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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 # 267

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

Shermer and Theroux discuss: how documentary films are made • religious fanaticism and why people believe • UFO cults, end-times sects, and cognitive dissonance • Scientology: religion or cult? • neo-Nazis and 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?

Louis Theroux is a genre-defining documentary filmmaker best known for his explorations of controversial and complex topics. Using a gentle questioning style and an informal approach, Louis has shone light on intriguing beliefs, behaviors, and institutions by getting to know the people at the heart of them — from the officers and inmates at San Quentin prison to the extreme believers of the Westboro Baptist Church; from male porn performers in California to young women with eating disorders in London.

Louis graduated from Oxford in 1991 and got his break in television in 1994 working for the American documentary maker Michael Moore, who hired him as a writer and correspondent on his show, TV Nation. He then went on to make the BAFTA-winning series Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends, When Louis Met…, and a series of award-winning specials including The Most Hated Family in America, Miami Mega Jail, Altered States, and the feature-length documentary, My Scientology Movie.

Louis has written three books: The Call of the Weird, Gotta Get Theroux This, and Theroux the Keyhole. Louis won numerous awards, including three BAFTAs, an RTS award, and Grierson’s Trustees’ Award, and in 2019, he set up his own independent television production company, Mindhouse, alongside Arron Fellows and Nancy Strang. He lives in North West London with his wife and three children.

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This episode was released on April 30, 2022.

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