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Rank #19 in Philosophy category

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Philosophy
Science
Social Sciences

Very Bad Wizards

Updated 8 days ago

Rank #19 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.

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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

1862 Ratings
Average Ratings
1730
64
23
14
31

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

1862 Ratings
Average Ratings
1730
64
23
14
31

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 May 26, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 8 days ago

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 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 #4: 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 #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

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Rank #6: 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 #7: 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?

Sponsored By:

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Nov 12 2019

1hr 48mins

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Rank #8: 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 #9: 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 #10: 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 #11: Episode 126: The Absurd

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Is life meaningless? Are humans just glorified dung beetles, pushing around our piles of poop with no greater purpose? What would it take for life to actually be meaningful? In this episode, Tamler and David discuss Thomas Nagel’s essay on the sense of meaninglessness and absurdity that can so easily creep into human existence (with a special emphasis on the work of Camus and the philosophy of Rick and Morty). But first we tackle even more important questions about the human condition such as, why is it easier to detect the size of a hole with your tongue than with your little finger? And which moral "dilemmas" are actually moral no-brainers? (In the process, we even solve the problem of free speech on campus. You’re welcome.)

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Oct 24 2017

1hr 32mins

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Rank #12: 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 #13: Episode 143: The Psychology of Personality

Jul 10 2018

1hr 39mins

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Rank #14: 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 #15: Episode 104: Smelling Salts for Morality: Our Top 3 Movies About Empathy (with Paul Bloom)

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Paul Bloom takes some time away from his "Waking Up" appearances to join us for a very special movie episode: our top three films about empathy. Can movies help us understand the experiences of people who live completely different lives? Do serial killers need empathy to
effectively torture their victims? Does empathy make you want to blow up the world, or lead naked men into black liquid-y voids? Plus Paul and David try to bully Tamler into watching "Westworld." Also, buy Paul's new book (link below) "Against Empathy"! [Note: this episode is heavy on the spoilers. If you're worried, check the links below--they contain the titles for each movie in the order discussed on the podcast].

Special Guest: Paul Bloom.

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Dec 14 2016

1hr 33mins

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Rank #16: Episode 24: The Perils of Empathy (with Paul Bloom)

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Paul Bloom joins us in the second segment for a lively discussion about the value of  empathy as a guide our moral decisions.  And in our first scoop, we talk about Paul's new book (coming in November) Just Babies: The Origin of Good and Evil ,  racist babies, and how 80s sitcoms changed the world.  In the first segment, Dave and Tamler face the music and try to respond to a listener's criticisms of their episode on slurs and offensiveness (Episode 22) .  

Links

Special Guest: Paul Bloom.

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Jun 10 2013

1hr 23mins

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Rank #17: Episode 136: The Good Life (with Laurie Santos)

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From Very Bad Wizards to Megyn Kelly Today back to Very Bad Wizards, Laurie Santos has traveled the typical trajectory of the celebrity academic. Laurie joins us to talk about her cult status after creating the most popular course in Yale University history: Psychology and the Good Life. Why are we so bad at predicting what will make us happy? What makes it so hard to do the things we know are good for us? Why are young people more stressed, anxious, and overworked than they used to be? And how can we nudge ourselves into living better lives? Plus we take a test for determining the virtues that come easiest to us and the ones that come.. harder.

This episode is sponsored by Audible and Casper.

Special Guest: Laurie Santos.

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Mar 27 2018

1hr 32mins

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Rank #18: 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 #19: 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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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

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