DiscoverVery Bad Wizards
Very Bad Wizards
Claim Ownership

Very Bad Wizards

Author: Tamler Sommers & David Pizarro

Subscribed: 27,035Played: 244,162
Share

Description

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.
201 Episodes
Reverse
David and Tamler check out some recent work in metaphysics and applied ethics. Does playing a Nina Simone song sideways show that Einstein was wrong about spacetime? Does a Dali painting nailed to the wall backwards have intrinsic value (see figure 1)? Is childhood bad for children? Do you have to be a child before you're an adult? Are we kidding? Is this a joke? We don't know but don't play this podcast sideways or it may lose its aesthetic value.
David and Tamler explore Thomas Szasz’s provocative and still relevant 1961 book “The Myth of Mental Illness,” the topic selected by our beloved Patreon supporters. When we think of mental disorders as “diseases,” are we making a category mistake? Are we turning ordinary “problems in living” into pathologies that must be treated (with pills or psychoanalysis)? Does this model rob us of our autonomy in direct or indirect ways? Plus, with VBW 200 only 2 episodes away we give our top 3 dream guests, and David dons his punditry cap to break down the first presidential debate, which already seems like six months ago.
The psychologist Yoel Inbar has always tried to imbue his work with a sort of interiority, and now he joins us for a deep dive into Charlie Kaufman’s baffling and distressing new film “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.” Why does Jessie Buckley’s name and career keep changing? What’s going on with the dog? Why are the parents unstuck in time? Don’t worry you’ll get home, we have tire chains in the trunk. Plus, aliens, open science, and the illuminati. It’s all connected. Special Guest: Yoel Inbar.
She’s beautiful, smart, funny, and head over heels in love with you. There’s only one problem – she’s from a possible world, not the actual one. What we thought would be a funny opening segment idea turns into a semi-serious discussion of Neil Sinhababu’s 2008 article “Possible Girls.” Plus David and Tamler share some thoughts on teaching in normal times and today.
David and Tamler dive into the most celebrated and philosophically rich scenes in Dostoevsky’s masterpiece "The Brothers Karamazov." Alyosha gets in the middle of a rock-fight, Ivan Karamazov makes a devastating moral case against God, and the Grand Inquisitor convicts Jesus Christ of heresy against the church. (Note: this segment is the second of an upcoming five episode VBW miniseries on The Brothers Karamazov – more info on that to come very soon!) Plus one of us has a milestone birthday... [Special note from Peez: Stick around after the closing music to hear VBWs most frequent guests Paul Bloom and Yoel Inbar talk to David about Tamler behind his back.]
David and Tamler welcome special guest Chris Matheson - co-writer of the "Bill and Ted" movies and author of "The Story of God" and "The Buddha’s Story" - to talk about religion, immortality, comedy, Freud, and why the secret ingredient to good satire is love.  Plus David and Tamler do a conceptual analysis of stoner movies and discuss their favorites.  Special Guest: Chris Matheson.
David and Tamler want to go old school and discuss a classic Frankfurt paper on free will. But do they want to want that? Are they free to want what they want to want? Are they free to will what they want to will or to have the will they want? And if that’s not Dr. Seuss enough for you, shouting “FUCK” increases pain tolerance but what about shouting “TWIZPIPE”?
David and Tamler dive into “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” a very funny Borges story that also raises deep questions about authorship, reading, and interpretation. What would it mean for the same text to be written by two different authors more than three hundred years apart? Is this story the post-modernist manifesto that literary critics like Roland Barthes believed it to be? Or is the narrator in the story just a delusional sycophant, a victim of Menard’s practical joke – and the story by extension, a practical joke by Borges on the post-modernist movement to come? Plus, My Little Pony fans finally confront their Nazi problem.
Episode 191: All the Rage

Episode 191: All the Rage

2020-06-2301:36:565

A lotta anger out there right now, but does it do more harm than good? Is anger counterproductive, an obstacle to progress? And even when it is, can anger be appropriate anway? We talk about two excellent articles by the philosopher Amia Srinivasan criticizing anger's critics. Plus we express some counterproductive anger of our own at the IDWs response to the protests.
David and Tamler talk about police violence, the protests, and Harry Frankfurt's journal article turned bestseller ”On Bullshit." Plus we dive into a comic masterpiece of late capitalism: the University of Oregon's brand guidelines.
David and Tamler dive into Sigmund Freud’s world of unconscious drives, death instincts, and thwarted incestuous urges in his classic text “Civilization and its Discontents.” If society has made so much progress, why are human beings perpetually dissatisfied? Can religion help us or is it a big part of the problem? What’s really going on when you piss on a fire to put it out? Also: how seriously should we take Freud today given some of his wackier ideas? And is he a psychologist, a philosopher, or something else entirely? Plus we select the finalists from a huge list of suggested topics for the Patreon listener-selected episode!
Socrates was ugly and tired of life, so he made a tyrant of reason. Philosophers are mummies who hate the body and the senses. Reason is a tricky old woman. Morality is a misunderstanding. Kant is a sneaky Christian. And don't even get Nietzsche started on "free will" or the "self" - just excuse for priests to punish people, a hangman's metaphysics. David and Tamler dive into Friedrich Nietzsche's Twilight of the Idols, a fascinating set of aphorisms brimming with passion, provocation, questions without answers. Plus, a professor is sanctioned for sex talk with his students - fair or coddling foul?
Episode 187: More Zither

Episode 187: More Zither

2020-04-2101:40:37

With a global pandemic and a collapsing economy upon us, it's time to ask ourselves some tough questions. Sex robots or platonic love robots - what are you more excited for? If you walked in on your partner with one of them, which would make you more jealous? Are you male or female? Can evolutionary psychology explain sex-linked preferences for sensitive, empathetic Alexas? We then dive into the shadowy echo-filled streets of post-war Vienna - and talk about one of our favorite movies, a true noir classic: The Third Man.
The legendary Peter Singer joins us to talk about effective altruism, AI, animal welfare, esoteric morality, future Tuesday indifference, and more. I mean, it’s Peter freakin’ Singer - what more do we need to say? Plus, the explosive ‘one or two spaces after a period' debate: has science resolved it? Special Guest: Peter Singer.
David and Tamler begin by talking about the question on everyone’s mind right now – are we obligated to be pansexual? Then, since many of us have more free time on our hands these days, we thought it might be a good idea to revisit Bertrand Russell’s essay (published in Harper’s Magazine) “In Praise of Idleness.” How did workaholism become the norm? Why do we see working insanely long hours as a virtue, a moral duty rather than a necessity? Would more leisure make us more fulfilled and creative or just bored? We also discuss Daniel Markovits’ book "The Meritocracy Trap" - when life is a non-stop hyper-competitive grind from preschool to retirement even among the elites, is anyone happy?
Here's something that might help with the Coronavirus blues: we're releasing our latest Patreon bonus episode for everyone. In this (unedited) episode, Tamler and David talk about their Top 5 Deadwood characters. If you've seen the show, let us know if you agree or disagree, or if we should go fuck ourselves. And if you haven’t watched it yet, you might have some time on your hands for the next month or two - there’s almost no better way to spend it than watching Deadwood. Enjoy!
Episode 184: Tainted Glove

Episode 184: Tainted Glove

2020-03-1001:25:141

David and Tamler start off talking about the infamous Richard Dawkins eugenics tweet. What does it mean for eugenics to “work”? And given the sensitive nature and horrific history of eugenics, is it wrong to raise the topic even if you’re just focused on the science? Hey we’re just asking questions, man… Then, huge baseball fan that he is, David insists that we talk about the massive Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal and cheating in sports more generally. When is bending the rules just part of the game (“if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin’”) - and when is it really wrong? Why does the use of technology make cheating seem more dishonorable? Why weren’t the Astros players punished since they were the driving force behind the scandal? And why are apologies so hard on twitter?
VBW favorite Paul Bloom takes a short break from his Sam Harris duties to help us break down the Coen Brothers' ode to uncertainty, A Serious Man. Does inaction have consequences? Can you understand the cat but not the math? Why are there Hebrew letters carved into the back of a goy's teeth? Dybbuk or no Dybbuk? Why does God make us feel the questions if he’s not gonna give us any answers? Plus, Paul defends the psych establishment against critiques from the podcast peons at Two Psychologists Four Beers and Very Bad Wizards. Special Guest: Paul Bloom.
Podcasting legend Yoel Inbar (from Two Psychologists Four Beers (https://fourbeers.fireside.fm)) joins us to break down Tal Yarkoni's "The Generalizability Crisis,” the paper that launched a thousand Twitter wars. Psychologists make verbal claims about the world, then conduct studies to test these claims - but are the studies actually providing evidence for those claims? Do psychological experiments generalize beyond the the strict confinments of the lab? Are psychologists even using the right statistical models to be able to claim that they do? Does this debate boil down to fundamental differences in the philosophy of science - induction, Popper, and hypothetico-deductive models and so forth? Will David and Tamler ever be able to talk about a psych study again without getting into a fight? Plus ahead of tonight's New Hampshire primary, expert political analysis about what went down in Iowa. Special Guest: Yoel Inbar.
Our whole lives we’ve been frauds. We’re not exaggerating. Pretty much all we’ve ever done is try to create a certain impression of us in other people. Mostly to be liked or admired. This episode is a perfect example, Tamler pretending to be a cinephile (check out his four favorite pieces of 2019 “pop culture” in the first segment), David trying to connect with the people (Baby Yoda, Keanu Reeves etc.) – and of course what could be more fraudulent than a deep dive into a David Foster Wallace story, rhapsodizing over the endless sentences, the logical paradoxes, the seven-layer bean-dip of metacommentary (Jesus Christ I’m surprised there aren’t like eight footnotes in this episode description), and meanwhile the Partially Examined Life dudes refresh their overcast feeds and wonder through the tiny keyhole of themselves how David and Tamler have sunk so low that they’d ramble on about “Good Old Neon” like a couple of first year Comp-Lit grad students trying to impress that girl who works at the Cajun bakery.
loading
Comments (60)

Jason Gregory

Tamler rocks.

Aug 24th
Reply

Michael Pemulis

excited for this one, as always

Aug 13th
Reply

Worth Swearingen

Love these guys. This is almost unlistenable, though. Do not care about stoner movies.

Aug 13th
Reply

Adam Cook

Fucking hell. Tamler needs to quit politics

Jun 25th
Reply

Maitri

"Why are they so upset about the idea of abolishing the police?" you've got to be kidding guys... Maybe because they're aware that the communities who need the police most will suffer immensely if police determine to simply let these communities live as they please. I'm all for critiquing their ideas but please actually offer a critique rather than burning a straw man

Jun 24th
Reply

Maitri

I'm really hoping the protests brought about positive change. I worry that you have missed the point, have traded sober analysis for moral opinion. I hear Tamler stating consistently that there's a singular point to the movement, that being police reform. I haven't heard any of the IDE deny that. Maybe their emphasis isn't what you'd like, but it's curious to me that you believe your description of the point is characteristic of the entire movement. I've been hearing a discussion sadly lacking in nuance and facts that spans much wider than police reform

Jun 23rd
Reply (1)

ZB Fasih

What BS (pun).

Jun 12th
Reply

Michael Pemulis

spoilers start at 12:17 for anyone who would prefer to watch the show before

Mar 24th
Reply

Michael Pemulis

yay new episode!!!

Mar 24th
Reply

Joshua Solomon

Awesome episode. I just bought Infinite Jest, it should be arriving shortly. I listened to this just in time I just started reading about him because I watched a video of him talking about consumerism and am excited to witness Dave Wallace’s style and all the paradoxes and ironies awaiting me. I hope I’m driven crazy in a way that is most healthy for me.

Jan 29th
Reply

Michael Pemulis

so happy David foster Wallace made second. I would love to hear that

Nov 22nd
Reply

Michael Pemulis

do Spanish people refer to themselves as Hispanic?

Nov 10th
Reply

Johannes Ziegler

b1s 2mmmlm88o

Sep 29th
Reply

Adam Cook

Good chat

Aug 28th
Reply

Paul Morse

okay, the show is actually good.

Aug 28th
Reply

Paul Morse

p.s. I don't know how to spell deusche bag

Aug 28th
Reply (2)

Paul Morse

the Humian interpretation? who the fuck do you think your talking to? save your esoteric references for accodemia. Deuzcht bag deusch bag deuzcht bag

Aug 28th
Reply

Paul Morse

did you just say "the hubris of this impirical question"? deuzcht bag

Aug 28th
Reply (1)

Paul Morse

I just ripped on stuff you should know. you Deutsche bags are next

Aug 28th
Reply (1)

Bernardo Araujo

Hi everyone,  Does anyone knows if there is an episode where David and Tamler discuss Haidt's work? I recently finished "the righteous mind" and would love to know what they think about Jonathan's ideas.

Aug 14th
Reply (1)
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store