186 episodes

The Michael Shermer Show is a series of long-form conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

The Michael Shermer Show Michael Shermer

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The Michael Shermer Show is a series of long-form conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

    180. Andy Norman — Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think

    180. Andy Norman — Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think

    Astonishingly irrational ideas are spreading. COVID-19 denial, anti-vaxxers compromising public health, conspiracy thinking hijacking minds and inciting mob violence, toxic partisanship cleaving our nations, the return of Flat Earth theory… What the heck is going on? Why is all this happening, and why now? More important, what can we do about it? Does our “right to our opinion” trump our responsibilities? Does the resulting ethos effectively compromise mental immune systems, allowing “mind parasites” to overrun them? Are conspiracy theories, evidence-defying ideologies, and garden-variety bad ideas all species of mind parasites, each of which employs clever strategies to circumvent mental immune systems? In this conversation, based on the book Mental Immunity, Andy Norman shows that minds and cultures have immune systems, and that they really can break down. Fortunately, he assures us that they can also be built up: strengthened against ideological corruption. Can his ideas revolutionize our capacity for critical thinking?

    179. Niall Ferguson — Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe

    179. Niall Ferguson — Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe

    Disasters are inherently hard to predict. Pandemics, like earthquakes, wildfires, financial crises, and wars, are not normally distributed; there is no cycle of history to help us anticipate the next catastrophe. In this episode, Michael Shermer speaks with one of the world’s most renowned historians, Niall Ferguson, who explains why our ever more bureaucratic and complex systems are making us worse, not better, at handling disasters.

    178. James Hunter & Paul Nedelisky on religious vs. secular morality — Science and the Good: The Tragic Quest for the Foundations of Morality

    178. James Hunter & Paul Nedelisky on religious vs. secular morality — Science and the Good: The Tragic Quest for the Foundations of Morality

    In their book Science and the Good, professional philosophers James Hunter and Paul Nedelisky trace the origins and development of the centuries-long, passionate, but ultimately failed quest to discover a scientific foundation for morality. The conversation takes a decidedly interesting turn when Drs. Hunter and Nedelisky reveal that they are both theists and that their Christian worldview informs their thinking on moral issues. The three then dig into the weeds of the difference between religious and secular moral systems, the nature of God and morality, why a purely naturalistic approach to morality does not negate religion or even the existence of God (natural law could be God’s way of creating moral values), natural rights and rights theory, consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics, progress in philosophy, why philosophers never seem to reach consensus on important subjects like morality, how to think about issues like abortion, why they believe in God and follow the Christian religion and yet reject Divine Command Theory, and much more.

    177. Angus Fletcher — 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature

    177. Angus Fletcher — 25 Most Powerful Inventions in the History of Literature

    Michael speaks with neuroscientist and literature professor Dr. Angus Fletcher about 25 of the most powerful developments in the history of literature, from ancient Mesopotamia to Elena Ferrante. Fletcher says these literary technologies can alleviate grief, trauma, loneliness, anxiety, numbness, depression, pessimism, and ennui — all while sparking creativity, courage, love, empathy, hope, joy, and positive change. Fletcher is a professor of story science at Ohio State’s Project Narrative, the world’s leading academic think-tank for the study of stories. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    176. Minouche Shafik — What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract for a Better Society

    176. Minouche Shafik — What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract for a Better Society

    Michael Shermer speaks with Nemat Talaat Shafik, Baroness Shafik DBE, known as Minouche Shafik, one of the leading policy experts of our time, about a new and better social contract that recognizes our interdependencies, supports and invests more in each other, and expects more of individuals in return: a rethinking of how we can better support each other to thrive. Shafik avers that no only can every country provide its citizens with the basics to have a decent life and be able to contribute to society, but that we owe each other more than this. A more generous and inclusive society would also share more risks collectively and ask everyone to contribute for as long as they can so that everyone can fulfill their potential.
    Shafik is an Egyptian-born British-American economist who served as the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England from August 2014 to February 2017 and has served as the Director of the London School of Economics since September 2017. She served as the Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Development from March 2008 to March 2011, when she went on to serve as the Deputy Managing Director of the IMF — International Monetary Fund.

    175. Brian Keating — How it All Began: Cosmic Inflation, the Multiverse, and the Nature of Scientific Proof

    175. Brian Keating — How it All Began: Cosmic Inflation, the Multiverse, and the Nature of Scientific Proof

    In this episode, based on the cover story from Skeptic magazine 26.1 (2021), Michael speaks with University of California professor of physics Brian Keating about: time, infinity, the shape of the universe, the multiverse, quantum gravity, string theory, the laws of nature, and more… Listen to this fascinating episode for free and order a copy of the Skeptic magazine 26.1 to read Keating’s cover story, complete with splendid graphics, charts, and illustrations (in print or digital formats).

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