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(1876)

Rank #23 in Philosophy category

Society & Culture
Philosophy
Science
Social Sciences

Very Bad Wizards

Updated about 1 month ago

Rank #23 in Philosophy category

Society & Culture
Philosophy
Science
Social Sciences
Read more

Very Bad Wizards is a podcast featuring a philosopher (Tamler Sommers) and a psychologist (David Pizarro), who share a love for ethics, pop culture, and cognitive science, and who have a marked inability to distinguish sacred from profane. Each podcast includes discussions of moral philosophy, recent work on moral psychology and neuroscience, and the overlap between the two.

Read more

Very Bad Wizards is a podcast featuring a philosopher (Tamler Sommers) and a psychologist (David Pizarro), who share a love for ethics, pop culture, and cognitive science, and who have a marked inability to distinguish sacred from profane. Each podcast includes discussions of moral philosophy, recent work on moral psychology and neuroscience, and the overlap between the two.

iTunes Ratings

1876 Ratings
Average Ratings
1742
65
23
14
32

Long time fan

By knockonkyle - Apr 28 2020
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I’ve been following these two for at least three years. Always look forward to new episodes.

Disgustingly Satisfying

By ABClemons - Apr 07 2020
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I thought I was listening to PEL. I rode the red rocket until culmination and was not disappointed.

iTunes Ratings

1876 Ratings
Average Ratings
1742
65
23
14
32

Long time fan

By knockonkyle - Apr 28 2020
Read more
I’ve been following these two for at least three years. Always look forward to new episodes.

Disgustingly Satisfying

By ABClemons - Apr 07 2020
Read more
I thought I was listening to PEL. I rode the red rocket until culmination and was not disappointed.
Cover image of Very Bad Wizards

Very Bad Wizards

Latest release on Jul 07, 2020

Read more

Very Bad Wizards is a podcast featuring a philosopher (Tamler Sommers) and a psychologist (David Pizarro), who share a love for ethics, pop culture, and cognitive science, and who have a marked inability to distinguish sacred from profane. Each podcast includes discussions of moral philosophy, recent work on moral psychology and neuroscience, and the overlap between the two.

Rank #1: Episode 75: A Golden Shower of Guests

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Dave and Tamler celebrate their 75th episode by welcoming six BFFs of the podcast and asking them to share the biggest thing they've changed their minds about in their professional careers. You'll hear Dan Ariely on our moral duty to take science into the real world, Laurie Santos on the the role of neuroscience in explaining psychological findings, Yoel Inbar on what it means to do good science as a psychologist, Eric Schwitzgebel on his metaphysical epiphany about materialism, Nina Strohminger on breaking-up with priming research, and Sam Harris on Artificial Intelligence and its perils, and his recently changed views about vegetarianism. (Sadly, we had a technical glitch with the audio when we recorded our most-frequent guest Paul Bloom, but we'll bring him on again soon.) Plus we play some hilarious mash-ups, raps, and voicemails sent in from listeners.

Links to info about our Guests

Listener-Created Music in this Episode


Special Guests: Dan Ariely, Eric Schwitzgebel, Laurie Santos, Nina Strohminger, Sam Harris, and Yoel Inbar.

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Oct 06 2015

2hr 29mins

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Rank #2: Episode 84: Lifting the Veil

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David and Tamler talk about the perils of trying to step outside of your own perspective in ethics, science, and politics. What do Rawls' "original position" thought experiment, Pascal's Wager, and Moral Foundations Theory have in common? (Hint: it involves baking.) Plus, what movies (and other things) would serve as a litmus test when deciding on a potential life partner? What might liking or not liking a certain film, book, or TV series tell you about a person, and whether or not the relationship would work? And what sexual position is it rational to choose under the veil of ignorance? (It's a night episode...)

Links

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Feb 23 2016

1hr 33mins

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Rank #3: Episode 85: A Zoo with Only One Animal (with Paul Bloom)

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Philosophers can be funny and funny movies can be philosophical. David and Tamler welcome frequent VBW guest and arch-enemy of empathy Paul Bloom to discuss their five favorite comic films with philosophical/psychological themes. Groundhog Day was off-limits for our top five (we would've all chosen it) so we start by explaining why it's the quintessential movie for this topic.

Links

[all movie links are to imdb.com]

Special Guest: Paul Bloom.

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Mar 12 2016

1hr 9mins

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Rank #4: Episode 78: Wizards Uprising

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David and Tamler return to the minefield of campus politics and talk about recent events at Yale, Missouri, and Amherst. Are the protests are long overdue response to systematic oppression and prejudice? Or is this new generation of students coddled, hypersensitive, and hostile to free speech? A little bit of both? Can our hosts get through this episode without fighting?   

Links

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Nov 24 2015

1hr 8mins

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Rank #5: Episode 81: Domo Arigato, Mr. Robot (With Yoel Inbar)

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Hello, listener. Hello, listener? That's lame. Maybe I should give you a name, but that's a slippery slope. You're only in my head. Or maybe we're in your head. Are you listening to this with headphones?

Shit. It's actually happened, I'm talking to imaginary listeners.  

What I'm about to tell you is top secret, a conspiracy bigger than all of us. There's a powerful group of people out there that are secretly running the world. I'm talking about the guys no one knows about, the guys that are invisible. The top 1% of the top 1%, the guys that play God without permission. That's right, it's the Partially Examined Life guys. And now I think they're following me.

Special guest Yoel Inbar joins us to talk about the best show of last year. Warning: This episode is full of spoilers. Do not listen until you've seen Season 1 of Mr. Robot.

Links

Special Guest: Yoel Inbar.

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Jan 12 2016

1hr 47mins

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Rank #6: Episode 176: Split-Brains and the (Dis)Unity of Consciousness

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David and Tamler discuss famous 'split brain' experiments pioneered by Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga. What happens when you cut off the main line of communication between the left and right hemispheres of our brain? Why under certain conditions do the the left and right brains seem like they have different abilities and desires? What does this tell us about the ‘self’? Do we have two consciousnesses, but only that can speak? Does the left brain bully the right brain? Are we all just a bundle of different consciousnesses with their own agendas? Thanks to our Patreon supporters for suggesting and voting for this fascinating topic!

Plus, physicists may be able to determine whether we’re living in a computer simulation – but is it too dangerous to try to find out?

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Nov 12 2019

1hr 48mins

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Rank #7: Episode 3: "We believe in nothing!" (Cultural diversity, relativism, and moral truth)

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Tamler and Dave discuss recent work in philosophy and psychology about the differences in moral values and practices across cultures. We talk about the implications of moral diversity: does  it mean that we cannot criticize that practices of other cultures? How should we regard moral disagreement? Are there objective “truths” in ethics? Somehow we need to play clips from The Big Lebowski and Pulp Fiction in order to resolve these questions.

Links

"No Donnie, these men are nihilists, nothing to be afraid of."

Interview with Jon Haidt.

"Pigs are filthy animals"

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Sep 08 2012

1hr 1min

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Rank #8: Episode 138: Memory, Pain, and Relationships (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

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Award-winning screenwriter and medieval philosophy scholar Yoel Inbar joins us for a deep dive on the Charlie Kaufman/Michel GondREY masterpiece Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. When relationships go bad is it better to believe they never happened? What is the nature of memory, how is it constructed, and is it possible to zap them out existence with an Apple IIe? Will Tamler have a more optimistic take on the ending of the movie than David? (Hint: yes)

Also--only two more weeks to preorder Why Honor Matters and get your free bonus episode! Upload your receipt here

Special Guest: Yoel Inbar.

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Apr 24 2018

1hr 45mins

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Rank #9: Episode 160: Everything is Meaningless: The Book of Ecclesiastes

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David and Tamler dive into the book of Ecclesiastes, an absurdist classic that is somehow also a book of the Bible. Is everything meaningless, vain, and a chasing after the wind? Are humans just the same as animals? Are wise people no better off than fools? Will God judge us after we die, rewarding the good people and punishing the shit-heels? What if there is no afterlife and this is all we get? How should we deal with our pointless, unjust existence? Plus we return to our opening-segment bible— Aeon—and talk about an argument for replacing jealousy with...wait for it…compersion.

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Mar 19 2019

1hr 33mins

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Rank #10: Episode 90: Of Mice and Morals

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David and Tamler have their first real fight in a while over an article defending "social mixing"--distributing babies randomly across families such that no infant is genetically related to the parents who raise them.. Then they discuss a study published in Science in 2013 in which participants could earn money if they agreed to let mice be killed in a gas chamber.  Do free markets threaten our moral characters and cause us to abandon our principles? What are mechanisms behind this phenomenon when it happens? And why does David hate mice so much?

Episode Links

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May 25 2016

1hr 20mins

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Rank #11: Episode 122: Nothing but a "G" Thing (Intelligence Pt. 1)

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David and Tamler do their best to talk frankly about intelligence and IQ research. (It's our Patreon listener-selected topic! We probably would never have chosen this one on our own...). Is intelligence a meaningful, definable concept? Can we reliably test for it? How much of the variability in IQ across individuals is due to heritable factors? Are people with higher IQ happier, wealthier, or healthier than people with lower IQ? And why is this topic so controversial anyhow? Plus in the intro segment Tamler and David discuss why you probably don't need fMRI to know what your dog wants, and why cognitive neuroscience seems to confuse otherwise intelligent folks. (Note: This is Part 1 of our discussion on intelligence. In Part 2 will delve into the slightly more controversial topics of IQ, race, and gender).

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Aug 29 2017

1hr 40mins

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Rank #12: Episode 119: A Brief History of Values

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What happens when we discover why we believe the things we believe? What if we discover that our values are the product of our cultural tradition, or personal experience, or natural selection? Should we be more skeptical of our values once we learn their history? Plus, data on Google porn searches reveal that you're all a bunch of sick fucks.

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Jul 12 2017

1hr 26mins

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Rank #13: Episode 165: Life With No Head (With Sam Harris)

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Sam Harris returns to the podcast to talk about meditation and his new Waking Up meditation app. What are the goals of mindfulness practice - stress reduction and greater focus, or something much deeper? Can it cure David's existential dread? Tamler's fear of his daughter going away to college? Can sustained practice erode the illusion of self? Is that even something we'd want to do? What if it diminishes our attachment to people we love? And what is the self anyway? Is Sam a defender of panpsychism? So many questions... Plus, the ethics of creating talking elephants by curing them of their autism through bonding and possibly mounting. (Seriously.)

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Jun 04 2019

2hr 16mins

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Rank #14: Episode 94: Buttery Friendships

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Dave and Tamler don’t agree about much, but one thing they do share is an affinity for character-based approaches to ethics. Using Tamler’s interview with Georgetown Philosopher Nancy Sherman as their guide (link to chapter included), they discuss two ancient perspectives on how to develop good character and live happy, virtuous lives: Aristotle's and that of the Stoics. Why did Aristotle focus so much on friendship and what happens when those friendships get too "watery"? Are emotions crucial for developing virtues or are they “so much mist on the windshield?” Are the stoics right that we shouldn’t get attached to things that are beyond our control? Plus, a new Twitter account has David and Tamler polishing their CVs, and a request for listener suggestions for our 100th episode.


Note: We recorded this episode after the police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis but before the shootings of the police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. We talk a bit about the violence, but not about what happened after Minneapolis.

Links

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Jul 19 2016

1hr 36mins

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Rank #15: Episode 113: Pascal, Probability, and Pitchforks

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David and Tamler break down what may be the best argument that it's rational to believe in God: Pascal's Wager. (No, we're not just trolling our Sam Harris listeners.) Does the expected value of believing in God outweigh the probability that you're wrong? How does belief work--can you just turn it on and off? What if you believe in the wrong God? This leads to a wide-ranging discussion on decision theory, instrumental rationality, artificial intelligence, transformative experiences, and whether David should drop acid. Your brain AND your future self will love this episode!

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Apr 18 2017

1hr 18mins

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Rank #16: Episode 91: Rage Against the Machines

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Inspired by a recent ProPublica report on racial bias in an algorithm used to predict future criminal behavior, David and Tamler talk about the use of analytic methods in criminal sentencing, sports, and love. Should we use algorithms to influence decisions about criminal sentencing or parole decisions? Should couples about to get married take a test that predicts their likelihood of getting divorced? Is there something inherently racist about analytic methods in sports? Plus, David asks Tamler some questions about the newly released second edition of his book A Very Bad Wizard: Morality Behind the Curtain.

Links

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Jun 07 2016

1hr 24mins

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Rank #17: Episode 120: Clap Your Hand for Robert Wright

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Special guest Robert Wright joins the podcast to discuss his latest book "Why Buddhism is True." What is the Buddhist conception of not-self?
When we become aware that the boundaries between us and the world are fluid, what is the “we” that arrives at this insight? Can daily meditation make you less of a dick? How does evolutionary psychology bear on these questions? Plus, Dave horrifies Tamler with his new hipster habit.

Special Guest: Robert Wright.

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Jul 25 2017

1hr 47mins

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Rank #18: Episode 98: Mind the Gap

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David and Tamler break down the biggest question in moral philosophy -- can we derive value judgments from a set of purely factual claims? Like the Scottish Philosopher David Hume they're surprised when the usual copulation of propositions 'is' and 'is not' suddenly turn into conclusions in the form of 'ought' and 'ought not.' And what's the deal with all these copulating propositions anyway? Aren't they a little young for that?  Do propositions practice safe copulation?  Is proposition porn about to be the new fad? They also talk about Moore's Open Question Argument, which introduced the term "naturalist fallacy," and respond to angry criticism over last episode's Rationalia segment.     

Links

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Sep 13 2016

1hr 22mins

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Rank #19: Episode 109: Moral Pluralism: Behind the Lube

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David and Tamler return to their repugnant roots to talk about Cornell's refusal to hire conservative faculty, Milo getting disinvited from CPAC, and a case in Canada involving child sex dolls and a bottle of lube. Then they launch into a discussion of moral pluralism. Do competing values ultimately reduce to a single set of moral principles? What defines and justifies the boundaries of pluralism? What should you do when your Amish friend is getting bullied? Plus, more lube.

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Feb 28 2017

1hr 11mins

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Rank #20: Episode 162: Parents Just Don't Understand (with Paul Bloom)

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As parents we like to think we have an impact on our children - their future, their happiness, the kinds of people they turn out to be. But
are we deluded? Dave and Tamler are joined by empathy's kryponite, the great Paul Bloom, to talk about Judith Rich Harris's view that parents matter a lot less than you might think (while genes and peer groups matter a lot more than you might think) .

Plus, what the connection between art and morality? Should we support "cancel culture"? Is it wrong to play Michael Jackson's P.Y.T. (spell it out) on the radio? What about the Jackson 5? And what about art that is itself immoral? You're not gonna believe this but Louis CK gets mentioned.

Thanks to our beloved Patreon supporters for suggesting and voting for this topic!

Special Guest: Paul Bloom.

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Apr 16 2019

1hr 26mins

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Episode 192: Postmodern Wet Dreams (Borges' "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote")

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David and Tamler dive into “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” a very funny Borges story that also raises deep questions about authorship, reading, and interpretation. What would it mean for the same text to be written by two different authors more than three hundred years apart? Is this story the post-modernist manifesto that literary critics like Roland Barthes believed it to be? Or is the narrator in the story just a delusional sycophant, a victim of Menard’s practical joke – and the story by extension, a practical joke by Borges on the post-modernist movement to come?

Plus, My Little Pony fans finally confront their Nazi problem. 

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Jul 07 2020

1hr 36mins

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Episode 191: All the Rage

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A lotta anger out there right now, but does it do more harm than good? Is anger counterproductive, an obstacle to progress? And even when it is, can anger be appropriate anway? We talk about two excellent articles by the philosopher Amia Srinivasan criticizing anger's critics. Plus we express some counterproductive anger of our own at the IDWs response to the protests.  

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Jun 23 2020

1hr 36mins

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Episode 190: We Pod. We Pod-Cast. We Podcast. (Frankfurt’s “On Bullshit”)

Jun 09 2020

2hr 1min

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Episode 189: The Anality of Evil (Freud's "Civilization and its Discontents")

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David and Tamler dive into Sigmund Freud’s world of unconscious drives, death instincts, and thwarted incestuous urges in his classic text “Civilization and its Discontents.” If society has made so much progress, why are human beings perpetually dissatisfied? Can religion help us or is it a big part of the problem? What’s really going on when you piss on a fire to put it out? Also: how seriously should we take Freud today given some of his wackier ideas? And is he a psychologist, a philosopher, or something else entirely?

Plus we select the finalists from a huge list of suggested topics for the Patreon listener-selected episode!

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May 26 2020

1hr 37mins

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Episode 188: Conceptual Mummies (Nietzsche's "Twilight of the Idols")

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Socrates was ugly and tired of life, so he made a tyrant of reason. Philosophers are mummies who hate the body and the senses. Reason is a tricky old woman. Morality is a misunderstanding. Kant is a sneaky Christian. And don't even get Nietzsche started on "free will" or the "self" - just excuse for priests to punish people, a hangman's metaphysics. David and Tamler dive into Friedrich Nietzsche's Twilight of the Idols, a fascinating set of aphorisms brimming with passion, provocation, questions without answers.

Plus, a professor is sanctioned for sex talk with his students - fair or coddling foul?

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May 12 2020

1hr 42mins

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Episode 187: More Zither

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With a global pandemic and a collapsing economy upon us, it's time to ask ourselves some tough questions. Sex robots or platonic love robots - what are you more excited for? If you walked in on your partner with one of them, which would make you more jealous? Are you male or female? Can evolutionary psychology explain sex-linked preferences for sensitive, empathetic Alexas? We then dive into the shadowy echo-filled streets of post-war Vienna - and talk about one of our favorite movies, a true noir classic: The Third Man.

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Apr 21 2020

1hr 40mins

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Episode 185: The Devil's Playground

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David and Tamler begin by talking about the question on everyone’s mind right now – are we obligated to be pansexual? Then, since many of us have more free time on our hands these days, we thought it might be a good idea to revisit Bertrand Russell’s essay (published in Harper’s Magazine) “In Praise of Idleness.” How did workaholism become the norm? Why do we see working insanely long hours as a virtue, a moral duty rather than a necessity? Would more leisure make us more fulfilled and creative or just bored? We also discuss Daniel Markovits’ book "The Meritocracy Trap" - when life is a non-stop hyper-competitive grind from preschool to retirement even among the elites, is anyone happy?

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Mar 24 2020

1hr 24mins

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Bonus Episode: Top 5 Deadwood Characters

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Here's something that might help with the Coronavirus blues: we're releasing our latest Patreon bonus episode for everyone. In this (unedited) episode, Tamler and David talk about their Top 5 Deadwood characters. If you've seen the show, let us know if you agree or disagree, or if we should go fuck ourselves. And if you haven’t watched it yet, you might have some time on your hands for the next month or two - there’s almost no better way to spend it than watching Deadwood. Enjoy!

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Mar 17 2020

1hr 26mins

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Episode 184: Tainted Glove

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David and Tamler start off talking about the infamous Richard Dawkins eugenics tweet. What does it mean for eugenics to “work”? And given the sensitive nature and horrific history of eugenics, is it wrong to raise the topic even if you’re just focused on the science? Hey we’re just asking questions, man…

Then, huge baseball fan that he is, David insists that we talk about the massive Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal and cheating in sports more generally. When is bending the rules just part of the game (“if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin’”) - and when is it really wrong? Why does the use of technology make cheating seem more dishonorable? Why weren’t the Astros players punished since they were the driving force behind the scandal? And why are apologies so hard on twitter?

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Mar 10 2020

1hr 25mins

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Episode 183: Accept the Mystery (with Paul Bloom)

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VBW favorite Paul Bloom takes a short break from his Sam Harris duties to help us break down the Coen Brothers' ode to uncertainty, A Serious Man. Does inaction have consequences? Can you understand the cat but not the math? Why are there Hebrew letters carved into the back of a goy's teeth? Dybbuk or no Dybbuk? Why does God make us feel the questions if he’s not gonna give us any answers?

Plus, Paul defends the psych establishment against critiques from the podcast peons at Two Psychologists Four Beers and Very Bad Wizards.

Special Guest: Paul Bloom.

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Feb 25 2020

1hr 39mins

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Episode 182: The Paper That Launched a Thousand Twitter Wars (With Yoel Inbar)

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Podcasting legend Yoel Inbar (from Two Psychologists Four Beers) joins us to break down Tal Yarkoni's "The Generalizability Crisis,” the paper that launched a thousand Twitter wars. Psychologists make verbal claims about the world, then conduct studies to test these claims - but are the studies actually providing evidence for those claims? Do psychological experiments generalize beyond the the strict confinments of the lab? Are psychologists even using the right statistical models to be able to claim that they do? Does this debate boil down to fundamental differences in the philosophy of science - induction, Popper, and hypothetico-deductive models and so forth? Will David and Tamler ever be able to talk about a psych study again without getting into a fight?

Plus ahead of tonight's New Hampshire primary, expert political analysis about what went down in Iowa.

Special Guest: Yoel Inbar.

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Feb 11 2020

1hr 58mins

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Episode 181: The Fraudulence Paradox (David Foster Wallace's "Good Old Neon")

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Our whole lives we’ve been frauds. We’re not exaggerating. Pretty much all we’ve ever done is try to create a certain impression of us in other people. Mostly to be liked or admired. This episode is a perfect example, Tamler pretending to be a cinephile (check out his four favorite pieces of 2019 “pop culture” in the first segment), David trying to connect with the people (Baby Yoda, Keanu Reeves etc.) – and of course what could be more fraudulent than a deep dive into a David Foster Wallace story, rhapsodizing over the endless sentences, the logical paradoxes, the seven-layer bean-dip of metacommentary (Jesus Christ I’m surprised there aren’t like eight footnotes in this episode description), and meanwhile the Partially Examined Life dudes refresh their overcast feeds and wonder through the tiny keyhole of themselves how David and Tamler have sunk so low that they’d ramble on about “Good Old Neon” like a couple of first year Comp-Lit grad students trying to impress that girl who works at the Cajun bakery.

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Jan 28 2020

2hr 9mins

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Episode 180: Chekhov's Schrödinger's Dagger (Kurosawa's "Rashomon")

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Eleventh Century Japan. A samurai and his wife are walking through the forest and come across a bandit. The bandit attacks the samurai and has sex with/rapes his wife. A woodcutter finds the samurai, stabbed to death. Who killed the samurai and with what? What role did his wife play in his death? Kurosawa gives us four perspectives, told in flashbacks within flashbacks. Who’s telling the truth? Is anyone? Can we ever know what really happened? A simple story on the surface becomes a meditation on epistemological despair.

Plus, your lizard brain is out to get you and you only have 90 seconds to stop it!

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Jan 14 2020

1hr 56mins

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Episode 179: Talking Shit

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David and Tamler wrap up the decade with an episode on trash-talking that morphs into a debate over the value of experimental inquiry. Participants in a lab put more effort into a slider task after they’re insulted by a confederate. Do experiments like these tell us anything about trash-talking in general? Can it explain the effect of Mike Tyson telling Lenox Lewis he’d eat his children, or of Larry Bird looking around the locker room before the 3-point contest saying he was trying to figure out who’d finish second? Can it tell us how football players should talk to their opponents? Does it give us a more modest but still valuable insight that we can apply to the real world? This is our first real fight (or disagreement) in a while.

Plus, some mixed feelings about Mr. Robot Season 4 Episode 11 and some tentative predictions (recorded before the finale which aired by the time this episode is released). Happy holidays!

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Dec 24 2019

2hr 3mins

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Episode 178: Borges' Obsession-Obsession ("The Zahir")

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David and Tamler happen across Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Zahir” and now they can’t stop thinking about it. What is the ‘Zahir’ – this object that can take many forms and that consumes the people who find it? What does it represent? Is it the fanaticism of being in love? The ever-present threat (and temptation) of idealism? A subtle critique of Christian theology? Is the Zahir a microcosm of everything? Why is Borges so obsessed with obsession?

Plus, it’s the annual drunken end-of-the night Thanksgiving ‘debate’ between Tamler and IDW stepmother extraordinaire Christina Hoff Sommers. Topics raised and then quickly dropped include Bernie for President, Melinda Gates, critic reviews of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and more. Stay tuned for the end when Christina finds her “notes”. (And for special cameos from David Sommers and Eliza).

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Dec 10 2019

1hr 40mins

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Episode 177: Pure Linguistic Chauvinism

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Tamler learns something new about menstruation. David weighs in on the democratic debates and the impeachment hearings. Then we map the various social and political factions onto the factions in our respective fields. Who are establishment neoliberals of philosophy, and who are the white feminists? What about the IDWs of psychology – and the Chads and Stacys?

Finally we get serious and break down the article by Alan Fiske in Psychological Review called “The Lexical Fallacy in Emotion Research.” Does language affect how we understand the emotional landscape? Do the words we happen to use deceive us into thinking we have “carved nature at its joints”? What is a natural kind anyway when it comes to emotions?

Plus, after the outro, a quick unedited Mr. Robot discussion of the revelation in season 4, episode 7.

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Nov 26 2019

2hr 4mins

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Episode 176: Split-Brains and the (Dis)Unity of Consciousness

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David and Tamler discuss famous 'split brain' experiments pioneered by Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga. What happens when you cut off the main line of communication between the left and right hemispheres of our brain? Why under certain conditions do the the left and right brains seem like they have different abilities and desires? What does this tell us about the ‘self’? Do we have two consciousnesses, but only that can speak? Does the left brain bully the right brain? Are we all just a bundle of different consciousnesses with their own agendas? Thanks to our Patreon supporters for suggesting and voting for this fascinating topic!

Plus, physicists may be able to determine whether we’re living in a computer simulation – but is it too dangerous to try to find out?

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Nov 12 2019

1hr 48mins

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Episode 175: At Least We Didn’t Talk About Zombies (Nagel’s “What is it Like to be a Bat?”)

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We try (with varying success) to wrap our heads around Thomas Nagel’s classic article “What is it Like to be a Bat?" Does science have the tools to give us a theory of consciousness or is that project doomed from the outset? Why do reductionist or functionalist explanations seem so unsatisfying? Is the problem that consciousness is subjective, or is it something about the nature of conscious experience itself? Is this ultimately an epistemological or metaphysical question? What are we talking about? Do we even know anymore?

Plus, the return of Mr. Robot! We talk about the big new mystery at the heart of the new season.

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Oct 29 2019

1hr 42mins

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Episode 174: More Chiang for Your Buck ("Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom" Pt. 2)

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Is character destiny, or can fluky decisions or tiny shifts in weather patterns fundamentally change who we are? Does the existence or non-existence of alternate universes have any bearing on freedom and responsibility? David and Tamler conclude their discussion of Ted Chiang’s “Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom” along with another very short piece by Chiang called “What’s Expected of Us” that was first published in Nature.

Plus, do you have low likability in the workplace? It could be because you’re too moral and therefore not that funny. But don’t worry, we have a solution that’ll help you increase your humor production and likability with no reduction in morality. All you have to do is listen!

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Oct 15 2019

1hr 46mins

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Long time fan

By knockonkyle - Apr 28 2020
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I’ve been following these two for at least three years. Always look forward to new episodes.

Disgustingly Satisfying

By ABClemons - Apr 07 2020
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I thought I was listening to PEL. I rode the red rocket until culmination and was not disappointed.