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Humans are storytelling animals. Stories are what make our societies possible. Countless books celebrate their virtues. But Jonathan Gottschall, an expert on the science of stories, argues that there is a dark side to storytelling we can no longer ignore. Storytelling, the very tradition that built human civilization, may be the thing that destroys…
 
Michael Shermer speaks with writer, comedian, and five-time Emmy winning Senior Writer for John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, Jeff Maurer, about the nature of creativity, comedy, politics, culture, and how the television business really works! Jeff Maurer won two Peabody Awards, five Writers Guild Awards, and four Television Critics Association award…
 
xtraordinary advances in psychology and neuroscience have proven that emotions are as critical to our well-being as thinking. In this conversation, Shermer and Mlodinow explore the new science of feelings. Journeying from the labs of pioneering scientists to real-world scenarios that have flirted with disaster, Mlodinow shows us how our emotions ca…
 
We humans like to think of ourselves as rational creatures, who, as a species, have relied on calculation and intellect to survive. But many of the most important moments in our history had little to do with cold, hard facts and a lot to do with feelings. Events ranging from the origins of philosophy to the birth of the world’s major religions, the…
 
Does power corrupt, or are corrupt people drawn to power? Are entrepreneurs who embezzle and cops who kill the result of poorly designed systems or are they simply bad people? What sort of people aspire to power anyway? Are there individuals among us who should never be given the title of president, or CEO, or PTA leader lest they build their own d…
 
For generations, our remote ancestors have been cast as primitive and childlike — either free and equal innocents, or thuggish and warlike. Civilization, we are told, could be achieved only by sacrificing those original freedoms or, alternatively, by taming our baser instincts. David Graeber and David Wengrow show how such theories first emerged in…
 
Rulers throughout history have used laws to impose order. But laws were not simply instruments of power and social control. They also offered ordinary people a way to express their diverse visions for a better world. The variety of the world’s laws has long been almost as great as the variety of its societies. In this conversation, Shermer speaks w…
 
Shermer speaks with Jason Riley about Maverick — the first-ever biography of Thomas Sowell, one of the great social theorists of our age. In a career spanning more than a half century, Sowell has written over thirty books, covering topics from economic history and social inequality to political theory, race, and culture. His bold and unsentimental …
 
A new virus descended on the human species in 2019 wreaking unprecedented havoc. Finding out where it came from and how it first jumped into people is an urgent priority, but early expectations that this would prove an easy question to answer have been dashed. Nearly two years into the pandemic, the crucial mystery of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 is no…
 
Research shows we are missing 50 percent of our lives because we aren’t paying attention. Many of us often feel mentally foggy, scattered, and overwhelmed. Why is it that no matter how hard you try, you seem to find yourself somewhere else — if you’re even aware you’ve drifted off to that place. In this conversation with the acclaimed neuroscientis…
 
In this conversation with Jason Hill based on his book What do White Americans Owe Black People? Racial Justice in the Age of Post-Oppression, Shermer probes the philosopher on the arguments for and against reparations. In this provocative and highly original work, philosophy professor Jason Hill explores multiple dimensions of race in America toda…
 
Michael Shermer speaks with renowned biblical scholar and historian, Bart Ehrman, about: how we know Jesus existed and was crucified; how these questions are different epistemologically from those about Jesus’ resurrection and the claim that he died for our sins; how Christians deal with the trinity problem: How can God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit …
 
Michael Shermer speaks with scientist, educator, activist, and accomplished author, Fritjof Capra, about the evolution of his thinking over five decades. In this conversation, based on Capra’s book, Patterns of Connection, Shermer and Capra discuss: what it means to be spiritual in an age of science, nuclear energy and why Capra thinks we don’t nee…
 
According to Steven Koonin, when it comes to climate change, the media, politicians, and other prominent voices have declared that “the science is settled.” Koonin avers that the long game of telephone from research to reports, to the popular media, is corrupted by misunderstanding and misinformation. Koonin says that core questions about the way t…
 
In this wide-ranging conversation Shermer and Nisbett discuss Nisbett’s research showing how people reason, how people should reason, why errors in reasoning occur, how much you can improve reasoning, what kinds of problems are best solved by the conscious mind and what kinds by the unconscious mind, and how we should think about intelligence, alon…
 
Online trolls and fascist chat groups. Controversies over campus lectures. Cancel culture versus censorship. The daily hazards and debates surrounding free speech dominate headlines and fuel social media storms. In an era where one tweet can launch — or end — your career, and where free speech is often invoked as a principle but rarely understood, …
 
In the early 1960s, the head of a prominent New York City Child Development Center and a psychiatrist from Columbia University launched a study designed to track the development of twins and triplets given up for adoption and raised by different families. The controversial and disturbing catch? None of the adoptive parents had been told that they w…
 
Boomers are narcissists. Millennials are spoiled. Gen Zers are lazy. We assume people born around the same time have basically the same values. But, do they? Michael Shermer speaks with social researcher Bobby Duffy who has spent years studying generational distinctions. In The Generation Myth, he argues that our generational identities are not fix…
 
We go to movies that make us cry, or scream, or gag. We poke at sores, eat spicy foods, immerse ourselves in hot baths, run marathons. Some of us even seek out pain and humiliation in sexual role-play. Why do we so often seek out physical pain and emotional turmoil? Where do these seemingly perverse appetites come from? In his latest book, The Swee…
 
Michael Shermer speaks with award-winning Irish neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan about her work exploring the complexity of psychogenic illness affecting people all around the world. Her book The Sleeping Beauties, documents her investigation of psychosomatic disorders as she traveled the world visiting communities suffering from these so-called myst…
 
In recent decades, many philosophers and cognitive scientists have declared the problem of consciousness unsolvable, but Antonio Damasio is convinced that recent findings across multiple scientific disciplines have given us a way to understand consciousness and its significance for human life. In his latest work, Feeling & Knowing, Damasio helps us…
 
Drawing on psychology, neuroscience, natural history, agriculture, medical law and ethics, Charles Foster, in Being a Human, makes an audacious attempt to feel a connection with 45,000 years of human history. He experiences the Upper Paleolithic era by living in makeshift shelters without amenities in the rural woods of England. He tests his five i…
 
In this conversation with Steven Pinker on his new book Rationality, the Harvard psychologist and Michael Shermer discuss how today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding — and also appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that developed vaccines for COVID-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quack…
 
Unlike the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 had near-unanimous public support. At first, the goals were straightforward and clear: to defeat al-Qaeda and prevent a repeat of 9/11. Yet soon after the United States and its allies removed the Taliban from power, the mission veered off course and US officials lost sight …
 
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