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The Dissenter
The Dissenter
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Recent posts

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The Dissenter
Science In The World of Big Data w/ Sabina Leonelli

Hello, everybody! We start the week with an interview with Dr. Sabina Leonelli. She is Professor of Philosophy and History of Science at the University of Exeter. She pursues an approach to philosophy of science that is grounded on the empirical study of scientific practices, as informed by historical research, ethnographic methods used in the social and anthropological studies of science and technology, and collaboration with practicing scientists. She has a strong interest in topics like Data-Intensive Science and Practices of Data Sharing and Re-Use, Open Science and Open Data, Bio-Ontologies, and Historic and Epistemic Status of Model Organism Research. She’s the author of Data-Centric Biology: A Philosophical Study, and “La ricerca scientifica nell’era dei Big Data” (“Scientific Research in the Era of Big Data”).

In this episode, we talk about science and Big Data, based mostly on Dr. Leonelli’s book, Data-Centric Biology. We discuss the relationship between data and science; data classification; bio-ontologies; what are curators, their role, and their relationship with scientists and researchers. We also talk about the processes of decontextualizing and recontextualizing data, and data travels; and how political and financial powers might interfere with the production of scientific knowledge. Toward the end, we also talk about the role that model organisms have played in Biology, and the potential of synthetic biology.

https://youtu.be/umJEkz6qaLY

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/33JrcsT

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The Dissenter
Evolutionary Psychology, Women, And Feminism w/ Maryanne Fisher

Hello, everybody! This Friday, I bring you an interview I did with Dr. Maryanne Fisher. She is a Professor in the Department of Psychology, and a member of the Women and Gender Studies Program, at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Canada. Her research on how women compete for men has received international media attention, such as the BBC and Discovery Channel. She also investigates the determinants of women's physical attractiveness and what women want in a mate. She has published over 90 peer-reviewed journal articles primarily related to interpersonal relationships. She is an award-winning teacher, and was recognized by the Canadian Progress Club as a Woman of Excellent in the Division of Research and Education. She’s also the editor of Evolution's Empress: Darwinian Perspectives on the Nature of Women.

In this episode, we talk about evolutionary psychology and feminism. We first refer to determinants of female attractiveness and mate preferences; and intrasexual competition strategies, and how some of them may backfire. In the second part, we discuss how we can integrate evolutionary theory and feminism, and also aspects of women’s evolution and behavior that have traditionally been neglected in evolutionary psychology, particularly women’s friendships. We also talk about evolutionary approaches to art, and what women like to paint. Toward the end, we discuss the extent to which the State should regulate certain activities, like prostitution.

https://youtu.be/8BDOyArmlmk

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/31KBJlY
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The Dissenter
Cultural Evolution And Transmission, And Cumulative Culture w/ Thomas Morgan

Hello, everybody! Today, I am releasing an interview with Dr. Thomas Morgan. He is Assistant Professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. His background is in the evolution of animal social behavior and cognition. He graduated from Cambridge with a bachelor's in zoology in 2009, focusing on vertebrate evolution and behavioral ecology. He completed his doctorate in 2013 at the University of St. Andrews working with Kevin Laland to carry out a series of experiments testing evolutionary hypotheses about human social learning. From 2014 to 2016, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Tom Griffiths in the computational cognitive science lab at University of California at Berkeley where he developed a new platform for large-scale online social experiments called Dallinger. He joined the Adaptation, Behavior, Culture and Society group at Arizona State University in August 2016. He’s interested in the psychological mechanisms that support culture and evolutionary explanations for how humans came to be. 

In this episode, we talk about cultural evolution. First, we discuss how we study the cognitive mechanisms that provide a biological basis for culture, and the relationship between biology and culture. We then get into Dr. Morgan’s work on conformist transmission, and sex differences in conformity and where they stem from. We also talk about the chicken-and-egg problem of culture, and issues with sociocultural constructionist approaches, and cross-cultural variation. Finally, we discuss what we can learn by studying other species, and about how peculiar is cumulative culture in the animal realm. 

https://youtu.be/PquVDMPAbmo

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2yZf1dm

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The Dissenter
#132 David Papineau: Naturalism, Mind-Brain Dualism, and Consciousness

Dr. David Papineau is Professor of Philosophy at King's College London and at the City University of New York Graduate Center, having previously taught for several years at Cambridge University where he was a fellow of Robinson College. He was President of the British Society for Philosophy of Science for 1993-5, President of the Mind Association for 2009-10, and President of the Aristotelian Society for 2013-14. He’s also the author of 9 books, including Philosophical Naturalism, Thinking About Consciousness, and Knowing the Score.

In this episode, we talk about naturalism, and consciousness and mental phenomena. We start by discussing what naturalism is; if there are problems that science can’t deal with; and how philosophy can contribute to science and the scientific method. Then, we move on to talking about consciousness. We first tackle the issues with mind-brain dualism, and then we discuss consciousness and action, and the Libet experiments in the 1980’s; we also deal with the hard problem of consciousness, and the issues with emergentism. Finally, we debate the possibility of mental phenomena being nothing more than illusions, and what is real in how we experience the world, with a focus on our perceptual systems.

https://youtu.be/AMtjWKE__YY

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2Kv9xh7
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The Dissenter
The Origins of Philosophy, and the Pre-Socratics w/ Peter Adamson

Hello, everybody! Today, I am releasing an interview with Dr. Peter Adamson. He is Professor of Philosophy at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and at King's College London. He has written articles, monographs and edited books, mostly on philosophy in the Islamic world and ancient philosophy. He is the host of the weekly podcast "History of Philosophy without any gaps", which by 2014 had more than four million downloads and led to the publication of a book series. He received the Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2003, for "outstanding research achievements of young scholars of distinction and promise based in UK institutions" and received a grant from the same institution in 2010.

In this episode, we talk about the origins of philosophy, and the Pre-Socratics. We first discuss what we should consider to be “philosophy” and where it might have started, and we also refer to the relationship between religion and philosophy. We then get into the Pre-Socratics, and what distinguished them from the others. We also talk about the sophists and the ancient poets, before ending with a discussion about the relationship between philosophy and (modern) science.

https://youtu.be/KFWWSB4u8zs

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2MeEkRb

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The Dissenter
#131 Nikola Danaylov: The Singularity, Doing Futurism, and the Human Element

Nikola Danaylov is a #1 Bestselling Author of Conversations with the Future, a Keynote Speaker, Futurist, Strategic Adviser, popular Blogger and Podcast host, also known as Socrates in the Singularity community. In 1998, he moved to Canada where he completed an HBA in Political Science, Philosophy & Economics at the University of Toronto followed by an MA in Political Science at York University. It was at YorkU that Mr. Danaylov became deeply interested in the Technological Singularity and wrote "Hacking Destiny: Critical Security at the Intersection of Human and Machine Intelligence." In 2011, he went to NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California and completed the Graduate Studies Program at Singularity University. He has spoken at public events on topics ranging from technology, transhumanism and the technological singularity to new media, blogging, and podcasting. He has been profiled in Next Stage Rising Stars Magazine and has been interviewed himself for numerous documentary films, blogs, podcasts, magazines, and newspapers.

In this episode, we talk about what is meant by the term “Singularity”, and its technological, social, economic, and scientific implications. We consider the technological and human aspects of the equation of economic and technologic growth, and human and moral progress. We also deal with more specific issues, like transhumanism, the ethics of enhancement, AI, and Big Data.

https://youtu.be/71G6CCoKYoU

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2YCebCx
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The Dissenter
Iris Berent Part 2: Spoken Language, Sign Language, Written Language, and the Pirahã

This is Part 2 of the conversation with Dr. Iris Berent: Spoken Language, Sign Language, and Written Language.

https://youtu.be/BmjcLmGuasQ

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/33n3rGV
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The Dissenter
Memory and Metacognition in Animal Models w/ Jonathon Crystal

Hello, everybody! To end the week, I bring you an interview with Dr. Jonathon Crystal. He is Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. His research focuses on developing animal models of cognition. His current work focuses on episodic memory, source memory, and prospective memory in rats. He has also developed rodent models to assess retrieval practice, working memory, and metacognition. He is currently the Editor of Learning & Behavior, and he recently served as President of the Comparative Cognition Society. 

In this episode, we talk about studying memory in nonhuman animals, primarily in rats. First, we talk about ways of classifying different types of memory. We then get into how Dr. Crystal designs experiments to study different types of memory and know if they even exist in other animals, including episodic memory and prospective memory. Toward the end, we also refer to metacognition.

https://youtu.be/KXNWeJ5Z1hY

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2ZLbQlb
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The Dissenter
Iris Berent Part 1: Skinner and Chomsky, Linguistics and Cognition

This is Part 1 of the conversation with Dr. Iris Berent: Skinner and Chomsky, Linguistics and Cognition.

https://youtu.be/0hQ3_sScoAw

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2YLHG4f
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The Dissenter
Philosophy of Quantum Physics, Pilot Wave Theory, And the EmDrive w/ Paulo Castro

Hello, everybody! Today, I bring you an interview with Dr. PauIo Castro. He graduated in Anthropology at the NOVA University of Lisbon in 1996 after studying Physics at the University of Lisbon. He taught Mathematics and IT in Secondary and Polythecnical schools. In 2014 he obtained his PhD in the Philosophy of Contemporary Thought at the Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, with the dissertation “The Epistemology of Choice – On the possibility of artificial simulation of human intelligence”. In 2015 Dr. Castro became a member of the Center for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon in the Philosophy of Nature Sciences Research Group, working on Philosophy of Quantum Physics. Recently, and pursuing more foundational questions in Physics, he’s started working on the Philosophy of Quantum Gravity. He is also very interested in both Artificial Intelligence and Environmental Philosophy, related to Sustainability.

In this episode, we get into the Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics. We talk about the pilot wave theory, quantum gravity, and the EmDrive, or the radio frequency (RF) resonant cavity thruster. In the last part of the interview, we also discuss the relationship between philosophy and science in the modern era. 

https://youtu.be/EMK2GaA-jjU

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2YVOvfs
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The Dissenter
#130 Iris Berent: Linguistics, Skinner and Chomsky, Spoken and Written Language

Dr. Iris Berent is Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, US. Her research examines the nature of linguistic competence, its origins, and its interaction with reading ability. She’s the author of the book The Phonological Mind. She will also be releasing a new book in the near future, The Blind Storyteller. 

In this episode, we talk about what is Linguistics, and how it’s done nowadays; what is innate and learned in language; if we are the only species that has language; why written language is different from spoken language, and why it’s more difficult to learn; and also if language influences how we perceive things in the world.

https://youtu.be/4a5kK2qcC5E

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2M7tZXu
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The Dissenter
#129 Igor Grossmann: Culture, Emotion Regulation, and Wisdom

Dr. Igor Grossmann is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Waterloo, Canada. He’s been the recipient of several awards, including the 2015 "Rising Star" Award, by the Association for Psychological Science; the 2015 President's New Researcher Award, by the Canadian Psychological Association; the 2017 Early Career Award, by the Ontario Ministry of Research Innovation and Science; and the 2017 Outstanding Alumni Award, by the International Max Plank Research School on the Life Course (LIFE). Dr. Grossmann is a behavioral scientist exploring the interplay of sociocultural factors for adaptive emotion regulation and wisdom in the face of daily stressors.

In this episode, our conversation focuses on emotion, emotion regulation, emotion expression, and wisdom. First, we address what emotions are, and how we can study them. Then, we talk about how culture can influence emotions in their several domains. We also talk about some specific innate aspects like personality. Then, in the second part, we discuss what is wisdom, some of its components, and the benefits that individuals and societies can get from promoting it.

https://youtu.be/qXtgnNfsRQ4

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2YLj5fQ
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The Dissenter
Randy Thornhill Part 2: Parasite-Stress, Disgust, Religion, Values, and Speciation

This is Part 2 of the conversation with Dr. Randy Thornhill: Parasite-Stress, Disgust, Religion, Values, and Speciation. 

https://youtu.be/GIzIxp6Cxhg

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2YEEOWR
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The Dissenter
The Case Against Reality; Cognitive Science, Consciousness, And Reality w/ Donald Hoffman

Hello, everybody! Starting off this week, I bring you an interview with Dr. Donald Hoffman. He is a Professor in the Department of Cognitive Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Hoffman studies consciousness, visual perception and evolutionary psychology using mathematical models and psychophysical experiments. His research subjects include facial attractiveness, the recognition of shape, the perception of motion and color, the evolution of perception, and the mind-body problem. He has co-authored two technical books: Observer Mechanics: A Formal Theory of Perception, and Automotive Lighting and Human Vision. He is just about to release a new book, The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes.

In this episode, we talk about how perception (particularly visual perception) works, how it has evolved, and the implications that has to how we deal with “objective reality”. First, Dr. Hoffman explains how he studies the architecture of vision. We discuss the evolutionary rationale behind perception, or how it has evolved – the interface theory of perception. In the second part, we go a little bit metaphysical, and discuss what is reality, and the role that consciousness plays in it. 

https://youtu.be/sD0HuGVZOvQ

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2H1A6bJ
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The Dissenter
Randy Thornhill Part 1: Parasite-Stress, Culture, Politics, Sociality, and Personality

This is Part 1 of the conversation with Dr. Randy Thornhill: Parasite-Stress, Culture, Politics, Sociality, and Personality.

https://youtu.be/2tAwDLU8-gw

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2T2JyQM
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The Dissenter
#128 Randy Thornhill: Parasite-Stress, Sociality, Values, Personality, and Politics

Dr. Randy Thornhill is an American entomologist and evolutionary biologist. He is a professor of biology at the University of New Mexico, and was president of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society from 2011 to 2013. He is known for his evolutionary explanation of rape as well as his work on insect mating systems and the parasite-stress theory. He’s the author of several books, including A Natural History of Rape, and The Parasite-Stress Theory of Values and Sociality.
In this episode, we focus on the main topics of Dr. Thornhill’s book, The Parasite-Stress Theory of Values and Sociality (https://tinyurl.com/ybuant6k). We explore the evolutionary bases of the behavioral immune system, and the strategies humans and other animals evolved, in terms of sociality, to avoid getting in contact with sources of infection and contamination. In the case of humans, these strategies involve politics, culture, society, personality, and other aspects. We also refer to the biological bases of culture; the emotions of disgust and fear; the cultural differences between the southern and the northern United States; religious content to do with purity and pathogen avoidance; how parasite-stress might have affected the development of the Inquisition, the Enlightenment, and the 60’s Cultural Revolution; and also how it is a factor that contributes to speciation.

https://youtu.be/6F56b8TYT_c

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2MBOfQc
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The Dissenter
Epicureanism, Atomism, Materialism, And Modernity w/ Catherine Wilson

Hello, everybody! I end the week with an interview with Dr. Catherine Wilson. She was until recently Professor of Philosophy at the University of York, and is now teaching part-time at the City University of New York, and also a writer. She holds degrees in Philosophy from Yale, Oxford and Princeton and has taught in the USA, Canada, and Germany. Dr. Wilson teaches and writes in the history of modern philosophy and on early modern science and also works in the areas of ethics and aesthetics with a special interest in the evolution of morality and the science behind visual experience. She’s the author of books like Moral Animals: Ideals and Constraints in Moral Theory, Epicureanism at the Origins of Modernity, and Epicureanism: A Very Short Introduction, and Metaethics from a First Person Standpoint: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy.

In this episode, I am joined by Dr. Wilson to talk about Epicureanism. We talk about its origins; some of its basic tenets, like materialism and atomism; how the epicureans thought about perception; and an early form of protodarwinism. We also refer to how the European early scientists and Enlightenment philosophers got influenced by Epicureanism. In the second part of the conversation, we discuss the Epicurean philosophy of life, and in what significant ways it diverged from Stoicism. 

https://youtu.be/PtutEYXMEWg

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2yyxu05
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The Dissenter
#127 Michael Graziano: Consciousness, From Animals To AI

Dr. Michael Graziano is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. His scientific research focuses on the brain basis of awareness. He has proposed the "attention schema" theory, an explanation of how, and for what adaptive advantage, brains attribute the property of awareness to themselves. His previous work focused on how the cerebral cortex monitors the space around the body and controls movement within that space. Notably he has suggested that the classical map of the body in motor cortex, the homunculus, is not correct and is better described as a map of complex actions that make up the behavioral repertoire. He's also the author of 13 books, including Consciousness and the Social Brain (2013), and The Spaces Between Us: A Story of Neuroscience, Evolution, and Human Nature (2018).

In this episode, we focus our conversation on the topic of consciousness. Basically, what is consciousness, from a scientific perspective, and its relationship to other cognitive components of our brains. Also, the interplay between attention, awareness, and consciousness. The evolutionary relevance of consciousness for social species, and theory of mind. How we can tackle the hard problem of consciousness. “Illusionism”, or consciousness as an illusion of the mind. And, finally, we address the current limitations in studying consciousness in other animals; if we are close to create conscious AI; and also António Damásio’s proposal about how consciousness is build up from lower-order neurological processes.

https://youtu.be/w7xR0Rpg4-s

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/31dkV6T
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The Dissenter
Cultural Kin Systems, And The Evolution Of Human Sociality w/ Dwight Read

Hello, everybody! Today, I bring you an interview with Dr. Dwight Read. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). His research interests include mathematical anthropology, the structural logic of kinship terminologies, theory of social organization, cultural evolution, and archaeological classification. He’s the author of books like Artifact Classification: A Conceptual and Methodological Approach, Human Thought and Social Organization: Anthropology on a New Plane, and How Culture Makes Us Human: Primate Social Evolution and the Formation of Human Societies.

In this episode, we discuss the evolutionary bases of human sociality. We talk about how sociality evolved from Old World monkeys to chimpanzees and to humans. We refer to the role of biological kin selection, and the biological traits that provided a basis for the cultural evolution of kin systems. We discuss the social function of kin systems, their limits, and group identities beyond kin.

https://youtu.be/M2et8hKeUkE

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/31cI9Kq
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The Dissenter
#126 Sarah Hill: Life History Theory, Puberty, Immune Function, and Mating Strategies

Dr. Sarah Hill is Associate Professor of Psychology at Texas Christian University. She studies a range of topics, applying an evolutionary lens, including the interplay between immune function and mating strategies; the impact of inflammation; poverty, food regulation, and weight gain; hormonal contraceptives and mate choice; and other topics under the rubric of life history theory.

In this episode, we talk about life history theory; how life history varies between species, and also how environmental cues might trigger fast or slow life history strategies. We talk about how it all starts in the uterus; the environmental cues people pay more attention to; how personality and other psychological traits might produce individual variation in dealing with the same cues. The we get into specific topics, like immune function; age of puberty onset; inflammation; eating habits and weight gain; how contraceptives affect women’s mating strategies; and also how technology like online porn, dating websites, and sex robots might tweak men’s mating strategies toward preferring short-term relationships.

https://youtu.be/CjoIp_gJB9Q

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2Yh5kGq
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The Dissenter
#125 Patrick Forscher: Implicit Bias, Stereotypes, and the Science Reform Movement

Dr. Patrick Forscher is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Arkansas. He studies social disparities and what to do about them. He also has a strong interest in research methods. As such, he has used a wide variety of methods to pursue his research interests, including scale construction, meta-analysis, field research, and conventional laboratory studies.

In this episode, we talk about implicit biases, stereotypes, and prejudice. We start by discussing the scientific validity of the concept of “implicit bias”; the issue with distinguishing implicit bias, explicit bias, and overt behavior; how stereotypes affect people’s behavior; some interesting approaches to changing people’s stereotypes, and prevent discriminatory behavior. In the final segment of the interview, we also discuss the science reform movement, and some of the reasons behind the replicability crisis in science.

https://youtu.be/0ULIb2U7CJc

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2LMxaUl
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The Dissenter
Robert Plomin Part 2: Polygenic Scores, Clinical Psychology, and Gene Editing

This is Part 2 of the conversation with Dr. Robert Plomin: Polygenic Scores, Clinical Psychology, and Gene Editing. 

https://youtu.be/7ObGjzM1BpI

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2YcRB3d
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The Dissenter
Cultural Evolutionary Psychology, Imitation, And Mindreading w/ Cecilia Heyes

Hello, everybody! Today, I have an interview with Dr. Cecilia Heyes for you. She is a Professor of Psychology and Senior Research Fellow in Theoretical Life Science at All Souls College, University of Oxford. She was trained as an experimental psychologist at University College London (UCL, 1978-84). As a Harkness Fellow in the United States (1984-6), she studied evolutionary epistemology with Donald T. Campbell and philosophy of mind with Daniel Dennett. She’s done experimental work, initially in animal cognition and later in cognitive neuroscience, and more recently her group developed and tested an associative account of the origins of imitation and the mirror neuron system. She’s the author of Cognitive Gadgets: The Cultural Evolution of Thinking.

In this episode, we talk about the approach developed by Dr. Cecilia Heyes and collaborators, as exposed in her book, Cognitive Gadgets – cultural evolutionary psychology. First, we discuss what it borrows from Evolutionary Psychology and Cultural Evolutionary Theory, and what assumptions from both of those fields it rejects. We talk about modularity of mind, and then get into two of the cognitive mechanisms that Dr. Heyes explores in the book, namely imitation and mindreading (or theory of mind). We get a bit into how language might influence our thinking. And toward the end we address issues regarding human nature, and evolutionary mismatch.

https://youtu.be/mF2NguzRdFo

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2YcG1VU
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The Dissenter
Releasing my interview w/ Dr. Arlindo Oliveira on my main channel.

O Presente e o Futuro da Inteligência Artificial: https://youtu.be/f1SgEA84bZY
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The Dissenter
Robert Plomin Part 1: Behavioral Genetics, Twins and Adoptees, and GWAS

This is Part 1 of the conversation with Dr. Robert Plomin: Behavioral Genetics, Twins and Adoptees, and GWAS.

https://youtu.be/E9Yxg_M3dcQ

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2Y9urup

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