Podcast Recommendations for Those Interested in Psychology

Ethan Milne
Aug 6 · 5 min read

Or: What I listen to on long car rides

Podcasts! Great for listening in your car, doing boring jobs around the house, or lying in bed avoiding thinking about your future career plans.

Here’s some podcasts I’ve found particularly interesting and/or useful. They’re primarily geared towards questions of psychology, and research more broadly. If that sounds interesting to you, keep reading.

Two Psychologists, Four Beers

Yoel Inbar and Mickey Inzlicht are psychology professors at the University of Toronto. These guys are interesting beyond their podcast endeavours; they’re involved pretty heavily in post-replication crisis work, particularly the many labs replication project and more.

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Yoel and Mickey getting progressively more drunk over the course of an episode makes for a fun podcast experience. Beyond that, their drunken state makes for a more honest conversation — albeit slightly less coherent. I should note the two seem to know next to nothing about beer, and are frequently corrected on their terminology by listeners. I forgive them for that, though.

Some episodes I particularly enjoyed:

  • Is There a Generalizability Crisis?
  • Hot Takes (with Robb Willer)
  • Against Experiments
  • Evaluating Eminence
  • Against Mindfulness
  • Truth and Political Bias in Psychology
  • What’s Wrong With the IAT? (With Jesse Singal)

Very Bad Wizards

A philosopher (Tamler Sommers) and psychologist (Dave Pizarro) discussing cognitive science, ethics, psychology, sex robots, literature, and other “repugnant” topics.

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Tamler and Dave do long-form explorations of culturally-relevant topics — often accompanied by famous guests — and overall do a great job of making otherwise boring things seem interesting. It’s tough to summarize what their through-line is, to be honest. They’ll touch on psychology, philosophy, political theory, literary theory, whatever is relevant for the topic at hand. The two are very well-read and are great at drawing connections between concepts and challenging the arguments of their guests.

Some episodes I really like:

  • The One With Peter Singer
  • We Pod. We Pod — Cast. We Podcast. (Frankfurt’s “On Bullshit”)
  • The Paper That Launched a Thousand Twitter Wars. (With Yoel Inbar)
  • Split Brains and the (Dis)Unity of Conciousness
  • At Least We Didn’t Talk About Zombies. (Nagel’s “What Is It Like To Be A Bat”)
  • How Do You Solve A Problem Like Theodicy. (The Book of Job)
  • Should I Stay Or Should I Go? (Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”)

Quantitude

Because who doesn’t love statistical methods? Truly, I can think of few other topics as engaging, entertaining, or…

Ok I think the sane people are gone now. For those actually interested in quantitative analysis, let me say this: quantitative analysis is NOT fun (to me). But I can totally see how its satisfying for those who do it. I’ll be honest, this podcast is not one I necessarily look forward to, but likely the most useful of all the shows I’m recommending.The cohosts have an obvious passion for the subject and do their best to make an otherwise difficult topic manageable. Highly recommend for anyone interested in academic research.

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Some good episodes:

  • Advice for Grad Students — Our two cents (Exact value!!)
  • Grants (Discs 1 & 2)
  • Measurement (Non)Invariance — Can We Ever Fail to Not Incorrectly Reject It?
  • How Do I Get Scale Scores? Weight, Weight… Don’t Tell Me…
  • Model Fit & The Curse of the Black Pearl

80,000 Hours Podcast

Like all people, if there’s one thing I want more of in my podcasts, it’s length! The 80,000 hours podcast is incredibly long-winded, but remains entertaining for every minute. Some episodes reach upwards of 4 hours, so you know the host and guests are diving deep into interesting topics.

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80,000 hours is an organization contained within what I’ll call the effective altruism sphere. Its primary focus is looking at how best we can use the 80,000 hours of working time available to have an impact on the world. While many episodes focus on this exact topic, I’m most interested in those that also touch on key issues in psychology, philosophy, and rationality.

Some episodes I’ve found really interesting:

  • Julia Galef on making humanity more rational, what EA does wrong, and why Twitter isn’t all bad
  • Prof Tetlock on how chimps beat Berkeley undergrads and when it’s wise to defer to the wise
  • Prof Will MacAskill on moral uncertainty, utilitarianism & how to avoid being a moral monster
  • Prof Robin Hanson on why we have to lie to ourselves about why we do what we do
  • Prof Bryan Caplan on whether the Case Against Education holds up, totalitarianism, & open borders
  • Cass Sunstein on how social change happens, and why it’s so often abrupt & unpredictable
  • Peter Singer on provocative advocacy, EA, how his ethical views have changed, and drowning children
  • David Chalmers on the nature and ethics of consciousness

Rationally Speaking

Julia Galef, host of rationally speaking, is great at asking questions. In particular, she’s great at asking questions that drive right to the core of her guest’s arguments. A lot of books, people, and concepts I enjoy I’ve been tipped off to from this podcast. While episodes may not go as deep as 80,000 hours, they are notable for their breadth of topic areas and tend to serve as a good introduction to the fields of Galef’s guests.

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Some episodes I really liked:

  • John Nerst on “Erisology, the study of disagreement”
  • Alex Tabarrok on “Why are the Prices So D*mn High?”
  • Thibault Le Texier on “Debunking the Stanford Prison Experiment”
  • Saloni Dattani on “The debate over whether male and female brains are different”
  • Tage Rai on “Why people think their violence is morally justified”
  • Jason Collins on “A skeptical take on behavioral economics”
  • Christopher Chabris on “Collective intelligence & the ethics of A/B tests”
  • Stuart Ritchie on “Conceptual objections to IQ testing”

Conclusion

Let me know if you end up reading any of these! I’ve found them valuable, and hope you do too.

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