Very Bad Wizards

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.

https://verybadwizards.fireside.fm/

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      Episode 139: Honor, Identity, and Headbutts


      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 honor in favor of dignity? What are the costs and benefits of doing that? How do people "find themselves" in an industrialized anonymous society? What should you do when someone insults your sister and you're playing in the final of the World Cup? The seminal...


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         1h31m
       
       

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


      Award-winning screenwriter and medieval philosophy scholar Yoel Inbar joins us for a deep dive on the Charlie Kaufman/Michel GondREY masterpiece Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. When relationships go bad is it better to believe they never happened? What is the nature of memory, how is it constructed, and is it possible to zap them out existence with an Apple IIe? Will Tamler have a more optimistic take on the ending of the movie than David? (Hint: yes)

      Also--only two more...


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         1h45m
       
       

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


      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 in San Antonio), the philosopher Shaun Nichols joins us to discuss his recent article “Death and the Self”. You might think that Buddhist conceptions of the self as illusory would reduce their fear of death (after all, if there’s no real self, why worry about it ceasing to ...


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       2018-04-10  1h19m
       
       

      Episode 136: The Good Life (with Laurie Santos)


      From Very Bad Wizards to Megyn Kelly Today back to Very Bad Wizards, Laurie Santos has traveled the typical trajectory of the celebrity academic. Laurie joins us to talk about her cult status after creating the most popular course in Yale University history: Psychology and the Good Life. The course explores questions like: Why are we so bad at predicting what will make us happy? What makes it so hard to do the things we know are good for us? Why young are people more stressed, anxious,...


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       2018-03-27  1h32m
       
       

      Episode 135: Utilitarianism and Moral Identity


      David and Tamler take a break from complaining about psychological studies that measure utilitarianism to complain about the moral theory itself. We talk about one of the most famous critiques of utilitarian theories from Bernard Williams. Does utilitarianism annihilate our integrity--our unity--as people? Would trying to maximize well-being fracture our identities, and swallow up our projects, motivations, and moral convictions--the same convictions that make utilitarianism seem...


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       2018-03-13  1h16m
       
       

      Episode 134: Digital Outrage


      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 professor at Yale University. And we're...well, we're still doing the podcast. Today Molly joins us to talk about moral outrage in the age of social media. Has the outrage changed now that we express so much of it online? Does it contribute to polarization and social division, or give a voice to the less powerful? How can we...


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       2018-02-27  1h51m
       
       

      Episode 133: Death and Dreams


      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 billion years before we were born, why fear it now?

      Plus, a discussion about the "it was all a dream" trope in TV and film. Why is it so infuriating in some works but not others?

      Links:

      • Tommy Westphall - Wikipedia
      • 20 Years Ago:...


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       2018-02-06  1h15m
       
       

      Episode 132: Emotional Willpower (with David DeSteno)


      What's the best way to build self-control, patience, productivity, and delayed marshmallow eating? For decades psychologists and economists have told us to develop traits like willpower and grit. But psychologist David DeSteno describes a better, easier, and more effective path--the emotions. We talk to David about his new (not-self-help) book "Emotional Success," which argues that the emotions of gratitude, pride, and compassion can help us fulfill long-term goals and (as a...


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       2018-01-24  1h35m
       
       

      Episode 131: I Have No Genitals and I Must Scream


      David and Tamler break down two episodes (with full spoilers) from the new season of Charlie Brooker's bleaker-than-bleak Netflix series Black Mirror. First up, "The USS Callister," a Star Trek parody that becomes a meditation on fandom, humiliation, and cowardly revenge. Next we talk about "Black Museum" - could it be the final episode of Black Mirror? Should it be? After four seasons of indicting humanity, has Charlie Brooker turned his critical lens on himself?...


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       2018-01-09  1h39m
       
       

      Episode 130: Dehumanization and Disintegration (with Paul Bloom)


      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 in the New Yorker about dehumanization and cruelty. Is it really the case that we dehumanize in order to harm others? Or does most violence actually require us to view others as fundamentally human, agentic, and capable of true suffering? But first, we discuss the stages of Star Trek transporter cognition, whether Paul and David are...


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       2017-12-26  1h32m