Very Bad Wizards

Very Bad Wizards

verybadwizards.fireside.fm
a philosopher and a psychologist ponder human morality
118: We Don’t Love Them Hoax
Jun 27
David and Tamler try to put the topic of campus politics to bed once and for all – with limited success. First, we get into a big fight about the prevalence and danger of political correctness in American universities. We junked that recording, and tried…
117: Extended Minds, Extended Foreskins
Jun 13
David and Tamler break down a recent classic in the philosophy of mind: "The Extended Mind" by Andy Clark and David Chalmers. What is boundary of your mind? Is it contained with your body, or does it extend to the external environment—to your laptop,…
116: Pain, Pleasure, and Peer-Reviewed Penises
May 31
David and Tamler break down the latest small-stakes academic controversy—yes the one about conceptual penises. Does the recent "Sokal-like" hoax expose the ideological extremism of gender studies? Or does it show that certain portions of the "skeptic"…
115: Which Field is More Fu@%ed: Philosophy or Psychology?
May 16
David and Tamler go ambulance chasing for scandals in their own fields. Inspired by a tweet from Jay Van Bavel, they argue about which of their disciplines—philosophy or psychology—is more completely and irredeemably fucked. Is the recent controversy at…
114: Great Vengeance and Furious Anger (Top 5 Movies About Revenge)
May 4
Somehow, after 113 episodes David and Tamler have never done a top 5 movie episode about revenge (so unbelievable that we had to double-check). That changes today. Among the things we learned: good revenge movies are harder to find than we thought,…
113: Pascal, Probability, and Pitchforks
Apr 18
David and Tamler break down what may be the best argument that it's rational to believe in God: Pascal's Wager. (No, we're not just trolling our Sam Harris listeners.) Does the expected value of believing in God outweigh the probability that you're wrong?…
112: Gettier Goggles
Apr 4
For four years Tamler has been bitching about Gettier cases without even explaining what they are or why he hates them. That ends today. David and Tamler talk about the famous paper that challenged the (widespread? non-existent?) notion that knowledge is,…
111: Our Language Doesn’t Have a Word For This Title (with Yoel Inbar)
Mar 22
In Part 2 of our episode with film scholar Yoel Inbar (AOS: Quebecois New Wave Cinema), we break down the philosophy and psychology of the movie Arrival. [Note: Massive spoilers, see the movie first!] Does our language shape our perception of reality?…
110: Stepsisters and Neck Braces (with Yoel Inbar)
Mar 14
Any time the topic is campus politics there's a good chance we'll have to record more than once. True to form, David and Tamler yelled at each other for most of the first attempt to discuss the Middlebury College incident while special guest Yoel Inbar…
109: Moral Pluralism: Behind the Lube
Feb 28
David and Tamler return to their repugnant roots to talk about Cornell's refusal to hire conservative faculty, Milo getting disinvited from CPAC, and a case in Canada involving child sex dolls and a bottle of lube. Then they launch into a discussion of…
108: The Gimp Exception
Feb 7
Inspired by a recent article, David and Tamler try to figure out what's behind our aversion to moral hypocrisy. Why do we have such low opinions of people who don't practice what they preach? Shouldn't we be happy that they promote the views we agree…
107: Winking Under Oppression (with Manuel Vargas)
Jan 24
The philosopher and pride of Bakersfield, CA Manuel Vargas joins us to talk about culpability under conditions of oppression. How should we treat wrongdoers when their actions and character are shaped in part by their oppressive circumstances? Is it…
106: American Grandstand
Jan 10
David and Tamler take a break from moral grandstanding to talk about moral grandstanding. How often do we moralize to make us look respectable? Does grandstanding make us more cynical about ethical debates? Does it contribute to outrage exhaustion and…
105: Wizards With (Reactive) Attitudes
Dec 28, 2016
David and Tamler go back to basics—discussing a paper (Victoria McGeer on responsibilty and Strawson) and arguing about restorative justice. What is the function of attitudes like resentment and anger? Do they presume anything metaphysics of agency? Why…
104: Smelling Salts for Morality: Our Top 3 Movies About Empathy (with Paul Bloom)
Dec 13, 2016
Paul Bloom takes some time away from his "Waking Up" appearances to join us for a very special movie episode: our top three films about empathy. Can movies help us understand the experiences of people who live completely different lives? Do serial killers…
103: Very Bad Utopias
Nov 29, 2016
It’s the Thanksgiving episode! David and Tamler give thanks to their listeners and Patreon supporters with an episode chosen by our top Patreon subscribers (it was the most enjoyable election we've had all month). It was close, we had a bunch of great…
102: Red, Black, and Blue
Nov 15, 2016
David and Tamler stumble their way through talking about the election results, how Trump got elected, the role of racism, sexism, the liberal bubble, complacency, economic anxiety - and find they're just as confused as everyone else. In the second…
101: Having Desert and Eating It Too
Oct 31, 2016
Why do we call Mozart a creative genius? He created his music, but do we also think that he created himself? How do we determine who deserves praise as an artist? What about athletes? What standards do we use - do they involve a strong notion of free will…
100: It’s a Celebration
Oct 13, 2016
David and Tamler have their 100th episode hijacked briefly before taking it back like Wesley Snipes in Passenger 57. To celebrate the milestone Tamler pops some champagne, Dave sips his high priced Ivy League bourbon, and we both take a quiz designed by…
99: Mockingbirds, Destructo-Critics, and Mr. Robot
Sep 27, 2016
David and Tamler tackle three topics on their last double digit episode. First, should a middle school perform "To Kill a Mockingbird" even if they have to use bad language the "n-word," and talk about sexual assault? Tamler relates a story involving his…
98: Mind the Gap
Sep 13, 2016
David and Tamler break down the biggest question in moral philosophy — can we derive value judgments from a set of purely factual claims? Like the Scottish Philosopher David Hume they're surprised when the usual copulation of propositions 'is' and 'is…
97: Dogmatic Slumber Party
Aug 30, 2016
Do you have strong views on climate change, taxes, health care, or gun control? Do you think the evidence and reason support your side of the debate? How do you know you’re right? David and Tamler discuss a recent paper by Dan Kahan and colleagues showing…
96: Memory and Meaning in “Memento” (with Paul Bloom)
Aug 16, 2016
So where are you? You’re in some house. What am I listening to? Sounds like the radio. Is it the radio? No, you’re not allowed to use that language on the radio. What are they talking about? A movie, it’s called "Memento." Have I seen that? I think so,…
Bonus Episode: More Doobie-ous Theories About “Mr. Robot” (Season 2)
Aug 9, 2016
Hello friend, did you come from the Berenstein with an 'E' universe? Or have you lived in the Berenstain with an 'A' universe? David and Tamler try to make sense of what's going on in Season 2 of Mr. Robot (Ep.1-5). You're gonna want to dig through your…
95: The Repugnance of Repugnance
Aug 2, 2016
We all remember the famous iTunes review calling David and Tamler "repugnant." (And the T-shirt/mugs are coming soon, we promise!) But what did the reviewer mean by that? Was he calling us "immoral"? Did he actually feel disgust when he listened to the…
94: Buttery Friendships
Jul 19, 2016
Dave and Tamler don’t agree about much, but one thing they do share is an affinity for character-based approaches to ethics. Using Tamler’s interview with Georgetown Philosopher Nancy Sherman as their guide (link to chapter included), they discuss two…
93: Avalanches, Blame, and Cowardice (With Yoel Inbar)
Jul 5, 2016
Scandinavian film scholar Yoel Inbar joins the podcast for a deep dive on the Swedish film Force Majeure, a darkly funny meditation on what our instinctive behavior in a moment of panic can reveal about our characters and relationships. The story: while…
92: Jonathan Edwards’ Basement
Jun 21, 2016
David and Tamler continue their intermittent “classic paper series” with an episode on Jonathan Bennett’s “The Conscience of Huckleberry Finn” (published in 1974—before the reason vs. emotion debate was all cool again). Using fictional and historical…
91: Rage Against the Machines
Jun 7, 2016
Inspired by a recent ProPublica report on racial bias in an algorithm used to predict future criminal behavior, David and Tamler talk about the use of analytic methods in criminal sentencing, sports, and love. Should we use algorithms to influence…
90: Of Mice and Morals
May 24, 2016
David and Tamler have their first real fight in a while over an article defending "social mixing"—distributing babies randomly across families such that no infant is genetically related to the parents who raise them.. Then they discuss a study published…
89: Shame on You (with Jennifer Jacquet)
May 10, 2016
David and Tamler welcome author and environmental science professor Jennifer Jacquet to the podcast to discuss the pros and cons of shame. What's the difference between shame and guilt? Is shaming effective for generating social progress or getting tax…
88: A Doobie for Elijah
Apr 26, 2016
David and Tamler celebrate Passover with a high-spirited episode on guns, revenge, liberals, being offended, the fear of death, and whether kids have a right to be loved. Thanks to all you listeners for emailing your questions, comments, and…
87: Lucky You (with Robert Frank)
Apr 12, 2016
We hit the jackpot with this one! Economist Robert Frank (you may remember him from such episodes as The Greatest Books Ever Written) joins David and Tamler to talk about his new book Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy. What role…
86: Guns, Shame, and the Meaning of Punishment
Mar 22, 2016
We know that criminal punishment has consequences, both good and bad, and that many people think that offenders deserve it. But what does punishment mean? What is society trying to express in the way it punishes criminals? And since people from all sides…
85: A Zoo with Only One Animal (with Paul Bloom)
Mar 11, 2016
Philosophers can be funny and funny movies can be philosophical. David and Tamler welcome frequent VBW guest and arch-enemy of empathy Paul Bloom to discuss their five favorite comic films with philosophical/psychological themes. Groundhog Day was…
84: Lifting the Veil
Feb 23, 2016
David and Tamler talk about the perils of trying to step outside of your own perspective in ethics, science, and politics. What do Rawls' "original position" thought experiment, Pascal's Wager, and Moral Foundations Theory have in common? (Hint: it…
83: Ego Trip
Feb 9, 2016
David and Tamler continue their series of breaking down a classic essay/article in their fields. For this installment, David assigns Tamler Anthony Greenwald’s fascinating 1980 review article “The Totalitarian Ego.” What do totalitarian regimes,…
82: Totalitarian Slide-Rulers
Jan 26, 2016
David and Tamler take a break from their main jobs as TV critics to talk about a masterpiece in political philosophy: "Two Concepts of Liberty" by Isaiah Berlin. While they both celebrate the style and substance of this classic essay, in a startling twist…
81: Domo Arigato, Mr. Robot (With Yoel Inbar)
Jan 12, 2016
Hello, listener. Hello, listener? That's lame. Maybe I should give you a name, but that's a slippery slope. You're only in my head. Or maybe we're in your head. Are you listening to this with headphones?Shit. It's actually happened, I'm talking to…
80: The Coddling of the Wizard Mind (with Vlad Chituc and Christina Hoff Sommers)
Dec 21, 2015
It’s our last episode on campus protests and political correctness for a while, we promise! But it’s a fun one. David and Tamler welcome two guests on the opposite side of the debate spectrum. Recent Yale Alum, cognitive scientist, freelance writer, (and…
79: Good Lives, Good Friends, and Gay Mormons (with Valerie Tiberius)
Dec 3, 2015
Special guest Valerie Tiberius joins us to talk about values, well-being, and friendship. What role should reflection play in the good life? What about emotion? How can we make our values more consistent and sustainable? Do we know our friends better than…
78: Wizards Uprising
Nov 23, 2015
David and Tamler return to the minefield of campus politics and talk about recent events at Yale, Missouri, and Amherst. Are the protests are long overdue response to systematic oppression and prejudice? Or is this new generation of students coddled,…
77: On the Moral Nature of Nazis, Jerks, and Ethicists (with Eric Schwitzgebel)
Nov 9, 2015
Special guest Eric Schwitzgebel joins David and Tamler to discuss the moral behavior (or lack thereof) of ethicists. Does moral reflection make us better people, or does it just give us better excuses to be immoral? Who's more right about human…
76: Cha-Cha-changes
Oct 26, 2015
David and Tamler list three things they've changed their minds about in their careers. (This episode was recorded before Episode 75, but that one was way too long already.) What does Tamler think about X-phi these days? Has Dave lost his faith in the…
75: A Golden Shower of Guests
Oct 6, 2015
Dave and Tamler celebrate their 75th episode by welcoming six BFFs of the podcast and asking them to share the biggest thing they’ve changed their minds about in their professional careers. You’ll hear Dan Ariely on our moral duty to take science into the…
74: Lies, Damned Lies, and Ashley Madison
Sep 16, 2015
David and Tamler return after an end of summer hiatus to finally talkabout the ethics of deception….eventually. But first they break downa recent article in the journal Science documenting an attempt to replicate100 recent psychology experiments. What…
73: Authentic Apes and Infinite Torture
Aug 11, 2015
In what is possibly our most repugnant first segment ever, David and Tamler break down the ethics of zoophilia and investigate the true nature of consent. In the second segment we answer some listener emails and address our first question in our new…
72: Tweenie Turing Tests, AI, and Ex Machina (with Joshua Weisberg)
Jul 28, 2015
It finally happened: David and Tamler welcome special guest Joshua Weisberg to the podcast to talk about Turing machines, Chinese Rooms, and AI. What does it mean for a machine to acquire intelligence? What is the proper test? How much processing power…
71: The Murky Morals and Mysterious Metaphysics of “Mr. Robot”
Jul 14, 2015
David and Tamler go deep into the best TV show of the summer, “Mr. Robot. They talk about the moral ambiguity of its central character, the distorted vision of reality it portrays, and play a round of “Real or Not Real” with all the main characters. Plus,…
70: Some Favorite Things
Jun 28, 2015
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, papers by Williams and movies from Sweden. Long graphic novels that celebrate being. These are a few of our favorite things. Dave and Tamler offer some moral psych-themed recommendations to help you get your…
69: CHiPs on Our Shoulders (Lessons in Objectivity)
Jun 17, 2015
Dave and Tamler try to figure out what we talk about when we talk about objectivity. In past episodes we’ve claimed that logic and science (when it isn't fraudulent) are objective. Tamler has claimed repeatedly that "Louie" is an objectively better TV…
68: Risky, Reckless, and Regretful
Jun 1, 2015
Dave drags Tamler into the nerd abyss by making him watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (“Tapestry,” from the 6th season. It's available on Netflix instant in the US, and likely worldwide on many sites of varying legality). We talk about…
67: Funny How?
May 18, 2015
Dave and Tamler break the cardinal rule of comedy by trying to analyze it. What are the origins and functions of humor? Can a theory explain what makes us laugh? Is humor entirely subjective? Why would anyone find Mr. Bean funny? Plus, we lose some geek…
66: Übermensch at Work
Apr 20, 2015
Special guest Yoel Inbar (author of Hitchcock’s Women: From Margaret Sullivan to Tippi Hedren) joins us to talk about Hitchcock’s long take masterpiece/gimmick Rope. Based loosely on the case of Leopold and Loeb, Rope tells the story of two young men who…
65: Philocalypse Now
Apr 6, 2015
Holy crap, it's the apocalypse!!!! …for philosophy. Maybe. Has this 2500 year old discipline become too technical, too disconnected from the real world? Is it just a handmaiden to the sciences? (Which would make Tamler Dave's handmaiden.) And what the…
64: Believing in a Just World
Mar 19, 2015
Dave and Tamler talk about the human tendency to believe in a just world. Why do we have the belief? Does it make us less motivated to fight injustice? How does it connect to our beliefs about free will and punishment? Plus, the SAE incident—a case where…
63: Stalemates and Closets (with Sam Harris)
Feb 27, 2015
Sam Harris gets back in the VBW ring for another round on moral responsibility, ethical theories, and the grounds for our obligations to other people. Are we at a genuine stalemate when it comes to blame and desert? Is Tamler a closet consequentialist? Is…
62: Brain Jizz and “Black Mirror”
Feb 9, 2015
Dave and Tamler discuss a new study that, according to Tamler, offers decisive support for restorative approaches to criminal punishment (the only problem is he didn't read past the introduction). And speaking of justice, we talk about "White Bear"—the…
61: Putting a Little Meaning in Your Life
Jan 19, 2015
Dave and Tamler take a break from blame and responsibility to tackle a much easier subject: meaning in life. We discuss Susan Wolf’s new book “Meaning in Life and Why it Matters,” and play some excerpts from Tamler’s recent discussion with her. Plus, we…
60: Drunk on Intuitions
Jan 1, 2015
Dave and Tamler argue some more about the role of emotion and intuition in blame judgments, and then offer some moral psychology-related recommendations for your New Year’s viewing and reading pleasure. Plus, can you turn listening to VBW into a good…
59: Tumors All the Way Down (With Sam Harris)
Dec 15, 2014
Bestselling author and friend of the podcast Sam Harris joins Tamler and Dave for a marathon podcast. (Seriously, pack two pairs of astronaut diapers for this one). We talk about the costs and benefits of religion, dropping acid in India, and the illusory…
58: Do the Right Thing (with Yoel Inbar)
Dec 1, 2014
Film critic, VBW regular, and social psychologist Yoel Inbar joins David and Tamler to talk about Spike Lee’s controversial 1989 film, Do the Right Thing, a movie about a day in the life of a small Brooklyn community on the hottest day of summer, and how…
57: Free Willie
Nov 17, 2014
David and Tamler talk about a new study that links your belief in free will to the fullness of your bladder. How do our bodily states influence our metaphysical commitments? What’s the best way to measure beliefs about free will? Can you get your prostate…
56: Moral Heroes and Drunk Utilitarians
Nov 3, 2014
Following up their discussion of moral villains, Dave and Tamler argue about what makes a moral hero. Tamler defends Sharon Krause’s view that honor values can motivate heroic behavior. Dave accuses Tamler of being inconsistent (nothing wrong with that)…
55: Rooting for Evil (With Paul Bloom)
Oct 20, 2014
Paul Bloom joins us to talk all things villainous -why we sometimes root for the bad guys, why we admire them even when we don’t, why they are much more compelling than some of our heroes. Then more evidence that we’re really a movie podcast at heart: we…
54: Pooping on Ecstasy (Pain, Pleasure, and the Ethics of Breeding)
Sep 24, 2014
Tamler and David get bullied into talking about "anti-natalism," (the view that it is unethical to bring a being into existence), and to defend our ethical position as "breeders." Well, one of us defends it, at least. The other one? Well, you'll have to…
53: The Psychology People Love to Hate (Evolutionary Psychology Pt.1)
Sep 8, 2014
Dave and Tamler take a shot at answering the question: what is an evolutionary psychologist? Is it just a psychologist who believes in evolution? (No.) Is it a psychologist who embraces a computational, modular theory of the mind? (No. Well, maybe…we’re…
52: Thought Experiments (Huh!) What Are They Good For? (Part 2)
Aug 25, 2014
Experience Machines, Chinese Rooms, Original Positions, and Ice Buckets. ("I don't know what you have in mind for this evening Homer, but count me out!") Dave and Tamler continue their discussion on thought experiments—how they can be effective, the…
51: Zombies, Trolleys, and Galileo’s Balls
Aug 11, 2014
Episode Audio Dave and Tamler talk about the value and purposes of thought experiments in philosophy and science. Does the trolley problem tell us more about moral psychology than how people make judgments introlley problems? Can an imagined scenario…
50: Keeping it Unreal
Jul 14, 2014
Dude, do you ever think about how, like, we could be all be in the Matrix? Seriously, no no, dude, I'm being serious. It's like, none of this might be real, you know? Actually we don't know. We honestly can't believe we made it to 50 episodes, so we must…
49: Psychopaths and Contrastivizzzzzzzz (With Walter Sinnott-Armstrong)
Jun 23, 2014
Special guest Walter Sinnott-Armstrong joins the podcast to explain how his theory which desperately needs a new name ("contrastivism") can dissolve most of the fundamental problems and paradoxes in philosophy. We also talk about psychopaths—what they are…
48: Restorative Circle Jerk
Jun 9, 2014
Dave and Tamler take a mulligan and try to resolve their conflict about restorative justice. Do restorative processes lead to more just outcomes than other approaches? Is it more vulnerable to instances of prejudice and bias? Is revenge a form of…
47: Schooled By Our Listeners
May 22, 2014
Tamler and David leech off of their listeners and dedicate an episode to their favorite comments, questions, and criticisms from the past few weeks (but not before Tamler goes on a rant about bicycle helmets). Included in this episode: Does doing research…
46: The Real Josh Knobe
May 4, 2014
May I have your attention please? Will the real Josh Knobe please stand up? Will the real… [you know what, screw this—we’re just dating ourselves.] X-phi phenom Josh Knobe rejoins the podcast to talk about the true self, naked people, gay preachers, and…
45: Rounded Brains and Balanced “Play Diets”
Apr 20, 2014
A British tabloid article about kids, brains, and spatial skills somehow provokes the biggest argument ever on the podcast. Dave and Tamler get into it about gender, toys, properly rounded brains, and balanced "play diets." Is Dave a sanctimonious…
44: Killer Robots
Apr 5, 2014
David and Tamler argue about the use of autonomous robots and drones in warfare. Could it lead to less suffering during wars and afterwards? Would nations be motivated to design robots that behave ethically on the battlefield? Can David get through an…
43: The Nature of Nudges
Mar 17, 2014
Dave and Tamler talk about a recent study that seems to support the view that "justice is what the judge had for breakfast" (or at least how long ago the parole board had breakfast), and that makes Tamler question his position on widening judicial…
42: Reason, Responsibility, and Roombas (With Paul Bloom)
Mar 3, 2014
Can a fully determined creature deliberate? How big a role does conscious reasoning play in moral judgment and everyday life? Are we responsible for our thoughts and actions? Paul Bloom rejoins us against his better judgment to discuss his book “Just…
41: Moral Dilemmas at the Movies
Feb 18, 2014
Dave keeps trying to explain to Tamler that we're not a movie podcast, but somehow they're doing another podcast about movies. This time they each list their top 5 movies featuring moral dilemmas. Also, Tamler tries to rationalize the Woody Allen…
40: How Many Moralities Are There? Pt. 2 (with Jesse Graham)
Feb 3, 2014
Jesse Graham joins us for part 2 of our discussion on the nature of morality, and his recent paper on Moral Foundations Theory. He highlights the key components of MFT, defends himself against our accusations of weaseling out of the normative implications…
39: How Many Moralities Are There? (Pt.1)
Jan 20, 2014
Dave and Tamler bounce back this week after having to trash the last episode. Does morality ultimately boil down to a single principle (such as harm or justice), or is there more to ethical life than is dreamt of in the minds of philosophers? We settle…
38: The Greatest Movies Ever Made about Personal Identity
Dec 30, 2013
Who is the real you? What happens to your identity when your body gets cloned or reconstituted with all the same memories and character traits? Does society construct our true selves or repress them? Can we ever escape our pasts and become different…
37: Porn, Poop, and Personal Identity (with Nina Strohminger)
Dec 16, 2013
The guest we've been waiting for—Nina Strohminger—joins us to talk about the connection between disgust and humor, cheap laughs, moral character and personal identity, and the British opt-in plan for porn. Plus: how psychologists measure erections and…
36: An Irresponsible Meta-Book Review of Joshua Greene’s “Moral Tribes”
Nov 25, 2013
Our most irresponsible episode ever! Dave and Tamler talk about two reviews of a book they haven't read—Joshua Greene's Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them—and feel only a little shame. (Since the recording, at least one of us…
35: Douchebags and Desert
Nov 11, 2013
Dave and Tamler talk about the influence of character judgments on attributions of blame. What is the function of the blame—to assign responsibility or to judge a person's character? Is it fair that we blame douchebags more than good people who commit…
34: Does Reading Harry Potter Make You Moral? (with Will Wilkinson)
Oct 28, 2013
Special guest Will Wilkinson joins the podcast to talk about whether fiction makes us better people, and to discuss his recent Daily Beast article that trashed Dave’s profession and livelihood. Also, Dave and Tamler try to make sense of Ancient Greek…
33: Monkeys, Smurfs, and Human Conformity (With Laurie Santos)
Oct 14, 2013
Special guest Laurie Santos (Psychology, Yale) joins us to talk about what animal cognition can tell us about human nature. Why are other primates better at resisting the misleading influence of others than humans? Is conformity a byproduct of our…
32: Disagreeing About Disagreement
Sep 30, 2013
Part II of our discussion on Rai and Fiske (sort of): We answer a listener’s email and in the process get into an episode long argument about moral intuitions, psychological facts, the implications of moral disagreement. Before that, we talk about the…
31: An Anthropologist’s Guide to Moral Psychology (Pt. 1)
Sep 15, 2013
In the first of a two-part episode, we discuss one of our favorite recent papers—Tage Rai and Alan Page Fiske’s 2011 paper on how social relationships shape and motivate our moral emotions and judgments. We also talk about Sam Harris’ $20,000 Moral…
30: The Greatest Books Ever Written
Sep 2, 2013
Dave and Tamler celebrate their one year anniversary and 30th episode with one of their least cynical episodes yet. They talk about 5 philosophy/psychology(-ish) books that influenced and inspired them throughout the years. They also respond to a listener…
29: PEDs, Tenure Pills, and “Hyberbolic Chambers”
Aug 19, 2013
Dave and Tamler try to artificially bulk up their expertise on the ethics of performance enhancing drugs and end up raising a lot more questions than they answer. Why do we condemn certain methods for boosting performance on the playing field and praise…
28: Moral Persuasion
Aug 5, 2013
Dave and Tamler try their best to do a show without guests—we talk about moral persuasion, motivated reasoning, and whether it’s legitimate to use emotionally charged rhetoric in a philosophical argument. Plus, we describe how students proceed through the…
27: You, Your Self, and Your Brain (With Eddy Nahmias)
Jul 22, 2013
Our streak of very special guests continues! Philosopher Eddy Nahmias joins the podcast to us why people mistakenly think they’re not morally responsible, and how his new study casts doubt on Sam Harris’s “pamphlet” on free will. Eddy also describes his…
26: Evolution and Sexual Perversion (with Jesse Bering)
Jul 7, 2013
Psychologist and author Jesse Bering joins us to talk about evolutionary psychology and his forthcoming book Perv. In the relatively uncontroversial part of the episode, we ask if homophobia is an adaptation and if women have evolved rape defenses. After…
25: Burning Armchairs (with Joshua Knobe)
Jun 24, 2013
Josh Knobe, the Michael Corleone of experimental philosophy, joins us to talk about taking philosophy into the lab and the streets. We discuss how people moralize everyday concepts like intention, causation, and innateness. Dave wonders if X-phi people…
24: The Perils of Empathy (with Paul Bloom)
Jun 10, 2013
Paul Bloom joins us in the second segment for a lively discussion about the value of empathy as a guide our moral decisions. And in our first scoop, we talk about Paul’s new book (coming in November) Just Babies: The Origin of Good and Evil , racist…
23: Straw Dogs (with Yoel Inbar)
May 27, 2013
Dave, Tamler, and special guest Yoel Inbar break down Sam Peckinpah’s brilliant (at least according to one of us) 1971 film Straw Dogs. They talk about the notorious rape scene, the meaning of the final siege, standing up to Cornish townies, and whether…
22: An Enquiry Concerning Slurs and Offensiveness
May 12, 2013
In what might very well be the last episode before we’re pulled off the air, Tamler outlines his data-free “theory” of what makes something offensive. What makes a joke about race, ethnicity, gender, disability funny sometimes, and deeply hurtful at other…
21: Grad School
May 6, 2013
Dave and Tamler shrug off inside baseball concerns and argue whether to go to grad school, what to do when you get there, and share horror stories about the job market. Also, Tamler explains why the sorority sister who wrote the infamous email is a "civil…
20: Boston, Brains, and Bad Pronunciation (with Molly Crockett)
Apr 21, 2013
Dave and Tamler begin with a brief, heartfelt discussion about the Boston Bombings. Tamler talks about why Patriots' Day and the Boston Marathon mean so much to a kid growing up in Boston. They speculate a bit about the motive behind the attack and ask…
19: The Burning Bridges Episode (Pt. 2)
Apr 6, 2013
Re-recording a not-so-tragically lost episode (it kinda sucked), Dave and Tamler talk about the things they hate most about philosophy and psychology. But first they discuss a blog post by a Rochester professor that wonders why it’s not OK to rape someone…
18: “Boy If Life Were Only Like This” (With Joe Henrich)
Mar 22, 2013
Joe Henrich joins the podcast to tell us that we know nothing about his work and that how we got to teach a class in anything is absolutely amazing. We continue our discussion from Episode 17 about his critique of the social and behavioral sciences in…
17: Learning about Bushmen by Studying Freshmen?
Mar 15, 2013
Thousands of studies in psychology rely on data from North American undergraduates. Can we really conclude anything about the “human” mind from such a limited sample— especially since Westerners are probably more different from the rest of the world’s…
16: Race, Reparations, and American (In)Justice (with Damani McDole)
Mar 2, 2013
For those who thought our most uncomfortable topics were behind us, on this episode we are joined by David's childhood friend Damani McDole [facebook.com] to discuss several potentially offensive topics surrounding race and justice in America, such as…
15: The Burning Bridges Episode (Pt. 1)
Feb 16, 2013
You don’t need to be a psychologist or a philosopher to enjoy a good, old-fashioned bitch-fest. In the first of a two-part episode (no single compact disc, 8-track, or LP could hold all our complaints), Tamler and David list two of the things that bug…
14: Bonus Episode on Snitches, Tattletales, and Whistleblowers
Feb 8, 2013
In a break from tradition, we recorded a 25-minute episode on the morality of tattletaling, snitching, ratting, and whistleblowing. We discuss why these people seem especially despicable (except for maybe “Bubbles” from “The Wire” and the guy from “The…
13: Beanballs, Blood Feuds, and Collective Moral Responsibility (With Fiery Cushman)
Jan 22, 2013
Our classiest episode yet (OK, that’s not saying much, but still…)—Psychologist Fiery Cushman joins us for a discussion about collective punishment and collective responsibility. We use Fiery’s recent paper on the practice of “beaning” in baseball…
12: Justice for #!$@ ?
Jan 13, 2013
Dave and Tamler square off the role of the victim in criminal punishment and find little to agree about. Tamler defends the restorative justice approach, while Dave expresses skepticism about its value and worries it might even be damaging. Arguments…
11: It is Morally Wrong to Kill Morgan Freeman (with Yoel Inbar)
Dec 28, 2012
Social psychologist Yoel Inbar joins Tamler and David to discuss Clint Eastwood's masterpiece of the Western genre, "Unforgiven." The discussion includes the nature of revenge, the requirements of justice, the rules of nicknaming, and who or what was…
10: Religion, Meaning, and Morality
Dec 10, 2012
Does life have meaning if there is no God? Why should I be a good person if there’s no reward or punishment waiting for me in the afterlife? Why does religion seem to make people happier and healthier? Dave and Tamler heroically try to answer these…
9: Social Psychology, Situationism, and Moral Character
Dec 3, 2012
After discussing some listener feedback about the movie Swingers, Tamler and David talk about two classic experiments in social psychology: the Milgram Experiments and the Zimbardo Prison experiment. They discuss the power of the situation, its influence…
8: Dishonesty, Character, and Dan Ariely
Nov 11, 2012
In a Very Special Episode of Very Bad Wizards, Dan Ariely joins David to chat about cheating, character, teling your significant other about kissing someone at a conference, and the importance of moral rules. Tamler and David sandwich the chat with a…
7: Psychopaths and Utilitarians Pt. 2 (Now with more poo poo)
Nov 4, 2012
After a clip from The Third Man, Dave and Tamler continue their discussion from Episode 6 on Ted Bundy, utilitarians, and trolley problems. They also talk about Tamler’s TED talk envy, inappropriate acts with trees, and make a plea for more listener…
6: Trolleys, Utilitarians, and Psychopaths (Part 1)
Oct 20, 2012
Tamler contemplates ending it all because he can’t get ‘Call Me Maybe’ out of his head, and Dave doesn’t try to talk him out of it. This is followed by a discussion about drones, psychopaths, Canadians, Elle Fanning, horrible moral dilemmas, and the…
5: Revenge, Pt. 2: The Revenge
Oct 8, 2012
Dave and Tamler continue their discussion about their favorite topic. They talk about the evolutionary origins of retributive behavior, cross-cultural differences in revenge norms, and the proportionate punishment for someone who gives your wife a foot…
4: Revenge, Pt. 1
Sep 20, 2012
Dave allows Tamler to rant about Sam Harris’s strawman attacks on moral relativism before launching into discussion about revenge, justice, True Grit, and Michael Dukakis. Though they differ on many issues, Tamler and Dave agree that it’s hard to satirize…
3: “We believe in nothing!” (Cultural diversity, relativism, and moral truth)
Sep 8, 2012
Tamler and Dave discuss recent work in philosophy and psychology about the differences in moral values and practices across cultures. We talk about the implications of moral diversity: does it mean that we cannot criticize that practices of other…
2: The “Dangerous Truth” about Free Will (Free Will and Morality, Pt. 2)
Aug 31, 2012
Tamler and David discuss whether giving up our belief in free will makes us more likely to abandon our moral standards. Links“You Can’t Handle the Truth!” Jesse Bering “Scientists say free will probably doesn’t exist, but urge: “Don’t stop believing!”…
1: Brains, Robots, and Free Will (Free Will and Morality Pt. 1)
Aug 30, 2012
Dave and Tamler start out talking about the new wave of skepticism about free will and moral responsibility in the popular press from people like Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne. Neuroscience figures heavily in their arguments, but Dave and Tamler agree that…