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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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    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 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
Aug082010

RS15 - Q&A with Massimo and Julia

Release date: August 15, 2010


In the first of what we hope will be a regular feature of Rationally speaking, Massimo and Julia answer listeners' questions. These range from what are M & J's sacred cows, to how we should approach morally repugnant claims made by venerated philosophers, to whether we are deluding ourselves believing that our votes count.

Comment on the episode teaser.

Saturday
Jul242010

RS14 - Jennifer Michael Hecht on Science, Religion, Happiness, and Other Myths

Release date: August 1, 2010


Author, science historian, philosopher, and poet Jennifer Michael Hecht discusses her views on science, religion, and skepticism.  She talks about her book "The Happiness Myth", showing how the very concept of happiness has changed dramatically both in time and across cultures, to the point that it may make little sense to simply ask “are you happy”? Also she makes her skeptical comments on the findings of science, for instance concerning eating and exercise habits, and how the skeptic community's reliance on science borders on religion.

Jennifer teaches at the New School in New York City. She is the author of "Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson" and of "The Happiness Myth: The Historical Antidote to What Isn't Working Today", among other books.

Comment on the episode teaser.

Jennifers's pick: The websites "HiLoBrow" and Best American Poetry

Friday
Jul162010

RS13 - Superstition, Is It Good For You?

Release date: July 18, 2010


Is it possible that superstition is actually good for you? Well, it turns out that superstition may, at least some of the time, have beneficial effects.  A paper published in 2008 in Science for example, suggests that lacking control over a situation increases people’s propensity to see illusory patterns — the implication being that the latter (a typical component of superstition) ameliorates stress when we feel that things are out of hand.  Also, a recent study published in Psychological Science shows that superstition improves people’s performance on certain tasks, presumably by making them more self-confident than they would be otherwise. Add to this a recent article in Scientific American to the effect that people with Asperger’s syndrome are less likely to project agency onto life’s events (and hence tend to be less superstitious), and suddenly the skeptic might not feel so cocky about being skeptical.

Of course we're not advocating in favor of superstition on the sole ground that it may be psychologically helpful. Still, what happens when something that we devote so much time fighting against turns out not to be entirely bad after all?

Comment on the episode teaser.

Julia's pick:  "How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like"

Massimo's pick: The Epistemelinks website