Very Bad Wizards
Very Bad Wizards
Sep 8, 2020
Episode 196: The Loneliest Paper in Philosophy
1 hr 50 min

She’s beautiful, smart, funny, and head over heels in love with you. There’s only one problem – she’s from a possible world, not the actual one. What we thought would be a funny opening segment idea turns into a semi-serious discussion of Neil Sinhababu’s 2008 article “Possible Girls.” Plus David and Tamler share some thoughts on teaching in normal times and today.   

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Science Salon
Science Salon
Michael Shermer
144. Agustín Fuentes — Why We Believe: Evolution and the Human Way of Being
Why are so many humans religious? Why do we daydream, imagine, and hope? Philosophers, theologians, social scientists, and historians have offered explanations for centuries, but their accounts often ignore or even avoid human evolution. Evolutionary scientists answer with proposals for why ritual, religion, and faith make sense as adaptations to past challenges or as by-products of our hyper-complex cognitive capacities. But what if the focus on religion is too narrow? Renowned anthropologist Agustín Fuentes argues that the capacity to be religious is actually a small part of a larger and deeper human capacity to believe. Why believe in religion, economies, love? Fuentes employs evolutionary, neurobiological, and anthropological evidence to argue that belief — the ability to commit passionately and wholeheartedly to an idea — is central to the human way of being in the world. The premise of the book is that believing is our ability to draw on our range of cognitive and social resources, our histories and experiences, and combine them with our imagination. It is the power to think beyond what is here and now in order to see and feel and know something — an idea, a vision, a necessity, a possibility, a truth — that is not immediately present to the senses, and then to invest, wholly and authentically, in that “something” so that it becomes one’s reality. The point is that beliefs and belief systems permeate human neurobiologies, bodies, and ecologies, and structure and shape our daily lives, our societies, and the world around us. We are human, therefore we believe, and this book tells us how we came to be that way. Shermer and Fuentes also discuss: * what it means to “believe” something (belief in evolution or the Big Bang is different from belief in progressive taxes or affirmative action), * evolution and how beliefs are formed…and why, * evolution of awe, wonder, aesthetic sense, beauty, art, music, dance, etc. (adaptation or exaptation/spandrel?), * evolution of spirituality, religion, belief in immortality, * Were Neanderthals human in the “belief” sense? * human niche and the evolution of symbolism/language, * evolution of theory of mind, * how to infer symbolic meaning from archaeological artifacts, * components of belief: augmented cognition and neurobiology, intentionality, imagination, innovation, compassion and intensive reliance on others, meaning-making, * dog domestication and human self-domestication, * Göbekli Tepe and the underestimation of ancient peoples’ cognitive capacities, * the development of property, accumulation of goods, inequality, and social hierarchy, * gender role specialization, * monogamy and polyamory, gender and sex, and continuum vs. binary thinking, * violence and warfare, * political and economic systems of belief, and * love as belief. Agustín Fuentes is a Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University. He is an active public scientist, a well-known blogger, lecturer, tweeter, and an explorer for National Geographic. Fuentes received the Inaugural Communication & Outreach Award from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, the President’s Award from the American Anthropological Association, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
1 hr 40 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
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
Peter Dodds on Text-Based Timeline Analysis & New Instruments for The Science of Stories
"There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin When human beings saw the first pictures of the Earth from space, the impact was transformative. New instruments for taking in new vistas, for understanding our relationships and contexts at a different scale, have in some ways defined the history of not just science but the evolution of intelligence. And now, thanks to the surfeit of textual data offered up by social media, researchers can peer into the dynamics of human society and analyze the turbulent flows of stories that drive our collective behavior and twist time itself into nonlinear structures. As a species, we are on the cusp of a new epoch in which the body politic reveals itself to us in real-time like a single human body in an MRI. How will these tools change how we think about the world and what it means to be a person in it? 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 speak with Peter Dodds of the University of Vermont’s Complex Systems Center and Computational Story Lab about how to use Twitter data as a kind of satellite telescope observing the collective mentation of humankind — what it reveals, and what it doesn’t, opening a cornucopia of questions about how we measure sentiment and the power of narrative for social control. Tis the season, so 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 Avid readers take note that SFI Press’ latest volume, Complexity Economics: Proceedings of the Santa Fe Institute's 2019 Fall Symposium, is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle eBook formats. Thank you for listening! Follow Peter Dodds at Twitter and read the papers we discuss (and many more) at Google Scholar. And then go play with Hedonometer & Story Wrangler. 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
1 hr 30 min
The MMT Podcast with Patricia Pino & Christian Reilly
The MMT Podcast with Patricia Pino & Christian Reilly
Patricia Pino & Christian Reilly
#76 Sam Levey: MMT For Mainstream Economists And Mobilisation Theory (part 1)
Part 1: Patricia and Christian talk to MMT scholar Sam Levey about a collection of resources he put together to help people with a more mainstream grasp of economics get acquainted with MMT. Part 2 of this conversation: Please help sustain this podcast! Patrons get early access to all episodes and patron-only episodes: For an intro to MMT: Listen to our first three episodes: Sam’s MMT For Mainstream Economists page: Our episode with Sam on understanding endogenous money: Episode 43: All our episodes with Sam: Sam’s article - Monopoly Money Redux: Sam’s paper - Mobilization Theory: Some Lessons from the Literature for Today: Other Recommended Reading: Michael Kalecki - Political Aspects of Full Employment: Warren Mosler’s Talk In Chianciano, Italy, January 11, 2014 - What A Good Economy Should Look Like: How to Pay for the Green New Deal by Yeva Nersisyan and L. Randall Wray: Miscellaneous: Transcript for opening monologue:
1 hr 9 min
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