Terrence Deacon (Podcast Interview)


In his new book, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter, Terrence Deacon writes that his goal is to “demonstrate how a form of causality depending specifically on absent features and unrealized potential can be compatible with our best science.” (page 16).  But in a recent interview (Books and Ideas #47) he also contends that his book "grew out of a dissatisfaction with the systems theory approach."

He feels strongly that "to understand the origin of end-directed phenomena, representational phenomena, or mental phenomena, you need to take one further step; you need to figure out what’s beyond self-organization that needs to be explained to account for these things."  Thus, his ambitious goal is to find a place for meaning within science.

Incomplete Nature is a dense but compelling book, and the goal of this interview is to introduce listeners to the idea that life and meaning are compatible with a scientific world view. 

Cognitive Dissonance (BSP Extra)


I am putting Episode 43 of Books and Ideas into the Brain Science Podcast feed because it should be of interest to BSP fans. This episode is an interview with psychologist Carol Tavris.


We talk about the relationship between psychology and neuroscience as well as cognitive dissonance, which is the subject of Dr. Tavris's recent book Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts.


Post your comments in the thread on the BSP Discussion Forum in Goodreads or send me feedback at gincampbell at mac dot com.

"Why Neuroscience Matters"


On May 11, 2011 I gave a talk entitled "Why Neuroscience Matters" at the London Skeptics in the Pub.  Episode 42 of Books and Ideas is an edited version of that talk, including the lively Q and A with the audience.


From the Brain Science Podcast


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Dr. Paul Offit Returns to Books and Ideas Podcast


In his new book, Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All, pediatrican Dr Paul A. Offit traces the history of the anti-vaccine movement from opposition to the smallpox vaccine in the 19th century up through recent events.  Unfortunately, the results are predictable; reducing vaccination rates lead to reemergence of dangerous preventable infectious diseases.  That is why the decision not to vaccinate is not a personal decision; it is one that involves the whole community.

This is the focus of the conversation I had with Dr. Offit in Episode 40 of Books and Ideas.  This is a follow-up to Dr. Offit's first interview here in Episode 25.  Because I think this issue is literally a matter of life and death, I encourage you to share this podcast with others.

Send email feedback to Dr. Campbell at gincampbell at mac dot com or leave voicemail at 205-202-0663.

"SuperSense": Bruce Hood on Believing the Unbelievable

Episode 34 of Books and Ideas  is an interview with Bruce M Hood, author of SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable .

Dr. Hood is a developmental psychologist with a long-standing interest in why people believe weird things.  In SuperSense, he argues that innate cognitive structures (how we think without being taught) give people a natural tendency toward belief in the supernatural.  Our intuitive sense of how the world works is often at odds with the findings of modern science.

In this interview we discuss the evidence for these conclusions and their implications.

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Paul Offit, MD on Vaccine Safety (Extra Podcast)


I am including the latest episode of my Books and Ideas Podcast  (Episode 25) in the feed for the Brain Science Podcast because I think it may be the most important interview I have ever recorded. My guest was Dr. Paul Offit, author of Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure. This book examines the history of on-going controversy about whether vaccines cause autism.

I recommend Dr. Offit’s book, Autism’s False Prophetsto everyone because of its thorough examination of the vaccine-autism controversy.  He examines the evidence from both sides, while showing compassion for why parents are easily confused and frightened by claims that physicians and scientists have dismissed.  The book is unlikely to dissuade those who are convinced by the tactics of vaccine opponents, but it will be a valuable resource to parents who want a clear explanation that includes a sober account of the risks of not vaccinating their children.  Physicians and scientists will also benefit from reading this book because it provides an important case study in how lack of scientific literacy can threaten public health.


"Predictably Irrational" with Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely is a professor of behavioral economics at MIT and author of the bestseller, Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions.  He was my guest for Episode 19 of Books and Ideas.

During the interview, he explains how his came to study human behavior.  He uses examples from his book to explore the question, "What makes a good experiment?"  He also discusses how he hope that his findings can help strengthen our society, despite our human tendency to make "irrational" choices.

Hear Steven Novella on the Latest Episode of Books and Ideas

In response to listener requests, I recently interviewed Dr. Steven Novella from the Skeptics Guide to the Universe.  This has been posted as Episode 16 of Books and Ideas , my other podcast.  The details are available in the show notes on the Books and Ideas website.  I hope you will consider subscribing to the podcast, but if you just want to hear the interview,

Dr. Robert Schleip Discusses Fascia on Books and Ideas


Books and Ideas Podcast #15 is an interview with Robert Schleip, PhD, from the University of Ulm in Germany.  Dr. Schleip is an experienced practitioner of the body work method known as Rolfing, but several years ago he went back and earned his PhD in Biology and began a second career as a research scientist.

In our interview, we discuss some of the recent discoveries that may revolutionize the way we look at the connective tissue that is commonly called fascia.  We also talk about the importance of applying the scientific method to the evaluation of alternative and complimentary healing methods (CAM).  Dr. Schleip's enthusiasm for science made this a very enjoyable interview.


References and Links:

Dr. Schleip recommends the Wikipedia entry on fascia if you would like to learn the basics.

To learn more about Dr. Schleip's work, visit the Fascia Research Project website at http://www.fasciaresearch.de/

The First International Congress International Research Congress was held in October, 2007 in Boston, MA.

You can find some of the scientists Dr. Schleip mentions on this speaker page.

Click here for more references, including those written in German.

Brain Science Podcast #24 Will Be Delayed

This week's episode of the Brain Science Podcast will be delayed until next week.

Meanwhile, if you don't already listen to Books and Ideas I hope you will check out the new episode that I posted this week. It is an conversation with Dr. Pamela Gay of the Astronomy Cast.

Listen to Dr. Gay's interview now

I Need Some Feedback About Books and Ideas

This post is a request for listener feedback.  When I started podcasting in December, 2006, I started two podcasts simultaneously, the Brain Science Podcast and Books and Ideas.  My original intention was to use Books and Ideas as a more personal podcast, and as a place to put material that didn't fit into the Brain Science Podcast.

However, Books and Ideas has evolved into discussion of  non-fiction books.  Needless, to say this requires significant preparation time.  Meanwhile as the Brain Science Podcast has grown, I am struggling to find the time to prepare both shows, since I do everything (including audio editing and web design) myself.

So, I am forced to admit that I can't continue to put out Books and Ideas twice a month.  Yet I still want to keep the feed alive since I think there is already some good stuff there and I still need an outlet for non-brain content.

I would appreciate your feedback and ideas.

Latest Episode of Books and Ideas Posted in Brain Science Podcast Feed


This week's episode of Books and Ideas is a discussion of the book, Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life , with author Lee M. Silver of Princeton University.  I have inserted it into the Brain Science Podcast feed so that listeners can sample my second podcast. If you are already subscribed to both podcasts this will be a duplicate, which you can delete.