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There are some things you just have to know to keep up with the headlines. Things that, in some cases, provide crucial insights into who we are and how we and the universe we are part of work. It might be that a big picture concept of the fundamental building blocks of reality is one of those things. If you, like me, really want to understand somet…
 
Today we cover the story of Charles Whitman, the erstwhile normal and successful young scout, altar boy, and marine sharpshooter who, in the course of 24 hours, killed his mother and wife, climbed the tower at UT Austin, and sniped at innocent civilians for an hour and a half. After he was killed, his autopsy revealed, possibly, a structure that mi…
 
A late entry into the worst people ever compendium, Tomas de Torquemada, the first and greatest Grand Inquisitor of The Spanish Inquisition. A man who began with a broad national mandate to root out heretics and insincere converses, and ended so loathed by everyone in Spain that he needed armed escorts wherever he went. A zealot so intransigent tha…
 
In this episode we conclude our series on the inquisition with the story of Joan of Arc with her three "trials:" 1. The Examination at Poitiers (link to a summary: https://www.jeanne-darc.info/trials-index/the-examination-at-poitiers/) 2. The 1431 Trial of Condemnation before the Inquisition (link to fulll transcripts: https://www.jeanne-darc.info/…
 
Here it is: the pious childhood, the voices, the missions, the uncanny miraculous insights, the fearless warring, the taunting and threatening, the temper, the visions and prophesies, and the prodigious feats of the Maid of Orleans. According to Twain, this was far and away the most amazing human being to ever live, and that is saying an awful lot.…
 
In this episode we set the stage for the story of Joan of Arc, one of the most enigmatic and fascinating people in history. To understand Joan we have to understand the Hundred Years' War, the festering quagmire into which she was born, and which she helped put an end to. Herein are dragons and whirlwinds, blood-soaked Vikings, slaughtered monks, b…
 
They are one of the two most implicated groups in the history of conspiracy theories. But their real history is, if less mysterious and ominous, just as unsettling. From a humble beginning, to becoming the richest order in Christendom, to being imprisoned, tortured, persecuted and executed. This is the story of the Knights Templar.…
 
We continue our series on the Inquisition with the campaigns to suppress the Waldensians. These "Poor Men (and Women!) of Lyon" were known for their sandals and their beards; but mostly for their Christian piety, humility, and charity. So of course they had to die. And die they did, in the tens, hundreds, and thousands.…
 
In this episode we begin a full immersion experience into that most infamous of offices, The Inqusition. From the forces at play in the persecution society where it began, through a few early burnings, to the papal bull that started it all, we refuse to shrink from staring it in all its repressive sanctimony. We also cover some of the early heretic…
 
In this episode Steve Rathje, social psychologist specializing in social media and political polarization, explains to us why we are prone to conspiratorial thinking, and how we got into the state we find ourselves in Western societies. Virality, engagement, fake news, motivated reasoning, negativity bias, and much more are covered the way only Ste…
 
In this episode I speak to Professor Jan Bremer about human sacrifice. We touch on Greek, Roman, Maya, Indian, Aztec, Druid, Egyptian, Chinese, and other instantiations of this most intentionally terrifying of all practices. Who were the victims? How common was it? What motivated it? The answers, from Prof. Bremer, were suprising. I will not say he…
 
Conclusion (at last) of a three-part episode on the ways our perceptions and processing distort reality. For the stalwart (and patient) seekers of knowledge only. 0:00 Groupthink 6:13 Halo Effect 10:41 Just World Fallacy 17:21 Negativity Bias 22:16 Optimism and Pessimism Bias 27:19 Reactance 31:44 Self-Serving Bias 34:41 Sunk Cost Fallacy 39:40 The…
 
Today I begin a pedantic journey into the tragicomic ways our perceptions and judgments are altered and distorted by our own cognitive processes -- goofy, heartbreaking, and humorous all at once, Index of topics included: 0:00 Intro 04:52 Anchoring Bias 08:59 Availability Heuristic 13:25 Backfire Effect 16:05 Barnum Effect 19:45 Belief Bias 23:06 B…
 
In which we continue to Dumbest things in history series by looking at some of the glitches in us that make them possible. And also that they are not the result of our lizard brain, because we don't have one. In this episode, we cover conspiracy thinking and theories and the apophenia that makes them possible, including pareidolia, the gambler's fa…
 
A bad decision for the ages--welcoming a pretentious narcissistic ignoramus into your family to weaken your already precarious hold on power, ignoring all warnings and thumbing your nose at the public outrage it engendered. And worse, taking said lecher's advice on all matters, sacred and secular, because he claimed it came from God himself. It sou…
 
This is a release of an interview I did a year and a half ago, but have not released due to some technical -- and technique -- difficulties. Despite that, I have always wanted to clean it up as much as possible and release it, in large part because Dr. Tiesler is a world renowned expert on the topic and was very generous to grant the interview.…
 
We have a lot going for us, which is why we are currently a very successful species. But we have a lot of problems, defects, deficiencies, dysteleology, and outright glitches in our systems. This episode, the first in a two part series on our glitches, catalogues some of the maladaptive elements that make us who we are. This episode: anatomical, ph…
 
There are countless stupid events, decisions, policies, and people in history, so it was a great surprise to see how easy it was to decide on the dumbest thing ever. It was, to put it bluntly, no contest. The Great Leap Forward had it all -- poor planning, poor execution, newspeak, happy talk, brutal repression, and tens of millions of deaths. And …
 
In this episode I get distracted while working on another topic. Because of that failure to focus, we cover the origins of left and right political ideologies, the beginnings of fascism, its symbolism, and what special recipe makes a fascist regime fascist. We also briefly discuss Antifa -- which is, depending on who you ask, either the most danger…
 
Ok, so it wasn't a world-historical level disaster, or maybe even close to the dumbest thing humans have ever believed. But it was pretty stupid. Nations gripped by a fear of covens of witches, repressed memories of ritual Satanic abuse, demonic rock-and-roll, ouija boards stealing your soul, and don't forget those blue-as-death animated corpses, t…
 
Today we embark down a very ignoble road and consider a few of the most dismal failures in history. We begin with a big one -- something that failed spectacularly, at a very high cost, creating misery and infamy in its wake: The People's Crusade of 1095-6! Index of this episode, in case you want to skip to the juicy parts: 0:00 Intro: The Three Poi…
 
Today we discuss the mystery of 3Q15 -- also known as the Copper Scroll. One of the most mysterious, and potentially valuable finds, in archeology. An enigmatic and totally unique document, scratched onto copper, that hints at the locations of over 2 billion USD worth of hidden treasure, left in a cave almost 2000 years ago. Who wrote the copper sc…
 
The whole world seems pretty down on 2020. And let's face it, so far 2020 has not distinguished itself for outstanding achievements in the field of excellence. But is it, as some have argued, the worst year ever? And if it is not, which year carries that dubious honorific? Which year in history was the worst ever to be a human? Which year in the bi…
 
In today's episode we get heroically pummeled by one of the most intractable -- and maybe insoluble -- mysteries of our existence. A topic that strikes at the core of who we are and what it means to be human. A short intro to and history of the problem of consciousness. What it is, what it does, how it can (possibly, ever?) be explained, and why it…
 
In this episode we square off against some of the many, many puzzles remaining about who and when we came from, including: 0:00 - 0:58 Intro 0:58 - 4:30 The Hominins 4:30 - 6:52 The Earliest Ancestral Human 6:52 - 22:50 The Mystery and Controversy of H. naledi 22:50 - 41:40 The Walking Anachronisms of Red Deer Cave 41:40 - END The Final Fate of the…
 
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