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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


Friday
Jun122015

RS136 - David Roodman on Why Microfinance Won't Cure Global Poverty

Release date: June 15, 2015

David RoodmanCan we pull the world's poor out of poverty by giving them access to financial services? This episode features a conversation with economist David Roodman, formerly a fellow at the Center for Global Development and senior advisor to the Gates Foundation, currently senior advisor to the Open Philanthropy Project, and the author of Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance.

Roodman casts a critical eye on the hype about microfinance as a panacea for global poverty. He and Julia explore why it's hard to design a good study, even a randomized one; three different conceptions of "development,"; and why Roodman doesn't think we should give up on microfinance altogether.

David's pick:  "Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy" 

NEW: Full Transcripts 


Thanks to Rationally Speaking listener Brent Silk, for help with post-production.

Saturday
May302015

RS135 - Robin Hanson on: "Most human behavior is signaling"

Release date: May 31, 2015

Robin HansonIn this episode, economist Robin Hanson explains the signaling theory of human behavior: That our motivations for our choices, about school, shopping, medical care, and so on, evolved primarily to shape other people's perceptions of us. In the process Robin and Julia discuss what makes a good theory: How to decide what you should (a priori) expect to see, and why simplicity is a virtue.

Robin Dale Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University and a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He is known as an expert on idea futures and markets, and he was involved in the creation of the Foresight Exchange and DARPA's Future MAP project. he blogs at Overcomng Bias.

Robin's pick:  "The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature" 

NEW: Full Transcripts 

 

Wednesday
May132015

RS134 - Michael Shermer on: "Science drives moral progress"

Release date: May 17, 2015

Photo by Jeremy DangerCommon wisdom holds that the world is getting more violent, but is that really true? Leading skeptic Michael Shermer, professor and author of many books on science, morality and skepticism, argues to the contrary. Shermer's thesis in his recent book, "The Moral Arc: How Science Leads Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom," is that as science has advanced our understanding of the world, we have become more willing to expand our circle of empathy beyond our own provincial "tribes," and more able to design our societies to encourage human flourishing.

Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, a regular contributor to Time.com, and Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. His new book is The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom.

Michael's pick: "Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible" 

 

 

NEW: Full Transcripts