The Michael Shermer Show

The Michael Shermer Show

The Michael Shermer Show is a series of long-form conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time.

Episodes

May 24, 2022 87 min

What is gender? How different are men and women? Are differences due to biological sex or to culture? How do they compare with what is known about our fellow primates? Do apes also culturally learn their sex roles or is “gender” uniquely human?

Shermer and de Waal discuss: sex and gender in humans, primates, and mammals • who you identify as vs. who you’re attracted to • binary vs. nonbinary vs. continuum: how fuzzy can human sex c...

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Shermer and Young discuss: Florida’s “Don’t say ‘gay’” law • What is the appropriate age to discuss sex and gender issues with children? • sex, gender, and trans matters • Critical Race Theory, race and racism, and age appropriate discussions • white privilege and racial profiling • social media and political polarization • Putin, Russia, and Ukraine • Is there a Russian character that differs from that of Europeans or Americans? •...

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Shermer and Vyse discuss: What is a delusion? • veridical perception • perceptual illusions and irrationalities • Kahneman vs. Gigerenzer: rationality, irrationality, and bounded rationality • Rational Choice Theory and Homo economicus • William Clifford v. William James: When is it ok to believe anything upon insufficient evidence? • pragmatic truths, 3 conditions: living hypothesis, forced question, momentous • death and delusion...

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Shermer and Ward discuss: religious immortality • Church of Perpetual Life in Florida • what it means to live forever • why lives have doubled in length the past century • Stein’s Law: things that can’t go on forever won’t • Why do we age and die? • how to live to 100, 1000, 10,000 years • escape velocity to reach immortality • Aubrey de Grey’s program • tech billionaires programs • transhumanists/extropians • diet, exercise, suppl...

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Shermer, Hoffman, and Yoeli discuss: the problems game theory was developed to solve • How rational or irrational an animal are we? • the evolutionary logic of game theory • Alan Fiske’s four relationships • kin selection, altruism and reciprocal altruism • deception and self-deception • costly signaling theory • pirate rationality • virtue signaling • Putin, Russia, and Ukraine • Israeli-Palestinian conflict • justice, self-help j...

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Do you sometimes dream you can fly like a bird? Gliding effortlessly above the treetops, soaring and swooping, playing and dodging through the third dimension. Computer games, virtual reality headsets, and some drugs can lift our imagination and fly us through fabled, magical spaces. But it’s not the real thing. No wonder some of the past’s greatest minds, including Leonardo da Vinci’s, have yearned for flying machines and struggle...

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Shermer and Murray discuss: what it takes to become a successful writer • Is this “war” on Western civilization just a necessary course correction from the sins of the past? • Is at least some of the criticisms of Western civilization a form of revenge for past wrongs? • CRT: If racism is not the explanation for the present Black/White differences in income, wealth, home ownership, and representation in professional careers, what i...

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Shermer and Theroux discuss: how documentary films are made • religious fanaticism and why people believe • UFO cults, end-times sects, and cognitive dissonance • Scientology: religion or cult? • neo-Nazis and anti-Semitism • prisons, pornography, and prostitution • Jeffrey Epstein and Jimmy Savile • self-help movements and gurus • deception and self-deception • social proof and human conformity • are humans naturally rational, irr...

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Michal Shermer and Jesse Singal discuss: how social scientists determine causality • Primeworld: cognitive priming and how it works (and doesn’t work) • The Malcolm Gladwell-effect (named after the 10,000-hour effect, by Anders Ericsson) • the self-esteem and self-help personal-empowerment movements • power posing and positive psychology • New Age self-help movements • Grit (stick-to-itiveness) (Darwin’s “dogged as does it.”) • Per...

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Shermer and Blattman discuss: Putin, Russia, and Ukraine • game theory and violent conflict • 5 Reasons for conflict and war • common elements of conflict in Medellin, Chicago, Sudan, Somalia, etc. • U.S. foreign policy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and elsewhere, and its consequences • human nature and conflict: are we wired to fight or do environments push us into conflicts? • cooperation vs. competition / selfish genes vs. coll...

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Increasingly, identity theft is a fact of life: from fake companies selling “credit card insurance”; criminal, medical, and child identity theft; catphishers, tax fraud, fake debt collectors who threaten you with legal action; and much more. We might once have hoped to protect ourselves from hackers with airtight passwords and aggressive spam filters, and those are good ideas as far as they go. But with the breaches of huge organiz...

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In this conversation, Shermer speaks with Dave Rubin: New York Times bestselling author, and creator and host of The Rubin Report.

According to Rubin, you don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that something dark is happening in America. Just look around: Massive corporations monitor our every move. The Thought Police stand ready to cancel any who dare think for themselves. Brainwashed activists openly attack the American e...

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In episode 262, Shermer speaks with Oliver Stone about: the relationship with truth in dramatic films vs. documentary films; how the world would be different if JFK were not assassinated; why diplomacy and trade agreements are necessary with Russia, even now after the invasion of Ukraine; the Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S. Jupiter missiles in Turkey, and Nikita Khrushchev’s response; Putin’s justifications for Soviet/Russian actions in...

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In this conversation with quantum physicist, New York Times bestselling author, and BBC host Jim Al-Khalili reveals how 8 lessons from the heart of science can help us all get the most out of our lives.

Today’s world is unpredictable and full of contradictions, and navigating its complexities while trying to make the best decisions is far from easy. In this brief guide to leading a more rational life, acclaimed physicist Jim Al-Kha...

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Something is wrong with American journalism. Long before “fake news” became the calling card of the Right, Americans had lost faith in their news media. But lately, the feeling that something is off has become impossible to ignore. That’s because the majority of our mainstream news is no longer just liberal; it’s woke. Today’s newsrooms are propagating radical ideas that were fringe as recently as a decade ago, including “antiracis...

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Why do you exist? How did atoms and molecules transform into sentient creatures that experience longing, regret, compassion, and even marvel at their own existence? What does it truly mean to have a mind―to think? Science has offered few answers to these existential questions until now.

Michael Shermer speaks with computational neuroscientist, Ogi Ogas, about his unified account of the mind that explains how consciousness, language...

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Michael Shermer speaks with Professor of International Relations, Dr. Jacek Kugler, about his Power Transition Theory which states that an even distribution of political, economic, and military capabilities between contending groups of states is likely to increase the probability of war; peace is preserved best when there is an imbalance of national capabilities between disadvantaged and advantaged nations; the aggressor will come ...

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If extraterrestrial intelligences exist, will look anything like us? Are we alone in the cosmos? If we reran the tape of life, would humans appear again? Is there purpose in the cosmos?

Shermer speaks with Cambridge evolutionary palaeobiologist Simon Conway Morris whose latest book challenges six assumptions that too often pass as unquestioned truths amongst the evolutionary orthodox. These include the idea that evolution is boundl...

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Shermer speaks with world-renowned future forecaster and game designer, Jane McGonigal, about her book Imaginable in which she draws on the latest scientific research in psychology and neuroscience to show us how to train our minds to think the unthinkable and imagine the unimaginable by inviting us to play with provocative thought experiments and future simulations.

Shermer and McGonigal discuss: what a futurist is and what they d...

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Shermer speaks with University Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science and codirector of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness at New York University, Dr. David Chalmers, to discuss: the hard problem of consciousness; virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence; VR inside a VR, indistinguishable from Reality; Are we living in a simulation?; Can you live a good life in VR?; Can AI systems be conscious? and ...

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