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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


Sunday
Jul072019

Back in Two Weeks

No new episode this week, folks! Tune back in on July 22nd when Rationally Speaking will resume our regular biweekly update schedule.

Monday
Jun242019

RS 235 - Tage Rai on "Why people think their violence is morally justified"

Release date: June 24th, 2019

Tage Rai (Photo: Reed Hutchinson)

We typically think of violence as being caused by a lack of control, or by selfish motives. But what if, more often than not, violence is intended to be morally righteous? That's the thesis of the book "Virtuous Violence: Hurting and Killing to Create, Sustain, End, and Honor Social Relationships." Author Tage Rai debates his book's thesis with Julia. Plus: What does The Iliad teach us about changing attitudes about morality over time?

Links 

"Virtuous Violence: Hurting and Killing to Create, Sustain, End, and Honor Social Relationships" by Alan Fiske and Tage Rai

"The Division of Labor in Society" by Emile Durkheim

"The Iliad" by Homer

Tage Rai's Twitter

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Jun092019

Happy Summer!

Rationally Speaking will be taking a break this week, but we'll be back in two weeks with your regularly scheduled dose of reason. Have a nice summer!

Tuesday
May282019

RS 234 - Dylan Matthews on “Global poverty has fallen, but what should we conclude from that?”

Release date: May 27th, 2019

Dylan Matthews

The global poverty rate has fallen significantly over the last few decades. But there's a heated debate between people like psychologist Steven Pinker and anthropologist Jason Hickel, over how to view that fact. Is it a triumph for capitalism? Should we celebrate it, or lament the fact that rich countries aren't doing more to close the poverty gap faster? Vox journalist Dylan Matthews explains the disagreement. He and Julia discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each side's argument.

Links 

Dylan's Vox article explaining the debate over the falling global poverty rate

Jason Hickel responds to Dylan's article

Our World in Data responds to the critique of the poverty estimates

Dylan's past Rationally Speaking episode on kidney donation

Future Perfect podcast

Scott Alexander's blog post on Conflict Theory vs. Mistake Theory

John Nerst's analysis of the disagreement between Ezra Klein and Sam Harris over IQ and race, through the lens of decouplers vs. non-decouplers

"Reasons and Persons" by Derek Parfit

"Gang of Five: Leaders at the Center of the Conservative Crusade" by Nina Easton

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Monday
May132019

RS 233 - Clive Thompson on "The culture of coding, and how it’s changing the world"

Release date: May 13th, 2019

Clive Thompson

Technology writer Clive Thompson discusses his latest book, "Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World". Topics Clive and Julia cover include:

  • Why coders love efficiency so much
  • Are there downsides to efficiency?
  • Do coders have particular blindspots when it comes to human nature?
  • What is a "10x Coder," and why do people disagree about whether they exist?
  • Does Clive still agree with his older book, "Smarter Than You Think," which argued that technology is making us smarter?

Links 

"Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World" by Clive Thompson

"Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better" by Clive Thompson

"The Real World of Technology" by Ursula Franklin

"The Great Code: The Bible and Literature" by Northup Frye

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Monday
Apr292019

RS 232 - Tyler Cowen on “Defending big business against its critics”

Release date: April 29th, 2019

Tyler Cowen

Economist Tyler Cowen discusses his latest book, "Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero." Why has anti-capitalist sentiment increased recently, and to what extent is it justified? How much are corporations to blame for wage stagnation, climbing cost of living, or the slow response to climate change? Tyler and Julia also explore their various disagreements: on how to communicate, whether people should bet on their beliefs, and whether we should increase public optimism about technology.

Links 

"Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero" by Tyler Cowen

Marginal Revolution blog

Conversations with Tyler podcast

Axios Harris 2019 poll on people’s attitudes about corporations

"The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream" by Tyler Cowen (2017)

Tyler's 2008 Bloggingheads interview with Will Wilkinson

"On Bets and Bullshit," a round-up by Adam Gurri of the debate over betting, between Tyler, Robin Hanson, Bryan Caplan and others

Tyler's "prisoner’s dilemma-style" podcast interview with Brink Lindsey and Steven Teles

Rob Wiblin's 80,000 Hours podcast interview with Tyler Cowen

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts