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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.

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EPISODE # 93

Geoffrey Miller — Virtue Signaling: Essays on Darwinian Politics and Free Speech

Michael Shermer talks with the polymathic polyamorous sapiosexual classically liberal evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller about:

  • virtue signaling and why we all do it
  • how the phrase “virtue signaling” became a derogatory political meme
  • how virtue signaling really works and why it is not a bad thing
  • why evolutionary psychology is not based on “just so” story telling
  • how multiple traits can be selected at once
  • individual selection vs. group selection
  • the role of virtue signaling in the evolution of the moral sentiments
  • how virtue signaling helps produce real morality (and not just fake altruism)
  • abortion, immigration, Trump, the Far Right, the Far Left, and other topical controversies
  • gender differences in career preferences
  • neurodiversity and speech codes
  • cultural diversity and the Harvard lawsuit over discrimination
  • why social groups tend to splinter and defenestrate members who are not virtuous enough.

Geoffrey Miller is a tenured evolutionary psychology professor at University of New Mexico. He’s been writing and teaching about the origins and functions of moral virtues for decades. His previous books include The Mating Mind, Spent, Mating Intelligence, and What Women Want. He got his B.A. from Columbia University, and his Ph.D. from Stanford University. He’s also worked at NYU Stern Business School, UCLA, University College London, and the London School of Economics. He has over 110 publications about sexual selection, mate choice, signaling theory, fitness indicators, consumer behavior, marketing, intelligence, creativity, language, art, music, humor, emotions, personality, psychopathology, and behavior genetics. He has also given 200 talks in 16 countries, and his research has been featured in Nature, Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, New Scientist, and The Economist, on NPR and BBC radio, and in documentaries on CNN, PBS, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, and BBC.

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This episode was released on December 3, 2019.

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