Episode 64

Published on:

2nd Feb 2023

Daniel Dennett: It's Evolution Baby

In this episode, we take a bit of a detour from current trends and examine a talk by the philosopher Daniel Dennett on evolution. Dennett rose to public prominence as one of the so-called four horsemen of the New Athiest movement but he always seemed slightly out of place with that cohort. Dennett's is most certainly a guru in the sense that he offers big picture 'what does it all mean' lectures linking together consciousness, intelligence, the emergence of complexity and evolution. But is there some substance there? Or does his appeal hinge on on intuitively-satisfying cosmic woo offered by less reputable figures.

On a positive note, he seemed to be more interested in academic and philosophical debates than the latest culture war outrage. As such he doesn't share that much with our usual targets... and that's ok! Sometimes it is good to look at figures who fall closer to the standard public intellectual or academic motif than that of the secular guru. At the very least it helps to calibrate our gurometer! So join us for a slightly indulgent episode on a figure that we both broadly enjoy despite the inevitable nit-picking.

An extended introduction section will also reveal our first DTG conspiracy hypothesis, the mating habits of orcs and dragons, and what Nazi AIs have in common with Robocop. And stick around at the end to hear about the future of education from the Petersons!


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About the Podcast

Decoding the Gurus
A psychologist and an anthropologist try to make sense of the world's greatest self-declared Gurus.
An exiled Northern Irish anthropologist and a hitchhiking Australian psychologist take a close look at the contemporary crop of 'secular gurus', iconoclasts, and other exiles from the mainstream, offering their own brands of unique takes and special insights.

Leveraging two of the most diverse accents in modern podcasting, Chris and Matt dig deep into the claims, peek behind the psychological curtains, and try to figure out once and for all... What's it all About?

Join us, as we try to puzzle our way through and talk some smart-sounding smack about the intellectual giants of our age, from Jordan Peterson to Robin DiAngelo. Are they revolutionary thinkers or just grifters with delusions of grandeur?

Join us and let's find out!
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About your hosts

Christopher Kavanagh

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A Northern Irish cognitive anthropologist who occasionally moonlights as a social psychologist. Chris has long standing interests in the psychology of conspiracy theorists and pseudoscience. His academic research focuses on the Cognitive Science of Religion and ritual psychology. He lives happily in Japan with his family.

Matthew Browne

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An Australian psychologist and numbers-guy. He does research on all kinds of stuff, but particularly enjoys looking into why people believe the things they do: religion, conspiracy theories, alternative medicine and stuff. He's into social media in the same way people slow down for car accidents.