24 August 2019
Science of Spirituality
The Wright Show
Emotions and the Brain
The Meaning of Future Life
The Weirdness of Physics
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Jan 10, 2018 — Stephen Asma & Rami Gabriel
Stephen and Rami present: “The Evolution of Emotion” puppet show
How ancient societies managed their earthly impulses
The human anger displayed in Greek mythology
Marcus Aurelius’s concept of the “wise man”
Hafez, the drunk Sufi poet
How does culture influence our core emotions?
Are animals capable of feeling anger?
Stephen on how horror plays on our most primal fears
Jan 8, 2018 — Philip Menchaca & Jonathan Young
Who was Joseph Campbell?
Applying the idea of the monomyth to
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Can we disentangle myths from culture?
Cinderella and mental health
How Jonathan uses mythology in psychotherapy
Is it healthy to think of yourself as a hero on a quest?
Religion and the experience of meaning vs. the idea of meaning
Dec 18, 2017 — Philip Menchaca & Joseph Baker
American paranormal culture, from dabblers to devotees
Speaking in tongues vs. alien visitations
The search for Bigfoot turns professional
Can you be both “normal” and “paranormal”?
Why ghost stories seem to “latch onto our brains”
The data behind the reissue of Joseph’s book,
Dec 5, 2017 — Noah Rasheta & Ellen Leanse
Ellen’s new book
The Happiness Hack
as an owner’s guide to the human brain
Distraction as a “dopamine hijack”
Conditioning the mind for happiness
The neurology behind self-inflicted emotional wounds
How to change happiness from “destination” to “journey”
Ellen’s tips for “hacking into” contentment and purpose
Nov 15, 2017 — Philip Menchaca & Michael Jerryson
The Rohingya crisis in Myanmar
Is Aung San Suu Kyi to blame?
The Buddhists inciting violence against Muslims
The conditions that foster Buddhist nationalism
Myanmar’s theocratic vibes
Who’s helping the Rohingya?
Nov 3, 2017 — Robert Wright
Oct 10, 2017 — Philip Menchaca & Joseph Baker
How Trump plays on the values of Christian nationalism
What does it mean to be secular?
What is driving the global trend toward secularism?
Joseph: The New Atheists are influential, but not representative
How human mortality keeps religion alive
Sep 24, 2017 — Nikita Petrov & Tony Ortega
Former Scientology executive Marty Rathbun’s private conflict with the Church
New breakthroughs in media coverage of Scientology
How the Church swiftly conquered US law and the IRS
What makes Scientology different from other religions?
How L. Ron Hubbard invented a reality for his followers
Why Scientology isn’t concerned with the apocalypse
The Church’s beef with professional psychology
Sep 12, 2017 — Josh Summers & Aaron Goldberg
Learning the tonal language of jazz
How Aaron turned jazz into a career
Why human connection makes jazz work
The connection between improvisational jazz and Buddhism
Are music listeners’ attention spans shrinking?
Aaron’s advice for new jazz listeners: Start with Miles
Sep 8, 2017 — Josh Summers & Stephen Asma
Stephen’s new book,
The Evolution of Imagination
Are dreams like “proto-consciousness”?
The mind as an extension of the body
Where Stephen thinks “effective altruism” falls short
How to improve your imagination
Trump as a bad improviser
Bringing imagination to a meditation practice
Sep 4, 2017 — Philip Menchaca & Michael Jerryson
When Buddhists get violent
The clash between Buddhists and Muslims in Thailand
The roots of Thailand’s violence
How Buddhist cosmology can justify violence
How pacifist is Buddhist pacifism?
Aug 23, 2017 — Philip Menchaca & Iddo Landau
The search for significance in our lives
How to embrace non-perfectionism
How much meaning in life is enough?
Should social norms inform our sense of meaning?
Iddo’s take-home message: Don’t be cruel to yourself
Aug 3, 2017 — Josh Summers & Gil Fronsdal
Gil’s new book,
The Buddha before Buddhism
Reaching peace by letting go completely
Why the Buddha didn’t care about religious purity
Practical advice for letting go
Buddhism and civic discourse
Jul 10, 2017 — Josh Summers & Jason Siff
Why it’s okay to let thoughts happen during meditation
The case for a busy mind
Jason: The origins of our thoughts matter
Looking beneath the mind’s fictions
The problem with pursuing nirvana
Why memory is essential to growth
Jun 22, 2017 — Josh Summers & Linda Blanchard
Dependent Arising in Context
on a central Buddhist teaching
An anatomy of suffering
The first step on the path to suffering: Ignorance
How the “self” is created
What do Buddhists mean when they say “life is suffering”?
Linda’s meditation advice
Apr 25, 2017 — Josh Summers & David Barash
David’s fusion of existentialism, Buddhism and biology
Triangulating the meaning of life
Buddhist doubts about the existentialist view of freedom
Free will and the hard problem of consciousness
The myth of Sisyphus
Being an existentialist bio-Buddhist
Mar 28, 2017 — Josh Summers & Howard Axelrod
The Point of Vanishing
, Howard’s memoir about life as a hermit
How an eye injury changed Howard’s reality
Into the woods
How isolation changed Howard’s sense of self
Howard’s expansive awareness of time
Out of the woods
Mar 13, 2017 — Nikita Petrov & Tony Ortega
How the Church of Scientology managed to run a “prison”
L. Ron Hubbard’s theory of the mind
“Auditing” and the “superpowers” it leads to
Did Hubbard believe his own mythology?
The cruel humor of LRH’s space opera
The SeaOrg: A billion years of snitching and interrogations
Scientology after Hubbard and outside the U.S.
Feb 24, 2017 — Josh Summers & Ellen Langer
Mindfulness without the meditation
Ellen: You should know that you don’t know
How Ellen turned back the clock for a group of old men
Ellen’s “chambermaid study”
Can the mind change the body?
Does being mindful make you more likable?
How to keep a mindful mindset
Feb 14, 2017 — Josh Summers & Jason Siff
Jason’s “recollective awareness” meditation
A head-on approach to grasping what’s going on in your head
The trouble with traditional meditation techniques
Dodging meditation paradoxes
Jason: Don’t be afraid of your thoughts
The tough process of learning lovingkindness
Jan 30, 2017 — Josh Summers & Alex Howard
Alex’s documentary series
How I Created a Cult
…and its hero, spiritual leader Andrew Cohen
How do smart people end up in cults?
The power dynamics and psychological abuse
Cohen’s downfall and re-emergence
The “shadow” side of spiritual communities
Dec 29, 2016 — Josh Summers & David Barash
Where Buddhism and biology converge
The interconnected world
Karma in Buddhism and biology
Dec 20, 2016 — Stephen Asma & Nick Sousanis
, a doctoral dissertation in comic book form
Why academics tend to distrust images
Visual literacy as a way to understand the world better
Imagination and mysticism in Edwin Abbott’s
How images can help authors overcome intellectual alienation
Why everybody should learn to draw
Dec 18, 2016 — Nikita Petrov & George Young
Does Russian thought have anything to contribute to the world?
Nikolay Fedorov, an eccentric thinker who influenced Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky
Fedorov’s plan: Immortality for everyone
“Kinship” as a fundamental property of all matter
A mass movement for the spiritual unity of humankind
The Meaning of Love
: Sexuality as a path to a Christian utopia
Christ as the ultimate role model
Dec 16, 2016 — Philip Menchaca & Erik Vance
Erik’s new book
When snake oil actually works
How your beliefs can change your body
Why do people respond differently to the same placebo?
How the discovery of “placebo genes” could transform medicine
The fuzzy line between placebos and real medicine
Erik’s visit to a Mexican witch doctor
Dec 12, 2016 — Josh Summers & Sara Lazar
Are the benefits of mindfulness exaggerated?
Meditation and our “neuroplastic” brains
How meditation alters the fear response
Why studying mindfulness is hard
Mindfulness is about more than being in the moment
Advice for the anti-Trump crowd from meditation teachers
Dec 9, 2016 — Philip Menchaca & Rory Dickson
Sufis, “the ones who are not”
How Sufism relates to establishment Islam
Why is ISIS destroying Sufi shrines?
How Sufism came to America
Does Islam lend itself to universalism?
Is Sufism always Islamic?
Dec 4, 2016 — Brendan Foht & George Church
George’s project to synthesize the human genome
Fighting climate change by resurrecting the mammoth
Applying gene editing to human reproduction
Can gene tech make up for stagnation in pharmaceutical research?
The role of chance in genetic engineering breakthroughs
Dec 4, 2016 — Robert Wright
Nov 27, 2016 — Nikita Petrov & Robert Place
How to read cards
The Renaissance and the birth of Tarot
Basics of neoplatonism
Neoplatonic and Buddhist philosophy in the Tarot
Tarot as a philosophical card game
Card reading, therapy, and meditation
The Great Work of alchemy
How art revived the occult
Nov 22, 2016 — Oliver Burkeman & Jonathan Shedler
Debunking the debunking of psychoanalytic theory
Can thoughts change emotions?
The patient-therapist relationship as a window into the self
Therapy’s modest goal
Psychotherapy’s struggle to escape Freud’s shadow
Psychoanalyzing the urge to engage in psychoanalysis
Looking at politics through a psychoanalytic lens
Oct 25, 2016 — Philip Menchaca & Benjamin Zeller
The link between “new religious movements” and violence
The suicidal cult Heaven’s Gate
Suicide as a religious act
Why Heaven’s Gate matters
The thin line between Heaven’s Gate and mainstream religions
Donald Trump, American messiah?
Oct 11, 2016 — Benjamin Perry & Joseph Lam
Patterns of Sin in the Hebrew Bible
Ancient metaphors that endure
Sin then and now
The influence of metaphors on how we think about social issues
Oct 5, 2016 — Vlad Chituc & Frank Bures
The Geography of Madness
, Frank’s book about “penis theft” and other “culture-bound” syndromes
How believing that you’re going to die can kill you
How to cure “penis theft?”
The challenge of ethically responding to seemingly crazy beliefs
Frank: The body isn’t like a machine
Belief-boosted runners, windmill syndrome, and the weird case of Coca-Cola poisoning
Sep 26, 2016 — Josh Summers & JP Sears
Meet JP Sears, the New Age Stephen Colbert
Josh receives ultraspiritual guidance from JP
Shining a light of satire on the “shadow side” of spiritual practices
Where JP’s comedy comes from
Stepping out of the comfort zone, and other spiritual disciplines
Watch Josh transform into an ultra-ultra-post-spiritual guru
Sep 24, 2016 — Philip Menchaca & Anthony Silvia
The Gnostic version of enlightenment
Modern Gnosticism’s Christian roots
Aeons, Archons, and the Demiurge
What do Gnostics do?
Salvation and the Gnostic afterlife
A brief history of the Johannite Church
Sep 17, 2016 — Nikita Petrov & George Young
What is Russian cosmism?
The religious side of cosmism
Cosmism as a response to the challenges of the 20th century
Nature as a temporary enemy and eternal friend
Pavel Florensky, the Russian da Vinci
Plant life as a spiritual ideal
The father of the Soviet space program, and his weird spirituality
Cosmism and transhumanism: Compare and contrast
Cosmism as a Russian propaganda project
Sep 10, 2016 — Josh Summers & Chip Hartranft
An intro to the yogic philosopher Patañjali and the
The metaphysics of the
How does a yogi become awakened?
Comparing yogic and Buddhist teachings
Does yogic philosophy encourage isolation?
Advice for new meditators
Aug 22, 2016 — Philip Menchaca & Jessica Sherry
The story of John Frum and “cargo cults”
How the John Frum movement challenged colonial rule
Are cargo cults really about getting cargo?
Religious tensions on the island of Tanna
Is religion “false?”
Life on Tanna
Aug 6, 2016 — Philip Menchaca & Benigno Sánchez-Eppler
Why Benigno is a Quaker
How do you find unity when God says different things to different people?
The many kinds of Quakers
What does a Quaker meeting look like?
What does a Quaker meeting feel like?
How the World Wars helped Quakers overcome their divisions