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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

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/

Monday
Jan232012

RS53 - Parapsychology

Release date: January 29, 2012


 

 

In this episode, Massimo and Julia take on parapsychology, the study of phenomena such as extrasensory perception, precognition, and remote viewing. Its practitioners claim that there is more evidence for it than there is for other areas of scientific inquiry, such as string theory for which there is no empirical data at all. Yet string theory is taken seriously as a science whereas parapsychology is not. So, what is the scientific status of parapsychology? What does the best academic literature on the subject tell us? Finally, what can we learn from parapsychology about the practice of science in general?

Julia's un-pick: "My Little Pony"
Massimo's pick: "Be it Resolved"

 

 

 

 

 

References:
http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2011/12/alternative-take-on-esp.html
http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2011/12/academic-posturing-behind-scenes.html
http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/back_from_the_future
http://www.badscience.net/2008/03/beau-funnel
http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/back_from_the_future
http://www.stat.auckland.ac.nz/~iase/publications/icots8/ICOTS8_PL2_UTTS.pdf