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Related Readings
  • Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life
    Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life
    by Massimo Pigliucci
  • Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
    Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
    by Massimo Pigliucci
  • 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 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.

Current Episodes


RS31 - Vegetarianism

Release date: March 27, 2011

Vegetarianism is a complex set of beliefs and practices, spanning from the extreme “fruitarianism,” where people only eat fruits and other plant parts that can be gathered without “harming” the plant, to various forms of “flexitaranism,” like pollotarianism (poultry is okay to eat) and pescetarianism (fish okay). So, what does science have to say about this? What is the ethical case for vegetarianism? And, is it true that vegetarians are more intelligent than omnivores? Not unexpectedly, the answers are complex, so the debate will rage on.

Comment on the episode teaser.

Julia's pick:  "WARNING: Physics Envy May Be Hazardous To Your Wealth!"
              "... get your uncertainties right ..."

Massimo's pick: PhilPapers


RS30 - Cordelia Fine on Delusions of Gender

Release date: March 13, 2011

Cordelia Fine joins us from Melbourne, Australia to discuss her book: "Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences." Sex discrimination is supposedly a distant memory, yet popular books, magazines and even scientific articles increasingly defend inequalities by citing immutable biological differences between the male and female brain. That’s the reason, we’re told, that there are so few women in science and engineering and so few men in the laundry room — different brains are just better suited to different things. Drawing on the latest research in developmental psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology, Fine sets out to rebut these claims, showing how old myths, dressed up in new scientific finery, are helping to perpetuate the sexist status quo.

Cordelia Fine studied Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, followed by an M.Phil in Criminology at Cambridge University. She was awarded a Ph.D in Psychology from University College London. She is currently a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Agency, Values & Ethics at Macquarie University, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Her previous book is "A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives."

Comment on the episode teaser.

Cordelia's pick: "Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal"


RS29 - Q&A Live!

Release date: February 27, 2011

In a continuation of episode 28, Massimo and Julia sit down for a Q&A session in front of a live audience at the Jefferson Market Library in New York City. The audience's questions include whether economics and evolutionary psychology are really science, what's the deal with the placebo effect, the influence of corporate money on scientific research, and how can some scientists publish legitimate research and still believe in pseudo-science. Also, vegetarianism: is it about science, ethics, or both?


RS28 - Live! How To Tell Science From Bunk

Release date: February 13, 2011

Massimo and Julia sit down in front of a live audience at the Jefferson Market Library in New York City for a conversation about science, non-science, and pseudo-science. Based on Massimo's book: "Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk" the topics they cover include whether the qualitative sciences are less reliable than quantitative ones, the re-running of the tape of life, and who is smarter: physicists, biologists, or psychologists? Also, why are evolutionary psychologist so fixated on sex?

The live Q&A follows in episode 29


RS27 - The Perihelinox Episode, With Historian Timothy Alborn on Anniversaries

Release date: January 30, 2011

In honor of our first anniversary we invited Historian Timothy Alborn to help us understand the arbitrary nature of anniversaries, both those that mark events of personal significance and those that have a wider societal impact. We chose to record this episode on a very special "holiday": Perihelinox. If you've never heard of it it's because it was recently made up by our producer, Benny Pollak, to celebrate the night of the year when the earth is closest to the sun. Nothing is sacred in this episode, from Christmas to Kwanza, to Hanukkah, to Royal Jubilees. And, the Sex Pistols?

Timothy Alborn is a historian and the Dean of Arts and Humanities at the City University of New York Lehman College (and, incidentally, Massimo's boss). He has a Ph.D. in History of Science from Harvard University. His recent publications include "Regulated Lives: Life Assurance and British Society, 1840-1920" and "Conceiving Companies: Joint-Stock Politics in Victorian England."

Comment on the episode teaser.

Timothy's pick: "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming"


RS26 - Is Anthropology Still a Science?

Release date: January 16, 2011

In a recent article in the New York Times, Nicholas Wade reported that the American Anthropological Association had decided “to strip the word ‘science’ from a statement of its long-range plan.” Is this just a reflection of the long standing division between physical and cultural anthropology or is there more here? The revised statement says that “the purposes of the association shall be to advance public understanding of humankind in all its aspects,” a wording that opens the possibility for cultural anthropologists to engage in public advocacy on behalf of cultures they are studying. So, what kind of discipline is  anthropology, after all? And, more broadly, should scientists cross the line from research into public advocacy?

Comment on the episode teaser.

Julia's pick:  "Stories of Your Life: and Others"
              "... pure idea porn ..."

Massimo's pick: The New York Times' "There Goes the Sun"