184 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

    • Philosophy

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 183: Accept the Mystery (with Paul Bloom)

    Episode 183: Accept the Mystery (with Paul Bloom)

    VBW favorite Paul Bloom takes a short break from his Sam Harris duties to help us break down the Coen Brothers' ode to uncertainty, A Serious Man. Does inaction have consequences? Can you understand the cat but not the math? Why are there Hebrew letters carved into the back of a goy's teeth? Dybbuk or no Dybbuk? Why does God make us feel the questions if he’s not gonna give us any answers?


    Plus, Paul defends the psych established against critiques from the podcast peons at Two Psychologists Four Beers and Very Bad Wizards.
    Special Guest: Paul Bloom.
    Sponsored By:
    Hello Fresh: A healthy, delicious, time-saving meal delivered to your doorstep. Try Hello Fresh, America's #1 Meal Kit. Promo Code: verybadwizards10Daily Budget App: A fun and simple five-star iOS app to keep your spending on track. GiveWell: Givewell searches for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. Consider a donation this holiday season--your dollar goes a lot further than you might think!Support Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    A Serious Man - WikipediaGods And Victims | The New YorkerA Serious Man Song "Dem Milners Trern"- Sidor Belarsky (with lyrics translation)Break Music: ▶ Guilty Remnant by peez

    • 1 hr 39 min
    Episode 182: The Paper That Launched a Thousand Twitter Wars (With Yoel Inbar)

    Episode 182: The Paper That Launched a Thousand Twitter Wars (With Yoel Inbar)

    Podcasting legend Yoel Inbar (from Two Psychologists Four Beers) joins us to break down Tal Yarkoni's "The Generalizability Crisis,” the paper that launched a thousand Twitter wars. Psychologists make verbal claims about the world, then conduct studies to test these claims - but are the studies actually providing evidence for those claims? Do psychological experiments generalize beyond the the strict confinments of the lab? Are psychologists even using the right statistical models to be able to claim that they do? Does this debate boil down to fundamental differences in the philosophy of science - induction, Popper, and hypothetico-deductive models and so forth? Will David and Tamler ever be able to talk about a psych study again without getting into a fight?


    Plus ahead of tonight's New Hampshire primary, expert political analysis about what went down in Iowa.
    Special Guest: Yoel Inbar.
    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: VBWProlific: Prolific is giving away $50 to VBW listeners who want to give online sampling a go! Whether you’re a social scientist doing research, part of a marketing group, or even a high school student interested in doing a social science project, prolific can offer you fast, reliable, quality data to answer your research questions.
    Promo Code: verybadwizardsGiveWell: Givewell searches for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. Consider a donation this holiday season--your dollar goes a lot further than you might think!Support Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Yoel Inbar Two Psychologists Four Beers (Podcast)The app that broke the Iowa Caucuses was sent out through beta testing platforms - The VergeYarkoni, T. (2019). The generalizability crisis.The 20% Statistician: Review of "The Generalizability Crisis" by Tal Yarkoni [Daniël Lakens' Blog]Inbar, Y., Pizarro, D. A., Gilovich, T., & Ariely, D. (2013). Moral masochism: On the connection between guilt and self-punishment. Emotion, 13(1), 14.Mook, D. G. (1983). In defense of external invalidity. American psychologist, 38(4), 379.

    • 1 hr 58 min
    Episode 181: The Fraudulence Paradox (David Foster Wallace's "Good Old Neon")

    Episode 181: The Fraudulence Paradox (David Foster Wallace's "Good Old Neon")

    Our whole lives we’ve been frauds. We’re not exaggerating. Pretty much all we’ve ever done is try to create a certain impression of us in other people. Mostly to be liked or admired. This episode is a perfect example, Tamler pretending to be a cinephile (check out his four favorite pieces of 2019 “pop culture” in the first segment), David trying to connect with the people (Baby Yoda, Keanu Reeves etc.) – and of course what could be more fraudulent than a deep dive into a David Foster Wallace story, rhapsodizing over the endless sentences, the logical paradoxes, the seven-layer bean-dip of metacommentary (Jesus Christ I’m surprised there aren’t like eight footnotes in this episode description), and meanwhile the Partially Examined Life dudes refresh their overcast feeds and wonder through the tiny keyhole of themselves how David and Tamler have sunk so low that they’d ramble on about “Good Old Neon” like a couple of first year Comp-Lit grad students trying to impress that girl who works at the Cajun bakery.
    Sponsored By:
    Hello Fresh: A healthy, delicious, time-saving meal delivered to your doorstep. Try Hello Fresh, America's #1 Meal Kit. Promo Code: verybadwizards10GiveWell: Givewell searches for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. Consider a donation this holiday season--your dollar goes a lot further than you might think!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:
    What is Baby Yoda? | TechRadarHigh Life (2018 film) - WikipediaWatchmen (TV series) - WikipediaKeanu Reeves Is Too Good for This World | The New YorkerMidsommar (film) - WikipediaHomecoming (TV series) - Wikipedia'Joker' is first R-rated movie to make $1 billion at global box office - Business InsiderUnder the Silver Lake - WikipediaKanye West’s 'Jesus Is King' Divides the Christian Community | TimeHow Often Do Women Talk in Quentin Tarantino Films? | TimeDavid Foster Wallace - WikipediaGood Old Neon (PDF) - Stephen MillerThe Real Question | Fiction Writers Review

    • 2 hrs 9 min
    Episode 180: Chekhov's Schrödinger's Dagger (Kurosawa's "Rashomon")

    Episode 180: Chekhov's Schrödinger's Dagger (Kurosawa's "Rashomon")

    Eleventh Century Japan. A samurai and his wife are walking through the forest and come across a bandit. The bandit attacks the samurai and has sex with/rapes his wife. A woodcutter finds the samurai, stabbed to death. Who killed the samurai and with what? What role did his wife play in his death? Kurosawa gives us four perspectives, told in flashbacks within flashbacks. Who’s telling the truth? Is anyone? Can we ever know what really happened? A simple story on the surface becomes a meditation on epistemological despair.


    Plus, your lizard brain is out to get you and you only have 90 seconds to stop it!
    Sponsored By:
    Prolific: Prolific is giving away $50 to VBW listeners who want to give online sampling a go! Whether you’re a social scientist doing research, part of a marketing group, or even a high school student interested in doing a social science project, prolific can offer you fast, reliable, quality data to answer your research questions.
    Promo Code: verybadwizardsGiveWell: Givewell searches for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. Consider a donation this holiday season--your dollar goes a lot further than you might think!Support Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    When Your Lizard Brain Burns You Out And Short-Circuits Your CareerTriune brain - WikipediaCesario, J., Johnson, D. J., & Eisthen, H. (2019). Your Brain Is Not an Onion with a Tiny Reptile Inside.David talks Watchmen on the Pretty Much Pop PodcastTamler Sommers Talks Honor on Stoa PodcastRashomon - WikipediaRashomon (1950) | The Criterion CollectionRashomon | The Current | The Criterion CollectionRashomon Analysis - Rashomon's Problem with Truth | TopicEvery Frame A Painting: The Bad Sleep Well (1960) - The Geometry of a Scene - YouTubeAkira Kurosawa - Composing Movement

    • 1 hr 56 min
    Episode 179: Talking Shit

    Episode 179: Talking Shit

    David and Tamler wrap up the decade with an episode on trash-talking that morphs into a debate over the value of experimental inquiry. Participants in a lab put more effort into a slider task after they’re insulted by a confederate. Do experiments like these tell us anything about trash-talking in general? Can it explain the effect of Mike Tyson telling Lenox Lewis he’d eat his children, or of Larry Bird looking around the locker room before the 3-point contest saying he was trying to figure out who’d finish second? Can it tell us how football players should talk to their opponents? Does it give us a more modest but still valuable insight that we can apply to the real world? This is our first real fight (or disagreement) in a while.


    Plus, some mixed feelings about Mr. Robot Season 4 Episode 11 and some tentative predictions (recorded before the finale which aired by the time this episode is released). Happy holidays!
    Sponsored By:
    GiveWell: This holiday season, open your heart to those in need, and consider donating through Givewell.org. Givewell.org is an organization that cares about finding the most effective charities in the world, so that you can make each charitable dollar work as hard as possible. And for our listeners who are first time donors, Givewell.org will match your donation (up to $1,000). Promo Code: VerybadwizardsBlinkist: Fit reading into your life. Key takeaways from the world’s best nonfiction books in text and audio. Visit blinkist.com/verybadwizards for a special offer for our listeners. Promo Code: verybadwizardsSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    Yip, J. A., Schweitzer, M. E., & Nurmohamed, S. (2018). Trash-talking: Competitive incivility motivates rivalry, performance, and unethical behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 144, 125-144.Kniffin, K. M., & Palacio, D. (2018). Trash-talking and trolling. Human Nature, 29(3), 353-369.

    • 2 hrs 3 min
    Episode 178: Borges' Obsession-Obsession ("The Zahir")

    Episode 178: Borges' Obsession-Obsession ("The Zahir")

    David and Tamler happen across Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Zahir” and now they can’t stop thinking about it. What is the ‘Zahir’ – this object that can take many forms and that consumes the people who find it? What does it represent? Is it the fanaticism of being in love? The ever-present threat (and temptation) of idealism? A subtle critique of Christian theology? Is the Zahir a microcosm of everything? Why is Borges so obsessed with obsession?


    Plus, it’s the annual drunken end-of-the night Thanksgiving ‘debate’ between Tamler and IDW stepmother extraordinaire Christina Hoff Sommers. Topics raised and then quickly dropped include Bernie for President, Melinda Gates, critic reviews of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and more. Stay tuned for the end when Christina finds her “notes”. (And for special cameos from David Sommers and Eliza).
    Sponsored By:
    Blinkist: Fit reading into your life. Key takeaways from the world’s best nonfiction books in text and audio. Visit blinkist.com/verybadwizards for a special offer for our listeners. Promo Code: verybadwizardsGiveWell: This holiday season, open your heart to those in need, and consider donating through Givewell.org. Givewell.org is an organization that cares about finding the most effective charities in the world, so that you can make each charitable dollar work as hard as possible. And for our listeners who are first time donors, Givewell.org will match your donation (up to $1,000). Promo Code: VerybadwizardsSupport Very Bad Wizards
    Links:
    The Zahir - Jorge Luis Borges (Full Text PDF)El Zahir - Sufi theme in Jorge Luis Borges's writing | Technology of the HeartThe Most Famous Coin in Borges

    • 1 hr 40 min

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