DiscoverSean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas
Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

Sean Carroll's Mindscape: Science, Society, Philosophy, Culture, Arts, and Ideas

Author: Sean Carroll

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Sean Carroll hosts conversations with the world's most interesting thinkers. Science, society, philosophy, culture, arts, and ideas.
52 Episodes
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It’s fun to spend time thinking about how other people should behave, but fortunately we also have an inner voice that keeps offering opinions about how we should behave ourselves: our conscience. Where did that come from? Today’s guest, Patricia Churchland, is a philosopher and neuroscientist, one of the founders of the subfield of “neurophilosophy.” We dig into the neuroscience of it all, especially how neurochemicals like oxytocin affect our attitudes and behaviors. But we also explore the philosophical ramifications of having a conscience, with an eye to understanding morality and ethics in a neurophilosophical context.   Support Mindscape on Patreon or Paypal. Patricia Churchland received her B.Phil. in philosophy from Oxford University. She is currently the President’s Professor of Philosophy (emerita) at the University of California, San Diego, as well as an adjunct professor of neuroscience at the Salk Institute. Among her awards are the MacArthur Prize, The Rossi Prize for Neuroscience and the Prose Prize for Science. Her latest book, Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition, was just released. She has arguably the best web site of any professional philosopher. Web site Google Scholar Amazon.com author page Wikipedia TEDx talk on The Brains Behind Morality Twitter
It’s easy to be cynical about humanity’s present state and future prospects. But we have made it this far, and in some ways we’re doing better than we used to be. Today’s guest, Nicholas Christakis, is an interdisciplinary researcher who studies human nature from a variety of perspectives, including biological, historical, and philosophical. His most recent book is Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society, in which he tries to pinpoint the common features of all human societies, something he dubs the “social suite.” Marshaling evidence from genetics to network theory to accounts of shipwreck survivors, he argues that we are ultimately wired to get along, despite the missteps we make along the way.   Support Mindscape on Patreon or Paypal. Nicholas Christakis received an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science in the Department of Sociology, with additional appointments in the Departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Statistics and Data Science; Biomedical Engineering; Medicine; and in the School of Management. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Yale web page Google scholar page Amazon.com author page Wikipedia Twitter
If you’re bad, we are taught, you go to Hell. Who in the world came up with that idea? Some will answer God, but for the purpose of today’s podcast discussion we’ll put that possibility aside and look into the human origins and history of the idea of Hell. Marq de Villiers is a writer and journalist who has authored a series of non-fiction books, many on science and the environment. In Hell & Damnation, he takes a detour to examine the manifold ways in which societies have imagined the afterlife. The idea of eternal punishment is widespread, but not quite universal; we might learn something about ourselves by asking where it came from.   Support Mindscape on Patreon or Paypal. Marq de Villiers was born in South Africa and now lives in Canada. He has worked as a reporter in a number of locations, from Cape Town to London to Moscow to Toronto. His books cover a variety of topics, many on history and ecology. He has been named a Member of the Order of Canada and awarded an honorary degree from Dalhousie University, among other accolades. Web site Amazon page Wikipedia Talk on the state of the world’s water
Most people in the modern world — and the vast majority of Mindscape listeners, I would imagine — agree that humans are part of the animal kingdom, and that all living animals evolved from a common ancestor. Nevertheless, there are ways in which we are unique; humans are the only animals that stress out over Game of Thrones (as far as I know). I talk with geneticist and science writer Adam Rutherford about what makes us human, and how we got that way, both biologically and culturally. One big takeaway lesson is that it’s harder to find firm distinctions than you might think; animals use language and tools and fire, and have way more inventive sex lives than we do. Adam Rutherford received his Ph.D. in genetics from University College London. He has written numerous books on genetics, evolution, synthetic biology, human history, and the origin of life. His most recent book is Humanimal: How Homo Sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature — A New Evolutionary History. (Published in the UK with the more manageable title The Book of Humans: The Story of How We Became Us.) He frequently appears on and hosts science programs for the BBC on both radio and television, including Inside Science for BBC Radio 4. BBC Bio Page Articles at The Guardian Wikipedia Amazon.co.uk author page Talk on “What Makes Us Human” Twitter
Most of us have no trouble telling the difference between a robot and a living, feeling organism. Nevertheless, our brains often treat robots as if they were alive. We give them names, imagine that they have emotions and inner mental states, get mad at them when they do the wrong thing or feel bad for them when they seem to be in distress. Kate Darling is a research at the MIT Media Lab who specializes in social robotics, the interactions between humans and machines. We talk about why we cannot help but anthropomorphize even very non-human-appearing robots, and what that means for legal and social issues now and in the future, including robot companions and helpers in various forms. Support Mindscape on Patreon or Paypal. Kate Darling has a degree in law as well as a doctorate of sciences from ETH Zurich. She currently works at the Media Lab at MIT, where she conducts research in social robotics and serves as an advisor on intellectual property policy. She is an affiliate at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Among her awards are the Mark T. Banner award in Intellectual Property from the American Bar Association. She is a contributing writer to Robohub and IEEE Spectrum. Web page Publications Twitter TED talk on why we have an emotional connection to robots
For decades now physicists have been struggling to reconcile two great ideas from a century ago: general relativity and quantum mechanics. We don’t yet know the final answer, but the journey has taken us to some amazing places. A leader in this quest has been Leonard Susskind, who has helped illuminate some of the most mind-blowing ideas in quantum gravity: the holographic principle, the string theory landscape, black-hole complementarity, and others. He has also become celebrated as a writer, speaker, and expositor of mind-blowing ideas. We talk about black holes, quantum mechanics, and the most exciting new directions in quantum gravity. Support Mindscape on Patreon or Paypal. Leonard Susskind received his Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University. He is currently the Felix Bloch Professor of Physics at Stanford University. He has made important contributions to numerous ideas in theoretical physics, including string theory, lattice gauge theory, dynamical symmetry breaking, the holographic principle, black hole complementarity, matrix theory, the cosmological multiverse, and quantum information. He is the author of several books, including a series of pedagogical physics texts called The Theoretical Minimum. Among his numerous awards are the J.J. Sakurai Prize and the Oskar Klein Medal. Web page Theoretical Minimum page Susskind Lectures on YouTube TED Talk about Richard Feynman Publications at Inspire Amazon author page Wikipedia
  When we talk about the mind, we are constantly talking about consciousness and cognition. Antonio Damasio wants us to talk about our feelings. But it’s not in an effort to be more touchy-feely; Damasio, one of the world’s leading neuroscientists, believes that feelings generated by the body are a crucial part of how we achieve and maintain homeostasis, which in turn is a key driver in understanding who we are. His most recent book, The Strange Order of Things: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures, is an ambitious attempt to trace the role of feelings and our biological impulses in the origin of life, the nature of consciousness, and our flourishing as social, cultural beings. Support Mindscape on Patreon or Paypal. Antonio Damasio received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Lisbon, Portugal. He is currently University Professor, David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, Professor of Psychology, Professor of Philosophy, and (along with his wife and frequent collaborator, Prof. Hannah Damasio) Director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. He is also an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. Among his numerous awards are the Grawemeyer Award, the Honda Prize, the Prince of Asturias Award in Science and Technology, and the Beaumont Medal from the American Medical Association. USC web page Brain and Creativity Institute Google Scholar page Amazon.com author page Wikipedia TED talk on The Quest to Understand Consciousness Twitter
Some people never drink wine; for others, it’s an indispensable part of an enjoyable meal. Whatever your personal feelings might be, wine seems to exhibit a degree of complexity and nuance that can be intimidating to the non-expert. Where does that complexity come from, and how can we best approach wine? To answer these questions, we talk to Matthew Luczy, sommelier and wine director at Mélisse, one of the top fine-dining restaurants in the Los Angeles area. Matthew insisted that we actually drink wine rather than just talking about it, so drink we do. Therefore, in a Mindscape first, I recruited a third party to join us and add her own impressions of the tasting: science writer Jennifer Ouellette, who I knew would be available because we’re married to each other. We talk about what makes different wines distinct, the effects of aging, and what’s the right bottle to have with pizza. You are free to drink along at home, with exactly these wines or some other choices, but I think the podcast will be enjoyable whether you do or not. Support Mindscape on Patreon or Paypal. Mattew Luczy is a Certified Sommelier as judged by the Court of Master Sommeliers. He currently works as the Wine Director at Mélisse in Santa Monica, California. He is also active in photography and music. Mélisse home page Personal/photography page Instagram Ask a Somm: When Should I Decant Wine?
The space age officially began in 1957 with the launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite. But recent years have seen the beginning of a boom in the number of objects orbiting Earth, as satellite tracking and communications have assumed enormous importance in the modern world. This raises obvious concerns for the control and eventual fate of these orbiting artifacts. Natalya Bailey is pioneering a novel approach to satellite propulsion, building tiny ion engines at her company Accion Systems. We talk about how satellite technology is rapidly changing, and what that means for the future of space travel inside and outside the Solar System.             Support Mindscape on Patreon or Paypal. Natalya Bailey received her Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT, where she helped invent a new kind of ion engine. She is currently co-founder and chief executive officer of Accion Systems Inc. She has been included in 30 Under 30 lists from Forbes, Inc, and MIT Technology Review. Accion Systems Wikipedia page Twitter Talk on the Human Side of Rocket Science Real-time map of satellites currently in orbit
One of the most important insights in the history of science is the fact that complex behavior can arise from the undirected movements of small, simple systems. Despite the fact that we know this, we’re still working to truly understand it — to uncover the mechanisms by which, and conditions under which, complexity can emerge from simplicity. (Coincidentally, a new feature in Quanta on this precise topic came out while this episode was being edited.) Steven Strogatz is a leading researcher in this field, a pioneer both in the subject of synchronization and in that of small-world networks. He’s also an avid writer and wide-ranging thinker, so we also talk about problems with the way we educate young scientists, and the importance of calculus, the subject of his new book.             Support Mindscape on Patreon or Paypal. Steven Strogatz received his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Harvard, and is currently the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell. His work has ranged over a wide variety of topics in mathematical biology, nonlinear dynamics, networks, and complex systems. He is the author of a number of books, including SYNC, The Joy of x, and most recently Infinite Powers. His awards include teaching prizes at MIT and Cornell, as well as major prizes from the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Lewis Thomas Prize. Web site Cornell web page Google scholar page Amazon author page Wikipedia TED talk on synchronization Twitter
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Comments (107)

Kingo Sleemer

can't seem to pay attention to Clarkson after she takes a pot-shot at Sam Harris, which is frustrating as there are a lot of great subjects here. that comment was unnecessary and distracting, to say the least

Jun 12th
Reply

Jacob McGeachen

Winds of the Magnetar Last I checked though Sam's "Moral Landscape" book was not well-received by large number of philosophers.

Jun 15th
Reply

Kingo Sleemer

Winds of the Magnetar I got the same impression that maybe she's annoyed with his sales vs hers. my annoyance was much more about the off-handed way she mentioned him and dismissed his ideas without actually even trying to discuss the content of those ideas. I certainly don't expect her to address that content at all, but if you aren't going to address the content, don't call him out by name like that.

Jun 13th
Reply

Krutarth Trivedi

I wish I could give a standing ovation to the podcaster and the guest for the brilliant topic. Especially, the last part of the audio when both the guys mention about the plight of academia, it so holds true in our society.

Jun 4th
Reply

Dan Jakubik

Keep in mind Kate Darling here is an environmentalist and vegetarian, with strong feelings on these subjects.

May 28th
Reply

Dan Jakubik

Dan Jakubik Leftist Kate Darling political views.

May 29th
Reply

Gatinha Bella

there are skeletons far older than 20,000 years in the Americas. The Bering Strait theory is only one more recent migration, older ones happened into the souther hemisphere of the Americas, from Oceania.

May 23rd
Reply

Emerson Barth

Adam and other scientists have noted the importance of language in distinguishing humans from all other species - but what about the verifiable languages of whales, dolphins, primates etc? Confused on the distinction here

May 21st
Reply

TheIainDowieFanClub

Kyle Clar No this is proven by the science.

Jun 11th
Reply

Kyle Clar

TheIainDowieFanClub you might be mistaken there bud

Jun 11th
Reply

Ares

If you want a good podcast check out AMERICAN NIGHTMARE PODCAST. ROLAND FLAGG is an orphaned African-American left in the care of YVONNE FLETCHER, a treacherous single mother who is on the edge of a mental breakdown. In order to escape his reality, ROLAND creates a fictional character called the Golden Ninja.

May 17th
Reply

Mit Aderam

I must say I have been deeply moved by the plumber dad story near the end. Thinking about the world will never fully fit in any ivory tower. Thus it is wonderful to have great minds such as those two reaching outward, towards all. Thank you!

May 7th
Reply

taylor bush

ugh,

May 7th
Reply

taylor bush

taylor bush love this podcast in general. love you S.C.

May 7th
Reply

Chris Howes

Been waiting for this!

May 6th
Reply

Jeremy Dixon

you need to have him on constantly. Can we purchase him? If we start a GoFundMe can we just purchase Leonard Susskind and make him do podcasts all the time?

May 6th
Reply

jack mchogoff

lost me at mentioning Lisa abbudea'...... liberalism is a mental disorder.

May 5th
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John Gelis

really enjoyed this topic. I so much agree with Jessica's mission here! Thx for having her on.

May 3rd
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Jeremy Dixon

did you guys really just say that human-level artificial intelligence isn't possible because robots aren't vulnerable and don't have feelings? This is quite possibly the dumbest thing I have ever heard two smart people agree on. I think you are equating human level with human-like

Apr 29th
Reply

Quang Nguyen

Julian Janes hg. Uioiik and I mm lip Jul just l it in up oooo hg

May 23rd
Reply

Pedro Abreu

Julian Janes True. Any good model of the robot itself will by definition have these implicit vulnerabilities in mind. If it impairs its functioning, it can simply send a distress signal similar to how animals do. however this does not imply feelings AND the robot has a rudimentar notion of its own vulnerabilties.

May 4th
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Pat Hart

Success a Mindscape . … more Please!

Apr 12th
Reply

Woodstock Jon

These gentlemen really love they're work. To be fair, their not poor and like the sound of their own voices! but They really Do not get very much recognition here in the comment section anyway. Juzsayin!!! That said... I love both these guys!! They literally are like the "nicest "guys in science...and maybe even all of academia! Still Juzsayin ☺😎

Apr 8th
Reply

Dante Arevalo

Great show!!!! Hope he keeps collaborating with Hollywood to make great sci-fi movies!!!💯💯

Mar 28th
Reply

Malik Baptiste

great podcast I learned a lot

Mar 19th
Reply

Jeremy Dixon

this gentleman seems to Grant religion default ownership over "nonphysical" discussions. which reminds me, what the hell even is non-physical? when you say you believe in the material world I don't even understand what you are saying. I don't think the distinction makes any sense. If there actually was a Casper the ghost in my house right now and we found him we would be able to interact with him physically and so it seems to be less about material vs immaterial and more about known vs unknown vs unknowable

Mar 18th
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Jeremy Dixon

I don't think your guest is representing his side of the argument very well. Have this talk again but with a philosopher

Mar 18th
Reply

Pedro Abreu

His talk about faith makes me think about the Three Body Problem sci-fi book

Mar 18th
Reply
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