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memory

Charan Ranganath — Unlocking Memory’s Power to Hold on to What Matters

Shermer and Ranganath discuss: how memories are stored by neurons • forgetting — memory in there somewhere or lost forever? • episodic, semantic, working, flashbulb, long-term, and short-term memory • recovered memories vs. false memories + confabulation, conflation • Alzheimer’s, dementia, senility • PTSD and bad memories • déjá vu • memory triggers • learning as a form of memory • social memories (extended self) • MEMself vs. POVself • uploading memories into the cloud • improving memory: what works,…

Paul Bloom — Psych: The Story of the Human Mind

How does the brain — a three-pound gelatinous mass — give rise to intelligence and conscious experience? Was Freud right that we are all plagued by forbidden sexual desires? What is the function of emotions such as disgust, gratitude, and shame? Renowned psychologist Paul Bloom answers these questions and many more in this conversation based on his riveting new book about the science of the mind: Psych.

Poking Holes in Needle-Spiking: Nightclub “Attacks” Scare Sweeps Europe

Mass hysterias, moral panics, and social contagions are known social psychological phenomena that can cause large numbers of people to believe things are happening to them that upon closer inspection become literally unbelievable. In this insightful analysis the authors—experts on the subject—show how the sudden spike in needle attacks is very likely one of these ephemeral phenomena.

The Disrupted Mind: Noga Arikha on What Happens to Identity When the Brain Is Assaulted by Disease and Injury

Shermer and Arikha discuss: dementia, senility, Alzheimer’se • mental illness and the labeling problem • the social construction of mental illness • neurology and psychiatry • agency and volition • memory and amnesia • autobiographical memory • self and embodied self • brain modularity • brain as a machine • emotions and cognition • conversion disorder/hysteria • depression • metacognition • exteroception and interoception.

Eyewitness Testimony: How to engage with people and accounts of extraordinary claims without evoking anger

Human perception and memory are notoriously inaccurate. Preconceptions and biases shape both our perceptions of events and how we recall them later. Mick West considers how to think about eyewitness testimony so that it does not become emotional and swiftly evolve into an overly polarized argument.

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.

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.

Annie Murphy Paul — The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain

In episode 196, Michael speaks with Annie Murphy Paul as she explodes the myth that the brain is an all-powerful, all-purpose thinking machine that works best in silence and isolation. Paul tells the stories of Jackson Pollock, Charles Darwin, Jonas Salk, Friedrich Nietzsche, Watson and Crick, among others — who have mastered the art of thinking outside the brain.

eSkeptic for July 31, 2021

In episode 196, Michael speaks with Annie Murphy Paul as she explodes the myth that the brain is an all-powerful, all-purpose thinking machine that works best in silence and isolation. Paul tells the stories of Jackson Pollock, Charles Darwin, Jonas Salk, Friedrich Nietzsche, Watson and Crick, among others — who have mastered the art of thinking outside the brain.

eSkeptic for March 27, 2020

During the Coronavirus outbreak, while schools are closed and everyone is practicing social distancing at home, Michael Shermer gives a remote lecture on Cognitive Biases & How Thinking Goes Wrong that anyone can watch for free.

Cognitive Biases & How Thinking Goes Wrong

Dr. Michael Shermer reviews the many ways that our attempts to understand the truth about the world are derailed by cognitive biases, including the anchoring bias, the representative bias, the availability bias, the confirmation bias, the hindsight bias, the self-serving bias, and even the bias bias.

Virtue Signaling, Memory, Myth, and JFK

In Science Salon # 93 Michael Shermer speaks with evolutionary psychology professor Geoffrey Miller about his book: Virtue Signaling: Essays on Darwinian Politics and Free Speech. Plus, Michel Jacques Gagné examines the reasons shocking events like the Kennedy assassination give rise to conspiracy myths.

From Camelot to Conspiracy: Memory, Myth, and the Death of JFK

Why did JFK’s untimely death produce so many clashing interpretations of one of the most meticulously documented periods of history? This article examines the reasons shocking events like the Kennedy assassination give rise to conspiracy myths. Such stories, though based on ostensibly historic events, serve a contemporary agenda, namely by scapegoating a source of existential evil and promoting a paranoid counter-ideology to defeat it. This essay appeared in Skeptic magazine 22.4 (2017) and was presented to the 2017 Concordia-Vanier Liberal…

The Persistence of Memory… and of the Memory Wars

Are you old enough to have a memory of the memory wars that were sparked by a debate that began more than 30 years ago? In this column from Skeptic magazine 24.3 (2019), Carol Tavris expounds on the persistence of belief in recovered memories.

eSkeptic for October 15, 2019

In Science Salon # 87 Michael Shermer speaks with Douglas Murray about his new book The Madness of Crowds on sexuality, gender, technology and race playing out in our workplaces, universities, schools and homes in the names of social justice, identity politics and intersectionality.

eSkeptic for January 9, 2019

In this article from Skeptic magazine 23.1 (2018) Ken Levy examines arguments put forth by theists that God’s existence is perfectly compatible with all the violence, pain, suffering, and premature death we experience.

Michael Shermer — Ask Me Anything # 2

Shermer reviews the latest issue of Skeptic magazine • introduces upcoming podcast guests Rachel Kleinfeld, Bruce Schneier, Mark W. Moffett, and Jared Diamond • discusses his book publishing plans for 2019, including an essay collection of his last 70 Scientific American columns • reflects on his 18 years writing for Scientific American and reads aloud the final column, titled “Stein’s Law and Science’s Mission”.

eSkeptic for July 12, 2017

In this week’s eSkeptic, Janna Levin Discusses the Edge of the Universe; Michael Shermer looks at Memories, Points of View and the Self; MonsterTalk interviews Ben Frable about Naming Monsters.

eSkeptic for January 11, 2017

Stephen Beckner reviews season one of HBO’s most-watched TV series Westworld, and considers some of the concepts presented in the first ten episodes: creation, evolution, artificial intelligence, memory, consciousness, self-awareness, free will, and suffering. WARNING: This review contains spoiler alerts.

Out of the Loop, Lost in the Maze: The Stealth Determinism of Westworld

Stephen Beckner reviews season one of HBO’s most-watched TV series Westworld, and considers some of the concepts presented in the first ten episodes: creation, evolution, artificial intelligence, memory, consciousness, self-awareness, free will, and suffering. WARNING: This review contains spoilers from season one, and speculation about future events.

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