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history

Ian Morris on Deep Time and Big History

In this conversation on deep time and big history, Shermer and Morris discuss the history of Big History, the future of energy and civilization, China and the future of energy and political power, what Britain was like 8000 years ago, the major transitions in British history, counterfactual history, slavery and the abolition of the slave trade, the role of ideas in history (civil rights, rule of law, justice, etc.), reparations and making right the wrongs of the past.

David Christian on Time, the Near/Far Future, Transhumanism, Interstellar Migrations, the Fate of Our Species, and the End of Time

The future is uncertain, a bit spooky, possibly dangerous, maybe wonderful. We cope with this never-ending uncertainty by telling stories about the future: future stories. How do we construct those stories? Where is the future, the place where we set those stories? Can we trust our future stories? And what sort of futures do they show us? David Christian is renowned for pioneering the emerging discipline of Big History, which surveys the whole of the past. In this conversation, he reveals what he thinks the future holds for our species.

Chris Edwards on Educational Reform and Thought Experiments

Michael Shermer speaks with Chris Edwards about educational reform, his study and teaching of world history, the problems in K–12 education, the zip-code model vs. the seat time model of education and how they result in massively different educational outcomes, how “no child left behind” left children behind, federal vs. state educational systems, and more…

eSkeptic for July 17, 2021

In episode 193, Michael Shermer speaks with Chris Edwards about educational reform and thought experiments. Plus, Harriet Hall, M.D. discusses osteopathy. What is it? What is the difference between an MD and a DO? Should the DO degree be abolished?

Lesley Newson & Peter Richerson — A New Look at Human Evolution

In episode 192, Michael speaks with husband-and-wife team Lesley Newson and Peter Richerson about the deep history of humankind discussed in their book, A Story of Us, in which they present this rich narrative and explain how the evolution of our genes relates to the evolution of our cultures.

eSkeptic for July 10, 2021

In episode 192, Michael speaks with husband-and-wife team Lesley Newson and Peter Richerson about the deep history of humankind discussed in their book, A Story of Us, in which they present this rich narrative and explain how the evolution of our genes relates to the evolution of our cultures.

eSkeptic for July 5, 2021

Jennifer Michael Hecht celebrates doubt as an engine of creativity and as an alternative to the political and intellectual dangers of certainty. This lecture from our archives was recorded in July 2005 as part of The Skeptics Society’s Distinguished Science Lecture Series.

eSkeptic for January 1, 2021

From our Distinguished Science Lecture Series Archives from February 2010, we present Jared Diamond, author of the Pulitzer-prize winning Guns, Germs, and Steel and the bestselling work in environmental history Collapse, revealing for the first time his methodology in the applied use of natural experiments and the comparative method.

eSkeptic for May 22, 2020

In this lecture on Holocaust Denial, Dr. Shermer employs the methods of science to history, showing how we can determine truth about the past.

Holocaust Denial

In this lecture on Holocaust Denial, Dr. Shermer employs the methods of science to history, showing how we can determine truth about the past.

The Crooked Timber of Auschwitz: A brief history of how a concentration camp became an extermination center

On the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman present a brief history of how a concentration camp became an extermination center.

eSkeptic for January 26, 2020

On the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman present a brief history of how a concentration camp became an extermination center.

eSkeptic for May 8, 2019

In a special edition of the Science Salon Podcast Dr. Shermer brought a camera crew to Jared Diamond’s home in Los Angeles for an especially intimate portrait of the man and his theories. You won’t want to miss this conversation, one of the best we’ve yet recorded, with one of the most interesting minds of our time, perhaps of all time.

Jared Diamond — Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

In a special edition of the Science Salon Podcast Dr. Shermer brought a camera crew to Jared Diamond’s home in Los Angeles for an especially intimate portrait of the man and his theories. You won’t want to miss this conversation, one of the best we’ve yet recorded, with one of the most interesting minds of our time, perhaps of all time.

American Atlantis

In the new book America Before: The Key to Earth’s Lost Civilization, author Graham Hancock looks for traces of a lost Ice Age civilization in the Americas. Despite relying on controversial research and drawing extreme conclusions, his hunt still comes up short.

eSkeptic for February 13, 2019

Although it’s been 45 years since Roe v. Wade, abortion continues to be a highly controversial and polarizing issue. In this essay, Gary Whittenberger articulates the philosophical and scientific foundation for a third option between the two extremes of pro-life and pro-choice — the pro-person position — after examining the evidence for the best possible answer to the question: “When does the human fetus acquire the capacity for consciousness?”

Adam Higginbotham — China Syndrome II: The True Story of What Happened at Chernobyl

In Science Salon Podcast # 53, Michael Shermer speaks with the author of the newly published book Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster, Adam Higginbotham who tells what really happened at Chernobyl, by far the worst nuclear disaster in history, and why it took so long to discover what really happened.

Dr. Walter Scheidel — The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the 21st Century

Are mass violence and catastrophes the only forces that can seriously decrease economic inequality? To judge by thousands of years of history, the answer is yes. Tracing the global history of inequality from the Stone Age to today, the Stanford University historian Walter Scheidel shows that inequality never dies peacefully. Inequality declines when carnage and disaster strike and increases when peace and stability return.

A History of Life’s Vital Essence (Part 3): The Twilight of Vitalism

Mike McRae provides a glimpse into the history of two competing systems of biology: life as complex chemistry, and the abandoned theory of vitalism. (Part 3 of 3.)

A History of Life’s Vital Essence (Part 2): Vital Thinking

Mike McRae provides a glimpse into the history of two competing systems of biology: life as complex chemistry, and the abandoned theory of vitalism. (Part 2 of 3.)

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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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