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Rationally Speaking is the official podcast of New York City Skeptics. Join hosts Massimo Pigliucci and Julia Galef as they explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely and unlikely, science and pseudoscience.

Rationally Speaking is produced by Benny Pollak and recorded in the heart of New York City's Greenwich Village.

Don't forget to follow us on twitter and become fan of the RS Podcast on Facebook. You can also support Rationally Speaking by joining New York City Skeptics today.

 

Current Episodes

Friday
Mar162012

RS56 - Howard Schneider on Science News Literacy

Release date: March 11, 2012


Massimo and Julia discuss science communication with Howard Schneider, dean of the school of journalism at SUNY Stonybrook and former editor of Newsday. A guest at previous skeptic events, including the first annual Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, Schneider has argued in the past that skeptics lay too much blame at the feet of the media for public misunderstandings and misconceptions about science (video here). Julia and Massimo question him on this point, and ask him for his thoughts on what *can* be done to improve scientific literacy. As the founder of the Center for News Literacy and the Center for Communicating Science, Schneider has plenty of thoughts to share -- including making scientists take improv classes. Should science communication involve more storytelling? And is there any way to take advantage of new, online media formats to remedy some of the weak points in the science communication process?

Howard's pick: "CPJ.org: Press Freedom Online - Committee to Protect Journalists"

Monday
Feb202012

RS55 - Spirituality

Release date: February 26, 2012


Is "rational spirituality" a contradiction? In this episode, Massimo and Julia try to pin down what people mean when they call themselves "spiritual," what inspires spiritual experiences and attitudes, and whether spirituality can be compatible with a naturalist view of the world. Are there benefits that skeptics and other secular people could possibly get from incorporating some variants on traditional spiritual practices -- like prayer, ritual, song, communal worship, and so on -- into their own lives? Massimo and Julia examine a variety of attempts to do so, and ask: how well have such attempts worked, and do they come with any potential pitfalls for our rationality?

Julia's pick: "Critical Thinking - Why Is It So Hard to Teach"
Massimo's pick: "Buddhist Retreat - Why I gave up on finding my religion."

References:

Are Spiritual Encounters All In Your Head?
Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion

Friday
Feb102012

RS54 - The 'isms' Episode

Release date: February 12, 2012


In this episode Massimo and Julia ask, "Is the fundamental nature of the world knowable by science alone?", looking at the issue through the lenses of a series of related philosophical positions: determinism, reductionism, physicalism, and naturalism. All of those "isms" take a stance on the question of whether there are objectively "correct" ways to interpret scientific facts -- like physical laws, or causality -- and if so, how do we decide what the correct interpretation is? Along the way, Massimo and Julia debate the nature of emergent properties, whether math is discovered or invented, and whether it's even logically possible for "supernatural" things to exist.

Julia's pick: "The Robot's Rebellion: Finding Meaning in the Age of Darwin"
Massimo's pick: "Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards: Philosophical Essays on Darwin's Theory "

References:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/properties-emergent/
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/determinism-causal/