The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

Eve Herold — Robots and the People Who Love Them

Shermer and Herold discuss: social robots, sex robots, robot nannies, robot therapists • flying cars, jetpacks and The Jetsons • Masahiro Mori • emotions, animism, mind • emotional intelligence • artificial intelligence • large language lodels • ChatGPT, GPT-4, GPT-5 and beyond • the alignment problem • robopocalypse • robo soldiers • robot sentience • autonomous vehicles • AI value systems, and their legal and ethical status.

Lance Grande — The Formation, Diversification, and Extinction of World Religions

Lance Grande explores the diversity of religions using evolutionary systematics and philosophy. Grande examines the growth and interrelationships of hundreds of religions throughout history, tracing their formation, extinction, and diversification. Combining evolutionary theory with cultural records, he explores various world religions, including Asian cyclicism, polytheism, and monotheism, shedding new light on the development of organized religion.

Maggie Jackson — Uncertain: The Wisdom and Wonder of Being Unsure

Maggie Jackson — an award-winning author and journalist known for her pioneering writings on social trends, particularly technology’s impact on humanity — explores the importance of uncertainty and the benefits it can bring in an era of unpredictability.

Coleman Hughes — The End of Race Politics

Shermer and Hughes discuss: why he is considered “black” if he is “half-black, half-Hispanic” • what it means to be “colorblind” • population genetics and race differences • Base Rate Neglect, Base Rate Taboos • institutionalized neoracism • viewpoint epistemology • affirmative action • gaps in income, wealth, home ownership, CEO representation, Congressional representation • myths of Black Weakness, No Progress, Undoing the Past • reparations • the future of colorblindness.

Max Stearns — How to Repair America’s Broken Democracy

Law professor and author of dozens of articles and several books on the Constitution, Max Stearns examines the broken state of American democracy and the proposal to transform it into a parliamentary system to address the issues of polarization and dysfunction.

Abigail Shrier — Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren’t Growing Up

Shermer and Shrier discuss: Irreversible Damage redux: WPATH Files • what view this book for or against • what is the problem to be solved? • theories: coddling, social media, screen time, generations/life history theory • good and bad therapists and therapies • anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, autism • ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) • trauma, stress, PTSD • anti-fragility and resilience • Goodwill Hunting view of therapy • previous quack therapies and psychological pseudoscience that have plagued psychology and psychiatry.

Dan Stone — An Unfinished History of the Holocaust

Shermer and Stone discuss: what is unfinished in the history of the Shoah • Holocaust denial • psychology of fascist fascination and genocidal fantasy • alt-right • ideological roots of Nazism and German anti-Semitism • industrial genocide • magical thinking • Hitler’s willing executioners • the Holocaust as a continent-wide crime • motivations of the executioners • the banality of evil • Wannsee Conference (1942).

Eric Schwitzgebel — The Weirdness of the World

Shermer and Schwitzgebel discuss: bizarreness • skepticism • consciousness • virtual reality • AI, Turing Test, sentience, existential threat • idealism, materialism • ultimate nature of reality • solipsism • evidence for the existence of an external world • computer simulations hypothesis • mind-body problem • truths: external, internal, objective, subjective • mind-altering drugs • entropy • causality • infinity • immortality • multiverses • why there is something rather than nothing.

The Story of Female Empowerment & Getting Canceled: Elite Commando and Kickboxing World Champion Leah Goldstein

A conversation with Leah Goldstein on becoming a kickboxing world champion, ultra-endurance cyclist, and an elite commando combating terrorism. For this she was to be honored at the International Women’s Day event… until she was disinvited and canceled. This is her story.

Mohamad Jebara — Who Wrote the Qur’an, Why, and What Does it Really Say?

Shermer and Jebara discuss: who wrote the Qur’an and why • translation and interpretation • Is the Muslim world stagnating? How does this book aim to help? • semitic mindset • Many Westerners believe that the Qur’an endorses violence, Jihad, and Sharia Law over secular laws and constitutions. What does it really say? • Has Islam had its Enlightenment? • Does Islam and the Muslim world need reforming? • women in Islam • what percentage of Muslims want Sharia Law, and where in the world?

Samuel Wilkinson — What Evolution and Human Nature Imply About the Meaning of Our Existence

Shermer and Wilkinson discuss: • evolution: random chance or guided process? • selfishness and altruism • aggression and cooperation • inner demons and better angels • love and lust • free will and determinism • the good life and the good society • empirical truths, mythic truths, religious truths, pragmatic truths • Is there a cosmic courthouse where evil will be corrected in the next life? • theodicy and the problem of evil: Why do bad things happen to good…

Byron Reese — How Humanity Functions as a Single Superorganism

Shermer and Reese discuss: • organisms and superorganisms • origins of life • the self • emergence • consciousness • Is the Internet a superorganism? • Will AI create a superorganism? • Could AI become sentient or conscious? • the hard problem of consciousness • cities as superorganisms • planetary superorganisms • Are we living in a simulation? • Why are we here?

Tali Sharot – The Power of Noticing What Was Always There

Shermer and Sharot discuss: the best day of her life • the evolutionary origins of habituation • habituation at work, at home, and in the bedroom • Why don’t we habituate to extreme pain? • marriage, romance, monogamy, infidelity • depression • depression, happiness, and variety • negativity nias • creativity and habituation disruption • lying and misinformation • illusory truth effect • truth bias • moral progress • preference falsification • pluralistic ignorance.

Ernest Scheyder — The Global Battle to Power Our Lives

Shermer and Scheyder discuss: rare earth metals • lithium, copper, • aluminum and other precious metals • how much rare earth metals will we need by 2050, 2100, and beyond • combatting climate change • electric vehicles • recycling electronic waste • how lithium-ion batteries work • Can renewables completely replace fossil fuels without nuclear? • how mining works in the U.S., China, Chile, Russia, elsewhere • public vs. private ownership of mines • Native American land rights.

Paul Offit — Deciphering Covid Myths and Navigating Our Post-Pandemic World

Shermer and Offit discuss: mRNA vaccines • science gone wrong or part of the long and risky history of medical innovation? • loss of trust in medical and scientific institutions • overall assessment of what went right and wrong • mandates vs. recommendations • economic costs • lab leak hypothesis vs. zoonomic hypothesis • debating anti-vaxxers • treatments • high risk vs. low risk groups • Robert Malone,Joe Rogan, RFKJ, Peter Hotez, Del Bigtree • Stanford professor Jay Bhattacharya censored for signing the…

Rob Henderson — Foster Care, Family, and Social Class

Shermer and Henderson discuss: hindsight bias • genes, environment, luck, contingency • foster care • incarceration rates • marriage, divorce, childhood outcomes • poverty, welfare programs, and social safety nets • the young male syndrome • alcohol, drugs, depression • luxury beliefs of educated elites • wealthy but unstable homes vs. low-income but stable homes • inequality • Henderon’s experience in the military, at Yale and Cambridge • the Warrior-Scholar Project.

Sandro Galea — How US Public Health Has Strayed From Its Liberal Roots

The Covid-19 response was a crucible of politics and public health—a volatile combination that produced predictably bad results. As scientific expertise became entangled with political motivations, the public-health establishment found itself mired in political encampment. It was, as Sandro Galea argues, a crisis of liberalism: a retreat from the principles of free speech, open debate, and the pursuit of knowledge through reasoned inquiry that should inform the work of public health.

Ronald Lindsay on How the Left’s Dogmas on Race and Equity Harm Liberal Democracy and Invigorate Christian Nationalism

Shermer and Lindsay discuss: identity politics: identity or politics? • woke ideology • overt racism vs. systemic racism • liberalism vs. illiberalism • woke progressive leftists motivations? • Critical Race Theory (CRT) • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) • What is progressive? What is woke? • standpoint epistemology • equality vs. equity • race • class • cancel culture • Christian nationalism.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz — What Determines Who Succeeds in the NBA?

Shermer and Stephens-Davidowitz discuss: why some countries produce so many more NBA players than others • the greatest NBA players adjusted for height • why tall NBA players are worse athletes than short NBA players • How much do NBA coaches matter and what do they do? • In a population of 8 billion today compared to centuries past, where are all the Mozarts, Beethovens, Da Vincis, Newtons, Darwins, etc.?

Jessica Schleider — How to Build Meaningful Moments that Can Transform Your Mental Health

Shermer and Schleider discuss: her own experience with mental illness and eating disorder • 80% of people meet criteria for a mental illness at some point in their life • the goal of therapy • navigating therapy modalities, access, payments, insurance • What prevents people from getting the mental health help they need? • outcome measures to test different therapies • traditional therapy vs. single-session interventions • growth mindset • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) • difference between goals and values…

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