100 episodes

In the tradition of the Enlightenment salons that helped drive the Age of Reason, Science Salon is a series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, scholars, and thinkers, about the most important issues of our time.

Science Salon Michael Shermer

    • Natural Sciences

In the tradition of the Enlightenment salons that helped drive the Age of Reason, Science Salon is a series of conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, scholars, and thinkers, about the most important issues of our time.

    100. Episode Special: Ask Me Almost Anything

    100. Episode Special: Ask Me Almost Anything

    In this 100th episode of the Science Salon podcast Dr. Shermer gives a brief overview and history of the salon and how it evolved from the Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech, which began in 1992, along with the founding of the Skeptics Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit science education organization, and it’s publication Skepticmagazine. Following this brief history Dr. Shermer answers questions sent to him on social media, on such topics as:
    ETIs and the chances we’ve been visited by aliens Generic Subjective Continuity, a secular version of reincarnation, and what happens after we die Trump-style propaganda and how to deal with it Should we separate artist from artwork, e.g., Michael Jackson’s music or Adolf Hitler’s paintings? Eliminative Materialism (a type of determinism) and its implication for moral progress How reliable are eyewitnesses, particularly those in the Bible, particularly with regard to stories about miracles? When did you first learn that we are made of stardust and how did this change your thinking? How much power do Christian Nationalists have in the U.S. today? Have you changed your mind about science, religion, health, and politics in the past ten years? Will we ever reach an end of scientific knowledge and understanding? Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

    • 1 hr 1 min
    99. Bobby Duffy — Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything: A Theory of Human Misunderstanding

    99. Bobby Duffy — Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything: A Theory of Human Misunderstanding

    What percentage of the population are immigrants? How bad is unemployment? How much sex do people have? These questions are important and interesting, but most of us get the answers wrong. Research shows that people often wildly misunderstand the state of the world, regardless of age, sex, or education. And though the internet brings us unprecedented access to information, there’s little evidence we’re any better informed because of it. We may blame cognitive bias or fake news, but neither tells the complete story. In Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything, Bobby Duffy draws on his research into public perception across more than forty countries, offering a sweeping account of the stubborn problem of human delusion: how society breeds it, why it will never go away, and what our misperceptions say about what we really believe. We won’t always know the facts, but they still matter. Why We’re Wrong About Nearly Everything is mandatory reading for anyone interested making humankind a little bit smarter. Duffy and Shermer also discuss:
    cognitive biases and how they distort what we think about the world do men really have more sexual partners than women (and if so, who are they having sex with?) why we lie to ourselves and others about almost everything fears about immigrants and immigration Brexit: leave or remain and why people vote each way why we are more polarized politically than ever before (and what we can do about it) the “backfire effect”: the bad news and the good why we are not living in a post-truth era why facts matter and why free speech matters, and kids these days… Bobby Duffy is director of the Policy Institute at King’s College London. Formerly, he was managing director of the Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute and global director of the Ipsos Social Research Institute. He lives in London.
    Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

    • 1 hr 33 min
    98. Robert Pennock — An Instinct for Truth: Curiosity and the Moral Character of Science

    98. Robert Pennock — An Instinct for Truth: Curiosity and the Moral Character of Science

    An exploration of the scientific mindset — such character virtues as curiosity, veracity, attentiveness, and humility to evidence — and its importance for science, democracy, and human flourishing. Exemplary scientists have a characteristic way of viewing the world and their work: their mindset and methods all aim at discovering truths about nature. In An Instinct for Truth, Robert Pennock explores this scientific mindset and argues that what Charles Darwin called “an instinct for truth, knowledge, and discovery” has a tacit moral structure — that it is important not only for scientific excellence and integrity but also for democracy and human flourishing. In an era of “post-truth,” the scientific drive to discover empirical truths has a special value. Taking a virtue-theoretic perspective, Pennock explores curiosity, veracity, skepticism, humility to evidence, and other scientific virtues and vices. Shermer and Pennock discuss:
    the nature of science why Intelligent Design creationists are not doing bad science — they’re not doing science at all what to do with anomalies not explained by the current paradigm the role of outsiders in science what scientific training does to develop the virtues of science how authority is different from expertise when experts pronounce on ideas outside their field fraud in science and why it happens why scientists are skeptical of UFOs, ESP, bigfoot, and the like falsification of a scientific hypothesis vs. positive evidence in support of a scientific hypothesis the naturalistic fallacy and the Is-Ought problem, and the ethics of autonomous vehicles and the trolley problem. Robert T. Pennock is University Distinguished Professor of History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science at Michigan State University in the Lyman Briggs College and the Departments of Philosophy and Computer Science and Engineering. He is the author of Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism.
    Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

    • 1 hr 59 min
    97. Amber Scorah — Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life

    97. Amber Scorah — Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life

    In this revealing conversation Amber Scorah opens the box into the psychology of religious belief to show how, exactly, religions and cults convince members that theirs is the one true religion, to the point, she admits, that she would have gladly died for her faith. As a third-generation Jehovah’s Witness, Amber Scorah had devoted her life to sounding God’s warning of impending Armageddon. She volunteered to take the message to China, where the preaching she did was illegal and could result in her expulsion or worse. Here, she had some distance from her community for the first time. Immersion in a foreign language and culture — and a whole new way of thinking — turned her world upside down, and eventually led her to lose all that she had been sure was true. As a proselytizer in Shanghai, using fake names and secret codes to evade the authorities’ notice, Scorah discreetly looked for targets in public parks and stores. To support herself, she found work at a Chinese language learning podcast, hiding her real purpose from her coworkers. Now with a creative outlet, getting to know worldly people for the first time, she began to understand that there were other ways of seeing the world and living a fulfilling life. When one of these relationships became an “escape hatch,” Scorah’s loss of faith culminated in her own personal apocalypse, the only kind of ending possible for a Jehovah’s Witness. Shunned by family and friends as an apostate, Scorah was alone in Shanghai and thrown into a world she had only known from the periphery — with no education or support system. A coming of age story of a woman already in her thirties, this unforgettable memoir examines what it’s like to start one’s life over again with an entirely new identity. Scorah and Shermer also discuss:
    the legals and logistics of writing a memoir the rise of the nones and disbelief and why stories like hers provide social proof for living without religion what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe and why they believe it what it’s like to go door-to-door witnessing for a religion Armageddon and what doomsayers do when the world doesn’t end the mindset of the fundamentalist why religions are obsessed with female sexuality why religions forbid homosexuality the psychology of deconversion the problem of evil, or why bad things happen to good people how she would try to talk someone out of joining ISIS what it’s like to be expelled from a religion and be an apostate, and how to start your life over when you’ve lost everything. Amber Scorah is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her articles have been published in The New York Times, The Believer, and USA Today. Prior to coming to New York, Scorah lived in Shanghai, where she was creator and host of the podcast Dear Amber: An Insider’s Guide to Everything China. Leaving the Witness is her first book.
    Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

    • 1 hr 35 min
    96. Catherine Wilson — How to Be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well

    96. Catherine Wilson — How to Be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well

    In this wide-ranging conversation the philosopher Catherine Wilson makes the case that if the pursuit of happiness is the question, Epicureanism is the answer. Not the mythic Epicureanism that calls to mind gluttons with gout or an admonition to eat, drink, and be merry. Instead, in her new book How to Be an Epicurean, Wilson shows that Epicureanism isn’t an excuse for having a good time: it’s a means to live a good life. Although modern conveniences and scientific progress have significantly improved our quality of life, many of the problems faced by ancient Greeks — love, money, family, politics — remain with us in new forms. To overcome these obstacles, the Epicureans adopted a philosophy that promoted reason, respect for the natural world, and reverence for our fellow humans. By applying this ancient wisdom to a range of modern problems, from self-care routines and romantic entanglements to issues of public policy and social justice, Wilson shows us how we can all fill our lives with purpose and pleasure. Wilson and Shermer also discuss:
    the hedonic treadmill and the problem of pursuing material goods why money will not bring you happiness or meaning eternal moral truths judging figures from the past by modern moral standards why she thinks everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Joe Biden should have known better and acted differently why she thinks Jeffrey Epstein committing suicide was a rational choice for him how to think about the abortion issue why we need not fear death, and how to lead a meaningful life. Catherine Wilson received her PhD in philosophy from Princeton University and has taught at universities in the US, Canada, and Europe. She has published more than 100 research papers and eight books, including A Very Short Introduction to Epicureanism and Metaethics from a First-Person Standpoint: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy. She has two children and lives in New York City, where she is currently Visiting Presidential Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center at CUNY.
    Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

    • 1 hr 11 min
    95. John Martin Fischer — Death, Immortality and Meaning in Life

    95. John Martin Fischer — Death, Immortality and Meaning in Life

    John Martin Fischer’s Death, Immortality, and Meaning in Lifeoffers a brief yet in-depth introduction to the key philosophical issues and problems concerning death and immortality. In this wide-ranging and thoughtful conversation, Shermer and Fisher discuss:
    meaning in life meaning in death the badness of death different philosophical, religious, and scientific ideas on immortality near-death experiences extending life through medical technology medical immortality vs. real immortality the problem of identity for immortality (who or what becomes immortal?) living for 100 years vs. 1000 years vs. forever responding to the theistic argument that without God anything goes, there is no objective morality, and no meaning to life If you don’t believe in God or the afterlife, what do you say to someone who is dying or has lost a loved one? Is immortality, like existence, one thought too many? John Martin Fischer is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, and a University Professor at the University of California. He is coauthor of Near-Death Experiences: Understanding Visions of the Afterlife (OUP, 2016), and coeditor of Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings(Eighth Edition, OUP, 2018). He was Project Leader of The Immortality Project (John Templeton Foundation).
    Listen to Science Salon via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn.

    • 1 hr 34 min

Customer Reviews

Smudginator ,

Audio audio audio

Would be great if it wasn’t for terrible audio.

Maltese96 ,

Interesting interviews

Schermer is no stranger to podcasting (e.g. Joe Rogan Experience). || Strange that (a) his audio is so bad and (b), Youtube have HD movies running at similar (and smaller) file sizes. || Maybe Schermer is impressed by size?

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