285 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 • 2.5K 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.

    Episode 281: Choose Your Fighter

    Episode 281: Choose Your Fighter

    We dig into the biggest rivalry in Tamler’s profession, analytic vs. continental philosophy. Are analytic philosophers truly the rigorous, precise, clear thinkers they take themselves to be? And is continental philosophy really just a bunch pretentious charlatans spouting French and German gibberish and writing obscure prose to mask the incoherence of their ideas? We look at a nice paper by Neil Levy that goes beyond the stereotypes and tries to describe and explain the differences between the two schools.

    Plus, The University of Austin (sic) is back in the news and we have a report from someone who attended one of their Forbidden Courses. This should be so easy but the article has us deeply conflicted about what to make fun of.

    [Important update: Trixie is on a 5 day streak of no accidents and is a perfect little sweet girl.]

    Links:
    An American Education: Notes from UATX by Noah Rawlings
    Levy, N. (2003). Analytic and continental philosophy: Explaining the differences. Metaphilosophy, 34(3), 284-304.

    • 1 hr 22 min
    Episode 280: Mad Masque (with Phil Ford and J.F. Martel)

    Episode 280: Mad Masque (with Phil Ford and J.F. Martel)

    Phil Ford and J.F. Martel from the great "Weird Studies" podcast join us for a whirling discussion of Edgar Allan Poe’s mesmerizing tale of decadence and disease “The Masque of the Red Death." We also talk about weird fiction more generally, why it’s so suited to the short story genre, how it creates a mood that drips and bursts from the seam of the page.

    Plus David and Tamler in the opening segment talk about Aella’s data-driven, chart and graph filled birthday orgy. Is she the sex symbol for our times?
    Links: 
    My Birthday G******g by Aella [substack.com] Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" [wikipedia.org] Weird Studies podcast with J.F. Martel and Phil Ford 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: VBW Factor: Chef-prepared, dietitian-approved meals, ready to eat. Sign up today and get restaurant-quality meals made by real chefs delivered to your door. Visit factormeals.com/vbw50 and use code VBW50 to get 50% off your order. 

    • 1 hr 39 min
    Episode 279: The Greenhouses We Burned Along the Way (Lee Chang-dong's "Burning" Pt. 2)

    Episode 279: The Greenhouses We Burned Along the Way (Lee Chang-dong's "Burning" Pt. 2)

    David and Tamler conclude their discussion of Lee Chang-dong’s "Burning" – we talk about the hunger dance at twilight, Ben’s greenhouse burning habit, Shin Hae-mi’s mysterious disappearance, Lee Jong-su’s clumsy and doomed quest to find out what really happened, and what to make of that final scene. Plus we choose the finalists for our Patreon listener selected episode.

    • 1 hr 9 min
    Episode 278: Schrödinger's Everything (Lee Chang-dong's "Burning" Pt. 1)

    Episode 278: Schrödinger's Everything (Lee Chang-dong's "Burning" Pt. 1)

    David and Tamler fall under the spell of Lee Chang-dong’s 2018 masterpiece Burning, a movie where nothing is what it seems, or maybe it is. An alienated young man meets what seems like his dream girl from his small town, but she’s about to leave for Africa. Will he take care of her cat? Is there a cat? When she comes back she’s attached (maybe) to a slick rich guy played by Steven Yeun and then she disappears. What happened? What’s real and what’s a pantomime? Adapted from a Murakami short story that’s adapted from a Faulkner short story, this movie warrants a true VBW deep dive, so we had to do it in two parts. This is part 1. Plus another segment of our pet peeves. “Updating my priors,” “Fixed it for you,” faculty governance, and more, these are the things that really grind our gears.
    Links:
    Burning (2018) [wikipedia.org]
    The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami (containing the short story "Barn Burning) [amazon.com affiliate link]
    Barn Burning by William Faulkner [wikipedia.org]
    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: VBW Factor:  Chef-prepared, dietitian-approved meals, ready to eat. Sign up today and get restaurant-quality meals made by real chefs delivered to your door. Visit factormeals.com/vbw50 and use code VBW50 to get 50% off your order. 

    • 1 hr 32 min
    Episode 277: The Merits of Buggery (Nagel's "Sexual Perversion")

    Episode 277: The Merits of Buggery (Nagel's "Sexual Perversion")

    David and Tamler play the old hits – Thomas Nagel and sex robots. In the main segment we talk about Nagel’s essay “Sexual Perversion”, a surprising essay on many fronts (Sartre, erotic fiction, conceptual analysis, much more). What’s the nature of sexual desires? Can we say that some sexual interactions are perversions? Which ones? Can we have a perverse form of a hunger? Plus, a new study examines attitudes about sexual assault by probing for intuitions on assaulting sex robots. It gets more confusing from there.
    Links:
    Grigoreva, A. D., Rottman, J., & Tasimi, A. (2024). When does “no” mean no? Insights from sex robots. Cognition, 244, 105687.
    Nagel, T. (1969). Sexual perversion. The Journal of Philosophy, 5-17.
     
    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: VBW Green Chef: Get great recipes made from organic produce and premium proteins of the highest quality delivered to your door. Visit Greenchef.com/60vbw, and use code 60VBW to get 60% off, plus 20% off your next two months.

    • 1 hr 35 min
    Episode 276: Attention Please

    Episode 276: Attention Please

    David and Tamler are back for the new year and one of our resolutions was to do more episodes on William James. Today we talk about his account of ‘Attention’ from his 1890 volume The Principles of Psychology – another remarkably prescient chapter that still feels more than relevant today. What is attention and how does it function in the mind? What accounts for the different ways that we attend to things? Does attention help to shape or construct our reality? What is attention’s connection to the will? Does James anticipate predictive coding theory?
    Plus we discuss the removal of the head of a renowned university for reasons that have nothing to do with the mission of higher learning.
    Episode Links
    Chancellor of University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Fired [nbc.com]
    William James chapter on Attention from Principles of Psychology (1890) [yorku.ca]

    • 1 hr 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
2.5K Ratings

2.5K Ratings

Cle punk fan ,

Love these fools

Been listening for years, one of the few pods I listen to that makes me laugh out loud in public.

rsoNNNNN ,

The GOAT

Been listening to these guys for almost 5 years now. Thanks for many laughs and insights. You two have helped me through some very hard times!

JLBbb ,

Favorite podcast

Super refreshing to hear discussions of science and philosophy delivered with such incisive levity and wit.

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