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Rationally Speaking is the official podcast of New York City Skeptics. Join Julia Galef and guests as they explore the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely and unlikely, science and pseudoscience. Rationally Speaking was co-created with Massimo Pigliucci, is produced by Benny Pollak and recorded in the heart of Greenwich Village.

Current Episodes


Sunday
Apr302017

RS 183 - L. A. Paul on "Transformative Experiences"

Release date: April 30th, 2017

L. A. Paul

What if you had the opportunity to become a vampire, irreversibly -- and everyone you knew who had become one said "It's utterly indescribable." Would you take the leap, not knowing what it would feel like, or how it would change your personality and values? That's an example of what philosopher L. A. Paul calls a "transformative experience," one that's especially hard to choose (or forgo) rationally, because of how unknowable it is and how it changes your very preferences. In this episode, she and Julia discuss real life examples of transformative experiences -- such as having children -- and debate how to deal with them. 

L.A.'s Pick: "The View From Nowhere" by Thomas Nagel

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Monday
Apr172017

RS 182 - Spencer Greenberg on "How online research can be faster, better, and more useful"

Release date: April 16th, 2017

Spencer Greenberg

This episode features mathematician and social entrepreneur Spencer Greenberg, talking about how he's taking advantage of the Internet to improve the research process. Spencer and Julia explore topics such as: how the meaning of your research can change dramatically when you ask people *why* they gave the answers they did on your survey, how the sheer speed of online research can help us solve the p-hacking problem, and how to incentivize scientists to share their data and methods.

Spencer's Website: "Clearer Thinking"

Spencer's Pick: "Feeling Good" by David D. Burns

Spencer's Other Pick: "When Panic Attacks" by David D. Burns

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Apr022017

RS 181 - William MacAskill on "Moral Uncertainty"

Release date: April 2nd, 2017

William MacAskill

This episode introduces "moral uncertainty," the idea that you shouldn't be overly confident in your moral judgments -- like whether it's okay to eat meat, for example, or whether it's okay to abort a baby. The episode's guest is Will MacAskill, a founder of the effective altruism movement and Oxford professor of philosophy. Julia and Will discuss how to take multiple moral systems into account when making a decision, and how to deal with "absolutist" theories that insist some actions have infinite badness, like lying.

Will's Pick (in response to 'what's a book you disagree with but respect?'): "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" by Robert Nozick

Will's Other Pick: "Common Objections to Pascal’s Wager" by Amanda Askell

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts