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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.

Current Episodes


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"

Tuesday
Dec272011

RS51 - Joseph Heath on Economics Without Illusions

Release date: January 1, 2012


Guest Joseph Heath, author of “Economics Without Illusions: Debunking the Myths of Modern Capitalism,” joins us as we turn our skeptical eyes toward the treacherous dual terrain of economics and politics. We discuss the ways in which, with his book, he attempts to raise our economic literacy and empower us with new ideas. In it, he draws on everyday examples to skewer the six favorite economic fallacies of the right, followed by impaling the six favorite fallacies of the left. Heath leaves no sacred cows untipped as he breaks down complex arguments and shows how the world really works.

Joseph Heath is the Director of the Centre for Ethics and Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. In addition to his academic publications, he is the author of other popular books, among them, "The Rebel Sell : Why the Culture Can't Be Jammed" and "Efficient Society: Why Canada is as Close to Utopia as It Gets" 

Joseph's pick: "The Socialist System: The Political Economy of Communism"

Sunday
Dec112011

RS50 - Neurobabble

Release date: December 18, 2011


The media is increasingly bombarding us with reports of advances in neuroscience which claim all sorts of amazing feats, like allowing us to read our thoughts and intentions. It sounds like neurobabble. Most of these reports though are either based on bad science, reach false conclusion, or are based on conceptual misunderstanding of how our psychology works. To be fair, much of this is manufactured by the popular media but, unfortunately, some of it comes from the neuroscience community itself. So, what information can we really get from fMRIs? As with the misunderstanding of what genes are (like whether there is a God or a conservative gene), are there really parts of the brain dedicated to categories of thoughts like some of these reports claim? And, perhaps more importantly, what are the ethical implications of this neurobabble, should we arrest people who we can tell, based on this research, will be committing a crime?

Julia's pick: "Rationality and the Reflective Mind"
Massimo's pick: "hypothes.is"

References:
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_spectator/2011/09/does_evil_exist_neuroscientists_say_no_.single.html
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1600761
http://www.today.ucla.edu/portal/ut/neurobabble-obscures-the-deeper-189981.aspx
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_spectator/2011/09/does_evil_exist_neuroscientists_say_no_.single.html