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Science Salon

Michael Shermer

211
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2.3K
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Science Salon

Science Salon

Michael Shermer

211
Followers
2.3K
Plays
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About Us

In the tradition of the Enlightenment salons that helped drive the Age of Reason, Science Salon is a series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, scholars, and thinkers, about the most important issues of our time.

Latest Episodes

127. William Perry and Tom Collina — The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump

From authors William J. Perry, Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration and Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering in the Carter administration, and Tom Z. Collina, the Director of Policy at Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation in Washington, DC, The Buttonrecounts the terrifying history of nuclear launch authority, from the faulty 46-cent microchip that nearly caused World War III to President Trump’s tweet about his “much bigger & more powerful” button. Perry and Collina share their firsthand experience on the front lines of the nation’s nuclear history and provide illuminating interviews with former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Congressman Adam Smith, Nobel Peace Prize winner Beatrice Fihn, senior Obama administration officials, and many others. Shermer, Perry and Collina also discuss: even if Trump loses the 2020 election and we have President Biden, real risks of nuclear catastrophe exist because of the system, not the person, why the Iran deal was a good one to keep that country from developing nukes, how to deal with North Korea and Perry’s experience with the Kim dynasty, why the Russians are rational actors who do not want nuclear war, terrorists and the possibility of them getting a nuke, why we must eliminate Launch on Warning and First Strikepolicies, what is in “the football” seen held by men constantly trailing the President? Stanislav Petrov: the man who saved the world, and what this story tells us about the precariousness of our current system, game theory, the logic of deterrence, and how to get around it, why nuclear weapons were not inevitable, and changing the taboo from not using nuclear weapons to not owning them. William J. Perry served as Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering in the Carter administration, and then as Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, and has advised presidents all through the Obama administration. He oversaw the development of major nuclear weapons systems, such as the MX missile, the Trident submarine and the Stealth Bomber. His new “offset strategy” ushered in the age of stealth, smart weapons, GPS, and technologies that changed the face of modern warfare. His vision now, as founder of the William J. Perry Project, is a world free from nuclear weapons. Tom Z. Collina is the Director of Policy at Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation in Washington, DC. He has 30 years of nuclear weapons policy experience and has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was closely involved with successful efforts to end U.S. nuclear testing in 1992, extend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995, ratify the New START Treaty in 2010, and enact the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. Collina has published hundreds of articles, op-eds, and reports and appears frequently in major media. Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

51 MIN7 h ago
Comments
127. William Perry and Tom Collina — The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump

126. Sarah Scoles — They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers

More than half a century since Roswell, UFOs have been making headlines once again. On December 17, 2017, the New York Times ran a front-page story about an approximately five-year Pentagon program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. The article hinted, and its sources clearly said in subsequent television interviews, that some of the ships in question couldn’t be linked to any country. The implication, of course, was that they might be linked to other solar systems. The UFO community—those who had been thinking about, seeing, and analyzing supposed flying saucers (or triangles or chevrons) for years—was surprisingly skeptical of the revelation. Their incredulity and doubt rippled across the internet. Many of the people most invested in UFO reality weren’t really buying it. And as Scoles did her own digging, she ventured to dark, conspiracy-filled corners of the internet, to a former paranormal research center in Utah, and to the hallways of the Pentagon...

86 MIN1 w ago
Comments
126. Sarah Scoles — They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers

125. Bjorn Lomborg — False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet

Hurricanes batter our coasts. Wildfires rage across the American West. Glaciers collapse in the Artic. Politicians, activists, and the media espouse a common message: climate change is destroying the planet, and we must take drastic action immediately to stop it. Children panic about their future, and adults wonder if it is even ethical to bring new life into the world. Enough, argues bestselling author Bjorn Lomborg. Climate change is real, but it’s not the apocalyptic threat that we’ve been told it is. Projections of Earth’s imminent demise are based on bad science and even worse economics. In panic, world leaders have committed to wildly expensive but largely ineffective policies that hamper growth and crowd out more pressing investments in human capital, from immunization to education. False Alarm will convince you that everything you think about climate change is wrong — and points the way toward making the world a vastly better, if slightly warmer, place for us all. In thi...

82 MIN2 w ago
Comments
125. Bjorn Lomborg — False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet

124. David J. Halperin — Intimate Alien: The Hidden Story of the UFO

UFOs are a myth, says David J. Halperin — but myths are real. The power and fascination of the UFO has nothing to do with space travel or life on other planets. It’s about us, our longings and terrors, and especially the greatest terror of all: the end of our existence. This is a book about UFOs that goes beyond believing in them or debunking them and to a fresh understanding of what they tell us about ourselves as individuals, as a culture, and as a species. In the 1960s, Halperin was a teenage UFOlogist, convinced that flying saucers were real and that it was his life’s mission to solve their mystery. He would become a professor of religious studies, with traditions of heavenly journeys his specialty. With Intimate Alien, he looks back to explore what UFOs once meant to him as a boy growing up in a home haunted by death and what they still mean for millions, believers and deniers alike. From the prehistoric Balkans to the deserts of New Mexico, from the biblical visions of Ezek...

103 MIN3 w ago
Comments
124. David J. Halperin — Intimate Alien: The Hidden Story of the UFO

123. Gerald Posner — Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America

Pharmaceutical breakthroughs such as antibiotics and vaccines rank among some of the greatest advancements in human history. Yet exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs, safety recalls affecting tens of millions of Americans, and soaring rates of addiction and overdose on prescription opioids have caused many to lose faith in drug companies. Now, Americans are demanding a national reckoning with a monolithic industry. Pharma introduces brilliant scientists, incorruptible government regulators, and brave whistleblowers facing off against company executives often blinded by greed. A business that profits from treating ills can create far deadlier problems than it cures. Addictive products are part of the industry’s DNA, from the days when corner drugstores sold morphine, heroin, and cocaine, to the past two decades of dangerously overprescribed opioids. Pharma also uncovers the real story of the Sacklers, the family that became one of America’s wealthiest from the success of OxyCont...

97 MINJUL 7
Comments
123. Gerald Posner — Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America

122. Walter Scheidel — Escape from Rome: The Failure of the Empire and the Road to Prosperity

What has the Roman Empire ever done for us? Fall and go away. That is the striking conclusion of historian Walter Scheidel as he recounts the gripping story of how the end of the Roman Empire was the beginning of the modern world. The fall of the Roman Empire has long been considered one of the greatest disasters in history but Scheidel argues that Rome’s dramatic collapse was actually the best thing that ever happened, clearing the path for Europe’s economic rise and the creation of the modern age. Shermer and Scheidel range across the entire premodern world and up to the present, discussing: Why did the Roman Empire appear? Why did nothing like it ever return to Europe? Why did Europeans come to dominate the world? the rich diversity of Europe that encouraged political, economic, scientific, and technological breakthroughs why other parts of the world lagged behind how empires are built and why they fail America as an empire. income inequality and the only forces that change it ...

73 MINJUN 30
Comments
122. Walter Scheidel — Escape from Rome: The Failure of the Empire and the Road to Prosperity

121. Maria Konnikova — The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

It’s true that Maria Konnikova had never actually played poker before and didn’t even know the rules when she approached Erik Seidel, Poker Hall of Fame inductee and winner of tens of millions of dollars in earnings, and convinced him to be her mentor. But she knew her man: a famously thoughtful and broad-minded player, he was intrigued by her pitch that she wasn’t interested in making money so much as learning about life. She had faced a stretch of personal bad luck, and her reflections on the role of chance had led her to a giant of game theory, who pointed her to poker as the ultimate master class in learning to distinguish between what can be controlled and what can’t. And she certainly brought something to the table, including a PhD in psychology and an acclaimed and growing body of work on human behavior and how to hack it. So Seidel was in, and soon she was down the rabbit hole with him, into the wild, fiercely competitive, overwhelmingly masculine world of high-stakes Te...

79 MINJUN 23
Comments
121. Maria Konnikova — The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

120. Andrew Rader — Beyond the Known: How Exploration Created the Modern World and Will Take Us to the Stars

For the first time in history, the human species has the technology to destroy itself. But having developed that power, humans are also able to leave Earth and voyage into the vastness of space. After millions of years of evolution, we’ve arrived at the point where we can settle other worlds and begin the process of becoming multi-planetary. How did we get here? What does the future hold for us? Divided into four accessible sections, Beyond the Known examines major periods of discovery and rediscovery, from Classical Times, when Phoenicians, Persians and Greeks ventured forth; to The Age of European Exploration, which saw colonies sprout on nearly continent; to The Era of Scientific Inquiry, when researchers developed brand new tools for mapping and traveling farther; to Our Spacefaring Future, which unveils plans currently underway for settling other planets and, eventually, traveling to the stars. A Mission Manager at SpaceX with a light, engaging voice, Andrew Rader is at the fo...

101 MINJUN 16
Comments
120. Andrew Rader — Beyond the Known: How Exploration Created the Modern World and Will Take Us to the Stars

119. Howard Bloom — Einstein, Michael Jackson, and Me: A Search for the Soul in the Power Pits of Rock and Roll

Howard Bloom — called “the greatest press agent that rock and roll has ever known” by Derek Sutton, the former manager of Styx, Ten Years After, and Jethro Tull — is a science nerd who knew nothing about popular music. But he founded the biggest PR firm in the music industry and helped build or sustain the careers of our biggest rock-and-roll legends, including Michael Jackson, Prince, Bob Marley, Bette Midler, Billy Joel, Billy Idol, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, David Byrne, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Queen, Kiss, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run DMC, ZZ Top, Joan Jett, Chaka Khan, and one hundred more. What was he after? He was on a hunt for the gods inside of you and me. Einstein, Michael Jackson & Me is Bloom’s story — the strange tale of a scientific expedition into the dark underbelly of science and fame where new myths and movements are made. Shermer and Bloom also discuss: What and where is God? the search for God inside us all how an atheist can search for the soul co...

117 MINJUN 9
Comments
119. Howard Bloom — Einstein, Michael Jackson, and Me: A Search for the Soul in the Power Pits of Rock and Roll

118. Stuart Russell — Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control

Inthepopular imagination, superhuman artificial intelligence is an approaching tidal wave that threatens not just jobs and human relationships, but civilization itself. Conflict between humans and machines is seen as inevitable and its outcome all too predictable. In this groundbreaking book, distinguished AI researcher Stuart Russell argues that this scenario can be avoided, but only if we rethink AI from the ground up. Russell begins by exploring the idea of intelligence in humans and in machines. He describes the near-term benefits we can expect, from intelligent personal assistants to vastly accelerated scientific research, and outlines the AI breakthroughs that still have to happen before we reach superhuman AI. He also spells out the ways humans are already finding to misuse AI, from lethal autonomous weapons to viral sabotage. If the predicted breakthroughs occur and superhuman AI emerges, we will have created entities far more powerful than ourselves. How can we ensure they ...

81 MINJUN 2
Comments
118. Stuart Russell — Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control

Latest Episodes

127. William Perry and Tom Collina — The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump

From authors William J. Perry, Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration and Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering in the Carter administration, and Tom Z. Collina, the Director of Policy at Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation in Washington, DC, The Buttonrecounts the terrifying history of nuclear launch authority, from the faulty 46-cent microchip that nearly caused World War III to President Trump’s tweet about his “much bigger & more powerful” button. Perry and Collina share their firsthand experience on the front lines of the nation’s nuclear history and provide illuminating interviews with former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Congressman Adam Smith, Nobel Peace Prize winner Beatrice Fihn, senior Obama administration officials, and many others. Shermer, Perry and Collina also discuss: even if Trump loses the 2020 election and we have President Biden, real risks of nuclear catastrophe exist because of the system, not the person, why the Iran deal was a good one to keep that country from developing nukes, how to deal with North Korea and Perry’s experience with the Kim dynasty, why the Russians are rational actors who do not want nuclear war, terrorists and the possibility of them getting a nuke, why we must eliminate Launch on Warning and First Strikepolicies, what is in “the football” seen held by men constantly trailing the President? Stanislav Petrov: the man who saved the world, and what this story tells us about the precariousness of our current system, game theory, the logic of deterrence, and how to get around it, why nuclear weapons were not inevitable, and changing the taboo from not using nuclear weapons to not owning them. William J. Perry served as Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering in the Carter administration, and then as Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, and has advised presidents all through the Obama administration. He oversaw the development of major nuclear weapons systems, such as the MX missile, the Trident submarine and the Stealth Bomber. His new “offset strategy” ushered in the age of stealth, smart weapons, GPS, and technologies that changed the face of modern warfare. His vision now, as founder of the William J. Perry Project, is a world free from nuclear weapons. Tom Z. Collina is the Director of Policy at Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation in Washington, DC. He has 30 years of nuclear weapons policy experience and has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was closely involved with successful efforts to end U.S. nuclear testing in 1992, extend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995, ratify the New START Treaty in 2010, and enact the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. Collina has published hundreds of articles, op-eds, and reports and appears frequently in major media. Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

51 MIN7 h ago
Comments
127. William Perry and Tom Collina — The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump

126. Sarah Scoles — They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers

More than half a century since Roswell, UFOs have been making headlines once again. On December 17, 2017, the New York Times ran a front-page story about an approximately five-year Pentagon program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. The article hinted, and its sources clearly said in subsequent television interviews, that some of the ships in question couldn’t be linked to any country. The implication, of course, was that they might be linked to other solar systems. The UFO community—those who had been thinking about, seeing, and analyzing supposed flying saucers (or triangles or chevrons) for years—was surprisingly skeptical of the revelation. Their incredulity and doubt rippled across the internet. Many of the people most invested in UFO reality weren’t really buying it. And as Scoles did her own digging, she ventured to dark, conspiracy-filled corners of the internet, to a former paranormal research center in Utah, and to the hallways of the Pentagon...

86 MIN1 w ago
Comments
126. Sarah Scoles — They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers

125. Bjorn Lomborg — False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet

Hurricanes batter our coasts. Wildfires rage across the American West. Glaciers collapse in the Artic. Politicians, activists, and the media espouse a common message: climate change is destroying the planet, and we must take drastic action immediately to stop it. Children panic about their future, and adults wonder if it is even ethical to bring new life into the world. Enough, argues bestselling author Bjorn Lomborg. Climate change is real, but it’s not the apocalyptic threat that we’ve been told it is. Projections of Earth’s imminent demise are based on bad science and even worse economics. In panic, world leaders have committed to wildly expensive but largely ineffective policies that hamper growth and crowd out more pressing investments in human capital, from immunization to education. False Alarm will convince you that everything you think about climate change is wrong — and points the way toward making the world a vastly better, if slightly warmer, place for us all. In thi...

82 MIN2 w ago
Comments
125. Bjorn Lomborg — False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet

124. David J. Halperin — Intimate Alien: The Hidden Story of the UFO

UFOs are a myth, says David J. Halperin — but myths are real. The power and fascination of the UFO has nothing to do with space travel or life on other planets. It’s about us, our longings and terrors, and especially the greatest terror of all: the end of our existence. This is a book about UFOs that goes beyond believing in them or debunking them and to a fresh understanding of what they tell us about ourselves as individuals, as a culture, and as a species. In the 1960s, Halperin was a teenage UFOlogist, convinced that flying saucers were real and that it was his life’s mission to solve their mystery. He would become a professor of religious studies, with traditions of heavenly journeys his specialty. With Intimate Alien, he looks back to explore what UFOs once meant to him as a boy growing up in a home haunted by death and what they still mean for millions, believers and deniers alike. From the prehistoric Balkans to the deserts of New Mexico, from the biblical visions of Ezek...

103 MIN3 w ago
Comments
124. David J. Halperin — Intimate Alien: The Hidden Story of the UFO

123. Gerald Posner — Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America

Pharmaceutical breakthroughs such as antibiotics and vaccines rank among some of the greatest advancements in human history. Yet exorbitant prices for life-saving drugs, safety recalls affecting tens of millions of Americans, and soaring rates of addiction and overdose on prescription opioids have caused many to lose faith in drug companies. Now, Americans are demanding a national reckoning with a monolithic industry. Pharma introduces brilliant scientists, incorruptible government regulators, and brave whistleblowers facing off against company executives often blinded by greed. A business that profits from treating ills can create far deadlier problems than it cures. Addictive products are part of the industry’s DNA, from the days when corner drugstores sold morphine, heroin, and cocaine, to the past two decades of dangerously overprescribed opioids. Pharma also uncovers the real story of the Sacklers, the family that became one of America’s wealthiest from the success of OxyCont...

97 MINJUL 7
Comments
123. Gerald Posner — Pharma: Greed, Lies, and the Poisoning of America

122. Walter Scheidel — Escape from Rome: The Failure of the Empire and the Road to Prosperity

What has the Roman Empire ever done for us? Fall and go away. That is the striking conclusion of historian Walter Scheidel as he recounts the gripping story of how the end of the Roman Empire was the beginning of the modern world. The fall of the Roman Empire has long been considered one of the greatest disasters in history but Scheidel argues that Rome’s dramatic collapse was actually the best thing that ever happened, clearing the path for Europe’s economic rise and the creation of the modern age. Shermer and Scheidel range across the entire premodern world and up to the present, discussing: Why did the Roman Empire appear? Why did nothing like it ever return to Europe? Why did Europeans come to dominate the world? the rich diversity of Europe that encouraged political, economic, scientific, and technological breakthroughs why other parts of the world lagged behind how empires are built and why they fail America as an empire. income inequality and the only forces that change it ...

73 MINJUN 30
Comments
122. Walter Scheidel — Escape from Rome: The Failure of the Empire and the Road to Prosperity

121. Maria Konnikova — The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

It’s true that Maria Konnikova had never actually played poker before and didn’t even know the rules when she approached Erik Seidel, Poker Hall of Fame inductee and winner of tens of millions of dollars in earnings, and convinced him to be her mentor. But she knew her man: a famously thoughtful and broad-minded player, he was intrigued by her pitch that she wasn’t interested in making money so much as learning about life. She had faced a stretch of personal bad luck, and her reflections on the role of chance had led her to a giant of game theory, who pointed her to poker as the ultimate master class in learning to distinguish between what can be controlled and what can’t. And she certainly brought something to the table, including a PhD in psychology and an acclaimed and growing body of work on human behavior and how to hack it. So Seidel was in, and soon she was down the rabbit hole with him, into the wild, fiercely competitive, overwhelmingly masculine world of high-stakes Te...

79 MINJUN 23
Comments
121. Maria Konnikova — The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

120. Andrew Rader — Beyond the Known: How Exploration Created the Modern World and Will Take Us to the Stars

For the first time in history, the human species has the technology to destroy itself. But having developed that power, humans are also able to leave Earth and voyage into the vastness of space. After millions of years of evolution, we’ve arrived at the point where we can settle other worlds and begin the process of becoming multi-planetary. How did we get here? What does the future hold for us? Divided into four accessible sections, Beyond the Known examines major periods of discovery and rediscovery, from Classical Times, when Phoenicians, Persians and Greeks ventured forth; to The Age of European Exploration, which saw colonies sprout on nearly continent; to The Era of Scientific Inquiry, when researchers developed brand new tools for mapping and traveling farther; to Our Spacefaring Future, which unveils plans currently underway for settling other planets and, eventually, traveling to the stars. A Mission Manager at SpaceX with a light, engaging voice, Andrew Rader is at the fo...

101 MINJUN 16
Comments
120. Andrew Rader — Beyond the Known: How Exploration Created the Modern World and Will Take Us to the Stars

119. Howard Bloom — Einstein, Michael Jackson, and Me: A Search for the Soul in the Power Pits of Rock and Roll

Howard Bloom — called “the greatest press agent that rock and roll has ever known” by Derek Sutton, the former manager of Styx, Ten Years After, and Jethro Tull — is a science nerd who knew nothing about popular music. But he founded the biggest PR firm in the music industry and helped build or sustain the careers of our biggest rock-and-roll legends, including Michael Jackson, Prince, Bob Marley, Bette Midler, Billy Joel, Billy Idol, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, David Byrne, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Queen, Kiss, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run DMC, ZZ Top, Joan Jett, Chaka Khan, and one hundred more. What was he after? He was on a hunt for the gods inside of you and me. Einstein, Michael Jackson & Me is Bloom’s story — the strange tale of a scientific expedition into the dark underbelly of science and fame where new myths and movements are made. Shermer and Bloom also discuss: What and where is God? the search for God inside us all how an atheist can search for the soul co...

117 MINJUN 9
Comments
119. Howard Bloom — Einstein, Michael Jackson, and Me: A Search for the Soul in the Power Pits of Rock and Roll

118. Stuart Russell — Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control

Inthepopular imagination, superhuman artificial intelligence is an approaching tidal wave that threatens not just jobs and human relationships, but civilization itself. Conflict between humans and machines is seen as inevitable and its outcome all too predictable. In this groundbreaking book, distinguished AI researcher Stuart Russell argues that this scenario can be avoided, but only if we rethink AI from the ground up. Russell begins by exploring the idea of intelligence in humans and in machines. He describes the near-term benefits we can expect, from intelligent personal assistants to vastly accelerated scientific research, and outlines the AI breakthroughs that still have to happen before we reach superhuman AI. He also spells out the ways humans are already finding to misuse AI, from lethal autonomous weapons to viral sabotage. If the predicted breakthroughs occur and superhuman AI emerges, we will have created entities far more powerful than ourselves. How can we ensure they ...

81 MINJUN 2
Comments
118. Stuart Russell — Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control

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