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Episode 34: Circular Reasoning and Self-Perpetuating Systems

Gabe wrestles the podcast rudder out of filthy Erik’s hands, and we talk about some examples of circular reasoning, wherein one or more of an argument’s premises assume the truth of the conclusion. We also cover some related circular phenomena.

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Show notes and kick-ass links below!

Hello once again to all our Brazilian and Bothan listeners!

 

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Episode 26: The Evolution of the Human Mind with Dr. Gary Marcus

Continuing with part 2 of our series about evolution, we cover a special topic within evolutionary biology. We are joined by Dr. Gary Marcus to talk about the oft-overlooked evolutionary history of the human brain. Our discussion draws largely from some of the chapters of Dr. Marcus’ book Kluge: The Haphazard Evolution of the Human Mind. Read it and love it.

Dr. Marcus’ book Kluge shows that our brain, like the rest of our bodies, has evolved not to function well, but to function well enough. Evolution works with what it has, and cannot start over with a better design, regardless of how much better a new design might be. As a result, our brains work with neuro circuitry which did not evolve to help us solve complex problems or think critically–and yet they do (or, at least, our brains tell us they do). This presents interesting problems which might undercut common notions of our own rationality.

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Use your evolved brain to understand the following from our conversation:

  • Decisions about chocolate cake and sex
  • Quantified Self
  • Evolution of cognitive biases (familiarity biasstatus quo bias, etc)
  • The strength of evolutionary accounts of homosexuality
  • The halo effect and the pitchfork effect
  • How can we use our evolved brains to become better thinkers?

Dr. Marcus is a professor of Psychology at New York University, whose research covers neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, and molecular biology. He is also a best selling author and contributor to The New YorkerThe Wall Street Journal, as well as other important popular media. He is a top-notch writer, so check out his other books about psychology and neuroscience.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Cognitive Bias, Guest, New Episode, Science

 

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Episode 6: Joseph Smith Founds a Church (Part 1)

We start out jabbering about gay rights, and how some prominent businesses have taken sides in support of or opposition to gay marriage.

We spend most of the episode preparing to talk about the Mormon Church and how it got started. We give some basics about the modern church, and talk about Joseph Smith’s life prior to his involvement founding one of the largest and most enduring new religious movements in America.

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The discussion will continue in the next episode, as we follow Joseph across the country and explore how his movement grew and changed with time.

Some additional reading/notes from the episode:

Have something you wanted to add about Joseph Smith and early Mormonism? Can magical stones help you find treasure? Did you buy chicken and waffle fries to support Chick-fil-A? Post your thoughts in the comments below!

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Mormonism, New Episode

 

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