Very Bad Wizards

163 EpisodesProduced by Tamler Sommers & David Pizarro

Very Bad Wizards is a podcast featuring a philosopher (Tamler Sommers) and a psychologist (David Pizarro), who share a love for ethics, pop culture, and cognitive science, and who have a marked inability to distinguish sacred from profane. Each podcast includes discussions of moral philosophy, recen… read more

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Episode 162: Parents Just Don't Understand (with Paul Bloom)

April 16th, 2019

1:26:42

As parents we like to think we have an impact on our children - their future, their happiness, the kinds of people they turn out to be. But
are we deluded? Dave and Tamler are joined by empathy's kryponite, the great …

Episode 161: Reach-Around Knowledge and Bottom Performers (The Dunning-Kruger Effect)

April 2nd, 2019

1:25:00

The less we know, the more we know it. David and Tamler talk about the notorious Dunning-Kruger effect, which makes us overconfident in beliefs on topics we're ignorant about and under-confident when we're experts. …

Episode 160: Everything is Meaningless: The Book of Ecclesiastes

March 19th, 2019

1:33:42

David and Tamler dive into the book of Ecclesiastes, an absurdist classic that is somehow also a book of the Bible. Is everything meaningless, vain, and a chasing after the wind? Are humans just the same as animals? Are …

Episode 159: You Have the Right to Go to Prison

March 5th, 2019

1:15:52

Poor and black defendants have more legal rights than ever, but that didn't stop mass incarceration. Why is that? We talk about a paper by Paul …

Episode 158: False Dichotomies and Oral Reciprocity

February 19th, 2019

1:36:22

David and Tamler talk about the invasion of dual process theories in psychology. Why do we love theories that divide complex phenomena into just two …

Episode 157: Notes From Underground (Pt. 2)

February 5th, 2019

1:21:26

David and Tamler continue their discussion of Dostoevsky's funny, sad, philosophical novella Notes From Underground. We focus on part 2 this time - three stories from the Underground Man's past - and explore what the …

Episode 156: Notes From Underground (Pt. 1)

January 22nd, 2019

1:43:36

We’re sick men. We’re spiteful men. We’re unpleasant men. We think our livers are diseased (especially Tamler’s). So we talk about Dostoevsky’s wild, …

Episode 155: Alfred Hitchcock's Money Shot

January 8th, 2019

1:38:40

David and Tamler dive deep into Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 hallucinatory classic, Vertigo. Why does this movie seem to gain stature among critics and academics every year? Is this a really a exploration of Hitchcock's own …

Episode 154: Metaphysical Vertigo (Borges's "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius")

December 18th, 2018

1:56:53

In the famous words of the idealist philosopher George Berkeley, “To exist is to be perceived.” Our ideas and perceptions are the fundamental objects in the universe; there is no real world beyond them. Hume wrote (I …

Episode 153: Progress in Psychology: A Reply to BootyBootyFartFart

December 4th, 2018

1:46:52

David dies for science’s sins and addresses the failed replication of one of his studies (conducted with three former VBW guests) by the Many Labs Project. But first, the guys try to gauge their intuitions about the …

Episode 152: Ruthlessness, Public and Private

November 20th, 2018

1:21:26

Tamler and David continue their Nagel-gazing by discussing another essay from Mortal Questions: "Ruthlessness in Public Life." Why do we treat the …

Episode 151: Viddy Well, My Listeners (Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange")

November 6th, 2018

2:04:08

There was me, that is Tamler, and my droog, that is David, and we sat in our living rooms on Skype trying to make up our rassoodocks what Stanley Kubrick's a Clockwork Orange was really about? Free will? We didn't think …

Episode 150: Paul Bloom Insisted That We Talk About Sex Robots

October 23rd, 2018

1:26:23

What better way to celebrate our 150th episode than to bring back our favorite guest – Paul Bloom! We riff on a series of topics: the new “grievance …

Episode 149: Death, Immortality, and Porn (Intuition) Pumps

October 2nd, 2018

1:41:41

Is living forever a good thing? Could we maintain our values and personal attachments throughout eternity? Would we be motivated to accomplish …

Episode 148: Am I Wrong?

September 19th, 2018

1:41:19

Tamler wades into a Twitter controversy about Serena Williams - could this be his fast-track pass into the IDW? And since we're talking about that, …

Episode 147: Effective Altruism and Moral Uncertainty (with The One True Scotsman, Will MacAskill)

September 4th, 2018

1:43:19

Oxford philosophy professor Will MacAskill joins us to talk about effective altruism, moral uncertainty, and why you shouldn’t eat your grandmother …

Episode 146: Sore Losers (Does Sports Make Us Unhappy?)

August 21st, 2018

1:12:41

Is being a sports fan irrational? Does it lead to more suffering than happiness? David and Tamler discuss a recent study that suggests the answer is "yes." But does the study really capture the benefits of being fans? …

Episode 145: Lost in Borges' Garden

August 7th, 2018

1:37:02

David and Tamler go deep into Borges’ labyrinth to discuss the fascinating, multi-dimensional story “The Garden of Forking Paths.” What is the …

Episode 144: Borges' Babylon

July 24th, 2018

1:23:56

David and Tamler try to wrap their heads around Jorge Luis Borges' “The Library of Babel” – a short story about a universe/library that contains every possible book with every possible combination of characters. How …

Episode 143: The Psychology of Personality

July 10th, 2018

1:39:41

David and Tamler tackle the topic selected by their Patreon supporters - the psychology of personality. What are the different dimensions of …

Episode 142: Suicide (with Matthew Nock)

June 26th, 2018

1:30:41

In what has to be the most somber VBW to date, David and Tamler welcome Harvard psychologist Matthew Nock to the podcast to talk about suicide and …

Episode 141: Implicit Bias

June 5th, 2018

1:21:28

David and Tamler tackle the topic of implicit bias and the controversy surrounding the implicit association test (IAT). What is implicit bias anyway? …

Episode 140: Milgram's Mice

May 22nd, 2018

1:33:22

Honor shmonor, David and Tamler return to their repugnant roots for this one. First, we pay an overdue homage to the great anonymous blogger and twitter-redeemer Neuroskeptic. We pick a few of our favorite pithy tweets …

Episode 139: Honor, Identity, and Headbutts

May 12th, 2018

1:31:25

It took two tries (the first one led to a big non-productive fight), but David and Tamler end up with a good discussion of honor and its connection to identity, pride, and personal relationships. Why have we rejected …

Episode 138: Memory, Pain, and Relationships (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

April 24th, 2018

1:45:37

Award-winning screenwriter and medieval philosophy scholar Yoel Inbar joins us for a deep dive on the Charlie Kaufman/Michel GondREY masterpiece …

Episode 137: Are Buddhists Afraid to Die? (with Shaun Nichols)

April 10th, 2018

1:19:16

Why are we always attracted to people who mock us, resist our advances, and play hard to get? Maybe because it’s extra satisfying when you finally get them to… appear on your podcast. In our first live episode (recorded …

Episode 136: The Good Life (with Laurie Santos)

March 27th, 2018

1:32:09

From Very Bad Wizards to Megyn Kelly Today back to Very Bad Wizards, Laurie Santos has traveled the typical trajectory of the celebrity academic. …

Episode 135: Utilitarianism and Moral Identity

March 13th, 2018

1:16:43

David and Tamler take a break from complaining about psychological studies that measure utilitarianism to complain about the moral theory itself. We …

Episode 134: Digital Outrage (with Molly Crockett)

February 27th, 2018

1:51:30

It's been 5 years since Molly Crockett has been guest on VBW. During that time she's completed a post-doc at University College, London and become a …

Episode 133: Death and Dreams

February 6th, 2018

1:15:18

David and Tamler talk about the nature of death. Is being dead a bad thing? If so, what makes it bad? How can anything be bad for a subject that no longer exists? We didn't have a problem with oblivion for the thirteen …

Episode 132: Emotional Willpower (with David DeSteno)

January 23rd, 2018

1:35:41

What's the best way to build self-control, patience, productivity, and delayed marshmallow eating? For decades psychologists and economists have told …

Episode 131: I Have No Genitals and I Must Scream

January 9th, 2018

1:39:43

David and Tamler break down two episodes (with full spoilers) from the new season of Charlie Brooker's bleaker-than-bleak Netflix series Black …

Episode 130: Dehumanization and Disintegration (with Paul Bloom)

December 26th, 2017

1:32:37

In this Very Special Boxing Day edition of the podcast, Tamler and David welcome back honorary Third Wizard Paul Bloom to discuss his latest article …

Episode 129: Dystopias

December 12th, 2017

1:45:37

David and Tamler assert their autonomy as individuals by discussing their favorite dystopian works of art. Rebelling against a repressive regime, they refuse to sacrifice their privacy, uniqueness, and reproductive …

Episode 128: Fragmented Values and Sex Panics (with Christina Hoff Sommers)

November 28th, 2017

1:50:03

David and Tamler keep their Nagel streak alive, discussing the essay "The Fragmention of Value" from his collection "Mortal Questions." How should we …

Episode 127: Moral Luck

November 14th, 2017

1:24:41

David and Tamler dip back into the Thomas Nagel well, and discuss the problem of "moral luck." Why do we blame drunk drivers who hit someone more than drunk drivers who make it home OK? Why do we judge people for …

Episode 126: The Absurd

October 24th, 2017

1:32:12

Is life meaningless? Are humans just glorified dung beetles, pushing around our piles of poop with no greater purpose? What would it take for life to …

Episode 125: Can You Feel It?

October 10th, 2017

1:32:28

What do we mean when we say someone is angry? Can we identify anger (or any other emotion) via facial expressions, physiological changes, or neural …

Episode 124: Dr. Strawson or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Episodic Life

September 26th, 2017

1:21:53

Do you think of your life as a story? Does your life have a narrative structure or form? Do you identify with your past selves and your future selves? If not, can you live a good life, a moral life, an authentic life? …

Episode 123: What Chilling Effect? (Intelligence Pt. 2)

September 12th, 2017

1:27:53

It’s Part 2 of the Patreon listener selected episode! David and Tamler continue their discussion on intelligence from our last episode by tackling the radioactive topic of group differences and IQ. Are there reliable …

Episode 122: Nothing but a "G" Thing (Intelligence Pt. 1)

August 29th, 2017

1:40:39

David and Tamler do their best to talk frankly about intelligence and IQ research. (It's our Patreon listener-selected topic! We probably would never …

Episode 121: The Beauty of Illusion - David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive"

August 15th, 2017

1:29:30

Guest Yoel Inbar joins David and Tamler to break down David Lynch’s dreamy masterpiece Mulholland Drive. (FULL SPOILERS – watch before you listen!) …

Episode 120: Clap Your Hand for Robert Wright

July 25th, 2017

1:47:09

Special guest Robert Wright joins the podcast to discuss his latest book "Why Buddhism is True." What is the Buddhist conception of not-self?
When we become aware that the boundaries between us and the world are fluid, …

Episode 119: A Brief History of Values

July 11th, 2017

1:26:11

What happens when we discover why we believe the things we believe? What if we discover that our values are the product of our cultural tradition, or …

Episode 118: We Don't Love Them Hoax

June 27th, 2017

1:12:50

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 …

Episode 117: Extended Minds, Extended Foreskins

June 13th, 2017

1:11:11

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 …

Episode 116: Pain, Pleasure, and Peer-Reviewed Penises

May 31st, 2017

1:16:45

David and Tamler break down the latest small-stakes academic controversy--yes the one about conceptual penises. Does the recent "Sokal-like" hoax …

Episode 115: Which Field is More Fu@%ed: Philosophy or Psychology?

May 16th, 2017

1:37:27

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 …

Episode 114: Great Vengeance and Furious Anger (Top 5 Movies About Revenge)

May 4th, 2017

1:21:13

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 …

Episode 113: Pascal, Probability, and Pitchforks

April 18th, 2017

1:18:16

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 …

Episode 112: Gettier Goggles

April 4th, 2017

1:31:55

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? …

Episode 111: Our Language Doesn't Have a Word For This Title (with Yoel Inbar)

March 22nd, 2017

1:03:20

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 …

Episode 110: Stepsisters and Neck Braces (with Yoel Inbar)

March 14th, 2017

41:50

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 …

Episode 109: Moral Pluralism: Behind the Lube

February 28th, 2017

1:11:43

David and Tamler return to their repugnant roots to talk about Cornell's refusal to hire conservative faculty, Milo getting disinvited from CPAC, and …

Episode 108: The Gimp Exception

February 7th, 2017

1:14:41

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 …

Episode 107: Winking Under Oppression (with Manuel Vargas)

January 24th, 2017

1:21:10

The philosopher and pride of Bakersfield, CA Manuel Vargas joins us to talk about culpability under conditions of oppression. How should we treat …

Episode 106: American Grandstand

January 10th, 2017

1:17:58

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 …

Episode 105: Wizards With (Reactive) Attitudes

December 28th, 2016

1:23:04

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 …

Episode 104: Smelling Salts for Morality: Our Top 3 Movies About Empathy (with Paul Bloom)

December 13th, 2016

1:33:38

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 …

Episode 103: Very Bad Utopias

November 29th, 2016

1:07:28

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 …

Episode 102: Red, Black, and Blue

November 15th, 2016

1:37:29

David and Tamler stumble their way through talking about the election results, how Trump got elected, the role of racism, sexism, the liberal bubble, …

Episode 101: Having Desert and Eating It Too

October 31st, 2016

1:28:06

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 …

Episode 100: It's a Celebration

October 13th, 2016

1:38:24

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, …

Episode 99: Mockingbirds, Destructo-Critics, and Mr. Robot

September 27th, 2016

2:03:28

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 …

Episode 98: Mind the Gap

September 13th, 2016

1:22:27

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 …

Episode 97: Dogmatic Slumber Party

August 30th, 2016

1:23:01

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 …

Episode 96: Memory and Meaning in "Memento" (with Paul Bloom)

August 16th, 2016

1:26:53

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 …

Bonus Episode: More Doobie-ous Theories About "Mr. Robot" (Season 2)

August 9th, 2016

29:55

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 …

Episode 95: The Repugnance of Repugnance

August 2nd, 2016

1:28:34

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 …

Episode 94: Buttery Friendships

July 19th, 2016

1:36:32

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 …

Episode 93: Avalanches, Blame, and Cowardice (With Yoel Inbar)

July 5th, 2016

1:39:01

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 …

Episode 92: Jonathan Edwards' Basement

June 21st, 2016

1:08:29

David and Tamler continue their intermittent “classic paper series” with an episode on Jonathan Bennett’s “The Conscience of Huckleberry Finn” …

Episode 91: Rage Against the Machines

June 7th, 2016

1:24:03

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 …

Episode 90: Of Mice and Morals

May 24th, 2016

1:20:49

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.. …

Episode 89: Shame on You (with Jennifer Jacquet)

May 10th, 2016

1:37:53

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 …

Episode 88: A Doobie for Elijah

April 26th, 2016

1:20:55

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 …

Episode 87: Lucky You (with Robert Frank)

April 12th, 2016

1:19:52

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 …

Episode 86: Guns, Shame, and the Meaning of Punishment

March 22nd, 2016

1:14:58

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 …

Episode 85: A Zoo with Only One Animal (with Paul Bloom)

March 11th, 2016

1:09:44

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 …

Episode 84: Lifting the Veil

February 23rd, 2016

1:33:19

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 …

Episode 83: Ego Trip

February 9th, 2016

1:01:34

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 …

Episode 82: Totalitarian Slide-Rulers

January 26th, 2016

1:05:30

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 …

Episode 81: Domo Arigato, Mr. Robot (With Yoel Inbar)

January 12th, 2016

1:47:10

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 …

Episode 80: The Coddling of the Wizard Mind (with Vlad Chituc and Christina Hoff Sommers)

December 21st, 2015

1:40:51

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 …

Episode 79: Good Lives, Good Friends, and Gay Mormons (with Valerie Tiberius)

December 3rd, 2015

1:47:31

Special guest Valerie Tiberius joins us to talk about values, well-being, and friendship. What role should reflection play in the good life? What …

Episode 78: Wizards Uprising

November 23rd, 2015

1:08:33

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 …

Episode 77: On the Moral Nature of Nazis, Jerks, and Ethicists (with Eric Schwitzgebel)

November 9th, 2015

1:20:03

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 …

Episode 76: Cha-Cha-changes

October 26th, 2015

1:02:50

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 …

Episode 75: A Golden Shower of Guests

October 6th, 2015

2:29:51

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 …

Episode 74: Lies, Damned Lies, and Ashley Madison

September 16th, 2015

1:53:45

David and Tamler return after an end of summer hiatus to finally talk
about the ethics of deception….eventually. But first they break down
a recent article in the journal Science documenting an attempt to replicate
100 …

Episode 73: Authentic Apes and Infinite Torture

August 11th, 2015

1:08:42

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 …

Episode 72: Tweenie Turing Tests, AI, and Ex Machina (with Joshua Weisberg)

July 28th, 2015

1:32:33

It finally happened: David and Tamler welcome special guest Joshua Weisberg to the podcast to talk about Turing machines, Chinese Rooms, and AI. What …

Episode 71: The Murky Morals and Mysterious Metaphysics of "Mr. Robot"

July 14th, 2015

1:06:36

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" …

Episode 70: Some Favorite Things

June 28th, 2015

1:34:51

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 …

Episode 69: CHiPs on Our Shoulders (Lessons in Objectivity)

June 17th, 2015

1:33:40

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 …

Episode 68: Risky, Reckless, and Regretful

June 1st, 2015

1:14:15

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 …

Episode 67: Funny How?

May 18th, 2015

1:17:07

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 …

Episode 66: Übermensch at Work

April 20th, 2015

1:24:51

Special guest Yoel Inbar (author of Hitchcock’s Women: From Margaret Sullivan to Tippi Hedren) joins us to talk about Hitchcock’s long take

Episode 65: Philocalypse Now

April 6th, 2015

1:19:21

Holy crap, it's the apocalypse!!!!  

...for philosophy. Maybe. Has this 2500 year old discipline become too technical, too disconnected from the real …

Episode 64: Believing in a Just World

March 19th, 2015

1:13:23

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? …

Episode 63: Stalemates and Closets (with Sam Harris)

February 27th, 2015

2:46:41

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 …

Episode 62: Brain Jizz and "Black Mirror"

February 9th, 2015

1:01:01

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 …

Episode 61: Putting a Little Meaning in Your Life

January 19th, 2015

1:15:26

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 …

Episode 60: Drunk on Intuitions

January 1st, 2015

1:12:41

Dave and Tamler argue some more about the role of emotion and intuition in blame judgments, and then offer some moral psychology-related …

Episode 59: Tumors All the Way Down (With Sam Harris)

December 15th, 2014

2:32:15

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, …

Episode 58: Do the Right Thing (with Yoel Inbar)

December 1st, 2014

1:30:26

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 …

Episode 57: Free Willie

November 17th, 2014

45:38

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 …

Episode 56: Moral Heroes and Drunk Utilitarians

November 3rd, 2014

1:10:42

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 …

Episode 55: Rooting for Evil (With Paul Bloom)

October 20th, 2014

1:18:17

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 …

Episode 54: Pooping on Ecstasy (Pain, Pleasure, and the Ethics of Breeding)

September 24th, 2014

1:17:50

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 …

Episode 53: The Psychology People Love to Hate (Evolutionary Psychology Pt.1)

September 8th, 2014

1:15:20

Dave and Tamler take a shot at answering the question: what is an evolutionary psychologist? Is it just a psychologist who believes in evolution? …

Episode 52: Thought Experiments (Huh!) What Are They Good For? (Part 2)

August 25th, 2014

1:16:35

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 …

Episode 51: Zombies, Trolleys, and Galileo's Balls

August 11th, 2014

1:18:33
Episode Audio

Dave and Tamler talk about the value and purposes of thought experiments in philosophy and science. Does the trolley problem tell us …

Episode 50: Keeping it Unreal

July 14th, 2014

1:27:03

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 …

Episode 49: Psychopaths and Contrastivizzzzzzzz (With Walter Sinnott-Armstrong)

June 23rd, 2014

1:43:42

Special guest Walter Sinnott-Armstrong joins the podcast to explain how his theory which desperately needs a new name ("contrastivism") can dissolve …

Episode 48: Restorative Circle Jerk

June 9th, 2014

1:08:00

Dave and Tamler take a mulligan and try to resolve their conflict about restorative justice.  Do restorative processes lead to more just outcomes …

Episode 47: Schooled By Our Listeners

May 22nd, 2014

1:02:08

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 …

Episode 46: The Real Josh Knobe

May 4th, 2014

1:04:20

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 …

Episode 45: Rounded Brains and Balanced "Play Diets"

April 20th, 2014

1:08:26

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 …

Episode 44: Killer Robots

April 5th, 2014

1:08:39

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 …

Episode 43: The Nature of Nudges

March 17th, 2014

50:03

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 …

Episode 42: Reason, Responsibility, and Roombas (With Paul Bloom)

March 3rd, 2014

1:07:58

Can a fully determined creature deliberate? How big a role does conscious reasoning play in moral judgment and everyday life? Are we responsible for …

Episode 41: Moral Dilemmas at the Movies

February 18th, 2014

1:37:39

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 …

Episode 40: How Many Moralities Are There? Pt. 2 (with Jesse Graham)

February 3rd, 2014

1:19:58

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 …

Episode 39: How Many Moralities Are There? (Pt.1)

January 20th, 2014

59:48

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 …

Episode 38: The Greatest Movies Ever Made about Personal Identity

December 30th, 2013

1:21:23

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 …

Episode 37: Porn, Poop, and Personal Identity (with Nina Strohminger)

December 16th, 2013

45:47

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 …

Episode 36: An Irresponsible Meta-Book Review of Joshua Greene's "Moral Tribes"

November 25th, 2013

55:12

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.   …

Episode 35: Douchebags and Desert

November 11th, 2013

1:01:03

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 …

Episode 34: Does Reading Harry Potter Make You Moral? (with Will Wilkinson)

October 28th, 2013

1:13:59

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 …

Episode 33: Monkeys, Smurfs, and Human Conformity (With Laurie Santos)

October 14th, 2013

57:09

Special guest Laurie Santos (Psychology, Yale) joins us to talk about what animal cognition can tell us about human nature. Why are other primates …

Episode 32: Disagreeing About Disagreement

September 30th, 2013

1:18:39

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 …

Episode 31: An Anthropologist's Guide to Moral Psychology (Pt. 1)

September 15th, 2013

54:54

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 …

Episode 30: The Greatest Books Ever Written

September 2nd, 2013

1:11:48

Dave and Tamler celebrate their one year anniversary and 30th episode with one of their least cynical episodes yet.  They talk about 5 …

Episode 29: PEDs, Tenure Pills, and "Hyberbolic Chambers"

August 19th, 2013

47:54

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 …

Episode 28: Moral Persuasion

August 5th, 2013

1:09:04

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 …

Episode 27: You, Your Self, and Your Brain (With Eddy Nahmias)

July 22nd, 2013

1:22:14

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 …

Episode 26: Evolution and Sexual Perversion (with Jesse Bering)

July 7th, 2013

1:21:29

Psychologist and author Jesse Bering joins us to talk about evolutionary psychology and his forthcoming book Perv.   In the relatively …

Episode 25: Burning Armchairs (with Joshua Knobe)

June 24th, 2013

58:28

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 …

Episode 24: The Perils of Empathy (with Paul Bloom)

June 10th, 2013

1:23:01

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 …

Episode 23: Straw Dogs (with Yoel Inbar)

May 27th, 2013

1:16:24

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, …

Episode 22: An Enquiry Concerning Slurs and Offensiveness

May 12th, 2013

1:04:09

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 …

Episode 21: Grad School

May 6th, 2013

1:33:25

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 …

Episode 20: Boston, Brains, and Bad Pronunciation (with Molly Crockett)

April 21st, 2013

1:00:20

Dave and Tamler begin with a brief, heartfelt discussion about the Boston Bombings.  Tamler talks about why Patriots' Day and the Boston Marathon …

Episode 19: The Burning Bridges Episode (Pt. 2)

April 6th, 2013

1:03:09

Re-recording a not-so-tragically lost episode (it kinda sucked), Dave and Tamler talk about the things they hate most about philosophy and …

Episode 18: "Boy If Life Were Only Like This" (With Joe Henrich)

March 22nd, 2013

49:54

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. …

Episode 17: Learning about Bushmen by Studying Freshmen?

March 15th, 2013

50:12

Thousands of studies in psychology rely on data from North American undergraduates. Can we really conclude anything about the "human" mind from such …

Episode 16: Race, Reparations, and American (In)Justice (with Damani McDole)

March 2nd, 2013

1:00:21

For those who thought our most uncomfortable topics were behind us, on this episode we are joined by David's childhood friend Damani McDole

Episode 15: The Burning Bridges Episode (Pt. 1)

February 16th, 2013

53:50

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 …

Episode 14: Bonus Episode on Snitches, Tattletales, and Whistleblowers

February 8th, 2013

27:14

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 …

Episode 13: Beanballs, Blood Feuds, and Collective Moral Responsibility (With Fiery Cushman)

January 22nd, 2013

1:00:09

Our classiest episode yet (OK, that's not saying much, but still...)--Psychologist Fiery Cushman joins us for a discussion about collective …

Episode 12: Justice for #!$@ ?

January 13th, 2013

1:13:05

Dave and Tamler square off the role of the victim in criminal punishment and find little to agree about. Tamler defends the restorative justice

Episode 11: It is Morally Wrong to Kill Morgan Freeman (with Yoel Inbar)

December 28th, 2012

1:15:48

Social psychologist Yoel Inbar joins Tamler and David to discuss Clint Eastwood's masterpiece of the Western genre, "Unforgiven." The discussion …

Episode 10: Religion, Meaning, and Morality

December 10th, 2012

58:52

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 …

Episode 9: Social Psychology, Situationism, and Moral Character

December 3rd, 2012

1:08:48

After discussing some listener feedback about the movie Swingers, Tamler and David talk about two classic experiments in social psychology: the …

Episode 8: Dishonesty, Character, and Dan Ariely

November 11th, 2012

1:11:03

In a Very Special Episode of Very Bad Wizards, Dan Ariely joins David to chat about cheating, character, teling your significant other about kissing …

Episode 7: Psychopaths and Utilitarians Pt. 2 (Now with more poo poo)

November 4th, 2012

1:07:00

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 …

Episode 6: Trolleys, Utilitarians, and Psychopaths (Part 1)

October 20th, 2012

1:01:39

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 …

Episode 5: Revenge, Pt. 2: The Revenge

October 8th, 2012

1:05:02

Dave and Tamler continue their discussion about their favorite topic.  They talk about the evolutionary origins of retributive behavior, …

Episode 4: Revenge, Pt. 1

September 20th, 2012

51:34

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 …

Episode 3: "We believe in nothing!" (Cultural diversity, relativism, and moral truth)

September 8th, 2012

1:01:34

Tamler and Dave discuss recent work in philosophy and psychology about the differences in moral values and practices across cultures. We talk about …

Episode 2: The "Dangerous Truth" about Free Will (Free Will and Morality, Pt. 2)

August 31st, 2012

1:13:50

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, …

Episode 1: Brains, Robots, and Free Will (Free Will and Morality Pt. 1)

August 30th, 2012

1:10:51

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 …

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