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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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    by Massimo Pigliucci
  • Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
    Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
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  • Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism, and the Nature of Science
    Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism, and the Nature of Science
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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


Saturday
Oct292011

RS47 - SETI

Release date: November 6, 2011


Is the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, solid science, pseudoscience, or something else, as Massimo argues in his book "Nonsense on Stilts"? What are the theoretical foundations and empirical evidence that justify a multi-decade research program, and what are its chances of succeeding? Have we learned anything thanks to SETI? Also, if the universe is infinite, what problems does this pose for utilitarian ethics?

Julia's pick:  "Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist"

Massimo's pick: "Doctor Who and Philosophy: Bigger on the Inside (Popular Culture and Philosophy)"

References:
http://philpapers.org/rec/KUKSOT
http://carl.nbalternatives.com
http://www.nickbostrom.com/extraterrestrial.pdf
http://mcirkovic.aob.rs/paper_v4.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation

Friday
Oct212011

RS46 - The Varieties of Skepticism

Release date: October 23, 2011


Dilbert.com

All of us who are involved in the skeptics movement are regularly confronted with one of two reactions when revealing ourselves as skeptics: either that we are cynics or that, like the classic skeptics, we don't believe that anything is knowable. In this episode, Massimo and Julia take us trough the history of skepticism. From its roots in ancient Greece, to Descartes, the last rationalist, to David Hume, the father of modern skepticism, and to today's skeptic movement. Also, is anything really knowable? How do we know that we really exist and are not residents of a cosmic holodeck?

Julia's pick:  "The Matrix as Metaphysics"

Massimo's pick: "On Bullshit"

References:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/skepticism-ancient/
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/skepticism/

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/