256 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 • 2.4K 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.

    Tarkovsky's Starchild

    Tarkovsky's Starchild

    It’s the episode that Tamler has been waiting for – a long deep dive into Andrei Tarkovsky’s mysterious masterpiece "Stalker." A writer and professor are led by their guide (Stalker) into a cordoned off “zone” that may have been visited by a meteorite (or aliens) a couple of decades earlier. Their destination – a room in the zone that according to legend grants people their deepest desire, the one that has made them suffer the most. We gush over Tarkovsky’s filmmaking, his use of sound and music, and the richness of the questions this movie raises about meaning, art, delusion, desire, science, and faith.


    Plus, does having a small penis make you want to buy a sports car? Pre-crisis social psychology is back!
    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: VBW: GiveWell searches for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. We recommend a small number of charities that can do an incredible amount of good. Your donation can make a meaningful difference for some of the poorest people in the world. First-time donors will have their donation matched up to $100 (until funds last). Promo Code: Very Bad WizardsSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Richardson, D. C., Devlin, J., Hogan, J. S., & Thompson, C. (2023). Small Penises and Fast Cars: Evidence for a Psychological Link.Stalker (1979 film) - Wikipedia

    • 2 hr 8 min
    Yes We Sene-can

    Yes We Sene-can

    David and Tamler dive into Seneca’s “On the Happy Life” and stoicism, the topic selected by our beloved patreon supporters. Why is stoicism so popular today? What does Seneca actually think about Epicureanism? Can Seneca's philosophy be reconciled with his life as a wealthy Roman aristocrat? Are stoics too cold and detached or is that an unfair caricature? And why can’t David and Tamler fully embrace this undeniably wise approach to life?


    Plus the return of… GUILTY CONFESSIONS and some favorite things from 2022.
    Sponsored By:
    : GiveWell searches for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. We recommend a small number of charities that can do an incredible amount of good. Your donation can make a meaningful difference for some of the poorest people in the world. First-time donors will have their donation matched up to $100 (until funds last). 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 Stoicism is one of the best mind-hacks ever devised | Aeon EssaysSeneca--On the Happy Life

    • 1 hr 34 min
    First Order, Then Chaos

    First Order, Then Chaos

    David and Tamler wind their way through another Borges story - "The Immortal"- about a Roman soldier who seeks the secret of immortality and, much to his horror, finds it. Plus some thoughts on the utterly shameless ChatGPT.
    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: VBW: GiveWell searches for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. We recommend a small number of charities that can do an incredible amount of good. Your donation can make a meaningful difference for some of the poorest people in the world. First-time donors will have their donation matched up to $100 (until funds last). Promo Code: Very Bad WizardsSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    The banality of ChatGPT - by Erik HoelThe Immortal (short story) - WikipediaImmortal by Jorge Luis Borges – მატიანე

    • 1 hr 34 min
    Metaphors All the Way Down

    Metaphors All the Way Down

    We often think of metaphors as poetic flourishes, a nice way to punctuate your ideas and make them more relatable. But what if metaphors aren’t simply tools of language but part of thought itself? David and Tamler “dive into” George Lakoff’s theory of metaphors and “explore” the implications of his view that metaphors shape and constrain the ways we conceptualize our experience of the world. Plus if we’re really living in cancel culture, we might as well do some cancelling. Say goodbye to "Singing in the Rain," Latinx, and punny academic titles among other things.


    Oh and it’s our 250th episode! It’s been quite a journey. Have we come a long way or are we just spinning our wheels? And for a fun detour, check out our bonus podcast series “The Ambulators” on the great TV series Deadwood.
    Sponsored By:
    : GiveWell searches for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. We recommend a small number of charities that can do an incredible amount of good. Your donation can make a meaningful difference for some of the poorest people in the world. First-time donors will have their donation matched up to $100 (until funds last). 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:
    DJ Khaled on "Hot Ones" [YouTube.com]The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor by George LakoffGeorge Lakoff - WikipediaConceptual metaphor - Wikipedia

    • 1 hr 30 min
    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

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
2.4K Ratings

2.4K Ratings

Tyson621 ,

I’ve just started listening.

I came across the show by way of Sam Harris and 2001. Being a fan of both Sam Harris and Kubrick I figured this podcast would be a good fit. I wish I would have started listening earlier. I’ve been working my way backwards through the podcasts and enjoying them immensely.

Special Grade ,

Repugnant

This is not supposed to be a "self-improving" podcast. Over the past few years, VBW has always helped me go through very turbulent times. I love laughing along their banter and arguments.

The best about Dave and Tamler is their patreon! I would have never thought of even signing up for a Patreon acct and spending my money on listening to ethics professors. The Ambulators is hands down the "after-show" anyone can listen to, as they discuss HBO's Deadwood.

Thank you for answering my cringe-worthy questions in your AUA!

_With Love, Alfonzo B

Iantmsk ,

Start the show.

Intro is too long. Show style/ banter is really annoying to listen to, basic and off subject. Never even got to any real content.

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