Very Bad Wizards
About the Show
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.
Episode 23: Straw Dogs (with Yoel Inbar)
May 27th, 2013 | 1 hr 16 mins
Dave, Tamler, and special guest Yoel Inbar break down Sam Peckinpah's brilliant (at least according to one of us) 1971 film Straw Dogs.
Episode 22: An Enquiry Concerning Slurs and Offensiveness
May 12th, 2013 | 1 hr 4 mins
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 offensive. What makes a joke about race, ethnicity, gender, disability funny sometimes, and deeply hurtful at other times?
Episode 21: Grad School
May 6th, 2013 | 1 hr 33 mins
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 about the job market.
Episode 20: Boston, Brains, and Bad Pronunciation (with Molly Crockett)
April 21st, 2013 | 1 hr 20 secs
Dave and Tamler begin with a brief, heartfelt discussion about the Boston Bombings. In the second and third segments, Molly Crockett joins us to challenge Fiery Cushman for the prize of classiest episode ever.
Episode 19: The Burning Bridges Episode (Pt. 2)
April 6th, 2013 | 1 hr 3 mins
Re-recording a not-so-tragically lost episode (it kinda sucked), Dave and Tamler talk about the things they hate most about philosophy and psychology.
Episode 18: "Boy If Life Were Only Like This" (With Joe Henrich)
March 22nd, 2013 | 49 mins 54 secs
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. We continue our discussion from Episode 17 about his critique of the social and behavioral sciences in "The Weirdest People in the World" and his work in small scale societies on fairness norms.
Episode 17: Learning about Bushmen by Studying Freshmen?
March 15th, 2013 | 50 mins 12 secs
Thousands of studies in psychology rely on data from North American undergraduates. Can we really conclude anything about the "human" mind from such a limited sample-- especially since Westerners are probably more different from the rest of the world's population than any other group We talk about Joseph Henrich and colleagues' critique of the behavioral sciences in their paper "The WEIRDEST People in the World."
Episode 16: Race, Reparations, and American (In)Justice (with Damani McDole)
March 2nd, 2013 | 1 hr 21 secs
For those who thought our most uncomfortable topics were behind us, on this episode we are joined by David's childhood friend Damani McDole to discuss several potentially offensive topics surrounding race and justice in America, such as slavery, reparations, affirmative action, and the use of the n-word.
Episode 15: The Burning Bridges Episode (Pt. 1)
February 16th, 2013 | 53 mins 50 secs
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 disc, 8-track, or LP could hold all our complaints), Tamler and David list two of the things that bug them about their respective fields. We take issue with bad writing, brain worship, meaningless questions, and psychologists' obsession with the number two. Enjoy and try not to hold it against us.
Episode 14: Bonus Episode on Snitches, Tattletales, and Whistleblowers
February 8th, 2013 | 27 mins 14 secs
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 "The Wire" and the guy from "The Insider"), and David gets Tamler to agree that he'd never turn him into the police.
Episode 13: Beanballs, Blood Feuds, and Collective Moral Responsibility (With Fiery Cushman)
January 22nd, 2013 | 1 hr 9 secs
Our classiest episode yet (OK, that's not saying much, but still...)--Psychologist Fiery Cushman joins us for a discussion about collective punishment and collective responsibility. We use Fiery's recent paper on the practice of "beaning" in baseball (punishing one player for a teammate's offense by throwing a 95 MPH fastball at the player's head) to illustrate the phenomenon.
Episode 12: Justice for #!$@ ?
January 13th, 2013 | 1 hr 13 mins
Dave and Tamler square off the role of the victim in criminal punishment and find little to agree about. Tamler defends the restorative justice approach, while Dave expresses skepticism about its value and worries it might even be damaging.
Episode 11: It is Morally Wrong to Kill Morgan Freeman (with Yoel Inbar)
December 28th, 2012 | 1 hr 15 mins
Social psychologist Yoel Inbar joins Tamler and David to discuss Clint Eastwood's masterpiece of the Western genre: "Unforgiven." The discussion includes the nature of revenge, the requirements of justice, the rules of nicknaming, and who or what was being referred to as "unforgiven" in the movie's title.
Episode 10: Religion, Meaning, and Morality
December 10th, 2012 | 58 mins 52 secs
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 religion seem to make people happier and healthier? Dave and Tamler heroically try to answer these questions without being stoned.
Episode 9: Social Psychology, Situationism, and Moral Character
December 3rd, 2012 | 1 hr 8 mins
After discussing some listener feedback about the movie Swingers, Tamler and David talk about two classic experiments in social psychology: the Milgram Experiments and the Zimbardo Prison experiment. They discuss the power of the situation, its influence on recent philosophy, and whether there is room to believe in moral character and virtue. Also, Tamler admits to his former struggles with hard core street drugs, and Dave ponders which prison gang would be most accepting if he had to serve hard time.