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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 # 197

Yaron Brook on Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, and Objectivism

Atlas Shrugged (book cover)

Yaron Brook is an Israeli-American entrepreneur, writer, and activist who for 18 years was the Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute, where he now serves as the chairman of the board. He is the co-founder of BH Equity Research, manages a hedge fund, and is the author of several books in which he analyzes a variety of topics from an Objectivist perspective. He earned an MBA in 1989 and a Ph.D. in finance in 1994 from the University of Texas at Austin. He was a finance professor at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. He is a columnist for Forbes and has written for the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Investor’s Business Daily and others, and is the co-author of Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government, Equal is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality, and Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism.

Shermer and Brook discuss:

  • individualism vs. collectivism,
  • the nature of human nature: in addition to being selfish, competitive, and greedy, we also harbor a great capacity for altruism, cooperation, and charity (Brook disagrees),
  • the starting point of morality and the foundation of ethics,
  • collective action problems and how they are best solved (privately or publicly),
  • What do we owe others?
  • Do we have a moral obligation to help those who cannot help themselves?
  • Does American have a moral obligation to help oppressed peoples in dictatorships?
  • the Is-Ought problem of determining right and wrong in some objective manner,
  • reason and empiricism as the foundation of justified true belief,
  • immigration, abortion, foreign wars, the welfare state, terrorism,
  • Israel, Palestine, and the solution to the conflict,
  • reparations: what do we owe others?
  • private vs. public charity/welfare,
  • Why don’t liberals/progressives/feminists like Rand? She is a woman, an immigrant from an oppressed minority (Jewish), created strong independent woman who ran major corporations and enjoyed successful professional careers. Is the politics stronger than the identity in Identity Politics?

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This episode is sponsored by Wondrium.

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Retrospective

Skeptic cover art by Pat Linse

Art of the Skeptic

In celebration of Skeptic magazine’s 100th issue, we present sage graphic art advice for skeptical groups and a gallery of art reflecting more than 47 years of skeptical activism from Skeptic’s long time Art Director, Pat Linse

Detecting Baloney

Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic) by Deanna and Skylar (High Tech High Media Arts, San Diego, CA)

The Baloney Detection Kit Sandwich (Infographic)

For a class project, a pair of 11th grade physics students created the infographic shown below, inspired by Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit: a 16-page booklet designed to hone your critical thinking skills.

FREE PDF Download

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Top 10 Things to Know About Alternative Medicine

Harriet Hall M.D. discusses: alternative versus conventional medicine, flu fear mongering, chiropractic, vaccines and autism, placebo effect, diet, homeopathy, acupuncture, “natural remedies,” and detoxification.

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Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods.

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Top 10 Myths of Terrorism

Is Terrorism an Existential Threat?

This free booklet reveals 10 myths that explain why terrorism is not a threat to our way of life or our survival.

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The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs

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Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and can you tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

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The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Mind altering experiences are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

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Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)

If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

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Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
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Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

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The Yeti or Abominable Snowman

5 Cryptid Cards

Download and print 5 Cryptid Cards created by Junior Skeptic Editor Daniel Loxton. Creatures include: The Yeti, Griffin, Sasquatch/Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, and the Cadborosaurus.

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