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.
December 30th, 2013 | 1 hr 21 mins
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 our pasts and become different people? Dave thinks conceptual analysis and arousal measuring devices can solve all these problems but allows Tamler his dream of temporarily becoming the host of a movie podcast. They list their top 5 favorite movies about personal identity.
December 16th, 2013 | 45 mins 47 secs
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.
November 25th, 2013 | 55 mins 12 secs
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.
November 11th, 2013 | 1 hr 1 min
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 more than good people who commit exactly the same act, or is it yet another cognitive bias that should be avoided?
October 28th, 2013 | 1 hr 13 mins
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.
October 14th, 2013 | 57 mins 9 secs
Special guest Laurie Santos (Psychology, Yale) joins us to talk about what animal cognition can tell us about human nature. Why are other primates better at resisting the misleading influence of others than humans? Is conformity a byproduct of our sophisticated cultural learning capacities? Are we more like Chimpanzees or Bonobos? Why does Dave spend so much time writing Smurf fan fiction?
September 30th, 2013 | 1 hr 18 mins
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 intuitions, psychological facts, the implications of moral disagreement.
September 15th, 2013 | 54 mins 54 secs
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 about Sam Harris' $20,000 "Moral Landscape Challenge."
September 2nd, 2013 | 1 hr 11 mins
Dave and Tamler celebrate their one year anniversary and 30th episode with one of their least cynical episodes yet. They talk about 5 philosophy/psychology(-ish) books that influenced and inspired them throughout the years.
August 19th, 2013 | 47 mins 54 secs
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 they answer.
August 5th, 2013 | 1 hr 9 mins
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 describe how students proceed through the "Stages-of-Singer," and Tamler finally defends himself against Dave's slanderous accusation of hypocrisy about animal welfare.
July 22nd, 2013 | 1 hr 22 mins
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 view on free will. Eddy also describes his new project (with Toni Adleberg and Morgan Thompson) on why women leave philosophy.
July 7th, 2013 | 1 hr 21 mins
Psychologist and author Jesse Bering joins us to talk about evolutionary psychology and his forthcoming book "Perv." In the relatively uncontroversial part of the episode, we ask if homophobia is an adaptation and if women have evolved rape defenses. After that, sex with animals, sex with bookshelves, foot fetishes, amputee fetishes, falling down the stairs fetishes... I don't know, just listen.
June 24th, 2013 | 58 mins 28 secs
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 innateness. Dave wonders if X-phi people are just doing social psychology, and Tamler tries his best to get Josh mad with his critique of Josh's experimental work on free will.
June 10th, 2013 | 1 hr 23 mins
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 scoop, we talk about Paul's new book "Just Babies: The Origin of Good and Evil,"racist babies, and how 80s sitcoms changed the world.
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.