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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 # 261

Jim Al-Khalili on the Joy of Science

The Joy of Science (book cover)

In this conversation, quantum physicist, New York Times bestselling author, and BBC host Jim Al-Khalili reveals how 8 lessons from the heart of science can help us all get the most out of our lives.

Today’s world is unpredictable and full of contradictions, and navigating its complexities while trying to make the best decisions is far from easy. In this brief guide to leading a more rational life, acclaimed physicist Jim Al-Khalili invites readers to engage with the world as scientists have been trained to do. The scientific method has served humankind well in its quest to see things as they really are, and underpinning the scientific method are core principles that can help us all navigate modern life more confidently. Discussing the nature of truth and uncertainty, the role of doubt, the pros and cons of simplification, the value of guarding against bias, the importance of evidence-based thinking, and more, Al-Khalili shows how the powerful ideas at the heart of the scientific method are deeply relevant to the complicated times we live in and the difficult choices we make.

Jim Al-Khalili is Distinguished Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Surrey and one of Britain’s best-known science communicators. He has written numerous books, including The World According to Physics (Princeton); Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed; and Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and lives in Southsea, England. Follow him on Twitter @jimalkhalili.

Shermer and Al-Khalili discuss:

  • What is science and the scientific method?
  • beauty in science
  • What is gravity?
  • Is the universe mathematical?
  • Are we living in a simulation?
  • the replication crisis in the sciences
  • the demarcation problem: science vs. pseudoscience
  • Bayesian reasoning vs. falsification in science
  • facts and values: how far can science reach into human moral, political, and cultural issues?
  • Is there a place for God in scientific epistemology?
  • mysteries are to be embraced, but also to be solved
  • don’t be afraid to change your mind
  • string theory, the multiverse, consciousness, the origin of the universe, and why there is something rather than nothing: are these soluble problems?

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This episode was released on April 9, 2022.

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