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.
300. Saleem Ali — Earthly Order: How Natural Laws Define Human Life
Shermer and Ali discuss: • the search for structure in nature • order and randomness • economic laws • natural laws • natural orders: molecular, quantum, crystals, carbonic, nuclear, magnetic • hydrological, organismic, Gaia and Medea • reductionism and holism • Islamic economics • the origin of wealth • Is there an optimal economic order? • how mining rights work in the U.S. and elsewhere • the voter’s paradox • Pareto optimality and why we can’t achieve it • resource nationalism • the resource curse • why India and Pakistan have not used their nukes on each other • social orders • population and sustainability: neo-Malthusianism • How many people can the Earth hold? • why we need nuclear power for sustainability • internationalism and globalism • Trekonomics.
Saleem H. Ali was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts but grew up in Lahore, Pakistan until his college years, receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Tufts University, and his Masters and Ph.D. degrees in environmental policy and planning at Yale and MIT, respectively. He currently holds the Blue and Gold Distinguished Professorship in Geography and Spatial Sciences at the University of Delaware and is Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland (Australia). Dr. Ali’s laurels include being a National Geographic Explorer (having travelled for research to over 150 countries); being chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and serving on the seven-member science panel of the Global Environment Facility (the world’s largest multilateral trust fund for the environment held in trusteeship by the World Bank). His earlier books include Treasures of the Earth: Need Greed and a Sustainable Future. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Geographical Society in the United Kingdom and also serves on the boards of Adventure Scientists and Mediators Beyond Borders International. Along with his wife Maria and sons Shahmir and Shahroze, the family are citizens of Australia, Pakistan and the United States.
299. Richard Reeves — Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It
Shermer and Reeves discuss: • comparison method: U.S. vs. other WERID countries • education • work/labor market • family • marriage • Divorce/custody/spousal support/child support • intersectionality I: Black boys and men vs. White boys and men • intersectionality II: poor boys and men vs. middle class/upper class boys and men • What is a man? (nature and nurture in the making of a male) • what the political left gets wrong about boys and men • what the political right gets wrong about boys and men • solutions: red shirt boys early; men in STEM and HEAL • fatherhood as an independent institution
Richard V. Reeves is a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, where he directs the Boys and Men Project and holds the John C. and Nancy D. Whitehead Chair. He is the author of Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It(2017) and a regular contributor to the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic.
298. Neil deGrasse Tyson — Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization
Shermer and Tyson discuss: why he decided to write about social, cultural, and political issues now • conflict and resolution in science and society • moral progress in society and why it happens • meatarians and vegetarians • race and gender • law and order • the principle of interchangeable perspectives • conflicting rights and how to resolve them • Rationalia (Neil’s hypothetical country whose laws are based on rationality) • life and death • how long Neil would like to live • the meaning in life.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist and the author of the #1 bestselling Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, among other books. He is the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, where he has served since 1996. Dr. Tyson is also the host and cofounder of the Emmy-nominated popular podcast StarTalk and its spinoff StarTalk Sports Edition, which combine science, humor, and pop culture. He is a recipient of 21 honorary doctorates, the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences, and the Distinguished Public Service Medal from NASA. Asteroid 13123 Tyson is named in his honor. He lives in New York City.
297. Andrew Doyle — How the Religion of Social Justice Captured the Western World
Shermer and Doyle discuss: terminology of: PC, identity politics, woken, social justice, antifa, BLM, TERF, intersectionality • Critical Social Justice as a witch craze • Satanic Panic (1980s) • Recovered Memory Movement (1990s) • How widespread is the problem: minor skirmishes on social media or mainstream? • Hill-Harris 2021 poll: 32% voters ID as woke and 31% said they don’t know what the term means • new puritanism as a secular religion • Whiteness and White fragility • Implicit Association Test • Postmodernism • Neo-Marxism • Cancel Culture • hate speech • J.K. Rowling • pluralistic ignorance.
Andrew Doyle is a writer, satirist and political commentator. He regularly appears on television to discuss current affairs, and is a panelist on the BBC’s Moral Maze. He has written for a number of publications, including the Telegraph, Sun, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Standpoint, Spectator, and Sunday Times. He is the creator of satirical character Titania McGrath, under whose name he has written two books: Woke: A Guide to Social Justice and My First Little Book of Intersectional Activism, both published by Little, Brown. Titania McGrath has over half a million followers on Twitter. He was formerly a Visiting Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast, and a lecturer at Oxford University where he completed his doctorate. His previous book was Free Speech and Why it Matters. His new book is The New Puritans: How the Religion of Social Justice Captured the Western World.
296. Stephen Bloom on Jane Elliott’s Famous Experiment on Race and Brutality and What It Reveals About Today’s Racial Divide
This conversation explores the never-before-told true story of Jane Elliott and the “Blue-Eyes, Brown-Eyes Experiment” she made world-famous, using eye color to simulate racism.
Shermer and Bloom discuss: Jane Elliott and how she came to conduct her famous experiment • reactions to it (in the classroom, locally, nationally, internationally) • whether the “experiment” was really more of a demonstration • public interest, from Johnny Carson to Oprah Winfrey • the questionable ethics of the experiment • what it reveals about tribalism, racism, obedience to authority, role playing, social proof • whether the experiment reveals hidden racist attitudes or creates them in children • Does it indicate bad apples or bad barrels? • race sensitivity training programs, then and now (and why they don’t really work) • what drives moral progress • the future of journalism.
Stephen Bloom is a professor of journalism at the University of Iowa. He is the author of Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes: A Cautionary Tale of Race and Brutality (University of California Press, 2021); The Audacity of Inez Burns: Dreams, Desire, Treachery & Ruin in the City of Gold (Regan Arts, 2018); Tears of Mermaids: The Secret Story of Pearls (St. Martin’s Press, 2011); The Oxford Project [with photographer Peter Feldstein] (Welcome Books, 2010); Inside the Writer’s Mind (Wiley, 2002); and Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America (Harcourt, 2000). He has worked for the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning News, San Jose Mercury News, Sacramento Bee, Latin America Daily Post, and Field News Service. He especially likes writing about every man/woman: the barista, bartender, baker, butcher, barber — or murderer-turned-prison employee.
295. Marian Tupy & Gale Pooley — Superabundance: The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet
Is it true that the world’s rapidly growing population is consuming the planet’s natural resources at an alarming rate that would require two Earths to satisfy the demand for natural resources by 2030? Marian Tupy and Gale Pooley found that resources became more abundant as the population grew. They also found that resource abundance increased faster than the population. On average, every additional human being created more value than he or she consumed.
Shermer, Tupy, and Pooley discuss: why we long for the “good ol’ days” • Malthusian trap • Ehrlich’s predictions on overpopulation • the birth dearth • the Simon Abundance Index • compound interest • What does it mean for the economy to grow 2–3% a year? • accumulating wealth • what poorer countries need to do to become richer countries • running out of fossil fuels • Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech • inflation • electric vehicles • How many people can the Earth sustain? • post-scarcity trekonomics • the future of religion and other social institutions in a superabundant world.
Marian Tupy is the editor of HumanProgress.org, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, and coauthor of the Simon Abundance Index. He specializes in globalization and global well-being and the politics and economics of Europe and Southern Africa. He is the coauthor of Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know: And Many Others You Will Find Interesting (Cato Institute, 2020). His articles have been published in the Financial Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Newsweek, the UK Spectator, Foreign Policy, and various other outlets in the United States and overseas. He has appeared on BBC, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business, and other channels. Tupy received his BA in international relations and classics from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and his PhD in international relations from the University of St. Andrews in Great Britain.
Gale Pooley is an associate professor of business management at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. He has taught economics and statistics at Alfaisal Univerity in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Brigham Young University-Idaho; Boise State University; and the College of Idaho. Pooley has held professional designations from the Appraisal Institute, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and the CCIM Institute. He has published articles in National Review, HumanProgress.org, The American Spectator, the Foundation for Economic Education, the Utah Bar Journal, the Appraisal Journal, Quillette, Forbes, and RealClearMarkets. His major research activity has been the Simon Abundance Index, which he coauthored with Marian Tupy.
deGrasse Tyson a hot mess
Wow I feel so sad listening to dG Tyson discuss the sex binary. Such a great scientific mind and yet he doesn’t seem to understand the difference between primary and secondary sex characteristics. He deems it “regressive” to acknowledge the biological reality of the sex binary, why? Why is it regressive to categorize this fundamental aspect of our observable reality? Why is it regressive to admit that observable differences exist between the two sexes? He used incoherent logic to skirt around Shermer’s pushback related to very common sense issues like protecting women's sport. My jaw dropped to the floor the more Tyson seemed to detach from material reality. I still can’t believe such pseudoscience was pouring out of such a respected scientist! Shermer navigated as well as one could through this hot mess of an interview.
Good luck trying to get a word in edgewise.
Great to listen
You can tell Michael does a lot of research and actually reads his guest books. I often use this podcast as my own book of the month club.