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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


Monday
May292017

RS 185 - Hans Noel on "The role of ideology in politics"

Release date: May 28th, 2017

Hans Noel

We're used to conflating political parties (Republican and Democrat) with political ideologies (conservative and liberal), but the two were very distinct only a few decades ago. In this episode of Rationally Speaking, Julia talks with political scientist Hans Noel about why the Democrats became the party of liberalism and the Republicans the party of conservatism, whether voters are hypocrites in the way they apply their ostensible ideology, and whether politicians are motivated by ideals or just self-interest.

Han's Book: "Political Ideologies and Political Parties in America" by Hans Noel

Hans' Pick: "Party Government" by E.E. Schattschneider

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
May142017

RS 184 - Gregory Clark on "What caused the industrial revolution?"

Release date: May 14th, 2017

Gregory Clark

Nothing changed the course of human history as much as the industrial revolution. Yet its cause is a mystery: Why did it occur in the late 1700s, and not sooner (or later)? Why did it occur in Britain, a relatively small and geographically isolated country, and not somewhere much bigger like China, or elsewhere in Northern Europe like the Netherlands? This episode features economic historian Gregory Clark, author of A Farewell to Alms and one of the leading scholars of the industrial revolution. Greg and Julia explore different theories, as well as the epistemological challenges of answering this kind of causal question about history.

Gregory's Pick: "Ache Life History" by Kim Hill and Magdalena Hurtado

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Apr302017

RS 183 - L. A. Paul on "Transformative Experiences"

Release date: April 30th, 2017

L. A. Paul

What if you had the opportunity to become a vampire, irreversibly -- and everyone you knew who had become one said "It's utterly indescribable." Would you take the leap, not knowing what it would feel like, or how it would change your personality and values? That's an example of what philosopher L. A. Paul calls a "transformative experience," one that's especially hard to choose (or forgo) rationally, because of how unknowable it is and how it changes your very preferences. In this episode, she and Julia discuss real life examples of transformative experiences -- such as having children -- and debate how to deal with them. 

L.A.'s Pick: "The View From Nowhere" by Thomas Nagel

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts