Science, Philosophy, Epistemology, Mayhem

About the show

Vaden Masrani, a PhD student in machine learning at UBC and Ben Chugg, a research fellow at Stanford Law School, get into trouble arguing about everything except machine learning and law. Coherence is somewhere on the horizon.

Bribes, suggestions, love-mail and hate-mail all welcome at

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  • #42 (C&R, Chap 12+13) - Language and the Body-Mind Problem

    July 20th, 2022  |  50 mins 39 secs
    causality, determinism, karl buhler, language, mind-body problem, popper

    We wrestle with chapter 12 and 13 of Conjectures and Refutations, on the topic of the mind-body problem, theories of language, determinism, and causality. This one is a real doozy folks.

  • #41 - Parenting, Epistemology, and EA (w/ Lulie Tanett)

    June 20th, 2022  |  1 hr 18 mins
    bayesianism, critical rationalism, effective altruism, epistemology, rationality

    We're joined by the wonderful Lulie Tanett to talk about effective altruism, pulling spouses out of burning buildings, and why you should prefer critical rationalism to Bayesianism for your mom's sake.

  • #40 - The Myth of The Framework: On the possibility of fruitful discussion

    May 30th, 2022  |  45 mins 31 secs
    conversation, disagreement, framework, karl popper, progress

    We discuss "The Myth of the Framework," an essay by Karl Popper arguing against the thesis that fruitful conversation is impossible unless you share a common framework of beliefs and assumptions.

  • #39 - The Enigma of Reason

    April 27th, 2022  |  1 hr 1 min
    bias, cognitive biases, evolution, psychology, rationality, reason

    A discussion of The Enigma of Reason by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber.

  • #38 (C&R Series, Ch. 2) - Wittgenstein vs Popper

    March 8th, 2022  |  1 hr 3 mins
    conjectures and refutations, philosophical problems, popper, wittgenstein, wittgenstein's poker

    What made Wittgenstein so angry with Popper that he threatened him with a poker? We analyze Chapter 2 of C&R to find out.

  • #37 - Montessori Education w/ Matt Bateman

    February 16th, 2022  |  1 hr 21 mins
    child development, childhood, education, education reform, maria montessori, work

    We're joined by Matt Bateman, the director of the Montessori think tank Montessorium, to talk all things education.

  • #36 - Analyzing Effective Altruism as a Social Movement

    January 26th, 2022  |  56 mins 15 secs
    core values, cults, effective altruism, groupthink, social movements

    Vaden and Ben debate Effective Altruism and provocatively ask "Is EA a cult?" and come up with a resounding... Kinda. Maybe. It's hard to say.

  • #35 - Climate Change III: Fossil Fuels

    November 29th, 2021  |  47 mins 48 secs
    climate change, energy, energy transitions, fossil fuels, peak oil, shale gas revolution, vaclav smil

    A dive into the science and politics of fossil fuels, guided by the inimitable Vaclav Smil.

  • #34 - Climate Change II: Growth, Degrowth, Reactions, Responses

    November 9th, 2021  |  55 mins 3 secs
    apocalypticism, climate change, degrowth, economic growth, optimism, specialization, trade

    Round two of climate change! We talk about the degrowth movement, why economic growth is good for wellbeing, and respond to some of the criticism we received in the previous episode.

  • #33 (C&R Series, Ch. 3) - Instrumentalism and Essentialism

    October 25th, 2021  |  40 mins 10 secs
    essentialism, instrumentalism, language, politics, progress

    We discuss Popper's delicious criticism of two dominant approaches to knowledge in physics and philosophy departments: instrumentalism and essentialism.

  • #32 - Climate Change I: Initial Thought-Crimes

    October 5th, 2021  |  51 mins
    alarmism, climate change, environmentalism, nuclear energy, renewables

    We dip our toes into the heated (heating?) waters of the climate debate. Sorry Greta.

  • #31 - The Fall of the Weinstein Republic

    September 14th, 2021  |  54 mins 51 secs
    animal suffering, physics, secular guru, tim nguyen, weinstein

    We had a semi-serious conversation about environmentalism in store for you, but we got trapped by the WIN (Weinsteinian institutional narrative). Like a black hole, the epic meltdown of Weinstein's and the confrontation with Tim Nguyen -- apparently the only adult in the room -- pulled us in, and we couldn't avoid talking about it.

  • #30 - Let's all just have a good cry (w/ Christofer Lövgren)

    August 30th, 2021  |  1 hr 39 mins
    community, criticism, crying, david deutsch, free will, labels

    Christofer Lövgren joins us for a wide ranging discussion on community, criticism, and crying.

  • #29 - Some Scattered Thoughts on Superforecasting

    August 16th, 2021  |  45 mins 20 secs
    good judgement project, philip tetlock, politics, probability, superforecasting

    We discuss Philip Tetlock's work on Superforecasting.

  • #28 (C&R Series, Ch. 9) - Why is Logic Applicable to Reality?

    July 19th, 2021  |  1 hr 1 min
    arithmetic, logic, philosophy of mathematics, rules of inference

    We discuss Chapter 9 of Conjectures and Refutations: Why are the Calculi of Logic and Arithmetic Applicable to Reality?

  • #27 - A Conversation with Marianne

    June 28th, 2021  |  2 hrs 1 min
    activism, police, politics, race, social media

    Marianne recounts her summer. That's all we'll say for now.