with Spencer Greenberg
the podcast about ideas that matter

Episode 111: Exploring sex science and pseudo-science (with Mary Roach)

June 30, 2022

What are some surprising discoveries in the science of sex? What should we do when animals break human laws (e.g., when they commit manslaughter, steal, or even jaywalk)? Is a capacity for suffering the primary characteristic — or perhaps even the sole characteristic — that imbues an animal with moral status? How do science writers ensure faithful and accurate accounts of fields in which they may not be experts? Is there any evidence that humans could have psychic abilities like telepathy, telekinesis, etc.? People often err by being too credulous or too skeptical; so what level or shape of skepticism should be brought to bear on claims that are surprising, counterintuitive, or outlandish?

Mary Roach is the author of the New York Times bestsellers STIFF, SPOOK, BONK, GULP, GRUNT, and PACKING FOR MARS. Her newest book FUZZ: When Nature Breaks the Law, debuted in September 2021. Mary has written for National Geographic, Wired, and The New York Times Magazine, among others, and her TED talk made the TED 20 Most Watched list. She has been a guest editor for Best American Science and Nature Writing, a finalist for the Royal Society's Winton Prize, and a winner of the American Engineering Societies' journalism award, in a category for which, let's be honest, she was the sole entrant. Find more about her at

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Host / Director
Spencer Greenberg

Josh Castle

Audio Engineer
Ryan Kessler

Uri Bram

Janaisa Baril

Lee Rosevere
Josh Woodward
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