for details on that) and my Patreon and donations links at www.bretthall.org

1hr 19mins

18 Apr 2022

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Why Rationality Matters: With Steven Pinker

The Michael Steele Podcast

Michael speaks with Steven Pinker about his book, "Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters." The pair discuss who decides rationality, the prevalence of confirmation bias and tribalism, and the strength in changing one's mind when presented with new evidence.

51mins

9 Feb 2022

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Steven Pinker on Rationality, Psychology, Language, & More

The Origins Podcast with Lawrence Krauss

On this episode of The Origins Podcast, experimental psychologist, Steven Pinker shares an excellent conversation with Lawrence Krauss. Steven and Lawrence cover a variety of topics, including rationality, evolutionary psychology, and language. Get full access to Critical Mass at lawrencekrauss.substack.com/subscribe

1hr 3mins

2 Feb 2022

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