The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

eSkeptic: the email newsletter of the Skeptics Society

eSkeptic Archives 2021–2025


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April 30: Neo-Nazis, Jimmy Savile, UFO cults, and Scientology
Michael Shermer speaks with Louis Theroux about neo-Nazis, Jimmy Savile, UFO cults, and Scientology. PLUS: In SRC Report PCIS-006, we take a look at Conspiracy Theory Endorsement by Media Viewership.
April 27: Why Critics Are Wrong About E. O. Wilson Being a Racist
Was the great scientist E. O. Wilson a racist? No! Because Wilson corresponded with the notorious race differences psychologist Phillippe Rushton, critics claim it proves Wilson was a racist. Here’s why the critics are wrong, dangerously wrong.
April 26: The Quick Fix
Michael Shermer speaks with Jesse Singal about this new book: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills.
April 23: America’s Coming Educational Collapse
Education reform researcher and advocate Chris Edwards explains the problem with the U.S. public education system and considers possible solutions. PLUS: Michael Shermer speaks with Christopher Blattman about his new book Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace.
April 18: Adam Levin on Identity Theft
Join us for an expedition Along the Ancient Coast of Turkey (October 8–17, 2022) aboard the privately-chartered 34-Guest Callisto. PLUS, Michael Shermer speaks with Adam Levin on Identity Theft and How to Protect Yourself from Scammers, Phishers, and Fraudsters of All Types.
April 16: Dave Rubin — Left, Right, and Woke
Michael Shermer speaks with Dave Rubin: New York Times bestselling author, and creator and host of The Rubin Report. They discuss his book Don’t Burn This Country: Surviving and Thriving in Our Woke Dystopia.
April 12: Michael Shermer Speaks with Oliver Stone on Ukraine, Putin, and the Military-Industrial Complex
Mel Konner, in response to Bert Hölldobler’s defense of E. O. Wilson, reinforces the point that Wilson’s defense of Philippe Rushton was done out of concerns about academic freedom; PLUS: Michael Shermer speaks with Oliver Stone about Ukraine, Putin, and the military-industrial complex.
April 9: Conspiracy Theory Endorsement; Ants and Humans; The Joy of Science
Mark W. Moffett remind us that breakthroughs in science often come about by exploring points of similarity between things that are normally seen as very different. PLUS: Michael Shermer speaks with quantum physicist, Jim Al-Khalili, who reveals how 8 lessons from the heart of science can help us all get the most out of our lives. PLUS: In SRC Report PCIS-005, we take a look at Conspiracy Theory Endorsement by Generation.
April 5: Is there vigilantism in science?
Is there vigilantism in science? Was the renowned Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson wrongly convicted of racism and promoting race science in the court of public opinion? Yes, says his long-time collaborator and world-class scientist Bert Hölldobler. PLUS: Michael Shermer speaks with Batya Ungar-Sargon about her new book Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy in which she reveals how American journalism underwent a status revolution over the twentieth century — from a blue-collar trade to an elite profession.
April 2: Journey of the Mind: How Thinking Emerged from Chaos
Michael Shermer speaks with computational neuroscientist, Ogi Ogas, about his unified account of the mind that explains how consciousness, language, self-awareness, and civilization arose incrementally out of chaos, and how leading cities and nation-states are developing “superminds,” and perhaps planting the seeds for even higher forms of consciousness.
March 29: Jacek Kugler — Putin & Power Transition Theory: China, Russia, and Ukraine
Michael Shermer speaks with Professor of International Relations, Dr. Jacek Kugler, about his Power Transition Theory as it pertains to China, Russia, and Ukraine. PLUS: Robert Zubrin takes a renewed look at his 2015 Skeptic article about the Mystical High Priest of Russian Fascism, Alexander Dugin, in light of Putin’s recent, full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
March 26: Why male-to-female trans athletes are cheaters
Michael Shermer speaks with Simon Conway Morris about chance, direction, and design in evolution, the possibility of purpose in the cosmos, and the existence (or not) of god. Plus, the Skeptic Research Center asks “Who Endorses Conspiracy Theories about Government Elites?”
March 22: Imagining the Future with Reality Game Designer and Futurist Jane McGonigal
Shermer speaks with world-renowned future forecaster and game designer, Jane McGonigal, about her book Imaginable in which she draws on the latest scientific research in psychology and neuroscience to show us how to train our minds to think the unthinkable and imagine the unimaginable by inviting us to play with provocative thought experiments and future simulations.
March 19: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy
Michael Shermer speaks with University Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science and codirector of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness at New York University, Dr. David Chalmers, about his book Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy.
March 15: Ravi Gupta on the Lost Debate
Whatever happened to reasoned discussion and respectable disagreement? Michael Shermer speaks with Ravi Gupta, the Founder and CEO of Lost Debate, a new non-profit media company that launched in October 2021 to fight polarization and misinformation online.
March 12: Jennifer Sciubba on Putin, Russia, Ukraine, National & Global Security, and How Population Demographics Shape Our Future
Shermer speaks with political demographer, former demographics consultant to the United States Department of Defense, and author of The Future Faces of War, Jennifer Sciubba, about her new 8 Billion and Counting. PLUS Who Endorses Election Conspiracies? Read the new Skeptic Research Center Report from our Paranormal & Conspiratorial Ideation Study (PCIS-003).
March 10: Announcing Skeptic 27.1 Transgender Matters
Announcing Skeptic 27.1: Transgender Matters — an overview of the debate, research, and policies; supporting kids who identify as transgender or who are experiencing gender dysphoria (marked distress at an incongruence between gender identity and biological sex).
March 8: John Mueller on Putin’s War: Russia, Ukraine, and NATO
Political scientist and war historian John Mueller argues that Putin’s war in Ukraine could have been avoided and can still be stopped through compromise since NATO was not going to accept Ukraine as a member for decades anyway, and Crimea will be returned to Ukraine about the time Texas is returned to Mexico.
March 5: 60 Minutes Whips Up “Havana Syndrome” Hysteria, Airs Sensational Segment on White House “Attacks”
“Havana Syndrome” is the latest in a long list of health scares involving the fear of new technology. The present panic involves claims of a secret weapon that uses sound or microwaves to zap people anywhere in the world. Robert Bartholomew examines some of the sensational claims made in a recent 60 Minutes episode suggesting White House attacks amid ongoing political tensions with Russia.
March 1: Kelly Weill on Flat Earthers, Conspiracy Culture, and Why People Will Believe Anything
Michael Shermer speaks with journalist Kelly Weill whose work covers extremism, disinformation, and online conspiracy theories in current affairs. The conversation is based on her book Off the Edge which tells a powerful story about belief, polarized realities, and what needs to happen so that we might all return to the same spinning globe.
February 26: Will Sanctions Work? Putin’s Problem and the War in Ukraine
Michael Shermer provides an analysis of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Will sanctions work? Plus, the Skeptic Research Center released its second report: Who Endorses Race and Gender Conspiracies?
February 22: Civil War
Michael Shermer speaks with Barbara F. Walter about how civil wars start and how to stop them, including in the United States.
February 19: Special Offer: Free Cases of Back Issues of Skeptic Magazine!
Would you like free back issues of Skeptic magazine? We have more inventory than we can possibly keep, and we are giving away full cases, free of charge!
February 15: Elizabeth Weiss on Woke Archaeology and Erasing the Past
Michael Shermer speaks with anthropologist Elizabeth Weiss about woke archaeology and erasing the past, based on her book Repatriation.
February 8: Jacob Mchangama on Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media
In this episode, based on the book Free Speech, Michael Shermer and Jacob Mchangama discuss the riveting legal, political, and cultural history of the principle, how much we have gained from it, and how much we stand to lose without it.
February 1: Frank Sulloway on How Lives Turn Out: Genes, Environment, Pluck, and Luck
Read the Skeptic Research Center’s general report, “Pandemic Politics: How 2020 Impacted Americans’ Social and Political Attitudes,” based on their nine reports from the Civil Unrest & Presidential Election Study (CUPES) released in late 2020–early 2021. PLUS: Michael Shermer speaks with author, journalist, and TV personality Nick Pope about UAPs, UFOs, conspiracies, and cover-ups.
January 29: Frank Sulloway on How Lives Turn Out: Genes, Environment, Pluck, and Luck
Michael Shermer speaks with American psychologist Dr. Frank J. Sulloway about the relative roles of genes, environment, hard work, and luck in how lives turn out. For decades, Dr. Sulloway has employed evolutionary theory to understand how family dynamics affect personality development.
January 25: Trans Matters: Gender Dysphoria
Social psychologist Carol Tavris thoughtfully explores and questions “affirmative trans medicine,” the latest dangerous medical practices bubble. Few question the mystifying explosion of cases of gender dysphoria among adolescents and the proliferation of clinics to treat them. Vulnerable teens and baffled parents resort to internet misinformation and succumb to biased media influence, while experts spurn exploratory therapies and promote untested treatments that have long-term effects. Dissenters are vilified and silenced as being transphobic. PLUS: Michael Shermer Speaks with Johnjoe McFadden about his book Life is Simple: How Occam’s Razor Set Science Free and Shapes the Universe.
January 22: Sally Satel on How Psychiatry Has Gone Woke
In episode 243 of The Michael Shermer Show, Michael speaks with psychiatrist Dr. Sally Satel about addiction, the opioid crisis, deaths of despair, and how psychiatry has gone woke.
January 18: The Story Paradox (Jonathan Gottschall)
“How can we save the world from stories?” Michael Shermer speaks with Jonathan Gottschall about The Story Paradox: How Our Love of Storytelling Builds Societies and Tears Them Down. Gottschall reveals why our biggest asset has become our greatest threat, and what, if anything, can be done.
January 15: Jeff Maurer — I Might Be Wrong
Michael Shermer speaks with writer, comedian, and five-time Emmy winning Senior Writer for John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, Jeff Maurer, about the nature of creativity, comedy, politics, culture, and how the television business really works!
January 11: Exploring the new science of feelings
Extraordinary advances in psychology and neuroscience have proven that emotions are as critical to our well-being as thinking. In this conversation, Michael Shermer speaks with Leonard Mlodinow about his new book Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking.
January 8: Remembering Edward O. Wilson (1929–2021): Two Tributes
To honor the legendary evolutionary theorist and biologist Edward O. Wilson (1929–2021), who passed away on December 26, 2021 at the age of 92, we present two tributes to him from Mark Moffett and Frank Sulloway, scientists who knew the man well and are deeply familiar with his work and his legacy.
January 4: Emotions and their history; PLUS Paleolithic Adam and Eve
Michael Shermer speaks with Richard Firth-Godbehere his book A Human History of Emotion: How the Way We Feel Built the World We Know; PLUS Nathan H. Lents discusses an influential conservative Christian theologians going all-in for evolutionary science and finding room for a Paleolithic Adam and Eve.
January 1: 60% of New Digital Subscriptions at Only $7.99 for 4 issues!
HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! Digital Subscriptions 60% off the single issue price! This is our Best Sale Ever! 4 DIGITAL ISSUES, Reg. $14.99, NOW ONLY $7.99. Sale ends January 8, 2022. Subscribe now!


December 28: Brian Klass on Power and Corruption; In Memoriam: E. O. Wilson (1929–2021);
Michael Shermer speaks with Brian Klass about power and corruption, based on his book Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How it Changes Us. PLUS: In Memoriam: Edward O. Wilson (1929–2021) — entomologist, evolutionary theorist, and unifier of all knowledge. Read the interview from Skeptic 6.1 (1998).
December 21: The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity
In this conversation, based on the book The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, Michael Shermer speaks with professor of comparative archaeology, David Wengrow, about his pathbreaking research in archaeology and anthropology that fundamentally transforms our understanding of the human past and offers a path toward imagining new forms of freedom, new ways of organizing society.
December 18: Fernanda Pirie on The Rule of Laws: A 4,000-Year Quest to Order the World
In episode 236, Michael Shermer speaks with Fernanda Pirie about the 4,000-year quest to order the world — from ancient Mesopotamia to today, the epic story of how humans have used laws to forge civilizations.
December 14: Jason Riley on race matters, based on his biography of Thomas Sowell, Maverick
In episode 235, Michael Shermer speaks with Jason Riley about Maverick — the first-ever biography of Thomas Sowell, one of the great social theorists of our age.
December 11: Skeptic Magazine 26.4: Havana Syndrome Hysteria, Available Now! PLUS Matt Ridley on the search for the origin of COVID-19
Skeptic 26.4 is here: Havana Syndrome Hysteria. Instantly download the digital edition or pre-order the print edition today. Plus, Michael Shermer speaks with Matt Ridley about his research investigating the origin of COVID-19.
December 7: Goodbye Pat Linse, Skeptic Co-founder and My Best Friend…
In episode 233, Michael Shermer shares a few thoughts on life and death, in remembrance of Pat Linse (1947–2021), the co-founder of the Skeptics Society and Art Director of Skeptic magazine.
December 4: Amishi Jha on How to Achieve Peak Mind
In episode 232, Michael Shermer speaks with neuroscientist and professor of psychology, Amishi Jha, about how to achieve Peak Mind, based on her book Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day.
November 30: Jason Hill On What White Americans Owe Black People
In episode 231, Michael Shermer has a conversation with Jason Hill based on his book What do White Americans Owe Black People? Racial Justice in the Age of Post-Oppression. Shermer probes the philosopher on the arguments for and against reparations.
November 27: Bart Ehrman — Did the Christmas Story Really Happen? The Birth of Jesus in History & Legend
In episode 230, Michael Shermer speaks with renowned biblical scholar and historian Bart Ehrman about how Jesus became God and how Christianity grew from a few dozen followers at the time of Jesus’s death to over two billion followers today.
November 23: Patterns of Connection; 12 Days of Skeptic Sale
In episode 229, Michael Shermer speaks with Fritjof Capra on Patterns of Connection. PLUS for the next 12 days, now through December 4, 2021, shop our biggest sale ever! Get 40% off digital subscriptions via, and get 25% off everything at including magazine print subscriptions and back issues!
November 20: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters
In episode 228, Michael Shermer speaks with Steven Koonin about what climate science tells us, what it doesn’t, and why it matters, based on his book Unsettled. Plus, we annouce a 6-hour seminar with Bart Ehrman on Dec 5, and recap Michael Shermer’s Substack posts this week.
November 17: Scientific American Goes Woke: A case study in how identity politics poisons science
In this essay, published on Substack today, Dr. Shermer addresses several recent articles in Scientific American of a distinctly unscientific nature related to progressive woke politics, perhaps in obedience to the British historian and Sovietologist Robert Conquest’s eponymous law that “any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.”
November 16: Skeptic: Examining the World Through a Scientific Lens
Michael Shermer is now writing on Substack with a new, weekly column called Skeptic: Examining the World Through a Scientific Lens. PLUS in a wide-ranging conversation Shermer and Richard Nisbett discuss Nisbett’s research showing how people reason, how people should reason, why errors in reasoning occur, and how much you can improve reasoning.
November 13: Suzanne Nossel on defending free speech for all, based on her book Dare to Speak
In episode 226, Michael Shermer speaks with a leading voice in support of free expression, Suzanne Nosel, on defending free speech for all, based on her book Dare to Speak. Nossel delivers a vital, necessary guide to maintaining democratic debate that is open, free-wheeling but at the same time respectful of the rich diversity of backgrounds and opinions in a changing country.
November 9: Nancy Segal on Deliberately Divided Twins and What They Tell Us About Human Nature
In the early 1960s, the head of a prominent New York City Child Development Center and a psychiatrist from Columbia University launched a study designed to track the development of twins and triplets given up for adoption and raised by different families. The controversial and disturbing catch? None of the adoptive parents had been told that they were raising a twin — the study’s investigators insisted that the separation be kept secret. In this conversation based on her new book, Nancy Segal reveals the inside stories of the agency that separated the twins, and the collaborating psychiatrists who, along with their cadre of colleagues, observed the twins until they turned twelve.
November 6: The Generation Myth: Why When You’re Born Matters Less Than You Think
Boomers are narcissists. Millennials are spoiled. Gen Zers are lazy. We assume people born around the same time have basically the same values. But, do they? In episode 224 Michael Shermer speaks with social researcher Bobby Duffy who has spent years studying generational distinctions. In The Generation Myth, he argues that our generational identities are not fixed but fluid, reforming throughout our lives.
November 2: Paul Bloom on the pleasures of suffering and the meaning of life
Why do we so often seek out physical pain and emotional turmoil? In episode 223, Michael Shermer speaks with professor of psychology Paul Bloom about the pleasures of suffering and the meaning of life, based on his book The Sweet Spot: The Pleasures of Suffering and the Search for Meaning.
October 30: Suzanne O’Sullivan on psychosomatic disorders and other mystery illnesses
In episode 222, Michael Shermer speaks with award-winning Irish neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan about her work exploring the complexity of psychogenic illness affecting people all around the world. Her book The Sleeping Beauties, documents her investigation of psychosomatic disorders as she traveled the world visiting communities suffering from these so-called mystery illnesses.
October 26: Antonio Damasio — Feeling & Knowing: Making Minds Conscious
In episode 221, Michael Shermer speaks with Antonio Damasio about recent findings across multiple scientific disciplines that have given rise to new understandings of consciousness.
October 23: Charles Foster on Being a Human
In episode 220, Michael Shermer speaks with Charles Foster about his book Being a Human: Adventures in Forty Thousand Years of Consciousness. Drawing on psychology, neuroscience, natural history, agriculture, medical law and ethics, Charles Foster makes an audacious attempt to feel a connection with 45,000 years of human history.
October 19: In-Person Conversation (in Shermer’s Home) with Steven Pinker on Rationality: What it is, Why it Seems Scarce, Why it Matters
In episode 219, Michael Shermer speaks in person with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker about his new book Rationality, about how today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding — and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for COVID-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing?
October 16: The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War
In episode 218, Michael Shermer speaks with Craig Whitlock about his book The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War which contains startling revelations from people who played a direct role in the war, from leaders in the White House and the Pentagon to soldiers and aid workers on the front lines.
October 12: Mary Grabar on the 1619 Project, Howard Zinn, Historical Revisionism, and Pseudohistory
In episode 217, Michael Shermer speaks with Mary Grabar about her books Debunking the 1619 Project: Exposing the Plan to Divide America and Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation Against America.
October 5: Mary Eberstadt on God, Religion, Secularization, Sexual Revolution, and Identity Politics
In episode 215, Michael Shermer speaks with Mary Eberstadt about the decline of religion in which Eberstadt presents her alternative theory for the “secularization thesis” (that the undermining of the family has undermined Christianity itself). In the second half, they discuss the rise of identity politics and how identitarians track and expose the ideologically impure, as people face the consequences of their rancor. This conversation is based on Eberstadt’s books: How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization and Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics.
October 2: Tom Nichols — Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault From Within on Modern Democracy
In episode 214, Michael Shermer speaks Tom Nichols about his book Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault From Within on Modern Democracy. PLUS, don’t miss our digital subscription sale: $14.99 for 7 issues, until October 9, 2021!
September 28:The Storm Is upon Us: QAnon, the Conspiracy Theory of Everything
In episode 213, Michael Shermer speaks with Mike Rothschild, a journalist specializing in conspiracy theories, about QAnon and its followers, based on his book The Storm Is upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything. PLUS, we present as a free PDF download the Memorial Tribute to Skeptic’s Art Director and Co-Founder, Pat Linse, which appeared in Skeptic 26.3 (2021).
September 25: Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to Do About It
In episode 212, Michael Shermer speaks with Gale Sinatra and Barbara Hofer about the key psychological explanations for science denial and doubt that can help provide a means for improving scientific literacy and understanding — critically important at a time when denial has become deadly.
September 21: How the New York Times’s Misreporting, Distortions and Fabrications Radically Alter History
In episode 211, Michael Shermer speaks with Ashley Rindsberg about his book The Gray Lady Winked in which he pulls back the curtain to reveal an eye-opening, often shocking, look at the New York Times’s greatest journalistic failures, so devastating they changed the course of history.
September 18: Doing More With Less; PLUS Persistence & Universality of Gender Inequality
We pile on “to-dos” but don’t consider “stop-doings.” We create incentives for good behavior, but don’t get rid of obstacles to it. In episode 210, Michael Shermer speaks with Leidy Klotz about his book Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less. PLUS Do you believe that men have greater power and privilege because they are stronger, more aggressive, and smarter than women (and don’t have babies)? Think again.
September 14: Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein on evolution and the challenges of modern life, based on their new book A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century
In episode 209 Michael Shermer speaks with Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein about evolution and the challenges of modern life, based on their new book A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century. PLUS, new Skeptic digital subscriptions are on sale for only $6.99 for 4 issues until Sept. 26, 2021!
September 11: The Truth About 9/11 and Terrorism
In this special episode of the podcast Michael Shermer honors the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with a commentary on the truth about that event and how it changed our lives, 7 myths about terrorism that need debunking if we are to understand how we should respond to this threat, and why we need not sacrifice liberty for security.
September 7: The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit
In episode 207, Michael Shermer speaks with experimental social psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Wake Forest University, John Petrocelli about his research that examines the causes and consequences of bullshit and bullshitting in the way of better understanding and improving bullshit detection and disposal. PLUS, the newest issue of Skeptic magazine (26.3: UFOs and UAPs) is now available in print and digital formats.
September 4: Nichola Raihani — The Social Instinct: How Cooperation Shaped the World
In episode 206, Michael Shermer speaks with Nichola Raihani about where and how collaborative behavior emerges throughout the animal kingdom, and what problems it solves, based on her book The Social Instinct: How Cooperation Shaped the World.
September 1: Richard Dawkins—Reading and Writing Science
In episode 205, Michael Shermer speaks with Richard Dawkins about evangelizing for evolution, science, skepticism, philosophy, reason, and rationality, based on his new book Books Do Furnish a Life: Reading and Writing Science.
August 28: Carole Hooven on T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us
In episode 204, Michael Shermer speaks with codirector of undergraduate studies in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, Carole Hooven, PhD, about understanding testosterone, ourselves, and one another — and how we might build a fairer, safer society.
August 24: Lee McIntyre — How to Talk to a Science Denier
Science deniers are not merely uninformed—they are misinformed. How can we get them to change their minds and accept the facts when they don’t believe in facts? In episode 203, Michael Shermer speaks with Lee McIntyre about how to talk to science deniers such as flat earthers, climate deniers, and others who defy reason, and why it’s important to do so.
August 21: Julia Galef — The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t
In episode 202, Michael Shermer speaks with Julia Galef about why some people see things clearly and others don’t. She distinguishes a “soldier” mindset from a “scout” mindset. Galef and Shermer explore why our brains deceive us and what we can do to change the way we think.
August 18: Dr. Michael Shermer — Ask Me Anything # 7
In this AMA Dr. Shermer answers your questions about evolution and creationism, intelligent design theory, the hard problem of consciousness, the origins of morality, how science deals with anomalies, to what extent humans are naturally rational or irrational / skeptical or gullible, and why there is something rather than nothing.
August 15: Philip Zimbardo on the Nature and Nurture of Good and Evil
August 15 marks the 50th anniversary of day one of the Stanford Prison Experiment — one of the most controversial studies in the history of social psychology. In episode 200, Michael Shermer speaks with renowned social psychologist and creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment Philip Zimbardo, exploring the mechanisms that make good people do bad things, how moral people can be seduced into acting immorally, and what this says about the line separating good from evil.
August 10: David Potter — Disruption: Why Things Change
In episode 199, Michael Shermer and David Potter take a deep dive into disruptions. What are the conditions in which radical change happens? Is democracy in trouble? Not all radical groups are the same, and all the groups that the book explores take advantage of mistakes that have challenged belief in the competence of existing institutions to be effective.
August 7: Bernardo Kastrup on the Nature of Reality: Materialism, Idealism, or Skepticism
In this expansive conversation, Michael Shermer speaks with Bernardo Kastrup, the executive director of Essentia Foundation. His work has been leading the modern renaissance of metaphysical idealism, the notion that reality is essentially mental. Shermer and Kastrup discuss: materialism, idealism, dualism, monism, panpsychism, free will, determinism, consciousness, the problem of other minds, artificial intelligence, out of body and near-death experiences, model dependent realism, and the ultimate nature of reality.
August 3: Yaron Brook on Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, and Objectivism
In episode 197, Michael speaks with entrepreneur, writer, and activist Yaron Brook about Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Objectivism; individualism vs. collectivism; the nature of human nature; altruism, cooperation, reparations, and charity; the starting point of morality and the foundation of ethics; collective action problems and how they are best solved; our moral obligation to help those who cannot help themselves; the Is-Ought problem of determining right and wrong; reason and empiricism; immigration, abortion, foreign wars, the welfare state, and terrorism.
July 31: Annie Murphy Paul — The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain
In episode 196, Michael speaks with Annie Murphy Paul as she explodes the myth that the brain is an all-powerful, all-purpose thinking machine that works best in silence and isolation. Paul tells the stories of Jackson Pollock, Charles Darwin, Jonas Salk, Friedrich Nietzsche, Watson and Crick, among others — who have mastered the art of thinking outside the brain.
July 27: Jamy Ian Swiss — The Conjuror’s Conundrum
In episode 195, Michael speaks with internationally acclaimed sleight-of-hand artist and 35-year activist for scientific skepticism, Jamy Ian Swiss, about his lively, personal book, The Conjuror’s Conundrum, that takes readers on a magical mystery tour of the longstanding connection between magic and skepticism.
July 21: John Mackey, on Conscious Capitalism and Conscious Leadership
In episode 194, Michael Shermer speaks with John Mackey, Founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market and author of Conscious Capitalism and Conscious Leadership. Mackey’s goal is to write a new narrative for capitalism that asks us to care about customers and human beings instead of data points on a spreadsheet.
July 17: Educational Reform, Thought Experiments, and Osteopathy
In episode 193, Michael Shermer speaks with Chris Edwards about educational reform and thought experiments. Plus, Harriet Hall, M.D. discusses osteopathy. What is it? What is the difference between an MD and a DO? Should the DO degree be abolished?
July 13: Wizards, Aliens, & Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction
From teleportation and space elevators to alien contact and interstellar travel, science fiction and fantasy writers have come up with some brilliant and innovative ideas. Yet how plausible are these ideas? In this lecture from our archives, recorded in February 2014 as part of The Skeptics Society’s Distinguished Science Lecture Series, professor of physics, Dr. Charles Adler, delves into the most extraordinary details in science fiction and fantasy.
July 10: A New Look at Human Evolution
In episode 192, Michael speaks with husband-and-wife team Lesley Newson and Peter Richerson about the deep history of humankind discussed in their book, A Story of Us, in which they present this rich narrative and explain how the evolution of our genes relates to the evolution of our cultures.
July 6: From our Distinguished Science Lecture Series Archives: Jennifer Michael Hecht — Doubt: A History
Jennifer Michael Hecht celebrates doubt as an engine of creativity and as an alternative to the political and intellectual dangers of certainty. This lecture from our archives was recorded in July 2005 as part of The Skeptics Society’s Distinguished Science Lecture Series.
July 3: Michael Gordin on the Fringe of Where Science Meets Pseudoscience
Everyone has heard of the term “pseudoscience,” typically used to describe something that looks like science, but is somehow false, misleading, or unproven. In episode 191, Michael explores with Michael Gordin the philosophical and historical attempts to address the problem of scientific demarcation.
June 29: Wheatgrass, Mark Twain & Alternative Medicine
Shermer, Sanford, and Novella try wheatgrass juice, with amusing results. PLUS: in a column from Skeptic magazine 26.2 (2021), Harriet Hall, M.D. recounts that Mark Twain was an enthusiastic proponent of “alternative medicine” long before the term was coined — and much of it remains the same as in his time.
June 26: Jonathan Rauch — A Defense of Truth
In episode 190, Michael Shermer speaks with Jonathan Rauch as he reaches back to the parallel eighteenth-century developments of liberal democracy and science to explain what he calls the “Constitution of Knowledge” — our social system for turning disagreement into truth.
June 19: Daniel Kahneman on Noise; Harriet Hall on Transgender Science
In episode 189, Michael speaks with Nobel Prize winning psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman about the detrimental effects of noise and what we can do to reduce both noise and bias, and make better decisions in: medicine, law, economic forecasting, forensic science, bail, child protection, strategy, performance reviews, and personnel selection. PLUS: We present a review by Dr. Harriet Hall of Abigail Shrier’s 2020 book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters was originally published on Science-Based Medicine’s website and later removed and put under review by SBM’s Editors “due to concerns expressed over its scientific accuracy and completeness.”
June 16: The Man Who Found Titanic — Legendary Undersea Explorer Robert Ballard — Into the Deep: A Memoir
In episode 188, Michael goes Into the Deep with legendary undersea explorer Robert Ballard about his many journeys to find the Titanic, the Lusitania, the Bismarck, Nazi submarine U-166, the USS Yorktown, JFK’s PT 109, and two missing nuclear submarines under the cover of searching for the Titanic.
June 12: Understanding the Unidentified
Given the latest wave of apparent UFO/UAP sightings Michael Shermer reminds us that the residue problem in UFOlogy is instructive because it enables skeptics to find common ground with believers and allows us to live comfortably with the fact that we can’t explain everything.
June 8: Psychology of Persuasion; PLUS: Drug Trips & Reality
In episode 187, Michael speaks with Robert Cialdini — New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion — about the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. PLUS, the newest issue of Skeptic magazine (26.2: Drug Trips & Reality) is now available in print and digital formats.
June 2: William Nordhaus on the Economics of Global Warming, Pandemics, and Corporate Malfeasance
In episode 186 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, Michael speaks with Nobel Prize-winning pioneer in environmental economics, Dr. Nordhaus, about his book The Spirit of Green: The Economics of Collisions and Contagions in a Crowded World in which he explains how and why “green thinking” could cure many of the world’s most serious problems — from global warming to pandemics.
May 29: Return of the God Hypothesis
In episode 185 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, Michael speaks with Stephen Meyer about his best selling book: Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries that Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe. Shermer responds to each of his claims and a stimulating and enlightening conversation ensues.
May 25: Alexander Green on Money & Why It Matters
In episode 184 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, Michael speaks with Alexander Green about one of the most important and yet poorly understood concepts in modern society: money and why it matters.
May 22: Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR)
In episode 183 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, Michael speaks with Bari Weiss and Bion Bartning about their new Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR).
May 18: UFOs, UAPs, and Extraterrestrial Existence
Mick West provides an analysis of the 60 Minutes investigation into the US Government saying UFOs are “Real”. PLUS: A conversation with UFOlogist Alan Steinfeld on how believers and skeptics think about UFOs. ALSO: Until May 31, 2021, get seven digital issues for only $14.99 when you purchase a new digital subscription to Skeptic via PocketMags.
May 15: The Hidden Roots of Sexual Deception, Harassment, and Assault
In episode 181 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, Michael speaks with professor of psychology David Buss about sexual conflict, morality, and the double standards that flourish even in the most sexually egalitarian cultures on earth. Buss shows that this “battle of the sexes” is deeper and far more pervasive than anyone has recognized, revealing the hidden roots of sexual conflict — roots that originated over deep evolutionary time.
May 11: How Ideologies Short-Circuit Minds and Corrupt Moral Understanding
Astonishingly irrational ideas are spreading. Why? More importantly, what can we do about it? In episode 180 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, Michael speaks with Andy Norman about his book Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think .
May 8: Niall Ferguson — Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe
In episode 179 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, Michael Shermer speaks with one of the world’s most renowned historians, Niall Ferguson, who explains why our ever more bureaucratic and complex systems are making us worse, not better, at handling disasters.
May 4: Religious vs. Secular Morality
In episode 178 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, Michael speaks with philosophers James Hunter and Paul Nedelisky about religious vs. secular morality and their book Science and the Good: The Tragic Quest for the Foundations of Morality
May 1: 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature
In episode 177 of Michael Shermer’s podcast, he speaks with neuroscientist and literature professor Dr. Angus Fletcher about 25 of the most powerful developments in the history of literature. PLUS: From now through May 3, 2021 all print and digital back issues of Skeptic magazine are on sale for only 99 cents each! Now is the time to complete your collection!
April 27: What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract for a Better Society
In episode 176 of The Michael Shermer Show, Michael Shermer speaks with Minouche Shafik, one of the leading policy experts of our time, about a new and better social contract that recognizes our interdependencies, supports and invests more in each other, and expects more of individuals in return: a rethinking of how we can better support each other to thrive.
April 24: Cosmic Inflation, the Multiverse, and the Nature of Scientific Proof
In episode 175 of The Michael Shermer Show, Michael speaks with Brian Keating about How it All Began: Cosmic Inflation, the Multiverse, and the Nature of Scientific Proof. Plus, we present a review of Julia Galef’s book The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t.
April 20: Jordan Peterson on the Michael Shermer podcast
In episode 174, join Michael Shermer and Jordan Peterson (bestselling author of 12 Rules for Life) for this extraordinary conversation based on Peterson’s new book Beyond Order. PLUS: Save 40% on new digital subscriptions to Skeptic Magazine via, now through April 27, 2021!
April 17: Naomi Oreskes — Why Trust Science?
In episode 173 of Michael Shermer’s podcast he speaks with historian of science Naomi Oreskes about her landmark book, Why Trust Science? that offers a bold and compelling defense of science, revealing why the social character of scientific knowledge is its greatest strength — and the greatest reason we can trust it.
April 13: Free Speech and Why It Matters
In episode 172 of Michael Shermer’s podcast he speaks with Andrew Doyle about his new book on free speech and why it matters. Taking on board legitimate concerns about how speech can be harmful, Doyle argues that the alternative — an authoritarian world in which our freedoms are surrendered to those in power — has far worse consequences.
April 10: The Stupidity of War
In episode 171 of Michael Shermer’s podcast he speaks with political scientist John Mueller about his new book The Stupidity of War: American Foreign Policy and the Case for Complacency.
April 6: The Quest for a Theory of Everything
Michael Shermer speaks with professor of theoretical physics Michio Kaku about The Quest for a Theory of Everything. PLUS: From now through April 10, 2021 (5 days only) all print and digital back issues Skeptic magazine are on sale for only $1.99 each!
April 3: Anti-Vaccination in the Age of COVID-19
In The Michael Shermer Show # 169, Michael Shermer speaks with Jeff Hawkins, cofounder of Numenta: a neuroscience research company, about his new book A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence. PLUS: Raymond Barglow and Margret Schaefer discuss the anti-vaccination movement in the age of COVID-19.
March 30: Dennett and Caruso Debate Free Will
In The Michael Shermer Show # 168, Dr. Shermer moderates an entertaining, rigorous, and sometimes heated philosophical dialogue between two leading thinkers: Daniel Dennett and Gregg Caruso, based on their book Just Deserts.
March 27: Qonspiracy Warehouse — Spoof on the Creation of the QAnon Conspiracy Theory
In this eSkeptic, we present a tribute to Richard Dawkins by Michael Shermer, plus a short film spoof on the creation of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
March 23: Gary Taubes — The Case for Keto
In The Michael Shermer Show # 167, Dr. Shermer speaks with Gary Taubes about The Case for Keto: Rethinking Weight Control and the Science and Practice of Low-Carb/High-Fat Eating. PLUS: Save 40% on new digital subscription to Skeptic Magazine via, now through April 4, 2021!
March 20: Mine! How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Live
A hidden set of rules governs who owns what — explaining everything from whether you can recline your airplane seat to why HBO lets you borrow a password illegally. In episode 166 of The Michael Shermer Show, Dr. Shermer speaks with two acclaimed law professors — Michael Heller & James Salzman — who reveal how things become “mine.” Surprisingly, there are just six simple stories that everyone uses to claim everything… PLUS: In the ninth CUPES report, we investigated the extent to which peoples’ time spent with family and friends changed during the period leading up to the 2020 Presidential election amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 16: John McWhorter — The Elect: Neoracists Posing as Antiracists and Their Threat to a Progressive America
In episode 165 of The Michael Shermer Show, Dr. Shermer speaks with John McWhorter about his new online book on how the antiracism movement poses a threat to progressive America. Shermer and McWhorter discuss: antiracism as a religion; the 3 waves of antiracism; the antiracism trinity: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robin DiAngelo, Ibram X. Kendi; white fragility; Black Lives Matter; systemic racism (incarceration rates, housing, jobs, income, etc.); reparations; George Floyd, Tony Timpa and police violence; the N-word and language as violence; and Third Wave Antiracism catechism.
March 13: Michael Shermer with Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing Cosmic Queries
In episode 164 of The Michael Shermer Show, Dr. Shermer speaks with Neil deGrasse Tyson about his new book Cosmic Queries: StarTalk’s Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going. Enjoy this thought-provoking conversation on life, the universe, and everything, as Neil deGrasse Tyson tackles the world’s most important philosophical questions about the universe with wit, wisdom, and cutting-edge science.
March 9: Skeptic Magazine 26.1: Cosmic Beginning, Available Now!
Skeptic Magazine 26.1: Cosmic Beginning is Available Now! Instantly Download the Digital Edition or Pre-order the Print Edition Today. PLUS: In episode 163 of The Michael Shermer Show, Dr. Shermer speaks with Helen Pluckrose about her book (co-authored with James Lindsay) Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity — and Why This Harms Everybody.
March 6: Religion, Capitalism, Civil Unrest, and Moral Truths
In episode 162 of The Michael Shermer Show, Michael speaks with one of the nation’s preeminent experts on economic policy, Benjamin Friedman, about his new book Religion and the Rise of Capitalism —   a major reassessment of the foundations of modern economic thinking that explores the profound influence of an until-now unrecognized force — religion. PLUS: The Skeptic Research Center asks “Why Are People Misinformed About Fatal Police Shootings?” and Michael Shermer review Science and the Good: The Tragic Quest for the Foundations of Morality.
March 2: The Invention of Madness: What’s Normal, Anyway?
For centuries, scientists and society cast moral judgments on anyone deemed mentally ill, confining many to asylums. In episode 161 of The Michael Shermer Show, Dr. Shermer speaks with anthropologist Dr. Roy Richard Grinker about his book Nobody’s Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness which chronicles the progress and setbacks in the struggle against mental-illness stigma―from the 18th century, through America’s major wars, and into today’s high-tech economy.
February 27: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters
Until just a few years ago, gender dysphoria — severe discomfort in one’s biological sex — was vanishingly rare (less than .01% of the population). In episode 160 Michael Shermer speaks with Abigail Shrier about her new book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters in which she warns that this trend puts a generation of girls at risk.
February 23: The Honest Truth About Vaccines
Download a free PDF of Junior Skeptic 77: The Honest truth About Vaccines. PLUS: How can we find solace when we face the death of loved ones? How can we find solace in our own death? In episode 159 of The Michael Shermer Show, Dr. Shermer speaks with philosopher Joshua Glasgow about his book The Solace: Finding Value in Death Through Gratitude for Life.
February 20: How Informed are Americans about Race and Policing?
In episode 158 Michael Shermer speaks with Jason D. Hill, a black immigrant from Jamaica, about his eloquent appreciation of the American Dream, and why his adopted nation remains the most noble experiment in enabling the pursuit of happiness. PLUS: In the 7th CUPES report, we ask: across the political spectrum, how knowledgeable are people when it comes to the available data on fatal police shootings of Black Americans?
February 16: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth
In episode 157 of The Michael Shermer Show, Dr. Shermer speaks with Avi Loeb about his new book Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth which outlines his controversial theory and its profound implications for science, religion, and the future of our species and our planet.
February 21: Race Matters
The following articles from a 1994 issue of Skeptic magazine (2.4) capture a moment in time, not of ancient African cultures but of 1990s America, obsessed as we were — and still are — with race, in which everything is seemingly assessed by race. We present these articles as a reminder that the current cultural climate of race following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement is not new.
February 9: Ayaan Hirsi Ali — Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights
In episode 156 of The Michael Shermer Show, Dr. Shermer speaks with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born women’s rights activist, free speech advocate and New York Times best selling author, about her new book Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights.
February 5: Outside of Politics, What Else Predicts Attitudes Towards Censorship
In the sixth report from the Civil Unrest and Presidential Election Study (CUPES), we share the strongest correlates of peoples’ support for free speech that we found in the Civil Unrest and Presidential Election Study dataset. PLUS: In a lecture, recorded in March 2011 for The Skeptics Society’s Distinguished Science Lecture Series, Michio Kaku discusses The Physics of the Future.
February 2: The End is Nigh — Gambling with Armageddon
In episode 155 of The Michael Shermer Show, Dr. Shermer speaks with Martin Sherwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, about his new book Gambling with Armageddon, the definitive history of the Cuban Missile Crisis and its potential for nuclear holocaust, in a wider historical narrative of the Cold War — how such a crisis arose, and why at the very last possible moment it didn’t happen.
January 29: Robert Trivers — The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life
Whether it’s in a cockpit at takeoff or the planning of an offensive war, a romantic relationship or a dispute at the office, there are many opportunities to lie and self-deceive—but deceit and self-deception carry the costs of being alienated from reality and can lead to disaster. In this Distinguished Science Lecture recorded on November 11, 2011, Robert Trivers explains why deception plays such a prominent role in our everyday lives.
January 26: Atlas Shrugged vs. Atlas Hugged
In episode 154 of The Michael Shermer Show, Michael speaks with renowned evolutionary theorist David Sloan Wilson about his new novel Atlas Hugged: The Autobiography of John Galt III — a devastating critique of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and its impact on the world. PLUS: Starting Thursday, January 28 and running through Saturday, January 30, 2021, back issues of Skeptic magazine are on sale for only 99 cents in print and digital formats.
January 22: Censorship Attitudes, Voting Preferences, and The Moral Landscape
In the fifth report from the Civil Unrest and Presidential Election Study (CUPES), we examine attitudes about censorship, in particular, peoples’ level of support for freedom of speech and freedom of thought. PLUS: In a lecture, recorded on October 24, 2010 for The Skeptics Society’s Distinguished Science Lecture Series, Sam Harris tears down the wall between scientific facts and human values, arguing that most people are simply mistaken about the relationship between morality and the rest of human knowledge.
January 19: Michael Shermer with Kevin Dutton — Black-and-White Thinking: The Burden of a Binary Brain in a Complex World
In episode 153, Michael speaks with University of Oxford research psychologist Dr. Kevin Dutton about his new book Black-and-White Thinking: The Burden of a Binary Brain in a Complex World.
January 17: Politics & Truth — Michael Shermer Responds to Critics of His Commentary “Trump & Truth”
In episode 152 of The Michael Shermer Show, Michael responds to critics, reminding us that whether a particular conspiracy theory is true or false very much matters — especially those in the realm of politics, economics, and ideology, which as we’ve seen matters very much to the stability of our democracy and trust in the institutions that keep society stable.
January 15: Why is QAnon So Dangerous?
In this cover story article (written in October 2020) for Skeptic magazine 25.4 (December 2020), Daniel Loxton considers the unsavory origins and rising threat of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Written prior to the deadly QAnon-led occupation of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021, this analysis exposes the conspiracy theory as baseless, unoriginal, and harmful for believers and society at large.
January 12: Michael Shermer on Trump & Truth
In this monologue commentary on the events of January 6, 2021, Dr. Shermer applies causal inference theory to Trump’s speech that morning, the violent assault on the Capitol that followed, the banning of Trump off social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, the fears on the Right of social media censoriousness on the Left, the breaking up of big tech social media companies, and related topics, including what it means to “believe” a conspiracy theory.
January 8: How much do Americans trust institutions?
In the fourth report from the Civil Unrest and Presidential Election Study (CUPES) we examine Americans’ level of trust in institutions, as well as how trust levels vary by political party affiliation and gender. We asked the question: “how much do Americans trust news media, political officials, hospitals/doctors, and educational institutions?”
January 5: Exercise, Lizard People, 5G, and the Nashville Bomber
In episode 150 of The Michael Shermer Show, Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology Daniel Lieberman discusses his pioneering researcher on the evolution of human physical activity in his book Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding. PLUS: Perhaps one of the most bizarre beliefs rampant in modern times is that malign, shape-shifting reptilian extraterrestrial invaders, disguised as human beings, secretly control the governments of the world. It is possible that we recently experienced a violent consequence of that belief.
January 1: Jared Diamond on Natural Experiments of History
From our Distinguished Science Lecture Series Archives from February 2010, we present Jared Diamond, author of the Pulitzer-prize winning Guns, Germs, and Steel and the bestselling work in environmental history Collapse, revealing for the first time his methodology in the applied use of natural experiments and the comparative method.
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