227 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 • 2.2K 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.

    Forbidden Modules

    Forbidden Modules

    David and Tamler talk about the often rancorous debate among cognitive scientists and evolutionary psychologists over whether the mind is modular -- composed of discrete systems responsible for vision, reasoning, cheater detection, sexual jealousy, and so on. David and Tamler (mostly David) describe the history of the debate, then dive into a recent paper (Pietraszewski & Wertz, 2021) arguing that virtually all the disagreement is the product of a conceptual and methodological confusion – that the two sides are operating with different levels of analysis and talking past each other as a result.


    Plus, we REALLY tried not to talk about the University of Austin thing for the whole opening segment. We had another topic lined up and everything. It just didn’t work out. Cicero would understand. Bari Weiss stans might wanna skip to the main segment.
    Sponsored By:
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    Links:
    The University of Austin (UATX)Modularity of Mind (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)Pietraszewski, David, and Annie E. Wertz. "Why evolutionary psychology should abandon modularity." Perspectives on Psychological Science (2021).Break Music: I Am Blue by peez [soundcloud.com]

    • 1 hr 42 min
    Hurts So Good (With Paul Bloom)

    Hurts So Good (With Paul Bloom)

    VBW favorite Paul Bloom joins us to talk about the pleasures of suffering, flow states, Sisyphus, meaning, and dating questions. Check out his new book The Sweet Spot which comes out today! Plus what are NFTs and why does everyone hate them?
    Sponsored By:
    Chess.com: Join chess.com today--you can learn to play, take some lessons to improve, brush up on your game by having the computer analyze your mistakes and recommend lessons to strengthen your skills, and play against your friends or in tournaments. It's free to join, but if you use our link they'll know we sent you!
    Promo Code: verybadBetterHelp: 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 Sweet Spot by Paul BloomBreak Music: Who Needs Me by peez

    • 1 hr 42 min
    The Hopeless Dream of Being (Bergman's "Persona")

    The Hopeless Dream of Being (Bergman's "Persona")

    David and Tamler dive into Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 masterpiece Persona, a film about two (?) women, Elisabet, a famous stage actress who has stopped speaking, and Alma the chatty young nurse assigned to care for her at an island cottage. What happens when the roles we play as parents, spouses, friends, and colleagues start to feel like dishonest performances, an endless series of desperate lies? Can we escape to an inner sanctum of truth and authenticity? Or is that putting on another mask, playing yet another part, telling a different set of lies? We offer some tentative interpretations of this rich and baffling film. Get that boy a normal sized sheet! 


    Plus we share some thoughts about the Chappelle special… 
    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: VBWChess.com: Join chess.com today--you can learn to play, take some lessons to improve, brush up on your game by having the computer analyze your mistakes and recommend lessons to strengthen your skills, and play against your friends or in tournaments. It's free to join, but if you use our link they'll know we sent you!
    Promo Code: verybadSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    The Closer (2021 film) - WikipediaDave Chappelle’s ‘The Closer’ Is Not a Simple Victim-Bully Story - The AtlanticPersona (1966 film) - WikipediaPersona movie review & film summary (1967) | Roger EbertBreak Music: You Have Love by peez

    • 1 hr 28 min
    Choosing Sartre for All Mankind

    Choosing Sartre for All Mankind

    David and Tamler don black turtlenecks and light up a couple of Gauloises to talk about Jean Paul Sartre's classic essay “Existentialism is a Humanism.” Why are choices so fundamental to our experience? What does Sartre mean when he says that “existence precedes essence”? Why does he try to shoehorn universalizability into a view that’s clearly hostile to it?


    Plus, how much free time is good for you? Is that even the right question?
    Sponsored By:
    Chess.com: Join chess.com today--you can learn to play, take some lessons to improve, brush up on your game by having the computer analyze your mistakes and recommend lessons to strengthen your skills, and play against your friends or in tournaments. It's free to join, but if you use our link they'll know we sent you!
    Promo Code: verybadBetterHelp: 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:
    Too Much Free Time Isn’t Actually Bad For YouSharif, M. A., Mogilner, C., & Hershfield, H. E. (2021). Having too little or too much time is linked to lower subjective well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.Jean-Paul Sartre - WikipediaExistentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul SartreThrownness - Wikipedia

    • 1 hr 37 min
    Granite Cocks vs Robot Overlords

    Granite Cocks vs Robot Overlords

    David and Tamler wind their way through the long-requested “Meditations on Moloch” by Scott Alexander, a comprehensive account of the coordination problems (personified by Allan Ginsberg’s demon-entity Moloch) that lead to human misery and values tossed out the window. Does Alexander’s rationalist conception of human nature ignore the work of VBW favorites like Joe Henrich and Robert Frank? Is he a little too friendly to the neo-social Darwinism view of some guy named Nick Land? And oh no, why does he have to go transhumanist at the end?! Plus, we talk about the unique comic vision of Norm Macdonald and why we loved him.
    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: VBWNordVPN: Keep your internet connection safe, and enjoy streaming services when you travel abroad with NordVPN! NordVPN is the best VPN if you’re looking for peace of mind when you use public Wi-Fi, access personal and work accounts on the road, or want to keep your browsing history to yourself. Go to Nordvpn.com/vbw or use coupon VBW to get a 2-year plan plus 1 additional month with a huge discount! Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Norm Macdonald's Roast of Bob SagetNorm Macdonald's Moth Joke - YouTubeMeditations On Moloch | Slate Star CodexSlate Star Codex - Wikipedia — astralcodexten.substack.com

    • 1 hr 50 min
    On Your Marx

    On Your Marx

    In honor of Labor Day, David and Tamler dive into two works by Karl Marx - "The Communist Manifesto" and "Estranged Labor." What is Marx's theory of historical change? Why does capitalism produce an alienated workforce? What role does philosophy play in maintaining the status quo? Plus, fraudulent data in a famous study about dishonesty and former guest Dan Ariely is under investigation.
    Sponsored By:
    NordVPN: Keep your internet connection safe, and enjoy streaming services when you travel abroad with NordVPN! NordVPN is the best VPN if you’re looking for peace of mind when you use public Wi-Fi, access personal and work accounts on the road, or want to keep your browsing history to yourself. Go to Nordvpn.com/vbw or use coupon VBW to get a 2-year plan plus 1 additional month with a huge discount! Promo Code: VBWBetterHelp: 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:
    Evidence of Fraud in an Influential Field Experiment About Dishonesty - Data ColadaThe Communist Manifesto - WikipediaEstranged Labour, Marx, 1844Asher Horowitz | Department of Political Science | Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies | York UniversityMarx's theory of alienation - Wikipedia

    • 1 hr 50 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
2.2K Ratings

2.2K Ratings

Hrifbdkef ,

Ghosts

Love this show, been listening for a couple years. I don’t know what’s up with Tamler believing in ghosts. I know you like the Shining, but come on dude that doesn’t make it real. He always frames it like he’s just “asking questions” or “isn’t sure” or whatever. He should really drop it, or go all in on the ghosts. Seems pretty disingenuous. So, Tamler, ghosts. Are you in or are you out?

MainJeffers ,

Just the best podcast

My favorite podcast for years. Smart, academic, funny.

jess_simp ,

Excellent Philosophy/Psychology Podcast

Love this podcast.

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