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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 is recorded in the heart of New York City's Greenwich Village.

Current Episodes


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

Monday
Jan092012

RS52 - Donald Prothero on the Holocaust-Deniers' Playbook

Release date: January 15, 2012


Guest Donald Prothero joins us to discuss the common tactics and thinking of science deniers and the implications of this assault on science for our future. The denial of scientific realities in issues like global warming, creationism, vaccine safety, and AIDS, is growing in our society. Not only is our acceptance of scientific "inconvenient truths" under attack, but even scientists themselves have been threatened.

Donald R. Prothero is Professor of Geology at Occidental College and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology. He is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of 25 books, over 200 scientific papers and a number of popular books including, most recenly, "Catastrophes!: Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and Other Earth-Shattering Disasters" and "Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters". He is on the editorial board of Skeptic magazine and has been featured on several television documentaries, including episodes of Paleoworld (BBC), Prehistoric Monsters Revealed (History Channel), Entelodon and Hyaenodon (National Geographic Channel), and Walking with Prehistoric Beasts (BBC).

Don's pick: "http://skepticblog.org/author/prothero/"

References:
"The Debunking Handbook"