Very Bad Wizards
Very Bad Wizards
Oct 6, 2020
Episode 198: Is Mental Illness a Myth? (Thomas Szasz's "The Myth of Mental Illness")
1 hr 32 min

David and Tamler explore Thomas Szasz’s provocative and still relevant 1961 book “The Myth of Mental Illness,” the topic selected by our beloved Patreon supporters. When we think of mental disorders as “diseases,” are we making a category mistake? Are we turning ordinary “problems in living” into pathologies that must be treated (with pills or psychoanalysis)? Does this model rob us of our autonomy in direct or indirect ways? Plus, with VBW 200 only 2 episodes away we give our top 3 dream guests, and David dons his punditry cap to break down the first presidential debate, which already seems like six months ago.   

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Science Salon
Science Salon
Michael Shermer
143. Nicholas Christakis — Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live
Apollo’s Arrow offers a riveting account of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as it swept through American society in 2020, and of how the recovery will unfold in the coming years. Drawing on momentous (yet dimly remembered) historical epidemics, contemporary analyses, and cutting-edge research from a range of scientific disciplines, bestselling author, physician, sociologist, and public health expert Nicholas A. Christakis explores what it means to live in a time of plague — an experience that is paradoxically uncommon to the vast majority of humans who are alive, yet deeply fundamental to our species. Featuring new, provocative arguments and vivid examples ranging across medicine, history, sociology, epidemiology, data science, and genetics, Apollo’s Arrow envisions what happens when the great force of a deadly germ meets the enduring reality of our evolved social nature. Shermer and Christakis discuss: * the replication crisis in social science and medicine, * determining causality in science and medicine, * how we know smoking causes cancer and HIV causes AIDS, but vaccines do not cause autism and cell phones do not cause cancer, * randomized controlled trials and why they can’t be done to answer many medical questions, * natural experiments and the comparative method of testing hypotheses (e.g., comparing different countries differing responses to Covid-19), * the hindsight bias and the curse of knowledge in judging responses to pandemics after the fact, * looking back to January 2020, what should we have done?, * comparing Covid-19 to the Black Death, the Spanish Flu, and other pandemics, * bacteria vs. viruses, coronaviruses and their effects, and why viruses are so much harder to treat than bacteria, * Bill Gates’ TED talk warning in 2015 and why we didn’t heed it, * treatments: hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, Vitamin D. How civilization will change: * medical: coronavirus is here to stay — herd immunity naturally and through vaccines, * personal and public health: handshakes, hugs, and other human contact; masks, social distancing, hygiene, * long run healthier society (e.g., body temperatures have decreased from 98.6 to 97.9), * economics and business, * travel, conferences, meetings, * marriage, dating, sex, and home life, * entertainment, vacations, bars, and restaurants, * education and schools, * politics and society (and a better understanding of freedom and why it is restricted), * from pandemic to endemic. Nicholas A. Christakis is a physician and sociologist who explores the ancient origins and modern implications of human nature. He directs the Human Nature Lab at Yale University, where he is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science, in the Departments of Sociology, Medicine, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Statistics and Data Science, and Biomedical Engineering. He is the Co-Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science, the co-author of Connected, and the author of Blueprint.
1 hr 23 min
The Panpsycast Philosophy Podcast
The Panpsycast Philosophy Podcast
Jack Symes | Andrew Horton, Oliver Marley, Gregory Miller
Episode 88, Buddhism (Part V - Further Analysis and Discussion)
Introduction Jack was walking down a street. It was a day like any other. As ever, his mind was a flurry of thoughts, worries, and anxieties, stimulated by coffee and the bright light of his phone. In a bid to relieve his stress, he put his phone in his pocket, and tried to notice the details he would usually ignore.  As he walked past the pharmacy, he saw a sick man coughing and spluttering; he was throwing medication back to stop his disease from decaying his body. Jack kept walking and came across an old woman waiting at a bus stop. She was fragile, crooked, and anxious; clearly age had taken much from her. Crossing the road away from the bus stop, he waited for the traffic to pass. Driving slowly past him was a hearse: a coffin on full display, surrounded by flowers, proceeded by a stream of weeping mourners.  Jack fell to his knees, overwhelmed with despair, “we all get sick, we all age, and we all die. We cannot escape this fate!” His head against the pavement, he didn’t move for almost an hour. When he got up, he was approached by a homeless man, to whom he said, “sorry, I don’t have any change.” The man replied, “It is you who needs a little change, young monk. I know why you fall to your knees in despair: the inescapable suffering of life weighs on us all. Let me tell you of someone who was once like you, who tried to remove suffering from our minds… let me tell you the story of Siddhartha Gotama, The Buddha.” Contents Part I. The Life of Siddhārtha Gautama Part II. The Four Noble Truths Part III. The Cycle of Life Part IV. The Eightfold Path Part V. Further Analysis and Discussion Links Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction. Book. Buddhist Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. Book. Why Buddhism Is True, Robert Wright. Book. The Foundations of Buddhism, Rupert Gethin. Book. Buddhism, The Great Courses. Lecture series. What the Buddha Taught, Walpola Rahula. Pdf. The Problem of Mindfulness, Sahanika Ratnayake. Online essay. Buddha, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Webpage. Buddha, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Webpage.
1 hr 2 min
The Future of Life
The Future of Life
Future of Life Institute
Mohamed Abdalla on Big Tech, Ethics-washing, and the Threat on Academic Integrity
Mohamed Abdalla, PhD student at the University of Toronto, joins us to discuss how Big Tobacco and Big Tech work to manipulate public opinion and academic institutions in order to maximize profits and avoid regulation. Topics discussed in this episode include: -How Big Tobacco uses it's wealth to obfuscate the harm of tobacco and appear socially responsible -The tactics shared by Big Tech and Big Tobacco to preform ethics-washing and avoid regulation -How Big Tech and Big Tobacco work to influence universities, scientists, researchers, and policy makers -How to combat the problem of ethics-washing in Big Tech You can find the page for this podcast here: The Future of Life Institute AI policy page: Timestamps:  0:00 Intro 1:55 How Big Tech actively distorts the academic landscape and what counts as big tech 6:00 How Big Tobacco has shaped industry research on industry research 12:17 The four tactics of Big Tobacco and Big Tech 13:34 Big Tech and Big Tobacco working to appear socially responsible 22:15 Big Tech and Big Tobacco working to influence the decisions made by funded universities 32:25 Big Tech and Big Tobacco working to influence research questions and the plans of individual scientists 51:53 Big Tech and Big Tobacco finding skeptics and critics of them and funding them to give the impression of social responsibility 1:00:24 Big Tech and being authentically socially responsible 1:11:41 Transformative AI, social responsibility, and the race to powerful AI systems 1:16:56 Ethics-washing as systemic 1:17:30 Action items for solving Ethics-washing 1:19:42 Has Mohamed received criticism for this paper? 1:20:07 Final thoughts from Mohamed This podcast is possible because of the support of listeners like you. If you found this conversation to be meaningful or valuable, consider supporting it directly by donating at Contributions like yours make these conversations possible.
1 hr 22 min
80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin
80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin
The 80000 Hours team
Benjamin Todd on what the effective altruism community most needs (80k team chat #4)
In the *last '80k team chat'* with Ben Todd and Arden Koehler, we discussed what effective altruism is and isn't, and how to argue for it. In this episode we turn now to what the effective altruism community most needs. • *Links to learn more, summary and full transcript* • The *2020 Effective Altruism Survey* just opened. If you're involved with the effective altruism community, or sympathetic to its ideas, it's would be wonderful if you could fill it out: _ According to Ben, we can think of the effective altruism movement as having gone through several stages, categorised by what kind of resource has been most able to unlock more progress on important issues (i.e. by what's the 'bottleneck'). Plausibly, these stages are common for other social movements as well. • Needing money: In the first stage, when effective altruism was just getting going, more money (to do things like pay staff and put on events) was the main bottleneck to making progress. • Needing talent: In the second stage, we especially needed more talented people being willing to work on whatever seemed most pressing. • Needing specific skills and capacity: In the third stage, which Ben thinks we're in now, the main bottlenecks are organizational capacity, infrastructure, and management to help train people up, as well as specialist skills that people can put to work now. What's next? Perhaps needing coordination -- the ability to make sure people keep working efficiently and effectively together as the community grows. Ben and I also cover the career implications of those stages, as well as the ability to save money and the possibility that someone else would do your job in your absence. If you’d like to learn more about these topics, you should check out a couple of articles on our site: • *Think twice before talking about ‘talent gaps’ – clarifying nine misconceptions* • *How replaceable are the top candidates in large hiring rounds? Why the answer flips depending on the distribution of applicant ability* *Get this episode by subscribing: type 80,000 Hours into your podcasting app. Or read the linked transcript.* Producer: Keiran Harris. Audio mastering: Ben Cordell. Transcriptions: Zakee Ulhaq.
1 hr 25 min
Santa Fe Institute, Michael Garfield
Scott Ortman on Archaeological Synthesis and Settlement Scaling Theory
The modern world has a way of distancing itself from everything that came before it…and yet the evidence from archaeology supports a different story. While industrial societies tend to praise markets and advanced technologies as the main drivers of the last few centuries of change, a careful study of civilizations as distinct as Ancient Rome, Peru, and Central Mexico reveals an underlying uniformity. Consistent patterns have played out in human settlements across millennia and continents, regardless of the economic systems we’ve employed or the inventions on which we’ve relied. These patterns, furthermore, look just like those that govern and delimit evolutionary change; the scaling laws determining the growth of cities are, apparently, the same that led to cities in the first place, or to human social groups, or complex animals. Human settlements act as social reactors, by facilitating interactions — in other words, the functional relationships within communities drive history, and this century has more in common with the distant past than commonly believed. These revelations, though, might have remained invisible to us if archaeology itself had not transformed over the last few decades, evolving new approaches to cross-disciplinary synthesis. It’s time to update both our notions of the ancient world and our popular conception of the archaeologist… Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe. This week we talk to Former SFI Omidyar Fellow Scott Ortman, Associate Professor of Anthropology at The University of Colorado Boulder, about his work on settlement scaling theory and fostering synthesis in archaeology to advance science and benefit society. If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a donation at — and/or rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. You can find numerous other ways to engage with us at Thank you for listening! Check out Scott’s CU Boulder Website and Google Scholar Page for more information and links to the research papers and opinion pieces we discuss in this episode. For more on universal scaling laws and the science of cities, revisit these earlier episodes of COMPLEXITY: 4 — Luis Bettencourt 10 — Melanie Moses 17 — Chris Kempes 33 — Tim Kohler & Marten Scheffer 35 — Geoffrey West 36 — Geoffrey West Join our Facebook discussion group to meet like minds and talk about each episode. Podcast theme music by Mitch Mignano. Follow us on social media: Twitter • YouTube • Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn
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