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Very Bad Wizards

By Tamler Sommers & David Pizarro

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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.

Customer Reviews

Smart, Entertaining and (Totally!) Irreverent

This podcast has everything that one would expect from an informed, high-level discussion of human morality: Kant, Diderot, man-on-dog intimacy (mixed breeds need not apply), crybaby nihilists, and ambidextrous self-gratification. By taking on some pretty heady issues without taking themselves too seriously, the folks behind “Very Bad Wizards” have created something both intellectually engaging and hugely entertaining. For the moral psych nerds out there (myself included), the discussion of various –isms (e.g., relativism, objectivism, compatibilism, determinism) will put your limbic system on full tilt; for the more casual listener, the provocative hypotheticals and hilarious pop culture references are more than enough to hold your attention. And while philosophical conversations are often maligned for being too pie-in-the-sky, this podcast has some very well-grounded advice. (I learned, for instance, that if some guy messes with my wife, I’d be morally justified to punch him in the nose!)

But I do have one complaint. At one point, Professor Sommers argues that The Big Lebowski is, in fact, a better film than Pulp Fiction (and rightly so), even if he cannot adduce empirical proof to that effect. But any serious discussion on the relative merits of modern cinema must include at least a brief mention of Swingers (1996) featuring Vince Vaughn (when he was still skinny), Jon Favreau, Ron Livingston, and a pre-“Roller Girl” Heather Graham. By any measure, this was a huge oversight – and maybe even a moral violation.

Thanks so much for recording your conversations! Please keep ‘em coming!

A Very Good Show

I recently listened to Very Bad Wizard after seeing a post about it from my alma mater, the University of Houston. For a semester Dr. Sommers led one of my classes, which led to some frustrating but always interesting debates. Here it's pretty much the same thing, but with pairing him with someone much more knowledgable and funnier. The conversations you'll find here are insightful and it's great to hear Dr. Sommers frequent the role of Devil's advocate. You'll be thinking about each episode for a while and even come away with a few laughs. Listen to this if you like other shows like How Stuff Works or Professor Blastoff, but would like a little more academia in your podcast.

I wish I could play this for my classes

These discussions are a perfect example of how good thinking gets done: A philosopher and a psychologist walk into the bar... It's irreverent, distasteful (hilariously so), and spot on for the type of raw, throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks idea development that forms of the basis of some of the best theory discussions. If I could somehow get my undergraduates to understand that brainstorming sometimes means saying whatever comes to mind - however crazy it might sound - this would be perfect for teaching how theory is developed and informs experiment. I'm working on this but I'm at a religious institution... Hmmm. If only I was a philosopher or social psychologist, I'd figure how to make this happen.

Very Bad Wizards
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Customer Ratings