November 30, 2019
This episode features a pair of interviews. First, Stephanie Lepp discusses what she's learned from interviewing people who had a serious change of heart. Second, Buster Benson shares his tips for coming away from a disagreement feeling more alive.
November 12, 2019
Economist Bryan Caplan makes a compelling case for open borders in his new graphic nonfiction book, "Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration," illustrated by cartoonist Zach Weinersmith.
October 29, 2019
Philosopher of mind Keith Frankish is one of the leading proponents of "illusionism," the theory that argues that your subjective experience -- i.e., the "what it is like" to be you -- is a trick of the mind.
October 15, 2019
On this episode, Thibault Le Texier and Julia discuss his findings on the Stanford Prison Experiment, how the experimenters got away with such a significant misrepresentation for so long, and what this whole affair says about the field of psychology.
September 17, 2019
In this episode, decision theorist David Manheim explains the dynamics behind Goodhart's Law ("When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to become a good measure") and some potential solutions to it.
September 3, 2019
Several recent books have argued there's no difference between male and female brains. Saloni Dattani, a PhD in psychiatric genetics, discusses some of the problems with the argument, and what we really know so far about gender and the brain.
August 20, 2019
It's rare for public intellectuals to talk about things they've gotten wrong, but geneticist Razib Khan is an exception. He and Julia discuss a list of 28 things he's changed his mind about in the last decade.
August 9, 2019
It's common wisdom that spending a lot of time on your smartphone, or checking social media like Facebook and Twitter, takes a psychological toll. But is there any research to back that up? Julia discusses the evidence with professor Andy Przybylski.
August 6, 2019
It's common wisdom that spending a lot of time on your smartphone, or checking social media like Facebook and Twitter, takes a psychological toll. But is there any research to back that up? Julia discusses the evidence with professor Andy Przybylski.
July 23, 2019
In this episode, economist Alex Tabarrok discusses his latest book, co-authored with Eric Heller, "Why are the Prices So D*mn High?," which blames rising costs on a phenomenon called the Baumol Effect.
June 25, 2019
We typically think of violence as being caused by a lack of control, or by selfish motives. But what if, more often than not, violence is intended to be morally righteous? Author Tage Rai debates this with Julia.
May 28, 2019
The global poverty rate has fallen significantly over the last few decades, but there's a heated debate over how to view that fact. Vox journalist Dylan Matthews explains the disagreement.
May 13, 2019
Technology writer Clive Thompson discusses his latest book, "Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World."
April 30, 2019
Economist Tyler Cowen discusses his latest book, "Big Business: A love-letter to an American anti-hero." Why has anti-capitalist sentiment increased recently, and to what extent is it justified?
April 16, 2019
Helen Toner, the director of strategy at Georgetown's Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), shares her observations from the last few years of talking with AI scientists and policymakers in the US and China.
April 2, 2019
This episode features journalist Kelsey Piper, blogger and journalist for "Future Perfect," a new site focused on topics that impact the long-term future of the world.
March 19, 2019
This episode features John Nerst, data scientist and blogger at, discussing a potential new field called "erisology," the study of disagreement.
March 5, 2019
William Gunn, director of scholarly communications for Elsevier, and Alex Holcombe, cognitive scientist and open science advocate, discuss the University of California's decision to end their contract with Elsevier, the world's largest scientific publisher.
February 18, 2019
This episode features Sarah Haider, the president of Ex-Muslims of North America. Julia and Sarah discuss why it's important to talk about the challenges of leaving Islam, and why that makes people uncomfortable or angry.
February 5, 2019
If you want to do as much good as possible with your career, what problems should you work on, and what jobs should you consider? This episode features Rob Wiblin, director of research for effective altruist organization 80,000 Hours.
January 21, 2019
This episode features Neerav Kingsland, who helped rebuild New Orleans' public school system after Hurricane Katrina, converting it into the country's first nearly-100% charter school system.
January 7, 2019
This episode features Rick Nevin, an economist who is known for his research suggesting that lead is one of the main causes of crime.
December 17, 2018
Not enough people know about the Mohists, a strikingly modern group of Chinese philosophers active in 479-221 BCE. This episode features Chris Fraser, expert on Mohism and professor of philosophy at the University of Hong Kong.
December 3, 2018
This episode features the hosts of "Ask a Mathematician, Ask a Physicist," a blog that grew out of a Burning Man booth in which a Spencer Greenberg and Seth Cottrell answer people's questions about life, the universe, and everything.
November 14, 2018
This episode features political scientist Rob Reich, author of "Just Giving: Why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy, and How it Can Do Better". Rob and Julia debate his criticisms of philanthropy.
October 28, 2018
This episode features Peter Eckersley, an expert in law and computer science, who has worked with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Partnership on AI. Peter and Julia first delve into some of the most fundamental questions about privacy.
October 15, 2018
In this episode, economist Jason Collins discusses some of the problems with behavioral economics.
October 1, 2018
In this episode, economist Chris Auld describes some common criticisms of his field and why they're wrong. Julia and Chris also discuss whether there are any good critiques of the field.
September 16, 2018
Aviv Ovadya, an expert on misinformation, talks with Julia about the multiple phenomena that get lumped together as "fake news." For example, articles that are straightforwardly false, misleading, or artificially created.
September 3, 2018
On this episode of Rationally Speaking, professor Diana Fleischman makes the case for transhumanist evolutionary psychology: understanding our evolved drives, so that we can better overcome them..
August 20, 2018
This episode features Anders Sandberg, a researcher at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, explaining several reasons why it's valuable to think about humanity's long-term future.
August 6, 2018
This episode features physicist Anthony Aguirre discussing Metaculus, the site he created to crowd-source accurate predictions about science and technology. For example, will SpaceX land on Mars by 2030?
July 22, 2018
This episode features Professor Dean Simonton, who has spent his life quantitatively studying geniuses, from Einstein to Mozart.
July 9, 2018
This episode features neuroscientist Ed Boyden discussing two inventions of his that have revolutionized neuroscience: optogenetics and expansion microscopy.
June 25, 2018
This episode features physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math, arguing that fundamental physics is too enamored of "beauty" as a criterion for evaluating theories of how the universe works.
June 11, 2018
This episode features Stuart Ritchie, intelligence researcher and author of the book "Intelligence: All That Matters." Stuart responds to some of the most common conceptual objections to the science of IQ testing.
May 28, 2018
This episode features cognitive psychologist Christopher Chabris discussing his research on "collective intelligence" and why people get so upset at companies like Facebook and OKCupid for doing experiments on their users, and whether that's fair.
May 13, 2018
This episode features Annie Duke, former pro poker player and author of the book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts. Julia and Annie debate why people tend to ignore the role of luck in their decisions.
April 30, 2018
Developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik explains why modern parenting is too goal-oriented. Alison and Julia discuss whether anything parents do matters, whether kids should go to school, and how kids learn discipline if you don't force them to do things.
April 15, 2018
Julia and Kal Turnbull discuss the culture of the subreddit Change My View, what makes it such an oasis for reasonable discussion on the Internet, and what we've learned about what motivates people to change their minds or not.
April 2, 2018
This episode features economist Michael Webb, who recently co-authored a paper titled "Are ideas getting harder to find?" It demonstrates that the number of researchers it takes to produce a technological innovation has gone up dramatically over time.
March 19, 2018
Simine Vazire is a professor of psychology, the author of the blog, "Sometimes I'm Wrong," and a major advocate for improving the field of psychology.
March 5, 2018
The universe has been around for billions of years, so why haven't we seen any signs of alien civilizations? This episode features physicist Stephen Webb, who describes some of the potential solutions to the puzzle.
February 19, 2018
In this episode, economist Bryan Caplan argues that the main reason getting a college degree is valuable is because of signaling, and not because college teaches you useful knowledge or skills.
February 5, 2018
In this episode, Ben Buchanan (postdoctoral fellow at Harvard studying cybersecurity and statecraft) explores how the escalation dilemma plays out in the realm of cybersecurity.
January 22, 2018
This episode features tech and policy journalist Timothy Lee, discussing a question that's increasingly in the spotlight: How much should tech companies be actively moderating their users' speech?
January 8, 2018
This episode features Jessica Flanigan, professor of normative and applied ethics, making the case that patients should have the right to take pharmaceutical drugs without needing to get a prescription from a doctor.
December 11, 2017
In this episode, economist Timur Kuran explains the ubiquitous phenomenon of "preference falsification" -- in which people claim to support something publicly even though they don't support it privately -- and describes its harmful effects on society.
November 13, 2017
In this episode Julia talks with Doug Hubbard, author of How to Measure Anything, about why people so often believe things are impossible to quantify like "innovation" or "quality of life."
October 30, 2017
Philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel returns to the show to explore several related questions: His taxonomy of the three different styles of thinker -- "Truth," "Dare," and "Wonder" -- and whether one of them is better than the others.
October 15, 2017
This episode features Zach Weinersmith, creator of the philosophical webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and the co-author (with his wife Kelly Weinersmith) of the new book Soonish: 10 Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everythings.
October 2, 2017
This episode features bestselling author Robert Wright making the case for why Buddhism was right about human nature: its diagnosis that our suffering is mainly due to a failure to see reality clearly.
September 18, 2017
This episode features neuroscientist and computer scientist Eric Jonas, discussing his provocative paper titled "Could a Neuroscientist Understand a Microprocessor?" in which he applied state-of-the-art neuroscience tools to a computer chip.
September 3, 2017
This episode features science journalist Jesse Singal, who argues that the Implicit Associations Test (IAT) has been massively overhyped, and that in fact there's little evidence that it's measuring real-life bias.
August 21, 2017
Seth Stephens-Davidowitz and Julia discuss the insights new research gives us into which parts of the USA are more racist, what kinds of strategies reduce racism, and whether the internet is making political polarization worse.
August 6, 2017
This episode features philosopher Amanda Askell, who (though not religious herself) argues that it's much trickier to rebut Pascal's Wager than most people think.
July 23, 2017
In this episode Julia sits down with neuroscientist and obesity researcher Stephan Guyenet, to talk about what scientists know so far about the causes of obesity, and in particular the brain's role in regulating weight gain.
July 9, 2017
In this episode, recorded live at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, Julia interviews evolutionary psychologist Rob Kurzban, author of "Why Everyone (Else) is a Hypocrite."
June 26, 2017
This episode features psychologist Jason Weeden, arguing that self-interest is a much bigger determinant of voter behavior than most political scientists think it is.
June 11, 2017
Humans have an innate urge to reach for explanations of the world around us. This episode features psychologist and philosopher Tania Lombrozo, discussing her research on what purpose explanation serves.
May 28, 2017
Julia talks with political scientist Hans Noel about why the Democrats became the party of liberalism and the Republicans the party of conservatism.
May 14, 2017
This episode features economic historian Gregory Clark, author of A Farewell to Alms and one of the leading scholars of the industrial revolution.
April 30, 2017
In this episode, philosopher L. A. Paul and Julia discuss real life examples of transformative experiences -- such as having children -- and debate how to deal with them.
April 16, 2017
This episode features mathematician and social entrepreneur Spencer Greenberg, talking about how he's taking advantage of the Internet to improve the research process.
April 2, 2017
Julia and William MacAskill discuss "moral uncertainty" and how to take multiple moral systems into account when making a decision, and how to deal with "absolutist" theories that insist some actions have infinite badness, like lying.
March 20, 2017
Julia talks with economics and public policy expert David Roodman about the "Worm Wars" in social science -- the debate over whether deworming pills are an effective way to fight poverty.
March 6, 2017
This episode features Harvard economist Dani Rodrik, talking about the epistemology of economics: Are there any general "laws" of economics that we can be really confident in? Do economists discard models if the data doesn't support them?
February 20, 2017
Julia and Tim Urban explore one of their common interests: the tension between the rational and irrational aspects of human nature. Is there any value in the "irrational" parts of us? And can recognizing that tension help us live better?
February 5, 2017
Journalist Dylan Matthews, who donated his kidney last year, and Julia discuss the clever design of "donor chains," how we should evaluate the science about whether kidney donation is safe, and whether we have an ethical obligation to donate.
January 22, 2017
Julia chats with professor Jason Brennan, author of the book "Against Democracy," about his case for why democracy is flawed -- philosophically, morally, and empirically.
January 8, 2017
Professor Chris Blattman has run some well-designed randomized controlled trials exploring low-paying factories (which some might call "sweatshops"), and he discusses what surprised him and how he's updated his views from his research.
December 11, 2016
John Ioannidis and Julia discuss how Evidence-Based Medicine has been "hijacked," by whom, and what do do about it.
November 27, 2016
Julia talks with political scientist Brendan Nyhan about Trump's surprising win in the 2016 presidential election. Were the polls and models wrong? If so, why? How surprised should we have been by Trump's win? And why didn't the markets react badly to it?
November 13, 2016
This episode features Brian Nosek, a professor of psychology and founder of the Center for Open Science. He and Julia discuss what openness means, some clever approaches to boosting openness, and whether openness could have any downsides.
October 30, 2016
Julia and professor Scott Aaronson explores the unorthodox idea of "swapping" your vote with someone in a swing state who was going to vote for a third party candidate.
October 16, 2016
How did "social justice" come to mean what it does today? Will Wilkinson and Julia discuss the libertarian reaction to social justice, whether or not social justice is a zero-sum game, and how the Internet exacerbates conflicts over social justice.
October 2, 2016
What can we do now to affect whether humanity is still around in 1000 years (and what life will be like then)? In this episode, Julia talks with Owen Cotton-Barratt, a mathematician at Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute.
September 18, 2016
Don Moore and Julia discuss the various forms of overconfidence, whether its upsides are big enough to outweigh its downsides, and what people mean when they insist "I think things are better than they really are."
September 4, 2016
In this episode, Julia talks with complexity scientist Samuel Arbesman, about his new book Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension, why unprecedented levels of complexity might be dangerous, and what we should do about it.
August 21, 2016
What role should "common sense" play in evaluating new theories? This episode features a discussion with philosopher Eric Schwitzgebel on his theory of "Crazyism," that we should expect the truth to be at least a little bit crazy.
August 7, 2016
Julia chats with professor of economics Robert Frank about his latest book, Success and Luck: The Myth of the Modern Meritocracy. Why do we discount the role of luck in success? And would acknowledging luck's importance sap our motivation to try?
July 24, 2016
Has science gotten slower over the years? What unstated assumptions are shaping our research without us even realizing it? Julia talks with sociologist of science James Evans, who investigates questions like these using some clever data mining.
July 10, 2016
If people don't have free will, then can we be held morally responsible for our actions? In this episode Julia talks with philosopher Gregg Caruso, who advocates a position of "optimistic skepticism" on the topic.
June 26, 2016
This episode features physicist Sean Carroll, author of the recent bestseller The Big Picture: on the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself. Sean and Julia talk about the new "ism" he introduces in the book, "poetic naturalism."
June 12, 2016
Julia chats with the authors of Algorithms to Live By, about how to apply key algorithms from computer science to our real life problems. For example, deciding which apartment to rent, planning your career, and prioritizing your projects.
May 29, 2016
It's the annual live episode, taped at NECSS in NYC! This year features returning guest Jacob Appel, a bioethicist (and lawyer, and psychiatrist). Jacob and Julia discuss various bioethical dilemmas.
May 15, 2016
Julia talks with philosopher of cognitive science Colin Allen about whether fish can feel pain. Are fish conscious, and how could we tell? What's the difference between pain and suffering?
May 1, 2016
Behavioral psychiatrist (and economist) George Ainslie demonstrates the existence of the ubiquitous phenomenon in human willpower, called hyperbolic discounting, in which our preferences change depending on how immediate or distant the choice is.
April 17, 2016
In this episode, neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel lays out the mystery of the "Human advantage," and explains how a new technique she invented several years ago has shed light on what makes humans so much smarter than other species.
April 3, 2016
David McRaney describes his experiences with people who have done an about-face on some important topic, like 9/11 conspiracy theories. He and Julia discuss a technique for changing someone's mind with evidence.
March 20, 2016
He's been called a "Data vigilante." In this episode, Prof. Uri Simonsohn describes how he detects fraudulent work in psychology and economics -- what clues tip him off? How big of a problem is fraud relative to other issues like P-hacking?
March 6, 2016
What if our biases are actually a sign of rationality? Tom Griffiths, professor of cognitive science at University of California, Berkeley, makes the case for why our built-in reasoning strategies might be optimal after all.
February 21, 2016
This episode features Dr. Vinay Prasad, author of "Ending Medical Reversal: Improving Outcomes, Saving Lives," who talks with Julia about why medical research is so often fatally flawed, and what we can do about it.
February 7, 2016
Julia and philosopher and blogger Dan Fincke discuss civility in public discourse. Do atheists and skeptics have a responsibility to be civil when expressing disagreement, and does that responsibility vary depending on who their target is?
January 24, 2016
Julia interviews Maria Konnikova, science journalist and author of "The Confidence Game: Why we fall for it... Every time," who explains why con artists are so effective that even the best of us are vulnerable.
January 10, 2016
Julia interviews psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, whose pioneering work on human memory revealed that our memories can be contaminated by the questions people ask us, or by misinformation we encounter after the fact.
December 13, 2015
In this episode, psychologist Susan Gelman describes her work on the psychological trait of essentialism: the innate human urge to categorize reality and to assume that those categories reflect meaningful, invisible differences.
November 29, 2015
Julia interviews philosophy professor David Kyle Johnson, the author of "The Myths that Stole Christmas." Kyle explains the little-known origin story of Santa Claus and then Kyle and Julia debate the ethics of lying to children about Santa Claus.
November 15, 2015
Professor of statistics and political science Andrew Gelman shines some clarifying light on the intersection between politics and class in America, explaining what the numbers really show. He and Julia also ask "Is it rational to vote?"
November 1, 2015
This episode of Rationally Speaking features Jesse Richardson, a creative director who has been using his advertising background "for good and not for evil," as he puts it -- by building skeptic sites that go viral. Jesse's most famous creation is "Your Logical Fallacy Is," an illustrated poster featuring the names and descriptions of various common fallacies. Julia asks: Aren't many so-called logical fallacies not actually fallacious? Is encouraging people to call out fallacies helping rational discourse overall, or harming it? And is there a trade-off between accuracy and virality?
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