The Michael Shermer Show

Michael Shermer

The Michael Shermer Show is a series of long-form conversations between Dr. Michael Shermer and leading scientists, philosophers, historians, scholars, writers and thinkers about the most important issues of our time. read less
ScienceScience

Episodes

Foster Care, Family, and Social Class
4d ago
Foster Care, Family, and Social Class
Rob Henderson was born to a drug-addicted mother and a father he never met, ultimately shuttling between ten different foster homes in California. When he was adopted into a loving family, he hoped that life would finally be stable and safe. Divorce, tragedy, poverty, and violence marked his adolescent and teen years, propelling Henderson to join the military upon completing high school. His greatest achievements — a military career, an undergraduate education from Yale, a PhD from Cambridge — feel like hollow measures of success. He argues that stability at home is more important than external accomplishments, and he illustrates the ways the most privileged among us benefit from a set of social standards that actively harm the most vulnerable. Shermer and Henderson discuss: hindsight bias • genes, environment, luck, contingency • foster care • incarceration rates • marriage, divorce, childhood outcomes • poverty, welfare programs, and social safety nets • the young male syndrome • alcohol, drugs, depression • luxury beliefs of educated elites • wealthy but unstable homes vs. low-income but stable homes • inequality • Henderon's experience in the military, at Yale and Cambridge • the Warrior-Scholar Project. Rob Henderson grew up in foster homes in Los Angeles and the rural town of Red Bluff, California. He joined the US Air Force at the age of seventeen. Once described as “self-made” by the New York Times, Rob subsequently received a BS from Yale University and a PhD in psychology from St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and more. His weekly newsletter is sent to more than forty thousand subscribers. Learn more at RobKHenderson.com. His new book is Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class.
How US Public Health Has Strayed From Its Liberal Roots
Feb 13 2024
How US Public Health Has Strayed From Its Liberal Roots
The Covid-19 response was a crucible of politics and public health—a volatile combination that produced predictably bad results. As scientific expertise became entangled with political motivations, the public-health establishment found itself mired in political encampment. It was, as Sandro Galea argues, a crisis of liberalism: a retreat from the principles of free speech, open debate, and the pursuit of knowledge through reasoned inquiry that should inform the work of public health. Across fifty essays, Within Reason chronicles how public health became enmeshed in the insidious social trends that accelerated under Covid-19. Galea challenges this intellectual drift towards intolerance and absolutism while showing how similar regressions from reason undermined social progress during earlier eras. Within Reason builds an incisive case for a return to critical, open inquiry as a guiding principle for the future public health we want—and a future we must work to protect. Dr. Sandro Galea is a physician, epidemiologist, author and the Robert A. Knox Professor at Boston University School of Public Health. He previously held academic and leadership positions at Columbia University, the University of Michigan, and the New York Academy of Medicine. He has published more than 1000 scientific journal articles, 75 chapters, and 24 books, and his research has been featured extensively in current periodicals and newspapers. Galea holds a medical degree from the University of Toronto and graduate degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University. Dr. Galea was named one of Time magazine’s epidemiology innovators and has been listed as one of the “World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.” He is past chair of the board of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health and past president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research and of the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Epidemiological Society. He is the author of The Contagion Next Time and Well: What We Need to Talk About When We Talk About Health. His new book is Within Reason: A Liberal Public Health for an Illiberal Time.
Against the New Politics of Identity
Feb 10 2024
Against the New Politics of Identity
In Against the New Politics of Identity, philosopher Ronald A. Lindsay offers a sustained criticism of the far-reaching cultural transformation occurring across much of the West by which individuals are defined primarily by their group identity, such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Driven largely by the political Left, this transformation has led to the wholesale grouping of individuals into oppressed and oppressor classes in both theory and practice. He warns that the push for identity politics on the Left predictably elicits a parallel reaction from the Right, including the Right’s own version of identity politics in the form of Christian nationalism. As Lindsay makes clear, the symbiotic relationship that has formed between these two political poles risks producing even deeper threats to Enlightenment values and Western democracy. If we are to preserve a liberal democracy in which the rights of individuals are respected, he concludes, the dogmas of identity politics must be challenged and refuted. Against the New Politics of Identity offers a principled path for doing so. Shermer and Lindsay discuss: identity politics: identity or politics? • woke ideology • overt racism vs. systemic racism • liberalism vs. illiberalism • woke progressive leftists motivations? • Critical Race Theory (CRT) • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) • What is progressive? What is woke? • standpoint epistemology • equality vs. equity • race • class • cancel culture • Christian nationalism. Dr. Ronald Lindsay, a philosopher (PhD, Georgetown University) and lawyer (JD, University of Virginia) is the author of The Necessity of Secularism and Future Bioethics. Although his non-fiction works focus on different topics, two threads unite them: Lindsay’s gift for thinking critically about accepted narratives and his strong commitment to individual rights, whether it’s the right to assisted dying, the right to religious freedom, or the right of individuals to be judged on their own merit, as opposed to their group identity. In addition to his books, Lindsay has also written numerous philosophical and legal essays, including the entry on Euthanasia in the International Encyclopedia of Ethics. In his spare time, Lindsay plays baseball—baseball, not softball. The good news is he maintains a batting average near .300; the bad news is his fielding average is not much higher. A native of Boston, Ron Lindsay currently lives in Loudoun County, Virginia with his wife, Debra, where their presence is usually tolerated by their cat. His new book is: Against the New Politics of Identity: How the Left’s Dogmas on Race and Equity Harm Liberal Democracy and Invigorate Christian Nationalism.
Transforming Mental Health: Little Treatments, Big Effects
Feb 3 2024
Transforming Mental Health: Little Treatments, Big Effects
If you’ve ever wanted mental health support but haven’t been able to get it, you are not alone. In fact, you’re part of the more than 50% of adults and more than 75% of young people worldwide with unmet psychological needs. Maybe you’ve faced months-long waiting lists, or you’re not sure if your problems are ‘bad enough’ to merit treatment? Maybe you tried therapy but stopped due to costs or time constraints? Perhaps you just don’t know where to start looking? The fact is, there are infinite reasons why mental health treatment is hard to get. There’s an urgent need for new ideas and pathways to help people heal. Little Treatments, Big Effects integrates cutting-edge psychological science, lived experience narratives and practical self-help activities to introduce a new type of therapeutic experience to audiences worldwide: single-session interventions. Its chapters unpack why systemic change in mental healthcare is necessary; the science behind how single-session interventions make it possible; how others have created ‘meaningful moments’ in their recovery journeys (and how you can, too); and how single-session interventions could transform the mental healthcare system into one that’s accessible to all. Shermer and Schleider discuss: her own experience with mental illness and eating disorder • 80% of people meet criteria for a mental illness at some point in their life • the goal of therapy • navigating therapy modalities, access, payments, insurance • What prevents people from getting the mental health help they need? • outcome measures to test different therapies • traditional therapy vs. single-session interventions • growth mindset • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) • difference between goals and values • how action brings change. Jessica L. Schleider, Ph.D. is an American psychologist, author, and an associate professor of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University. She is the lab director of the Lab for Scalable Mental Health. She completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Harvard University and her Doctoral Internship in Clinical and Community Psychology at Yale School of Medicine. She has received numerous scientific awards for her work in this area and her work is frequently featured in major media outlets (Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Washington Post). In 2020, she was selected as one of Forbes Magazine’s ‘30 Under 30’ in Healthcare. She has developed six evidence-based, single-session mental health programmes, which have served more than 40,000 people to date. She is the author of The Growth Mindset Workbook for Teens and co-editor of the Oxford Guide to Brief and Low Intensity Interventions for Children and Young People. Her new book is Little Treatments, Big Effects: How to Build Meaningful Moments That Can Transform Your Mental Health.
Overcoming Self-Censorship in the Age of Outrage
Jan 30 2024
Overcoming Self-Censorship in the Age of Outrage
As a society we are self-censoring at record rates. Say the wrong thing at the wrong moment to the wrong person and the consequences can be dire. Think that everyone should be treated equally regardless of race? You’re a racist. Argue that people should be able to speak freely within the bounds of the law? You’re a fascist. When the truth is no defense and nuance is seen as an attack, self-censorship is a rational choice. Yet, when we are too fearful to speak openly and honestly, we deprive ourselves of the ability to build genuine relationships, we yield all cultural and political power to those with opposing views, and we lose our ability to challenge ideas or change minds, even our own. Katherine Brodsky argues that it’s time for principled individuals to hit the unmute button and resist the authoritarians among us who name, shame, and punish. Shermer and Brodsky discuss: growing up Jewish in the Soviet Union and Israel • why liberals (or progressives) no longer defend free speech • cancel culture: data and anecdotes and whether it is an imagined moral panic • free speech law vs. free speech norms • solutions to cancel culture • identity politics • witch crazes and virtue signaling • hate speech and slippery slopes • how to stand up to cancel culture. Katherine Brodsky is a journalist and author. She has contributed to publications such as Variety, the Washington Post, WIRED, The Guardian, and many others. Over the years she has interviewed a diverse range of intriguing personalities, including the Dalai Lama.
Are Parallel Universes and Extra Dimensions Real?
Jan 17 2024
Are Parallel Universes and Extra Dimensions Real?
Our books, our movies—our imaginations—are obsessed with extra dimensions, alternate timelines, and the sense that all we see might not be all there is. In short, we can’t stop thinking about the multiverse. As it turns out, physicists are similarly captivated. In The Allure of the Multiverse, physicist Paul Halpern tells the epic story of how science became besotted with the multiverse, and the controversies that ensued. The questions that brought scientists to this point are big and deep: Is reality such that anything can happen, must happen? How does quantum mechanics “choose” the outcomes of its apparently random processes? And why is the universe habitable? Each question quickly leads to the multiverse. Drawing on centuries of disputation and deep vision, from luminaries like Nietzsche, Einstein, and the creators of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Halpern reveals the multiplicity of multiverses that scientists have imagined to make sense of our reality. Whether we live in one of many different possible universes, or simply the only one there is, might never be certain. But Halpern shows one thing for sure: how stimulating it can be to try to find out. Shermer and Halpern discuss: definitions of universe and types of multiverses • Is the multiverse science, metaphysics, or faith? • theists claim the “multiverse” is just handwaving around the God answer • many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics? • inflationary and Darwinian cosmology • infinity and eternity • multiple dimensions • string theory • cyclical universes • Big Bounce • Anthropic Principle (weak, strong, participatory) • time travel • sliding doors, contingency, and the multiverse. Dr. Paul Halpern is the author of 18 popular science books, exploring the subjects of space, time, higher dimensions, dark energy, dark matter, exoplanets, particle physics, and cosmology. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship, and an Athenaeum Literary Award, he has contributed to Nature, Physics Today, Aeon, NOVA’s “The Nature of Reality” physics blog, and Forbes “Starts with a Bang!” He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows including “Future Quest,” “Science Friday,” “Radio Times,” “Coast to Coast AM,” “The Simpsons 20thAnniversary Special,” and C-SPAN’s “BookTV.” He appeared previously on the show for his book Synchronicity: The Epic Quest to Understand the Quantum Nature of Cause and Effect. His new book, The Allure of the Multiverse, describes the controversial history of higher dimensional and parallel universe schemes in science and culture.
Multiculturalism and Lessons From the Rwandan Genocide
Jan 3 2024
Multiculturalism and Lessons From the Rwandan Genocide
As it absorbs record numbers of new immigrants, the U.S. faces critical questions: is it better to promote a unifying, shared identity that transcends ethnic differences or to foster a multicultural salad of distinct group identities? Is it better to minimize ethnic distinctions or to accentuate them with diversity initiatives and ethnic preferences? Out of the Melting Pot, Into the Fire takes a global, historical perspective to address these questions, examining how societies, from ancient Rome to modern Rwanda, have dealt with them. It provides essential analysis and data for America and other countries that are contemplating an increasingly multiethnic future. Shermer and Heycke discuss: • melting pots • culture • multiculturalism • identity politics • cancel culture • cultural appropriation • Critical Race Theory • Affirmative Action • why group preferences tend to last forever • human nature and factionalism • how official recognition and group preferences exacerbate group divisiveness • how group identification is fluid and contextual Jens Heycke was educated in Economics and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago, the London School of Economics, and Princeton University. He worked as an executive in several technology startups, including one that created the first Internet mobile phone. Since retiring from high tech, he has worked as an independent researcher and writer on culture and ethnic conflict, conducting field research around the world, from Bosnia to Botswana. He is the author of Out of the Melting Pot, Into the Fire: Multiculturalism in the World’s Past and America’s Future.
A Trial by Media Ended Caylan Ford’s Career in 4 Hours
Dec 19 2023
A Trial by Media Ended Caylan Ford’s Career in 4 Hours
Caylan Ford is a documentary filmmaker, charter school founder, and a former political candidate. She holds a Bachelor’s degree (Hons.) in Chinese history from the University of Calgary, a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a Master’s in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford. She spent many years in the international human rights field, including by increasing access to anti-surveillance and censorship tools in Iran, China, and Myanmar; working with civil rights lawyers representing political dissidents; supporting refugee and asylum claimants; and conducting and publishing original research on the repression of religious minorities in China. She has written and co-produced two feature documentary films on the themes of religious and political persecution, censorship, forced labor, scapegoating, and mass persuasion under totalitarian regimes. Her new documentary film, When the Mob Came, focuses on her experience of cancel culture following a catastrophic bid for political office. Shermer and Ford discuss: • education reform • public vs. private vs. charter schools • the blank slate • Thomas Sowell’s Constrained Vision vs. Unconstrained Vision • French Revolution vs. American Revolution • truth, justice, and reality • what promotes humanity and what degrades it • transhumanism • political correctness • identity politics • cancel culture • totalitarianism • preference falsification • free speech • hate speech • how to stand up to cancel culture.
How Not to Age
Dec 16 2023
How Not to Age
When Dr. Michael Greger, founder of NutritionFacts.org, dove into the top peer-reviewed anti-aging medical research, he realized that diet could regulate every one of the most promising strategies for combating the effects of aging. We don’t need Big Pharma to keep us feeling young―we already have the tools. In How Not to Age, the internationally renowned physician and nutritionist breaks down the science of aging and chronic illness and explains how to help avoid the diseases most commonly encountered in our journeys through life. Physicians have long treated aging as a malady, but getting older does not have to mean getting sicker. There are eleven pathways for aging in our bodies’ cells and we can disrupt each of them. Processes like autophagy, the upcycling of unusable junk, can be boosted with spermidine, a compound found in tempeh, mushrooms, and wheat germ. Senescent “zombie” cells that spew inflammation and are linked to many age-related diseases may be cleared in part with quercetin-rich foods like onions, apples, and kale. And we can combat effects of aging without breaking the bank. Why spend a small fortune on vitamin C and nicotinamide facial serums when you can make your own for up to 2,000 times cheaper? Inspired by the dietary and lifestyle patterns of centenarians and residents of “Blue Zone” regions where people live the longest, Dr. Greger presents simple, accessible, and evidence-based methods to preserve the body functions that keep you feeling youthful, both physically and mentally. Brimming with expertise and actionable takeaways, How Not to Age lays out practical strategies for achieving ultimate longevity. Shermer and Greger discuss: • why we age and die • lifespan, vs. healthspan • longevity escape velocity • how to determine causality in aging science • nutrition fads • the anti-aging industry • Centenarians Diet • Mediterranean Diet • Okinawan Diet • Red, White, and Blue Zones • plant-based eating • exercise, sleep, stress • the Anti-Aging 8 • cholesterol and statins • vaccines • brain supplements • UV protection • alcohol • Alzheimer’s • social ties, friendships, and marriage. A founding member and Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, MD, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues.
How to Cultivate Your Imagination as an Adult
Dec 12 2023
How to Cultivate Your Imagination as an Adult
Imagination is commonly thought to be the special province of youth―the natural companion of free play and the unrestrained vistas of childhood. Then come the deadening routines and stifling regimentation of the adult world, dulling our imaginative powers. In fact, Andrew Shtulman argues, the opposite is true. Imagination is not something we inherit at birth, nor does it diminish with age. Instead, imagination grows as we do, through education and reflection. The science of cognitive development shows that young children are wired to be imitators. When confronted with novel challenges, they struggle to think outside the box, and their creativity is rigidly constrained by what they deem probable, typical, or normal. Of course, children love to “play pretend,” but they are far more likely to simulate real life than to invent fantasy worlds of their own. And they generally prefer the mundane and the tried-and-true to the fanciful or the whimsical. Children’s imaginations are not yet fully formed because they necessarily lack knowledge, and it is precisely knowledge of what is real that provides a foundation for contemplating what might be possible. The more we know, the farther our imaginations can roam. As Learning to Imagine demonstrates, the key to expanding the imagination is not forgetting what you know but learning something new. By building upon the examples of creative minds across diverse fields, from mathematics to religion, we can consciously develop our capacities for innovation and imagination at any age. Shermer and Shtulman discuss: • imagination: the capacity to generate alternatives to reality • imagination’s purpose and structure • anomalies and counterfactuals • principles: scientific, mathematical, ethical • models: pretense, fiction, religion • development of imagination • how children understand causality • purpose of pretend play • theory of mind • religious practices • AI and creativity • The Beatles • Montessori education. Andrew Shtulman is Professor of Psychology at Occidental College where he directs the Thinking Lab. His award-winning research has been featured in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. His previous book was Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories About the World Are So Often Wrong. His new book is Learning to Imagine: The Science of Discovering New Possiblities
Nobel Prize Winner Explains Inequality and Capitalism
Dec 5 2023
Nobel Prize Winner Explains Inequality and Capitalism
When economist Angus Deaton immigrated to the United States from Britain in the early 1980s, he was awed by America’s strengths and shocked by the extraordinary gaps he witnessed between people. In this conversation based on his new book, Economics in America, the Nobel Prize-winning economist explains in clear terms how the field of economics addresses the most pressing issues of our time—from poverty, retirement, and the minimum wage to the ravages of the nation’s uniquely disastrous health care system—and narrates Deaton’s account of his experiences as a naturalized U.S. citizen and academic economist. Deaton is witty and pulls no punches. In his incisive, candid, and funny book, he describes the everyday lives of working economists, recounting the triumphs as well as the disasters, and tells the inside story of the Nobel Prize in economics and the journey that led him to Stockholm to receive one. He discusses the ongoing tensions between economics and politics―and the extent to which economics has any content beyond the political prejudices of economists―and reflects on whether economists bear at least some responsibility for the growing despair and rising populism in America. Blending rare personal insights with illuminating perspectives on the social challenges that confront us today, Deaton offers a disarmingly frank critique of his own profession while shining a light on his adopted country’s policy accomplishments and failures. Shermer and Deaton discuss: the science of science is economics • winning a Nobel Prize • what economists do, and how they determine causality • Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand • why a college education matters • meritocracy and “Just World” theory • minimum wage • healthcare • poverty • inequality • opioid crisis, alcoholism, suicide • inflation and interest rates • modern monetary theory • think tanks. Angus Deaton, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in economics, is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs Emeritus and Senior Scholar at Princeton University. He is the author (with Anne Case) of the New York Times bestselling book Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality, and his new book Economics in America: An Immigrant Economist Explores the Land of Inequality, all from Princeton University Press.
The Purpose of the Universe
Dec 2 2023
The Purpose of the Universe
Why are we here? What’s the point of existence? On the ‘big questions’ of meaning and purpose, Western thought has been dominated by the dichotomy of traditional religion and secular atheism. In his pioneering work, Philip Goff argues that it is time to move on from both God and atheism. Through an exploration of contemporary cosmology and cutting-edge philosophical research on consciousness, Goff argues for cosmic purpose: the idea that the universe is directed towards certain goals, such as the emergence of life. In contrast to religious thinkers, Goff argues that the traditional God is a bad explanation of cosmic purpose. Instead, he explores a range of alternative possibilities for accounting for cosmic purpose, from the speculation that we live in a computer simulation to the hypothesis that the universe itself is a conscious mind. Goff scrutinizes these options with analytical rigour, laying the foundations for a new paradigm of philosophical enquiry into the middle ground between God and atheism. Ultimately, Goff outlines a way of living in hope that cosmic purpose is still unfolding, involving political engagement and a non-literalist interpretation of traditional religion. Shermer and Goff discuss: • living in a computer simulation • the universe itself as a conscious mind • cosmic purpose • fine-tuning • free will • consciousness (the ground of all being?) • morality and the Is-Ought Fallacy • What is mypurpose in life? • religious vs. secular answers to the purpose question • awe and how to be spiritual but not religious. Philip Goff is Professor of Philosophy at Durham University. His research focuses on consciousness and the ultimate nature of reality. Goff is best known for defending panpsychism, the view that consciousness pervades the universe and is a fundamental feature of it. On that theme, Goff has published three books, Consciousness and Fundamental Reality, Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness, and a co-edited volume, Is Consciousness Everywhere? Essays on Panpsychism. Goff has published many academic articles, as well as writing extensively for newspapers and magazines, including Scientific American, The Guardian, Aeon, and the Times Literary Supplement. His new book is Why: The Purpose of the Universe.
How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive Our Appetite for Misinformation
Nov 28 2023
How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive Our Appetite for Misinformation
Why are so many of us wrong about so much? From COVID-19 to climate change to the results of elections, millions of Americans believe things that are simply not true―and act based on these misperceptions. In Wrong: How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive Our Appetite for Misinformation, expert in media and politics Dannagal Goldthwaite Young offers a comprehensive model that illustrates how political leaders and media organizations capitalize on our social and cultural identities to separate, enrage, and―ultimately―mobilize us. Through a process of identity distillation encouraged by public officials, journalists, political and social media, Americans’ political identities―how we think of ourselves as members of our political team―drive our belief in and demand for misinformation. It turns out that if being wrong allows us to comprehend the world, have control over it, or connect with our community, all in ways that serve our political team, then we don’t want to be right. Over the past 40 years, lawmakers in America’s two major political parties have become more extreme in their positions on ideological issues. Voters from the two parties have become increasingly distinct and hostile to one another along the lines of race, religion, geography, and culture. In the process, these political identities have transformed into a useful but reductive label tied to what we look like, who we worship, where we live, and what we believe. Young offers a road map out of this chaotic morass, including demand-side solutions that reduce the bifurcation of American society and increase our information ecosystem’s accountability to empirical facts. By understanding the dynamics that encourage identity distillation, Wrong explains how to reverse this dangerous trend and strengthen American democracy in the process. Shermer and Young discuss: how do you know if you are wrong, or that someone else is wrong • the evolution of reason: veridical perception or group identity? • the 3 “Cs” of our needs: comprehension, control, community • open-minded thinking • intellectual humility • political polarization • echo vs. identity chambers • social media • lies • disinformation • Donald Trump • democracy • science and morality • solutions to identity-driven wrongness. Dannagal Goldthwaite Young is a professor of communication and political science at the University of Delaware. Young is an award-winning scholar and teacher, a TED speaker, an improvisational comedian, and the author of Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the United States. Her new book is Wrong: How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive Our Appetite for Misinformation.
JFK 60th Anniversary of the Assassination
Nov 22 2023
JFK 60th Anniversary of the Assassination
A conversation with Warren Commission Assistant Counsel Burt W. Griffin, Case Closed author and Lee Harvey Oswald scholar Gerald Posner, and JFK conspiracy theory debunker Michel Gagné. Shermer, Griffin, Posner, and Gagné discuss: the nostalgic myth of “Camelot” • Lee Harvey Oswald and why he killed Kennedy • Cuba, Castro, the Bay of Pigs debacle • the CIA and why it is rational to be skeptical of their activities • the “magic bullet,” pristine or predictably damaged? • James Hosty and the FBI’s files on Oswald before he killed JFK • CIA and FBI coverups • General Edwin Walker • Jack Ruby • Bernard Weissman, • common themes in conspiracy theories • witness intimidation • planted evidence • evidence tampering. Burt W. Griffin, Warren Commission Assistant Counsel was the assistant counsel to the president’s commission on the assassination of President Kennedy (popularly known as the Warren Commission) and had primary responsibility for investigating and writing the section of the commission’s report (1964) on whether Jack Ruby was engaged in a conspiracy to assassinate either JFK, Lee Oswald, or both. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Gerald Posner is an award-winning journalist who has written twelve books, including the Pulitzer Prize finalist Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK. His 2015 book, God’s Bankers, a two-hundred-year history of the finances of the Vatican, was an acclaimed New York Times bestseller. Posner has written for many national magazines and papers, including the New York Times, The New Yorker, Newsweek, and Time, and he has been a regular contributor to NBC, the History Channel, CNN, CBS, MSNBC, and FOX News. His other books include Killing the Dream: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Secrets of the Kingdom: The Inside Story of the Saudi-U.S. Connection; Mengele: The Complete Story; Hitler's Children: Sons and Daughters of Third Reich Leaders; Warlords of Crime: Chinese Secret Societies — the New Mafia; and Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11. He lives in Miami Beach with his wife, author Trisha Posner. Michel Jacques Gagné teaches courses in critical thinking, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, and ethics in the Humanities Department of Champlain College Saint-Lambert, a junior college (CÉGEP) located near Montreal, Canada. He has an M.A. in History (Concordia University, Canada, 2005), with a thesis on civil rights protests in Northern Ireland during the 1960s, and undergraduate degrees in Education (McGill University, Canada, 1999) and History and Political Science (with joint-honors, McGill University, Canada, 1995). He has published articles in Skeptic, the National Post, the Encyclopedia of Religion and Violence, and is the author of Thinking Critically About the Kennedy Assassination: Debunking the Myths and Conspiracy. He is also the creator and host of the Paranoid Planet podcast, which discusses conspiracy theories and related phenomena. He resides with his wife and two children in Montreal, Canada.