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Related Readings
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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

Saturday
Jul092011

RS39 - The Science and Philosophy of Free Will

Release date: July 17, 2011


Dilbert.com

In this episode we tackle the never ending debate about free will, which David Hume famously defined as “a power of acting or of not acting, according to the determination of the will.” We do this with a couple of twists. We begin by examining the concept of free will from the standard philosophical perspective, then ask what — if anything — modern neuroscience can tell us about it, and come back to the interface between philosophy and science to explore how the two approaches may complement each other.

Comment on the episode teaser.

Julia's pick:  "Fluid Concepts And Creative Analogies: Computer Models Of The Fundamental Mechanisms Of Thought"

Massimo's pick: "Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale : The Moral Limits of Markets"

Sunday
Jun262011

RS38 - Holden Karnofsky on Evidence-based Philanthropy

Release date: July 3, 2011


Our guest Holden Karnofsky joins us to discuss Givewell, the nonprofit organization he founded. Givewell is devoted to investigating charities and NGOs to determine how much of an impact they’re having. You could call it “evidence-based philanthropy.” He discusses how Givewell evaluates charities, and what the research has to say about various controversies as well as the conventional wisdom in the nonprofit world: Can large charities be efficient? Is the percentage of the donation that goes to expenses really a useful metric? Should we focus on problems closer to home instead of giving to foreign countries? Do microfinance NGOs like Kiva or Grameen Bank live up to their claims? And should or can charities be evaluated objectively?

Comment on the episode teaser.

Holden's picks: "Core Economics", "More Than Good Intentions", and "Portfolios of the Poor".

Saturday
Jun112011

RS37 - The Science and Philosophy of Happiness

Release date: June 16, 2011


Debates over what’s important to happiness — Money? Children? Love? Achievement? — are ancient and universal, but attempts to study the subject empirically are much newer. What have psychologists learned about which factors have a strong effect on people’s happiness and which don’t? Are parents really less happy than non-parents, and do people return to their happiness “set point” even after extreme events like winning the lottery or becoming paralyzed? We also tackle some of the philosophical questions regarding happiness, such as whether some kinds of happiness are “better” than others, and whether people can be mistaken about their own happiness. But, perhaps the hardest question is: can happiness really be measured?

Comment on the episode teaser.

NOTE: Our reply to the accusations made by Jennifer Michael Hecht regarding this episode may be found here.