252 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
    • 4.8 • 362 Ratings

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.

    Phlegm and Carelessness (Hume's "The Sceptic")

    Phlegm and Carelessness (Hume's "The Sceptic")

    David and Tamler gild and stain David Hume’s essay “The Sceptic” with their sentiments. If nothing is inherently valuable or despicable, desirable or hateful, then what do philosophers have to offer when it comes to happiness? If reason is powerless, does it all come down to our emotions and “humours”? Or does the study of philosophy and liberal arts naturally lead to a fulfilling and virtuous life? Plus we look at a new non-traditional social psych paper on how we always imagine that things could be better, and tip our caps to the queen of handling Twitter pile-ons (and former VBW guest) – Candy Mom.
    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: VBWI Am BIO podcast: Powerful stories of biotechnology breakthroughs, the people they help, and the global problems they solve. Hosted by BIO President & CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath.Super Speciosa: Try kratom now and get 20% off. Go to GetSuperLeaf.com/VBW and get 20% off with promo code VBW. That’s GetSuperLeaf.com/VBW and use promo code VBW for 20% off. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    "The Sceptic" (Hume Texts Online)Things could be better by Adam Mastroianni & Ethan Ludwin-Peery

    • 1 hr 25 min
    Checkmate, Grasshopper

    Checkmate, Grasshopper

    In this podcast we examine a recent argument for the view that chess is not, in fact, a game. We discuss the Grasshopper’s claim that all games must have a prelusory goal, as well as Skepticus’ objection to the giant Grasshopper concerning chess. We then turn to a broader analysis of the Suitsian account of games. Does the existence of illusory checkmates offer Grasshopper an avenue for replying to Skepticus? Should we bite the bullet and agree that chess is not a game? What is a lusory attitude? Is Tamler losing his mind? Why is David so giddy?


    Plus – how should Arthur C. Clarke’s novel "2001: A Space Odyssey" affect our understanding of Kubrick’s movie? And a little more on Kanye.
    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:
    Illusory checkmates: why chess is not a game | SpringerLink

    • 1 hr 23 min
    Open the Pod, Dave (with Sam Harris)

    Open the Pod, Dave (with Sam Harris)

    We welcome Sam Harris back to the show for a deep dive into Stanley Kubrick’s confounding 1968 masterpiece "2001: A Space Odyssey." How long is the Dawn of Man? What does the second monolith do exactly? Why are the humans so banal and expressionless? What are HAL’S motivations? Has he planned his mutiny from the start, or does the Council’s deception make him manlfunction? Or something else? Who is the Council anyway? Was HAL meant to go through the stargate? What is the final leap forward in consciousness? The hotel room, the starchild, all the rectangles, rectangles everywhere, the music – what does it all mean????


    Plus Sam has some thoughts about our Rorty episode and David tries to rile Tamler up about Kanye’s antisemitism.


    note: there's a bit of an abrupt transition between our brief opening and Sam telling a story about Rorty in around the 9 minute mark... couldn't be helped.
    Special Guest: Sam Harris.
    Sponsored By:
    I Am BIO podcast: Powerful stories of biotechnology breakthroughs, the people they help, and the global problems they solve. Hosted by BIO President & CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath.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:
    Ye's "death con 3" tweetWaking Up App2001: A Space Odyssey (film) - WikipediaHow Kubrick made 2001: A Space Odyssey - Part 1: The Dawn of Man - YouTube — Video essay by YouTuber CinemaTyler

    • 2 hrs 34 min
    Existential Poker-Face (David Foster Wallace's "E Unibus Pluram")

    Existential Poker-Face (David Foster Wallace's "E Unibus Pluram")

    We dive into David Foster Wallace’s sprawling 1993 essay “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction.” How do TV and new forms of media keep their hold on us when we know at some level that they’re reinforcing our loneliness and passivity? That’s easy, Wallace says, post-modern cool. Flatter me, let me think we’re all in the joke together, give me “an ironic permission-slip to do what I do best whenever I feel confused and guilty: assume, inside, a sort of fetal position, a pose of passive reception to comfort, escape, reassurance.” But in the years since this essay, the TV landscape has completely transformed. Has it transcended its function as a surrogate companion for lonely people, or has it just found new ways to keep us isolated and passive?


    Plus, we talk about the recent new SPSP guidelines and Jon Haidt’s recent essay on why he’s resigning from the organization. (Sorry, Jon!)
    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:
    The Two Fiduciary Duties of Professors - Heterodox Academy | Heterodox AcademySPSP DEI submission guidelinesE Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction by David Foster Wallace

    • 1 hr 46 min
    Pragmatically Speaking

    Pragmatically Speaking

    David and Tamler take their first real look at pragmatism via Richard Rorty’s “Solidarity or Objectivity.” Can we discover facts about the world as it “really is,” independent of our own culturally influenced methods of inquiry? If not, does that make us relativists? Is David right about pragamatism being an ass-backward approach to scientific truth, or is he just a pragmatist who’s not ready to admit that to himself? Plus, does "The Little Mermaid" have to be white? What about Clark Kent? And we select the topic finalists for our Patreon listener selected episode.
    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: VBWGiveWell: We love Givewell.org and are proud of the support our listeners have shown! Givewell is the best way to make sure that 100% of your charitable contributions go to the most effective charities. If you would like to put your dollars to work saving lives, please go to givewell.org--read the free research on each charity, and pick from one (or let Givewell choose for you). When you are checking out, please pick PODCAST and write "Very Bad Wizards" at checkout--that way they'll know you heard about them from us! Promo Code: Select "Podcast" at checkout and enter "Very Bad WizardsI Am BIO podcast: Powerful stories of biotechnology breakthroughs, the people they help, and the global problems they solve. Hosted by BIO President & CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath.Support Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Matt Walsh Slammed For Saying Black 'Little Mermaid' Isn't 'Scientific'Pragmatism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)Rorty, R. (1985). Solidarity or objectivity. Post-analytic philosophy, 3, 5-6.

    • 1 hr 31 min
    Thanks for the Memories? (Borges' "Funes the Memorious)

    Thanks for the Memories? (Borges' "Funes the Memorious)

    David and Tamler return to Borges land to get lost in the infinite, this time with his legendary and tragic character Funes the memorious. What would it be like to have perfect memory, to have full access to every perceived detail no matter how trivial? Would life be infinitely richer, with present experience and memory merging into a perfect Heraclitan flow? Or is William James correct to say that one condition of remembering is to forget, and that “if we remembered everything, we should on most occasions be as ill off as if we remembered nothing.”?


    Plus, we’re sorry, but after 10 years (!) we thought we had the right to get a little self-indulgent and naval-gazey. We do a bit of reminiscing (“though we have no right to speak that sacred verb..”) in the first segment about how the podcast has changed since 2012, and the impact it has made on our lives. Thanks for the memories!
    Sponsored By:
    Super Speciosa: Try kratom now and get 20% off. Go to GetSuperLeaf.com/VBW and get 20% off with promo code VBW. That’s GetSuperLeaf.com/VBW and use promo code VBW for 20% off. Promo Code: VBW80,000 Hours: You have 80,000 hours in your career. This makes it your best opportunity to have a positive impact on the world. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to use your career for good, but aren’t sure how, 80,000 Hours has an in-depth guide that can help you:
    Get new ideas for high-impact careers
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    It’s based on ten years of research alongside academics at Oxford, and as a nonprofit, everything they provide is free. Promo Code: 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:
    Funes the Memorious - WikipediaCollected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Andrew Hurley) [amazon.com affiliate link] — This volume contains the translation we used. A Case of Unusual Autobiographical Remembering

    • 1 hr 51 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
362 Ratings

362 Ratings

giorgia88 ,

Awesome possum

This has quickly become my new favourite podcast, I’m so glad I found it. The guys are smart, funny, unpretentious and warm. 100% recommend.

ThePanda890 ,

Great show

Fantastic, informed and often irreverent commentary on philosophical and psychology topics. Well worth a listen.

nirvqna ,

truly entertaining

my favourite podcast hands down. love the episodes where they talk about the philosophy and ethics in pop culture too. very interesting :)

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