DiscoverThe Rational View podcast with Dr. Al Scott
The Rational View podcast with Dr. Al Scott

The Rational View podcast with Dr. Al Scott

Author: Al Scott

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An evidence based rational viewpoint and discussion on science and society, focusing on important current issues. I hope to provide a clear voice for the quiet moderate majority on highly polarized issues such as climate change, social inequity, and the growth of anti-science sentiment. #therationalview #science #tok #evidencebased #climatechange
179 Episodes
This episode is a re-release of a much earlier episode (#11). While I'm busy moving houses I wanted to follow on the theme of my last episode on preserving an inspiring and beautiful natural resource for future generations: the vista of the universe. Please enjoy my discussion with friend, amateur astronomer and dark sky enthusiast Rob Dick. Amateur astronomer and long-time RASC member Rob Dick is CEO of the Canadian Scotobiology Group, and CTO of EcoLights and a lecturer at the University of Ottawa. “For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream”: Vincent Van Gogh. Give me your feedback on Facebook @TheRationalView Twix @AlScottRational Instagram @The_Rational_View #TheRationalView #podcast #darkskies #scotobiology #Astronomy #lightpollution 
In this episode I’m returning to the insidious advance of light pollution and what we can all do to bring back the night sky. I’m now in Guelph Ontario and the municipality is considering introducing a light pollution by-law. If you also would like to see the stars at night from a population centre, this episode will help you to understand the issues and the best approaches to combatting the tragedy of the commons that is unabated artificial light at night. My guest today is Mr. Jim Goetz, a retired soldier with an interest in astronomy. He is the Vice President of the Kitchener-Waterloo Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. His current interest is the promotion of the coming Total Solar Eclipse on April 8 next year. Support The Rational View at Share your opinions on Facebook @TheRationalView Twix @AlScottRational #TheRationalView #podcast #darkskies #lightpollution #bylaws 
On this episode I chat with a long time friend and host of the Run Your Life podcast, Mr. Andy Vasily. Andy has been exploring learning methods and works professionally on coaching athletes to achieve peak performance. I have been exploring the science of consciousness and the technology of Artificial Intelligence. In this episode we explore the nexus where these interests all meet. What does artificial intelligence teach us about how human brains learn? What lessons can we take from sports psychology to help us understand minds and consciousness? Come and have a listen as we discuss the science of brain training. Please give me your inputs on Facebook @TheRationalView #TheRationalView #podcast #learning #artificialintelligence #sportspsychology #consciousness #neurology #neuroscience #brains #neuralnetworks
In this episode I’m going to go on a bit of a Rational Rant. It’s a pet peeve of mine, and probably of yours too, but today I’m jousting at the windmill of excessive banking fees and lack of customer service. So be prepared to let off some steam for a cathartic ride through the wonderful world of our banking system as I get back a little of what they take from us all. #TheRationalView #podcast #banking #gouging #justice #customerservice #service 
In this episode I have a returning guest to discuss the fall.  No not the weather. The fall of civilization. Our previous interview released September 12, 2020, was titled ‘This is how liberty dies’, where we discussed the frightening parallels between the evolving political situation in the US and events in multiple failed democracies. Despite these fears, my guest was quite upbeat about the prognosis for US to avoid an authoritarian uprising, noting that Trump was not as smart nor as popular as the leaders of successful revolutions. This was only a few months before the unsuccessful January 6th 2021 coup attempt, and it seems that for the moment anyway, he was right.  I thought it might be fun for us to touch base and see if he might be interested in revising his opinion. Dr. Steven Levitsky is the David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Government and Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. His research focuses on democratization and authoritarianism, political parties, and weak and informal institutions, mostly in Latin America. He is co-author (with Daniel Ziblatt) of How Democracies Die (Crown, 2018), which was a New York Times Best-Seller and has been published in 22 languages. He is also author many books regarding politics and authoritarianism in Latin America. His most recent book, also with Daniel Ziblatt is titled ‘The Tyranny of the Minority’. Help spread The Rational View at Share your opinions with me on Facebook @TheRationalView #TheRationalView #podcast #democracy #collapse #government #tyranny
In this episode I will be taking a look at the ugly side of unrestricted capitalism, and how lobbying has skewed the public debate and shifted the Overton window to the right. Some would argue that unrestricted capitalism has been a great boon lifting society into an age of plenty. Others would argue that it has done this by maintaining an economic class hierarchy that enables the rich to enslave the poor. Are workers entering into employment agreements between equals for a mutually beneficial exchange of labour for wages, or are people forced into degrading wage slavery under duress by withholding the essentials of life like food, housing, and healthcare? My guest today will help us grapple with these issues. Naomi Oreskes is Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University and the author of nearly 200 scholarly papers and popular articles and numerous books including Merchants of Doubt and The Big Myth, both co-authored with Erik M. Conway. Her opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Times (London), and many others. Her TED talk, "Why We Should Trust Scientists" was viewed more than a million times. She is an active participant in the World Economic Forum in Davos. Support the podcast at Tell me what you think on Facebook @TheRationalView #TheRationalView #podcast #neoliberalism #economics #marketing #propaganda #thebigmyth #Reaganomics
In this episode I'm revisiting the topic of being an effective advocate of evidence-based and Rational Policy. To do this properly one must understand the science of how to influence people. I've found in the past that countering anti-science opinion with ridicule, although very cathartic, is not helpful. I've learned that just spouting reams of evidence is not helpful for those who have already made up their minds. Although this might be sufficient for neutral parties it's not going to change minds in a polarized debate. My guest today is an expert on what it takes to change peoples' minds. David McRaney is a journalist and lecturer fascinated with brains, minds, and culture. He created the blog, book, and ongoing podcast You Are Not So Smart, which he calls a "celebration of self delusion." His most recent book is How Minds Change, all about the science behind how and why people do and do not change their minds and the intricacies and nuances of persuasion. After finishing How Minds Change, he wrote, produced, and recorded a six-hour audio documentary exploring the history of the idea and the word – genius – which is the subject of his next book. Support The Rational View at Tell me your opinion on Facebook @TheRationalView Twix @AlScottRational #TheRationalView #podcast #influence #changingminds #evidence #science  
In this episode I’m revisiting the topic of cold fusion with an MIT-affiliated researcher who is looking into the case for cold fusion. As you may recall, my review found that there are many anomalous results in the field that point to the potential for new physical phenomena. Pons and Fleischman’s premature announcement of cold fusion led to a fury of failed replication attempts and a lot of damaged egos. The way it was handled in the news and in scientific circles left a lingering stigma preventing further investigations through normal academic means. Only now, decades after the initial event has it become possible for career scientists to re-examine the evidence and retain their positions, albeit with the sanitized name of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR). Jonah Messinger is an interdisciplinary physicist, technologist, clean energy enthusiast, and ecomodernist. He is a doctoral candidate at the Cavendish Laboratory of Physics at the University of Cambridge and a researcher at MIT working on quantum coherent nuclear science in the U.S. Department of Energy ARPA-E low-energy nuclear reaction research program. Jonah’s research seeks to leverage quantum condensed matter physics to develop novel technologies that harness the energy of the nucleus. He is a non-resident Senior Energy Analyst at the Breakthrough Institute, a consultant with the Anthropocene Institute, and a One Young World Ambassador. A Udall Scholar, Jonah earned his Master’s in Energy and Bachelor’s in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He published a review of Cold Fusion here: Support the podcast at Join the Facebook discussion @TheRationalView Twix @AlScottRational Insta @The_Rational_Vew #TheRationalView #podcast #coldfusion #LENR #quantummechanics #evidence #science #stigma 
This episode is a re-release of episode 18 where I interviewed Professor Steven Levitsky, co-author with Daniel Ziblatt of 2018 best-seller "How Democracies Die". He has recently released a new book called "Saving Democracy, Tyranny of the Minority" so I thought it would be a good idea to see how his predictions from 2018 have held up based on more recent events. I've been quite busy over the past few months moving and getting set up in a new city, so I appreciate your patience with my recycled content. More new stuff is on the way! Dr. Levitsky is the David Rockefeller Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Government and Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. As more and more people are worrying about the ongoing erosion of long-standing political norms we explore the question, 'should we take US democracy for granted?'. Are there parallels between our current politics and the historical rise of autocracies? What are the factors that have contributed to the polarization of political discourse? What is the price of democracy? Join me on Facebook at Support the podcast at #podcast #therationalview #evidencebased #democracy #trump #elections #freedom #liberty #fascism #polarization #politics #gerrymandering
In this episode I’m digging into a recent announcement from the astronomy community. The Gaia satellite has been making high precision measurements of the position and velocity of billions of nearby stars. Researchers have used this data to test the theory of gravity, and more specifically Modified Newtonian Dynamics or MOND. This theory was developed to explain away the need for dark matter. Dark matter was originally postulated to account for the anomalous rotation curves of all galaxies. Basically, if you use their surface brightness as a proxy for their matter distribution you would expect the outer regions of the galaxy to be moving slower than they seem to be. MOND suggests that gravitational acceleration stops dropping off as fast when the acceleration drops below a particular threshold value. Researchers analyzed the rotation curves of 10s of thousands of widely separated binary stars in the Gaia dataset and they believe that the data support MOND over Newton, and their results seem to provide a high degree of confidence. The press coverage seems to suggest that this is a smoking gun that decisively overthrows Newtonian gravity and General Relativity all at once. If this is true it is huge news. Why are the authors not packing their bags to Sweden as we speak? With a little digging, I’ve found that other researchers looking at the same Gaia dataset have come to the opposite conclusion that the data supports General Relativity over MOND. What gives? To understand this discrepancy I’m interviewing a skeptical astronomer, Dr. Indranil Banik. Dr Indranil Banik did his undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge before moving to Saint Andrews for his PhD with Hongsheng Zhao, where they worked together on Milgromian dynamics (MOND). Dr Banik then went to Bonn for a Humboldt fellowship with Pavel Kroupa. He returned to Saint Andrews in 2021 and spent his first year back on a detailed 150 page invited review on all aspects of MOND. He has been working on the wide binary test since late 2017. He organised the fortieth anniversary celebration of MOND conference in Saint Andrews in summer 2023. Among other results presented here, conflicting results were presented on the wide binary test and there was intense controversy surrounding whether the results indicate a failure of Newtonian gravity at low accelerations. Support the podcast at Post your opinion on Facebook @TheRationalView Twix @AlScottRational Insta @The_Rational_View
Thank you for inviting me into your head. In this episode I want to go deep and share some thoughts on brains and machines and free will. My thoughts on determinism and free resonate with the words of famous philosopher Bertrand Russell. My thinking on these topics is influenced by the evidence of physics, neuroscience, and AI. I hope you enjoy this exploration of some mind bending ideas. Support the podcast at Join me on Facebook @TheRationalView TwiX @AlScottRational Instagram @The_Rational_View #TheRationalView #podcast #freewill #determinism #quantum #physics #philosophy #artificialintelligence  
Have you heard the news? The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is dumping radioactive waste into the Pacific ocean! Is this a travesty or is it a manufactured controversy? The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan is planning to dump over 1 million tonnes of radioactive wastewater in the ocean. Environmental groups around the world are outraged. Protesters line the streets in Korea. Chinese governments are boycotting Japanese products. Headlines scream about radioactive fish. What’s going on? It’s time for a Rational View. Support the podcast at Join the Facebook discussion @TheRationalView TwiX @AlScottRational Instagram @The_Rational_View #TheRationalView #podcast #fukushima #nuclearwaste #polarization #fakenews #radiophobia #polarization
In this episode I want to investigate claims in the news of an insect Armageddon. Specifically it has been reported that insect populations around the globe have plummeted by up to 75% in recent years. As anecdotal evidence of this old timers like myself use the car windshield as a gauge.  Back in the day, any summer drive would end up with your windshield plastered with insect carcasses. These days they are often pristine. Are we witnessing the ecological collapse prophesied by climate scientists? Insects are important to ecosystems and their disappearance would have huge impacts in terms of pollinators, and food chains. Is this real, is it global, and what is causing it? Maybe this is a good thing if mosquito populations are dropping. In terms of a potential tipping point where the loss of insects causes whole ecosystems to collapse, the honest answer is we just don’t know when the point of no return is. Support the podcast at Come and chat on Facebook @TheRationalView TwiX @AlScottRational Instagram @The_Rational_View #TheRationalView #podcast #insects #armageddon #pesticide #ALAN #windmills #extinction
In this episode I answer the question, 'Who is misinforming the public about nuclear energy and why?'. I touch on the influence of the oil industry on anti-nuclear disinformation, and I explore the origins of the anti-nuclear protest movement. Support the podcast at Give me your opinion on Facebook @TheRationalView Twitter 'X' @AlScottRational Instagram @The_Rational_View #TheRationalView #podcast #nuclearenergy #disinformation #antinuclear #bigoil #greenpeace #protest
This episode is a re-release of my amazing interview with the definitive skeptic, Dr. Michael Shermer.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  I should be back in the studio for next week's episode. Dr. Michael Shermer received his B.A. in psychology from Pepperdine University, M.A. in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and his Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University. He has been a college professor since 1979. Dr. Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the host of the podcast The Michael Shermer Show, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101. For 18 years he was a monthly columnist for Scientific American. He is the author of several New York Times bestsellers, and has appeared on Oprah, Dateline, 20/20, and the Colbert Report. His two TED talks were voted in the top 100. He has been interviewed in countless documentaries and was the co-host of the Family Channel television series, Exploring the Unknown. Neil deGrasse Tyson has called him “a beacon of reason in an ocean of irrationality”. Support the podcast at Join me on Facebook @TheRationalView discussion group #TheRationalView #podcast #science #skepticism
In this episode I want to follow up on last week’s podcast regarding the announcement of the discovery of a room temperature ambient pressure superconductor, how scientists addressed the claim, and compare it with the cold fusion announcement and ongoing scientific controversy from the 1980’s. Help me spread The Rational View at Join the Facebook discussion @TheRationalView 'X' @AlScottRational Instagram @The_Rational_View #TheRationalView #podcast #superconductors #science #verification #falsification #coldfusion
In this episode I provide a round-up review of current events in science, and the popular controversies surrounding these issues. The recent announcement of room temperature superconductivity promises to be the biggest scientific breakthrough of the century if verified. We should know in days if it is true. The US congress heard testimony that UFOs are actually aliens visiting us from other worlds. There has been a recent surge of interest in the possibility that COVID-19 was caused by a lab leak in the Wuhan institute of virology. In addition to all of this, surface temperatures in the North Atlantic ocean are hotter than we've ever seen at this time of year. What should we take from all of this? This is a job for The Rational View Support the podcast at Find The Rational View on Youtube if you like videos. 'X' @AlScottRational #TheRationalView #podcast #UFOs #climatechange #lableak #superconductivity
This episode is a special treat and a bit of a throwback to when I achieved one of my podcast goals. In honour of The Rational View blowing past 100,000 downloads this month, this is a re-release of my interview from almost two years ago with the famous Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium. I hope you can sit back and relax and enjoy it with me. Thank you for supporting the podcast! Famed astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson was named the Sexiest Astrophysicist alive in 2000 by People magazine. Selected as one of the 100 most influential persons in the world by Time magazine in 2007, Dr. Tyson was awarded the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication in 2017. Support the podcast at Register for my newsletter at Twitter @AlScottRational TikTok @TheRationalView #TheRationalView #podcast #NeildeGrasseTyson #science #communication #outreach #polarization  
In this episode I have an interview with a leading scientist specializing in gut microbiota. These are the microbes that live in your intestine and help you digest your food. Our DNA does not have all the enzymes we need to break down food into the vitamins and minerals we need. We live in a symbiotic relationship with this microbial ecosystem.  We provide the microbes a home and they provide us with nutrients. When the ecosystem gets out of whack we can get sick. Sometimes we take anti-biotics to cure an infection and that throws a huge wrench into this ecosystem. I’ve seen a lot of folks saying probiotics help to build a robust microbiome, and I’ve also heard a lot of folks saying that anything you eat gets killed in the stomach. I’d like to hear what the experts have to say. Professor Jack Gilbert joined UCSD in 2019 where he is a Professor in Pediatrics and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Associate Vice Chancellor for Marine Science, and Director of both the Microbiome and Metagenomics Center and the Microbiome Core Facility. He uses molecular analysis to test fundamental hypotheses in microbial ecology. He cofounded the Earth Microbiome Project and American Gut Project, has authored over 400 peer reviewed publications and book chapters on microbial ecology, co-authored the book “Dirt is Good,” and is the founding Editor in Chief of ASM mSystems journal. He founded BiomeSense Inc to produce automated microbiome sensors. Support the podcast at Add your two cents on Facebook @TheRationalView Twitter @AlScottRational Instagram @The_Rational_View #TheRationalView #podcast #microbiome #gut #probiotics #health #nutrition
In this episode I am digging into the topic of ‘fake news’ and the risk of weaponized disinformation campaigns on social media.  To enlighten us on this topic I have a returning guest who provided us with a great perspective last year on how he reached out across the aisle by going to a pseudo-science conference and talking directly with science deniers.  Returning guest Lee McIntyre is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University. Formerly Executive Director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University.  McIntyre is the bestselling author of POST-TRUTH (MIT Press, 2018) along with thirteen other works of fiction and nonfiction, including DARK AGES (2006), and THE SCIENTIFIC ATTITUDE (2019). McIntyre has had appearances on CNN, PBS, NPR and the BBC -- and has spoken at the United Nations, the Aspen Institute, and the Vatican. He starred in the docu-series INFODEMIC: Global Conversations on Science and Misinformation. In November, 2018, McIntyre went undercover at the Flat Earth International Conference in Denver, Colorado, as research for his newest book, HOW TO TALK TO A SCIENCE DENIER (2021). and he is just about to publish a new book ‘On Disinformation’. Support the podcast at Give me you opinions on Facebook @TheRationalView Twitter @AlScottRational Instagram @The_Rational_View #TheRationalView #podcast #disinformation #socialmedia
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