Science, Philosophy, Epistemology, Mayhem

About the show

Vaden Masrani, a PhD alum in machine learning at UBC, and Ben Chugg, a PhD student in statistics at CMU, get into trouble arguing about everything except machine learning and statistics. Coherence is somewhere on the horizon.

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

Increments on social media


  • #58 Ask Us Anything V: How to Read and What to Read

    November 29th, 2023  |  1 hr 40 mins
    anti-rational memes, ask-us-anything, books, e-fuels, veganism

    In this episode we finally conclude our AUA series. We cover subjects like "how to read and learn more effectively", "can you change your own interests", "which books/authors have influenced you the most", veganism, rational/anti-rational memes, stoicism, and e-fuels.

  • #57 (Bonus) - A calm and soothing discussion of The Patriarchy

    November 15th, 2023  |  1 hr 1 min
    activism, feminism, progress, sexism, the patriarchy

    A sneak preview into what is usually reserved for our patrons! We talk patriachy as causal explanation vs patriarchy as description. Let's get spicy

  • #56 - Ask Us Anything IV: Certainty, Emergence, and Popperian Imperatives

    November 1st, 2023  |  1 hr 21 mins
    ask-us-anything, belief, certainty, confidence, emergence, moral imperatives

    Perhaps you thought, in your infinite ignorance, that the release of the previous episode marked the end of the age of the AMA! But nay: the age of the AMA has just begun!

  • #55 - Is all thought problem-solving?

    October 9th, 2023  |  54 mins 9 secs
    consciousness, problem-solving, thought

    We return to the argument from last episode: Is all thought problem-solving? This epic showdown might catalyze the next world war, listen accordingly.

  • #54 - Ask Us Anything III: Emotional Epistemology

    September 18th, 2023  |  1 hr 18 mins
    ask-us-anything, emotions, epistemology, problem-solving, thinking, universality

    The third of infinite installments in our ask us anything series. We touch on universality, emotions, epistemology, and whether all thinking is problem solving.

  • #53 - Ask Us Anything II: Disagreements and Decisions

    August 14th, 2023  |  1 hr 34 mins
    ask-us-anything, bayesianism, decision-making, disagreements, probability

    Ask us anything? Ask us everything! Back at it again with AUA Part 2/N. We wax poetic and wane dramatic on disagreements, decision-making, EA, and probability

  • #52 - Ask Us Anything I: Computation and Creativity

    July 10th, 2023  |  1 hr 13 mins
    ask-us-anything, computation, creativity, universality

    Our first ask us anything episode! We get through a whopping ... two questions.

  • #51 - Truth, Moose, and Refrigerated Eggplant: Critiquing Chapman's Meta-Rationality

    May 29th, 2023  |  1 hr 12 mins
    chapman, epistemology, nebulosity, popper, rationality

    We discuss David Chapman's work on nebulosity, the correspondence theory of truth, and how it relates to Karl Popper's epistemology.

  • #50 - On the Evolutionary Origins of Storytelling, Art, and Science

    April 24th, 2023  |  2 hrs 53 secs
    artwork, brian boyd, evolution, fiction, myth, stories

    Why do humans engage in art and storytelling? For our 50th episode, we explore Brian Boyd's thesis that art evolved from selection pressure to better understand the patterns and information around us.

  • #49 - AGI: Could The End Be Nigh? (With Rosie Campbell)

    March 22nd, 2023  |  1 hr 24 mins
    ai, creativity, existential risks, progress

    The delightful Rosie Campbell joins us on the podcast to debate AI, AGI, superintelligence, and rogue computer viruses.

  • #48 (C&R Chap. 18) - Utopia and Violence

    February 24th, 2023  |  1 hr 41 secs
    popper, rationality, utopia, violence

    Violent utopias? Utopian violence? Are the rationalists going to destroy the world? Chapter 18 of Conjectures and Refutations coming in hot.

  • #47 (Bonus) - Dualism, Reductionism, and Explanation Pancakes

    January 16th, 2023  |  1 hr 32 mins
    abstractions, dualism, explanations, mind body problem, reductionism

    Vaden goes on The Declaration podcast to argue about dualism, the reality of abstractions, emergence, and reductionism.

  • #46 (Bonus) - Arguing about probability (with Nick Anyos)

    December 19th, 2022  |  1 hr 59 mins
    bayesianism, effective altruism, longtermism, probability, statistics

    Ben and Vaden make a guest appearance on Nick Anyos' podcast on criticisms of effective altruism. As usual, they end up arguing about probability for most of it.

  • #45 - Four Central Fallacies of AI Research (with Melanie Mitchell)

    October 31st, 2022  |  53 mins 29 secs
    ai, complexity, intelligence

    We chat with Melanie Mitchell about our understanding of artificial intelligence, human intelligence, and whether it's reasonable to expect us to be able to build sophisticated human-like automated systems anytime soon.

  • #44 - Longtermism Revisited: What We Owe the Future

    October 3rd, 2022  |  1 hr 2 mins
    effective altruism, ethics, longtermism, philosophy

    Could have seen this one coming. We discuss Will MacAskill's new book "What We Owe the Future."

  • #43 - Artificial General Intelligence and the AI Safety debate

    August 28th, 2022  |  1 hr 7 mins
    agi, ai safety, empiricism, existential risk

    Is advanced AI going to kill everyone? How close are we to building AGI? Is current AI creative? Put aside your philosophy textbooks, because we have the answers.