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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
Aug072016

RS 165 - Robert Frank on "Success and Luck"

Release date: August 7th, 2016

Robert Frank

If someone asks you, "What caused your success (in finance, your career, etc.)?" what probably comes to mind for you is a story about how you worked hard and made smart choices. Which is likely true -- but what you don't see are all the people who also worked hard and made smart choices, but didn't succeed because luck wasn't on their side.

In this episode, Julia chats with professor of economics Robert Frank about his latest book, Success and Luck: The Myth of the Modern Meritocracy. They explore questions like: Why do we discount the role of luck in success? Has luck become more important in recent years? And would acknowledging luck's importance sap our motivation to try?

Robert Frank's Website

Robert's Pick: "Micromotives and Macrobehavior" by Thomas C. Schelling

Robert's Interview on Fox Business

Podcast edited by Brent Silk

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Jul242016

RS 164 - James Evans on "Using meta-knowledge to learn how science works"

Release date: July 24th, 2016

James Evans

Has science gotten slower over the years? Does the proliferation of jargon make it harder for scientists to collaborate? What unstated assumptions -- "ghost theories" -- are shaping our research without us even realizing it? In this episode of Rationally Speaking Julia talks with sociologist of science James Evans, who investigates questions like these using some clever data mining.

James's 1st Pick: "Distilling Free-Form Natural Laws from Experimental Data" by Michael Schmidt and Hod Lipson

James's 2nd Pick: "The Discovery of Structural Form" by Charles Kemp and Joshua Tenenbaum

Julia's Blog Post on Entropy and Postmodernism: "Provably Nonsense: Part I"

Podcast edited by Brent Silk

 

Full Transcripts 

 

Monday
Jul112016

RS 163 - Gregg Caruso on "Free Will and Moral Responsibility"

Release date: July 10th, 2016

Gregg Caruso

If people don't have free will, then can we be held morally responsible for our actions? And what would happen to society if we were to collectively shed our belief in free will? In this episode Julia talks with philosopher Gregg Caruso, who advocates a position of "optimistic skepticism" on the topic. Skepticism because people don't have free will as a sense of moral responsibility, but optimistic because society would be better off if we accept that we do.

Gregg's 1st Pick: "Living without Free Will" by Derk Pereboom

Gregg's 2nd Pick: "Against Moral Responsibility" by Bruce Waller

Podcast edited by Brent Silk

 

Full Transcripts