THUNK – 125. What Is Consciousness?

There’s much ado about “consciousness,” but what even is it? What’s the big deal? How hard could it be? @_@

-Links for the Curious-

If you are *at all* interested in this topic, please please please read the SEP entry on consciousness, it’s just fantastic –

What It Is Like to Be a Bat (Nagel, 1974) –

Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness (Chalmers, 1995) –

A summary of Paul Churchland’s “Matter and Consciousness,” specifically oriented at summarizing common positions about the mind/body problem (Blackman) –

Continuity, Consciousness, and Identity in Hume’s Philosophy (Yandell) ––v18n2.pdf

Telling More Than We Can Know: Verbal Reports on Mental Processes (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977) –

Introspection and verbal reports on cognitive processes—Two approaches to the study of thinking: A response to Howe (Ericsson & Crutcher, 1991) –

For a contrasting opinion: “When Does Introspection Bear Fruit? Self-Reflection, Self-Insight, and Interpersonal Choices” (Hixon & Swann, 1993) –

What is Consciousness? (Vsauce, 2012) –


THUNK – 124. Play Theory

All work & no play make Jack not only dull, but also less productive, healthy, neurologically developed…

QUICK NOTE: The most commonly-cited explanation for animal play (practicing direct analogs of survival behavior) doesn’t square with all the evidence. Check out this paper:

-Links for the Curious-

“Taking Play Seriously,” by Robin Marantz Henig –

Juvenile peer play experience and the development of the orbitofrontal and medial prefrontal cortices (Bell, Pellis, & Kolb 2009) –

“More Play, Please – The Perspective of Kindergarten Teachers on Play in the Classroom” (Lynch 2015) –

“Vygotsky Meets Neuroscience – The Cerebellum and the Rise of Culture through Play” (Vandervert 2015)

“Plans Unveiled for Star Wars-Inspired Themed Resort at Walt Disney World,” by Jennifer Fickley-Baker –

The National Institute for Play, a nonprofit dedicated to advocating play for adults & children –

“Symbolic Play: The Development of Social Understanding” (Bretherton 1984) –

“The Ambiguity of Play” (Sutton-Smith, 1987) –

“How Play Makes for a More Adaptable Brain, a Comparative & Neural Perspective” (Pellis, Pellis, & Himmler 2015) –

“The Nature of Play – An Overview” (Henricks 2008) –

“Animal Play: Evolutionary, Comparative, and Ecological Perspectives” (Summary by Bekoff & Beyers, 1998) –

“Examining playfulness in adults: Testing its correlates with personality, positive psychological functioning, goal aspirations, and multi-methodically assessed ingenuity” (Proyer 2012) –


THUNK – 123. Personal Identity & the Transporter Paradox

What makes me “me?” How can I still be me, even though I change over time? Is Starfleet taking applications yet?

-Links for the Curious-

CGP Grey’s amazing “The Trouble with Transporters” –

PhilosophyTube’s very thorough (& speedy!) coverage of personal identity –

The SEP’s brilliant article on personal identity (including major problems & possible solutions) –

“Teletransportation Paradox,” via Wikipedia –

Thomas Reid’s scathing letter to Lord Kames regarding the Resurrection (the OG transporter paradox) –

A brief summary of Hume’s work on personal identity (aka bundle theory) –

THUNK – 121. Teleological Bias

Teleology: explaining things via their intended purpose. Turns out we’ve a tendency to use it *everywhere.*

-Links for the Curious-

“Why Are Rocks Pointy? Children’s Preference for Teleological
Explanations of the Natural World” (Kelemen, 1999) –

“Intuitions About Origins: Purpose and Intelligent Design in Children’s Reasoning About Nature” (Kelemen & DiYanni, 2005) –

“The Human Function Compunction: Teleological explanation in adults” (Kelemen 2009)

Students’ preconceptions in introductory mechanics (Clement, 1981) –

“Why we evolved the urge to explain,” via the Rationally Speaking Podcast –

“Explanada,” Tania Lombrozo’s Blog-

THUNK – 120. Business Networking

Networking is an essential part of career advancement in business today, but should it be?

-Links for the Curious-

Networking, Corruption, and Subversion (Ned Dobos, 2015) –

A general summary by Dobos on his paper –

Orchestrating Impartiality: The Impact of “Blind” Auditions on Female Musicians (Goldin & Rouse, 1997) –

Do informal contacts increase labor market inequality? Social ties, job access and wages for the unemployed (Oesch & von Ow, 2015) –

The Impact of Social Structure on Economic Outcomes (Granovetter, 2005) –

Sifting and Sorting: Personal Contacts and Hiring in a Retail Bank (Fernandez & Weinberg, 1997) –

Three quarters of whites don’t have any non-white friends (WSJ, Christopher Ingraham, 2014) –

Manager Race and the Race of New Hires (Giuliano, Levine, & Leonard, 2006) –

Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity (BLS Reports, 2012) –

41 CFR 60-300.5 – Equal opportunity clause (Via Cornell Law School) –

Structured Interviewing: Avoiding Selection Problems (Pursell, Camplon, & Gaylord, 1980) –

Summary of Research on the Selection Interview Since 1964 (Wright Jr., 1969) –

How AI Is Changing Your Job Hunt (Fortune, Alsever, 2017) –

THUNK – 119. The Limits of Order & Harmony

Un/satisfying gif albums are scratching a very human itch. Where does it come from, & does it mean anything?

-Links for the Curious-

Perception of Symmetry in Infancy, Bornstein et al –

Bilateral symmetry & sexual selection: a meta-analysis, Møller & Thornhill

Sorting preference in children with autism: the dominance of concrete features, Ropar & Peebles –

The Existential Satisfaction of Things Fitting Perfectly Into Other Things, Julie Beck –

The Dollar Auction Game: A Paradox in Noncooperative Behavior & Escalation, Martin Shubik –

What is Godel’s Theorem?, Melvin Henriksen –

Pythagorean Tuning –

The Square Root of Two, Numberphile –

Creepy Out of Tune Piano –

THUNK Episodes Now Available as MP3’s!

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while: if you’d like to listen to an episode of THUNK on the go, I’ve converted all the YouTube videos into MP3 format. I’ll try to keep it updated as I release more episodes, although I’ll reiterate: I’ve been meaning to do this for a while.


THUNK – 117. SETI & Dyson Spheres

Why are so many smart people interested in finding alien intelligence…and where should we look for them?

*Links for the Curious*

“Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation,” by Freeman Dyson –

“How Japan Plans to Build an Orbital Solar Farm,” by Susumu Sasaki –

The SETI Institute YouTube Channel (Very Highly Recommended!) –

“Frontiers in Artifact SETI: Waste Heat, Alien Megastructures & Tabbys Star,” by Jason Wright –