Naturalism, Liberalism, And The Religious And The Atheists w/ Stephen Law
Hi, everybody! Today, I am releasing an interview with Dr. Stephen Law. He is formally Reader in Philosophy at Heythrop College, and before that Research Fellow at The Queen’s College Oxford. He is currently editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal THINK. He has published several books, including The Philosophy Gym, A Very Short Introduction to Humanism, and Believing Bullshit. He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts and Commerce and in 2008 became the provost of the Centre for Inquiry UK.
In this episode, we start off by talking about the limitations of naturalism in terms of knowledge acquisition, the is-ought problem, and the flaws of relativism. Then, we move on to discussing Liberalism, as is presented by Stephen Law in his book, The War for Children’s Minds, and the important distinction between freedom of thought and freedom of action. We also deal with the issue of religion in a scientific world and the approach of the New Atheists. We question the idea that the West is going through some sort of “moral crisis”, and the bad outcomes that pushing for that narrative might have. And, finally, we address the flaws in arguments between religious people and atheists when it comes to the problem of evil and the Evil-God challenge.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): https://bit.ly/2GuS32f
#55 Bradley Campbell: The Rise of Victimhood Culture, and Its Dangers on the Left and the Right.
Dr. Bradley Campbell is an Associate Professor of Sociology at California State University. He’s also the author of books like The Geometry of Genocide, and, more recently, The Rise of Victimhood Culture.
In this episode, the conversation centers around the book The Rise of Victimhood Culture, co-authored with Jason Manning. We talk about the distinction between cultures of honor, cultures of dignity, and cultures of victimhood; the historical precedents of victimhood culture and the boom in 2013/2014; the religious aspects of victimhood culture; the influences from postmodernism and Marxist conflict theories; the problem within sociology; the role of moral status; the possibility of victimhood culture leading to political tyranny; discrimination against conservative people; the manifestations of victimhood culture on the right, and particularly the alt-right.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): https://bit.ly/2ZeT8Tk
Sociobiology, Game Theory, Cooperation, And Social Institutions w/ Herbert Gintis
Hi, everybody! This Monday, I release an interview with Dr. Herbert Gintis. He is External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He and Professor Robert Boyd (Anthropology, UCLA) headed a multidisciplinary research project that models such behaviors as empathy, reciprocity, insider/outsider behavior, vengefulness, and other observed human behaviors not well handled by the traditional model of the self-regarding agent. Professor Gintis is also author of several books including Game Theory Evolving, The Bounds of Reason, A Cooperative Species, Game Theory in Action, and Individuality and Entanglement and also coeditor, with Joe Henrich, Robert Boyd, Samuel Bowles, Colin Camerer, and Ernst Fehr, of Foundations of Human Sociality: Economic Experiments and Ethnographic Evidence from Fifteen Small-scale Societies, and with Samuel Bowles, Robert Boyd and Ernst Fehr of Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: On the Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life.
In this episode, we talk about sociobiology, game theory, and behavioral science in general. First, we talk about the historical and scientific relevance of sociobiology. Then, we go through one of the big projects of Dr. Gintis’ work for the last two decades - a framework for the unification of the behavioral sciences – and the several obstacles that we have to that, including the fact that different behavioral sciences have different approaches and focus on different aspects. We also talk about the relationship between culture and biology. Finally, we go from there to the particularities of human cooperation, group selection, and the role that social institutions play.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): https://bit.ly/2P8BT1a
Morality, Reciprocity, Fairness, And Property in Primates w/ Sarah Brosnan
Hi, everybody! To end the week, I am sharing with you an interview with Dr. Sarah Brosnan. She is a Professor in the departments of psychology and philosophy and the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State University. She is also a member of the Brains & Behavior program and the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. She directs the Comparative Economics and Behavioral Studies Laboratory (CEBUS Lab) and does research with nonhuman primates at both the Language Research Center of Georgia State University and the Michale E. Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research of the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Center. She studies the mechanisms underlying cooperation, reciprocity, inequity, and other economic decisions in nonhuman primates from an evolutionary perspective. She looks at the decisions individuals make and how they make them, how their social or ecological environments affect their decisions and interactions, and under what circumstances they can alter their behaviors depending on these conditions.
In this episode, we talk about biology, comparative psychology, and moral behavior. First, Dr. Brosnan tells us about the primates that she studies the most and the sorts of behaviors she’s most interested in. Then, we discuss how to properly do comparative psychology, and compare the behavior of humans to other species, particularly primates. We also talk about what is morality from a biological perspective and its functions. And very important to understand morality are the processes of kin selection, reciprocal altruism, and the contentious topic of group selection. After that, we talk about some specific moral behaviors, like inequity aversion and the sense of fairness, and the endowment effect and the sense of property, in nonhuman primates.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): https://bit.ly/2Kzh9B6
Materialism, Consciousness, And The Nature of Reality w/ Philip Goff
Hi, everybody! Today, I am releasing an interview with Dr. Philip Goff. He is a philosopher and consciousness researcher at Durham University, UK. His main research focus is trying to explain how the brain produces consciousness. He thinks we need to radically rethink our understanding of matter in order to explain consciousness, in something like the way Einstein radically rethought the nature of space and time. Dr. Goff also has a sideline in political philosophy, focusing on issues pertaining to taxation, globalization and social justice. He’s also the author of the book Consciousness and Fundamental Reality.
In this episode, we talk about consciousness, materialism and the nature of reality. We start off by discussing the philosophy of materialism and its limitations when it comes to account for phenomena like consciousness. We also talk about illusionism as a theory of consciousness, and the difficulties in trying to understand consciousness from an objectivist perspective, and the inherent limitations that our theory of mind has. Then, Dr. Goff explains his approach to consciousness, and what he thinks is the best way to know its nature, based on Russellian monism and panpsychism.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): https://bit.ly/2GjdKCy
#53 Johan Norberg: Capitalism, Globalism, Progress, Inequality & More
Johan Norberg is an author and historian from Sweden. He’s been a senior fellow at the Cato Institute since 2007, and the executive director at Free To Choose Media since 2017. He is the author of books like In Defense of Global Capitalism (2001) and Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future (2016).
In this episode, we talk about some of Mr. Norberg’s personal story, as he moved from being a left-anarchist to a classical liberal capitalist; capitalism from a historical perspective, and a comparison with feudalism; how material wealth and economic growth set the bases for human progress and flourishing; the varieties of capitalism, and the Swedish model; the problem with state-guided capitalism, interventionism and protectionism; the problem with the term “trickle-down economics”; economic inequality; and the Cato Institute.
Link to podcfast version (Anchor): https://bit.ly/2uZmjM6
#52 Eric Turkheimer: Four Laws of Behavior Genetics, Gene-Environment Dynamics, IQ
Dr. Eric Turkheimer is the Hugh Scott Hamilton Professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, US.
In this episode, we talk about some concepts coming from Behavior Genetics; the four laws of Behavior Genetics; gene-environment correlations (active, passive, and reactive); gene-environment interactions; and genetics and environment in the study of IQ.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): https://bit.ly/2OYXDfR
#51 James Flynn: Intelligence and IQ, the Flynn effect, group comparisons
Dr. James Flynn is a world-renowned intelligence researcher, an Emeritus Professor of Political Studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. He’s the author of several books, including What Is Intelligence: Beyond the Flynn Effect, Are We Getting Smarter? Rising IQ in the Twenty-First Century, and Intelligence and Human Progress: The Story of What was Hidden in our Genes.
In this episode, we talk about the scientific definitions of intelligence and IQ; IQ tests and their limitations; the Wechsler tests, and their subtests; fluid and crystallized intelligence; the limitations and prediction power of IQ tests; types of intelligence; the Flynn effect; comparing IQ of different social groups; and the relationship between science and religion and IQ.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): https://bit.ly/2D4xjMy
The Evolution of Clothing and Agriculture w/ Ian Gilligan
Hi, everybody! This Monday, I have for you an interview with Dr. Ian Gilligan. He is Honorary Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology of the University of Sydney. He graduated in psychology (UNSW) and medicine (Sydney University) before studying prehistoric archaeology (Sydney University) and biological anthropology (PhD ANU). He specializes in the origin of clothing and the role of textiles in the transition to agriculture. He also has an interest in traditional clothing in Aboriginal Australia, particularly in Tasmania during the last ice age. In addition, he explores the wider psychological and philosophical aspects of wearing clothes. He’s also the author of the recent book Climate, Clothing, and Agriculture in Prehistory: Linking Evidence, Causes, and Effects (2018).
In this episode, we talk about the evolution of clothing and the adoption of agriculture in human societies. First, we talk about hypotheses as to how our naked skin might have evolved, and when in our evolutionary history we started wearing clothes and the environmental factors that favored its development. We also briefly refer to the limitations in terms of the information we can derive from studies on modern hunter-gatherers, if we’re trying to learn more about how our species evolved and how people behaved back in the Pleistocene. We go through the differences between simples and complex clothing (the latter includes textile clothing), and also between clothing based on animal skin and fur and clothing based on textiles. Then, we discuss the ways by which clothing might have played a causal role in the adoption of agriculture and making it the center of our economy, the problems that early agricultural societies went through, and also why we domesticated animals. We finish off by talking about the psychological and social aspects of clothing, including decoration.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): https://bit.ly/2GcfFsB
#50 Nancy Segal: Accidental Brothers, Twin Studies, Nature and Nurture, Epigenetics & More
Dr. Nancy Segal is Professor of Developmental Psychology and Director of the Twin Studies Center, at California State University, Fullerton. She’s been the recipient of many awards and distinctions. She served as Assistant Director of the Minnesota Center for Twin and Adoption Research, in the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota, from 1985 to 1991. She’s also the author of many books, including Entwined Lives, Indivisible by Two, Someone Else's Twin, Born Together-Reared Apart, and, the latest one, Accidental Brothers: The Story of Twins Exchanged at Birth and the Power of Nature and Nurture.
The central theme of this episode is Dr. Segal’s latest book, Accidental Brothers. We start the conversation with some personal questions, about what it was for Dr. Segal to live as and have a relationship with her fraternal twin, and also what she deemed to be the most interesting findings coming from the MISTRA (Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart). Subsequent topics include: studies with identical, fraternal and virtual twins, and triplets, and what they teach us about human nature; how people express themselves more fully as they get independent from their family; the nature vs nurture dichotomy, and also nurture via nature and nature via nurture approaches; the role of chance in people’s lives; epigenetics and the prenatal environment; how behavioral genetics might inform parenting practices; and related subjects.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): https://bit.ly/2YVXeiT
#49 Robert Boyd: Gene-culture Coevolution, Cultural Evolution
Dr. Robert Boyd has a Ph.D. in Ecology, by the University of California-Davis. He is Professor of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC) at Arizona State University (ASU). He’s also the author of several books including How Humans Evolved, Culture and the Evolutionary Process, and Not By Genes Alone.
In this episode, we talk about dual inheritance theory; how climate fluctuations during the Pleistocene accentuated the importance of culture in human evolution; cultural adaptations and maladaptations; the role of imitation, learning, guided variation, and biased transmission in cultural evolution; the prestige bias, and the frequency-dependent bias; and group selection in cultural and genetic evolution.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://tinyurl.com/y694926d
The Neuroscience of Intelligence, Group Differences, And AI w/ Richard Haier
Hi, everybody! Today, I am releasing an interview with Dr. Richard Haier. He is Professor Emeritus in the Pediatric Neurology Division of the School of Medicine at University of California, Irvine. He is also the editor-in-chief of the journal Intelligence since 2016. In 1994, he was one of 52 signatories on "Mainstream Science on Intelligence," an editorial written by the American psychologist Linda Gottfredson and published in the Wall Street Journal, which summarized findings from intelligence research. His work on the parieto-frontal integration theory (P-FIT) with Rex Jung examines the neuroanatomy of intelligence based on neuro-imaging research. He’s also the author of the book “The Neuroscience of Intelligence” (2016).
In this episode, we talk about psychometrics and intelligence. First, Dr. Haier explains what psychometrics is about, and how and why we can reliably measure psychological traits. Then, we discuss what intelligence is, the relationship between general intelligence, the g factor and IQ; the limitations of IQ testing; the correlation between IQ and life outcomes; genetic and environmental factors in IQ. We also refer to the neuroscience of intelligence, and the aspects of the brain that go associated with IQ. We also get into controversial aspects of intelligence research, like sex differences and race differences. We finish up by talking about the differences between human general intelligence and artificial intelligence, and the impact that these systems might have in society.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://tinyurl.com/yymw4dav
#48 Susan Pinker: The Sexual Paradox and The Village Effect
Mrs. Susan Pinker is a psychologist, author and social science columnist for The Wall Street Journal. She is a former weekly columnist for The Globe and Mail, and has also written for The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Times of London. Her first book, The Sexual Paradox, was awarded the William James Book Award in 2010 and was published in 17 countries. Her most recent book, The Village Effect, was a Canadian bestseller and an Apple 2014 nonfiction best pick. Her work has been featured in The Economist, The Financial Times, and Der Spiegel.
In this episode, we talk about both of her books, and focusing particularly on the reasons behind men and women’s choices in terms of academic paths and professional and career choices; the gender pay gap, and the many factors that go into it; the fragilities and strengths of men and women; the gender equality paradox; the importance of socialization; how face-to-face communication contributes to the stability of social bonds; Sardinian villages, the island of Okinawa, and what we can learn from traditional societies and traditional ways of living; the poverty of digital communication; and the societal benefits of religion.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://tinyurl.com/y2own8j5
Astrobiology, Space Exploration, and Big History w/ Ian Crawford
Hi, everybody! Today, I am releasing an interview with Dr. Ian Crawford. He is Professor of Planetary Science and Astrobiology at Birkbeck College, University of London. His research activities mostly lie in the fields of space exploration (especially lunar science and exploration), and the science of astrobiology (the search for life in the Universe).
In this episode, we talk about astrobiology and Big History. What is astrobiology, and the criteria that are used to search for life in the Universe, and also the limitations of those criteria, including the Goldilocks conditions (or the habitable zone). Also, the life forms that we should expect to find on other planets, and the places in our solar system which have the highest probabilities of hosting life. The special case of looking for intelligent life, and the many complications of it. The scientific, societal and political relevance of lunar and space exploration, and why it’s not in conflict with other human social and political endeavors. And, finally, Big History, and the relationship between astrobiology and Big History.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://tinyurl.com/y39ejc5j
#47 Luís Ricardo: O Líder Charlatão, Líderes e Estilos de Liderança em Sociedade Humanas
Luís Ricardo has a phD in Educational Leadership, and experience as a high school and university professor and as a commercial technician in several companies. He has published articles on leadership and is the author of the books “O Líder e a Liderança” [“Leader and Leadership”], “O Fim do Líder” [“The End of the Leader”], and “O Líder Charlatão” [“The Charlatan Leader”].
In this episode, we focus on his latest book, “The Charlatan Leader”, and we talk about leadership and what it means to be a leader. We discuss the innate and circumstantial components of leadership; if someone can be a leader in isolation or if he always depends on his social network; the positive aspects of the several types of leadership, including authoritarian leadership; and what it is to be a charlatan leader.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://tinyurl.com/y3m9n5pq
#46 Barbara Webb: Embodied Cognition, AI, and the Study of Natural Cognition
Dr. Barbara Webb first studied Psychology at the University of Sydney. She obtained her PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Edinburgh in 1993, where she is now part of the School of Informatics as Professor of Biorobotics.
In this episode, we talk about embodied cognition; the role played by the physical structure of the body; the importance of centralized processing of information in living systems; the interplay between the body and the environment; embodied cognition in the development of AI systems; how AI allows for us to better understand natural cognition; and related topics.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): https://tinyurl.com/y3nlnpc6
#45 Mark Schaller: Interpersonal Communication and Human Culture, The Behavioral Immune System
Dr. Mark Schaller graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1984 and obtained a PhD in Psychology at Arizona State University in 1989. He is currently Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. He edited books like The Psychological Foundations of Culture and Evolution, Culture, and the Human Mind.
In this episode, we talk about what is culture and how it gets generated; the Dynamic Social Impact Theory, and the concepts of consolidation, clustering, and correlation in cultural communication; Stickiness, Pitchiness, Catchiness, and the communicability of ideas; the content of stereotypes; the behavioral immune system, its individual and cultural/collective manifestations, and its relationship with error management theory; and the relationship between evolutionary psychology and cultural psychology.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): https://tinyurl.com/y34pxo3m
Attachment, Child Development, And Child Maltreatment w/ Jay Belsky
Hi, everybody! Today, I bring you an interview with Dr. Jay Belsky. Dr. Jay Belsky is Robert and Natalie Read Dorne Professor of Human Development in the Department of Human Ecology and Program in Human Development at the University of California, Davis. Professor Belsky is an internationally recognized expert in the field of child development and family studies. His areas of expertise include the effects of day care, parent-child relations during the infancy and early childhood years (including attachment), the transition to parenthood, the etiology of child maltreatment and the evolutionary basis of parent and child functioning. Dr. Belsky's research is marked by a focus upon fathers as well as mothers, marriages as well as parent-child relations, and naturalistic home observations of family interaction patterns. He is a founding and collaborating investigator on the NICHD Study of Child Care and Youth Development (US) and The National Evaluation of Sure Start (UK). He is the author of more than 300 scientific articles and chapters and the author/editor of several books.
In this episode, we talk about childhood and attachment theory. We start off by talking about the evolutionary and ecological bases of parent-offspring relationships, including parent-offspring conflict, and the different evolved strategies of attachment. We also discuss modern attachment theory, and the main differences between it and classical attachment theory as developed first by John Bowlby, how it relates to life history theory, and the several different attachment styles that we have, including secure/autonomous, avoidant/dismissing, resistant/preoccupied, and disorganized. In the second part of the interview we also refer to parent-offspring conflict and child maltreatment; the risks and benefits of daycare; and differential susceptibility in children to different life circumstances during their development and different parenting styles.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): https://tinyurl.com/y6legg8x
#43 Diana Fleischman: The Psychology of Disgust and Mate Selection
Dr. Diana Fleischman completed a PhD in Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, US, under the supervision of David Buss. She is currently a senior lecturer of Psychology at the University of Portsmouth, as well as a member of the Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology group there.
In this episode, we talk about the different types of disgust in human psychology (pathogen, sexual, and moral); sex differences in pathogen and sexual disgust; the compensatory behavioral prophylaxis hypothesis, and the role of progesterone in sexual disgust in women; and parent-offspring convergence and divergence in mate preference.
Link to podcast vesion (Anchor): https://tinyurl.com/yyg9znzs
Personality, The Big Five, The Big Six, and The Big Two w/ Gerard Saucier
Hi, everybody! To finish the week, I have an interview with Dr. Gerard Saucier for you. He is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon. He won the 1999 Cattell Early Career Research Award from the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology. His research focuses on Personality Psychology, Values, Cultural Psychology, Moral Psychology, and Political Psychology. Dr. Saucier has been a leader in developing and refining dimensional models for personality (the Big Five, and upgrading from the Big Five to a more comprehensive Big Six model and a broader, more universal 'Big Two') and beliefs and values (e.g., dimensions of ‘isms’).
In this episode, we talk about personality psychology, and the Big Five, Big Six and HEXACO personality traits inventories, and the Big Two. We start off with an overview of the historical and scientific importance of the development of the Big Five personality traits to personality psychology, and the scientific rationale behind them, the lexical hypothesis/rationale. Then, we discuss the Big Six and the HEXACO, and how these inventories are arrived at. We also talk about what would be the goals of the development of these inventories, with special emphasis on universality and predictive ability. We discuss briefly the ten aspects of the Big Five, and then finish off by talking about the application of these inventories to clinical psychology, and the ways by which culture might influence personality traits and how they get expressed.
Link to podcast version (Anchor): https://tinyurl.com/yxhz85zf
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