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Science Salon

Michael Shermer

220
Followers
2.7K
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Science Salon

Science Salon

Michael Shermer

220
Followers
2.7K
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

134. Joe Henrich — The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

WEIRD: Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. Unlike much of the world today, and most people who have ever lived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented, nonconformist, and analytical. They focus on themselves — their attributes, accomplishments, and aspirations — over their relationships and social roles. How did WEIRD populations become so psychologically distinct? What role did these psychological differences play in the industrial revolution and the global expansion of Europe during the last few centuries? To answer these questions Joseph Henrich draws on anthropology, psychology, economics, and evolutionary biology. He illuminates the origins and evolution of family structures, marriage, and religion, and the profound impact these cultural transformations had on human psychology. Mapping these shifts through ancient history and late antiquity, Henrich reveals that the most fundamental institutions of kinship and marriage changed dramatically under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church. It was these changes that gave rise to the WEIRD psychology that would coevolve with impersonal markets, occupational specialization, and free competition — laying the foundation for the modern world. Shermer and Henrich discuss: psychology textbooks that “now purport to be about ‘Psychology’ or ‘Social Psychology’ need to be retitled something like ‘The Cultural Psychology of Late 20th Century Americans’,” Darwin’s Dictum: “How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observations must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service.” What views Henrich is writing for and against, evolutionary psychology and the search for human universals in the context of his thesis that WEIRD cultures are so different, Max Weber’s book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, and how his thesis holds up under modern studies, a 2×2 grid analysis of his thesis (what about the exceptions?): Cell 1: Catholic/Protestant Influence + WEIRD characteristics Cell 2: Catholic/Protestant Influence + non-WEIRD characteristics Cell 3: Non-Catholic/Protestant Influence + WEIRD characteristics Cell 4: Non-Catholic/Protestant Influence + non-WEIRD characteristics the problem of overdetermining the past (so many theories explaining history: Jared Diamond’s geographic models, Ian Morris’ War: What is it Good For?, Matt Ridley’s The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge (ideas having sex), Robin Dunbar’s Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language, economic historian Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms, Benjamin Friedman’s Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, Rodney Stark’s The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, normative vs. descriptive accounts of human behavior polygamy vs. monogamy, 1st cousin marriages? conformity, shame and guilt, illusions, loss aversion, cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, superstitions, religion doesn’t have to be true to be useful, national differences in cultural psychology (for example: Italy a loose culture, Germany a tight culture), origin of writing and literacy rates, origin of religion and its purpose(s), the “Big Gods” theory of religion’s origin, the purpose of religious rituals and food taboos, families and kin, kin selection, group selection, meaning and happiness in non-WEIRD cultures, “Then you get Westerners who are like ‘I’m an individual ape on a pale blue dot in the middle of a giant black space” and “What does it all mean?’”, physical differences: “WEIRD people have flat feet, impoverished microbiomes, high rates of myopia and unnaturally low levels of exposure to parasites like helminths, which may increase their risk of heart disease and allergies.”, and When we colonize Mars and become a spacefaring species, what should we take with us from what we’ve learned about human history and psychology? Joseph Henrich is an anthropologist and the author of The Secret of Our Success

83 min4 d ago
Comments
134. Joe Henrich — The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

133. Michael E. McCullough — The Kindness of Strangers: How a Selfish Ape Invented a New Moral Code

In this sweeping psychological history of human goodness — from the foundations of evolution to the modern political and social challenges humanity is now facing — psychologist Michael McCullough answers a fundamental question: How did humans, a species of self-centered apes, come to care about others?Ever since Darwin, scientists have tried to answer this question using evolutionary theory. McCullough shows why they have failed and offers a new explanation instead. From the moment nomadic humans first settled down until the aftermath of the Second World War, our species has confronted repeated crises that we could only survive by changing our behavior. As McCullough argues, these choices weren’t enabled by an evolved moral sense, but with moral invention — driven not by evolution’s dictates but by reason. Today’s challenges — climate change, mass migration, nationalism — are some of humanity’s greatest yet. In revealing how past crises shaped the foundations of human concern, McCullough offers clues for how we can adapt our moral thinking to survive these challenges as well. Shermer and McCullough also discuss: Darwin’s Dictum: All observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service. the problem to solve: why are people kind to strangers (i.e., origins of empathy, altruism, and kindness)? why we don’t need “divine command” theory to explain real morality, which can be derived through evolutionary theory plus philosophical ethical systems, evolutionary “by-product” theory: when we help strangers in the modern world we are following ancient rules of thumb that worked well enough in a world in which meeting someone for the first time was a reasonably good indicator that you’d meet them again, Frans deWaal and the “thin veneer” theory of human morality and civilization he thinks Dawkins holds, and why our morals are a thick veneer on our evolved nature, Peter Singer’s expanding circle, Norbert Elias’ The Civilizing Process and his etiquette books advisories, why stranger-adaptation and blessed-mistake theories are too simplistic, a brief overview of the past 10,000 years of moral progress, our evolved human instincts: (1) our social instincts for helping others in hopes of receiving help in return, (2) our instinct for helping others in pursuit of glory, (3) our ability to track incentives, and (4) our capacity for reason, the 7 Ages of human history: Age of Orphans, Age of Compassion, Age of Prevention, First Poverty Enlightenment, Humanitarian Big Bang, Second Poverty Enlightenment, Age of Impact, and the end of poverty, UBI, and other social tools for creating a more just society of strangers. Michael McCullough is a professor of psychology at the University of California, San Diego. The winner of numerous distinctions for his research and writing, he is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. He lives in La Jolla, California.

115 min1 w ago
Comments
133. Michael E. McCullough — The Kindness of Strangers: How a Selfish Ape Invented a New Moral Code

132. Leonard Mlodinow — Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics

One of the most influential physicists of our time, Stephen Hawking touched the lives of millions. Recalling his nearly two decades as Hawking’s collaborator and friend, Leonard Mlodinow brings this complex man into focus in a unique and deeply personal portrayal. We meet Hawking the genius, who employed his mind to uncover the mysteries of the universe — ultimately formulating a pathbreaking theory of black holes that reignited the discipline of cosmology and paved the way for physicists to investigate the origins of the universe in completely new ways. We meet Hawking the colleague, a man whose illness leaves him able to communicate at only six words per minute but who expends the effort to punctuate his conversations with humor. And we meet Hawking the friend, who could convey volumes with a frown, a smile, or simply a raised eyebrow. Modinow puts us in the room as Hawking indulges his passion for wine and curry; shares his feelings on love, death, and disability; and grapples with deep questions of philosophy and physics. This deeply affecting account of a friendship teaches us not just about the nature and practice of physics but also about life and the human capacity to overcome daunting obstacles. Shermer and Mlodinow discuss: what it was like working with Stephen Hawking, what Stephen Hawking was like as a person and personality, Hawking’s place in the pantheon of great physicists in the history of science, Hawking’s major contributions to physics, What is grand about the grand design of the universe? model dependent realism and the philosophy of science, Can we ever know reality? Why is there something rather than nothing? What caused the Big Bang to bang? What there was before time began? Why does the universe look fine-tuned and designed? Is the universe itself a giant black hole? Did the universe begin in a singularity? Hawking’s beliefs about God and why the concept isn’t necessary to explain the universe. Leonard Mlodinow received his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of California, Berkeley, was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute, and was on the faculty of the California Institute of Technology. His previous books include the best sellers The Grand Design and A Briefer History of Time (coauthored with Stephen Hawking), Subliminal (winner of the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award), and War of the Worldviews (with Deepak Chopra), as well as Elastic, Euclid’s Window, Feynman’s Rainbow, and The Upright Thinkers.

87 min2 w ago
Comments
132. Leonard Mlodinow — Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics

131. Stuart Ritchie — Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth

Science is how we understand the world. Yet failures in peer review and mistakes in statistics have rendered a shocking number of scientific studies useless — or, worse, badly misleading. Such errors have distorted our knowledge in fields as wide-ranging as medicine, physics, nutrition, education, genetics, economics, and the search for extraterrestrial life. As Science Fictions makes clear, the current system of research funding and publication not only fails to safeguard us from blunders but actively encourages bad science — with sometimes deadly consequences. Yet Science Fictions is far from a counsel of despair. Rather, it’s a defense of the scientific method against the pressures and perverse incentives that lead scientists to bend the rules. By illustrating the many ways that scientists go wrong, Ritchie gives us the knowledge we need to spot dubious research and points the way to reforms that could make science trustworthy once again. Shermer and Ritchie also discuss: why ...

100 min3 w ago
Comments
131. Stuart Ritchie — Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth

130. Debra Soh — The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths About Sex and Identity in Our Society

Is our gender something we’re born with, or are we conditioned by society? In The End of Gender, neuroscientist and sexologist Dr. Debra Soh uses a research-based approach to address this hot-button topic, unmasking popular misconceptions about the nature vs. nurture debate and exploring what it means to be a woman or a man in today’s society. Shermer and Soh discuss: If you are transitioning to a different gender, but the word “gender” is largely meaningless biologically, then what are you transitioning to and what is the point of hormone therapy and surgery? the 1990s push to find biological basis of homosexuality so it’s not a “lifestyle choice” and how this trend has been recently reversed, the problem of putting ideology before science, cognitive creationism on the left (evolution from the neck down), why biology is not destiny, cancel culture, sex and gender, percentages of the population of LGBTQ, what you identify as vs. who you’re attracted to, individual behavior v...

106 minAUG 25
Comments
130. Debra Soh — The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths About Sex and Identity in Our Society

129. Mona Sue Weissmark — The Science of Diversity

TheScienceof Diversity uses a multidisciplinary approach to excavate the theories, principles, and paradigms that illuminate our understanding of the issues surrounding human diversity, social equality, and justice. The book brings these to the surface holistically, examining diversity at the individual, interpersonal, and international levels. Shedding light on why diversity programs fail, the book provides tools to understand how biases develop and influence our relationships and interactions with others. Shermer and Weissmark also discuss: What is diversity and how do we understand it? How is diversity related to people’s perceptions of fairness and justice? Does respect for diversity promote peace and positive change? psychology and neuroscience of classification/stereotyping, Freudianism to behaviorism to cognitive science to post-cognitive science, the self, consciousness, ai, and free will in the context of a science of diversity, revenge and justice, Israel and Palestine, n...

118 minAUG 18
Comments
129. Mona Sue Weissmark — The Science of Diversity

128. Michael Shellenberger — Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All

Michael Shellenberger has been fighting for a greener planet for decades. He helped save the world’s last unprotected redwoods. He co-created the predecessor to today’s Green New Deal. And he led a successful effort by climate scientists and activists to keep nuclear plants operating, preventing a spike of emissions. But in 2019, as some claimed “billions of people are going to die,” contributing to rising anxiety, including among adolescents, Shellenberger decided that, as a lifelong environmental activist, leading energy expert, and father of a teenage daughter, he needed to speak out to separate science from fiction. His conclusion: “Climate change is real but it’s not the end of the world. It is not even our most serious environmental problem.” Despite decades of news media attention, many remain ignorant of basic facts. Carbon emissions peaked and have been declining in most developed nations for over a decade. Deaths from extreme weather, even in poor nations, declined ...

92 minAUG 11
Comments
128. Michael Shellenberger — Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All

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...

51 minAUG 4
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 minJUL 28
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 minJUL 21
Comments
125. Bjorn Lomborg — False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet

Latest Episodes

134. Joe Henrich — The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

WEIRD: Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. Unlike much of the world today, and most people who have ever lived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented, nonconformist, and analytical. They focus on themselves — their attributes, accomplishments, and aspirations — over their relationships and social roles. How did WEIRD populations become so psychologically distinct? What role did these psychological differences play in the industrial revolution and the global expansion of Europe during the last few centuries? To answer these questions Joseph Henrich draws on anthropology, psychology, economics, and evolutionary biology. He illuminates the origins and evolution of family structures, marriage, and religion, and the profound impact these cultural transformations had on human psychology. Mapping these shifts through ancient history and late antiquity, Henrich reveals that the most fundamental institutions of kinship and marriage changed dramatically under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church. It was these changes that gave rise to the WEIRD psychology that would coevolve with impersonal markets, occupational specialization, and free competition — laying the foundation for the modern world. Shermer and Henrich discuss: psychology textbooks that “now purport to be about ‘Psychology’ or ‘Social Psychology’ need to be retitled something like ‘The Cultural Psychology of Late 20th Century Americans’,” Darwin’s Dictum: “How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observations must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service.” What views Henrich is writing for and against, evolutionary psychology and the search for human universals in the context of his thesis that WEIRD cultures are so different, Max Weber’s book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, and how his thesis holds up under modern studies, a 2×2 grid analysis of his thesis (what about the exceptions?): Cell 1: Catholic/Protestant Influence + WEIRD characteristics Cell 2: Catholic/Protestant Influence + non-WEIRD characteristics Cell 3: Non-Catholic/Protestant Influence + WEIRD characteristics Cell 4: Non-Catholic/Protestant Influence + non-WEIRD characteristics the problem of overdetermining the past (so many theories explaining history: Jared Diamond’s geographic models, Ian Morris’ War: What is it Good For?, Matt Ridley’s The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge (ideas having sex), Robin Dunbar’s Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language, economic historian Gregory Clark’s A Farewell to Alms, Benjamin Friedman’s Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, Rodney Stark’s The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, normative vs. descriptive accounts of human behavior polygamy vs. monogamy, 1st cousin marriages? conformity, shame and guilt, illusions, loss aversion, cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, superstitions, religion doesn’t have to be true to be useful, national differences in cultural psychology (for example: Italy a loose culture, Germany a tight culture), origin of writing and literacy rates, origin of religion and its purpose(s), the “Big Gods” theory of religion’s origin, the purpose of religious rituals and food taboos, families and kin, kin selection, group selection, meaning and happiness in non-WEIRD cultures, “Then you get Westerners who are like ‘I’m an individual ape on a pale blue dot in the middle of a giant black space” and “What does it all mean?’”, physical differences: “WEIRD people have flat feet, impoverished microbiomes, high rates of myopia and unnaturally low levels of exposure to parasites like helminths, which may increase their risk of heart disease and allergies.”, and When we colonize Mars and become a spacefaring species, what should we take with us from what we’ve learned about human history and psychology? Joseph Henrich is an anthropologist and the author of The Secret of Our Success

83 min4 d ago
Comments
134. Joe Henrich — The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

133. Michael E. McCullough — The Kindness of Strangers: How a Selfish Ape Invented a New Moral Code

In this sweeping psychological history of human goodness — from the foundations of evolution to the modern political and social challenges humanity is now facing — psychologist Michael McCullough answers a fundamental question: How did humans, a species of self-centered apes, come to care about others?Ever since Darwin, scientists have tried to answer this question using evolutionary theory. McCullough shows why they have failed and offers a new explanation instead. From the moment nomadic humans first settled down until the aftermath of the Second World War, our species has confronted repeated crises that we could only survive by changing our behavior. As McCullough argues, these choices weren’t enabled by an evolved moral sense, but with moral invention — driven not by evolution’s dictates but by reason. Today’s challenges — climate change, mass migration, nationalism — are some of humanity’s greatest yet. In revealing how past crises shaped the foundations of human concern, McCullough offers clues for how we can adapt our moral thinking to survive these challenges as well. Shermer and McCullough also discuss: Darwin’s Dictum: All observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service. the problem to solve: why are people kind to strangers (i.e., origins of empathy, altruism, and kindness)? why we don’t need “divine command” theory to explain real morality, which can be derived through evolutionary theory plus philosophical ethical systems, evolutionary “by-product” theory: when we help strangers in the modern world we are following ancient rules of thumb that worked well enough in a world in which meeting someone for the first time was a reasonably good indicator that you’d meet them again, Frans deWaal and the “thin veneer” theory of human morality and civilization he thinks Dawkins holds, and why our morals are a thick veneer on our evolved nature, Peter Singer’s expanding circle, Norbert Elias’ The Civilizing Process and his etiquette books advisories, why stranger-adaptation and blessed-mistake theories are too simplistic, a brief overview of the past 10,000 years of moral progress, our evolved human instincts: (1) our social instincts for helping others in hopes of receiving help in return, (2) our instinct for helping others in pursuit of glory, (3) our ability to track incentives, and (4) our capacity for reason, the 7 Ages of human history: Age of Orphans, Age of Compassion, Age of Prevention, First Poverty Enlightenment, Humanitarian Big Bang, Second Poverty Enlightenment, Age of Impact, and the end of poverty, UBI, and other social tools for creating a more just society of strangers. Michael McCullough is a professor of psychology at the University of California, San Diego. The winner of numerous distinctions for his research and writing, he is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. He lives in La Jolla, California.

115 min1 w ago
Comments
133. Michael E. McCullough — The Kindness of Strangers: How a Selfish Ape Invented a New Moral Code

132. Leonard Mlodinow — Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics

One of the most influential physicists of our time, Stephen Hawking touched the lives of millions. Recalling his nearly two decades as Hawking’s collaborator and friend, Leonard Mlodinow brings this complex man into focus in a unique and deeply personal portrayal. We meet Hawking the genius, who employed his mind to uncover the mysteries of the universe — ultimately formulating a pathbreaking theory of black holes that reignited the discipline of cosmology and paved the way for physicists to investigate the origins of the universe in completely new ways. We meet Hawking the colleague, a man whose illness leaves him able to communicate at only six words per minute but who expends the effort to punctuate his conversations with humor. And we meet Hawking the friend, who could convey volumes with a frown, a smile, or simply a raised eyebrow. Modinow puts us in the room as Hawking indulges his passion for wine and curry; shares his feelings on love, death, and disability; and grapples with deep questions of philosophy and physics. This deeply affecting account of a friendship teaches us not just about the nature and practice of physics but also about life and the human capacity to overcome daunting obstacles. Shermer and Mlodinow discuss: what it was like working with Stephen Hawking, what Stephen Hawking was like as a person and personality, Hawking’s place in the pantheon of great physicists in the history of science, Hawking’s major contributions to physics, What is grand about the grand design of the universe? model dependent realism and the philosophy of science, Can we ever know reality? Why is there something rather than nothing? What caused the Big Bang to bang? What there was before time began? Why does the universe look fine-tuned and designed? Is the universe itself a giant black hole? Did the universe begin in a singularity? Hawking’s beliefs about God and why the concept isn’t necessary to explain the universe. Leonard Mlodinow received his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of California, Berkeley, was an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Max Planck Institute, and was on the faculty of the California Institute of Technology. His previous books include the best sellers The Grand Design and A Briefer History of Time (coauthored with Stephen Hawking), Subliminal (winner of the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award), and War of the Worldviews (with Deepak Chopra), as well as Elastic, Euclid’s Window, Feynman’s Rainbow, and The Upright Thinkers.

87 min2 w ago
Comments
132. Leonard Mlodinow — Stephen Hawking: A Memoir of Friendship and Physics

131. Stuart Ritchie — Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth

Science is how we understand the world. Yet failures in peer review and mistakes in statistics have rendered a shocking number of scientific studies useless — or, worse, badly misleading. Such errors have distorted our knowledge in fields as wide-ranging as medicine, physics, nutrition, education, genetics, economics, and the search for extraterrestrial life. As Science Fictions makes clear, the current system of research funding and publication not only fails to safeguard us from blunders but actively encourages bad science — with sometimes deadly consequences. Yet Science Fictions is far from a counsel of despair. Rather, it’s a defense of the scientific method against the pressures and perverse incentives that lead scientists to bend the rules. By illustrating the many ways that scientists go wrong, Ritchie gives us the knowledge we need to spot dubious research and points the way to reforms that could make science trustworthy once again. Shermer and Ritchie also discuss: why ...

100 min3 w ago
Comments
131. Stuart Ritchie — Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Negligence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth

130. Debra Soh — The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths About Sex and Identity in Our Society

Is our gender something we’re born with, or are we conditioned by society? In The End of Gender, neuroscientist and sexologist Dr. Debra Soh uses a research-based approach to address this hot-button topic, unmasking popular misconceptions about the nature vs. nurture debate and exploring what it means to be a woman or a man in today’s society. Shermer and Soh discuss: If you are transitioning to a different gender, but the word “gender” is largely meaningless biologically, then what are you transitioning to and what is the point of hormone therapy and surgery? the 1990s push to find biological basis of homosexuality so it’s not a “lifestyle choice” and how this trend has been recently reversed, the problem of putting ideology before science, cognitive creationism on the left (evolution from the neck down), why biology is not destiny, cancel culture, sex and gender, percentages of the population of LGBTQ, what you identify as vs. who you’re attracted to, individual behavior v...

106 minAUG 25
Comments
130. Debra Soh — The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths About Sex and Identity in Our Society

129. Mona Sue Weissmark — The Science of Diversity

TheScienceof Diversity uses a multidisciplinary approach to excavate the theories, principles, and paradigms that illuminate our understanding of the issues surrounding human diversity, social equality, and justice. The book brings these to the surface holistically, examining diversity at the individual, interpersonal, and international levels. Shedding light on why diversity programs fail, the book provides tools to understand how biases develop and influence our relationships and interactions with others. Shermer and Weissmark also discuss: What is diversity and how do we understand it? How is diversity related to people’s perceptions of fairness and justice? Does respect for diversity promote peace and positive change? psychology and neuroscience of classification/stereotyping, Freudianism to behaviorism to cognitive science to post-cognitive science, the self, consciousness, ai, and free will in the context of a science of diversity, revenge and justice, Israel and Palestine, n...

118 minAUG 18
Comments
129. Mona Sue Weissmark — The Science of Diversity

128. Michael Shellenberger — Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All

Michael Shellenberger has been fighting for a greener planet for decades. He helped save the world’s last unprotected redwoods. He co-created the predecessor to today’s Green New Deal. And he led a successful effort by climate scientists and activists to keep nuclear plants operating, preventing a spike of emissions. But in 2019, as some claimed “billions of people are going to die,” contributing to rising anxiety, including among adolescents, Shellenberger decided that, as a lifelong environmental activist, leading energy expert, and father of a teenage daughter, he needed to speak out to separate science from fiction. His conclusion: “Climate change is real but it’s not the end of the world. It is not even our most serious environmental problem.” Despite decades of news media attention, many remain ignorant of basic facts. Carbon emissions peaked and have been declining in most developed nations for over a decade. Deaths from extreme weather, even in poor nations, declined ...

92 minAUG 11
Comments
128. Michael Shellenberger — Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All

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...

51 minAUG 4
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 minJUL 28
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 minJUL 21
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125. Bjorn Lomborg — False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet

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