Michael Shermer on Tour

Skeptic, calendar model, and friend-of-Skepchick Michael Shermer is currently touring the country promoting his latest book, The Mind of the Market. It’s a wondeful tome based upon the Snoop Dogg classic Gin and Juice, about keeping one’s “mind on [one’s] money and [one’s] money on [one’s] mind.”

Anyway, he’ll be at the Harvard COOP in Cambridge, MA tomorrow (Tuesday, the 8th) at 7pm. There’s a high (>80%) probability that I’ll be swinging by on my magical pink bicycle (it’ll be 60 degrees!). I hope I’ll see some of you there! I can’t guarantee any kind of meet-up afterward, but of course anything is possible. I know, I’m being very wishy washy, but I’m a busy girl!

If you’re not in or around Boston at the moment, then check out his tour schedule over on his shiny new web site. Oooh, isn’t it pretty? Yes, yes it is.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Ah, libertarianism. It actually reminds me more of Notorious BIG:

    "Uhh uh huh yeah

    Uhh uh huh yeah

    It's all about the Benjamins baby

    Uhh uh huh yeah

    It's all about the Benjamins baby

    Goodfellas uhh"

    It sounds better than it reads.

  2. I'm pretty interested in seeing what Shermer's got to say. I will try to be there. Not like I've got anything else to do at this point anyway…I've built as much IKEA furniture in the last two days as I can bear, bought way too many groceries, and have essentially done all one CAN do upon moving to a new spot.

    Even though Rebecca won't guarantee a meet-up, I'd be open to having one afterwards. Imagine that…me the non-drinker trying to coax others into a mini-debauch…tsk tsk tsk :-P

  3. I've really got to get organised and actually read some Michael Shermer one day. I've always liked him whenever I've seen him on TV, like P&T's show or the Colbert Report, but if he's taking his cues from the hip-hop scene now then that could be what tips the scales.

    Also, the magical pink bicycle indicates that your resolution to rock harder this year is off to a great start. Good job!

  4. Hm. I'd be interested in hearing Shermer speak again, since while I find I disagree with him often he always makes good points. Economics is not something I enjoy thinking or hearing about, though. So I'll probably pass. But maybe not.

    It's a mystery!

  5. NYC on the NINTH? Anything closer to a weekend?

    Frell me. I have to get on the stick; Philly MUST have some sort of skeptics' society….

  6. I know how you feel, Joshua, about economics. Sometimes I'm nearly convinced that the complexities and innumerable variables associated with that field place it on a par with Feynman's description of quantum mechanics, as in: if you think you understand economics, you don't understand economics.

  7. Also, after posting my last comment, I noticed that part of the subtitle is "evolutionary economics". From the description of the book I read, it sounds like he's trying to apply evo-psych to economics. Which sounds… Yeah.

  8. Yeah…doing a bit of follow up on this new book has made me a bit leary of it. You'd think that, as something of a "small-L" libertarian, I'd be inclined to agree with Shermer, but I'm afraid he may have made the same mistake as Theodore Donald Karabotsos and stepped "out of his element" here.

    I'm not so sure about applying evolution to economics in that way. Even were it a credible option, I'm inclined to go with Dawkins when he notes that being aware of our genes does not mean we are prisoners to them…we CAN make decisions and live our lives in ways our genes did not "intend." Genes don't make up our minds for us, not on ALL levels or at all times at least.

    Regardless, I'm still probably going to poke my head in on the event. Harvard's not too far from where I live, so no loss if it sort of sucks. :)

  9. There are two distinct questions which can easily be confounded when discussing this sort of thing: first, did evolutionary processes shape human beings so that particular social or economic structures are favored by human nature; and second, can economics be modeled as an evolutionary system, a "Darwin machine"?

    Answers to the former question probably inherit all the flaws of evolutionary psychology, in which true insights are hard to find and easily obscured. (It's hard to tell whether some aspect of human behavior is really ubiquitous, and it's hard to show that such a feature is really a heritable adaptation. On top of that, we have many more cells in our brains than genes in our genome, so we have to expect that genes code for patterns of development, and when development matters, you get all sorts of crazy stuff.) Answers to the latter question aren't much easier to come by. As I said at Abbie's place, when you describe an economy as an evolutionary process, you have to specify what the replicators are — people, companies, products, ideas, memes? And assuming we can answer that question, what are the selection pressures? What about altruism and cooperation, spandrels and byproducts?

    On top of that, how do you get falsifiable predictions out of your model, and what experiments can you use to test them?

  10. Well,

    I'm showing up in Pasadena CA. (It's only 20 minutes away from me, minus traffic but an hour tops, love that!)

    I've got two of his books and loved them both.

    I expect I'll get this one and have the great man autograph it (if he's into doing that).

    I hope I'll have the chance to buy it right there and see (hear?) this great thinker in person.

    (And have him sign my shiny, brand new book).


  11. The talk wasn't as bad or even as speculative as I feared it would be. For the most part he referenced a couple popular science stories of the last year or two, referred to a number of popular game theory games (or what have you) and didn't talk TOO much strict Libertarianism.

    I still wasn't entirely sold by his summation about trade and free knowledge preventing wars. Not that I don't, to an extent, agree…just that it could have used more concrete examples.

    On the plus side, I got to meet Rebecca and Blake Stacey, so there's not much cooler than that. Well, it was also pretty cool that Steven Pinker was there, but I was far too intimidated to approach him.

  12. Hey, I think I passed Steven Pinker on the staircase. "Is that guy somebody I know? Sure looks familiar. OK, where is Rebecca. . ."

    (Yes, I think in HTML. Too long on the ol' Blagnet will do that to you.)

  13. WOOHOO! Here we go–

    Jan 15th 2008 Michael Shermer

    Please come hear from world renown skeptic, Michael Shermer who will talk about his latest

    book. See our email list [email protected] for more details

    Tuesday. Jan 15th 2008 7:30 pm Michael Shermer

    Please come hear from world renown skeptic, Michael Shermer who will talk about his latest book.

    "The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Lessons from Evolutionary Economics"

    Dr. Michael Shermer Lecture and Book Signing

    January 15th, 2008


    Philadelphia Ethical Society Building 1906 South Rittenhouse Square. Donations requested at the door

    and books available for purchase and signing.

    I haven't missed it yet, either! Wheeeeeeee!

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