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Recent posts

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The Dissenter
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The Psychology Of Consciousness And Intelligence w/ Nicholas Humphrey

Hello, everybody! We start the week with an interview with Dr. Nicholas Humphrey. He is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the London School of Economics, Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the New College of the Humanities, and Senior Member at Darwin College, Cambridge. Dr. Humphrey is a theoretical psychologist, who is known for his work on the evolution of human intelligence and consciousness. His interests are wide ranging. He studied mountain gorillas with Dian Fossey in Rwanda, he was the first to demonstrate the existence of “blindsight” after brain damage in monkeys, he proposed the celebrated theory of the "social function of intellect", and he is the only scientist ever to edit the literary journal Granta. His books include Consciousness Regained, The Inner Eye, A History of the Mind, Leaps of Faith, The Mind Made Flesh, Seeing Red and, most recently, Soul Dust. He has been the recipient of several honors, including the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, the British Psychological Society’s book award, the Pufendorf Medal, and the International Mind and Brain Prize.

In this episode, we talk about the evolution of consciousness and intelligence. We start with consciousness, and discuss the fact that it does not have a universal definition, and if that’s problematic; evolutionary approaches to it; the self; if we should take people’s reports of their own consciousness seriously; if any version of mind-brain dualism can still be relevant; if we can know for sure that other animals are conscious, and what we can learn from their behavior. We then also discuss the evolution of intelligence, and the importance of social life both for consciousness and intelligence. Finally, Dr. Humphrey gives us his account of the evolution of suicide, and its relationship with consciousness.

https://youtu.be/O3y1NWGTEDI

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2pqh3BB

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The Dissenter
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Sex Robots And Human Sexuality w/ Marianne Brandon

Hello, everybody! This Friday, I bring you an interview with Dr. Marianne Brandon. She is a clinical psychologist and Diplomate in sex therapy. Dr. Brandon is the author of Monogamy: The Untold Story, the ebook Unlocking the Sexy in Surrender: Using the Neuroscience of Power to Recharge Your Sex Life, and co-author of the book Reclaiming Desire: 4 Keys to Finding Your Lost Libido. Dr. Brandon served as a board member for an International Sexual Health Society, and also co-hosted a sex therapy radio show called “In Bed with Dr. B and Ted”. Dr. Brandon is a member of the Massachusetts Psychological Association; Maryland Psychological Association; the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology; The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists; The Society for Sex Therapy and Research; The International society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health; The Sexual Medicine Society of North America; and the Human Behavior and Evolution Society. Dr Brandon is licensed to practice in Massachusetts, Missouri, Maryland, Washington D.C., and New York. The following are among the issues in which Dr. Brandon has special interest and training: sex therapy, sexual desire disorders, marital/relationship problems, hypersexual behavior, monogamy and fidelity, affair recovery, depression, cultivating passion in long-term relationships, stress, anxiety, alternative sexual relationships, pain during intercourse, and erectile concerns.   

In this episode, we talk about the effects that advent of sex robots might have on human (romantic) relationships. Dr. Brandon’s first presents a summary of her view on the issue, and how it would affect men more than women. We talk about the issue about speculating about new technologies, and how people usually get things wrong. Then, we discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages of sex robots, and also how men and women would be differentially impacted by them, due to their differences in sexual strategies and mating.

https://youtu.be/U0p-L7RiypI

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/31894GG

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The Dissenter
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Nietzsche And Moral Psychology w/ Paul Katsafanas

Hello, everybody! Today, I have an interview with Dr. Paul Katsafanas for you. He is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Boston University. He works on ethics, moral psychology, and nineteenth-century philosophy. He’s the author of the books Agency and the Foundations of Ethics: Nietzschean Constitutivism, and The Nietzschean Self: Moral Psychology, Agency, and the Unconscious.

In this episode, we talk about some of Nietzsche’s insights on human psychology, and how that relates to his moral philosophy. We start off by discussing the importance of studying human nature to do good moral philosophy, and the issues with some approaches in ethics like rationalism and intuitionism. Then we get into some of Nietzsche’s observations on the differences between reflective and unreflective action; the dynamical relationships between the conscious and the unconscious; and how concepts acquired through culture might influence our thinking. Referring to topics directly related to morality and ethics, we also talk about freedom, agency, and responsibility; Nietzschean drives; and the Will. We finally discuss Nietzsche’s morality, and if it was relativistic or subjective.

https://youtu.be/o7LxgsSZbZk

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2B1AByQ
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The Dissenter
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Cooperative Breeding, Social Networks, And Health In The Agta w/ Abigail Page

Hello, everybody! I begin this week with an interview with Dr. Abigail Page. She is MRC Research Fellow at the Department of Population Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her research is focused on understanding the relationship between the environment (both social and natural) and behavior, and ultimately how this influences health and wellbeing. Her background is in evolutionary approaches to human behavior (in particular Human Behavioral Ecology), therefore her research seeks to test hypotheses developed from evolutionary theory and ultimately, to understand the function of any given behavior. Dr. Page’s interests are also influenced by Evolutionary Medicine and Applied Evolutionary Anthropology and Demography.

In this episode, we talk about several aspects of human sociality from a human behavioral ecology perspective. We first discuss alloparenting, and the role of fathers. We talk about what we can learn about human nature from traditional societies. We then get into studies Dr. Page did with the Agta, a population of Filipino hunter-gatherers, and particularly what happens when some of their groups adopt a more sedentary agriculture-based lifestyle, particularly in terms of health, fertility and demography. Finally, we talk about how we can use this knowledge to help isolated hunter-gatherer tribes to thrive. 

https://youtu.be/3X_lU6cyLmA

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

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The Dissenter
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Life History Theory, Development, And Risky Behavior w/ Elizabeth Hill

Hello, everybody! Just before the weekend arrives, I bring you an interview with Dr. Elizabeth Hill. She is Professor of Psychology at the University of Detroit Mercy. Dr. Hill received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Tulane University. She teaches courses in research methods, statistics, biopsychology, and gender differences. Her primary areas of research interest and activity focus on evolutionary and comparative psychology. She has investigated the interaction between biological and environmental factors in risk-taking behavior. In this research, she used evolutionary theory related to parental investment and life history strategies to conceptualize environmental factors, especially the impact of an unpredictable family environment. The areas of impulsivity, risky drinking and risk taking have been of most interest. She joined the University of Detroit Mercy faculty in 1997 and holds the position of Professor of Psychology. Hill also serves as the chair of the Detroit Mercy Institutional Review Board (IRB).

In this episode, we talk about life history theory, its application to humans, and understanding the development of risky behavior. First, Dr. Hill tells us what life history theory is about, and issues with individual differences in how people are susceptible to different environments. Then, we get into what are unpredictable environments, and the development of risky behavior.

https://youtu.be/KX5qwPukOq4

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/30IrgGB

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The Dissenter
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Altruism And Self-interest, As Revealed Through Game Theory w/ Herbert Gintis

Hello, everybody! Today, I bring you my second 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. 

This interview is based on Chapter 3 (Game Theory and Human Behavior) of The Bounds of Reason: Game Theory and the Unification of the Behavioral Sciences.

In this episode, we talk about altruism and self-interest, as revealed through lab and field studies of human behavior. First, we discuss what is rationality, the literature on human biases and heuristics and why that does not show that humans are irrational. We talk about the difference between self-interested and self-regarding behavior. Then, we get into how we can use game theory to study human sociality, and the aspects of it we can learn about through different game designs, like the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the Public Goods Game, and the Ultimatum Game. Finally, we talk about how we can make sense of the interplay between people’s social dynamics and their culture; the phenomenon of gene-culture coevolution; and the role cultural group selection might have played in the evolution of certain aspects of our sociality, like altruism and strong reciprocity.

https://youtu.be/yN8Aj2I82eE

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/32ZFp3O
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The Dissenter
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This Is Your Brain on Birth Control w/ Sarah Hill

Hello, everybody! This Monday, I bring you an interview with Dr. Sarah Hill. She 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. She is just about to release a book, This Is Your Brain on Birth Control: The Surprising Science of Women, Hormones, and the Law of Unintended Consequences.

In this episode, we focus on Dr. Hill’s upcoming book, This is Your Brain on Birth Control, and go through some of its main topics, like: how women’s behavior changes through their menstrual cycles, and the ovulatory-shift hypothesis; concealed ovulation; the different types of birth control, and their effects on women and people around them. We also talk about why studying biological sex differences is important and is not dangerous at all, the ways the pill empowered women, and also how it might have changed the dynamics in the mating market, including their effects on men.

https://youtu.be/9H9Zqwr7fSk

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2mqV2BM

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The Dissenter
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RoundTable 1: What is PsychTable? ft. Daniel Glass & Niruban Balachandran

Hello, everybody! Today, I am releasing and episode with Dr. Daniel Glass and Mr. Niruban Balachandran.

Dr. Daniel Glass is a clinician and researcher in the disciplines of evolutionary and clinical psychology. He has published sixteen peer-reviewed scholarly articles in the fields of psychology, medicine, and evolutionary studies, on subjects ranging from human emotions to peer bullying/victimization to Alzheimer’s disease. He received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Suffolk University and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at a private practice in Connecticut. His dissertation is on the emotional processing function of dreaming.

Mr. Niruban Balachandran was a winner of the World Bank's Innovation Challenge Prize and the International Society for Human Ethology's Linda Mealey Award. He is widely published in scholarly journals and print media, and is a frequently-invited speaker at international conferences. He is a Master of Public Administration (MPA) graduate of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, as well as a Bachelor of psychology graduate from Rutgers. He was also a member of the Harvard Behavioral Insights Group.
They are both project co-leaders of PsychTable.

This is a new series that we are trying to start on my channel/podcast, which will be called “RoundTable”, and where we will be having conversations with people involving the theoretical foundations of PsychTable, including people that are working on different Evolved Psychological Adaptations (EPAs).

In this first episode, we talk about what PsychTable is about, and how it will be built. We discuss the criteria used to classify something as an EPA; the kinds of EPAs that would be considered (including cultural and group-level EPAs); who would be able to access it, and how the evidence would be weighted; and who would benefit from it, and in what ways. We also talk a bit about the relationship between psychological adaptations and mental modules.

https://youtu.be/x8zqPExrnIs

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2nMWqPh
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The Dissenter
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Natural Selection, From Genes To Groups w/ Samir Okasha

Hello, everybody! Today, I am releasing an interview with Dr. Samir Okasha. He is a Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Bristol. He is a winner of the Lakatos Award for his book Evolution and the Levels of Selection. He was appointed a Fellow of the British Academy in 2018, and he is also the President of the European Philosophy of Science Association. He has broad philosophical interests, though most of his research falls into two main areas: (i) philosophy of biology / evolutionary theory; and (ii) epistemology /philosophy of science. Within philosophy of biology, he is especially interested in foundational and conceptual questions surrounding evolutionary theory. For many years, his research focused on the 'levels of selection' question in evolutionary biology, and the related issue of individual versus group conflicts of interest.

In this episode, the main focus of our conversation is on philosophy of biology, and the levels of selection in evolutionary theory. We first discuss the several ways to think about levels of selection. We talk about the issue with group selection, the evolution of altruism, and multi-level selection theory. We also refer to the gene’s-eye view, and what it is about. We discuss the extended evolutionary synthesis, and non-genetic inheritance mechanisms like cultural evolution and epigenetics. Toward the end, we also briefly talk about the usefulness (or lack thereof) of a species-level selection perspective. 

https://youtu.be/Z1f2uvSQ3ls

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2n3nZmZ

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The Dissenter
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Good Reasons for Bad Feelings w/ Randolph Nesse

Hello, everybody! We begin the week with an interview with the great Dr. Randolph Nesse. He is Foundation Professor of Life Sciences and Founding Director in The Center for Evolution and Medicine at Arizona State University, Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology and the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, and Founding President of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health. He was the initial organizer and second president of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, and is currently the president of the International Society for Evolution, Medicine & Public Health. He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Sciences, and an elected Fellow of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). He’s also the author of several books, including Why We Get Sick (coauthored with George C. Williams) and, more recently, Good Reasons for Bad Feelings (2019).

In this episode, we focus mostly on Dr. Nesse’s most recent book. We first talk about the field of Evolutionary Medicine, and refer specifically to phenomena like antagonistic pleiotropy and aging, evolutionary mismatch and modern disease, and if we should approach diseases as adaptations. We then move on to discussing issues in Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology; the classification of mental disorders; studying emotions from an evolutionary perspective; and the Smoke Detector Principle. We talk about depression, and how we haven’t evolved to feel good or experience wellbeing. In the latter part of the interview, we discuss Psychoanalysis and the self-defense mechanisms, and also if people can benefit from learning about how their minds operate, from an evolutionary standpoint. 

https://youtu.be/o29wuO0AJUA

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2l6x26f
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The Dissenter
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Positive Evolutionary Psychology, Darwin's Guide to Living a Richer Life w/ Glenn Geher

Hello, everybody! To end the week, I bring you a recent interview with Dr. Glenn Geher. He is Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at New Paltz where he has been awarded SUNY Chancellor Awards for Excellence for both Teaching and Research. In addition to teaching various courses and directing the New Paltz Evolutionary Psychology Lab, Dr. Geher serves as founding director of the campus’ Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) program. He is also credited as the founder of the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society (NEEPS). He has also published several books including Evolutionary Psychology 101, Mating Intelligence Unleashed: The Role of the Mind in Sex, Dating, and Love, and Straightforward Statistics. In Darwin's Subterranean World: Evolution, Mind, and Mating Intelligence, his Psychology Today blog, Dr. Geher addresses various topics related to the human condition. He has recently released a new book, Positive Evolutionary Psychology: Darwin's Guide to Living a Richer Life.

In this episode, we focus on Dr. Geher’s recent book, Positive Evolutionary Psychology. We talk about the history and the topics of interest of the field of Positive Psychology, and what Evolutionary Psychology adds to the picture. We address a potential criticism, having to do with Positive Evolutionary Psychology being a scientific field with a moral goal. Then we get into the nitty-gritty of the thesis of the book, and talk about the importance of integrating the negative aspects of our psychology; considering individual differences; the issue of evolutionary mismatch; politics; religion; our evolved morality, and how we can expand our moral circles; and the literature on estrangements and the importance of making amends. Dr. Geher leaves us with some remarks on the nefarious aspects of modern technology. 

https://youtu.be/aUCEml0DyYI

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2kUrmvS
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The Dissenter
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From Disgust To Legal Systems w/ Carlton Patrick

Hello, everybody! This Thursday, I am releasing an interview with Dr. Carlton Patrick. He is Assistant Professor of Legal Studies at the College of Community, Innovation and Education at the University of Central Florida. Dr. Patrick studies the psychology of legal decision-making, often from an evolutionary perspective. His research combines doctrinal legal analysis with the methodologies and perspectives of the behavioral sciences to examine the roots of human behavior in legally-relevant contexts. He is the coauthor, together with Debra Lieberman, of the book Objection: Disgust, Morality, and the Law.

This is the second episode where I talk about the book Objection: Disgust Morality, and the Law. The first one was with the other coauthor, Dr. Debra Lieberman. 

In this episode, we talk about the legal aspects of the book. First, Dr. Patrick tells us about his take of the evolved domains of disgust – pathogen, sexual, and moral. We then talk about how we formulate laws based on disgust, or how we go from “gross” to “wrong”. We also discuss the important distinction between laws and social norms. We get into the very contentious discussion about if legal systems are moral. Dr. Patrick gives a few examples of legal areas that are influenced by disgust, like obscenity and sexual relationships. We finally explore if disgust should be used as a criterion to create laws, and also if jurors and judges should be exposed to evidential material that triggers disgust. 

https://youtu.be/9APpLDc5tsw

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2kqpElT
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The Dissenter
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Natural Selection, Human Behavior, Race, And Adaptations w/ Rutger Vos

Hello, everybody! This Monday, I bring you an interview with Dr. Rutger Vos. He is an evolutionary biologist from Leiden University and the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, both in The Netherlands. He does work in computational biology and contributes to various open source software projects.

In this episode, we talk about some general topics in evolutionary biology. We first discuss the basic ingredients we need to have evolution by natural selection, and the mechanisms associated with it. We refer to some of the issues about the “extended evolutionary synthesis”, as proposed by some biologists. We then talk about the interplay between culture and biology in humans, and why human behavior is more complex than the behavior of other species. We also discuss the issues surrounding the concept of “race”, and how to properly think about human variation. Finally, we talk about how we can know that a trait is an adaptation in evolutionary biology.

https://youtu.be/2HoHsixrFp4

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

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The Dissenter
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A Liberated Mind; Relational Frame Theory, And Acceptance and Commitment Therapy w/ Steven Hayes

Hello, everybody! Today, I release an interview with Dr. Steven C. Hayes. He is Nevada Foundation Professor in the Behavior Analysis program at the Department of Psychology at the University of Nevada. An author of 44 books and nearly 600 scientific articles, his career has focused on an analysis of the nature of human language and cognition and the application of this to the understanding and alleviation of human suffering. He is the developer of Relational Frame Theory, an account of human higher cognition, and has guided its extension to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a popular evidence-based form of psychotherapy that uses mindfulness, acceptance, and values-based methods. His most recent books include Evolution and Contextual Behavioral Science, and A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters.

In this episode, we talk about some of the topics from Dr. Hayes’ recent books. We first discuss evolutionary psychology, the role of genetics and the environment, and the extended evolutionary synthesis in the evolutionary sciences. In the second part of the interview, we talk about behaviorism since Skinner, Relational Frame Theory (RFT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

https://youtu.be/6d9q1TePTIw

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2kICIDd
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The Dissenter
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Studying Cultural Evolution, Migration And Transmission w/ Alex Mesoudi

Hello, everybody! Today, I bring you an interview with Dr. Alex Mesoudi. He is an Associate Professor of Cultural Evolution at the Human Behaviour and Cultural Evolution Group at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus, UK. He studies cultural evolution, both in the lab and by constructing models and simulations of it. He’s also the author of the book Cultural Evolution: How Darwinian Theory Can Explain Human Culture and Synthesize the Social Sciences.

In this episode, we talk about some of the theoretical foundations of cultural evolution. We first discuss the relationship between culture and biology, and how we can get differences between groups. We refer to cultural group selection. Also, to issues regarding traditional social science. We talk about integrating lab studies and ethnographic studies. We then get into the differences and similarities between cultural evolution and modern synthesis genetic evolution. Finally, we talk about Galton’s problem and how to be sure that the cultures we are studying are independent, and also about migration and cultural transmission.

https://youtu.be/YhxskkTGuss

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2kHBUys
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The Dissenter
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Mindfulness, Religion, And Scientific Faith w/ Miguel Farias

Hello, everybody! Today, I am releasing an interview with Dr. Miguel Farias. He is an Associate Professor at Coventry University, UK. His work explores the psychological impact of beliefs and spiritual practices, including meditation and pilgrimage. He is also interested in the biological roots of our beliefs and how we can change them. He’s the author of The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You?.

In this episode, we focus on some of the main topics in Dr. Farias’ book, The Buddha Pill. We go through some of the main issues in the psychological research on the effects of yoga, meditation and mindfulness. We talk about studies done on inmates, and the relationship between meditation and violence, linking it to ritual and synchrony. Finally, we talk about the literature on the relationship between religious beliefs and stress and anxiety-reduction, and how people use all sorts of strategies to give meaning to their lives, including atheists and agnostics. 

https://youtu.be/czuifj95f_4

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2k62elu
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The Dissenter
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The Philosophy of Black Mirror w/ Patrick Lee Miller

Hello, everybody! Just before we get into the weekend, I have a new interview with Dr. Patrick Lee Miller for you. He is an associate professor of Philosophy at Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Becoming God: Pure Reason in Early Greek Philosophy (Bloomsbury, 2012), and co-editor of Introductory Readings in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy (Hackett, 2015). He also writes for Quillette.

In this episode, we talk about the philosophy of the Black Mirror series, by Charlie Brooker. We go through some of the general themes we were able to identify running through the series, including: the individual and social aspects of life, and their interplay; the role that technology plays, and if it leaves space open for human agency; personhood, the self, copies, simulations, and how we should deal with them; what it is to be the “true” person; the benefits of virtual reality, as well as its drawbacks; mortality, immortality, and the meaning of life; punishment and Nietzsche’s Eternal Return; how we should deal with memory and knowledge, and what we should know. In the latter part of the discussion, we also talk about the usefulness of thought experiments, the relationship between philosophy and science, and the Platonic soul.

https://youtu.be/xokhlikH74s

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2k404D3


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The Dissenter
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The Evolutionary Psychology of Emotions w/ Daniel Sznycer

Hello, everybody! Today, I am releasing an interview with Dr. Daniel Sznycer. He is Assistant Professor in Department of Psychology at the University of Montreal, Canada. He is an evolutionary social psychologist conducting research on emotion and cooperation. He has multiple lines of cross-cultural evidence on shame, pride, compassion, and envy, and their roles in altruism, cooperation, social exclusion, and conflict. He’s also working to map the system that regulates how much weight one individual places on the welfare of another. He conducts research on how these emotions and motivations regulate political and moral attitudes, and how they shape communication. The methods Dr. Sznycer uses include experimental economic games, decision-making tasks, priming methods, cross-cultural and ethnographic data collection, large-scale representative surveys, and anthropometry.

In this episode, we talk about the evolutionary psychology of emotions. First, Dr. Sznycer explains what are emotions from an evolutionary perspective, and how we can square off their universality with their cross-cultural variation. I also ask him if there’s a set of basic emotions. He then tells us about the common grammar of social valuation that virtually all human beings share.  

https://youtu.be/cEDkQX-8Brk

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2m29srq

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The Dissenter

INTERVIEWS IN SEPTEMBER AND...

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The Dissenter
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Rule Makers, Rule Breakers; Tight And Loose Cultures w/ Michele Gelfand

Hello, everybody! This Monday, I am releasing an interview with Dr. Michele Gelfand. She is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. She uses field, experimental, computational, and neuroscience methods to understand the evolution of culture--as well as its multilevel consequences for human groups. Her work has been cited over 20,000 times and has been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, National Public Radio, Voice of America, Fox News, NBC News, ABC News, The Economist, among other outlets. She is the author of Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire the World (Scribner, 2018).

In this episode, we focus on some of the main topics of Dr. Gelfand’s book, Rule Markers, Rule Breakers. Dr. Gelfand gives us a definition of tight and loose culture, and then we explore the several different aspects that go associated with the tightness-looseness continuum. We explore its relationship with other ways of approaching culture, like the individualism-collectivism continuum, and if there is any relationship with the Big Five personality traits. We also refer to the divide in the US between the northern and the southern states. We talk about how normative behavior arises in early stages of development in children. Toward the end, we discuss the relationship between tightness and looseness and some health outcomes, and how we can use this framework to potentially solve some relevant contemporary issues, like political polarization. 

https://youtu.be/oLC3KhYDsLg

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2jR06xQ
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The Dissenter
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Minds Make Societies, Religion, And Conspiracy Theories w/ Pascal Boyer

Hello, everybody! This Friday, I bring you an interview with Dr. Pascal Boyer. He is the Henry Luce Professor of Individual and Collective Memory in the Departments of Psychology and Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. He was a Guggenheim Fellow and a visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Lyon, France. He’s also the author of books like Religion Explained; Memory, Mind and Culture; and Minds Make Societies.

In this episode, we focus mostly on the main topics of Minds Make Societies. We start off by talking about how we need to know how minds work if we want to understand humans create societies. To set things off, we also refer to core knowledge, and to the flaws in the psychological literature on biases and heuristics. We then get into how human politics evolved, and the common threads that we find from small-scale hunter-gatherer and horticultural tribes to complex large-scale state societies. We also go over the evolution of gender roles, and their relationship with politics (patriarchy). In the last part of the conversation, we discuss the evolutionary psychology of religion, and some of the methodological problems with its approach. And we wrap it up with a question from my patron, Yzar Wehbe, about conspiratorial thinking.

https://youtu.be/4i5S4Lnm1qs

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2UiVxdv
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The Dissenter
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Self-Driving Cars, Love Enhancement, And Sex Robots w/ Sven Nyholm

Hello, everybody! Today, I bring you an interview with Dr. Sven Nyholm. He is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). His main areas of research are applied ethics (especially the ethics of technology), ethical theory, and the history of ethics. More specifically, he has recently published on love-relationships and biomedical enhancements, sex robots, motivation-enhancements, accident-algorithms for self-driving cars, deep brain stimulation, happiness and well-being, meaning in life, and interpersonal respect and moral reasoning. His work also focuses on the ethics of automated driving, human-robot collaboration, deep brain stimulation (including its effect on the self), and disability and the goods of life. He is especially interested in how robotization and other types of automation affect traditional human values, as well as in existential questions raised by new technological developments.

In this episode, we talk about philosophy of technology. We go through some specific topics, like self-driving cars, love enhancement, and sex robots, and several different philosophical perspectives on them, and their ethical ramifications.

https://youtu.be/eEcqxjlz1eg

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/30MIbIY

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The Dissenter
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The Evolution of Morality, Moral Judgment, And Common Knowledge w/ Peter DeScioli

Hello, everybody! Today, I am bringing you an interview with Dr. Peter DeScioli. He is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Stony Brook University. His research investigates how the human mind uses principles of strategy to solve problems in the social world. Much of his work has focused on moral condemnation, especially the functions of morally judging other people, moralistic punishment, and moral impartiality. In another line of work, he studies how people form alliances, how they choose their loyalties to others, and how they display and conceal their loyalties. A third project looks at our sense of ownership by using a virtual environment to observe resource disputes in the laboratory. In recent years, he has been designing online games for experiments about politics, including redistribution of wealth, social safety nets, alliance formation, and political negotiation.

In this episode, we talk about the evolution of (human) morality, and several of its features, mostly based on a presentation by Dr. DeScioli. First, he tells us about some of the basics on the evolutionary psychology of morality. We talk specifically about evolved algorithms of the mind and moral modules. We then get into how we go from moral intuitions to explicit moral rules, and the role of culture. After that, we discuss moral judgment and the side-taking hypothesis, as well as some of the moral mysteries that it solves. Finally, we discuss the psychology of coordination and common knowledge.

https://youtu.be/z4RrlcuDpTc

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2Ph06pT
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The Dissenter
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The Biggest Issues in Psychology w/ Cory Clark & Bo Winegard

Hello, everybody! Today I bring you a double interview with Drs. Cory Clark and Bo Winegard.

Dr. Cory Clark is an Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at Durham University, UK. Dr. Clark does research in Moral Psychology, Political Psychology, Experimental Philosophy, and Motivated Cognition. 

Dr. Bo Winegard is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Marietta College. He generally approaches psychological puzzles from an evolutionary perspective, applying Darwin's theory of natural selection to the human mind. He focuses mostly on status, group differences, individual differences, bias, methods, and political psychology. 
They are both cohosts of the Psyphilopod podcast.

In this episode, we go over some broad topics in the history of Psychology, and its approaches and theoretical foundations. We start off by talking asking if Freud really made any significant contributions to the field. Then, we get into how folk psychology intuitions might get in the way of proper research. We discuss the replication crisis, and what it really means. We get into a discussion surrounding mind-brain dualism, and also to what extent conscious processes have any causal powers in people’s psychology and behavior. We also talk about the example of cognitive dissonance and how it has been misinterpreted as a phenomenon by social psychologists. Toward the end, we also have time to put some controversial evolutionary psychology hypotheses on the table.

https://youtu.be/WfkvDOZBqZk

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/2Pc53QV
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The Dissenter
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Modern Cultural Anthropology, And Human Cooperation w/ Lee Cronk

Hello, everybody! Today, I am releasing an interview with Dr. Lee Cronk. He is Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University. His research and teaching interests include human evolutionary ecology, including behavioral ecology, cultural ecology, and cognitive ecology; signaling theory; culture; and cooperation. Dr. Cronk is also affiliated with the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies, the Perceptual Science Graduate Training Program, and the Program in Evolutionary Biology. He is a member of the Evolutionary Anthropology Society, the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, and the International Society for Human Ethology. Dr. Cronk is also co-director, with C. Athena Aktipis of Arizona State University, of the Human Generosity Project. He is author or co-author of three books, That Complex Whole: Culture and the Evolution of Human Behavior, From Mukogodo to Maasai: Ethnicity and Cultural Change in Kenya, and Meeting at Grand Central: Understanding the Social and Evolutionary Roots of Cooperation, and co-editor of two more, Adaptation and Human Behavior: An Anthropological Perspective, and Through the Looking Glass: Readings in Anthropology.

In this episode, we talk about Cultural Anthropology. Dr. Cronk starts first gives us a brief account of the history of the field, and then we discuss how to think about the relationship between biology and culture. We then get into more specific subjects of Dr. Cronk’s work, including the importance of separating behavior from culture, the mismatch between what people say and what they do, and why that happens. We also talk about human cooperation and the phenomenon of fitness interdependence, and a bit about the many layers and issues of cultural group selection.

https://youtu.be/nG53WmHvVDo

Link to podcast version (Anchor): http://bit.ly/31YMsJz

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