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Rank #48 in Natural Sciences category

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Rationally Speaking

Updated 2 days ago

Rank #48 in Natural Sciences category

Science
Natural Sciences
Social Sciences
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Rationally Speaking is the bi-weekly podcast of New York City Skeptics. Join host Julia Galef and guests as they explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely from unlikely, and science from pseudoscience. Any topic is fair game as long as we can bring reason to bear upon it, with both a skeptical eye and a good dose of humor!We agree with the Marquis de Condorcet, who said that in an open society we ought to devote ourselves to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them."Rationally Speaking was co-created with Massimo Pigliucci, is produced by Benny Pollak, and is recorded in the heart of New York City's Greenwich Village.

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Rationally Speaking is the bi-weekly podcast of New York City Skeptics. Join host Julia Galef and guests as they explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely from unlikely, and science from pseudoscience. Any topic is fair game as long as we can bring reason to bear upon it, with both a skeptical eye and a good dose of humor!We agree with the Marquis de Condorcet, who said that in an open society we ought to devote ourselves to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them."Rationally Speaking was co-created with Massimo Pigliucci, is produced by Benny Pollak, and is recorded in the heart of New York City's Greenwich Village.

iTunes Ratings

424 Ratings
Average Ratings
347
35
13
15
14

This is gold!

By my_wit_wont_fit - Oct 27 2019
Read more
The Stanford Prison Experiment episode blew my mind

Brilliant

By Cssbid - May 22 2019
Read more
Julia is a pleasure to listen to, she prepares for interviews and asks smart meaningful questions!

iTunes Ratings

424 Ratings
Average Ratings
347
35
13
15
14

This is gold!

By my_wit_wont_fit - Oct 27 2019
Read more
The Stanford Prison Experiment episode blew my mind

Brilliant

By Cssbid - May 22 2019
Read more
Julia is a pleasure to listen to, she prepares for interviews and asks smart meaningful questions!
Cover image of Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking

Latest release on Nov 30, 2019

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Rationally Speaking is the bi-weekly podcast of New York City Skeptics. Join host Julia Galef and guests as they explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely from unlikely, and science from pseudoscience. Any topic is fair game as long as we can bring reason to bear upon it, with both a skeptical eye and a good dose of humor!We agree with the Marquis de Condorcet, who said that in an open society we ought to devote ourselves to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them."Rationally Speaking was co-created with Massimo Pigliucci, is produced by Benny Pollak, and is recorded in the heart of New York City's Greenwich Village.

Rank #1: Rationally Speaking #156 - David McRaney on "Why it’s so hard to change someone’s mind"

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You're probably already aware that it's hard to change someone's mind with logical arguments and evidence, especially about emotionally charged topics. But are there exceptions?
David McRaney, bestselling author of "You Are Not So Smart" (and host of the blog and podcast by the same name) describes his experiences with people who have done an about-face on some important topic, like 9/11 conspiracy theories. He and Julia discuss a technique for changing someone's mind with evidence, how individual mind-change mirrors scientific progress, and what happens when you confront Trump fans with facts that contradict their narrative.

Apr 03 2016

55mins

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Rank #2: Rationally Speaking #71 - On Science Fiction and Philosophy

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By its very nature, science fiction has always been particularly suited to philosophical exploration. In fact, some of the best science fiction novels, short stories, movies, and TV shows function like extended philosophical thought experiments: what might cloning tell us about our views on personal identity? If we could all take a pill to be happy, would we want to do that? In this episode, Massimo and Julia recall some of their favorite philosophically-rich science fiction, and debate the potential pitfalls in using science fiction to reach philosophical conclusions.

Oct 07 2012

52mins

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Rank #3: Rationally Speaking #67 - Freudianism as Pseudoscience, With Assorted Comments on Masturbation and Castration...

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Can everyone's problems always be traced back to sex, love, and masturbation? In this episode, Massimo and Julia talk about the pseudoscientific aspects of Freud's theories of human psychology. Along the way they explore what philosophy of science has to say about testing theories -- and some of the similarities that Freudianism has with religion, new age mysticism, and psychic reading.

Aug 12 2012

47mins

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Rank #4: Rationally Speaking #87 - Sean Carroll on Naturalism

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Astrophysicist and author Sean Carroll joins this episode of Rationally Speaking, to talk about "naturalism" -- the philosophical viewpoint that there are no supernatural phenomena, and the universe runs on scientific laws. Sean, Julia, and Massimo discuss what distinguishes naturalism from similar philosophies like physicalism and materialism, and what a naturalistic worldview implies about free will, consciousness, and other philosophical dilemmas. And they return to that long-standing debate: should scientists have more respect for philosophy?

May 19 2013

49mins

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Rank #5: Rationally Speaking #73 - Answers for Aristotle

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In this episode Julia interviews Massimo about his new book, Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life. Massimo's central idea is that a combination of science and philosophy, what he calls "Sci-Phi," is the best guide to the big questions in life, from issues of morality and justice to the meaning of love and friendship. The book's title derives from the fact that Aristotle was the first philosopher-scientist, adopting the sci-phi framework and posing a number of questions with which we are still struggling. What is the best way to live one's life? What sort of society do we want to live in? How do we relate to our friends and loved ones? Two and a half millennia later, modern science and philosophy have come up with some of the answers to Aristotle's questions, or at the least with a better way to think about them.

Nov 04 2012

1hr 13mins

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Rank #6: Rationally Speaking #22 - Steven Novella on Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science

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Our Guest, Dr. Steven Novella discusses a recent article in The Atlantic in which researcher John Ioannidis shows that 40% of papers published in top medical journals are either wrong or make exaggerated claims (and those are the top journals!). He also discusses the difference between Science and Evidence based medicine. Also, Zombies: are they epidemiologically possible?

Steven Novella is an academic clinical neurologist at the Yale University School of Medicine. He is the host of the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast, author of the Neurologica blog, and co-editor of the Science Based Medicine blog.

Nov 21 2010

47mins

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Rank #7: Rationally Speaking #78 - Intelligence and Personality Testing

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What's your IQ? Are you an ENTJ, or maybe an ISFP? What's your Openness score, your Conscientiousness score, your Neuroticism score? And just how seriously should you take all those test scores, anyway? In this episode of Rationally Speaking, Massimo and Julia discuss the science -- and lack thereof -- of intelligence and personality testing.

Jan 13 2013

51mins

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Rank #8: Rationally Speaking #161 - Tom Griffiths and Brian Christian on "Algorithms to Live By"

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Julia chats with the authors of Algorithms to Live By, about how to apply key algorithms from computer science to our real life problems. For example, deciding which apartment to rent, planning your career, and prioritizing your projects.

In the process, they discuss the assumptions that underlie those algorithms (and what to do about the fact that those assumptions are inevitably violated by the messy real world), and why procrastination might actually be the right algorithm for the wrong problem.

Jun 12 2016

49mins

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Rank #9: Rationally Speaking #162 - Sean Carroll on "Poetic Naturalism"

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Naturalism is the stance that everything that exists in the universe arises from "natural" causes, of the sort observable by science -- not supernatural ones. It's practically a foundational tenet of skepticism. But does it imply that there can be no meaning, or purpose, or morality in the universe?

This episode features physicist Sean Carroll, author of the recent bestseller The Big Picture: on the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself. Sean and Julia talk about the new "ism" he introduces in the book, "poetic naturalism," and how it attempts to resolve the apparent conflict between science on the one hand, and things like morality, free will, consciousness, and meaning on the other.

Jun 26 2016

50mins

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Rank #10: Rationally Speaking #103 - Neil deGrasse Tyson on Why He Doesn't Call Himself an Atheist

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Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson returns for this episode of Rationally Speaking, with a particular question to discuss: Should he call himself an atheist? The impetus is a recent dust-up over Neil's appearance on Big Think, in which he explained that he avoids the label "atheist" because it causes people to make all sorts of unflattering (and often untrue) assumptions. Julia and Massimo reply with some counterarguments, and along the way delve into the philosophy of language.

Mar 09 2014

52mins

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Rank #11: Rationally Speaking #112 - Race: Just a Social Construct?

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In this episode, Julia and Massimo talk about the problems with "race" as a genetically-based concept. Starting with the controversial recent book "A Troublesome Inheritance," by NY Times science writer Nicholas Wade, they critique the statistical analyses that group people into racial categories, and Wade's (and others') attempts to attribute differences between rich and poor countries to innate racial differences.

Jul 13 2014

48mins

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Rank #12: Rationally Speaking #4 - The Great Atheist Debate Over the Limits of Science

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"Accommodationist" is a word that began to appear in recent months during public debates over science and religion. The derogatory term has been applied to atheists and rationalists like Eugenie Scott, at the National Center for Science Education, and Chris Mooney, science writer at Discover Magazine, who maintain that science and faith are not necessarily incompatible. Although the debate is frequently framed as a practical one, about what the tactics of the secular movement should be, it is also a philosophical one, hinging on the question of the epistemic limits of science. In this episode, we examine the arguments being made by and against the so-called "accommodationists," and ask: Can science disprove religious and supernatural claims?

Mar 14 2010

31mins

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Rank #13: Rationally Speaking #18 - Evolutionary Psychology

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You’ve heard the claims: men are inclined to cheat on women because natural selection favors multiple offspring from multiple mates, especially if you don’t have to pay child support. Even rape has been suggested to be the result of natural selection in favor of “secondary mating strategies” when the primary ones fail. Welcome to evolutionary psychology, a discipline curiously situated at the interface between evolutionary science and pop psychology, where both wild and reasonable claims seem to clash against the wall of an incredible scarcity of pertinent data.

The issue is not whether it makes sense to apply evolutionary principles to the study of human behavior. Of course it does, human beings are no exception to evolution. But the devil is in the details, and the details deal with the complexities and nuances of how exactly evolutionary biologists test adaptive hypotheses, as well as with the nature of historical science itself.

Sep 26 2010

31mins

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Rank #14: Rationally Speaking #135 - Robin Hanson on: "Most human behavior is signaling"

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In this episode, economist Robin Hanson explains the signaling theory of human behavior: That our motivations for our choices, about school, shopping, medical care, and so on, evolved primarily to shape other people's perceptions of us. In the process Robin and Julia discuss what makes a good theory: How to decide what you should (a priori) expect to see, and why simplicity is a virtue.

Robin Dale Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University and a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He is known as an expert on idea futures and markets, and he was involved in the creation of the Foresight Exchange and DARPA's Future MAP project. he blogs at Overcomng Bias.

May 31 2015

47mins

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Rank #15: Rationally Speaking #142 - Paul Bloom on "The case against empathy"

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"I'm writing a book on empathy," psychologist Paul Bloom tells people. They respond warmly, until he follows up with, "I'm against it." On this episode of Rationally Speaking, Julia and Paul discuss what empathy is, why Paul is concerned that it's a terrible guide to moral decision making, and what the alternatives are.

Sep 06 2015

52mins

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Rank #16: Rationally Speaking #111 - Human Nature

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Ever heard someone sigh, "That's just human nature"? Have you wondered what that meant? In this episode of Rationally Speaking, Julia and Massimo delve into the science and philosophy of human nature: what traits are "built in" to being human, and how would we know? And once we know what human nature consists of, should we try to protect it against changes?

Jun 29 2014

55mins

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Rank #17: Rationally Speaking #31 - Vegetarianism

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Vegetarianism is a complex set of beliefs and practices, spanning from the extreme “fruitarianism,” where people only eat fruits and other plant parts that can be gathered without “harming” the plant, to various forms of “flexitaranism,” like pollotarianism (poultry is okay to eat) and pescetarianism (fish okay). So, what does science have to say about this? What is the ethical case for vegetarianism? And, is it true that vegetarians are more intelligent than omnivores? Not unexpectedly, the answers are complex, so the debate will rage on.

Mar 27 2011

2hr

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Rank #18: Rationally Speaking #165 - Robert Frank on "Success and Luck"

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If someone asks you, "What caused your success (in finance, your career, etc.)?" what probably comes to mind for you is a story about how you worked hard and made smart choices. Which is likely true -- but what you don't see are all the people who also worked hard and made smart choices, but didn't succeed because luck wasn't on their side.

In this episode, Julia chats with professor of economics Robert Frank about his latest book, Success and Luck: The Myth of the Modern Meritocracy. They explore questions like: Why do we discount the role of luck in success? Has luck become more important in recent years? And would acknowledging luck's importance sap our motivation to try?

Aug 07 2016

56mins

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Rank #19: Rationally Speaking #239 - Saloni Dattani on "The debate over whether male and female brains are different"

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Several recent books have argued there's no difference between male and female brains. Saloni Dattani, a PhD in psychiatric genetics, discusses some of the problems with the argument, and what we really know so far about gender and the brain.

Sep 03 2019

48mins

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Rank #20: Rationally Speaking #61 - Willpower

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This episode of Rationally Speaking is all about the age-old problem of willpower: why don't we do what we know is best for us? Massimo introduces some of the early philosophical approaches to this puzzle, and then Massimo and Julia go over more recent scientific research on the issue (for example: does resisting temptation deplete your reserves of willpower, or does it strengthen your willpower "muscle"?). They also examine possible solutions to the problem, including betting and precommitment, and online programs that can help.

May 20 2012

48mins

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Rationally Speaking #244 - Stephanie Lepp and Buster Benson on "Seeing other perspectives, with compassion"

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This episode features a pair of interviews on a similar topic:
First, Stephanie Lepp (host of the Reckonings podcast) discusses what she's learned from interviewing people who had a serious change of heart, or "reckoning," including a former Neo-nazi and a former sex offender. What causes a reckoning?
Second, Buster Benson (author of Why Are We Yelling? The art of productive disagreement) shares his tips for coming away from a disagreement feeling more alive -- for example, don't just focus on the literal arguments the other person is making; drill deeper. Buster and Julia debate whether there's a downside to approaching disagreements emotionally, rather than intellectually.

Nov 30 2019

42mins

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Rationally Speaking #243 - Bryan Caplan on "The Case for Open Borders"

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The idea of open borders -- letting people move freely between countries, taking a job wherever they can find a job they want -- is still a pretty fringe position, politically speaking. But economist Bryan Caplan makes a compelling case for it in his new graphic nonfiction book, "Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration," illustrated by cartoonist Zach Weinersmith. In this episode, Julia questions Bryan about several aspects of his case.

Nov 12 2019

49mins

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Rationally Speaking #242 - Keith Frankish on "Why consciousness is an illusion"

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Philosopher of mind Keith Frankish is one of the leading proponents of "illusionism," the theory that argues that your subjective experience -- i.e., the "what it is like" to be you -- is a trick of the mind. It's a counterintuitive theory, but Keith makes the case for it in this episode, while explaining the other leading theories of consciousness and why he rejects them.

Oct 29 2019

43mins

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Rationally Speaking #241 - Thibault Le Texier on "Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment"

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The Stanford Prison Experiment is one of the most famous psychology experiments in history. For decades, we've been told that it proves how regular people easily turn sadistic when they are asked to role play as prison guards. But the story now appears to be mostly fraudulent. Thibault Le Texier is a researcher who dug into the Stanford archives and learned that the "prison guards" were actually told how to behave in order to support the experimenters' thesis. On this episode, Thibault and Julia discuss his findings, how the experimenters got away with such a significant misrepresentation for so long, and what this whole affair says about the field of psychology.

Oct 15 2019

54mins

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Rationally Speaking #240 - David Manheim on "Goodhart's Law and why metrics fail"

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If you want to understand why things go wrong in business, government, education, psychology, AI, and more, you need to know Goodhart's Law: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to become a good measure." In this episode, decision theorist David Manheim explains the dynamics behind Goodhart's Law and some potential solutions to it.

Sep 17 2019

59mins

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Rationally Speaking #239 - Saloni Dattani on "The debate over whether male and female brains are different"

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Several recent books have argued there's no difference between male and female brains. Saloni Dattani, a PhD in psychiatric genetics, discusses some of the problems with the argument, and what we really know so far about gender and the brain.

Sep 03 2019

48mins

Play

Rationally Speaking #238 - Razib Khan on "Stuff I've Been Wrong About"

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It's rare for public intellectuals to talk about things they've gotten wrong, but geneticist Razib Khan is an exception. He recently published list of 28 things he's changed his mind about in the last decade, not just in genetics, but in other fields of science, politics, society, and religion. Julia interviews Razib about some of the items on the list -- why did he change his mind, and what lessons does he feel he's learned from his past errors?

Aug 20 2019

51mins

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Rationally Speaking #237 - Andy Przybylski on "Is screen time bad for you?"

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It's common wisdom that spending a lot of time on your smartphone, or checking social media like Facebook and Twitter, takes a psychological toll. It makes us depressed, insecure, anxious, and isolated -- or so people say. But is there any research to back that up? Julia discusses the evidence with professor Andy Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute.

Aug 06 2019

53mins

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Rationally Speaking #236 - Alex Tabarrok on "Why are the Prices So D*mn High?"

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Over the last two decades, the prices of consumer goods like toys and electronics have gone way down, but the prices of health care and education have gone up roughly 200%. Why? In this episode, economist Alex Tabarrok discusses his latest book, co-authored with Eric Heller, "Why are the Prices So D*mn High?," which blames rising costs on a phenomenon called the Baumol Effect.

Jul 23 2019

52mins

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Rationally Speaking #235 - Tage Rai on "Why people think their violence is morally justified"

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We typically think of violence as being caused by a lack of control, or by selfish motives. But what if, more often than not, violence is intended to be morally righteous? That's the thesis of the book Virtuous Violence: Hurting and Killing to Create, Sustain, End, and Honor Social Relationships. Author Tage Rai debates his book's thesis with Julia. Plus: What does The Iliad teach us about changing attitudes about morality over time?

Jun 25 2019

59mins

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Rationally Speaking #234 - Dylan Matthews on "Global poverty has fallen, but what should we conclude from that?"

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The global poverty rate has fallen significantly over the last few decades. But there's a heated debate, between people like psychologist Steven Pinker and anthropologist Jason Hickel, over how to view that fact. Is it a triumph for capitalism? Should we celebrate it, or lament the fact that rich countries aren't doing more to close the poverty gap faster? Vox journalist Dylan Matthews explains the disagreement. He and Julia discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each side's argument.

May 28 2019

1hr 17mins

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Rationally Speaking #233 - Clive Thompson on "The culture of coding, and how it’s changing the world"

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Technology writer Clive Thompson discusses his latest book, Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World. Topics Clive and Julia cover include:
- Why coders love efficiency so much
- Are there downsides to efficiency?
- Do coders have particular blindspots when it comes to human nature?
- What is a "10x Coder," and why do people disagree about whether they exist?
- Does Clive still agree with his older book, "Smarter Than You Think," which argued that technology is making us smarter?

May 13 2019

57mins

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Rationally Speaking #232 - Tyler Cowen on "Defending big business against its critics"

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Economist Tyler Cowen discusses his latest book, "Big Business: A love-letter to an American anti-hero." Why has anti-capitalist sentiment increased recently, and to what extent is it justified? How much are corporations to blame for wage stagnation, climbing cost of living, or the slow response to climate change? Tyler and Julia also explore their various disagreements: on how to communicate, whether people should bet on their beliefs, and whether we should increase public optimism about technology.

Apr 30 2019

1hr 4mins

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Rationally Speaking #231 - Helen Toner on "Misconceptions about China and artificial intelligence"

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Helen Toner, the director of strategy at Georgetown's Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), shares her observations from the last few years of talking with AI scientists and policymakers in the US and China. Helen and Julia discuss, among other things:
How do the views of Chinese and American AI scientists differ?
How is media coverage of China misleading?
Why the notion of an "AI arms race" is flawed
Why measures of China's AI capabilities are overstated
Reasons for optimism and pessimism about international cooperation over AI

Apr 16 2019

58mins

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Rationally Speaking #230 - Kelsey Piper on “Big picture journalism: covering the topics that matter in the long run”

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This episode features journalist Kelsey Piper, blogger and journalist for "Future Perfect," a new site focused on topics that impact the long-term future of the world. Kelsey and Julia discuss some of her recent stories, including why people disagree about AI risk, and how she came up with her probabilistic predictions for 2018. They also discuss topics from Kelsey's personal blog, including why it's not necessarily a good idea to read articles you strongly disagree with, why "sovereignty" is such an important virtue, and the pros and cons of the steel man technique.

Apr 02 2019

53mins

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Rationally Speaking #229 - John Nerst on "Erisology, the study of disagreement"

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This episode features John Nerst, data scientist and blogger at everythingstudies.com, discussing a potential new field called "erisology," the study of disagreement. John and Julia discuss why Twitter makes disagreement so hard; whether there's anything to learn from postmodernism; John's "signal and corrective" model that explains why disagreement persists even when people agree on the key facts; and how the concept of "decoupling" helps explains Sam Harris and Ezra Klein's debate last year about IQ.

Mar 19 2019

1hr 4mins

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Rationally Speaking #228 - William Gunn and Alex Holcombe on "Is Elsevier helping or hurting scientific progress?"

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In the wake of the University of California's decision to end their contract with Elsevier, the world's largest scientific publisher, a lot of people have been talking about the effect that publishers like Elsevier have on the progress of science. William Gunn, director of scholarly communications for Elsevier, and Alex Holcombe, cognitive scientist and open science advocate, discuss their differing perspectives on the question. The discussion includes: What are scientists' main complaints about Elsevier? What value does Elsevier add? Is the academic publishing market a functioning one? Can Elsevier be a force for innovation?

Mar 05 2019

58mins

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Rationally Speaking #227 - Sarah Haider on "Dissent and free speech"

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This episode features Sarah Haider, the president of Ex-Muslims of North America. Julia and Sarah discuss why it's important to talk about the challenges of leaving Islam, and why that makes people uncomfortable or angry. They also explore whether being intellectually honest helps or hurts your effectiveness as an activist; Sarah's concerns with the Intellectual Dark Web; and whether Sarah would draw any lines when it comes to giving offensive views a platform.

Feb 18 2019

58mins

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Rationally Speaking #226 - Rob Wiblin on "An updated view of the best ways to help humanity"

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If you want to do as much good as possible with your career, what problems should you work on, and what jobs should you consider? This episode features Rob Wiblin, director of research for effective altruist organization 80,000 Hours, and the host of the 80,000 Hours podcast.
Julia and Rob discuss how the career advice 80,000 Hours gives has changed over the years, and the biggest misconceptions about their views. Their conversation covers topics like:
- Should everyone try to get a job in finance and donate their income?
- The case for working to reduce global catastrophic risks
- Why reducing risk is a better way to help the future than increasing economic growth
- What percentage of the world should ideally follow 80,000 Hours advice?

Feb 05 2019

53mins

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Rationally Speaking #225 - Neerav Kingsland on "The case for charter schools"

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This episode features Neerav Kingsland, who helped rebuild New Orleans' public school system after Hurricane Katrina, converting it into the country's first nearly-100% charter school system. Neerav and Julia discuss: why Neerav believes the evidence shows charter schools work better than regular public schools, his responses to the main arguments against charters, and what we know about how parents choose schools for their children.

Jan 21 2019

47mins

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iTunes Ratings

424 Ratings
Average Ratings
347
35
13
15
14

This is gold!

By my_wit_wont_fit - Oct 27 2019
Read more
The Stanford Prison Experiment episode blew my mind

Brilliant

By Cssbid - May 22 2019
Read more
Julia is a pleasure to listen to, she prepares for interviews and asks smart meaningful questions!