241 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 • 2.3K 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.

    Lose Yourself

    Lose Yourself

    David and Tamler lose themselves in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (pr. ‘chick sent me high’) classic paper on the concept of flow. We talk about the features of flow activities – loss of ego, the merging of your awareness with the activity, and autotelic (not what you think) enjoyment. What makes flow activities so rewarding? Do you need to develop skills over many years to experience them? Do easy and natural social interactions count as flow?


    Plus as men of pure virtue, we call an audible and choose not to make fun of a recent paper (with a student as lead author). Instead we pilot a not fully formed idea: “Substack Starters." Now that the economy is tanking, do we have any heterodox beliefs that might lead to profitable Substacks?
    Sponsored By:
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    Links:
    Flow (psychology) - WikipediaMihaly Csikszentmihalyi - WikipediaPlay and Intrinsic Rewards (1975) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

    • 1 hr 23 min
    I Am Not Ivan Ilyich...Am I?

    I Am Not Ivan Ilyich...Am I?

    Ivan Ilyich is a man. All men are mortal. So Ivan Ilyich is mortal. Sure absolutely, that’s true for Ivan Ilyich and for all men. But we’re not Ivan Ilyich and we’re not ‘all men’- so what does this have to do with us? Right? David and Tamler confront their mortality as they discuss Leo Tolstoy’s brilliant and chilling short story “The Death of Ivan Ilyich.”


    Plus the ‘Why I am leaving academia’ essay has become its own genre. But is this profession really that much worse relative to others?
    Sponsored By:
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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: wizardsNordVPN: 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. Exclusive! Grab the NordVPN deal ➼ https://nordvpn.com/VBW Try it risk-free now with a 30-day money-back guarantee! Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Has the ‘great resignation’ hit academia?Why You Need To Leave Academia - Cheeky ScientistThe Death of Ivan Ilyich - Wikipedia — . I cannot now help seeing day and night going round and bringing me to death. That is all I see, for that alone is true. All else is false.Val Plumwood - Wikipedia

    • 1 hr 58 min
    Glitches Ain't Shit

    Glitches Ain't Shit

    David and Tamler explore the many variations of simulation theory, the view that our universe is just a computer generated model created by an advanced civilization that has reached “technological maturity.” What does the growing popularity of simulation theories reveal about contemporary life? Are any of the arguments for simulation theory compelling or are they just post-hoc ways of justifying what you already believe on faith? If we are living in a simulation, does that mean we can go around killing people? Would it change anything about how we should live? Rodney Ascher’s (Room 237, The Nightmare) excellent documentary "A Glitch in the Matrix" gets the discussion going.


    Plus the return of the VBW does conceptual analysis segment - a careful, rigorous, systematic inquiry into the concept “cringe.”*


    *Note: if you think the opening segment is itself cringe, that’s because we’re doing seventh dimensional Zoomer meta shit and you just didn’t get it.
    Sponsored By:
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    Links:
    A Psychological Perspective on Vicarious Embarrassment and Shame in the Context of Cringe HumorElon Musk should stop making that stupid sex joke about Tesla's car names - The VergeIndian Joker / Rizxtar | Know Your MemeA Glitch in the Matrix (2021) - IMDb

    • 1 hr 43 min
    Your Outie Is Skilled at Lovemaking (With Paul Bloom)

    Your Outie Is Skilled at Lovemaking (With Paul Bloom)

    We welcome Paul Bloom to talk about the first season of "Severance," the new mind-bending and mind-splitting TV series on Apple TV+. What happens when you separate your home life from your work life? Do you create a completely different person? Is it a form of self-slavery? How important is autobiographical memory to your identity? And what’s the deal with the break room… and the goats?


    Plus, what happens when you combine the obsessions of evolutionary psychology with the methodological problems of social psychology? You (finally) get an explanation for the female orgasm.
    Special Guest: Paul Bloom.
    Sponsored By:
    GiveWell: GiveWell is hiring! Help make their research available to the public--go check out GiveWell.org/Editors for details. 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 your discount. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    The female orgasm may have evolved as a mate-selection tool, according to new researchSeverance (TV Series 2022– ) - IMDb

    • 2 hr 10 min
    Animated Objects

    Animated Objects

    Panpsychism didn't give us river spirits or mischievous sootballs, so this time we go straight to the source - a defense of animism, and in a top 10 analytic philosophy journal. Could a failed argument for the existence of God establish the existence of trees and mountains with “interiority” and “social characteristics”? Tamler wants to believe, but is the argument that'll push him over the edge? 


    Plus – speaking of top journals, a doozy of social psych article: Is forgiveness better than revenge at rehumanizing the self? Let's check the voodoo dolls to find out. Tamler is delighted by David’s reaction to this one. 
    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: 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: 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.Support Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    The Common Consent Argument for the Existence of Nature Spirits by Tiddy SmithPeoples, H. C., Duda, P., & Marlowe, F. W. (2016). Hunter-gatherers and the origins of religion. Human Nature, 27(3), 261-282.Ingold, T. (2006). Rethinking the animate, re-animating thought. Ethnos, 71(1), 9-20.

    • 1 hr 51 min
    Like A Dog (Kafka's "The Trial" Pt. 2)

    Like A Dog (Kafka's "The Trial" Pt. 2)

    David and Tamler conclude their discussion of "The Trial," Franz Kafka's darkly comic vision of an opaque and impenetrable bureaucracy that comes for us all in the end. Plus we interrupt our previously scheduled opening segment because apparently something happened at the Oscars last week.
    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 your discount. Promo Code: VBWSuper 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 Trial - WikipediaKafka's "The Trial" (translated by Breon Mitchell) [amazon.com affiliate link]Break Music | You Will Not by peez

    • 1 hr 53 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
2.3K Ratings

2.3K Ratings

TimMP ,

Great, really great

Probably my favorite podcast

jaatlas ,

My favorite podcast

Always a good day when I see VBW uploaded a new episode!

JLBbb ,

Love this show

Super refreshing to hear discussions like this delivered with such incisive levity and wit.

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