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Rationally Speaking is the official podcast of New York City Skeptics. Join Julia Galef and guests as they explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely and unlikely, science and pseudoscience. Rationally Speaking was co-created with Massimo Pigliucci.

Current Episodes


Tuesday
Nov132018

RS 221 - Rob Reich on "Is philanthropy bad for democracy?"

Release date: November 13th, 2018

Rob Reich

This episode features political scientist Rob Reich, author of "Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy, and How it Can Do Better". Rob and Julia debate his criticisms of philanthropy: Does it deserve to be tax-deductible? Is it a violation of the autonomy of recipients to attach strings to their charitable gifts? And do philanthropists have too much power in society?

Links 

Rob's book: "Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy, and How it Can Do Better"

"Famine, Affluence, and Morality" by Peter Singer

"Doing Good Better" by Will MacAskill

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Oct282018

Rationally Speaking #220 - Peter Eckersley on "Tough choices on privacy and artificial intelligence"

Release date: October 28th, 2018

Peter Eckersley

This episode features Peter Eckersley, an expert in law and computer science, who has worked with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Partnership on AI. Peter and Julia first delve into some of the most fundamental questions about privacy: What are the risks of losing privacy? Do we have more to fear from governments or industry? Which companies do a good job of protecting their users' privacy? Are there tradeoffs between supporting privacy and supporting competitive markets? Next, they discuss Peter's work measuring recent progress in AI, and debate to what extent recent progress is cause for optimism.

Links 

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Partnership on AI

Peter's survey of AI progress

"Debt: The First 5,000 Years" by David Graeber

"The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined" by Steven Pinker

Aceso Under Glass, the blog that does epistemic spot checks

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Oct142018

RS 219 - Jason Collins on "A skeptical take on behavioral economics"

Release date: October 14th, 2018

Jason Collins

In this episode, economist Jason Collins discusses some of the problems with behavioral economics: Why governments have started to rely too much on the field, and why that's bad; why it's suspicious that there are over 100 cognitive biases; when "nudges" are problematic; and more.

Links 

Jason Collins' Blog

"MacArthur 'Genius' Angela Duckworth Responds To A New Critique Of Grit" by Anna Kamenetz

"Angela Duckworth on Grit" from Econtalk

"On the Reality of Cognitive Illusions" by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky

"How to Make Cognitive Illusions Disappear: Beyond 'Heuristics and Biases'" by Gerd Gigerenzer

"On Narrow Norms and Vague Heuristics: A Reply to Kahneman and Tversky" by Gerd Gigerenzer

"Putting nudges in perspective" by George Loewenstein and Nick Chater

"Much Ado About Nudging" by Tony Hockley

"Do people really want to be nudged towards healthy lifestyles?" by Robert Sugden

"'Better Off, as Judged by Themselves': A Comment on Evaluating Nudges" by Cass R. Sunstein

"‘Better off, as judged by themselves’: a reply to Cass Sunstein" by Robert Sugden

"Nudging and the Problem of Context Dependent Preferences" by Jason Collins

"Overrepresentation of extreme events in decision making reflects rational use of cognitive resources." by Lieder, Falk,Griffiths, Thomas L.,Hsu, Ming

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts