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human behavior

Nichola Raihani — The Social Instinct: How Cooperation Shaped the World

Michael Shermer and Nichola Raihani discuss: Darwin’s Dictum • the origins of empathy and altruism • why we don’t need “divine command” theory • philosophical ethical systems • evolutionary origins of cooperation • self-domestication • bonobos vs. chimpanzees vs. humans • evolution of religion • collective action problems and how they are solved • the nature of human nature • individual selection vs. group selection.

eSkeptic for September 4, 2021

In episode 206, Michael Shermer speaks with Nichola Raihani about where and how collaborative behavior emerges throughout the animal kingdom, and what problems it solves, based on her book The Social Instinct: How Cooperation Shaped the World.

Philip Zimbardo — The Nature and Nurture of Good and Evil

August 15 marks the 50th anniversary of day one of the Stanford Prison Experiment — one of the most controversial studies in the history of social psychology. In episode 200, Michael Shermer speaks with renowned social psychologist and creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment Philip Zimbardo, exploring the mechanisms that make good people do bad things, how moral people can be seduced into acting immorally, and what this says about the line separating good from evil.

eSkeptic for August 15, 2021

In episode 200, Michael Shermer speaks with renowned social psychologist and creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment Philip Zimbardo, exploring the mechanisms that make good people do bad things, how moral people can be seduced into acting immorally, and what this says about the line separating good from evil.

Trans Science: A review of Abigail Shrier’s Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters

Detail of cover of Irreversible Damage, by Abigail Shrier

A review by Dr. Harriet Hall of Abigail Shrier’s 2020 book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters was originally published on Science-Based Medicine’s website and later removed and put under review by SBM’s Editors “due to concerns expressed over its scientific accuracy and completeness.” Skeptic is publishing here because, if skepticism means anything, there are no sacred cows, no political sensitivities of topics to prohibit open discussion and review, no censorship of ideas that don’t toe a political line.

Metaphors & Mindsets: How to ‘Update’ Beliefs

Admitting our beliefs are false can feel like a failure, a sign of weakness. Instead, we should look at changing our mind as an ‘update.’ The following is a review by Michael Shermer of The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t by Julia Galef (Portfolio).

Helen Pluckrose — Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity — and Why This Harms Everybody

In episode 163 of The Michael Shermer Show, Dr. Shermer speaks with Helen Pluckrose about her book (co-authored with James Lindsay) Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody.

eSkeptic for March 9, 2021

Skeptic Magazine 26.1: Cosmic Beginning is Available Now! Instantly Download the Digital Edition or Pre-order the Print Edition Today. PLUS: In episode 163 of The Michael Shermer Show, Dr. Shermer speaks with Helen Pluckrose about her book (co-authored with James Lindsay) Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity — and Why This Harms Everybody.

Benjamin Friedman — Religion and the Rise of Capitalism

In episode 162 of The Michael Shermer Show, Michael speaks with one of the nation’s preeminent experts on economic policy, Benjamin Friedman, about his new book Religion and the Rise of Capitalism — a major reassessment of the foundations of modern economic thinking that explores the profound influence of an until-now unrecognized force — religion.

eSkeptic for March 6, 2021

In episode 162 of The Michael Shermer Show, Michael speaks with one of the nation’s preeminent experts on economic policy, Benjamin Friedman, about his new book Religion and the Rise of Capitalism — a major reassessment of the foundations of modern economic thinking that explores the profound influence of an until-now unrecognized force — religion. PLUS: The Skeptic Research Center asks “Why Are People Misinformed About Fatal Police Shootings?” and Michael Shermer review Science and the Good: The Tragic Quest for the Foundations of Morality.

Abigail Shrier — Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters

Until just a few years ago, gender dysphoria — severe discomfort in one’s biological sex — was vanishingly rare (less than .01% of the population). In episode 160 Michael Shermer speaks with Abigail Shrier about her new book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters in which she warns that this trend puts a generation of girls at risk.

eSkeptic for February 27, 2021

Until just a few years ago, gender dysphoria — severe discomfort in one’s biological sex — was vanishingly rare (less than .01% of the population). In episode 160 Michael Shermer speaks with Abigail Shrier about her new book Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters in which she warns that this trend puts a generation of girls at risk.

eSkeptic for January 5, 2021

In episode 150 of The Michael Shermer Show, Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology Daniel Lieberman discusses his pioneering researcher on the evolution of human physical activity in his book Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding. PLUS: Perhaps one of the most bizarre beliefs rampant in modern times is that malign, shape-shifting reptilian extraterrestrial invaders, disguised as human beings, secretly control the governments of the world. It is possible that we recently experienced a violent consequence of that belief.

Daniel Lieberman — Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding

In episode 150 of The Michael Shermer Show, Harvard professor of human evolutionary biology Daniel Lieberman discusses his pioneering researcher on the evolution of human physical activity in his book Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding. Using his own research and experiences throughout the world, Lieberman recounts how and why humans evolved to walk, run, dig, and do other necessary and rewarding physical activities while avoiding needless exertion.

Replicating Milgram: A Study on Why People Commit Evil Deeds

Dr. Michael Shermer, working with Chris Hansen and Dateline NBC producers in 2010, replicated a number of classic psychology experiments, including Stanley Milgram’s famous shock experiments. Here’s a summary of that research along with the two-part video from the Dateline NBC show, called “What Were You Thinking?”

eSkeptic for October 2, 2020

Dr. Michael Shermer, working with Chris Hansen and Dateline NBC producers in 2010, replicated a number of classic psychology experiments, including Stanley Milgram’s famous shock experiments. Here’s a summary of that research along with the two-part video from the Dateline NBC show, called “What Were You Thinking?”

Joseph Henrich — The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

In Science Salon podcast # 134, Michael Shermer speaks Joseph Henrich about his book: The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous.

eSkeptic for September 22, 2020

In Science Salon podcast # 134, Michael Shermer speaks Joseph Henrich about his book: The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous.

How Would You Design a Code of Conduct?

Carol Tavris avers that organizations’ Codes of Conduct that try to specify each and every possible behavior they wish to prohibit (or encourage), will find themselves in linguistic and psychological quicksand.

eSkeptic for February 18, 2020

In Science Salon # 104 Michael Shermer speaks with Judith Finlayson about her book You Are What Your Grandparents Ate: What You Need to Know About Nutrition, Experience, Epigenetics and the Origins of Chronic Disease. PLUS: Carol Tavris avers that organizations’ Codes of Conduct that try to specify each and every possible behavior they wish to prohibit (or encourage), will find themselves in linguistic and psychological quicksand.

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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.

FREE PDF Download

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.

FREE PDF Download

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…

FREE PDF Download

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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