The Michael Shermer Show (formerly Science Salon) 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.
154. David Sloan Wilson — Atlas Hugged: The Autobiography of John Galt III
In episode 154, Michael speaks with renowned evolutionary theorist David Sloan Wilson about his new novel Atlas Hugged: The Autobiography of John Galt III, a devastating critique of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and its impact on the world. Shermer and Wilson discuss: the role of fiction and film in spreading ideas, good and bad; empirical/pragmatic/mythic truths; individualism vs. collectivism; why liberals/progressives/feminists don‘t like Rand; the nature of human nature; how small groups best operate and how to scale that up to whole societies; capitalism: good and bad; income inequality; Objectivism and Christianity; and more…
153. Kevin Dutton — Black-and-White Thinking: The Burden of a Binary Brain in a Complex World
In episode 153, Michael speaks with University of Oxford research psychologist Dr. Kevin Dutton about his new book Black-and-White Thinking: The Burden of a Binary Brain in a Complex World. Shermer and Dutton discuss a wide gamut including black-and-white thinking in physics, biology, psychology, politics, economics, society; categories, stereotypes, bigotries; the dark side of black-and-white thinking: tribalism, xenophobia, and racism; abortion, gender, cults, sects, religions, mental disorders, and consciousness. Don't miss this fascinating dialogue with the author of Flipnosis and The Wisdom of Psychopaths (which won the prize for Best American Science and Nature Writing).
152. Politics & Truth — Michael Shermer Responds to Critics of His Commentary “Trump & Truth”
Dr. Michael Shermer received a lot of interesting and constructive responses to episode 151, his commentary on the events of January 6, 2021 — the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters. In episode 152, Shermer responds to critics, reminding us that the truth or falsity of a claim of any kind that can be adjudicated by science and reason applies not just to astrologers, psychics, UFO proponents, and Big Foot hunters (all of which we cover in Skeptic magazine), but to conspiracy theories, including and especially those in the realm of politics, economics, and ideology, which as we’ve seen matters very much to the stability of our democracy and trust in the institutions that keep society stable. Whether a particular conspiracy theory is true or false very much matters.
151. Trump & Truth — A Commentary by Michael Shermer
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” — Voltaire
In this monologue commentary on the events of January 6, 2021, Dr. Shermer applies causal inference theory to Trump’s speech that morning, the violent assault on the Capitol that followed, the banning of Trump off social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, the fears on the Right of social media censoriousness on the Left, the breaking up of big tech social media companies, and related topics, including what it means to “believe” a conspiracy theory.
150. Daniel Lieberman — Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding
“Nothing about the biology of exercise makes sense except in the light of evolution, and nothing about exercise as a behavior makes sense except in the light of anthropology.”
In this myth-busting book, Daniel Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and a pioneering researcher on the evolution of human physical activity, tells the story of how we never evolved to exercise — to do voluntary physical activity for the sake of health. Using his own research and experiences throughout the world, Lieberman recounts how and why humans evolved to walk, run, dig, and do other necessary and rewarding physical activities while avoiding needless exertion. As our increasingly sedentary lifestyles have contributed to skyrocketing rates of obesity and diseases such as diabetes, Lieberman argues that to become more active we need to do more than medicalize and commodify exercise.
Shermer and Lieberman also discuss:
evolutionary and anthropological perspectives on physical activity, why we never evolved to exercise, physical activity vs. exercise, sleep: how much do we really need? walking vs. running; speed vs. strength, endurance and aging: why exercise matters, why we age and die, exercise and diet, Should we do weights, cardio, or high-intensity training? Is sitting really the new smoking? Is BMI really a useful measure? exercise and disease: obesity, diabetes/metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease (and cholesterol), osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, depression, and cancer, immune systems and exercise, and How much exercise should you get each week? Daniel E. Lieberman is Edwin M. Lerner Professor of Biological Sciences and professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University. He is the author of the national best seller The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
149. The After Time: The Future of Civilization After COVID-19
In this special episode of the Science Salon podcast, the last of 2020, Dr. Michael Shermer offers some reflections on 2020, starting with race and the Black Lives Movement, putting it into perspective from other books he read this year, along with podcast guests who appeared in 2020, such as Shelby Steele. Dr. Shermer recently read Isabel Wilkerson’s book Caste and Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Anti-Racist, and offers some thoughts on them, along with other issues competing for our attention of ills troubling society, including class conflicts, income inequality, lack of education, anti-Semitism, far-left illiberalism, and religious indoctrination. Everyone thinks that their particular focus is the only one that matters, but broad reading can put each into perspective. Dr. Shermer then reads his essay of the podcast title, originally published in The American Scholar and expanded on here and in an upcoming issue of Skeptic magazine.
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Would be great if it wasn’t for terrible audio.
superb, informative, rich
have followed mr Shermer for many years starting with his Scientific American column. this podcast features consistently excellent conversations. a highlight whenever there's a new episode. thank you thank you for your dedication and clarity of thought Mr Shermer. you're a gem
One of my favourite podcasts.
Love this podcast. Michael gets such great guests on and he hosts equally great conversations. I love listening to this before bed. Plus no ads!!! Which is great. It seems it’s only Science Salon & Sam Harris offering such great content without ads.