The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine

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Will Sanctions Work? War in Ukraine

Michael Shermer provides an analysis of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Will sanctions work? This reading is based on his Substack post entitled: “Putin’s Problem: The outlawry of war has forced tyrants to concoct excuses for invading other countries. How should we respond? Evidence shows that outcasting in the form of economic sanctions beats armed conflict.”

Released February 25, 2022


Barbara F. Walter on How Civil Wars Start and How to Stop Them, including in the United States

Political violence rips apart several towns in southwest Texas. A far-right militia plots to kidnap the governor of Michigan and try her for treason. An armed mob of Trump supporters and conspiracy theorists storms the U.S. Capitol. Are these isolated incidents? Or is this the start of something bigger? Michael Shermer speaks with professor of political science, Barbara F. Walter, about her increasing worry about civil conflict in the United States.

Released February 22, 2022


Elizabeth Weiss on Woke Archaeology and Erasing the Past

Michael Shermer speaks with anthropologist Elizabeth Weiss about woke archaeology and erasing the past, based on her book Repatriation.

Released February 15, 2022


Jacob Mchangama on Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media

In this episode, based on the book Free Speech, Michael Shermer and Jacob Mchangama discuss the riveting legal, political, and cultural history of the principle, how much we have gained from it, and how much we stand to lose without it.

Released February 8, 2022


Nick Pope on UAPs, UFOs, Conspiracies, and Cover-ups

Author, journalist and TV personality Nick Pope ran the British government’s UFO program for the Ministry of Defense, leading the media to call him the real Fox Mulder. He’s recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on UFOs, the unexplained, and conspiracy theories. Nick is the media’s go-to person for UFOs.

Released February 1, 2022


Frank Sulloway on How Lives Turn Out: Genes, Environment, Pluck, and Luck

Michael Shermer speaks with American psychologist Dr. Frank J. Sulloway about the relative roles of genes, environment, hard work, and luck in how lives turn out. For decades, Dr. Sulloway has employed evolutionary theory to understand how family dynamics affect personality development.

Released January 29, 2022


Johnjoe McFadden on simplicity in science, based on his book Life is Simple: How Occam’s Razor Set Science Free and Shapes the Universe

Michael Shermer speaks with Professor of Molecular Genetics, Johnjoe McFadden, about: our medieval ancestors • science and religion • how pre-modern theologians thought about the nature of reality • Ptolemaic vs. Tychonic vs. Copernican world systems • simplicity in math, physics, biology, medicine, and the social sciences • quantum physics and simplicity •  Postmodernism and the search for Truth • Is science more Bayesian than Popperian? • the anthropic cosmological principle • the hard problem of consciousness.

Released January 25, 2022


Sally Satel on Addiction, the Opioid Crisis, Deaths of Despair, and How Psychiatry Has Gone Woke

Michael Shermer and professor of psychiatry, Sally Satel, discuss: how political correctness has corrupted medicine • how wokeness and social justice activism has corrupted psychiatry • What is social justice and who is really practicing it? • medical models of mental illness • why mental illness is so hard to treat • medical models of addiction: where they succeed, where they fail • how addictions are treated • Can one be addicted to porn? • Can one be addicted to social media? • The opioid crisis: who is responsible? and more…

Released January 22, 2022


Jonathan Gottschall — The Story Paradox: How Our Love of Storytelling Builds Societies and Tears Them Down

“How can we save the world from stories?” Michael Shermer speaks with Jonathan Gottschall about The Story Paradox: How Our Love of Storytelling Builds Societies and Tears Them Down. Gottschall reveals why our biggest asset has become our greatest threat, and what, if anything, can be done.

Released January 18, 2022


Jeff Maurer — I Might Be Wrong

Michael Shermer speaks with writer, comedian, and five-time Emmy winning Senior Writer for John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, Jeff Maurer, about the nature of creativity, comedy, politics, culture, and how the television business really works!

Released January 15, 2022


Leonard Mlodinow — Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking

Extraordinary advances in psychology and neuroscience have proven that emotions are as critical to our well-being as thinking. In this conversation, Michael Shermer speaks with Leonard Mlodinow about his new book Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking.

Released January 11, 2022


Richard Firth-Godbehere on emotions and their history, based on his book A Human History of Emotion: How the Way We Feel Built the World We Know

Michael Shermer speaks with Richard Firth-Godbehere his book A Human History of Emotion: How the Way We Feel Built the World We Know, drawing on psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, art, and religious history, and taking us on a fascinating tour of the central and often under-appreciated role emotions have played in human societies throughout history.

Released January 4, 2022


Brian Klass on power and corruption, based on his book Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How it Changes Us

Does power corrupt, or are corrupt people drawn to power? Are entrepreneurs who embezzle and cops who kill the result of poorly designed systems or are they simply bad people? What sort of people aspire to power anyway? Are there individuals among us who should never be given the title of president, or CEO, or PTA leader lest they build their own dictatorship?

Released December 28, 2021


David Wengrow on The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity

In this conversation, based on the book The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, Michael Shermer speaks with professor of comparative archaeology, David Wengrow, about his pathbreaking research in archaeology and anthropology that fundamentally transforms our understanding of the human past and offers a path toward imagining new forms of freedom, new ways of organizing society.

Released December 21, 2021


Fernanda Pirie on The Rule of Laws: A 4,000-Year Quest to Order the World

In episode 236, Michael Shermer speaks with Fernanda Pirie on The Rule of Laws: A 4,000-Year Quest to Order the World — from ancient Mesopotamia to today, the epic story of how humans have used laws to forge civilizations.

Released December 18, 2021


Jason Riley on Thomas Sowell: The Life and Work of the Legendary Social Theorist

In episode 235, Michael Shermer speaks with Jason Riley about Maverick — the first-ever biography of Thomas Sowell, one of the great social theorists of our age.

Released December 14, 2021


Matt Ridley on the Search for the Origin of COVID-19

A new virus descended on the human species in 2019 wreaking unprecedented havoc. Finding out where it came from and how it first jumped into people is an urgent priority, but early expectations that this would prove an easy question to answer have been dashed. Nearly two years into the pandemic, the crucial mystery of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 is not only unresolved but has deepened.

Released December 11, 2021
Pat Linse (1947–2021)


Goodbye Pat Linse, Skeptic Co-founder and My Best Friend…

In episode 233, Michael Shermer shares his thoughts on life and death in an emotional remembrance of his friend and business partner of 30 years, Pat Linse (1947–2021), the co-founder of the Skeptics Society and Art Director of Skeptic magazine.

Released December 7, 2021


Amishi Jha on the Neuroscience of Attention

In episode 232, Michael Shermer speaks with neuroscientist and professor of psychology, Amishi Jha, about how to achieve Peak Mind, based on her book Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day.

Released December 4, 2021


Jason Hill on What White Americans Owe Black People

In episode 231, Michael Shermer has a conversation with Jason Hill based on his book What do White Americans Owe Black People? Racial Justice in the Age of Post-Oppression. Shermer probes the philosopher on the arguments for and against reparations.

Released November 30, 2021
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