The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

EPISODE # 273

Cathy Young — The Russian Riddle Wrapped in a Ukrainian Mystery Inside an American Enigma

Michael Shermer speaks with Cathy Young, a cultural studies fellow at the Cato Institute. She writes on a wide variety of cultural and political issues, including gender issues (equal opportunity in the workplace, sexual harassment policy, sexual assault and domestic violence law, child custody, etc.), freedom of speech and intellectual tolerance, diversity, education, and perspectives on American history, as well as Russia and U.S.-Russian relations.

Released May 21, 2022

EPISODE # 272

Stuart Vyse — The Uses of Delusion: Why It’s Not Always Rational to Be Rational

Michael Shermer speaks with psychologist and behavioral scientist, Stuart Vyse, about aspects of human nature that are not altogether rational but, nonetheless, help us achieve our social and personal goals. In his book, and in this conversation, Vyse presents an accessible exploration of the psychological concepts behind useful delusions, fleshing out how delusional thinking may play a role in love and relationships, illness and loss, and personality and behavior.

Released May 17, 2022

EPISODE # 271

Peter Ward — The Price of Immortality: The Race to Live Forever

Peter Ward is a British business and technology reporter whose reporting has taken him across the globe. Reporting from Dubai, he covered the energy sector in the Middle East before earning a degree in business journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. His writing has appeared in Wired, The Atlantic, The Economist, GQ, BBC Science Focus, and Newsweek.

Released May 14, 2022

EPISODE # 270

Moshe Hoffman and Erez Yoeli on the Surprising Power of Game Theory to Explain Irrational Human Behavior

Moshe Hoffman is a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology whose research focuses on using game theory and models of learning. Erez Yoeli is a research scientist at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, whose research focuses on altruism: understanding how it works and how to promote it.

Released May 10, 2022

EPISODE # 269

Richard Dawkins — Flights of Fancy: Defying Gravity by Design and Evolution

Michael Shermer speaks with Richard Dawkins about his new book Flights of Fancy: Defying Gravity by Design and Evolution. They also discuss: nationalism; Russian revanchism; the recent rise of authoritarianism and autocracies; U.S. acceptance of the theory of evolution surpassing 50%; E. O. Wilson; and more…

Released May 7, 2022

EPISODE # 268

Douglas Murray on The War on the West: Race, Politics, and Culture

Michael Shermer and Murray discuss: what it takes to become a successful writer • Is this “war” on Western civilization just a necessary course correction from the sins of the past? • Is at least some of the criticisms of Western civilization a form of revenge for past wrongs? • Critical Race Theory: If racism is not the explanation for the present Black/White differences in income, wealth, home ownership, and representation in professional careers, what is? • Racism and Antiracism • 1619 Project • BLM movement • White privilege, and more…

Released May 3, 2022

EPISODE # 267

Louis Theroux on Neo-Nazis, Jimmy Savile, UFO Cults, and Scientology

Shermer and Theroux discuss: how documentary films are made • religious fanaticism • UFO cults • Scientology • neo-Nazis • anti-Semitism • prisons, pornography, and prostitution • Jeffrey Epstein and Jimmy Savile • self-help movements and gurus • deception and self-deception • social proof and human conformity • are humans naturally rational, irrational, or both?

Released April 30, 2022

EPISODE # 266

Jesse Singal on Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills 

Michael Shermer and Jesse Singal discuss: how social scientists determine causality • cognitive priming • The Malcolm Gladwell-effect • self-help movements • power posing • positive psychology • Implicit Association Test • racism, gender, class, misogyny, bigotry • replication crisis • choice architecture • I.Q. • free will and determinism • nature/nurture and how lives turn out • abortion • and U.S. foreign policy.

Released April 26, 2022

EPISODE # 265

Christopher Blattman on Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace

Shermer and Blattman discuss: Putin, Russia, and Ukraine • game theory and violent conflict • 5 Reasons for conflict and war • common elements of conflict • U.S. foreign policy and its consequences • human nature and conflict: are we wired to fight or do environments push us into conflicts? • cooperation vs. competition, and more…

Released April 23, 2022

EPISODE # 264

Adam Levin on Identity Theft and How to Protect Yourself from Scammers, Phishers, and Fraudsters of All Types

In this conversation, Shermer speaks with Adam Levin, a consumer advocate with more than 30 years’ experience in personal finance, privacy, real estate and government service. A former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, Levin is Chairman and founder of Identity Theft 911.

Released April 18, 2022

EPISODE # 263

Dave Rubin — Left, Right, and Woke, based on his book Don’t Burn This Country: Surviving and Thriving in Our Woke Dystopia

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.

Released April 16, 2022

EPISODE # 262

Oliver Stone on Ukraine, Putin, and the Military-Industrial Complex

Michael Shermer speaks with Oliver Stone about Ukraine, Putin, and the military-industrial complex.

Released April 12, 2022

EPISODE # 261

Jim Al-Khalili on the Joy of Science

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.

Released April 9, 2022

EPISODE # 260

Batya Ungar-Sargon — Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy

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.

Released April 5, 2022

EPISODE # 259

Ogi Ogas — 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.

Released April 2, 2022

EPISODE # 258

Jacek Kugler — Putin & Power Transition Theory: China, Russia, and Ukraine

Michael Shermer and Dr. Jacek Kugler, the Elisabeth Helm Rosecrans Professor of International Relations in the Department of Politics and Policy at Claremont Graduate University, discuss Power Transition Theory. According to the theory, developed by Dr. Kugler, an even distribution of political, economic, and military capabilities between contending groups of states is likely to increase the probability of war; peace is preserved best when there is an imbalance of national capabilities between disadvantaged and advantaged nations.

Released March 29, 2022

EPISODE # 257

Simon Conway Morris on Design in Evolution & the Possibility of Purpose in the Cosmos

Michael Shermer speaks with Simon Conway Morris, Emeritus Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology at the University of Cambridge. In his latest book Morris challenges six assumptions — what he calls “myths” — that too often pass as unquestioned truths amongst the evolutionary orthodox. These include the idea that evolution is boundless in the kinds of biological systems it can produce. Not true, he says.

Released March 26, 2022

EPISODE # 256

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.

Released March 22, 2022

EPISODE # 255

David Chalmers — Reality+: 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.

Released March 19, 2022

EPISODE # 254

Ravi Gupta on the Lost Debate: Whatever Happened to Reasoned Discussion and Respectable Disagreement?

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.

Released March 15, 2022
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