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SCIENCE SALON # 107

Michael Shermer with Fred Kaplan — The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War

From the author of the classic The Wizards of Armageddon and Pulitzer Prize finalist comes the definitive history of American policy on nuclear war — and Presidents’ actions in nuclear crises — from Truman to Trump. Fred Kaplan takes us into the White House Situation Room, the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s “Tank” in the Pentagon, and the vast chambers of Strategic Command to bring us the untold stories — based on exclusive interviews and previously classified documents — of how America’s presidents and generals have thought about, threatened, broached, and just barely avoided nuclear war from the dawn of the atomic age until today. Kaplan’s historical research and deep reporting will stand as the permanent record of politics. Discussing theories that have dominated nightmare scenarios from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Kaplan presents the unthinkable in terms of mass destruction and demonstrates how the nuclear war reality will not go away, regardless of the dire consequences. Shermer and Kaplan also discuss:

  • Dr. Strangelove
  • The Doomsday Machine
  • Mutual Assured Destruction
  • game theory and the logic of deterrence
  • proliferation, non-proliferation, and the evolution of nuclear weapons and strategy
  • North Korea and why Kim Jong Un is not a madman
  • President Trump and how he has reminded us that The Bomb is here to stay
  • Israel and Iran
  • Reagan and Gorbachev
  • how conventional wars can escalate to nuclear war…but haven’t…yet, and
  • why we will never get to Nuclear Zero.

Fred Kaplan is the national-security columnist for Slate and the author of five previous books, Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War, The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War (a Pulitzer Prize finalist and New York Times bestseller), 1959: The Year Everything Changed, Daydream Believers, and The Wizards of Armageddon. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Brooke Gladstone.

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SKEPTIC 25.1

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Columns

The SkepDoc: Anti-Aging Myths, by Harriet Hall, M.D. • The Gadfly: The Gadfly How Would You Design a “Code of Conduct”? by Carol Tavris

Articles

Why People Believe Conspiracy Theories, by Michael Shermer • Apples and Oranges: The Misunderstood Art of Making Comparisons • Drone Sightings in the Midwest — But Rule Out the Mass Hysteria Explanation • What Board Games Teach Us About Capitalism and How to Modify It • Meditation as Ideology and Meditations on Meditation: A Scientific and Clinical Perspective • Biological Beauty • Integrative Cancer Care Below the Bar of Science • Can We Ever Explain It All? Eight Key Points from World History • Countless Counterfeits: A New Logically Fallacy?

Debate

Why We Are Living in a Post-Truth Era, by Lee McIntyre • The Truth About Post-Truth Truthiness, by Michael Shermer

Reviews

Reviews of: The Genealogical Adam and Eve: The Surprising Science of Universal Ancestry; Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans; The Secret History of Magic: The True Story of the Deceptive Art; The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini; and Houdini: The Life and Times of the World’s Greatest Magician

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JUNIOR SKEPTIC # 74

Are You Eating Fake Food?

Everybody eats food. Along with air, water, and shelter, food is a basic human need. Food is the most important thing we buy, and we can’t choose not to. We can’t survive without food! Almost no one in our culture is able to grow or forage for all of their own food. Even people who live on farms still buy ingredients for cooking and baking. Foods such as flour, sugar, and cheese need to be processed. Other foods come from far away places, such as tropical fruit, seafood, salt, spices, coffee, or tea. That means we have to rely on products sold in stores. But what happens when people sell food that isn’t what it’s supposed to be? Let’s find out!

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Junior Skeptic # 74

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