454 episodes

The Michael Shermer Show 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.

The Michael Shermer Show Michael Shermer

    • Science
    • 4.4 • 799 Ratings

The Michael Shermer Show 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.

    Thinking Critically About COVID: Conspiracies vs. Nuance and Facts (Jay Bhattacharya)

    Thinking Critically About COVID: Conspiracies vs. Nuance and Facts (Jay Bhattacharya)

    Jay Bhattacharya is a Professor of Health Policy at Stanford University and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research. He directs Stanford’s Center for Demography and Economics of Health and Aging. His work focuses on the health and well-being of vulnerable populations, with a particular emphasis on the role of government programs, biomedical innovation, and economics. His recent research is on the epidemiology of COVID-19 as well as an evaluation of policy responses to the epidemic.
    Shermer and Bhattacharya discuss: loss of trust in medical and scientific institutions • how well did lockdowns and masks really work • Lab Leak vs. Zoonomic hypothesis • hydroxychloroquine & ivermectin • debating anti-vaxxers, RFK, Jr., and conspiracy theories • myocarditis, Robert Malone, mRNA vaccines, Joe Rogan, Peter Hotez • The Great Barrington Declaration • the cost to the economy and education • which countries and states did better or worse.

    • 1 hr 27 min
    From Hippie to Whole Foods Mogul

    From Hippie to Whole Foods Mogul

    Whole Foods Market’s Cofounder and CEO for 44 years, John Mackey offers an intimate and provocative account of the rise of this iconic company and the personal and spiritual journey that inspired its remarkable impact.
    The growth of Whole Foods isn’t just a business success story—it’s the story of a retail, cultural, and dietary revolution that has forever changed the industry and the way we eat. After more than four decades at the helm, John Mackey is ready to share never-before-told tales of the people and passions behind the beloved brand.
    The Whole Story invites readers on the adventure of building Whole Foods Market: the colorful cast of idealists and foodies who formed the company’s DNA, the many breakthroughs and missteps; the camaraderie and the conflict, and the narrowly avoided disasters. Mackey takes us inside some of the most consequential decisions he had to make and honestly shares his regrets looking back.
    For the millions of people who know and love Whole Foods, Mackey’s story is a candid look at the fellowship and meaning born of a shared mission and how an inimitable entrepreneur shepherded a startup hippy food store into the market-leading international brand it is today. John Mackey is an entrepreneur and the co-founder and visionary of Whole Foods Market. In his 44 years of service as CEO, the natural and organic grocer grew from a single store in Austin, Texas, to 540 stores in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, with annual sales exceeding $22 billion. Mackey co-founded the Conscious Capitalism Movement and co-authored a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling book entitled Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business and follow up, Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business. He is also the co-author of The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevityand The Whole Foods Cookbook: 120 Delicious and Healthy Plant-Centered Recipes. Mackey currently serves on the board of directors for Conscious Capitalism, The Motley Fool, CATO Institute, The Institute for Cultural Evolution, and Students for Liberty and is pursuing his next business venture, Love.Life.
    Shermer and Mackey discuss: timing is everything: how the 70s shaped a natural foods empire • mentors, education, and the entrepreneurial spirit • scaling up: from a single store to a market revolution • challenging business norms: unions, salaries, and ownership models • food quality: private vs. government regulation • spiritual evolution: Christianity and Eastern wisdom to psychedelics • political transformation: co-op dweller to libertarian capitalist • the IPO experience: taking whole foods public • ultra-marathon hiking: pushing physical and mental limits.
    Intrigued? Listen to John Mackey’s fascinating story of personal growth and business innovation.

    • 1 hr 19 min
    Aella — From a Christian Upbringing to Sex Work

    Aella — From a Christian Upbringing to Sex Work

    Aella is a writer, blogger, data analyst, and sex worker who has written extensively about the psychology and economics of online sex work, conducting extensive surveys and research in order to understand the ecosystem of sex workers. She grew up in Idaho as the oldest of three daughters of conservative parents who were part of a community of fundamentalist Christians, where she was homeschooled; their family name has been withheld in media coverage for privacy reasons. She moved out at age 17 after a fallout with her parents, and in 2012, after quitting a job as an assembly line worker in a factory, began working as a camgirl. She eventually became one of the highest-earning creators on OnlyFans, making over $100,000 in some months. By 2021, she was described as having set herself apart partly by conducting extensive market research, e.g. surveying almost 400 fellow female OnlyFans performers about their incomes and identifying factors that were correlated with higher earnings.
    Shermer and Aella discuss: Aella’s conservative Christian upbringing • sex work and feminism • male-female sexual psychology differences • why women are choosier and more risk averse • what men and women regret about sex • BDSM, fetishes, and sexual violence • the women who sell sex and the men who buy sex • agency and volition in sex work: women and men • virtual sex, phone sex, cyber sex • pornography: good or bad? • decriminalizing sex work.

    • 1 hr 21 min
    Hong Kong’s Turmoil: Insights from an Exiled Political Leader

    Hong Kong’s Turmoil: Insights from an Exiled Political Leader

    Nathan Law is a young Hong Kong activist, currently in exile and based in London. During the Umbrella Movement in 2014, Nathan was one of the five representatives who took part in the dialogue with the government, debating political reform. Upholding non-violent civic actions, Nathan, Joshua Wong and other student leaders founded Demosistō in 2016 and ran for the Legislative Council election. Nathan was elected with 50,818 votes in the Hong Kong Island constituency and became the youngest Legislative Councilor in history. Yet his seat was overturned in July 2017 following Beijing’s constitutional reinterpretation, despite international criticism. Nathan was later jailed for his participation in the Umbrella Movement. The persecution sparked global concern over Beijing’s crackdown on human rights and democratic movement in Hong Kong. In 2018, Nathan and his fellow student activists Joshua Wong and Alex Chow were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by U.S. congressmen and British parliament members. Due to the risk imposed by the draconian National Security Law, Nathan left Hong Kong and continues to speak up for Hong Kong people at the international level. In 2020, he was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine. He is the author of the new book Freedom: How We Lose It and How We Fight Back.
    Shermer and Law discuss: a brief history of Hong Kong • National Security Law • crimes of secession • how Asia’s most liberal city changed so fundamentally • how rights and freedoms are won or lost • the truth: what it is and who owns it • reform society from within • freedom of speech • freedom of the press • the enemies of dictators • why democracies are fragile.

    • 1 hr 17 min
    Living Constitutionally: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Constitution’s Original Meaning

    Living Constitutionally: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Constitution’s Original Meaning

    A.J. Jacobs learned the hard way that donning a tricorne hat and marching around Manhattan with a 1700s musket will earn you a lot of strange looks. In the wake of several controversial rulings by the Supreme Court and the ongoing debate about how the Constitution should be interpreted, Jacobs set out to understand what it means to live by the Constitution.
    In The Year of Living Constitutionally, A.J. Jacobs tries to get inside the minds of the Founding Fathers by living as closely as possible to the original meaning of the Constitution. He asserts his right to free speech by writing his opinions on parchment with a quill and handing them out to strangers in Times Square. He consents to quartering a soldier, as is his Third Amendment right. He turns his home into a traditional 1790s household by lighting candles instead of using electricity, boiling mutton, and—because women were not allowed to sign contracts—feebly attempting to take over his wife’s day job, which involves a lot of contract negotiations.
    The book blends unforgettable adventures—delivering a handwritten petition to Congress, applying for a Letter of Marque to become a legal pirate for the government, and battling redcoats as part of a Revolutionary War reenactment group—with dozens of interviews from constitutional experts from both sides. Jacobs dives deep into originalism and living constitutionalism, the two rival ways of interpreting the document.
    Much like he did with the Bible in The Year of Living Biblically, Jacobs provides a crash course on our Constitution as he experiences the benefits and perils of living like it’s the 1790s. He relishes, for instance, the slow thinking of the era, free from social media alerts. But also discovers the progress we’ve made since 1789 when married women couldn’t own property.
    Now more than ever, Americans need to understand the meaning and value of the Constitution. As politicians and Supreme Court Justices wage a high-stakes battle over how literally we should interpret the Constitution, A.J. Jacobs provides an entertaining yet illuminating look into how this storied document fits into our democracy today.
    A.J. Jacobs is a journalist, lecturer, and human guinea pig whose books include Drop Dead Healthy, The Year of Living Biblically, and The Puzzler. A contributor to NPR, The New York Times, and Esquire, among other media outlets, Jacobs lives in New York City with his family. His new book is The Year of Living Constitutionally: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Constitution’s Original Meaning.
    Shermer and Jacobs discuss: what possessed him to spend a year living constitutionally and biblically • what the Constitution really says and means • the Supreme Court’s rulings on guns, religion, women’s rights and more • what happens if you become an ultimate originalist and follow the Constitution using the mindset and tools of the Founders • why originalism is not the best approach • what happened when he carried a musket on the streets of NYC • an 18th century view of rights • election cakes • epistemic humility • democracy • how that Founders would be shocked at today’s government, and how the president is far too powerful.

    • 1 hr 35 min
    Lemuria: A True Story of a Fake Place

    Lemuria: A True Story of a Fake Place

    Is Lemuria a real place, or the fever dream of crackpots, mystics, conspiracy theorists, and Bigfoot hunters?
    Below the waters where the Pacific and Indian Oceans lies a lost continent. One of hopes and dreams that housed a race of beings that arrived from foreign planets and from which sprang humanity, religion, civilization, and our modern world. It was called Lemuria and it was all fake.
    What began as a theoretical land bridge to explain the mystery of lemurs on Madagascar quickly got hijacked to become the evolutionary home of humankind, the cradle of spirituality, and then the source of cosmological wonders. Abandoned by science as hokum, Lemuria morphed into a land filled with ancient, advanced civilizations, hollowed-out mountains full of gold and crystals, moon-beings descending in baskets, underground evil creatures, and a breast-feeding Bigfoot.
    The history of Lemuria is populated with a dizzying array of people from early Darwinists to conspiracy spouting Congressmen, globetrotting madams, Rosicrucians, Hollow-Earthers, sci-fi writers, UFO contactees, sleeping prophets, New Age channelers, a “Mother God”, and a tequila swigging conspiracy theorist. Historian Justin McHenry provides a thoughtful exploration of how pseudo-science hijacked the gentle Victorian-era concept of Lemuria and, in following decades, twisted it into an all-encompassing home for alternative ideas about race, spirituality, science, politics, and the paranormal.
    Justin McHenry is a writer, historian, and archivist. His writing has appeared in magazines such as FATE, newspapers, journals, and various online publications like Belt Mag, 100 Days of Appalachia, and he edited the collection of stories, The Garden at Rose Brake. He received his Master’s degree in History from West Virginia University. His new book is Lemuria: A True Story of a Fake Place.
    Shermer and McHenry discuss: how organisms get to islands from mainlands • how lemurs get to Madagascar • rafting sweepstakes vs. land bridges. • Alfred Russel Wallace and Island biogeography • Zoologist Philip Sclater • Ernst Haeckel to Hitler • Alexander von Humboldt • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe • Land of Mu and Atlantis • Ignatius Donnelly, Atlantis • Madame Blavatsky • Hermes Trismegistus and Hermeticism, Rosicrucians • pseudohistory, pseudoarchaeology and mythology.

    • 1 hr 14 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
799 Ratings

799 Ratings

terminalwillness ,

Good but

I really enjoy the podcast and the wide range of topics it covers but Shermer doesn’t push back on many of his guests like he should.

Huckster Charlatan ,

Can’t buy into it

The more you discover about the host’s behavior in his personal life the more sense it that he spends so much time trying to get everyone’s attention on the actions of so many other people.

samastew ,

Like Joe Rogan, if Rogan was science literate

I’ve followed Shermer for almost two decades, and his work has been invaluable We live in an increasingly irrational and anti-reason world. What we need now, more than ever, are tempered voices for enlightenment and anti-superstition.

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