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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


Monday
Nov112019

RS 243 - Bryan Caplan on "The Case for Open Borders"

Release date: November 11th, 2019

Bryan Caplan

The idea of open borders -- letting people move freely between countries, taking a job wherever they can find a job they want -- is still a pretty fringe position, politically speaking. But economist Bryan Caplan makes a compelling case for it in his new graphic nonfiction book, "Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration," illustrated by cartoonist Zach Weinersmith. In this episode, Julia questions Bryan about several aspects of his case.

Links

Bryan's blog post, "You Have No Right to Your Culture"

Bryan's pick for a book that disagrees with him on open borders: "Hive Mind: How Your Nation's IQ Matters So Much More Than Your Own" by Garrett Jones

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Monday
Oct282019

RS 242 - Keith Frankish on “Why consciousness is an illusion”

Release date: October 28th, 2019

Keith Frankish

Philosopher of mind Keith Frankish is one of the leading proponents of “illusionism,” the theory that argues that your subjective experience — i.e., the “what it is like” to be you — is a trick of the mind. It’s a counterintuitive theory, but Keith makes the case for it in this episode, while explaining the other leading theories of consciousness and why he rejects them.

Links

Keith’s Twitter

Keith’s website

Keith’s most recent book, "Illusionism as a Theory of Consciousness"

"The Meta-Problem of Consciousness" by David Chalmers

"The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory (Philosophy of Mind)" by David Chalmers

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Oct132019

RS 241 - Thibault Le Texier on "Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment"

Release date: October 14th, 2019

Thibault Le Texier

The Stanford Prison Experiment is one of the most famous psychology experiments in history. For decades, we've been told that it proves how regular people easily turn sadistic when they are asked to role play as prison guards. But the story now appears to be mostly fraudulent. Thibault Le Texier is a researcher who dug into the Stanford archives and learned that the "prison guards" were actually told how to behave in order to support the experimenters' thesis. On this episode, Thibault and Julia discuss his findings, how the experimenters got away with such a significant misrepresentation for so long, and what this whole affair says about the field of psychology.

Links

Thibault's 2019 paper, in English: "Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment."

Thibault's 2018 book, in French: "Histoire d'un Mensonge." ("History of a Lie")

"The Lifespan of a Lie" by Ben Blum

Philip Zimbardo's official response to criticism from Ben Blum

"The Stanford Prison Experiment was massively influential. We just learned it was a fraud," by Brian Resnick for Vox

"Philip Zimbardo defends the Stanford Prison Experiment, his most famous work," Brian Resnick's interview with Philip Zimbardo for Vox

"Psychology itself is under scrutiny" by Benedict Carey

"The Secrets of Abu Ghraib Revealed: American Soldiers on Trial" by Christopher Graveline and Michael Clemens

"On Human Conduct" by Michael Oakeshott

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Thursday
Sep192019

RS 240 - David Manheim on "Goodhart's Law and why metrics fail"

Release date: September 16th, 2019

David Manheim

If you want to understand why things go wrong in business, government, education, psychology, AI, and more, you need to know Goodhart's Law: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to become a good measure." In this episode, decision theorist David Manheim explains the dynamics behind Goodhart's Law and some potential solutions to it.

Links

David's Twitter

A Ribbonfarm blog post by David about Goodhart's Law

"Bureaucracy" by James Q Wilson

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Monday
Sep022019

RS 239 - Saloni Dattani on "The debate over whether male and female brains are different"

Release date: September 2nd, 2019

Saloni Dattani

Several recent books have argued there's no difference between male and female brains. Saloni Dattani, a PhD in psychiatric genetics, discusses some of the problems with the argument, and what we really know so far about gender and the brain.

Links

Saloni's Twitter

Saloni's article on the debate over gender and the brain

"Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne

The back-and-forth between Gina Rippon, Cordelia Fine and Daphne Joel versus evolutionary psychologists on gender in the brain and behavior

Research on the digit ratio and prenatal testosterone

Some of the literature in the philosophy of biology regarding innate & socialised differences:

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts 

Monday
Aug192019

RS 238 - Razib Khan on "Stuff I've Been Wrong About"

Release date: August 19th, 2019

Razib Khan

It's rare for public intellectuals to talk about things they've gotten wrong, but geneticist Razib Khan is an exception. He recently published list of 28 things he's changed his mind about in the last decade, not just in genetics, but in other fields of science, politics, society, and religion. Julia interviews Razib about some of the items on the list -- why did he change his mind, and what lessons does he feel he's learned from his past errors?

Links 

Razib's website

Razib's blog post, "Stuff I was wrong about"

"The Fall of Rome: And the End of Civilization" by Bryan Ward-Perkins

Razib's follow-up post about religion and the Roman Empire

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

Full Transcripts