“What is Machine Learning and Why is it Important to Philosophy?” with Guest Emily Sullivan

We rely on computers for everything from games, to avoiding traffic, to curing disease. This is sped up by machine-learning. the process by which computers adjust their programming without human input. But providing conclusions isn’t the same as explaining them, and offering answers isn’t a substitute for teaching. What more do we need from machine learning and how does our relationship with computers mirror the difficulties we have in understanding one another ?Continue reading “What is Machine Learning and Why is it Important to Philosophy?” with Guest Emily Sullivan

Patricia Churchland

“How Important is the Brain to the Great Philosophical Questions?” with guest Patricia Churchland

Are the brain and mind really different things? If not, is there free will? Where does conscience come from? Is altruism a myth? These are question in neurophilosophy, research that uses the modern science of the brain to explore philosophical dilemmas. Join host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Patrician Churchland, the founder of nuerophilosophy, as they explore the boundaries between philosophy and cognitive science. Continue reading “How Important is the Brain to the Great Philosophical Questions?” with guest Patricia Churchland

“Does accepting the theory of evolution mean there is no meaning of life?” with guest Michael Ruse

What is the meaning of life? Believe it or not, after more than ten years on the air, we at Why? Radio have never asked this question. But to make it more complicated, we want to know not just what it is, but how we can discover it in the age of evolution. If science gives us answers instead of religion, where do we look for meaning? Can Darwin provide us with what the holy scriptures have not? On this episode we will ask these very questions, while exploring the limits of science and going head to head with the most ineffable aspects of the human experience. Continue reading “Does accepting the theory of evolution mean there is no meaning of life?” with guest Michael Ruse

“What does wellness mean and how do we get there?” with guest John Ratey

Our culture has shifted from talking about health to seeking wellness, but what does that entail? How should we understand what it means to be healthy holistically and what are the consequences for our culture’s commitment to the separation of mind and body? On this episode of Why? Radio, we examine wellness from a neurological perspective, looking at the relationship between exercise and brain activity, while also discovering what we can learn from prehistoric humans about how to heal ourselves.Continue reading “What does wellness mean and how do we get there?” with guest John Ratey

“What Does it Mean to Keep The Internet Free?” with guest Cory Doctorow

The internet has become central to our way of life, but how much do we know about it? Is it really the free-for-all we claim it is, or is it actually dominated by a few voices? Is the Web just a vehicle for commerce or is it the most innovate platform for art every created? In this wide-ranging discussion Why? Radio host Jack Russell Weinstein and his guest Cory Doctorow investigate the economics, politics, technology, and future of the internet. From Marxian analyses to a discussion of the predictability of science fiction, this conversation will change the way you think about the internet. It will inspire you to ask whether the internet is really different from what has come before it or if it’s just another vehicle for the same human problems we’ve had all along.Continue reading “What Does it Mean to Keep The Internet Free?” with guest Cory Doctorow

“How Does Misinformation Spread?” with guests Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall

The term fake news is so ubiquitous, that sometimes it seems like we should be labeling the true stuff instead of the lies. But misinformation doesn’t just come from politics. It is found in science, in marketing, and even in fourteenth-century memoirs. Why do we believe obvious falsities and how do these alternative facts gain such momentum? On this episode, we look going to look at the networks of knowledge and trust that we rely on to arbitrate between fact and fiction, and examine how they are manipulated, both consciously and not.Continue reading “How Does Misinformation Spread?” with guests Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall

“Does Big Data Threaten Our Democracy?” with guest Cathy O’Neil

Most of us know that every time Facebook changes its algorithm, it chooses which friends we see, and that when a credit bureau changes their algorithm, it determines which houses we can buy. What most of us don’t know is that algorithms also determine who gets arrested and who bags our groceries. On this episode of Why? Radio, we examine what it means to be a data scientist and discuss the flaws and possibilities of mathematical analysis. We also gauge the moral and political impact of big data on our everyday l lives, asking about the ways in which it can undermine equality and freedom. Continue reading “Does Big Data Threaten Our Democracy?” with guest Cathy O’Neil

“What Does Science Policy Have to do With Democracy?” with guest Heather Douglas

Every day we hear politicians make scientific claims that support their policies, but many of them contradict each other. Our lives are full of images of people in lab coats who are above politics, but we know they also make choices about what to study and which conclusions to call attention to. Does this mean that science and politics are enemies? And, does government policy tell citizens what to believe or do citizens’ convictions determine the government’s positions? On this episode of Why? we look at the claim that science is objective, examine the values that make it successful, and ask whether there should be absolutely free inquiry in a modern democracy. Continue reading “What Does Science Policy Have to do With Democracy?” with guest Heather Douglas

“Is Aging a Disease that Can be Cured?” with guest Aubrey de Grey

What would you say if we told you that aging is a disease that could be cured? How about if we predicted that you’d live to be 1,000 years old. Would that be scary? Would it be perverse? Aubrey de Grey doesn’t think so. He believes that medical technology will soon help people live indefinitely, and that we should welcome it. He also believes that calling the search for a cure unrealistic is short sighted and a betrayal of the next generation. On this episode we discuss these issues, examine the the science behind anti-aging research, and address concerns about global warming, overpopulation and other effects of living longer.Continue reading “Is Aging a Disease that Can be Cured?” with guest Aubrey de Grey

“Why Did Homo Sapiens Evolve Into Artists?” with guest Valerius Geist

Many people regard art as a luxury. They think of it as fancy paintings, abstract installations, or the fashion that changes every few months. What few of us ever attend to is that fact that art is as old as humanity itself. It started with homo sapiens and developed alongside every other human ability. This episode of Why? Radio looks at  art from an evolutionary perspective and ask what necessary purpose it served.Continue reading “Why Did Homo Sapiens Evolve Into Artists?” with guest Valerius Geist

Sarah Williams Goldhagen

“What Makes a Building Beautiful?” with guest Sarah Williams Goldhagen

We are surrounded by buildings and live in rooms. We build spaces that we want to be pleasing as well as functional. In the process, we engage, not only our senses, but our brain. Architecture has massive neurological consequences, effects that are not as well known but should be. How do we balance these aesthetic, functional, and neurological needs? Architecture is art, but it also influences and even directs our behavior. Does it limit our free will? How much can design control its inhabitants and inspire a specific outcome?Continue reading “What Makes a Building Beautiful?” with guest Sarah Williams Goldhagen

“Why Don’t People Believe Science?” with guest Dan M. Kahan

Every day, people reject evolution and climate change, arguing instead for their personal beliefs over evidence. Despite years of education and more access to information than any time in history, people are rejecting vaccinations and forsaking personal savings for the lottery. On this episode of Why? Radio we look at the science of science communication and the patterns behind why people reject science.Continue reading “Why Don’t People Believe Science?” with guest Dan M. Kahan

“The Unity of the Sciences: Is All Knowledge Connected?” with guest Joseph Margolis

WHY? Radio is, of course, a philosophy show, but our guests aren’t just philosophers. They are historians, artists, scientists, musicians, sociologists and specialists from many different fields. Are we doing something wrong? Aren’t all these disciplines different? On this episode of WHY? we are going to tackle these questions. We will ask about the classic “unity of the sciences,” look at the relationship between how cultures describe knowledge and how they describe themselves.Continue reading “The Unity of the Sciences: Is All Knowledge Connected?” with guest Joseph Margolis

“Should there be a national standard for education?” with Michael Apple

Education in the United States has changed radically in the last twenty years – standardized tests and the new Common Core goals have changed the way students are taught. At the heart of the debate is a complex philosophical question: should there be national standards for education or should educational goals be determined on the local level? Does the federal government have the best idea of what students should learn, or do local school boards, towns, cities, and counties? Should politicians and policy makers determine standards, or should teachers and parents? On this episode we discuss the Common Core, the purpose and nature of education, necessary educational goals, and Michael Apple’s new book “Can Education Change Society?” Continue reading “Should there be a national standard for education?” with Michael Apple

“Does science give us Truth?” with Jan Golinski

For thousands of years, people have looked to science to reveal the truth about nature – to conquer it or to discover its secrets. But there are others who think that this approach is deeply mistaken. Science, they say, tells us about our culture and reveals the ideas we bring to the laboratory. Is there such a thing as objectivity or does science just describe what we ourselves bring into the laboratory? On this episode of WHY? we are going to examine these questions and wade deep into what some philosophers call “the science wars.”Continue reading “Does science give us Truth?” with Jan Golinski

“The Philosophy of Water” with GUEST Clay Jenkinson

Water is a force for life and for destruction. We simultaneously take it for granted and infuse it with profound meanings. Some of the deepest political battles revolve around its access, yet for most of us, these debates are invisible or disregarded. What is the philosophy of water? How does it affect our lives, and what happens what we are denied it, face too much of it, and when it becomes our enemy? Join WHY? as we swim though these questions, asking about the legacy of Hurricane Katrina, the recent floods in Minot, North Dakota, and the struggle to supply clean, accessible water to the worldContinue reading “The Philosophy of Water” with GUEST Clay Jenkinson