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The Michael Shermer Show

A series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

Watch or listen here or on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

EPISODE # 221

Antonio Damasio — Feeling & Knowing: Making Minds Conscious

Feeling and Knowing: Making Minds Conscious (book cover)

In recent decades, many philosophers and cognitive scientists have declared the problem of consciousness unsolvable, but Antonio Damasio is convinced that recent findings across multiple scientific disciplines have given us a way to understand consciousness and its significance for human life. In his latest work, Feeling & Knowing, Damasio helps us understand why being conscious is not the same as sensing, why nervous systems are essential for the development of feelings, and why feeling opens the way to consciousness writ large. He combines the latest discoveries in various sciences with philosophy and discusses his original research, which has transformed our understanding of the brain and human behavior.

Dr. Antonio Damasio is a University Professor, David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Philosophy, and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Self Comes to Mind, The Strange Order of Things, Descartes’ Error, Looking for Spinoza, and The Feeling of What Happens.

Shermer and Damasio discuss:

  • Feeling & Knowing as a meditative reverie reflecting on making minds conscious,
  • homeostasis as a primary purpose of life,
  • the second law of thermodynamics is the first law of life,
  • sensing, minding, feeling, being, knowing, and consciousness,
  • What is mind, and is it the same as brain?
  • What does it mean to experience something?
  • spatially mapped patterns that represent objects and actions,
  • What is memory?
  • What is the self?
  • intelligence as the ability to resolve successfully the problems posed by the struggle for life,
  • multiple intelligences,
  • the purpose of emotions,
  • brains and bodies,
  • the purpose of a nervous system,
  • Are plants conscience? Other animals?
  • What is consciousness “for”?
  • consciousness as a rheostat instead of a light switch,
  • free will and determinism,
  • interchangeable substrates of consciousness,
  • AI: can a computer ever be conscious or sentient?
  • mind-uploading a copy of a connectome, and
  • Where does consciousness go during sleep and anaesthesia? Death?

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This episode is sponsored by Wondrium:

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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…

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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!

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Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
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Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

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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.

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