Cover image of Very Bad Wizards
(1776)

Rank #21 in Philosophy category

Society & Culture
Philosophy
Science
Social Sciences

Very Bad Wizards

Updated 9 days ago

Rank #21 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

1776 Ratings
Average Ratings
1658
59
21
12
26

Great podcast!

By joejoejoejoejoejoejoejoejoe - Nov 21 2019
Read more
It’s almost as good as Partially Examined Life!

Solid

By sweeneyjp - Aug 24 2019
Read more
But even better if you listen while on drooz.

iTunes Ratings

1776 Ratings
Average Ratings
1658
59
21
12
26

Great podcast!

By joejoejoejoejoejoejoejoejoe - Nov 21 2019
Read more
It’s almost as good as Partially Examined Life!

Solid

By sweeneyjp - Aug 24 2019
Read more
But even better if you listen while on drooz.
Cover image of Very Bad Wizards

Very Bad Wizards

Latest release on Jan 14, 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 59: Tumors All the Way Down (With Sam Harris)

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Bestselling author and friend of the podcast Sam Harris joins Tamler and Dave for a marathon podcast. (Seriously, pack two pairs of astronaut diapers for this one). We  talk about the costs and benefits of religion, dropping acid in India, and the illusory nature of (a certain kind of) free will. Then we go at it on blame, moral responsibility, hatred, guilt, retribution, and vengeance. Sam thinks these are antiquated responses based on a belief in spooky metaphysics, Tamler thinks they are important components of human morality, and Dave just wants everyone to get along and be reasonable (like that nice Kant fellow). 

Time markers (roughly)

0:00-47:00 Intro and costs and benefits of religion

47:00-77:30 Drugs, the self, free will

77:30-- Blame, guilt, vengeance, moral responsibility, desert. 

Links

Special Guest: Sam Harris.

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Dec 16 2014

2hr 32mins

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Rank #2: Episode 63: Stalemates and Closets (with Sam Harris)

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Sam Harris gets back in the VBW ring for another round on moral responsibility, ethical theories, and the grounds for our obligations to other people. Are we at a genuine stalemate when it comes to blame and desert? Is Tamler a closet consequentialist? Is Sam a closet pluralist? Why is Dave such a big Wagner fan? Plus, Twitter shaming: what is it good for? Settle in, get comfortable, pour yourself a drink, you’re in for the long haul on this one.

Links

Special Guest: Sam Harris.

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Feb 28 2015

2hr 46mins

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Rank #3: 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 #4: 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 #5: Episode 96: Memory and Meaning in "Memento" (with Paul Bloom)

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So where are you? You’re in some house. What am I listening to? Sounds like the radio. Is it the radio? No, you’re not allowed to use that language on the radio. What are they talking about? A movie, it’s called "Memento." Have I seen that? I think so, yeah. Who are these people? Hey I recognize that voice, that’s Paul Bloom! I took his Coursera course before the accident, it was awesome! What’s he doing talking to these guys? One of them sounds like he has a tampon down his throat. Hey wait, this is starting to get interesting. Personal identity, the search for purpose. All right, let’s settle in... So where are you? You're in some house. What am I listening to? Sounds like the radio...

Links

Special Guest: Paul Bloom.

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Aug 16 2016

1hr 26mins

Play

Rank #6: 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

Play

Rank #7: 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

Play

Rank #8: 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

Play

Rank #9: Episode 97: Dogmatic Slumber Party

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Do you have strong views on climate change, taxes, health care, or gun control? Do you think the evidence and reason support your side of the debate? How do you know you’re right? David and Tamler discuss a recent paper by Dan Kahan and colleagues showing how prone people are to make errors in processing information to favor positions they are predisposed to believe. And even more shocking: the higher your numeracy skills, the more prone you are to fall prey to this bias. So how do we correct for this? Can we know anything at all with any confidence? Could it be that 'Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret' in not in fact a completely accurate depiction of how young girls think about puberty? Plus, we decide whether to join Neil deGrasse Tyson as a citizen of Rationalia. To paraphrase Mr. T, I pity the newscasters!

Links

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Aug 30 2016

1hr 23mins

Play

Rank #10: Episode 42: Reason, Responsibility, and Roombas (With Paul Bloom)

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Can a fully determined creature deliberate? How big a role does conscious reasoning play in moral judgment and everyday life? Are we responsible for our thoughts and actions? Paul Bloom rejoins us against his better judgment to discuss his book "Just Babies" and his recent article in The Atlantic that set the internet on the fire and riled up the likes of Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne.  Plus, what's the difference (if any) between getting into a Star Trek transporter and getting an axe to the head, and why does David know so much about boy bands?

Links

Tamler is the only one who realized he has a face for radio. 

Special Guest: Paul Bloom.

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Mar 03 2014

1hr 7mins

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Rank #11: Episode 74: Lies, Damned Lies, and Ashley Madison

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David and Tamler return after an end of summer hiatus to finally talk
about the ethics of deception….eventually. But first they break down
a recent article in the journal Science documenting an attempt to replicate
100 recent psychology experiments. What does it mean that just
over 1/3 of the studies were successfully replicated? Is social
psychology in crisis or is this just how science works? Will David
somehow try to pin the blame on philosophers?

Plus--a brief and almost certainly regrettable foray into the Ashley
Madison hack, the neuroscience of lying to your kids about Santa, and we announce
a new way to contact us to help celebrate our 75th anniversary.

Links

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Sep 16 2015

1hr 53mins

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Rank #12: Episode 4: Revenge, Pt. 1

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Dave allows Tamler to rant about Sam Harris’s strawman attacks
on moral relativism before launching into discussion about revenge, justice, True Grit, and Michael Dukakis. Though
they differ on many issues, Tamler and Dave agree that it’s hard to satirize a
guy with shiny boots.  

Links

Sam
Harris in the Huffington Post.

“Brute force is better with
Nazis.”

The answer that launched
a series of Bush presidencies.

“This ain’t no coon
hunt.”

·Justice
and Honor
, Tamler’s Psychology Today blog
post.

"Partial Desert" blog post at Flickers of Freedom.

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Sep 20 2012

51mins

Play

Rank #13: Episode 38: The Greatest Movies Ever Made about Personal Identity

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Who is the real you? What happens to your identity when your body gets cloned or reconstituted with all the same memories and character traits? Does society construct our true selves or repress them? Can we ever escape our pasts and become different people?   Dave thinks conceptual analysis and arousal measuring devices can solve all these problems but allows Tamler his dream of temporarily becoming the host of a movie podcast. They list their top 5 favorite movies about personal identity. Plus, do they have to eat still more crow--this time from Sam Harris?       

Links

Personal Identity [plato.stanford.edu]

Google Glass [youtube.com]

Tamler's Top 5

5. Fight Club
4. A Clockwork Orange
3. Infernal Affairs
2. Moon
1. A History of Violence

David's Top 5

5. Blade Runner
4. Vertigo
3. Looper 
2. Groundhog Day
1. Back to the Future

Honorable Mentions

  • Solaris (Russian version)
  • Being John Malkovich
  • Memento
  • My Fair Lady
  • All of Me
  • Zelig 
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
  • Spirited Away
  • The Prestige
  • Shutter Island
  • Unforgiven
  • Side Effects
  • Any Star Trek Movie

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Dec 31 2013

1hr 21mins

Play

Rank #14: Episode 173: Talking to Your (Alternate) Self [Ted Chiang's "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom"]

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David and Tamler dive back into the Ted Chiang well and explore the fascinating world described in "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom." What if you could interact with alternate versions of yourself - versions that made different choices, had different jobs, or different partners? Would you get jealous of your other selves if they were more successful? Would you want them to be unhappy so you could feel better about your own choices and path? If your alternate self was in a good relationship with a woman, would you try to track down the version of that woman in this world? If you made an immoral choice but your other self made the moral one, what does that say about your character? And what does it say about free will and responsibility?

So many questions, such an interesting story - turns out we need to dedicate another segment next time to conclude the discussion. Hope you enjoy it! If you haven't bought Exhalation (Ted Chiang's new collection) We can't recommend it highly enough. This is the last story in that collection.

Plus – we select the topic finalists for our beloved Patreon listener-selected episode. Will Denial of Death make the cut again?

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Oct 01 2019

1hr 40mins

Play

Rank #15: Episode 41: Moral Dilemmas at the Movies

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Dave keeps trying to explain to Tamler that we're not a movie podcast, but somehow they're doing another podcast about movies. This time they each list their top 5 movies featuring moral dilemmas. Also, Tamler tries to rationalize the Woody Allen controversy, Ozymandias from Watchmen says "screw you Paul Bloom," Dave confuses Maggie Gyllenhaal with Droopy, and for the second time ever we have to censor something one of us (Tamler) says. Put on your astronaut adult diapers, folks, it's a long one. 

Links

Tamler's Top 5 (links all go to IMDB.com)

  1. The Third Man
  2. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
  3. In Bruges
  4. La Femme du Boulanger (The Baker's Wife)
  5. Gone Baby Gone

David's Top 5 

  1. The Dark Knight
  2. Watchmen
  3. Minority Report
  4. 3:10 to Yuma
  5. Executive Decision

Tamler's Honorable Mentions

Movies that couldn't be talked about without spoilers:

  • Oldboy (Park Chanwook's not fucking Spike Lee's).
  • Mother
  • The Maltese Falcon
  • Seven

Movies too close to personal identity

  • Solaris
  • Shutter Island

So close...

  • Beast of the Southern Wild.
  • 3:10 to Yuma
  • The Dark Knight
  • Casablanca
  • The Insider
  • Donnie Brasco
  • Maltese Falcon
  • Shane
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Princess Mononoke

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Feb 19 2014

1hr 37mins

Play

Rank #16: 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 #17: Episode 80: The Coddling of the Wizard Mind (with Vlad Chituc and Christina Hoff Sommers)

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It's our last episode on campus protests and political correctness for a while, we promise! But it's a fun one.  David and Tamler welcome two guests on the opposite side of the debate spectrum. Recent Yale Alum, cognitive scientist, freelance writer, (and writer of novel-length emails) Vlad Chituc joins both of us to defend the Yale protests, provide some context, and explain why the good people at FIRE are hypocritical about free expression. In the middle segment, Tamler talks with his notorious stepmother and "factual feminist" Christina Hoff Sommers (author of "Who Stole Feminism?" and "The War Against Boys"). They argue over whether the new political correctness poses a serious threat to campus climate, whether it is even "new," and over whether one is obligated to smoke weed on Joe Rogan's podcast. Plus, Tamler gets all huffy about the panic over terrorism, and we read some email responses to VBW Episode 78 ("Wizards Uprising").  Oh, and we have a recording a date set for the Mr. Robot episode!

Links

Vlad Chituc [vladchituc.com]

Christina Hoff Sommers [aei.org]

"Fear in the Air, Americans Look Over Their Shoulders" [nytimes.com]

The Coddling of the American Mind [theatlantic.com]

Who Stole Feminism by Christina H. Sommers [amazon.com affiliate link]

The War Against Boys by Christina H. Sommers [amazon.com affiliate link]

"CDS Appropriates Asian Dishes, Students Say" [oberlinreview.org]  (ht/@brittanyepage)

Special Guests: Christina Hoff Sommers and Vlad Chituc.

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Dec 21 2015

1hr 40mins

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Rank #18: 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

Play

Rank #19: 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 #20: 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

Play

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

Play

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

Play

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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Episode 173: Talking to Your (Alternate) Self [Ted Chiang's "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom"]

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David and Tamler dive back into the Ted Chiang well and explore the fascinating world described in "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom." What if you could interact with alternate versions of yourself - versions that made different choices, had different jobs, or different partners? Would you get jealous of your other selves if they were more successful? Would you want them to be unhappy so you could feel better about your own choices and path? If your alternate self was in a good relationship with a woman, would you try to track down the version of that woman in this world? If you made an immoral choice but your other self made the moral one, what does that say about your character? And what does it say about free will and responsibility?

So many questions, such an interesting story - turns out we need to dedicate another segment next time to conclude the discussion. Hope you enjoy it! If you haven't bought Exhalation (Ted Chiang's new collection) We can't recommend it highly enough. This is the last story in that collection.

Plus – we select the topic finalists for our beloved Patreon listener-selected episode. Will Denial of Death make the cut again?

Sponsored By:

Support Very Bad Wizards

Links:

Oct 01 2019

1hr 40mins

Play

Episode 172: Are You Free (to like the Chappelle special)?

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David and Tamler start out with a discussion of the new Chappelle special and the negative reaction from many critics. Is Chappelle trolling his audience? Has he lost touch with the powerless people he used to champion? Or have critics missed his larger point, and failed to approach the new special as an art form? Then they address the latest development in the literature around Benjamin Libet's famous study that, according to some people, proved that free will doesn't exist. How did that study get so much attention in the first place? Tamler proposes a Marxist analysis. Plus, David teaches Tamler how to pronounce Bereitschaftspotential antisemitically.

This episode is sponsored by Simple Habit.

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Sep 17 2019

1hr 40mins

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Episode 171: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Theodicy? (The Book of Job)

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David and Tamler dive back into the Bible, this time to the perplexing and poetic Book of Job. What does this book have to say about the theodicy, the problem of evil? Why does Job (and his children) have to suffer so much just so God can prove a point to Satan? Are the speeches of Job's friends meant to be convincing? Does Job capitulate in the end? Does God contradict himself in the last chapter? What’s the deal with Elihu? So many questions, not as many answers – maybe that's why it's such a classic.

Plus, "transhumanism" – dystopian wet dream or perfect moral system of the future based on logic, reason, and code? (Always code).

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Aug 27 2019

1hr 31mins

Play

Episode 170: Social Psychology Gets an Asch-Kicking

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Is social psychology just a kid dressing up in grown-up science clothes? Are the methods in social psychology--hypothesis-driven experiments and model-building--appropriate for the state of the field? Or do these methods lead to a narrowing of vision, stifled creativity, and a lack of informed curiosity about the social world> David and Tamler discuss the strong methodological critique of psychology from two of its leading practitioners - Paul Rozin and Solomon Asch.

Plus, food porn, real estate porn, outrage porn, and David's personal favorite - power washing porn.

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Aug 13 2019

1hr 49mins

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Episode 169: A Bug's Life (Kafka's "The Metamorphosis")

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David and Tamler try to control their emotions (with varying success) as they go deep into Franz Kafka's masterful novella "The Metamorphosis." What kind of a story is this? A Marxist or religious allegory? A work of weird fiction? A family drama? A dark comedy? Why does a story about a man who turns into a giant insect get under our skins so much?

Plus a study that links insomnia to our fear of death. What a cheerful summer episode! (Actually we're fairly proud of this one... As always we suggest reading the text before you listen or soon after).

This episode brought to you by Prolific.co, and by the support of our listeners.

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Jul 30 2019

1hr 50mins

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Episode 168: The Big Lebowski vs Pulp Fiction (Pt. 2)

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It's Part 2 of the Lebowski vs. Pulp Fiction showdown. This time we focus on the Dude, Walter, Donny, and most importantly Jesus Quintana. (Nobody fucks with the Jesus). What's the ethos of this stoner masterpiece? Is it a nihilstic movie? A deconstruction of masculinity? A cannabis infused Daoist parable? And is it fair to compare these two classics from the 90s? Fair? Who's the fucking nihilist you bunch of crybabies!

Plus - trolling. What is it? Why do people do it? Can works of art troll their audience? And is there such a thing as a benign troll?

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Jul 16 2019

1hr 33mins

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Episode 167: The Big Lebowski vs Pulp Fiction (Pt. 1)

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There are only two kinds of people in the world, Pulp Fiction people and Big Lebowski people. Now Pulp Fiction people can like Big Lebowski and vice versa, but nobody likes them both equally. Somewhere you have to make a choice. And that choice tells you who you are.

In the first episode of this two-parter, David and Tamler make that choice – and then go deep into the themes, performances, and philosophy of Tarantino’s iconic 90s classic Pulp Fiction. What’s the meaning of a foot massage? What counts as a miracle? Is failing to disregard your own feces a sufficient condition for a filthy animal? We have a lots to talk about, and time is short. So pretty please, with sugar on top, listen to the fucking episode.

This episode is sponsored by Blinkist and by all of our supporters.

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Jul 03 2019

1hr 8mins

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Episode 166: Total Recall (Ted Chiang's "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling")

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Memory is highly selective and often inaccurate. But what if we had an easily searchable video record of all our experiences and interactions? How would that affect our relationships? What would it reveal about our characters and our sense of who we are? Is there a kind of truth that can’t be determined by perfect objectivity? David and Tamler dive deep into Ted Chiang’s amazingly rich and poignant short story “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” which explores how new technologies shape individual and group identities.

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Jun 18 2019

1hr 49mins

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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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Episode 164: Choosing to Believe

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David and Tamler argue about William James' classic essay "The Will to Believe." What's more important - avoiding falsehood or discovering truth? When (if ever) is it rational to believe anything without enough evidence? What about beliefs that we can't be agnostic about? Are there hypotheses that we have to believe in order for them to come true? Does James successfully demonstrate that faith can be rational?

Plus, a philosopher at Apple who's not allowed to talk to the media - what are they hiding? And why are academics constantly telling students that academia is a nightmare?

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May 14 2019

1hr 21mins

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Episode 163: Should I Stay or Should I Go? (Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas")

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David and Tamler are pulled into Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas." Omelas is a truly happy city, except for one child who lives in abominable misery. Is that too high a moral cost? Why do some people walk away from the city? Why does no one help the child? Why does Le Guin make us create the city with her? Plus, we talk about our listener meetup in Vancouver, and a new edition of [dramatic music] GUILTY CONFESSIONS. Note: if this episode strikes you as too puritanical, then please add an orgy.

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May 01 2019

1hr 34mins

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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 161: Reach-Around Knowledge and Bottom Performers (The Dunning-Kruger Effect)

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The less we know, the more we know it. David and Tamler talk about the notorious Dunning-Kruger effect, which makes us overconfident in beliefs on topics we're ignorant about and under-confident when we're experts. Plus, we break down an evolutionary psychology article on why poor men and hungry men prefer women with big breasts. Trust us, it's a really bad study. We're sure about it.

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Apr 02 2019

1hr 25mins

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iTunes Ratings

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Great podcast!

By joejoejoejoejoejoejoejoejoe - Nov 21 2019
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It’s almost as good as Partially Examined Life!

Solid

By sweeneyjp - Aug 24 2019
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But even better if you listen while on drooz.