I had an idea for a podcast the other day exploring plausible, radical alternatives to accepted scientific theories which are carefully supported by available evidence.
For example, Julian Jaynes famously argued that the ancient Greeks were not conscious in the way that you and I are. Instead, they were more like automatons occupying one part of the human brain, with dictats coming from gods which occupied the other part. Eventually developments in language led to a unifying of human consciousness and the rise of modern humans.
….which sounds completely ridiculous, right? But Jaynes spends 500 pages very carefully building his case with evidence from linguistics, exegesis, history, and art. I remember reading his book and thinking “welp, this is a lot harder to dismiss than I first thought.”
I also recently encountered the ‘deep, hot biosphere’ hypothesis by Thomas Gold, which contends that the conventional story of fossil fuels coming from organic matter slowly crushed over long periods of time is nonsense. Instead, there is a vast subterranean biosphere comprising microbes which are somehow or another manufacturing oil as a byproduct of their metabolism.
…which sounds completely ridiculous, right? But in reviews of the book I’ve consistently come across statements like “well, if it were anybody else making this claim we’d just laugh. But coming from a scientist like Thomas Gold…?”
Clearly there is a real danger here of crossing over into pseudoscience. So maybe I could do episodes of the demarcation problem with Massimo Pigliucci and “On Bullshit” with Harry Frankfurt, combined with giving ample room to skeptics who want to poke holes in the supporting arguments.
And I would try to avoid this crossing by only speaking to real, serious intellectuals. I have no interest in Deepak Chopra, for example, but I might talk to Daryl Bem.
In addition to bicamerality and the deep hot biosphere, some other interesting ideas include:
- Homotopy theory in mathematics;
- Paraconsistent logic (w/ my brilliant logician friend Erik Istre);
- Superintelligent AI: fact or fiction?;
- the Tau v.s. Pi debate;
- Bayesianism v.s. Frequentism;
- the Inca Quipu as an actual, functional language;
- Morphic Resonance with Rupert Sheldrake;
- Was English a pidgin language?
For fun maybe I could do an episode on fan theories in Star Wars, GoT, and similar franchises.
Is that something you nerds would be interested in?