The Existential Files


For episode 62 we chat to comedian, performance artist and self-styled Funniest Nihilist, Elisha Shapiro. Elisha joins us from LA to chat about a variety of topics, including telling us about the Nihilist Olympics and his unsuccessful presidential campaign. We debate the correct pronunciation of nihilist, and generally try to understand what that term means for Elisha. Elisha also runs a popular nihilism website, Nihilist’s Corner, and we chat about that too. You can learn more about Elisha and nihilism at his website: http://www.nihilists.net/

For episode 61 we continue our travels into pain and the misery of existence. We are joined by special guest, psychologist Brock Bastian, who chats with us about how pain may be the forgotten secret to happiness, and how striving for endless pleasure can actually be self-defeating. We also chat about Brock’s other great interest, morality, and ponder vegetarianism: what’s so great about sausages and other deep moral questions. You can find out more about Brock at his website: http://www.brockbastian.com/
Here we are at episode 60 and we are yet again joined by another special guest, this time academic and writer, Francis O’Gorman. Francis chats with us about his book, Worrying: A Literary and Cultural History. As well as discussing worrying in general, we get to bend Francis’ ear about why the word existential doesn’t appear in his book: is this an English vs continental difference? And we also try and establish what the use of worrying may be! You can purchase Francis’ book at Amazon (and other good bookshops): https://goo.gl/fo2yYg

For episode 59 we are joined by another special guest, clinical psychologist Martin Seager. Martin chats with us about a recent article he has published in The Psychologist magazine, which covers a number of interesting and relevant topics including issues around mental health, the limitations of psychiatry when dealing with the human condition, gender issues for males and lastly we briefly chatted about the difficulty in treating psychology as a soft science. You can read Martin’s article that stimulated the discussion at https://goo.gl/TYkAdt

Here we are at episode 58, and we’re joined by another special guest, cognitive scientist and freelance writer, Matt Colborn. Matt chats with us about a variety of topics including his PhD research into bees and the application to machine learning. We then move onto discussing consciousness a little. This is followed by a chat about the SETI project and the search for aliens, both out in the wider universe, but also we chat about experiences of the terrestrial kind. You can learn more about Matt Colborn at his blog https://mattcolbornwriter.blogspot.co.uk/

For episode 57 we are joined by psychologist Dr Kate Sweeny. We got Kate on the podcast to chat to us about a recent article she wrote on the downside to positive thinking and the upside to pessimism! As usual we cover a range of topics including the benefits of negativity and worry, happiness and the empathy blind spot, climate and its influence on happiness, nihilism, the effects of mindfulness and meditation, and extreme optimism and preparing for the worst. You can read the article that stimulated this interesting discussion at https://goo.gl/4FgaiK

For episode 56 we are joined by psychologist Dr Krissy Wilson. Krissy is interested in why people believe in the paranormal (amongst other things) and is generally a skeptic of extraordinary claims. A former member of the APRU at Goldsmiths University, Krissy chats with us about a variety of topics including academia, self-deception, the placebo effect, the evolutionary advantage of belief, critical thinking, psychics and more. You can find out more about Krissy at https://www.uos.ac.uk/people/dr-krissy-wilson