Converging Dialogues
#74 - Whales: The Mysterious Giants of the Ocean: A Dialogue with Nick Pyenson

#74 - Whales: The Mysterious Giants of the Ocean: A Dialogue with Nick Pyenson

September 23, 2021

In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Nick Pyenson about whales and their environment. They begin the conversation by talking about the importance of science communication and Nick's role in science communication with his research and book. They discuss the various ways in which scientists obtain whale data and talk about the evolution of whales. They talk about the two phases of whale evolution from land to water and provide a natural history of whales through different periods of the earth. They discuss the challenges with whaling and explain the taxonomy of whales. They engage about the diet of whales and how their dietary habits contribute to the ecosystems of the oceans. They talk about the impact of increased carbon dioxide and ocean acidification on the future of whale along with many other topics. 

Nick Pyenson is a Paleontologist, Research Geologist, and curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian's Institution's National Museum of Natural History. His scientific research has focused on the convergent evolution of marine life, including whales. He is the author of the book, Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures, which can be found here. You can find his work at his website. Twitter: @pyensonlab

#73 - The Evolution of Beauty: A Dialogue with Richard Prum

#73 - The Evolution of Beauty: A Dialogue with Richard Prum

September 19, 2021

In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Richard Prum about aesthetics, birds, and the evolution of beauty. They provide an overview of sexual selection and the aspects of sexual ornamentation and mate choice. They discuss Fisher’s two-factor model of evolution and use the example of the great Argus pheasant to describe Richard’s idea that beauty happens. They discuss the co-evolution of beauty and how sexual selection is not only about adaptation. They mention the subjective experience of animals and theory of mind. They also discuss aesthetic radiation, phylogeny of birds, and the sound production in the wings of Manakins. They briefly discuss the colorful feathers of dinosaurs, duck sex, and aesthetic remodeling. Richard provides some of his critiques of evolutionary psychology and makes the distinction between beauty happening and pleasure happening.

Richard Prum is an Evolutionary Ornithologist at Yale University. His research interests are avian biology, behavioral evolution, sexual selection, and mate choice. He has been a main contributor to the theropod dinosaur origins of birds and the evolution of avian plumage coloration. He is the Curator of Ornithology and Head Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Previously, he was the Chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale. He is the author of, The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of mate Choice Shapes the Animal World—and Us, which can be purchased here. You can find his scholarly publications here.

#72 - Let‘s Talk About Sex(ual Arousal, Desire, & Disgust): A Dialogue with Courtney Crosby

#72 - Let‘s Talk About Sex(ual Arousal, Desire, & Disgust): A Dialogue with Courtney Crosby

September 16, 2021

In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Courtney Crosby about sexual arousal, desire, and disgust. Courtney provides some of her background and how she became interested in evolutionary psychology and studying sexual disgust. They define disgust, seeing it as its own emotional system and discuss how disgust fits with other emotions. They discuss the different elements of core disgust and some of the associations between disgust and norms, judgments, and attributions. They also discuss sexuality and discuss the distinctions between sexual desire and sexual arousal. They talk about sexual disgust, its various dimensions, cross-cultural findings, and some remarks on moral disgust.

Courtney Crosby is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Texas at Austin whose research is in evolutionary psychology and sexual disgust. She has published empirical research on sexual disgust and has written for Psychology Today. Find all of her scholarly research and popular pieces at her website. Twitter: @evocourtney

#71 - The Fiscal Legacy of Calvin Coolidge: A Dialogue with Amity Shlaes

#71 - The Fiscal Legacy of Calvin Coolidge: A Dialogue with Amity Shlaes

September 12, 2021

In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Amity Shlaes about the 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge. They discuss Coolidge’s background and environment raised to be frugal and fiscally conservative. They talk about his path to the presidency and his state vs national views on progressivism. They focus on how Coolidge’s emphasis as president was on a balanced budget and reducing the debt. They talk about his handling of the Mississippi floods and why he did not involve the national government for aid. They also discuss Coolidge’s weakness on foreign affairs and his overall legacy as president.

Amity Shlaes is the chairwoman of the board of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation. She has written four New York Times bestsellers, including Coolidge. She is the winner of the Hayek Prize and has served on the Council on Foreign Relations and the George W. Bush Presidential Center. She is the Presidential Scholar at King’s College and has previously taught at New York University’s Stern School of business. You can find all of her work at her website. Twitter: @Amityshlaes

#70 - A Conservative Case for Liberal Education: A Dialogue with Jonathan Marks

#70 - A Conservative Case for Liberal Education: A Dialogue with Jonathan Marks

September 8, 2021

In this episode, Xavier Bonilla had a dialogue with Jonathan Marks about liberal education and how educational institutions need reform. They discuss his main thesis of the book and why he decided to write the book. They define and discuss the origins of liberal education. They define the terms “liberal” and “conservative” and why it’s important to defend a liberal arts education. They talk about rationality and why that’s important for educational institutions. They mention the impact that rationality has on the pragmatic aspects of life. They discuss the need for a robust and integrative curriculum for students and where the future of educational institutions are headed.

Jonathan Marks is chair and professor of politics at Ursinus College where he teaches political philosophy. He holds a Bachelors, Masters, and PhD from The University of Chicago. He has published articles in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of American Political Science. His articles for a wider audience can be found in Commentary Magazine and the Chronicle of Higher Education. His new book, Let’s be Reasonable: A Conservative Case for Liberal Education can be found here. Twitter: @marksjo1

#69 - Jungles: Our Fading Home: A Dialogue with Patrick Roberts

#69 - Jungles: Our Fading Home: A Dialogue with Patrick Roberts

September 5, 2021

In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Patrick Roberts about tropical forests and their impact on the planet and for humans. They begin with a historical overview of the earth’s periods and how tropical forests are seen in each period. They define tropical forests and describe their general composition. They talk about Pangaea and Gondwana and some of the angiosperm in the early periods that contributed to animals and life on earth. They discuss the importance of early mammals in the Jurassic period. They also talk about early Hominids in their environment and the early stages of agriculture. They talk about island forestation, human migration, and tropical forests with ancient civilizations. They discuss deforestation and reforestation and the human impact on climate change.

Patrick Roberts is the Research Group Leader and Director of the Stable Isotope Laboratory in the Department of Archaeology at Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. He has a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology, a MSc in Archaeological Science, and a DPhil in Archaeological Science from the University of Oxford. His main research interests are studying tropical forests and how they impact human adaptations. Aside from his Archaeological and paleoenvironmental research, he has recently published his first book, Jungle: How Tropical Forests Shaped the World- and Us, which you can purchase here. You can find his research publications here. Twitter: @palaeotropics

#68 - Uncovering the Inner Experience of Body Dysmorphic Disorder: A Dialogue with Shioma-Lei Craythorne

#68 - Uncovering the Inner Experience of Body Dysmorphic Disorder: A Dialogue with Shioma-Lei Craythorne

September 1, 2021

In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Shioma-Lei Craythorne about Body Dysmorphic Disorder and some of the research on this disorder. They provide a definition of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) along with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders– Fifth Edition (DSM-V) criteria and description. They talk about the differences between pathological and non-pathological features with one’s body and appearance. They explain some of the diagnostic differential with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Eating Disorders. They talk about the muscle dysmorphia specifier and explore some of the themes around masculinity currently. They also review some of the epidemiology and etiology of BDD and engage about the role of social media and plastic surgery on BDD.

A main focus of this dialogue was on Shioma-Lei’s dissertation research examining the hermeneutics and phenomenological data on BDD using art. She provides an overview of her research and how she used art to extrapolate the subjective experiences of her participants with BDD.  They discuss some of the philosophical ideas that are implicated in her research and also discuss some of the treatment for BDD.

Shioma-Lei Craythorne has a PhD in Psychology from Aston University. Her research focuses on Body Dysmorphic disorder and looking at using art to explore the subjective experiences of those with BDD. She has created a website to have resources for individuals with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Twitter: @shioma_lei

#67 - Zealous Search for Truth in Documentary Filmmaking: A Dialogue with Nadia Gill

#67 - Zealous Search for Truth in Documentary Filmmaking: A Dialogue with Nadia Gill

August 30, 2021

In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Nadia Gill concerning truth, persuasion, and culture in documentary filmmaking. They talk about her background and shift from law to documentary filmmaking. They discuss the importance of telling the truth in documentaries and whether persuasion or propaganda is implicating in some documentaries. They also talk about showing a perspective vs. describing objective truth about reality in documentaries. They ponder if the responsibility for truth lies with the filmmaker or with the viewer, who gets to tell what stories, and many other topics. 

Nadia Gill is a former lawyer, producer and documentary filmmaker. Her and her husband, Dominic Gill, started Encompass Films as a way to tell stories about adventure and the outdoors from a wide range of people and cultures. They have recently branched out into conservation and some political polarization. They have done work for clients such as Red Bull, Microsoft, Hendrick's Gin, and many others. Twitter: @egypxican

#66 - Testosterone: Understanding Without Judgment: A Dialogue with Carole Hooven

#66 - Testosterone: Understanding Without Judgment: A Dialogue with Carole Hooven

August 22, 2021

In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Carole Hooven about the hormone Testosterone and its impact on men and within society. They discuss her new book and reasons for writing the book. They talk about sex hormones and the sexual reproductive system as well as the impact of sexual selection on both. They provide definitions of male and female within a biological framework including discussions on the genetics, hormones, and gametes. They talk about the impact of culture and environment on gender expression and biological sex. The talk about how hormones are distributed throughout the body and the importance of secondary sex characteristics. They talk about the Mullerian and Wolffian ducts and also give different examples of how hormones interact with the environment. They discuss the complexities of discussing biology and environment in current society and many other topics. 

Carole Hooven is a Lecturer and Co-Director of the undergraduate program in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. She has a Bachelors in Psychology from Antioch College and a PhD from Harvard University. Her main research areas are sex differences, testosterone, and hormones interaction with behaviors. She is the author of T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us which you can purchase here. You can find her at her website. Twitter: @hoovlet

#65 - A Balanced Black History in Education: A Dialogue with Charles Love

#65 - A Balanced Black History in Education: A Dialogue with Charles Love

August 19, 2021

In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Charles Love about education, Black history, and current political challenges. The talk about his background and work in education. They talk about the challenges with the current Critical Race Theory (CRT) rhetoric that dominates conversation in education. They discuss how to have a balanced approach in teaching and learning Black history in education. They explain how learning about all aspects of Black history is very important. They review the 1619 project and some of its challenges. They also talk about heterodox thinkers and politics of today and many other topics.

Charles Love is the Executive Director of Seeking Educational Excellence, a non-profit organization aimed to empower disadvantage students to excel in many domains. He is the host of The Charles Love Show on AM560 and is the co-host of the Cut the Bull podcast. He is a scholar at 1776Unites and is a contributing writer at City Journal. His new book, Race Crazy is available here. Find his website here. Twitter: @cdouglaslove3

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