2 June 2020
Science of Spirituality
The Wright Show
Emotions and the Brain
The Meaning of Future Life
The Weirdness of Physics
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Jan 4, 2016 — Robert Wright & David Kyuman Kim
What is Confucianism?
Living with both a Confucian and a Christian identity
Wisdom accumulates slowly
The power (and difficulty) of radical love
Melancholic freedom and existential angst
Finding and losing meaning in the scientific age
Dec 28, 2015 — Robert Wright & Murtaza Hussain
The new normal for American Muslims
Why Muslim women bear the brunt of Islamophobia
‘s big ISIS piece “shallow nonsense”
How Saudi Arabia fueled a “bad reformation” of Islam
A “Muslim loser with a gun” can hurt millions
What being a Muslim means to Murtaza
Dec 27, 2015 — Robert Wright & John Horgan
John’s new old book,
The End of Science
How grand is the unified theory, really?
Cancer, brain lasers, and other things that matter
Mind-blowing potential of dark energy and dark matter
The mind-body problem
Will science shed any new light on basic philosophical questions?
Dec 24, 2015 — Robert Wright & Michael Brendan Dougherty
Why conservative Catholic Michael likes the New Atheists
Finding strength and unity in Scripture
What’s the true meaning of Christmas?
Michael: Catholic ritual defines my religion
Michael’s Irish heritage and Bob’s West Texas roots
How a fear of Hell affects everyday life
Dec 19, 2015 — Robert Wright & Lawrence Krauss
Lawrence on religion’s “most immoral” aspect
A defense of giving offense
Why is there something rather than nothing?
Bob accuses Lawrence of avoiding the key question
Debating whether evolution has directionality
Can science fill religion’s place in people’s lives?
Dec 18, 2015 — Robert Wright & Alexander Wolff
Alex’s new book,
The Audacity of Hoop
How basketball shaped Obama, personally and politically
The significance of Obama’s move to golf
Life lessons from playing pickup
A beautiful merging of individual and collective goals
The San Antonio Spurs as a model of global cooperation
Dec 15, 2015 — Robert Wright & Francis Fukuyama
Revisiting Frank’s “End of History” thesis
Trump, China, and the threat of illiberal democracy
Frank: The singularity is an “idiotic” idea
Should we fear homemade eugenics?
Why Americans need to improve their moral imaginations
Does religion unite more than it divides?
Dec 13, 2015 — Robert Wright & Donald Hoffman
Natural selection doesn’t build brains to see the truth
How perception is like a graphical computer interface
Don’s theory: It’s consciousness all the way down
Is there a chicken-and-egg problem with this theory?
Don describes his consciousness formula, sans math (phew)
With this theory, life is more interesting—and painful
Dec 12, 2015 — Robert Wright & Pamela Cooper-White
Clergy as front-line therapists for parishioners
Personal guilt about God’s judgment
Using faith to counter a traumatic religious upbringing
Neoliberal capitalism and its discontents
A psychological reading of the Christian Trinity
Are humans making spiritual progress?
Dec 7, 2015 — Philip Menchaca & Wahida Young
An introduction to Universal Sufism
“A path, not a religion”
Incorporating worship practices from different faiths
Wahida’s religious community, The Abode of The Message
How Wahida came to Universal Sufism
The Universal Sufi teaching the world most needs now
Dec 4, 2015 — David Bryce Yaden & Roy Hamilton
Roy explains non-invasive brain stimulation
Assessing the safety of this technology
Can brain stimulation make you smarter?
Does increasing memory decrease creativity?
The possibility of unlocking savant-like abilities
An ethical question about cognitive enhancement
Dec 2, 2015 — Philip Menchaca & Ash Yezuita
Meet Ash, a practicing Norse Pagan
The Norse gods, creation story, afterlife—and trolls!
Are these beliefs metaphoric or literal?
Ash’s spiritual path from atheism to Paganism
Ragnarök and accepting chaos as a part of life
Why Norse Paganism appeals to some white supremacists
Nov 30, 2015 — Robert Wright & Steven Pinker
Why humans are becoming less violent
The dark side of our moral sense
Just how deluded are we?
Bob tries to get Steve to say something nice about religion
How science gives Steve’s life meaning
The problem with “evil”
Nov 28, 2015 — Daniel Kaufman & Massimo Pigliucci
Dan questions the rationale for a liberal arts education
Massimo defends the liberal arts
Does studying the humanities make you a better citizen?
Campus protesters with a little learning
Valuing the liberal arts for their own sake
Massimo: The humanities are dangerous
Nov 23, 2015 — Robert Wright & David Carr
How personal trauma inspired David’s book on trauma and the Bible
Ancient Israel’s transition from polytheism to “monolatry”
The Babylonian exile and the birth of Abrahamic monotheism
The link between trauma and God’s covenant with Israel
Why the crucifixion of Jesus shocked his followers
Why have Biblical texts survived?
Nov 22, 2015 — Robert Wright & Greg Snyder
Greg’s work teaching Zen meditation to Brooklyn teens
How Greg went from anger to Zen
What young people learn from meditation
Comparing Zen with other branches of Buddhism
The experience of “emptiness” through meditation
What’s the purpose of Zen koans?
Nov 20, 2015 — Robert Wright & Paul Knitter
A Catholic questions whether Jesus is the “one and only savior”
How Paul integrates Buddhism and Christianity
Paul: Jesus, like the Buddha, “fully woke up”
How “interbeing” leads to loving thy neighbor
Meditation, the Eucharist, and the feeling that “all is well”
Paul: Peace in the world starts with peace within yourself
Nov 16, 2015 — Daniel Kaufman & Leslie Baynes
Digging into C. S. Lewis’s “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord” argument
Did Jesus assert his own divinity?
Unpacking “son of God” and “son of man”
The Jesus of John vs. the Jesus of Mark
How to use the New Testament as a historical document
Why Leslie, a Christian, wants to rebut Lewis’s apologetic
Nov 15, 2015 — David Bryce Yaden & David Vago
Science and mindfulness meditation
Dave: “Self” and “other” are societal constructs
Teaching cognitive neuroscience to Tibetan monks
Understanding the self as “500 milliseconds of selfing”
Are mindfulness and creativity in conflict?
New technology to facilitate meditation
Nov 14, 2015 — Robert Wright & Jonah Goldberg
Finding meaning in faith and family
How to be political yet non-tribal
Friendship as a source of corruption
What Donald Trump gets wrong about the value of money
Our special connection with dogs
On confronting the inevitability of death
Nov 9, 2015 — Robert Wright & Oliver Burkeman
Oliver’s book on happiness and negativity,
What’s the worst that could happen? Imagine it!
Similarities between Stoicism and Buddhism
What our fear of death is really about
What’s the connection between money and happiness?
Why you should “hang out” in negative situations
Nov 5, 2015 — Robert Wright & Gregory Hickok
The theory of mirror neurons…
…and why Greg believes this theory is wrong
How the mirror neuron theory became so popular
Explaining “embodied cognition”
Quantum physics and our perception of reality
Is consciousness a fundamental property of the universe?
Nov 1, 2015 — Robert Wright & Jeffrey Schloss
Jeff reviews Jerry Coyne’s book,
Faith vs. Fact
How likely was the evolution of intelligent life?
A contradiction in Coyne’s case against divine purpose
Bob argues for a materialist teleology
Are there true moral facts, or just rules that work?
Is moral judgment an evolutionary “spandrel”?
Oct 31, 2015 — Daniel Kaufman & Daniel Tippens
What guides our moral decision-making?
Dealing with conflicting moral obligations
Distinguishing feelings from beliefs
What makes an expert?
What a moral theory does
Why “effective altruism” isn’t compelling
Oct 30, 2015 — David Bryce Yaden & Julien Musolino
Yes, you can be a “spiritual atheist”
Intuitive beliefs about the body and the soul
Julien: The soul (most likely) doesn’t exist
How believing in the soul makes you more punitive
Crime, moral responsibility, and a suffering boulder
Julien: We don’t need God to provide us with meaning
Oct 26, 2015 — Robert Wright & Dena Merriam
Commonalities between Hindu and Buddhist meditation
What a Buddhist calls “non-self,” a Hindu might call “oneness”
Dena decries the commercialization of meditation
The work of the Global Peace Initiative of Women
An alliance of contemplative practitioners
Could meditation help solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?
Oct 24, 2015 — Robert Wright & Aliou Niang
Parallels between Christianity and Africa’s Diola religion
Essential Diola ritual practices
How economics caused the French Imperial powers to suppress the Diola tradition
The land as a “living being”
Aliou’s path to Christianity via Diola and Sufi traditions
Reading Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians from a Diola perspective
Oct 21, 2015 — Joshua Knobe & Abigail Marsh
Abby’s research on children with psychopathic traits
Why psychopaths are good manipulators
Are psychopaths born or made?
Inside the brain of a psychopath
“Anti-psychopaths”—people with very high empathy
The link between empathy and recognizing fear
Oct 20, 2015 — Robert Wright & Jay Michaelson
Jay’s new book on sadness,
The Gate of Tears
The most common mistake we make in dealing with sadness
Examining the contours of your negative emotions
Connections between Jewish and Buddhist teachings
Jay: Pushing away the difficult is 90% of the difficult
Spirituality and the power of negative thinking
Oct 19, 2015 — Robert Wright & Jorge Ferrer
Do all religions have the same “esoteric core?”
The psychedelic origins of transpersonal psychology
Aligning your instincts, consciousness, and heart through “participatory spirituality”
Constructing reality through “embodied cognition”
Why Jorge would object to making participatory spirituality a religion
The complicated morality of “enlightened” spiritual teachers
Oct 16, 2015 — Robert Wright & Lee Smolin
What Lee means when he says “time is fundamental”
Understanding the universe as a network
A (very) tentative theory of consciousness
Did the laws of physics evolve?
Is the universe fine-tuned for the emergence of life?
Applying Lee’s theories of time to everyday life
Oct 12, 2015 — Robert Wright & David Frum
David’s “noodle art” metaphor for religious truth
Would aliens have the same morality as humans?
Why we need rituals
What Judaism offers to non-believers
David: Heaven doesn’t sound very interesting
Leaving the right kind of legacy
Oct 11, 2015 — David Bryce Yaden & Crystal Park
Distinguishing between spirituality and religion
The bonus benefits of searching for the sacred
Measuring one’s religiosity and spirituality
States of mind fostered by spiritual practices
Meaning as a predictor of well-being
The Protestant ethic and the science of spirituality
Oct 10, 2015 — Robert Wright & John McWhorter
What gives John’s life meaning?
Unorthodox views on evolution and natural selection
Can art provide a spiritual experience?
The difference between consuming art and making it
Fear of infirmity … but not death
John on doing what he was meant to do
Oct 4, 2015 — Jonathan Phillips & Steven Frankland
How the brain builds complex thoughts out of reusable parts
More fodder for the brain-as-computer model
Sorry, we’re not quite there with the mind-reading thing
Possible reasons for the brain’s topographic organization
Why Steven’s paper is controversial (and exciting)
Cognitive neuroscience questions for the near future
Oct 3, 2015 — Daniel Kaufman & Massimo Pigliucci
“Virtue ethics” vs. typical modern understandings of morality
What do you need to live a “flourishing” life?
How to tell the difference between a Cynic and a Stoic
When our moral intuitions and our moral systems conflict
What Massimo finds appealing about a Stoic lifestyle
Why you shouldn’t focus on external outcomes
Oct 1, 2015 — Robert Wright & D.T. Max
Why Daniel wrote a biography of David Foster Wallace
“This Is Water” and Wallace’s search for meaning
How Wallace’s depression shaped his worldview
The double-edged sword of self-consciousness
Wallace’s effort to see reality through the eyes of others
Wallace’s suicide and literary legacy
Sep 26, 2015 — Robert Wright & Glenn Loury
Glenn’s born-again Christian experience
A double life: Harvard professor and crack addict
How the death of a close friend shattered Glenn’s faith
Is a secular life a less meaningful life?
Glenn’s communitarian understanding of moral truth
Why hedonism isn’t enough
Sep 24, 2015 — Robert Wright & David Sloan Wilson
David’s new book,
Does Altruism Exist?
Human society as an organism that evolves
Why Bob disagrees with David’s worldview
People are nicer than economists think they should be
How cultural evolution is like genetic evolution
The butterfly effect and group-selection theory
Sep 21, 2015 — Robert Wright & Andrew Sullivan
Andrew’s unorthodox Christianity
The darkest fifteen minutes of Andrew’s life
Andrew: “God is forgiveness”
Silent monks and psychedelic experiences
Jesus vs. Nietzsche
Andrew: Good religion, not atheism, will beat bad religion