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#113 — Consciousness and the Self

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 7:55pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Anil Seth about the scientific study of consciousness, where consciousness emerges in nature, levels of consciousness, perception as a “controlled hallucination,” emotion, the experience of “pure consciousness,” consciousness as “integrated information,” measures of “brain complexity,” psychedelics, different aspects of the “self,” conscious AI, and many other topics.

Anil K. Seth is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex and Founding Co-Director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science. In his work, he seeks to understand the biological basis of consciousness by bringing together research across neuroscience, mathematics, artificial intelligence, computer science, psychology, philosophy and psychiatry. Through the Sackler Centre the aim is to translate an understanding of the complex brain networks underpinning consciousness into new clinical approaches to psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Seth is also Editor-in-Chief of the academic journal Neuroscience of Consciousness (Oxford University Press). He has published more than 100 research papers in a variety of fields, and he holds degrees in Natural Sciences (MA, Cambridge, 1994), Knowledge-Based Systems (M.Sc., Sussex, 1996) and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (D.Phil., Sussex, 2000). He has been a Research Fellow at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California, where we worked with Nobel Laureate Gerald Edelman (2001-2006).

Twitter: @anilkseth

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#112 — The Intellectual Dark Web

Mon, 01/01/2018 - 8:36pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Eric Weinstein and Ben Shapiro about the breakdown of shared values, the problem with identity politics, religion, free will, the primacy of reason, and many other topics.

Eric Weinstein is a managing director of Thiel Capital in San Francisco. He is also a research fellow at the Mathematical Institute of Oxford University. Weinstein speaks and publishes on a variety of topics including, gauge theory, immigration, the market for elite labor, management of financial risk and the incentivizing of risk taking in science. And he, along with brother Bret—whom I just did a podcast with in Seattle—has become an unusually powerful advocate for free speech.

Ben Shapiro is editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com, and host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” the top conservative podcast in the nation, and a leading conservative speaker on college campuses, consistently defending free speech and open debate. Ben is the author of seven books, including The New York Times bestseller, Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America. He has also been a nationally syndicated columnist since age 17. He’s a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School. 

Twitter:
@EricRWeinstein
@BenShapiro

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Meme #15

Thu, 12/28/2017 - 10:32pm
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#111 — The Science of Meditation

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 9:33pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson about the current scientific understanding of meditation practice. They speak about the original stigma associated with meditation, the history of introspection in eastern and western cultures, the recent collaboration between Buddhism and western science, the difference between altered states and altered traits, an alternate conception of mental health, “meta-awareness,” the relationship between mindfulness and “flow,” the difference between pain and suffering, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), and other topics.

Daniel Goleman, known for his bestselling books on emotional intelligence, has a long-standing interest in meditation dating back to his two years in India as a graduate student at Harvard. A psychologist who for many years reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times, Dr. Goleman previously was a visiting faculty member at Harvard. Dr. Goleman has received many journalistic awards for his writing, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize for his articles in the Times, and a Career Achievement award for journalism from the American Psychological Association.
 
Richard J. Davidson is the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in psychology and has been at Wisconsin since 1984. Davidson has published more than 320 articles, as well as numerous chapters and reviews, and edited fourteen books. His research has received many awards.

Their most recent book is Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body.

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#110 — The Change Artist

Sat, 12/23/2017 - 11:44am

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with A.J. Jacobs about religion, gossip, polyamory, health advice, our past and future selves, “radical honesty,” human genealogy, tribalism, and other topics.

A.J. Jacobs is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Know-It-All, The Year of Living Biblically, and The Guinea Pig Diaries. He is the editor at large of Esquire magazine, a contributor to NPR, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. His most recent book is It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree. He lives in New York City with his wife and kids. Visit him at AJJacobs.com.

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Biology and Culture

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 6:29pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Bret Weinstein about the moral panic at Evergreen State College, the concept of race, genetic differences between human populations, intersectionality, sex and gender, “metaphorical truth,” religion and “group selection,” equality, and other topics.

Bret Weinstein has spent two decades advancing the field of evolutionary biology. He has made important discoveries regarding the evolution of cancer, senescence, and the adaptive significance of moral self-sacrifice. He is currently working to uncover the evolutionary meaning of large-scale patterns in human history, and applying evolutionary insight in the quest to prototype a liberating, sustainable anti-fragile governance structure for humanity’s next phase.

Twitter: @BretWeinstein

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Defending the Experts

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 5:25pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Tom Nichols about his book The Death of Expertise. They discuss the “Dunning-Kruger Effect,” the growth of knowledge and reliance on authority, when experts fail, the repudiation of expertise in politics, conspiracy thinking, North Korea, Trump, and other topics.

Tom Nichols is Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, an adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension School, and a former aide in the U.S. Senate. He is also a five-time undefeated Jeopardy! champion, and as one of the all-time top players of the game, he was invited back to play in the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Nichols is the author of several works on foreign policy and international security affairs, including The Sacred Cause, No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security, Eve of Destruction: The Coming Age of Preventive War, and The Russian Presidency. His most recent book is The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters.

Twitter: @RadioFreeTom

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Is Life Actually Worth Living?

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 4:48pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with David Benatar about his philosophy of “anti-natalism.” They discuss the asymmetry between the good and bad things in life, the ethics of existential risk, the moral landscape, the limits and paradoxes of introspection, the “experience machine” thought experiment, population ethics, and other topics.

David Benatar is Professor of Philosophy at University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is the author of Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence and The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions.

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Humanity 2.0

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 6:53pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Jennifer Doudna about the gene-editing technology CRISPR/Cas9. They talk about the biology of gene editing, how specific tissues in the body can be targeted, the ethical implications of changing the human genome, the importance of curiosity-driven science, and other topics.

Jennifer A. Doudna is a professor in the Chemistry and the Molecular and Cell Biology Departments at the University of California, Berkeley, investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and researcher in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She is internationally recognized as a leading expert on RNA-protein biochemistry, CRISPR biology, and genome engineering. She is the author (with Samuel Sternberg) of A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution.

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Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Matt Dillahunty

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 7:57pm

The following conversation between Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Matt Dillahunty was recorded at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver on November 2, 2017.

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The Lessons of Death

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 7:27pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Frank Ostaseski about death and dying—and about how the awareness of death can improve our lives in each moment.

Frank Ostaseski is a Buddhist teacher, international lecturer and a leading voice in end-of-life care. In 1987, he co-founded of the Zen Hospice Project, the first Buddhist hospice in America. In 2004, he created the Metta Institute to provide innovative educational programs and professional trainings that foster compassionate, mindfulness-based care. Mr. Ostaseski’s groundbreaking work has been widely featured in the media, including the Bill Moyers television series On Our Own Terms, the PBS series With Eyes Open, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and in numerous print publications. AARP magazine named him one of America’s 50 most innovative people. In 2001, he was honored by the Dalai Lama for his many years of compassionate service to the dying and their families. He is the author of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.


More info:
mettainstitute.org
fiveinvitations.com

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Meme #14

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 8:19am
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American Fantasies

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 5:04pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Kurt Andersen about the American aptitude for unfounded belief, the religious lunacy of the Puritans, populist mistrust of authority, the link between postmodernism and religious fundamentalism, the unique history of American religious entrepreneurship, the Trump phenomenon, the effect of fame on politics, and other topics.

Kurt Andersen is the bestselling author of the novels Heyday, Turn of the Century, and True Believers. He contributes to Vanity Fair and The New York Times, and is host and co-creator of Studio 360, the Peabody Award–winning public radio show and podcast. He also writes for television, film, and the stage. Andersen co-founded Spy magazine, served as editor in chief of New York, and was a cultural columnist and critic for Time and The New Yorker. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, where he was an editor of The Harvard Lampoon. His most recent book is Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, A 500-Year History.

Twitter: @KBAndersen

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