The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


free will

Anil Seth on the Hard Problem of Consciousness, the Self, and the Essence of Volition

Shermer and Seth discuss: consciousness • controlled hallucinations • the self and other minds • Where does consciousness go during general anaesthesia? After death? • Are we living in a simulation that itself is inside a simulation? • Does Deep Blue know that it beat the great Gary Kasparov in chess? • Does Watson know that it beat the great Ken Jennings in Jeopardy!? • Is Data on Star Trek sentient, conscious, and with feelings? • Can AI systems be conscious? • free will, determinism, compatibilism, and panpsychism.

Stuart Vyse — The Uses of Delusion: Why It’s Not Always Rational to Be Rational

Michael Shermer speaks with psychologist and behavioral scientist, Stuart Vyse, about aspects of human nature that are not altogether rational but, nonetheless, help us achieve our social and personal goals. In his book, and in this conversation, Vyse presents an accessible exploration of the psychological concepts behind useful delusions, fleshing out how delusional thinking may play a role in love and relationships, illness and loss, and personality and behavior.

Ogi Ogas — Journey of the Mind: How Thinking Emerged from Chaos

Michael Shermer speaks with computational neuroscientist, Ogi Ogas, about his unified account of the mind that explains how consciousness, language, self-awareness, and civilization arose incrementally out of chaos, and how leading cities and nation-states are developing “superminds,” and perhaps planting the seeds for even higher forms of consciousness.

eSkeptic for April 2, 2022

Michael Shermer speaks with computational neuroscientist, Ogi Ogas, about his unified account of the mind that explains how consciousness, language, self-awareness, and civilization arose incrementally out of chaos, and how leading cities and nation-states are developing “superminds,” and perhaps planting the seeds for even higher forms of consciousness.

Simon Conway Morris on Design in Evolution & the Possibility of Purpose in the Cosmos

Michael Shermer speaks with Simon Conway Morris, Emeritus Professor of Evolutionary Palaeobiology at the University of Cambridge. In his latest book Morris challenges six assumptions — what he calls “myths” — that too often pass as unquestioned truths amongst the evolutionary orthodox. These include the idea that evolution is boundless in the kinds of biological systems it can produce. Not true, he says.

eSkeptic for March 26, 2022

Michael Shermer speaks with Simon Conway Morris about chance, direction, and design in evolution, the possibility of purpose in the cosmos, and the existence (or not) of god. Plus, the Skeptic Research Center asks “Who Endorses Conspiracy Theories about Government Elites?”

David Chalmers — Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy

Michael Shermer speaks with University Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science and codirector of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness at New York University, Dr. David Chalmers, about his book Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy.

eSkeptic for March 19, 2022

Michael Shermer speaks with University Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science and codirector of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness at New York University, Dr. David Chalmers, about his book Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy.

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.

eSkeptic for January 25, 2022

Social psychologist Carol Tavris thoughtfully explores and questions “affirmative trans medicine,” the latest dangerous medical practices bubble. Few question the mystifying explosion of cases of gender dysphoria among adolescents and the proliferation of clinics to treat them. Vulnerable teens and baffled parents resort to internet misinformation and succumb to biased media influence, while experts spurn exploratory therapies and promote untested treatments that have long-term effects. Dissenters are vilified and silenced as being transphobic. PLUS: Michael Shermer Speaks with Johnjoe McFadden about his book Life is Simple: How Occam’s Razor Set Science Free and Shapes the Universe.

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…

eSkeptic for January 22, 2022

In episode 243 of The Michael Shermer Show, Michael speaks with psychiatrist Dr. Sally Satel about addiction, the opioid crisis, deaths of despair, and how psychiatry has gone woke.

Fritjof Capra on Patterns of Connection: Is there a Tao of physics? Is life a web? Is humanity at a turning point?

Michael Shermer and Fritjof Capra discuss: the making of a California holist • the influence of Werner Heisenberg’s Physics and Philosophy • 50 years of progress or regress • the 1960s counterculture and challenges to authority • metaphors in science: world as machine, world as alive • limitations of models and theories of reality • limitations of analogies between western physics and eastern mysticism • mind and consciousness • the Santiago theory of consciousness • what it means to be spiritual in an age of science, and more…

eSkeptic for November 23, 2021

In episode 229, Michael Shermer speaks with Fritjof Capra on Patterns of Connection. PLUS for the next 12 days, now through December 4, 2021, shop our biggest sale ever! Get 40% off digital subscriptions via pocketmags.com, and get 25% off everything at shop.skeptic.com including magazine print subscriptions and back issues!

Antonio Damasio — Feeling & Knowing: Making Minds Conscious

In episode 221, Michael Shermer speaks with Antonio Damasio about recent findings across multiple scientific disciplines that have given rise to new understandings of consciousness.

eSkeptic for October 26, 2021

In episode 221, Michael Shermer speaks with Antonio Damasio about recent findings across multiple scientific disciplines that have given rise to new understandings of consciousness.

Steven Pinker on Rationality: What it is, Why it Seems Scarce, Why it Matters

In episode 219, Michael Shermer speaks in person with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker about his new book Rationality, about how today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding — and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for COVID-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing?

eSkeptic for October 19, 2021

In episode 219, Michael Shermer speaks in person with Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker about his new book Rationality, about how today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding — and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for COVID-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing?

Richard Dawkins on evangelizing for evolution, science, skepticism, philosophy, reason, and rationality, based on his new book Books Do Furnish a Life: Reading and Writing Science

Michael Shermer and Richard Dawkins discuss: conversations with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Steven Pinker, Matt Ridley, and Christopher Hitchens • Popperian falsification vs. Bayesian reasoning • evolutionary adaptationism • the myth of natural selection as a “force” • E.O. Wilson and group selection, multilevel selection, and other misunderstandings about evolutionary theory • metaphors and analogies in science: artificial selection • convergent evolution • ETIs • Trumpism, and more…

eSkeptic for September 1, 2021

In episode 205, Michael Shermer speaks with Richard Dawkins about evangelizing for evolution, science, skepticism, philosophy, reason, and rationality, based on his new book Books Do Furnish a Life: Reading and Writing Science.

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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

Wisdom of Harriet Hall

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.

FREE Video Series

Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine

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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The Top 10 Weirdest Things

The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs

Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.

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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?

FREE PDF Download

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

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!

FREE PDF Download

Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

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