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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, is produced by Benny Pollak and recorded in the heart of Greenwich Village.

Current Episodes


Sunday
Oct152017

RS 195 - Zach Weinersmith on "Emerging technologies that'll improve and/or ruin everything"

Release date: October 15th, 2017

Zach Weinersmith

This episode features Zach Weinersmith, creator of the philosophical webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and the co-author (with his wife Kelly Weinersmith) of the new book Soonish: 10 Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything. Julia and Zach talk about which new technology is the most likely to happen, which would be most transformative, and which would pose the most risk to the world. Also, has our society become too risk-averse? And what are the main bottlenecks to technological development?

Zach's 1st Pick: "Schrödinger's Killer App: Race to Build the World's First Quantum Computer" by Jonathan P. Dowling

Zach's 2nd Pick: "West with the Night: A Memoir" by Beryl Markham

Zach's Book: "Soonish: 10 Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything"

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Oct012017

RS 194 - Robert Wright on "Why Buddhism is True"

Release date: October 1st, 2017

Robert Wright

This episode features bestselling author Robert Wright making the case for why Buddhism was right about human nature: its diagnosis that our suffering is mainly due to a failure to see reality clearly, and its prescription that meditation can help us see more clearly. Robert and Julia discuss whether it's suspicious that a religion turned out to be "right" about human nature, what it means for emotions to be true or false, and whether there are downsides to enlightenment.

Robert's Pick: "Beyond Freedom and Dignity" by B.F. Skinner

Robert's Book: "Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment"

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Sep172017

RS 193 - Eric Jonas on "Could a neuroscientist understand a microprocessor?"

Release date: September 17th, 2017

Eric Jonas

The field of neuroscience has been collecting more and more data, and developing increasingly advanced technological tools in its race to understand how the brain works. But can those data and tools ever yield true understanding? This episode features neuroscientist and computer scientist Eric Jonas, discussing his provocative paper titled "Could a Neuroscientist Understand a Microprocessor?" in which he applied state-of-the-art neuroscience tools, like lesion analysis, to a computer chip. By applying neuroscience's tools to a system that humans fully understand (because we built it from scratch), he was able to reveal how surprisingly uninformative those tools actually are. Julia and Eric also discuss the related question: what kind of tools would we need to really understand the brain?

Eric's Pick: "The Doomslayer" by Ed Regis

Eric's Article: "Could a Neuroscientist Understand a Microprocessor?"

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 Full Transcripts