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Related Readings
  • Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life
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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


Thursday
Oct062011

RS45 - Rebecca Newberger Goldstein on Spinoza, Göedl, and Theories of Everything

Release date: October 9, 2011


Our guest Rebecca Newberger Goldsteinjoins us to talk about Baruch Spinoza and Kurt Gödel, the subjects of her books "The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel" and "Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew who Gave Us Modernity."  The topics include the idea of "Spinoza's God" and his concept of a theory of everything, their views on the limits of reason and objective reality, Gödel's theorems and its repercussions in philosophy and mathematics, and his legendary friendship with Albert Einstein.  She also talks about  her novels and her experience of being both a novelist and a writer of non-fiction works. 

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein grew up in White Plains, New York, graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College and immediately went on to graduate work at Princeton University where she received her Ph.D. in philosophy. In 2008, she was designated a Humanist Laureate by the International Academy of Humanism, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Emerson College. Currently she is a Research Associate in the Department of Psychology, Harvard University. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the coveted MacArthur “Genius Award.” She was named Humanist of the Year 2011 by the American Humanist Association, and she was given the "Freethought Heroine Award" by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2011. In addition to her non-fiction works, she is the author of a number of novels, including "The Late-Summer Passion of a Woman of Mind" and "The Dark Sister." Her latest work is "Thirty-Six Arguments for the Existence of God."

Rebecca's pick: "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined"

References:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/goedel/
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza/

Thursday
Sep152011

RS44 - Fluff that Works

Release date: September 25, 2011


In this episode we tackle the curious case of pseudoscience or mysticism that works, or seems to, at least some of the times. From acupuncture to chiropractic, from yoga to meditation, what do we make of instances where something seems to have the desired effect for the wrong reasons (e.g., acupuncture), or might otherwise be a perfectly acceptable technique which happens to come intricately bundled with mysticism (e.g., yoga)?

Julia's pick:  "Don't Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training"

Massimo's pick: "Plato, Not Prozac!: Applying Eternal Wisdom to Everyday Problems"

References:
http://www.skepdic.com/chiro.html

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/acupuncture-does-not-work-for-back-pain/
http://skepdic.com/acupuncture.html 

Saturday
Sep032011

RS43 - Women in Skepticism

Release date: September 11, 2011


No, this episode is not about "elevatorgate" or the Watson-Dawkins debacle, but we do use these recent (in)famous events as a springboard for a broader discussion of women in skepticism and science. Is there a misogyny problem in the skeptic and atheist communities? Why aren't there more more women involved in these communities? Also, Julia tells us about her own experience as a young woman skeptic.

Julia's pick:  "Paul Graham Essays"

Massimo's pick: "Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities"

References:
http://wwww.religiondispatches.org/archive/atheologies/4978/does_atheism_have_a_misogyny_problem

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cocktail-party-physics/2011/08/02/teetering-on-the-edge-of-chaos/
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cocktail-party-physics/2011/07/20/is-it-cold-in-here/
http://www.blaghag.com/2010/07/women-and-feminism-at-tam8.html
http://www.phact.org/articles/misc/women.php
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/07/05/richard-dawkins-and-male-privilege/