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e Skeptic Archives for 2019

November 12th: Michael Shermer with James Traub — What Was Liberalism?
In Science Salon # 91 Michael Shermer speaks with James Traub about his new book What Was Liberalism? The Past, Present, and Promise of a Noble Idea.
November 5th: Michael Shermer with Melvin Konner — Believers: Faith in Human Nature
In Science Salon # 90 Michael Shermer speaks with world renowned biological anthropologist Mel Konner who examines the nature of human nature, including (and especially) in his new book on the nature of religiosity. PLUS: In an article originally published in Quillette on Halloween, October 31, 2019, Dr. Shermer argues that patternicity, agenticity, pessimism, the negativity bias, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics provides a deeper explanation for why conspiracy theories are so popular and enduring. The article is based on Dr. Shermer’s new course from Audible and The Teaching Company on Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories.
October 29th: Michael Shermer and Richard Dawkins — Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide
In Science Salon # 89 Michael Shermer speaks with Richard Dawkins about his new book Outgrowing God. Dawkins explains how the natural world arose without a designer and challenges head-on some of the most basic assumptions made by the world’s religions. PLUS: Is the statement “We are living in a post-truth world” true? If your answer is “yes” then the answer is “no” because you’ve just evaluated the statement in an evidentiary manner, so evidence still matters and facts still matter. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker explains why were are not living in a post-truth world in this deeply insightful cover story from Skeptic magazine 24.3 (2019).
October 22nd: Michael Shermer with Daniel Oberhaus — Extraterrestrial Languages (Science Salon # 88)
The endlessly fascinating question of whether we are alone in the universe has always been accompanied by another, more complicated one: if there is extraterrestrial life, how would we communicate with it? In Science Salon # 88 Michael Shermer speaks with Daniel Oberhaus about his new book: Extraterrestrial Languages.
October 20th: Shedding Light on the Intellectual Dark Web: A Preliminary Empirical Study
Ever since Bari Weiss introduced the world to the “Intellectual Dark Web” much has been written on what the members of the IDW believe. Pundits, journalists, and scholars have confidently espoused their “hot take” of the IDW without the slightest bit of systematic data collection to back up their claims. This empirical study of members of the IDW offers a preliminary summary of their beliefs on a wide range of issues.
October 15th: Michael Shermer with Douglas Murray — The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race, and Identity
In Science Salon # 87 Michael Shermer speaks with Douglas Murray about his new book The Madness of Crowds on sexuality, gender, technology and race playing out in our workplaces, universities, schools and homes in the names of social justice, identity politics and intersectionality.
October 8th: Michael Shermer with Neil deGrasse Tyson — Letters from an Astrophysicist
In Science Salon # 86, Michael Shermer speaks with Neil deGrasse Tyson about his latest book Letters from an Astrophysicist. In this discussion of his hand-picked collection of 101 letters, we go behind the scenes of his public fame by revealing his correspondence with people across the globe who have sought him out in search of answers.
October 1st: Michael Shermer with Deepak Chopra — Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential
In Science Salon # 85 Michael Shermer and Deepak Chopra make an attempt at mutual understanding through the careful unpacking of what Deepak means when he talks about the subject-object split, the impermanence of the self, nondualism, the mind-body problem, the nature of consciousness, and the nature of reality. PLUS, on the occasion of the recent death of Napoleon Chagnon, one of the world’s most famous and controversial anthropologists, we reprint Dr. Michael Shermer’s analysis of the charges leveled against Dr. Chagnon by the journalist Patrick Tierney in his book Darkness in El Dorado.
September 24th: Michael Shermer with Christof Koch — The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness is Widespread but Can’t Be Computed
In Science Salon # 84 Michael Shermer speaks with Christof Koch about his new book The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness is Widespread but Can’t Be Computed; PLUS, Harriet Hall, M.D. looks at the evidence for some of the extraordinary claims for coconut oil.
September 17th: Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories: What We Should and Shouldn’t Believe — and Why
We are pleased to announce Dr. Michael Shermer’s brand new 12-lecture Audible Original Course: Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories — What We Should and Shouldn’t Believe — and Why, available now from audible.com — the world’s largest producer and provider of downloadable audiobooks and other spoken-word entertainment. PLUS In our current political climate, it seems impossible to have a reasonable conversation with anyone who has a different opinion. In Science Salon # 83, Michael Shermer speaks with Peter Boghossian about his new book How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide.
September 10th: Michael Shermer with Phil Zuckerman — What it Means to be Moral: Why Religion is Not Necessary for Living an Ethical Life
In Science Salon # 82, Michael Shermer speaks with Phil Zuckerman about his book that launches today — What it Means to be Moral: Why Religion is Not Necessary for Living an Ethical Life. PLUS, the latest issue of Skeptic magazine (24.3) launches today in print and digital editions.
September 5th: The Fabulist and the Publisher: A Journalistic and Academic Fraud Exposed
John Anthony Glynn claimed to have a Ph.D. in psychology and professorships of psychology at several universities. He committed academic fraud by representing himself as a Ph.D. psychologist to several academic institutions and under those credentials committed journalistic fraud by publishing over 40 articles in 15 different outlets in 2019 alone. The extent of this calculated, systematic, and repeated deception warrants publishing our findings, the details of which follow.
September 3rd: Michael Shermer with Bruce Hood — Possessed: Why We Want More Than We Need
In Science Salon # 81, Michael Shermer speaks with award-winning University of Bristol psychologist Bruce Hood about his brand new book, Possessed: Why We Want More Than We Need, which draws on research to explain why our uniquely human preoccupation with ownership governs our behavior from the cradle to the grave, even when it is often irrational, and destructive.
August 27th: Michael Shermer with Bryan Walsh — End Times: A Brief Guide to the End of the World
In Science Salon # 80, Michael Shermer speaks with Bryan Walsh about his brand new book End Times in which he provides a stunning panoramic view of the most catastrophic threats to the human race.
August 20th: Michael Shermer with Anthony Kronman — The Assault on American Excellence
In Science Salon # 79 Michael Shermer speaks with former dean of Yale Law School Anthony Kronman about his new book The Assault on American Excellence; PLUS psychologist John Glynn explores one of the most perplexing aspects of human behavior: why does anyone die by suicide?
August 13th: Michael Shermer with Dr. Donald Hoffman — The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth From Our Eyes
In Science Salon # 78, Michael Shermer speaks with cognitive scientist Dr. Donald Hoffman about his new book The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth From Our Eyes, which challenges the leading scientific theories that claim that our senses report back objective reality. Plus, Harriet Hall M.D. examines whether laser therapy is more hype than hope.
August 6th: Guns Don’t Kill People, Beliefs Kill People
In response to last week’s trifecta shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton, Michael Shermer offers an analysis of the psychology of mass public shooters, or why people act on their beliefs, why almost everyone thinks their beliefs are ontologically true and morally right, and why political rhetoric matters.
July 30th: Defending Science from Denial, Fraud, and Pseudoscience
In Science Salon # 77, an engaging conversation on the nature of science, Dr. McIntyre and Dr. Shermer get deep into the weeds of where to draw the line between science and pseudoscience. PLUS Dr. John Glynn reflects on our ever-increasing sensitivity to the perception of harm in an article about concept creep.
July 23rd: The Doomsday Calculation and The Incest Taboo
When will the world end? How likely is it that intelligent extraterrestrial life exists? Are we living in a simulation like the Matrix? Is our universe but one in a multiverse? How does Warren Buffett continue to beat the stock market? How much longer will your romance last? In Science Salon # 76 — a wide ranging conversation with Michael Shermer — science writer William Poundstone answers these questions and more. PLUS Gabriel Andrade examines the incest taboo and asks: How truly dangerous is cousin marriage, and should it be legalized?
July 16th: Charles Fishman — One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission that Flew us to the Moon
On the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, Michael Shermer speaks with veteran space reporter Charles Fishman who has been writing about NASA and the space program for more than 30 years; Peter Barglow, MD reviews Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness by Anne Harrington; MonsterTalk speaks with Uruguayan paleontologist Dr. Richard A. Fariña about the legendary Mapinguari.
July 9th: Shaili Jain, M.D. — The Unspeakable Mind: Stories of Trauma and Healing from the Frontlines of PTSD Science
In Science Salon # 74 Michael Shermer speaks with practicing psychiatrist and trauma scientist at the National Center for PTSD Shaili Jain, M.D about her new book The Unspeakable Mind, which shines a long-overdue light on the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) epidemic affecting today’s fractured world; PLUS Chris Edwards reviews Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
July 2nd: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American
Was America founded on Judeo-Christian principles? Are the Ten Commandments the basis for American law? What, exactly, was the role of religion in America’s founding? In Science Salon # 73, Michael Shermer speaks with constitutional attorney and scholar at the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) Andrew L. Seidel about his new book: The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American; PLUS Entomologist and nature explorer Mark Moffett has a new book that not only advances our knowledge about human societies, but attempts to create a biological definition and understanding of the very concept of “society” itself. But how does his intriguing thesis integrate with other theories on the origin of our uniquely human sociality?
June 25th: Robert Zubrin — The Case for Space
In Science Salon # 72, Michael Shermer speaks with visionary astronautical engineer Robert Zubrin where he lays out the plans for how humans can become a space faring, multi-planetary civilization; PLUS social psychologist Carol Tavris reminds us just how imperative it is that justice requires us to assess the evidence when public opinion and emotion are weighted heavily in favor of one side.
June 12th: Dr. Brian Keating — Losing the Nobel Prize
In this issue: The latest issue of Skeptic magazine (24.2) launches today in print and digital editions; PLUS Science Salon # 70 with cosmologist and inventor of the BICEP (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) experiment Dr. Brian Keating.
June 5th: The Pentagon’s UFOs: A UFO News Story
In this issue: Science Salon # 69 with Dr. Brian Keating; PLUS Robert Sheaffer on How a Multimedia Entertainment Company Created a UFO News Story.
May 29th: Health Freedom, Right to Try, and Informed Consent
In Science Salon # 68, Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy Dr. Michael Ruse discusses A Darwinian Meaning to Life; PLUS Harriet Hall, M.D. expresses concerns that under the right-to-try law, patients may not fully understand the risks and the low probability of success, and drug companies may take advantage to sell their products to desperate individuals at inflated prices.
May 22nd: Atheist Overreach & Radiation Hormesis
In Science Salon # 67, Atheist Overreach, Christian Smith explains why we ought to be skeptical of the increasingly vociferous and confident claims of atheist apologists about morality, science, and human nature; PLUS Harriet Hall, M.D. examines the dubious claims of radiation hormesis — that low levels of radiation are beneficial to health.
May 15th: Why Free Will is Real; A Disproof of God’s Existence
In Science Salon # 66 Dr. Michael Shermer speaks with Dr. Christian List about his new book Why Free Will is Real which defies scientific orthodoxy and presents a bold new defense of free will in the same naturalistic terms that are usually deployed against it; PLUS British philosopher Dr. Colin McGinn avers that it is wrong to say that God is by definition all powerful; he is only powerful within the limits of his nature.
May 8th: Jared Diamond — Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis
In a special edition of the Science Salon Podcast Dr. Shermer took a camera crew to Jared Diamond’s home in Los Angeles for an especially intimate portrait of the man and his theories. You won’t want to miss this conversation, one of the best we’ve yet recorded, with one of the most interesting minds of our time, perhaps of all time.
May 1st: How Science Will Fix Fake News
VeriSign founder David Cowan avers that science is the key to combatting the spread of disinformation; PLUS, evolutionary anthropologist Michael Tomasello presents his new theory of how humans became such a distinctive species.
April 24th: Sex, Power, and Partisanship: How Evolutionary Science Makes Sense of Our Political Divide (SCIENCE SALON # 63)
In Science Salon # 63, through the lens of evolutionary science, Dr. Hector A. Garcia offers a novel perspective on why we hold our political ideas, and why they are so often in conflict. Drawing on examples from across the animal kingdom, Garcia reveals how even the most complex political processes can be influenced by our basic drives to survive and reproduce.
April 17th: Dr. Mark Moffett — The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall (SCIENCE SALON # 62)
In Science Salon # 62, Dr. Shermer has a riveting conversation with Dr. Mark Moffett, biologist (Ph.D. Harvard, under E. O. Wilson), wildlife photographer for National Geographic, cave explorer, and world traveler about his new book, The Human Swarm: How Our Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall, on the nature of societies from a biologist’s perspective.
April 10th: Dr. Richard Wrangham — The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution
In this fascinating dialogue (Science Salon # 61), Dr. Michael Shermer speaks with biological anthropologist Dr. Richard Wrangham about the evolutionary histories of reactive and proactive aggression as theorized in his book The Goodness Paradox: The Strange Relationship Between Virtue and Violence in Human Evolution.
April 3rd: Nicholas A. Christakis — Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society
In Science Salon # 60 — exceptionally important conversation — Dr. Shermer discusses at length the background to and research of Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a physician and evolutionary sociologist famous for his study of social networks in humans and other animals. PLUS: The breadth of what can be meant by the word “hoax” makes the concept — and consequences — worthy of renewed study. Michelle E. Ainsworth reviews Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News by Kevin Young and Hoax: A History of Deception: 5000 Years of Fakes, Forgeries, and Fallacies by Ian Tattersall and Peter Nevraumont.
March 27th: Raymond Barglow on the opioid epidemic; Cass Sunstein on freedom
Dr. Raymond Barglow discusses three mistaken approaches to the opioid epidemic in this article that appeared in Skeptic magazine 24.1 (2019). Plus, Michael Shermer dialogues On Freedom with New York Times bestselling author Cass Sunstein.
March 20th: Ben Shapiro — The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great
In Science Salon # 58, Michael Shermer and noted conservative political commentator and public intellectual Ben Shapiro discuss and debate “what made the West great” in this wide ranging conversation.
March 13th: Pressured Apologies, False Confessions, Witch Hunts
In Science Salon # 57, Dr. Shermer speaks with legendary biologist and primatologist Dr. Frans de Waal about his empirical and theoretical work on animal societies, politics, intelligence, sentience, consciousness and, now, feelings and emotions. PLUS, using two cases as touchstones, Stewart Justman draws an analogy between the extraction of an apology and the extraction of a false confession to a crime of violence.
March 6th: Behe’s Last Stand: The Lion of Intelligent Design Roars Again
In this eSkeptic: Science Salon # 56: Dr. Tyler Cowen — How an Economist Views the World; Announcing Skeptic Magazine 24.1, Available Now in Print & Digital Editions; Behe’s Last Stand: The Lion of Intelligent Design Roars Again.
March 3rd: Dr. Michael Shermer — The Problem of Evil (AMA # 4)
In Science Salon Ask Me Anything # 4, Dr. Shermer performs a postmortem on his debate/dialogue on with Dr. Brian Huffling at the Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Saturday February 23, 2019. The specific topic was: “Is the Reality of Evil Good Evidence Against the Christian God?”
February 27th: Meeting Our “Enemies” Where They Are: The Advantage of Understanding Your Adversary’s Arguments
Most people take an attack on their beliefs as an attack on their identity. Andrew Cooper-Sansone avers that to succeed in changing minds and building a better world, we must begin by cultivating a compassionate view of our enemies’ deeply-held and identify-defining beliefs. This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 23.4 (2018).
February 20th: The Arguments for Creationism and the Arguments for Evolution: A Study in Contrasts
How do arguments for evolution used by mainstream scientists differ from arguments employed by creationists and proponents of Intelligent Design? Ralph M. Barnes sheds some light on this question in this article from Skeptic magazine 23.4 (2018).
February 13th: Personhood & Abortion Rights — How Science Might Inform this Contentious Issue
Although it’s been 45 years since Roe v. Wade, abortion continues to be a highly controversial and polarizing issue. In this essay, Gary Whittenberger articulates the philosophical and scientific foundation for a third option between the two extremes of pro-life and pro-choice — the pro-person position — after examining the evidence for the best possible answer to the question: “When does the human fetus acquire the capacity for consciousness?” This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 23.4 (2018).
February 6th: Bruce Schneier — Hacked! Security and Survival in a Hyper-Connected World
In Science Salon # 52, Michael Shermer speaks with Bruce Schneier, special advisor to IBM Security, and author of Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World. Plus, in response to a NYT op-ed by Northeastern U. Psych. Prof. David DeSteno, Michael Shermer presents Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker’s full reply to DeSteno’s question about what science can learn from religion through testable hypotheses about human behavior.
January 30th: Gregg Hurwitz — Into the Light: Myths, Narratives, Archetypes, and Trump
In Science Salon # 51 Michael Shermer has a wide-ranging dialogue with New York Times bestselling author Gregg Hurwitz about myths, narratives, archetypes, and Trump.
January 23rd: SCIENCE SALON AMA # 3: “What is your opinion of Jordan Peterson?”
In Science Salon AMA # 3, Dr. Shermer offers a brief summary of his current opinion of Jordan Peterson and then reads his essay: “Have Archetype — Will Travel: The Jordan Peterson Phenomenon”.
January 16th: Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld — A Savage Order: How the World’s Deadliest Countries Can Forge a Path to Security
Michael Shermer responds to Richard Weikart’s critique of his January 2019 column in Scientific American: “Stein’s Law and Science’s Mission: The Case for Scientific Humanism. And, in Science Salon # 50, Michael speaks with Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she focuses on issues of rule of law, security, and governance in post-conflict countries, fragile states, and states in transition.
January 9th: God, Heaven, and Evil: A Renewed Defense of Atheism
In this article from Skeptic magazine 23.1 (2018) Ken Levy examines arguments put forth by theists that God’s existence is perfectly compatible with all the violence, pain, suffering, and premature death we experience.
January 1st: Dr. Gad Saad — Doing Gad’s Work
Happy New Year! Relax and enjoy listening to episode 49 of the Science Salon Podcast in which Michael Shermer speaks with the renowned evolutionary behavioral scientist and Concordia University professor Dr. Gad Saad. Plus, regular columnist Carol Tavris reminds us that the human need for touch is significant.
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