I am interested in the development and nature of our common-sense understanding of ourselves and other people. Much of my research explores moral psychology—looking at morality in babies, our developing intuitions about moral responsibility, and the role that anger, disgust, and empathy play in our moral lives. Other ongoing projects explore children’s and adults’ beliefs about fate and free will; the relationship between thinking about populations and thinking about lifespans; the psychology of atheists; and common-sense dualism. And I’m always involved in some sort of research concerning pleasure, particularly the pleasure we get from fiction. Most of these projects are initiated by graduate students, and all of the work in my lab is strongly interdisciplinary, bringing in theory and research from areas such as cognitive, social, and developmental psychology, evolutionary theory, behavioral economics, and philosophy.
March 23rd, 2021 | 1 hr 36 mins
dawkins, empiricism, instinct, mediation, nativism, orgasm, paul bloom, william james
VBW favorite Paul Bloom joins us to talk about William James’ account of instinct and its parallels to the nativism/empiricism debates in developmental psychology today. Also discussed: Richard Dawkins trolling philosophy, the ghost in Tamler’s kitchen, and why William James’ 130 year-old writings make psychologists sad about the present state of their field. PLUS - do you wish you were closer to your non-romantic partners? Well, strap on your gloves, grab a washcloth, it’s time for exactly 15 minutes of orgasmic meditation.
Note: we had to use backup audio for Tamler and Paul in the second segment. The sound quality isn't as good as normal, sorry about that.
February 25th, 2020 | 1 hr 39 mins
VBW favorite Paul Bloom takes a short break from his Sam Harris duties to help us break down the Coen Brothers' ode to uncertainty, "A Serious Man." Does inaction have consequences? Can you understand the cat but not the math? Why are there Hebrew letters carved into the back of a goy's teeth? Dybbuk or no Dybbuk? Why does God make us feel the questions if he’s not gonna give us any answers?
Plus, Paul defends the psych establishment against critiques from the podcast peons at "Two Psychologists Four Beers" and "Very Bad Wizards."
April 16th, 2019 | 1 hr 26 mins
As parents we like to think we have an impact on our children - their future, their happiness, the kinds of people they turn out to be. But
are we deluded? Dave and Tamler are joined by empathy's kryponite, the great Paul Bloom, to talk about Judith Rich Harris's view that parents matter a lot less than you might think (while genes and peer groups matter a lot more than you might think) .
Plus, what the connection between art and morality? Should we support "cancel culture"? Is it wrong to play Michael Jackson's P.Y.T. (spell it out) on the radio? What about the Jackson 5? And what about art that is itself immoral? You're not gonna believe this but Louis CK gets mentioned.
Thanks to our beloved Patreon supporters for suggesting and voting for this topic!
October 23rd, 2018 | 1 hr 26 mins
hoaxes, paul bloom, perverse desires, podcasting, sex robots
What better way to celebrate our 150th episode than to bring back our favorite guest – Paul Bloom! We riff on a series of topics: the new “grievance studies” hoax, sex robot brothels, perverse desires, and perverse beliefs. Then we get a little navel gazey (OK maybe more than a little) and talk about podcasting as a form of media and discussion, good teaching, and what we’ve learned about our listeners and ourselves. (Note: the audio may sound a little echoey towards the end because of how far we’ve crawled up our own asses.) This was a fun one, enjoy!
December 26th, 2017 | 1 hr 32 mins
dehumanization, empathy, paul bloom, star trek transporters
In this Very Special Boxing Day edition of the podcast, Tamler and David welcome back honorary Third Wizard Paul Bloom to discuss his latest article in the New Yorker about dehumanization and cruelty. Is it really the case that we dehumanize in order to harm others? Or does most violence actually require us to view others as fundamentally human, agentic, and capable of true suffering? But first, we discuss the stages of Star Trek transporter cognition, whether Paul and David are closet-dualists, and whether the process of choosing a Dalai Lama suffers from p-hacking concerns. (And between segments we give our brief, spoiler-free thoughts on Season 3 of Mr. Robot). Happy Chanukah, Kwanzaa, New Year, and Merry Christmas to all!
December 13th, 2016 | 1 hr 33 mins
empathy, movies, paul bloom
Paul Bloom joins Tamler and David to discuss their picks for the top three movies about empathy.
August 16th, 2016 | 1 hr 26 mins
Paul Bloom joins us to discuss Christopher Nolan's "Memento."
March 11th, 2016 | 1 hr 9 mins
Philosophers can be funny and funny movies can be philosophical. David and Tamler welcome frequent VBW guest and arch-enemy of empathy Paul Bloom to discuss their five favorite comic films with philosophical/psychological themes.
October 20th, 2014 | 1 hr 18 mins
Paul Bloom joins us to talk all things villainous -why we sometimes root for the bad guys, why we admire them even when we don't, why they are much more compelling than some of our heroes.
March 3rd, 2014 | 1 hr 7 mins
Can a fully determined creature deliberate? How big a role does conscious reasoning play in moral judgment and everyday life? Are we responsible for our thoughts and actions? Paul Bloom rejoins us against his better judgment to discuss his book "Just Babies" and his recent article in "The Atlantic" that set the internet on the fire
June 10th, 2013 | 1 hr 23 mins
Paul Bloom joins us in the second segment for a lively discussion about the value of empathy as a guide our moral decisions. And in our first scoop, we talk about Paul's new book "Just Babies: The Origin of Good and Evil,"racist babies, and how 80s sitcoms changed the world.