About This Episode
Who can you trust? How can you know what the truth is? This week on StarTalk All-Stars, neuroscientist and host Heather Berlin questions the truth with a team of top-rated skeptics. Heather is joined in-studio by first-time comic co-host Ari Shaffir, and science communicator Cara Santa Maria and neurologist Dr. Steven Novella, co-authors of The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe and hosts of the podcast of the same name.
On this episode, we dive into the truth of skepticism and answer your fan-submitted Cosmic Queries. You’ll learn how science and critical thinking blend together to create skepticism. Discover why skepticism gets a negative reputation and how Cara and Steven are trying to rehabilitate the brand of skepticism. Find out why Ari thinks skepticism is just “checking the math.” We explore conspiracy theories and why people are prone to believe them. You’ll hear how most people are “opportunist conspiracy theorists” and why most conspiracy theories stem from a distrust of authority. We discuss ways to keep our own cognitive biases in check. We also investigate the problems with scientific news reporting and why reading just headlines adds to cognitive dissonance.
Find out what prevents people from critical and skeptical thinking, and how our upbringings can impact how we perceive the world today. Examine how the internet can help people venture out of their family bubbles, and how the internet can help create virtual echo chambers. Together, we look for hope in the face of climate change, war, and the anti-intellectual movement, and Cara explains why the only reason things feel so bad is because of the immense progress we’ve made up to this point in history. Find out what the “nanny state,” “sea lioning,” and “dragon flying” mean. Cara and Steven give us a quick breakdown of their new book. Discover why it has become such a negative for politicians to change their minds while skepticism thrives on a constantly changing world. All that, plus, we ponder if skepticism is, itself, a form of religion.
NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Think Like a Skeptic, with Cara Santa Maria and Steven Novella.