Tapesearch Logo

Very Bad Wizards

Tamler Sommers & David Pizarro

Society & Culture, Science, Social Sciences, Philosophy, Ethics, Psychology, Pop-culture

4.82.9K Ratings

Overview

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, recent work on moral psychology and neuroscience, and the overlap between the two.

288 Episodes

Episode 282: Fearful Symmetry (Borges' "Death and the Compass")

A Rabbi is found dead in a hotel room, stabbed in the chest. The room is filled with Kabbalah texts and a single page in an typewriter that reads “The first letter of the name has been written.” The celebrated detective and “reasoning machine” Erik Lönnrot suspects a rabbinical explanation but is he seeing patterns that may not be there? David and Tamler get out their pipes, magnifying glasses, and deerstalker hats to unravel another Borges mystery: “Death and the Compass.” Plus a new study on why men make errors about whether women are flirting with them, the latest in our series on studies that employ erotic fiction. Links: A Dress Is Not a Yes: Towards an Indirect Mouse-Tracking Measure of Men’s Overreliance on Global Cues in the Context of Sexual Flirting Pinpointing the psychological factors linked to men's misjudgments of women's sexual interest Death and the Compass by Jorge Luis Borges [wikipedia.org]

Transcribed - Published: 16 April 2024

Episode 281: Choose Your Fighter

We dig into the biggest rivalry in Tamler’s profession, analytic vs. continental philosophy. Are analytic philosophers truly the rigorous, precise, clear thinkers they take themselves to be? And is continental philosophy really just a bunch pretentious charlatans spouting French and German gibberish and writing obscure prose to mask the incoherence of their ideas? We look at a nice paper by Neil Levy that goes beyond the stereotypes and tries to describe and explain the differences between the two schools. Plus, The University of Austin (sic) is back in the news and we have a report from someone who attended one of their Forbidden Courses. This should be so easy but the article has us deeply conflicted about what to make fun of. [Important update: Trixie is on a 5 day streak of no accidents and is a perfect little sweet girl.] Links: An American Education: Notes from UATX by Noah Rawlings Levy, N. (2003). Analytic and continental philosophy: Explaining the differences. Metaphilosophy, 34(3), 284-304.

Transcribed - Published: 26 March 2024

Episode 280: Mad Masque (with Phil Ford and J.F. Martel)

Phil Ford and J.F. Martel from the great "Weird Studies" podcast join us for a whirling discussion of Edgar Allan Poe’s mesmerizing tale of decadence and disease “The Masque of the Red Death." We also talk about weird fiction more generally, why it’s so suited to the short story genre, how it creates a mood that drips and bursts from the seam of the page. Plus David and Tamler in the opening segment talk about Aella’s data-driven, chart and graph filled birthday orgy. Is she the sex symbol for our times? Links: My Birthday Gangbang by Aella [substack.com] Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" [wikipedia.org] Weird Studies podcast with J.F. Martel and Phil Ford Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW Factor: Chef-prepared, dietitian-approved meals, ready to eat. Sign up today and get restaurant-quality meals made by real chefs delivered to your door. Visit factormeals.com/vbw50 and use code VBW50 to get 50% off your order.

Transcribed - Published: 12 March 2024

Episode 279: The Greenhouses We Burned Along the Way (Lee Chang-dong's "Burning" Pt. 2)

David and Tamler conclude their discussion of Lee Chang-dong’s "Burning" – we talk about the hunger dance at twilight, Ben’s greenhouse burning habit, Shin Hae-mi’s mysterious disappearance, Lee Jong-su’s clumsy and doomed quest to find out what really happened, and what to make of that final scene. Plus we choose the finalists for our Patreon listener selected episode.

Transcribed - Published: 27 February 2024

Episode 278: Schrödinger's Everything (Lee Chang-dong's "Burning" Pt. 1)

David and Tamler fall under the spell of Lee Chang-dong’s 2018 masterpiece Burning, a movie where nothing is what it seems, or maybe it is. An alienated young man meets what seems like his dream girl from his small town, but she’s about to leave for Africa. Will he take care of her cat? Is there a cat? When she comes back she’s attached (maybe) to a slick rich guy played by Steven Yeun and then she disappears. What happened? What’s real and what’s a pantomime? Adapted from a Murakami short story that’s adapted from a Faulkner short story, this movie warrants a true VBW deep dive, so we had to do it in two parts. This is part 1. Plus another segment of our pet peeves. “Updating my priors,” “Fixed it for you,” faculty governance, and more, these are the things that really grind our gears. Links: Burning (2018) [wikipedia.org] The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami (containing the short story "Barn Burning) [amazon.com affiliate link] Barn Burning by William Faulkner [wikipedia.org] Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW Factor: Chef-prepared, dietitian-approved meals, ready to eat. Sign up today and get restaurant-quality meals made by real chefs delivered to your door. Visit factormeals.com/vbw50 and use code VBW50 to get 50% off your order.

Transcribed - Published: 13 February 2024

Episode 277: The Merits of Buggery (Nagel's "Sexual Perversion")

David and Tamler play the old hits – Thomas Nagel and sex robots. In the main segment we talk about Nagel’s essay “Sexual Perversion”, a surprising essay on many fronts (Sartre, erotic fiction, conceptual analysis, much more). What’s the nature of sexual desires? Can we say that some sexual interactions are perversions? Which ones? Can we have a perverse form of a hunger? Plus, a new study examines attitudes about sexual assault by probing for intuitions on assaulting sex robots. It gets more confusing from there. Links: Grigoreva, A. D., Rottman, J., & Tasimi, A. (2024). When does “no” mean no? Insights from sex robots. Cognition, 244, 105687. Nagel, T. (1969). Sexual perversion. The Journal of Philosophy, 5-17. Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW Green Chef: Get great recipes made from organic produce and premium proteins of the highest quality delivered to your door. Visit Greenchef.com/60vbw, and use code 60VBW to get 60% off, plus 20% off your next two months.

Transcribed - Published: 30 January 2024

Episode 276: Attention Please

David and Tamler are back for the new year and one of our resolutions was to do more episodes on William James. Today we talk about his account of ‘Attention’ from his 1890 volume The Principles of Psychology – another remarkably prescient chapter that still feels more than relevant today. What is attention and how does it function in the mind? What accounts for the different ways that we attend to things? Does attention help to shape or construct our reality? What is attention’s connection to the will? Does James anticipate predictive coding theory? Plus we discuss the removal of the head of a renowned university for reasons that have nothing to do with the mission of higher learning. Episode Links Chancellor of University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Fired [nbc.com] William James chapter on Attention from Principles of Psychology (1890) [yorku.ca]

Transcribed - Published: 16 January 2024

Episode 275: The Ineffable Center (Borges' "The Aleph")

An episode interesting from every point of view, we train our eyes on Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Aleph.” The first segment wins the kudos of the learned, the academician, the Hellenist, as we talk about the favorite things we saw this year. The second segment — baroque? decadent? the purified and fanatical cult of form? — dives into the philosophy, comedy, satire, and poignancy of this classic story. Once again, we show our awareness that truly modern podcasting demands the balm of laughter, of scherzo. The finicky will want to excommunicate our discussion without benefit of clergy but the critic of more manly tastes will embrace this episode as he does his very life. "The Aleph" by Jorge Luis Borges [wikipedia.org] Version we read: Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Andrew Hurley) [amazon.com affiliate link] Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW Listening.com: Save time by listening to academic papers on the go. Very Bad Wizards listeners get 3 weeks free when signing up at listening.com/vbw Givewell.org: Make your charitable donations as effective as possible. If you’ve never donated through GiveWell before, you can have your donation matched up to before the end of the year or as long as matching funds last. Just go to givewell.org, pick PODCAST, and enter VERY BAD WIZARDS at checkout.

Transcribed - Published: 26 December 2023

Episode 274: Can I Get a Kidney Voucher? (with Vlad Chituc)

RETURNING guest Vlad Chituc joins us for a wide-ranging discussion about donating his kidney to a stranger, the effective altruism movement, and his sexuality. Was EA’s turn to ‘long-termist’ goals like preventing evil AI inevitable? Have they strayed too far from their Peter Singer/Jeremy Bentham inspired roots? And why won’t David and Tamler donate their kidneys? Plus a new article in Nature Climate Change argues that neuroscience can help the environment – can I interest you in some virtual trees? Doell, K. C., Berman, M. G., Bratman, G. N., Knutson, B., Kühn, S., Lamm, C., ... & Brosch, T. (2023). Leveraging neuroscience for climate change research. Nature Climate Change, 1-10. I spent a weekend at Google talking with nerds about charity. I came away … worried. by Dylan Matthews [vox.com] How effective altruism went from a niche movement to a billion-dollar force by Dylan Matthews [vox.com] Stop the Robot Apocalypse by Amia Srinivasan [lrb.co.uk] Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW Listening.com: Save time by listening to academic papers on the go. Very Bad Wizards listeners get 3 weeks free when signing up at listening.com/vbw Givewell.org: Make your charitable donations as effective as possible. If you’ve never donated through GiveWell before, you can have your donation matched up to before the end of the year or as long as matching funds last. Just go to givewell.org, pick PODCAST, and enter VERY BAD WIZARDS at checkout.

Transcribed - Published: 13 December 2023

Episode 273: Ah. Ah. (Miyazaki's "Spirited Away")

David and Tamler board the train for Hayao Miyazaki’s mystical dreamy coming of age masterpiece Spirited Away. This is a true VBW deep dive. Plus a study by our secret crush suggests we may not be optimizing the value of our conversations. Mastroianni, A. M., Gilbert, D. T., Cooney, G., & Wilson, T. D. (2021). Do conversations end when people want them to?. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(10), e2011809118. Spirited Away [wikipedia.org] Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW Listening.com: Save time by listening to academic papers on the go. Very Bad Wizards listeners get 3 weeks free when signing up at listening.com/vbw Givewell.org: Make your charitable donations as effective as possible. If you’ve never donated through GiveWell before, you can have your donation matched up to before the end of the year or as long as matching funds last. Just go to givewell.org, pick PODCAST, and enter VERY BAD WIZARDS at checkout.

Transcribed - Published: 29 November 2023

Episode 272: Neigh Means Yay

The morality of zoophilia has received shockingly little attention in contemporary ethical discourse…until now. David and Tamler break down the paper “Zoophilia is Morally Permissible” from the latest issue of The Journal of Controversial Ideas. We explore issues of harm, consent, and more… like a lot more. Then we talk about Robert Putnam's classic article “Bowling Alone” (the paper that led to his best selling book) about the decline of civic engagement in American life. Bensto, Fira (Pseudonym) (2023) Zoophilia Is Morally Permissible, Journal of Controversial Ideas, Vol. 3, Issue 2. Putnam, R.D. (1995). Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital. Journal of Democracy 6(1), 65-78. https://doi.org/10.1353/jod.1995.0002. Luhmann, M., Buecker, S., & Rüsberg, M. (2023). Loneliness across time and space. Nature Reviews Psychology, 2(1), 9-23. Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW

Transcribed - Published: 15 November 2023

Episode 271: Concept-Con 2023

It’s the first annual “Concept-Con” – a not at all cringe episode where David and Tamler apply the methods and rigor of analytic philosophy to dissect not one, not two, but four new concepts. We start out with a Gen-Z special “mid” and then after a break we analyze the concept “cool.” After that we have two mystery concepts that we sprung on each other. Spoiler alert – David had never heard of Tamler’s. It’s an episode (we can’t emphasize this enough) that is in no way cringe or corny. Plus some brief thoughts on Israel and Gaza.

Transcribed - Published: 31 October 2023

Episode 270: Take Me to the River (Blood Meridian, Pt. 3)

David and Tamler conclude their three-part discussion of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. We talk about the Judge’s coin trick by the fire and the question of the supernatural in the novel. Next we dive into the imbecile’s “baptism” by the river, and then try to wrap our heads around the cryptic epilogue. Baffled at first, we ultimately arrive at the definitive interpretation of the epilogue’s meaning. Finally we offer Hollywood some suggestions for choosing the director and cast for the long sought-after film adaptation. Plus, we have nothing but praise for this study on measuring passive aggression. We really like it - I mean, we have a couple of issues with the methodology and the survey questions, but no, really, it’s a great paper… for a journal like that… Lim, Y. O., & Suh, K. H. (2022). Development and validation of a measure of passive aggression traits: the Passive Aggression Scale (PAS). Behavioral Sciences, 12(8), 273. [mdpi.com] 21 Questions to Identify a Passive-Aggressive Person by Mark Travers [psychologytoday.com] Blood Meridian [wikipedia.com] Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW

Transcribed - Published: 10 October 2023

Episode 269: Death Hilarious (Blood Meridian, Pt. 2)

In part 2 of our journey into Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Tamler and David talk about the kid and his form of resistance to the judge’s gleeful nihilism - does he (as the man) ultimately succumb at the end of the novel? We also discuss other notable members of the Glanton gang and go deep into several scenes, including the Comanche attack, Elrod’s sad fate, and the tarot reading from the family of traveling magicians. Plus two studies on honesty tell you the best countries to lose your wallet and the U.S. states with a bunch of dirty Wordle cheaters. Wormley, A. S., & Cohen, A. B. (2023). CHEAT: Wordle Cheating Is Related to Religiosity and Cultural Tightness. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 18(3), 702-709. Cohn, A., Maréchal, M. A., Tannenbaum, D., & Zünd, C. L. (2019). Civic honesty around the globe. Science, 365(6448), 70-73. Blood Meridian [wikipidia.org] Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW

Transcribed - Published: 10 October 2023

Episode 269: Blood Meridian, Part 2: Death Hilarious

In part 2 of our journey into Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Tamler and David talk about the kid and his form of resistance to the judge’s gleeful nihilism - does he (as the man) ultimately succumb at the end of the novel? We also discuss other notable members of the Glanton gang and go deep into several scenes, including the Comanche attack, Elrod’s sad fate, and the tarot reading from the family of traveling magicians. Plus two studies on honesty tell you the best countries to lose your wallet and the U.S. states with a bunch of dirty Wordle cheaters. Wormley, A. S., & Cohen, A. B. (2023). CHEAT: Wordle Cheating Is Related to Religiosity and Cultural Tightness. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 18(3), 702-709. Cohn, A., Maréchal, M. A., Tannenbaum, D., & Zünd, C. L. (2019). Civic honesty around the globe. Science, 365(6448), 70-73. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Meridian Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW

Transcribed - Published: 26 September 2023

Episode 268: Blood Meridian, Part 1

In part one of our two-part episode on Cormac McCarthy’s blood-soaked phantasmagorical 1985 masterpiece Blood Meridian, David and Tamler talk about the historical sources of the novel, the cosmic questions the book poses, the capriciousness of the near-constant violence, and the ethical neutrality of McCarthy’s prose. We also get into the religious imagery, the gnostic elements, and the judge – what to make of the judge? Plus a new meta-analysis refutes the common wisdom that “opposites attract.” But did we ever really believe that anyway? Thanks to our beloved Patreon supporters for selecting this topic for the listener selected episode! https://phys.org/news/2023-08-evidence-opposites-dont.html Evidence of correlations between human partners based on systematic reviews and meta-analyses of 22 traits and UK Biobank analysis of 133 traits | Nature Human Behaviour https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Meridian Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW

Transcribed - Published: 12 September 2023

Episode 267: The Thickness of Reality

David and Tamler return to the work of old favorite William James and argue about the 6th lecture (inspired by the French philosopher Henri Bergson) of his 1909 book “A Pluralistic Universe.” James attacks the philosophical habit of elevating unchanging concepts over the continuous ever-changing flux that characterizes raw experience. Concepts, James argues, carves joints where there are none. But why does James trust pure perception (unmediated by concepts) as a true window into reality? Does he want us to return to the blooming buzzing confusion of our infancy? Is his mystical side superseding his pragmatism? Plus, a new study on generosity after receiving a $10,000 windfall leads to a discussion of what we can interpret from null results, and lots more. Dwyer, R. J., Brady, W. J., Anderson, C., & Dunn, E. W. (2023). Are People Generous When the Financial Stakes Are High?. Psychological Science, 09567976231184887. A Pluralistic Universe by William James (Lecture VI) Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW Rocket Money: Stop throwing your money away. Cancel unwanted subscriptions, and manage your expenses the easy way, by going to RocketMoney.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW

Transcribed - Published: 22 August 2023

I Want to Half-Believe

Last December, with Argentina minutes away from a World Cup championship, friend of the show Yoel texted David “congratulations.” David was furious, and soon after (with less than 2 minutes left in extra time) France’s Mbappe scored a game-tying goal to send the match into penalty kicks. (Argentina ended up winning or Yoel might have become ‘former friend of the show.’) David says he doesn’t believe in jinxes at all but his actions suggest otherwise. We talk about a paper on this phenomenon of “half-belief”: when your behavior and your stated beliefs don’t align. Plus Tamler and David take a survey and discover that they lead radically different inner lives. James Steele's Tweet Caspi, A., Shmuel, E., & Chajut, E. (2023). A quantitative examination of half-belief in superstition. Journal of Individual Differences. Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW

Transcribed - Published: 8 August 2023

Episode 266: I Want to Half-Believe

Last December, with Argentina minutes away from a World Cup championship, friend of the show Yoel texted David “congratulations.” David was furious, and soon after (with less than 2 minutes left in extra time) France’s Mbappe scored a game-tying goal to send the match into penalty kicks. (Argentina ended up winning or Yoel might have become ‘former friend of the show.’) David says he doesn’t believe in jinxes at all but his actions suggest otherwise. We talk about a paper on this phenomenon of “half-belief”: when your behavior and your stated beliefs don’t align. Plus Tamler and David take a survey and discover that they lead radically different inner lives. James Steele's Tweet Caspi, A., Shmuel, E., & Chajut, E. (2023). A quantitative examination of half-belief in superstition. Journal of Individual Differences. Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW

Transcribed - Published: 8 August 2023

Episode 265: Kekulé (Oh Yeah!)

The Summer of Cormac McCarthy continues – this time we dive into his one piece of non-fiction, the short essay “The Kekulé Problem.” How does our unconscious mind solve problems that conscious deliberation can’t crack? Why does it often work elliptically, in code, rather than giving us the answer directly in language? Is McCarthy right that the unconscious doesn’t trust language because it’s such a newcomer to the human brain? Plus we select the finalists for our listener selected episode – thanks to our beloved patrons for all their terrific suggestions! "The Kekulé Problem" by Cormac McCarthy Pinker & Bloom 1990 Dijksterhuis & Strick 2016 Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW Rocket Money: Stop throwing your money away. Cancel unwanted subscriptions, and manage your expenses the easy way, by going to RocketMoney.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW

Transcribed - Published: 25 July 2023

[BONUS] Overton Windows Episode 1: Israel and Palestine

A new mini-series with Tamler Sommers and Robert Wright on the range of politically acceptable discourse for a given topic and how this “Overton window” changes over time. This episode is available for free for everyone, the remaining episodes will appear at the Very Bad Wizards Patreon and Robert Wright’s Nonzero Newsletter on Substack. 00:33 What is this new Overton Windows series about? 10:05 Tamler’s connections to Israel and Bob’s experiences there 19:22 What does Zionism mean in practice? 27:35 The shifting Overton window around Israel/Palestine 45:35 The heavy-handed response to the BDS movement 57:13 What the Israel/Palestine discourse says about Overton windows 1:02:09 So where should the boundaries be set

Transcribed - Published: 18 July 2023

Episode 264: The Rule You Follow (The Coen Brothers' "No Country for Old Men")

David and Tamler dive into the Coen brothers’ bleak and beautiful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel "No Country for Old Men." What’s the underlying philosophy that animates Anton Chigurh? Does he have a code of any kind, or is he just a ghostly symbol of human brutality and a pitiless indifferent universe? Does he represent a new kind of evil or is Sheriff Bell just getting old? What elements, if any, in the film are more dream than reality? And speaking of moral decline, a new Nature study claims that we have the illusory belief that people are getting worse - but can they really establish that it’s an illusion? Mastroianni, A. M., & Gilbert, D. T. (2023). The illusion of moral decline. Nature, 1-8. Mastroianni blog post about the illusion of moral decline No Country for Old Men (movie) [wikipedia.org] Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW

Transcribed - Published: 11 July 2023

Episode 263: Free Yoel

A VBW exclusive report! For years David and Tamler have been a little dismissive of fears about cancel culture in academia but now the SJWs have come for one of our own! We welcome back Yoel Inbar to talk about his experience applying for a position at UCLA psychology only to have his candidacy pulled at the last minute because of remarks he made on his podcast (!) about diversity statements. What does this mean for freedom of expression in academia? Should we advise our students and younger faculty to watch what they say when it comes to politically charged topics? Are they really going to start combing through podcast episodes now – is nothing sacred? Plus another case of fraud in psychology comes to light courtesy of the Data Colada guys. Data Colada post about Gino fraud Sponsored by: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW Rocket Money: Stop throwing your money away. Cancel unwanted subscriptions, and manage your expenses the easy way, by going to RocketMoney.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW

Transcribed - Published: 27 June 2023

Episode 262: Supposing Truth is a Woman (Nietzsche's "Beyond Good and Evil")

David and Tamler dive into the first two parts of Nietzsche’s Beyond and Good and Evil which contain some of Nietzsche’s best drive-bys on philosophers like Plato, Descartes, the Stoics, Kant, and Hegel along with beliefs in free will, hard determinism, Christianity, morality, conceptual analysis, objectivity, and the value of truth. We argue about Nietzsche’s metaphilosophy and the implications of thinking that all philosophy amounts to a personal confession by the author. Plus – have David’s prayers been answered? Does quantum theory entail that our consciousness outlives the death of our physical bodies? A blog post about a somewhat recent book says yes!

Transcribed - Published: 13 June 2023

Episode 261: Death of the Author

What’s the meaning of a work of art? Does the text mean just what the author intends it to mean? Does it matter what Kubrick and Arthur C. Clark thinks about the end of 2001? Or is the artist’s interpretation just one interpretation among many once the text is out in the world? We explore the question of authorial intent, and brace yourselves - this is just about as postmodern as David gets. Plus – do we have what it takes to get an invite to the thought criminals club? Links The Party is Canceled [newyorker.com] Was I Wrong About The Irishman? by Thomas Flight [youtube.com] Authorial Intent [wikipedia.org] Sponsored By: BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW NordVPN: Keep your internet connection safe, and enjoy streaming services when you travel abroad with NordVPN! NordVPN is the best VPN if you’re looking for peace of mind when you use public Wi-Fi, access personal and work accounts on the road, or want to keep your browsing history to yourself. Exclusive! Grab the NordVPN deal ➼ https://nordvpn.com/VBW Try it risk-free now with a 30-day money-back guarantee! Promo Code: VBW

Transcribed - Published: 30 May 2023

Episode 260: The Scream That Never Found a Voice (Murakami's "Sleep")

David and Tamler take the first excursion into the work of Haruki Murakami and talk about his short story “Sleep.” A thirty-year-old woman, the wife of a dentist and mother of a young boy, has a terrifying dream and when she wakes up, she no longer needs to sleep. This isn’t insomnia, it’s something else – she has never felt so alive, strong, and awake. She can swim laps for an hour in the afternoon and read Anna Karenina with perfect concentration until dawn. What is this condition? Is it real? What does it tell us about her past, her sense of self, her alienation from friends, family, and her role? This is a banger of a story folks, check it out. Plus - if you had to say one word or sentence to distinguish yourself from an AI, what would you say?Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWAura Frames: From phone to frame, enjoy all your memories with ease with Aura digital frames. Use code "VBW" at checkout for %30 off of their best-selling frames. Offer is good until May 14! (Just in time for Mother's Day shopping). Promo Code: VBWNordVPN: Keep your internet connection safe, and enjoy streaming services when you travel abroad with NordVPN! NordVPN is the best VPN if you’re looking for peace of mind when you use public Wi-Fi, access personal and work accounts on the road, or want to keep your browsing history to yourself. Exclusive! Grab the NordVPN deal ➼ https://nordvpn.com/VBW Try it risk-free now with a 30-day money-back guarantee! Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:One word Turing test The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

Transcribed - Published: 9 May 2023

Episode 259: Losing Time ("Tár" with Paul Bloom)

The great Paul Bloom returns to the show to explore the many mysteries of Todd Field’s 2022 film “Tár.” Is it a ghost story? A movie about cancel culture and abuse of power? Guilt? Professional disappointment? The anxiety of getting old, losing touch with youth and reality? Reminds me of my freshman year at Smith… Plus – Paul gets into trouble on Twitter for saying he’s mildly pro-trigger warnings in certain cases. But is he ignoring the science???Special Guest: Paul Bloom.Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:Paul Bloom on Twitter: "I agree with this decision-nobody should force profs to use trigger warnings. But I'm mildly pro-TW and have used them in the past. It's often basic decency to warn people--and this includes students--before exposing them to shocking material. https://t.co/ap8gxHgsp8" / TwitterTár - Wikipedia

Transcribed - Published: 25 April 2023

Episode 258: Mystic Peeza

David and Tamler talk about William James’ chapter on mysticism from his book "Varieties of Religious Experience." What defines a mystical experience? Why do they defy expression and yet feel like a state of knowledge, a glimpse into the window of some undiscovered aspect of reality? Is Tamler right that David has a little mystic inside of him just waiting to burst forth from his breast? Plus – another edition of VBW does conceptual analysis and we’re sticking with ‘c’ words – this time the definitive theory of ‘creepy.’Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:The Varieties of Religious Experience - WikipediaThe Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature by William James [Project Gutenberg Free e-book]

Transcribed - Published: 11 April 2023

Episode 257: Aural Fixation

David and Tamler deliver a PODCAST episode, one of many that comes from the INTERNET, that you’ll probably listen to through Air Pods or some other kind of WIRELESS HEADPHONES as you go about your day. (Incidentally, the topic of the episode is Marshall McLuhan on how new forms of media profoundly shape our experience and identity, but in a way that makes us focus on the content of the specific medium and not the medium itself.) Plus, can algorithms help to optimize our well-being, and Steven Pinker transforms his ideas into a new asset class of NFTs. Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:Best-Selling Author & Harvard Professor Steven Pinker Will Transform His Ideas into NFTs | BlocksterI Asked an Algorithm to Optimize My Life. Here's What Happened | WIREDThe Medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhanMarshall McLuhan - WikipediaMarshall McLuhan Interview from Playboy (1969)

Transcribed - Published: 28 March 2023

Episode 256: The Right to Punish?

Here’s an episode with something for both of us – a healthy serving of Kantian rationalism for David with a dollop of Marxist criminology for Tamler. We discuss and then argue about Jeffrie Murphy’s 1971 paper “Marxism and Retribution.” For Murphy, utilitarianism is non-starter as a theory of punishment because it can’t justify the right of the state to inflict suffering on criminals. Retributivism respects the autonomy of individuals so it can justify punishment in principle – but not in practice, at least not in a capitalist system. So it ends up offering a transcendental sanction of the status quo. We debate the merits of Murphy’s attack on Rawls and social contract theory under capitalism, along with the Marxist analysis of the roots of criminal behavior. Plus – the headline says it all: Blame The Brain, Not Bolsonaro, For Brazil’s Riots.Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWReThinking with Adam GrantSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:What Neuroscience Tells Us About Insurrections | EssayMurphy, J. G. (1973). Marxism and retribution. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 217-243.Psych (with Paul Bloom and David Pizarro)

Transcribed - Published: 14 March 2023

Episode 255: Beloved Child of the House (Susanna Clarke's "Piranesi")

David and Tamler get lost in the world of Susanna Clarke’s "Piranesi," a hauntingly beautiful and thrilling novel with echoes of Borges, Plato, C.S. Lewis, and even Parfit. The first part of our conversation is spoiler-free so you can listen to that section if you haven’t read it yet. (But seriously read this book! We both read it in a few days.) Plus, watch out ladies - Sydney the Bing chatbot is coming to steal your man. Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:Why a Conversation With Bing’s Chatbot Left Me Deeply Unsettled - The New York TimesKevin Roose’s Conversation With Bing’s Chatbot: Full Transcript - The New York TimesFrom Bing to Sydney – Stratechery by Ben ThompsonPiranesi by Susanna Clarke [amazon.com affiliate link]Piranesi (novel) - WikipediaThe meditative empathy of Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi - Vox — Carla Baricz’s reading of Piranesi through the Romantics, at PloughsharesPiranesi’s Disenchanted WorldSusanna Clarke’s Fantasy World of Interiors | The New Yorker

Transcribed - Published: 28 February 2023

Episode 254: Nobody's Parfit

Tamler’s earlier self committed to doing an episode on Parfit, and David holds his current self to that promise, which shows how unconvinced David was by Parfit’s skepticism about personal identity. Or something like that, whatever. We argue about the value of Parfit’s sci-fi thought experiments and the implications of believing there’s no clear sense of “me.” Plus, we talk about a recent article on aphantasia – the inability to conjure mental images in your mind – and the question that pops into everyone’s head when they hear about this condition.Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:Aphantasia - WikipediaCan't See Pictures in Your Mind? You're Not Alone. - The New York TimesThe Vividness Of Visual Imagery Questionnaire (the “aphantasia Test”)Break Music | Backslide by peezHow To Be Good | The New Yorker (Profile on Derek Parfit by Larissa MacFarquar)Parfit, D. (1971) Personal Identity, The Philosophical Review, 80, 3-27.

Transcribed - Published: 14 February 2023

Episode 253: Tarkovsky's Starchild

It’s the episode that Tamler has been waiting for – a long deep dive into Andrei Tarkovsky’s mysterious masterpiece "Stalker." A writer and professor are led by their guide (Stalker) into a cordoned off “zone” that may have been visited by a meteorite (or aliens) a couple of decades earlier. Their destination – a room in the zone that according to legend grants people their deepest desire, the one that has made them suffer the most. We gush over Tarkovsky’s filmmaking, his use of sound and music, and the richness of the questions this movie raises about meaning, art, delusion, desire, science, and faith. Plus, does having a small penis make you want to buy a sports car? Pre-crisis social psychology is back! Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW: GiveWell searches for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. We recommend a small number of charities that can do an incredible amount of good. Your donation can make a meaningful difference for some of the poorest people in the world. First-time donors will have their donation matched up to $100 (until funds last). Promo Code: Very Bad WizardsSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:Richardson, D. C., Devlin, J., Hogan, J. S., & Thompson, C. (2023). Small Penises and Fast Cars: Evidence for a Psychological Link.Stalker (1979 film) - Wikipedia

Transcribed - Published: 31 January 2023

Episode 252: Yes We Sene-can

David and Tamler dive into Seneca’s “On the Happy Life” and stoicism, the topic selected by our beloved patreon supporters. Why is stoicism so popular today? What does Seneca actually think about Epicureanism? Can Seneca's philosophy be reconciled with his life as a wealthy Roman aristocrat? Are stoics too cold and detached or is that an unfair caricature? And why can’t David and Tamler fully embrace this undeniably wise approach to life? Plus the return of… GUILTY CONFESSIONS and some favorite things from 2022.Sponsored By:: GiveWell searches for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. We recommend a small number of charities that can do an incredible amount of good. Your donation can make a meaningful difference for some of the poorest people in the world. First-time donors will have their donation matched up to $100 (until funds last). Promo Code: Very Bad WizardsBetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:Why Stoicism is one of the best mind-hacks ever devised | Aeon EssaysSeneca--On the Happy Life

Transcribed - Published: 10 January 2023

Episode 251: First Order, Then Chaos

David and Tamler wind their way through another Borges story - "The Immortal"- about a Roman soldier who seeks the secret of immortality and, much to his horror, finds it. Plus some thoughts on the utterly shameless ChatGPT.Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW: GiveWell searches for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. We recommend a small number of charities that can do an incredible amount of good. Your donation can make a meaningful difference for some of the poorest people in the world. First-time donors will have their donation matched up to $100 (until funds last). Promo Code: Very Bad WizardsSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:The banality of ChatGPT - by Erik HoelThe Immortal (short story) - WikipediaImmortal by Jorge Luis Borges – მატიანე

Transcribed - Published: 20 December 2022

Episode 250: Metaphors All the Way Down

We often think of metaphors as poetic flourishes, a nice way to punctuate your ideas and make them more relatable. But what if metaphors aren’t simply tools of language but part of thought itself? David and Tamler “dive into” George Lakoff’s theory of metaphors and “explore” the implications of his view that metaphors shape and constrain the ways we conceptualize our experience of the world. Plus if we’re really living in cancel culture, we might as well do some cancelling. Say goodbye to "Singing in the Rain," Latinx, and punny academic titles among other things. Oh and it’s our 250th episode! It’s been quite a journey. Have we come a long way or are we just spinning our wheels? And for a fun detour, check out our bonus podcast series “The Ambulators” on the great TV series Deadwood.Sponsored By:: GiveWell searches for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar. We recommend a small number of charities that can do an incredible amount of good. Your donation can make a meaningful difference for some of the poorest people in the world. First-time donors will have their donation matched up to $100 (until funds last). Promo Code: Very Bad WizardsBetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:DJ Khaled on "Hot Ones" [YouTube.com]The Contemporary Theory of Metaphor by George LakoffGeorge Lakoff - WikipediaConceptual metaphor - Wikipedia

Transcribed - Published: 6 December 2022

Episode 249: Phlegm and Carelessness (Hume's "The Sceptic")

David and Tamler gild and stain David Hume’s essay “The Sceptic” with their sentiments. If nothing is inherently valuable or despicable, desirable or hateful, then what do philosophers have to offer when it comes to happiness? If reason is powerless, does it all come down to our emotions and “humours”? Or does the study of philosophy and liberal arts naturally lead to a fulfilling and virtuous life? Plus we look at a new non-traditional social psych paper on how we always imagine that things could be better, and tip our caps to the queen of handling Twitter pile-ons (and former VBW guest) – Candy Mom.Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWI Am BIO podcast: Powerful stories of biotechnology breakthroughs, the people they help, and the global problems they solve. Hosted by BIO President & CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath.Super Speciosa: Try kratom now and get 20% off. Go to GetSuperLeaf.com/VBW and get 20% off with promo code VBW. That’s GetSuperLeaf.com/VBW and use promo code VBW for 20% off. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:"The Sceptic" (Hume Texts Online)Things could be better by Adam Mastroianni & Ethan Ludwin-Peery

Transcribed - Published: 22 November 2022

Episode 248: Checkmate, Grasshopper

In this podcast we examine a recent argument for the view that chess is not, in fact, a game. We discuss the Grasshopper’s claim that all games must have a prelusory goal, as well as Skepticus’ objection to the giant Grasshopper concerning chess. We then turn to a broader analysis of the Suitsian account of games. Does the existence of illusory checkmates offer Grasshopper an avenue for replying to Skepticus? Should we bite the bullet and agree that chess is not a game? What is a lusory attitude? Is Tamler losing his mind? Why is David so giddy? Plus – how should Arthur C. Clarke’s novel "2001: A Space Odyssey" affect our understanding of Kubrick’s movie? And a little more on Kanye.Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:Illusory checkmates: why chess is not a game | SpringerLink

Transcribed - Published: 1 November 2022

Episode 247: Open the Pod, Dave (with Sam Harris)

We welcome Sam Harris back to the show for a deep dive into Stanley Kubrick’s confounding 1968 masterpiece "2001: A Space Odyssey." How long is the Dawn of Man? What does the second monolith do exactly? Why are the humans so banal and expressionless? What are HAL’S motivations? Has he planned his mutiny from the start, or does the Council’s deception make him manlfunction? Or something else? Who is the Council anyway? Was HAL meant to go through the stargate? What is the final leap forward in consciousness? The hotel room, the starchild, all the rectangles, rectangles everywhere, the music – what does it all mean???? Plus Sam has some thoughts about our Rorty episode and David tries to rile Tamler up about Kanye’s antisemitism. note: there's a bit of an abrupt transition between our brief opening and Sam telling a story about Rorty in around the 9 minute mark... couldn't be helped. Special Guest: Sam Harris.Sponsored By:I Am BIO podcast: Powerful stories of biotechnology breakthroughs, the people they help, and the global problems they solve. Hosted by BIO President & CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath.BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:Ye's "death con 3" tweetWaking Up App2001: A Space Odyssey (film) - WikipediaHow Kubrick made 2001: A Space Odyssey - Part 1: The Dawn of Man - YouTube — Video essay by YouTuber CinemaTyler

Transcribed - Published: 18 October 2022

Episode 246: Existential Poker-Face (David Foster Wallace's "E Unibus Pluram")

We dive into David Foster Wallace’s sprawling 1993 essay “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction.” How do TV and new forms of media keep their hold on us when we know at some level that they’re reinforcing our loneliness and passivity? That’s easy, Wallace says, post-modern cool. Flatter me, let me think we’re all in the joke together, give me “an ironic permission-slip to do what I do best whenever I feel confused and guilty: assume, inside, a sort of fetal position, a pose of passive reception to comfort, escape, reassurance.” But in the years since this essay, the TV landscape has completely transformed. Has it transcended its function as a surrogate companion for lonely people, or has it just found new ways to keep us isolated and passive? Plus, we talk about the recent new SPSP guidelines and Jon Haidt’s recent essay on why he’s resigning from the organization. (Sorry, Jon!) Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:The Two Fiduciary Duties of Professors - Heterodox Academy | Heterodox AcademySPSP DEI submission guidelinesE Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction by David Foster Wallace

Transcribed - Published: 4 October 2022

Episode 245: Pragmatically Speaking

David and Tamler take their first real look at pragmatism via Richard Rorty’s “Solidarity or Objectivity.” Can we discover facts about the world as it “really is,” independent of our own culturally influenced methods of inquiry? If not, does that make us relativists? Is David right about pragamatism being an ass-backward approach to scientific truth, or is he just a pragmatist who’s not ready to admit that to himself? Plus, does "The Little Mermaid" have to be white? What about Clark Kent? And we select the topic finalists for our Patreon listener selected episode.Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWGiveWell: We love Givewell.org and are proud of the support our listeners have shown! Givewell is the best way to make sure that 100% of your charitable contributions go to the most effective charities. If you would like to put your dollars to work saving lives, please go to givewell.org--read the free research on each charity, and pick from one (or let Givewell choose for you). When you are checking out, please pick PODCAST and write "Very Bad Wizards" at checkout--that way they'll know you heard about them from us! Promo Code: Select "Podcast" at checkout and enter "Very Bad WizardsI Am BIO podcast: Powerful stories of biotechnology breakthroughs, the people they help, and the global problems they solve. Hosted by BIO President & CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath.Support Very Bad WizardsLinks:Matt Walsh Slammed For Saying Black 'Little Mermaid' Isn't 'Scientific'Pragmatism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)Rorty, R. (1985). Solidarity or objectivity. Post-analytic philosophy, 3, 5-6.

Transcribed - Published: 20 September 2022

Episode 244: Thanks for the Memories? (Borges' "Funes the Memorious)

David and Tamler return to Borges land to get lost in the infinite, this time with his legendary and tragic character Funes the memorious. What would it be like to have perfect memory, to have full access to every perceived detail no matter how trivial? Would life be infinitely richer, with present experience and memory merging into a perfect Heraclitan flow? Or is William James correct to say that one condition of remembering is to forget, and that “if we remembered everything, we should on most occasions be as ill off as if we remembered nothing.”? Plus, we’re sorry, but after 10 years (!) we thought we had the right to get a little self-indulgent and naval-gazey. We do a bit of reminiscing (“though we have no right to speak that sacred verb..”) in the first segment about how the podcast has changed since 2012, and the impact it has made on our lives. Thanks for the memories!Sponsored By:Super Speciosa: Try kratom now and get 20% off. Go to GetSuperLeaf.com/VBW and get 20% off with promo code VBW. That’s GetSuperLeaf.com/VBW and use promo code VBW for 20% off. Promo Code: VBW80,000 Hours: You have 80,000 hours in your career. This makes it your best opportunity to have a positive impact on the world. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to use your career for good, but aren’t sure how, 80,000 Hours has an in-depth guide that can help you: Get new ideas for high-impact careers Compare your options in terms of impact Make a plan you feel confident in It’s based on ten years of research alongside academics at Oxford, and as a nonprofit, everything they provide is free. Promo Code: wizardsBetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:Funes the Memorious - WikipediaCollected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges (translated by Andrew Hurley) [amazon.com affiliate link] — This volume contains the translation we used. A Case of Unusual Autobiographical Remembering

Transcribed - Published: 6 September 2022

Episode 243: Finding My Religion

David and Tamler continue their discussion of Leo Tolstoy’s 'Confession.' When we left him last time, the famous author had bottomed out just years after writing two of the greatest novels ever written. Our eventual death, Tolstoy thought, strips life of all meaning and purpose – all answers to the question “so what?”. How does he emerge from this state of suicidal depression? What role does faith or “irrational knowledge” play in his account? What’s the meaning of the cryptic dream at the conclusion of the memoir? Plus, bombarded with this recommendation, we were going to talk about a certain article that came out in Qualitative Research about masturbating to Japanese shota comics – we even had a guest – but had to scrap it. Instead, we discuss a recent study on conspiracy theories that shows that liberals are just as likely to believe in them as conservatives. Mostly we just talk about the conspiracies. Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWWren.co: Wren is for anyone who wants to tackle the climate crisis but isn't sure where to start. It's an approachable on-ramp to action: First you understand your own impact, and how that fits into the world. Then we help you reduce and offset your footprint while pushing the systems around you to change. Start making a change today--visit wren.co/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:Enders, A., Farhart, C., Miller, J., Uscinski, J., Saunders, K., & Drochon, H. (2022). Are Republicans and Conservatives More Likely to Believe Conspiracy Theories?. Political behavior, 1-24.A Confession - Wikipedia

Transcribed - Published: 16 August 2022

Bonus Episode: The Ambulators (A "Deadwood" Podcast)

We have a sneak peek for our listeners--the first episode our new Patreon bonus series on David Milch's brilliant (but short-lived) series "Deadwood." In this inaugural edition of "The Ambulators" (we promise the name makes sense), Tamler and David discuss the pilot episode "Deadwood." Support Very Bad Wizards

Transcribed - Published: 9 August 2022

Episode 242: Losing My Religion

David and Tamler find themselves unable to attach rational meaning to a single act in their entire lives. Let’s say we publish more articles and books. What then? What about our kids? They’re going off to college. Why? What for? We think about the future of the podcast. Let’s say we get bought out by Spotify and become more famous than Joe Rogan, Dolly Parton, and even Yoel Inbar -- more famous than all the podcasters in the world. So what? And we can find absolutely no reply. Plus, we take a test to determine whether we can we tell an AI apart from an analytic philosopher. When should we start getting scared of what AIs are gonna do to us, or what we’re doing to them? *Note: the main segment is on the first half of Tolstoy’s great memoir "A Confession," but you don’t need to be familiar with the text to appreciate the discussion for this one.Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWGiveWell: We love Givewell.org and are proud of the support our listeners have shown! Givewell is the best way to make sure that 100% of your charitable contributions go to the most effective charities. If you would like to put your dollars to work saving lives, please go to givewell.org--read the free research on each charity, and pick from one (or let Givewell choose for you). When you are checking out, please pick PODCAST and write "Very Bad Wizards" at checkout--that way they'll know you heard about them from us! Promo Code: Select "Podcast" at checkout and enter "Very Bad WizardsSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:The Splintered Mind: Results: The Computerized Philosopher: Can You Distinguish Daniel Dennett from a Computer?

Transcribed - Published: 2 August 2022

Episode 241: Very Bad Orgies (Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut")

David and Tamler mask up and wander through the audio and visual orgy of Stanley Kubrick’s final masterpiece Eyes Wide Shut. What is this movie really about? Dreams? Wealth and power? Marriage? Jealousy? Female sexuality? Masculinity issues? The Illuminati? Pedophilia? Sex cults? Prostitution, both literal and figurative? Missing out, always on the outside looking in? Why does Tom Cruise repeat everything? Why is Nicole Kidman such a lightweight? Why can’t a successful Upper West Side couple get better weed? We explore all these themes and more in a film that raises so many more questions than it answers. Plus, a study on masturbation, gender, and sexual dissatisfaction – right in our wheelhouse, or is it?Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSuper Speciosa: Try kratom now and get 20% off. Go to GetSuperLeaf.com/VBW and get 20% off with promo code VBW. That’s GetSuperLeaf.com/VBW and use promo code VBW for 20% off. Promo Code: VBWWren.co: Wren is for anyone who wants to tackle the climate crisis but isn't sure where to start. It's an approachable on-ramp to action: First you understand your own impact, and how that fits into the world. Then we help you reduce and offset your footprint while pushing the systems around you to change. Start making a change today--visit wren.co/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:A Seemingly Paradoxical Relationship Between Masturbation Frequency and Sexual Satisfaction | SpringerLinkEyes Wide Shut - WikipediaIntroducing Sociology | Tim Kreider

Transcribed - Published: 19 July 2022

Episode 240: Evil

David and Tamler descend into the dark pits of Hell to look Satan in the eyes and discover the nature of evil. OK…that’s not fully accurate, we just read and talk about a couple of philosophy articles that analyze the concept. What are the features of evil people and acts? Does evil just mean ‘really really really really bad’ or is it categorically different in some way? Can you be evil without ever actually causing harm? Is Tony Soprano evil? Plus we take a "moral alignment" quiz (inspired by role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons). We both want to end up as ‘chaotic good’ but does it turn out that way? And what kind of character is a unicorn? Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW80,000 Hours: You have 80,000 hours in your career. This makes it your best opportunity to have a positive impact on the world. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to use your career for good, but aren’t sure how, 80,000 Hours has an in-depth guide that can help you: Get new ideas for high-impact careers Compare your options in terms of impact Make a plan you feel confident in It’s based on ten years of research alongside academics at Oxford, and as a nonprofit, everything they provide is free. Promo Code: wizardsSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:Alignment (Dungeons & Dragons) - WikipediaMoral Alignment TestThe Concept of Evil (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)Moral Monsters and Saints by Daniel M. HaybronThe Concept of Evil by Marcus Singer

Transcribed - Published: 6 July 2022

Episode 239: Lose Yourself

David and Tamler lose themselves in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (pr. ‘chick sent me high’) classic paper on the concept of flow. We talk about the features of flow activities – loss of ego, the merging of your awareness with the activity, and autotelic (not what you think) enjoyment. What makes flow activities so rewarding? Do you need to develop skills over many years to experience them? Do easy and natural social interactions count as flow? Plus as men of pure virtue, we call an audible and choose not to make fun of a recent paper (with a student as lead author). Instead we pilot a not fully formed idea: “Substack Starters." Now that the economy is tanking, do we have any heterodox beliefs that might lead to profitable Substacks?Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWWren.co: Wren is for anyone who wants to tackle the climate crisis but isn't sure where to start. It's an approachable on-ramp to action: First you understand your own impact, and how that fits into the world. Then we help you reduce and offset your footprint while pushing the systems around you to change. Start making a change today--visit wren.co/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:Flow (psychology) - WikipediaMihaly Csikszentmihalyi - WikipediaPlay and Intrinsic Rewards (1975) by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Transcribed - Published: 21 June 2022

Episode 238: I Am Not Ivan Ilyich...Am I?

Ivan Ilyich is a man. All men are mortal. So Ivan Ilyich is mortal. Sure absolutely, that’s true for Ivan Ilyich and for all men. But we’re not Ivan Ilyich and we’re not ‘all men’- so what does this have to do with us? Right? David and Tamler confront their mortality as they discuss Leo Tolstoy’s brilliant and chilling short story “The Death of Ivan Ilyich.” Plus the ‘Why I am leaving academia’ essay has become its own genre. But is this profession really that much worse relative to others? Sponsored By:BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBW80,000 Hours: You have 80,000 hours in your career. This makes it your best opportunity to have a positive impact on the world. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to use your career for good, but aren’t sure how, 80,000 Hours has an in-depth guide that can help you: Get new ideas for high-impact careers Compare your options in terms of impact Make a plan you feel confident in It’s based on ten years of research alongside academics at Oxford, and as a nonprofit, everything they provide is free. Promo Code: wizardsNordVPN: Keep your internet connection safe, and enjoy streaming services when you travel abroad with NordVPN! NordVPN is the best VPN if you’re looking for peace of mind when you use public Wi-Fi, access personal and work accounts on the road, or want to keep your browsing history to yourself. Exclusive! Grab the NordVPN deal ➼ https://nordvpn.com/VBW Try it risk-free now with a 30-day money-back guarantee! Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:Has the ‘great resignation’ hit academia?Why You Need To Leave Academia - Cheeky ScientistThe Death of Ivan Ilyich - Wikipedia — . I cannot now help seeing day and night going round and bringing me to death. That is all I see, for that alone is true. All else is false.Val Plumwood - Wikipedia

Transcribed - Published: 7 June 2022

Episode 237: Glitches Ain't Shit

David and Tamler explore the many variations of simulation theory, the view that our universe is just a computer generated model created by an advanced civilization that has reached “technological maturity.” What does the growing popularity of simulation theories reveal about contemporary life? Are any of the arguments for simulation theory compelling or are they just post-hoc ways of justifying what you already believe on faith? If we are living in a simulation, does that mean we can go around killing people? Would it change anything about how we should live? Rodney Ascher’s (Room 237, The Nightmare) excellent documentary "A Glitch in the Matrix" gets the discussion going. Plus the return of the VBW does conceptual analysis segment - a careful, rigorous, systematic inquiry into the concept “cringe.”* *Note: if you think the opening segment is itself cringe, that’s because we’re doing seventh dimensional Zoomer meta shit and you just didn’t get it. Sponsored By:NordVPN: Keep your internet connection safe, and enjoy streaming services when you travel abroad with NordVPN! NordVPN is the best VPN if you’re looking for peace of mind when you use public Wi-Fi, access personal and work accounts on the road, or want to keep your browsing history to yourself. Exclusive! Grab the NordVPN deal ➼ https://nordvpn.com/VBW Try it risk-free now with a 30-day money-back guarantee! Promo Code: VBWI Am BIO podcast: Powerful stories of biotechnology breakthroughs, the people they help, and the global problems they solve. Hosted by BIO President & CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath.BetterHelp: You deserve to be happy. BetterHelp online counseling is there for you. Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment. Our listeners get 10% off the first month by visiting BetterHelp.com/vbw. Promo Code: VBWSupport Very Bad WizardsLinks:A Psychological Perspective on Vicarious Embarrassment and Shame in the Context of Cringe HumorElon Musk should stop making that stupid sex joke about Tesla's car names - The VergeIndian Joker / Rizxtar | Know Your MemeA Glitch in the Matrix (2021) - IMDb

Transcribed - Published: 24 May 2022

Disclaimer: The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Tamler Sommers & David Pizarro, and are the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Tapesearch.

Copyright © Tapesearch 2024.