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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
Feb042018

RS 201 - Ben Buchanan on "The Cybersecurity Dilemma"

Release date: February 4th, 2018

Ben Buchanan

The security dilemma is a classic problem in geopolitics: Often when one nation takes measures to protect itself from attack (like adding to their stockpile of missiles), other nations see that and worry it means the first nation is preparing to attack them, which leads to a dangerous feedback loop of escalation. In this episode, Ben Buchanan (postdoctoral fellow at Harvard studying cybersecurity and statecraft) explores how this dilemma plays out in the realm of cybersecurity: Why is the dilemma harder to resolve than it used to be with traditional warfare? And is there anything that might help?

Ben's Book: "The Cybersecurity Dilemma"

Ben's Pick: "Rise of the Machines: A Cybernetic History" by Thomas Rid

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Jan212018

RS 200 - Timothy Lee on "How much should tech companies moderate speech?"

Release date: January 21st, 2018

Timothy Lee

This episode features tech and policy journalist Timothy Lee, discussing a question that's increasingly in the spotlight: How much should tech companies  be actively moderating their users' speech? For example, should Facebook be trying to fight fake news? Should Twitter ban bullying? Should Reddit ban subreddits that they consider hate speech? Timothy and Julia look at the question not just from the legal perspective, but also from the moral and strategic perspectives as well.

Timothy's Articles

Timothy's Pick: "Here Comes Everybody" by Clay Shirky

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Jan072018

RS 199 - Jessica Flanigan on “Why people should have the right to self-medicate”

Release date: January 7th, 2018

Jessica Flanigan

This episode features Jessica Flanigan, professor of normative and applied ethics, making the case that patients should have the right to take pharmaceutical drugs without needing to get a prescription from a doctor. Jessica and Julia discuss a series of related questions, such as: Should there be exceptions made for drugs that have negative repercussions on society as a whole? And what is the morally relevant difference between a doctor imposing treatment on someone without consent, and the government withholding treatment from someone without consent?

Jessica's Book: "Pharmaceutical Freedom: Why Patients Have a Right to Self Medicate"

Jessica's 1st Pick: "Whose Body is it Anyway?" by Cecile Fabre

Jessica's 2nd Pick: "Against Autonomy" by Sarah Conly

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Sunday
Dec102017

RS 198 - Timur Kuran on “Private Truths and Public Lies"

Release date: December 10th, 2017

Timur Kuran

In this episode, economist Timur Kuran explains the ubiquitous phenomenon of "preference falsification" -- in which people claim to support something publicly even though they don't support it privately -- and describes its harmful effects on society. He and Julia explore questions like: Is preference falsification all bad? Are there ways to reduce it? And how much has the Internet changed the dynamics around preference falsification?

Timur's Book: "Private Truths, Public Lies"

Timur's Pick: "Micromotives and Macrobehavior" by Thomas C. Schelling

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

Friday
Nov242017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our listeners! Rationally Speaking will be on vacation this weekend, but we will return with a fresh episode on December 10th.

Sunday
Nov122017

RS 197 - Doug Hubbard on “Why people think some things can’t be quantified (and why they’re wrong)”

Release date: November 12th, 2017

Doug Hubbard

In this episode Julia talks with Doug Hubbard, author of "How to Measure Anything," about why people so often believe things are impossible to quantify like "innovation" or "quality of life." For example, because people often have a deep misunderstanding of the meaning of probability. Or because they're reluctant to violate "sacred taboos" by putting a number on something like the value of human life. Or because it feels vulgar to "reduce" important things to a number. Doug explains how he responds to these objections and others.

Doug's Pick: "Innumeracy" by John Allen Paulos

Doug's 2nd Pick: "Decision Traps" by J. Edward Russo and Paul J.H. Shoemaker

Doug's Book: "How to Meassure Anything"

Edited by Brent Silk

Music by Miracles of Modern Science

 

Full Transcripts 

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