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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
Jun262016

RS 162 - Sean Carroll on "Poetic Naturalism"

Release date: June 26th, 2016

Sean Carroll

Naturalism is the stance that everything that exists in the universe arises from "natural" causes, of the sort observable by science -- not supernatural ones. It's practically a foundational tenet of skepticism. But does it imply that there can be no meaning, or purpose, or morality in the universe?

This episode features physicist Sean Carroll, author of the recent bestseller The Big Picture: on the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself. Sean and Julia talk about the new "ism" he introduces in the book, "poetic naturalism," and how it attempts to resolve the apparent conflict between science on the one hand, and things like morality, free will, consciousness, and meaning on the other.

Sean's new Book: "The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself"

Sean's Pick: "The Princess and The Philosopher" by Andrea Nye

Podcast edited by Brent Silk

 

Full Transcripts 

 

Sunday
Jun122016

RS 161 - Tom Griffiths and Brian Christian on "Algorithms to Live By"

Release date: June 12th, 2016

Tom Griffiths and Brian Christian

Julia chats with the authors of "Algorithms to Live By", about how to apply key algorithms from computer science to our real life problems. For example, deciding which apartment to rent, planning your career, and prioritizing your projects.

In the process, they discuss the assumptions that underlie those algorithms (and what to do about the fact that those assumptions are inevitably violated by the messy real world), and why procrastination might actually be the right algorithm for the wrong problem.

Brian and Tom's Book: "Algorithms to Live By"

Brian's Pick: "Finite and Infinite Games" by James Carse

Tom's Pick: "Do The Right Thing" by Stuart Russell and Eric Wefald

Podcast edited by Brent Silk

 

Full Transcripts 

 

Sunday
May292016

RS 160 - Live at NECSS -- Jacob Appel on "Tackling bioethical dilemmas"

Release date: May 29th, 2016

Jacob Appel and Julia Galef at NECSS

It's the annual live Rationally Speaking episode, taped at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism in NYC! This year features returning guest Jacob Appel, a bioethicist (and lawyer, and psychiatrist). Jacob and Julia discuss various bioethical dilemmas, such as: How do you handle parents who want to withhold medical treatment from their child for religious reasons? Is it unethical for American doctors to test new medications in the third-world? And what kinds of principles does a bioethicist use to justify their decisions, beyond "that's just my personal opinion"?

Photo by Larry Auerbach. More NECSS photos from Larry can be found here.

Podcast edited by Brent Silk

 Full Transcripts