216 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 • 2.1K 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.

    You Shouldn't Feel Bad (Except You Should)

    You Shouldn't Feel Bad (Except You Should)

    Tamler welcomes social psychologist David Pizarro of Cornell University to the podcast to talk about his recent article (along with Raj Anderson, Shaun Nichols, and Rachana Kamtekar) on “false-positive emotions.” When agents commit accidental harms, we typically tell them they shouldn’t feel too guilty, it’s not their fault, it was out of their control, and so forth. At the same time, we don’t want them to let themselves off the hook right away either. They shouldn’t feel guilty, but also they…should. What’s behind these mixed messages and attitudes? Are we looking for information about their character? What kind?


    Plus, a new algorithm can predict someone’s political orientation with 72% accuracy based on one profile photo (either from Facebook or a dating app). Is Big Brother around the corner?
    Sponsored By:
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    Just go to givewell.org/verybadwizards and pick PODCAST and Very Bad Wizards at checkout. Make sure they know that you heard about GiveWell from Very Bad Wizards to get your donation matched! 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. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Facial recognition technology can expose political orientation from naturalistic facial images | Scientific Reports'I was shocked it was so easy': ​meet the professor who says facial recognition ​​can tell if you're gay | Artificial intelligence (AI) | The GuardianOne of the most famous campus outrage incidents was badly misreported - Vox“False positive” emotions, responsibility, and moral character - ScienceDirect

    • 1 hr 20 min
    What Is It Like To Be a Robot Fish Man? (with Ted Chiang)

    What Is It Like To Be a Robot Fish Man? (with Ted Chiang)

    We’ve done deep dives on three of his stories, and now THE MAN HIMSELF, multi-award winning science fiction author Ted Chiang, joins us to explore the post-apocalyptic world of the video-game SOMA. You play Simon Jarrett, a man who goes for a brain scan in Toronto and wakes up a 100 years later in an underwater research facility, the last remaining hope to preserve human consciousness from extinction. Pizarro confronts his worst nightmare, a first-person experience of stepping into a transporter-style scenario. We talk about how video games can make philosophical problems come alive, what “fission-cases” tell us about personal identity (Tamler’s note: this really should count as our Parfit episode), what it’s like to be conscious without a body, the problem with thought experiments, and lots more.


    Plus, a new evo-psych study on why bullshitting is adaptive – convince people you’re smart and save energy while you do it!
    Special Guest: Ted Chiang.
    Sponsored By:
    Wine.com: Wine.com is an American wine online retailer that offers the largest selection of wines in the world. Wine.com sells over 2 million bottles per year, with a stock of more than 17,000 different bottles of wine, shipping throughout the United States. Sign up now, and as a listener of very bad wizards, get $50 off your first order! Promo Code: badwizardsNordVPN: 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. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Neuroskeptic on Twitter: ""B******t ability is associated with an individual's intelligence" https://t.co/hoKMLaMrY1 The authors are highly intelligent judging by the last two sentences. https://t.co/J1HQJyAvbL" / TwitterBullshit Ability as an Honest Signal of Intelligence - Martin Harry Turpin, Mane Kara-Yakoubian, Alexander C. Walker, Heather E. K. Walker, Jonathan A. Fugelsang, Jennifer A. Stolz, 2021Soma (video game) - WikipediaTed Chiang's author page on Amazon.com [amazon.com affiliate link]Ted Chiang - WikipediaSOMA Walkthrough- IGNSOMA Review - IGNSOMA and I | Blog of the APA

    • 1 hr 57 min
    Follow Your Nose (with Yoel Inbar)

    Follow Your Nose (with Yoel Inbar)

    Canada’s leading Russian literature scholar Yoel Inbar joins us to try to make sense of Gogol’s 1836 short story “The Nose.” A nose goes missing from a Russian official’s face and winds up in the barber’s loaf of bread. A few hours later, the nose has rocketed up the social hierarchy and denies his connection to the official. What’s going on? Is Madame Alexandra Grigorievna up to something?


    Plus we can’t say how but we got access to submitted abstracts for the new Journal of Controversial Ideas. We read a few of them in the opening segment, and let’s just say this journal is living up to its name.
    Special Guest: Yoel Inbar.
    Sponsored By:
    Wine.com: Wine.com is an American wine online retailer that offers the largest selection of wines in the world. Wine.com sells over 2 million bottles per year, with a stock of more than 17,000 different bottles of wine, shipping throughout the United States. Sign up now, and as a listener of very bad wizards, get $50 off your first order! Promo Code: badwizardsBetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. 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:
    Journal of Controversial IdeasBreak music: Aleph (by peez) | SoundCloudRegister for Panel on Individual Character and Structural Injustice (hosted by Hi-Phi's Barry Lam)The Nose (Gogol short story) - Wikipedia

    • 1 hr 45 min
    To Live and Die in Kurosawa's "Ikiru"

    To Live and Die in Kurosawa's "Ikiru"

    "Sometimes I think of my death," Akira Kurosawa said, "I think of ceasing to be...and it is from these thoughts that Ikiru came.” David and Tamler explore what it means to truly live in Kurosawa’s 1952 masterpiece about a bureaucrat in postwar Japan who learns that he will die from stomach cancer within six months. Plus a new study provides evidence for what every pet owner knows: dogs get jealous. And a shocking revelation about Harvard legends Kohlberg, Rawls, and Nozick.
    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. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Ikiru - WikipediaDogs Mentally Represent Jealousy-Inducing Social Interactions - Amalia P. M. Bastos, Patrick D. Neilands, Rebecca S. Hassall, Byung C. Lim, Alex H. Taylor, 2021

    • 1 hr 46 min
    The Priming of the American Mind (with Jesse Singal)

    The Priming of the American Mind (with Jesse Singal)

    Journalist, podcaster, and rapper Jesse Singal joins us to talk about his new book The Quick Fix, positive psychology (scam?), cancel culture in the media and academia (overblown?), Substack incentives, and lots more. Plus David and Tamler argue about the epistemology of ghosts.
    Special Guest: Jesse Singal.
    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. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Break MusicThe Quick Fix by Jesse SingalBlocked and Reported (with Katie Herzog and Jesse Singal)

    • 2 hr 1 min
    Basic Instincts (with Paul Bloom)

    Basic Instincts (with Paul Bloom)

    VBW favorite Paul Bloom joins us to talk about William James’ account of instinct and its parallels to the nativism/empiricism debates in developmental psychology today. Also discussed: Richard Dawkins trolling philosophy, the ghost in Tamler’s kitchen, and why William James’ 130 year-old writings make psychologists sad about the present state of their field. PLUS - do you wish you were closer to your non-romantic partners?  Well, strap on your gloves, grab a washcloth, it’s time for exactly 15 minutes of orgasmic meditation.


    Note: we had to use backup audio for Tamler and Paul in the second segment. The sound quality isn't as good as normal, sorry about that.
    Special Guest: Paul Bloom.
    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. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Partner intimate touch is associated with increased interpersonal closeness, especially in non-romantic partners — Partner intimate touch is associated with increased interpersonal closeness, especially in non-romantic partners
    Nicole Prause , Greg J. Siegle, James CoanCircle of Willis (hosted by Jim Coan)Paul Bloom | Department of PsychologyRichard Dawkins on Twitter: "Science is not a social construct. Science’s truths were true before there were societies; will still be true after all philosophers are dead; were true before any philosophers were born; were true before there were any minds, even trilobite or dinosaur minds, to notice them." / TwitterJames, W. (1890) The Principles of Psychology, Chapter 24 (Instinct) [yorku.ca]

    • 1 hr 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
2.1K Ratings

2.1K Ratings

Bbalba ,

Consistently Interesting

Most podcasts that I try out get boring, awkward or annoying. But for several years Very Bad Wizards remains consistently interesting and easy to listen to. They’ve discussed great books, tv shows, movies and papers that I wouldn’t have discovered on my own — I hit pause and tune back to hear their perspectives which are always entertaining. Very Bad Wizards are refreshing and unlike everything else out there.

The woa ,

This is my jam

Thoughtful, critical, & funny. My favorite podcast by far.

jford5 ,

Guys...

Long time listener, love you guys, but y’all are trying a little too hard to turn a blind eye towards the stuff that the IDW overinflates.

I actually like that you have kept a healthy distance from the IDW stuff, but comparing the media’s treatment of lab leak to the fake oberlin sushi story is a bit nutty.

Do go nutty trying to stay sane

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