219 episodes

Very Bad Wizards is a podcast featuring a philosopher (Tamler Sommers) and a psychologist (David Pizarro), who share a love for ethics, pop culture, and cognitive science, and who have a marked inability to distinguish sacred from profane. Each podcast includes discussions of moral philosophy, recent work on moral psychology and neuroscience, and the overlap between the two.

Very Bad Wizards Tamler Sommers & David Pizarro

    • Society & Culture

Very Bad Wizards is a podcast featuring a philosopher (Tamler Sommers) and a psychologist (David Pizarro), who share a love for ethics, pop culture, and cognitive science, and who have a marked inability to distinguish sacred from profane. Each podcast includes discussions of moral philosophy, recent work on moral psychology and neuroscience, and the overlap between the two.

    Dropping Paradigms (Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions")

    Dropping Paradigms (Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions")

    David and Tamler hit the books and cram for their beloved Patreon listener-selected episode – this time on Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.” David thinks Kuhn is a great sociologist of science but recoils at the relativistic tenor of the final chapters. Tamler loves anything that makes David recoil.


    Plus, should we give more weight to the advice of people on their deathbed? Or should we nod politely and get back to working for that promotion…
    Sponsored By:
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    Just go to givewell.org/verybadwizards and pick PODCAST and Very Bad Wizards at checkout. Make sure they know that you heard about GiveWell from Very Bad Wizards to get your donation matched! Promo Code: Very Bad WizardsBetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting Betterhelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Why is the deathbed perspective considered so valuable? | Aeon Essays — reasonsThe Splintered Mind: On the Epistemic Status of Deathbed RegretsThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions - WikipediaThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn [amazon.com affiliate link]What Thomas Kuhn Really Thought about Scientific "Truth" - Scientific American Blog NetworkThe Ashtray Has Landed: The Case of Morris v. Kuhn

    • 2 hrs 5 min
    Oral Judgments

    Oral Judgments

    We’ve promised you for years that we would do an episode on apologies and never got to it until today. So we both want to say from the bottom of our hearts: we’re sorry. We recognize we’ve let so many of our listeners down, and we feel just awful if you were offended by the delay. We hope this episode will be just one small step towards regaining your trust.


    Plus, of all the evo-psych articles in the world, this one might be the evo-psychiest: “Oral Sex as Infidelity Detection.”
    Sponsored By:
    BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting Betterhelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Pham, M. N., & Shackelford, T. K. (2013). Oral sex as infidelity-detection. Personality and Individual Differences, 54(6), 792-795. — From the abstract: "The infidelity-detection hypothesis for oral sex proposes that men perform oral sex to gather information about their partner’s recent sexual history."Clearer Thinking | How to apologiseSchumann, K., & Dragotta, A. (2020). Is moral redemption possible? The effectiveness of public apologies for sexual misconduct. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 90, 104002.Ohtsubo, Y., & Watanabe, E. (2009). Do sincere apologies need to be costly? Test of a costly signaling model of apology. Evolution and Human Behavior, 30(2), 114-123.I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies by Nick Smith :: SSRNDan Harmon Apologizes for Sexually Harassing Megan Ganz | Time

    • 1 hr 40 min
    Touch My Pink Monkey

    Touch My Pink Monkey

    David and Tamler argue about the philosopher L.A. Paul’s ideas on “transformative experiences” – big life decisions that will change you and your values so much that our normal decision-making models break down. Tamler is fully on board and hopeful for philosophy, but David sees Paul’s view as a threat to his precious rationality. Plus, we tackle the greatest existential threat to human civilization in history: critical race theory. Why are people on all sides so intent on misunderstanding it?
    Sponsored By:
    Wine.com: Wine.com is an American wine online retailer that offers the largest selection of wines in the world. Wine.com sells over 2 million bottles per year, with a stock of more than 17,000 different bottles of wine, shipping throughout the United States. Sign up now, and as a listener of very bad wizards, get $50 off your first order! Promo Code: badwizardsNordVPN: Keep your internet connection safe, and enjoy streaming services when you travel abroad with NordVPN! NordVPN is the best VPN if you’re looking for peace of mind when you use public Wi-Fi, access personal and work accounts on the road, or want to keep your browsing history to yourself. Go to Nordvpn.com/vbw or use coupon VBW to get a 2-year plan plus 1 additional month with a huge discount! Promo Code: VBWBetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting Betterhelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    [Essay] History As End, By Matthew Karp | Harper's MagazineOn Having Whiteness by Donald MossSean Wilentz: A Matter of Facts - The AtlanticThe Vampire Problem: A Brilliant Thought Experiment Illustrating the Paradox of Transformative Experience – Brain PickingsPaul, L. A. (2015). Précis of" Transformative Experience".Transformative Experience by L.A. Paul [amazon.com affiliate link]

    • 1 hr 37 min
    You Shouldn't Feel Bad (Except You Should)

    You Shouldn't Feel Bad (Except You Should)

    Tamler welcomes social psychologist David Pizarro of Cornell University to the podcast to talk about his recent article (along with Raj Anderson, Shaun Nichols, and Rachana Kamtekar) on “false-positive emotions.” When agents commit accidental harms, we typically tell them they shouldn’t feel too guilty, it’s not their fault, it was out of their control, and so forth. At the same time, we don’t want them to let themselves off the hook right away either. They shouldn’t feel guilty, but also they…should. What’s behind these mixed messages and attitudes? Are we looking for information about their character? What kind?


    Plus, a new algorithm can predict someone’s political orientation with 72% accuracy based on one profile photo (either from Facebook or a dating app). Is Big Brother around the corner?
    Sponsored By:
    Wine.com: Wine.com is an American wine online retailer that offers the largest selection of wines in the world. Wine.com sells over 2 million bottles per year, with a stock of more than 17,000 different bottles of wine, shipping throughout the United States. Sign up now, and as a listener of very bad wizards, get $50 off your first order! Promo Code: badwizardsGiveWell: We love this sponsor, and are proud of the support our listeners have shown! If you are a listener and want to make your charitable contributions as effective as possible, please check out Givewell.org. New donors will have their donation matched up to $1,000 before the end of June (or as long as matching funds last).

    Just go to givewell.org/verybadwizards and pick PODCAST and Very Bad Wizards at checkout. Make sure they know that you heard about GiveWell from Very Bad Wizards to get your donation matched! Promo Code: Very Bad WizardsBetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting Betterhelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Facial recognition technology can expose political orientation from naturalistic facial images | Scientific Reports'I was shocked it was so easy': ​meet the professor who says facial recognition ​​can tell if you're gay | Artificial intelligence (AI) | The GuardianOne of the most famous campus outrage incidents was badly misreported - Vox“False positive” emotions, responsibility, and moral character - ScienceDirect

    • 1 hr 20 min
    What Is It Like To Be a Robot Fish Man? (with Ted Chiang)

    What Is It Like To Be a Robot Fish Man? (with Ted Chiang)

    We’ve done deep dives on three of his stories, and now THE MAN HIMSELF, multi-award winning science fiction author Ted Chiang, joins us to explore the post-apocalyptic world of the video-game SOMA. You play Simon Jarrett, a man who goes for a brain scan in Toronto and wakes up a 100 years later in an underwater research facility, the last remaining hope to preserve human consciousness from extinction. Pizarro confronts his worst nightmare, a first-person experience of stepping into a transporter-style scenario. We talk about how video games can make philosophical problems come alive, what “fission-cases” tell us about personal identity (Tamler’s note: this really should count as our Parfit episode), what it’s like to be conscious without a body, the problem with thought experiments, and lots more.


    Plus, a new evo-psych study on why bullshitting is adaptive – convince people you’re smart and save energy while you do it!
    Special Guest: Ted Chiang.
    Sponsored By:
    Wine.com: Wine.com is an American wine online retailer that offers the largest selection of wines in the world. Wine.com sells over 2 million bottles per year, with a stock of more than 17,000 different bottles of wine, shipping throughout the United States. Sign up now, and as a listener of very bad wizards, get $50 off your first order! Promo Code: badwizardsNordVPN: Keep your internet connection safe, and enjoy streaming services when you travel abroad with NordVPN! NordVPN is the best VPN if you’re looking for peace of mind when you use public Wi-Fi, access personal and work accounts on the road, or want to keep your browsing history to yourself. Go to Nordvpn.com/vbw or use coupon VBW to get a 2-year plan plus 1 additional month with a huge discount! Promo Code: VBWBetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting Betterhelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Neuroskeptic on Twitter: ""Bullshit ability is associated with an individual's intelligence" https://t.co/hoKMLaMrY1 The authors are highly intelligent judging by the last two sentences. https://t.co/J1HQJyAvbL" / TwitterBullshit Ability as an Honest Signal of Intelligence - Martin Harry Turpin, Mane Kara-Yakoubian, Alexander C. Walker, Heather E. K. Walker, Jonathan A. Fugelsang, Jennifer A. Stolz, 2021Soma (video game) - WikipediaTed Chiang's author page on Amazon.com [amazon.com affiliate link]Ted Chiang - WikipediaSOMA Walkthrough- IGNSOMA Review - IGNSOMA and I | Blog of the APA

    • 1 hr 57 min
    Follow Your Nose (with Yoel Inbar)

    Follow Your Nose (with Yoel Inbar)

    Canada’s leading Russian literature scholar Yoel Inbar joins us to try to make sense of Gogol’s 1836 short story “The Nose.” A nose goes missing from a Russian official’s face and winds up in the barber’s loaf of bread. A few hours later, the nose has rocketed up the social hierarchy and denies his connection to the official. What’s going on? Is Madame Alexandra Grigorievna up to something?


    Plus we can’t say how but we got access to submitted abstracts for the new Journal of Controversial Ideas. We read a few of them in the opening segment, and let’s just say this journal is living up to its name.
    Special Guest: Yoel Inbar.
    Sponsored By:
    Wine.com: Wine.com is an American wine online retailer that offers the largest selection of wines in the world. Wine.com sells over 2 million bottles per year, with a stock of more than 17,000 different bottles of wine, shipping throughout the United States. Sign up now, and as a listener of very bad wizards, get $50 off your first order! Promo Code: badwizardsBetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting Betterhelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWNordVPN: Keep your internet connection safe, and enjoy streaming services when you travel abroad with NordVPN! NordVPN is the best VPN if you’re looking for peace of mind when you use public Wi-Fi, access personal and work accounts on the road, or want to keep your browsing history to yourself. Go to Nordvpn.com/vbw or use coupon VBW to get a 2-year plan plus 1 additional month with a huge discount! Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Journal of Controversial IdeasBreak music: Aleph (by peez) | SoundCloudRegister for Panel on Individual Character and Structural Injustice (hosted by Hi-Phi's Barry Lam)The Nose (Gogol short story) - Wikipedia

    • 1 hr 45 min

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