101: Science and Skepticism
Published August 30, 2017
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54 min
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    This week we're excited to welcome Dr. Michael Shermer to The Psychology Podcast. Michael is the publisher of Skeptic magazine, a New York Times bestselling author, and a monthly columnist for Scientific American. He has also been a college professor since 1979 and is currently a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University, where he teaches Skepticism 101. In our conversation, Michael sheds light on a smorgasbord of intersections between psychology and skepticism. This episode is also a great primer for those of you who are curious about what it means to think like a skeptic.

    In this episode we discuss:

    • The core tenants of skepticism
    • The difference between skepticism and cynicism
    • Whether it's possible--in the eyes of a skeptic--to "prove everything"
    • The evidence-based probability that God exists
    • How individual differences in personality (ex. Agreeableness) play a role in one's proclivity for critical inquiry
    • Whether Michael would consider himself a skepticism "guru"
    • How to suspend disbelief when you need to act but don't have all the evidence
    • Michael's interpretation of the free speech discussion in light of recent events
    • The recent conflation of free speech and hate speech
    • Why we might be better off evaluating human problems relatively (as opposed to objectively)
    • The differences between Atheists, humanists, and skeptics
    • Michael's take on topics discussed by futurists (e.g. The singularity, cryogenics)
    • Whether or not he is scared of death
    • The distinction between meaning

    We wrap up the conversation by connecting the science of flourishing to positive psychology, where we cover the loci of focus that can predictably  bring us a sense of purpose, and the distinction between meaning and happiness.

    Enjoy!

    Links:

    Skeptic magazine and other resources on skepticism

    Michael's blog for Scientific America entitled "Skeptic"

    Follow Michael Shermer on Twitter

    You can preorder his new book Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the AfterlifeImmortality & Utopia on Amazon

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