Search Episodes
Listen, Share, & Support
Listen to the latest episode
Subscribe via iTunes
Subscribe via RSS
Become a fan
Follow on Twitter

Support Us:

Please consider making a donation to help make this podcast possible. Any contribution, great or small, helps tremendously!

 
Subscribe to E-Mail Updates

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
    by Massimo Pigliucci

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


Monday
May172010

RS09 - When Smart People Endorse Pseudoscience

Release date: May 23, 2010


It is very easy to make fun of not-so-educated people who reject evolution, but what happens when one of the most prominent contemporary philosophers, Jerry Fodor, writes a book about “What Darwin Got Wrong”? Similarly, we can dismiss extreme right wing politicians like Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who thinks global warming is a worldwide conspiracy of crazy scientists bent on destroying the American way of life. But what happens when two icons of the skeptic movement, Penn & Teller, do a whole show in which they completely deny all the well established evidence of anthropogenic climate change? And of course it is easy to laugh at Jenny McCarthy, the kook who claims (with Oprah Winfrey’s support) that she “just knows” that vaccines cause autism. But, what happens when a politically savvy atheist like Bill Maher says that people who get flu shots are “idiots?"

Comment on the episode teaser.

Julia's pick:  "The Miracle Detective"

Massimo's pick: The It's only a theory blog

Monday
May032010

RS08 - The Anthropic Principle

Release date: May 9, 2010


The Anthropic Principle (AP), in its many forms, attempts to explain why our observations of the physical universe are compatible with the life observed in it. From the Weak AP (WAP), which in one form states that "conditions that are observed in the universe must allow the observer to exist", to the Strong AP (SAP) which in one version states that: “The Universe (and hence the fundamental parameters on which it depends) must be such as to admit the creation of observers within it at some stage,” they all try to answer the question of why there is life in the universe, or why the fundamental constants are the way they are. But, do any of these principles add anything to our understanding of the ultimate question of life and the universe?

Perhaps the best answer is embedded in Martin Gardner’s sarcastic proposal of the Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle (CRAP): “At the instant the Omega Point is reached, life will have gained control of all matter and forces not only in a single universe, but in all universes whose existence is logically possible; life will have spread into all spatial regions in all universes which could logically exist, and will have stored an infinite amount of information, including all bits of knowledge which it is logically possible to know. And this is the end.”

Comment on the episode teaser.

Julia's pick:  "House"

Massimo's pick: http://andphilosophy.com/

Saturday
Apr242010

RS07 - Peter Woit Discusses Whether String Theory is "Not Even Wrong"

Release date: April 25, 2010


We are taking on fundamental physics! Our guest, Peter Woit, is a physicist in the Department of Mathematics at Columbia University and author of Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law. We discuss the apparently peculiar state of theoretical physics (see also Lee Smolin’s The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next) and the rather startling possibility that superstring theory — the best candidate in decades as the elusive “theory of everything” — may actually have been a colossal dead end for the physics community. We also explore the meaning of theory in science, and what is the connection between theory, observation and experiment. As it turns out, superstring theory has not been able to make any empirically testable predictions, which supports the argument that perhaps it isn’t — as Peter puts it — “even wrong,” meaning that it just isn’t science.

Comment on the episode teaser.

Peter Woit's pick: The book  The End of Science