The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


EPISODE # 175

Brian Keating — How it All Began: Cosmic Inflation, the Multiverse, and the Nature of Scientific Proof

In this episode, based on the cover story from Skeptic magazine 26.1 (2021), Michael speaks with University of California professor of physics Brian Keating about: time, infinity, the shape of the universe, the multiverse, quantum gravity, string theory, the laws of nature, and more… Listen to this fascinating episode for free and order a copy of the Skeptic magazine 26.1 to read Keating’s cover story, complete with splendid graphics, charts, and illustrations (in print or digital formats).

Listen now

You play a vital part in our commitment to promoting science and reason. If you enjoy the podcast, please show your support.

Admitting our beliefs are false can feel like a failure, a sign of weakness. Instead, we should look at changing our mind as an ‘update.’ The following is a review by Michael Shermer of The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t by Julia Galef (Portfolio). A shorter version of this review originally ran in the Wall Street Journal on April 14, 2021, under the title ‘The Scout Mindset’ Review: How to ‘Update’ Beliefs.

Metaphors & Mindsets

The word “metaphor” derives from the Greek words “meta” (“change of place, order, condition, or nature”) and “phor” (to carry or transfer) and in common usage means to carry or transfer you from one idea that is difficult to understand to another idea that is easier to grasp. Many subjects in science are notoriously incomprehensible and so the use of metaphors is essential. The Newtonian “mechanical universe” metaphor, for example, carries us from the difficult idea of gravity and its spooky action at a distance to the more understandable “clockwork universe” of gears and wheels. In turn, this metaphor was employed by Enlightenment thinkers to explain the workings of everything from the human body with its levers and pullies (joints, tendons, muscles) to the workings of political systems (with the king as the sun and his subjects as planets circling about him) and even economies — François Quesnay modeled the French economy after the human body, in which money flows through a nation like blood flows through a body, and ruinous government policies were like diseases that impeded economic health, leading him to propose laissez faire as a government policy.

The workings of the human mind are especially enigmatic, so scientists have invoked metaphors such as hydraulic mechanisms, electrical wires, logic circuits, computer networks, software programs, and information workspaces. Nobel laureate psychologist Daniel Kahneman famously invoked the metaphor of thinking as a dual system: fast and intuitive versus slow and rational. In The Scout Mindset Julia Galef, cofounder of the Center for Applied Rationality and host of the popular podcast Rationally Speaking, quite effectively uses the metaphor of mindsets — that of scouts and soldiers. The soldier mindset leads us to defend our beliefs against outside threats, seek out and find evidence to support our beliefs and ignore or rationalize away counterevidence, and resist admitting we’re wrong as that feels like defeat. The scout mindset, by contrast, seeks to discover what is true through evidence and reasoning toward conclusions that lead to a more accurate map of reality, “the motivation to see things as they are, not as you wish they were,” Galef explains. […]

Continue reading

3 DAYS LEFT!

Save 40% on Skeptic Digital Subscriptions

Get 4 digital issues for only $8.99 (reg. $14.99). Subscribe now and download the current issue (26.1 Cosmic Begining) instantly. Three more digital issues will follow as they are released (in June 2021, September 2021, and December 2021). Synchronize your subscriptions to your favourite handheld device(s).

Subscribe now. Save 40%

This sale ends April 27, 2021. To get the 40% discount on digital subscriptions, they must be purchased at PocketMags.com. Questions about digital subscriptions? Email [email protected].

Donate

Get eSkeptic

Be in the know!

Subscribe to eSkeptic: our free email newsletter and get great podcasts, videos, reviews and articles from Skeptic magazine, announcements, and more in your inbox twice a week. It’s free. We never share your address. Unsubscribe any time.

Sign me up!

Retrospective

Skeptic cover art by Pat Linse

Art of the Skeptic

In celebration of Skeptic magazine’s 100th issue, we present sage graphic art advice for skeptical groups and a gallery of art reflecting more than 47 years of skeptical activism from Skeptic’s long time Art Director, Pat Linse

Detecting Baloney

Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)

For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.

FREE PDF Download

Wisdom of Harriet Hall

Top 10 Things to Know About Alternative Medicine

Harriet Hall M.D. discusses: alternative versus conventional medicine, flu fear mongering, chiropractic, vaccines and autism, placebo effect, diet, homeopathy, acupuncture, “natural remedies,” and detoxification.

FREE Video Series

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods.

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths of Terrorism

Is Terrorism an Existential Threat?

This free booklet reveals 10 myths that explain why terrorism is not a threat to our way of life or our survival.

FREE PDF Download

The Top 10 Weirdest Things

The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs

Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.

FREE PDF Download

Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and can you tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

FREE PDF Download

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Mind altering experiences are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

FREE PDF Download

Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)

If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

FREE PDF Download

Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

FREE PDF Download

The Yeti or Abominable Snowman

5 Cryptid Cards

Download and print 5 Cryptid Cards created by Junior Skeptic Editor Daniel Loxton. Creatures include: The Yeti, Griffin, Sasquatch/Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, and the Cadborosaurus.

Copyright © 1992–2021. All rights reserved. | P.O. Box 338 | Altadena, CA, 91001 | 1-626-794-3119. The Skeptics Society is a non-profit, member-supported 501(c)(3) organization (ID # 95-4550781) whose mission is to promote science & reason. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Privacy Policy.