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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


Sunday
Jul222018

RS 213 - Dean Simonton on "The causes of scientific and artistic genius"

Release date: July 22nd, 2018

Dean Simonton

This episode features Professor Dean Simonton, who has spent his life quantitatively studying geniuses, from Einstein to Mozart. Dean and Julia discuss his views on whether IQ is important, whether some innovations are "in the air" at given points in history, whether the "10,000 hours = mastery" theory promoted by Malcolm Gladwell is accurate, and more.

Links:

"The Genius Checklist" by Dean Simonton

"Hereditary Genius" by Francis Galton

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Monday
Jul092018

RS 212 - Ed Boyden on “How to invent game-changing technologies”

Release date: July 8th, 2018

Ed Boyden

This episode features neuroscientist Ed Boyden discussing two inventions of his that have revolutionized neuroscience: optogenetics and expansion microscopy. Ed and Julia talk about Ed's approach to coming up with good ideas, why he prefers reading old science to new science, his big-picture plan for what he wants to solve in his career, and his take on the rationalist versus Hayekian debate over how to make important progress.

Links:

Ed's Research: Synthetic Neurobiology Group

Ed's Pick: "Time, Love, Memory" by Jonathan Weiner

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Monday
Jun252018

RS 211 - Sabine Hossenfelder on "The case against beauty in physics"

Release date: June 24th, 2018

Sabine Hossenfelder

This episode features physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math, arguing that fundamental physics is too enamored of "beauty" as a criterion for evaluating theories of how the universe works. She and Julia discuss the three components of beauty (simplicity, naturalness, and elegance), why physicists think it's reasonable to put their trust in beauty, and why this might be merely a symptom of other underlying problems with physics as a discipline.

Links:

Sabine's Book: "Lost in Math"

Sabine's Blog: Backreaction

Sabine's Pick: "The Big Picture" by Sean Carroll

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Monday
Jun112018

RS 210 - Stuart Ritchie on "Conceptual objections to IQ testing"

Release date: June 10th, 2018

Stuart Ritchie

This episode features Stuart Ritchie, intelligence researcher and author of the book "Intelligence: All That Matters." Stuart responds to some of the most common conceptual objections to the science of IQ testing. Can we even define intelligence? Aren't there lots of different kinds of intelligence? How do we know the tests are measuring intelligence at all instead of something like motivation or familiarity with the style of testing? Does it undermine the meaningfulness of IQ as a metric that people can improve over time, with practice, or over generations?

Links:

Stuart Ritchie, "Intelligence: All that Matters"

Stephen Gould, "The Mismeasure of Man"

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
May272018

RS 209 - Christopher Chabris on "Collective intelligence & the ethics of A/B tests"

Release date: May 27th, 2018

Christopher Chabris

This episode features cognitive psychologist Christopher Chabris discussing his research on "collective intelligence" -- why do some teams perform better than others at a wide variety of tasks? Julia discusses potential objections to the findings and how gender-related publication bias should affect our interpretation of them. In the second half of the episode, Julia and Chris discuss why people get so upset at companies like Facebook and OKCupid for doing experiments on their users, and whether that's fair.

Chris' Website

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
May132018

RS 208 - Annie Duke on "Thinking in bets"

Release date: May 13th, 2018

Annie Duke

This episode features Annie Duke, former pro poker player and author of the book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts. Julia and Annie debate why people tend to ignore the role of luck in their decisions, whether expressing uncertainty makes you seem weak, and how people end up engaging in "defensive decision-making," where they're not trying to make the best call so much as simply avoid being blamed for bad outcomes.

Annie's Book: Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts

David French at The National Review

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

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