close menu
Episode 205: Nerdist Podcast
Cara Santa Maria
Nerdist PodcastNerdist Podcast

Nerdist Podcast: Cara Santa Maria

Neuroscientist and science educator Cara Santa Maria sits down with Chris and Jonah to talk about asking strange questions at museums, how Cara teaches science to non-scientists, and where conscientiousness comes from!

This episode is brought to you by Go to My PC. Visit Go to My PC and enter the promo code ‘Nerdist’ for a free 30 day trial!


  1. @Diane
    Thank you for your kudos! By the way, this thread had 99 comments til I posted this one. :)

  2. Bo Dixen Pedersen says:

    Sorry me again.

    Even though some object to the political bias of nerdist podcast #205 in the debate of science vs. religion and the religious fundamentalist right and creation (ID) vs. evolution.

    Let us not forget that there’s is a lot of magical thinking and antiscience on the political left also (american political left we in Euro calls very right wing (the rightwing we call batshit insane sry americans – in DK pretty much everyone even the most right support the socialist model of state).

    But on the left the war on science lies especially in the area of medicine. Alternative medicine like Homeopathy is rife in the political left. Anti vaccination is a clear example of a anti science movement that does harm and is mostly comprised of the political left.

    Huffington Post unfortunately peddles a lot of this political left magical thinking woo and Huffington herself subscribes to a lot of these beliefs.

    it’s probably 90% woo and 10% science so Cara has a monumental task.

    Of course we need to be critical of the medical conglomerates, but it needs to be based on evidence and science and not magical thinking.

  3. @Viktor
    I like your rebel spirit, sir, but you seem conflicted. On the one hand you chastise Cara Santa Maria for not showing enough restraint, and then in the next breath you chastise us for showing too much.

  4. Bo Dixen Pedersen says:

    Regarding the deathtoll

    Science is directly responsible for the population explosion and the longer lifespans of humans (in general). Hygiene, medical knowledge and so forth.

    Therefore more easily quantifiable amount and a provable assertion.

    Science saves a boatload of people.

    How to quantify how religion saves people is a lot harder, but I doubt it is in the billions. You have to define which religious actions constitute a life saved. Preventing suicide, religion providing social cohesion that otherwise would result in aggression (very fuzzy) and you have to have a clear demarcation of political and religious actions even though they can be very muddled.

    Not very clear estimation by any accounts and even being the most generous have a hard time getting more than millions – where science even just by hygiene can account for billions – infant deaths is millions every year.

    If we look outside the realm of religion alone and say all magical thinking (faith based assertions regardless of religion even atheist can make these) and evidence based thinking and account for the deaths and even being so narrow to account for all deaths using tools even a simple stone as being attributed to a scientific death – the violent deaths is actually a LOT lower than deaths attributed to magical thinking for instance the long period of medical service not based on evidence based medicine.

    Pathogens is responsible for A LOT of deaths far outnumbering violent deaths and the way to combat these is evidence based medicine (science) not woo or magical thinking.

    So even giving magical thinking the best terms attributing almost all violent deaths to science and giving the most generous estimation of the life saving power of magical thinking or religion it looses out objectively to evidence based thinking or science in the deaths vs. lives saved.

    It’s also noticeable that you say it’s your belief – NOT based on any amount of evidence or number of arguments that science kills more than religion and not bothering to give any arguments. That exactly the dangers of magical thinking, but even the most “rational” can be victims of this because our brain is very faulty, so you are not alone.

    We only have to say something like antibiotics, vaccines and hygiene – only those advances in science alone accounts for billions of lives and that’s tangible facts.

    Violent deaths is not as big a killer than diseases many people believes this, because it’s seems more horrible and scary and “more interesting” so humans talk about it a lot, but it’s simply not the fact.

  5. I’d like to say a few things towards the oddness of this comment thread:

    Philosophical/semantic argument aside, we are all benefited when modern scientists/science enthusiasts are interviewed and the topic of religion is brought up. It’s a discussion that needs to be had, especially when it comes out one-sided and more than a little resentful sounding. There’s a lot of meddlesome noise in the way nowadays for those interested in objectivity- reality has been losing the PR battle in a lot of ways, what with wikipedia being the go-to knowledge expansion device and most forms of journalism being a laughable shell of what journalistic integrity used to be. So it’s understandable, if not necessarily ‘okay’, for a science correspondent to feel the need to say “Fuck You” to her current “THEM” group. Cara Santa Maria is both a science educator and a journalist, making her either very much interested in the defense of intellectual integrity and objectivity or a very poor career chooser. It’s unfortunate, then, that while she seems talented at communicating and teaching for the generally unbiased, recent clashes with ‘THE OTHER SIIIIDE’ appear to have brought her a little closer to ‘THEIR’ level. Understandable considering her position, but still unfortunate. I, for one, exhort her towards not going eye-for-an-eye with the relatively few but extremely loud noisemakers out there in the science education/journalistic realm. They may be ‘simply’ a vocal minority, but you only have two eyes. Fight the good fight through action and truth, not bile.

    More to the oddness of this comment thread, it fascinates me when discussions turns from sour to almost saccharine. I can’t tell which bothers me more- the blind rage of trolls or the group cuddlebation of everyone getting along perfectly. Happiness on the internet just makes me feel awkward, unless there’s a kitten picture involved. Or maybe a kitten + a poptart and some kinda rainbow thinger thrown in the mix. Whatever. Just make sure yew folks don’t get to nicetalkin’, or else we’ll have some probl’ms.

    Joking aside, I appreciate the good words of ol’ saint Quemmento but I guess it just makes me a little sad to realize one dude talking calmly on the internet is the equivalent of someone saving a kitten from being hit by a car IRL. One day, internet. We will rise up, and no longer will it be astonishing when one man chooses not to shit in someone else’s coffee the second he sees it! Oh, Happy Day…

  6. odin42 says:

    Cannot agree with Cara enough about being nervous about the way our country is headed. I swear the end goal for some people is to get us back to the dark ages.

  7. Roy says:

    Sure, let’s call it quits for now.
    Comment threads aren’t really a place for a prolonged debate anyway.

    It’s been interesting though.
    Thanks everyone for keeping it civil.

    Hugs all around. :)

  8. @Doctor Quemmento I think I’m in love. I am uncertain which is cooler–your name or what you write. Of course it is what you write! You more than earn that extremely cool name! A tip of the hat and kudos to you!

    @fingerbang I certainly sympathize with your point of view. There are moments in the Nerdist community when the majority opinion on a given subject overshadows any other opinions.

    It is really nice to see us discuss things like sane human beings. I love you Nerds!!!

    I don’t think discussions should be avoided. Chris might want to avoid certain discussions because most of them erupt into flame wars. I think we’ve shown the capability for restraint and respect. This type of thing is fun. It is in these types of discussion that we begin to strengthen our own arguments.


  9. Walt says:

    I’m with the HuffPo haters. Not really into the lip ring. =) Not because I’m anti-piercing, but because it mars an otherwise flawless visage.

  10. Fingerbang says:

    Well how do ya like that?

    The thread died via Natural selection!

  11. NathanaelBenDavid says:

    Thanks for the conversation all! Good thoughts….till we meet again on the field….

  12. Josh says:

    Mah plersure @Doc!

    One quick historical point as counter to the idea that faith and thought don’t have a natural cross section: It turns out that the spread of Islam was expedited exponentially by a common belief at the time that Muslim teachings were based on science and math and logic. And the medieval Jewish and Muslim theologians thought and taught that true faith and understanding of God was unreachable without first studying math and metaphysics.

    It’s a strange world, y’all! AWESOME debate. That’s it from me!

  13. Matt Grandis says:

    Yeah, I guess we could go on and on and on. The question about morals and ethics is a whole ‘nother Pandora’s Box. Personally (no surprise, I guess), I don’t think that religion is a necessary basis for human morals in any way. But lets not bother Chris anymore :)

    Great talk anyway, lots of fun, very enlightening, thank you all for sharing your thoughts. You’re all great and smart people.

  14. NathanaelBenDavid says:

    Incidentally, what we can physically see accounts for a fraction of what we know…scientifically. Even with aids such as electron microscopes and colliders, we can only infer through mathematics and pattern observation that quarks etc exist. Again, this stuff is incredibly useful, and it works…but at some level…its faith based (faith in math or whatever) because you can’t see it.

    @ Bo Dixon
    Saying that science has saved more lives than it has killed (I don’t personally believe this, but that is besides the point) says nothing to the argument that both science and religion are responsible (as a tool) for mass genocide and suffering. I can viably be said that Religion has saved more lives than its killed. Enforcing (via manipulation and fear most of the time) civil ethics. You can’t say we would have come to goodness without religion, because we didn’t. Like it or hate it…we get along mostly now thanks to our parents taking some time out of the killing to pray.

    And now I think I might be done talking about this. Unless anybody lives in Charleston S.C. and wants to let me buy them a Guinness.

  15. Bo Dixen Pedersen says:

    Let’s not forget that science has no quarrel with religion. It’s simply not interested in that domain of “knowing”. Science is a method under constant development by philosophy to provide a framework whereby humans can verify and model the physical world.

    A byproduct of this is unfortunately it has a pesky way of clashing with faithbased models of the physical world, that in its defination relies only on faith and not veryfying its aassertions.

    Therefore religion has a big problem with science.

    And those that say, that science constantly changes with the evidence let us not forget, that one element of the scientific method exactly promotes this – falsification and it’s a strength not a weakness to constantly challenge the established whereas religion NEVER (or very very slowly) changes and faithbased assertions doesn’t have critique of itself built in.

    And on the topic who killed most. Science saves a lot more people than it kills – a very tangible result is the people explosion and the longevity. Germ theory alone probably saved many times the people who died a violent death to any technological weapon.

  16. I love the debate so much, by the way, that I think I’ll cast another two cents into the pot.

    My problem with religion is that it requires you to have faith. Not just faith, mind you, but faith as a substitute for rational thought. “We live by faith, not by sight,” says Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians. Jesus says to his apostle Thomas (the original doubting Thomas), after Thomas says that he will not believe that his teacher has risen from the dead until he has seen it with his own eyes, “Because you have seen me, you believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” It cannot be denied, therefore, that belief in God, especially the Christian God, requires a leap of faith which requires you to suspend any desire for a logical conclusion reached by rational thought.

    Man as a species, however, is really nothing but a walking contradiction without his ability to reason. Every animal on this planet has one or more attributes which allow them to survive in their environment. Birds have wings, tigers have teeth, elephants have tusks, etc. Can you imagine what would happen to a bird if it were to destroy its own wings or an elephant if it were to break off its own tusks? And yet man is asked by religion to destroy, or remove, or suspend, that which has always allowed him to survive: his ability think.

  17. @Josh
    I cerdern’t ferking ergree werth yer mere, sir!

    I’m so glad that that the “us vs. them” grandstanding bullshit hasn’t reared it’s ugly head while debating this topic to too great a degree. We don’t necessarily agree on everything, but we all agree that each of us has an opinion that we’re entitled too, and that when we resort to ugly tactics against others we sanction the use of ugly tactics used against us.

    Speaking of which, thanks for getting my back with this Fantas! character. I didn’t take much offense to his/her most recent post, though. He/she seemed to be saying that I’m long winded (which is ture) and fancy myself very witty. So he/she is half right which, frankly, is 50 percent more than I would have expected. :) Hope your Mother’s day went well.

  18. Josh says:

    @NathanielBenDavid I agree with you wholeheartedly, and I think history does as well. I don’t think it’s possible, historically speaking, to separate the institutions of academia, religion, and government (and the military, but only parenthetically so as the military traditionally serves the purpose & pleasure of these three institutions). Polemics are polemics, and corruption is corruption is corruption. Each of these institutions have always been susceptible to evil and good, creation and destruction, progress and regress, war and peace.

    I’d like to suggest that while many of us may disagree passionately with each other, sides are established not in the stances we take, but in the style of discourse to which we commit ourselves.

    To put it in Gersbermese: Wer erl ern the serm term, merther ferkers!

  19. NathanaelBenDavid says:

    @Matt G/Roy
    I find myself drifting more towards a strictly pro-religion thesis and and is not what I intended to do. I intended to share my desire for a more equalized approach towards religion from the science-based point of view. I fully realize that religious people are often grossly at fault here as well…I just expect more from a logic based mindset such as “science.” Still, I think the argument can be made that comparatively looking at the ethics balance of science and religion, they are closer than most “atheist/agnostics” admit. Religion has been a devastating tool in the hands of many men used to fuck people up…the same for science…in the hands of some men it has been devastating. So, science has brought good and bad…religion has brought good and bad…

    @ Roy
    If you take a look back on the history of science…you will see that, whether you call it guessing or not…scientist have held beliefs that were dead wrong. Some arbitrary in their wrongness to daily life (take Newtonian physics, essentially wrong, but it “works”) Some deadly wrong (see Madame Curie’s handling of radiation).

    Most of science is actually guessing. That is the basis for the whole scientific method. It’s a kind of faith. Perhaps not the same blind absolutist faith exhibited by many religious folk…but faith non the less. I mean the kind of faith that is there so long as you don’t know for certain….this tip toes into existentialism a little bit too much…but I hope you take my meaning and don’t go too far with it.

    The very fact that we still have scientists doing science means that we don’t have all our shit nailed down yet, and implies that a lot of things we take to be true…probably are not what they seem…so…we be guessing the shit out of it. Good, expensive, useful, and beautiful guesses…but guesses still.

  20. Josh says:

    @JamesEnsor I wrote the “wit is shit” line on this thread — meant to make a joke at @Doc’s detractor, not at @Doc. Quemmento deputized me earlier in the comment thread… it was goooood…

  21. JamesEnsor says:

    @Doc The “Wit is shit” line is from the Maurice LaMarche / Rob Paulsen episode in regards to Spaceballs, Mel Brooks, and a name for the not jawas.

  22. JamesEnsor says:

    I came on here, much like Fingerbang did, to express my extreme dislike and displeasure at the tack that discussion of religion vs. science took on the podcast.

    To preface, I am a Christian and I hate arrogant anything. I hate arrogant Christians and I surely can’t stand arrogant Atheists. With Christians it’s an unwillingness to consider other opinions, especially when comes to applications of Biblical concepts in modern settings. However, most of the time with Atheists it seems to be an antagonistic chip on their shoulder that they carry against Theists.

    I was just very disappointed the way the first half of the podcast drove headlong into Atheist circle jerk. “This is my fuck you to Creationists”? Really? Geez..

    All in all, unlike Fingerbang (and not a dig at you, man), it’s not going to chase me away because I believe like Chris believes. I believe that true Christian belief IS being kind, and all that golden rule shit. Don’t shit all over somebody just because they believe differently. Because at the end of the day, Evolutionary science is rooted in theory and conjecture. Religion is faith in the unknown and unseen. And in the end, even though we both think we’re right, we don’t know!

  23. Josh says:

    Cool science-y bible tidbit on creation:

    A friend of mine was, a few years back, working in San Fran. on artificial intelligence — specifically, trying to built computers that could see and process sight like the human mind. I asked her, “What is consciousness?” She said, “One theory is that the brain, in it’s development, eventually becomes so complicated (synapses and neurons and whatever else we got oozing around our skull cavities) that it realizes its own existence.” I asked her if it was possible for the galaxy, or universe, to function like this as well. Like a brain. She said yes.

    The first three words of the Old Testament in Hebrew are, “Bereishit bara Elohim”, which is often translated as “In the beginning God created…” Certain Jewish thinkers have pointed out that if you take the letters that comprise those three Hebrew words, keep them in the same order, but move the last two letters of “Bereishit” (pronounced ‘Ber-ay-sheet’) over to “bara” you get: “BeRosh yitbara Elohim”, which means, “In His own head, God created Himself”.

    Misogynistic? Yes. Cool as ‘sheet? I think so. Theologically compatible with what science may one day discover? How completely cool would THAT be?!

  24. Roy says:


    I second Matt Grandis.
    Science has given people the tools, but the people themselves are responsible for how they use these tools.

    I don’t mind debating you but I feel you are doing yourself a terrible disservice if you don’t have a clear understanding of how science works.
    A scientific theory is not just a guess.
    There’s no faith involved.
    It doesn’t matter if a scientist ‘hopes’ if something is true.
    There is no need for a certain outcome. Something is either proven right or wrong and the scientist deals with it.

    Please take a look at the following videos which explains HOW scientists know about the universe:

    “History of the Universe Made Easy” by potholer54
    part 1
    Part 2

    I hope this will help.
    Wish you the best.

  25. DrAwkward says:

    I have to agree with Wendy and Smailien, this “reality has a liberal bias” and “I’m educated so I am liberal” stuff was so annoying I couldn’t get all the way through this one. And I’m not even a republican…

  26. Matt Grandis says:

    @NathanaelBenDavid: I totally see where you’re coming from. But I think there’s a flaw in your logic. Science has given mankind the means to kill, but I don’t think that someone has ever been killed IN THE NAME of science. Most killings in the name of religion where terrible misuses of power, but they still happened in the name of religion. Where science helped killing people, the killing happened in the name of something else — some political ideology or even some religious ideology. Saying science has led to the killings of many people is basically true, but science did not claim those deaths in itself. As I said, the same thing can be said about religion — mass murders in the name of one religion probably go against the true teachings of this religion. But it still happened in its name. To me, this makes a difference.

  27. NathanaelBenDavid says:

    Also @Roy
    thank you for asking about specific points I made…I really enjoy and pointed argument. Granted, it would be better of beer or scotch…

  28. NathanaelBenDavid says:

    I say science has killed far more people than religion because science has increased our efficiency in killing. Most recent and applicable case in point would be Einstein and has familial relationship to the atomic bomb. They actually made this case in the podcast about the escalation in kill-ability. Beyond physical elimination I refer to all the “bad medicine” practiced throughout history. See again chemistry’s role in a magical modern world full of run-away cancer probabilities.

    By “defaults to faith” I mean this:

    If you follow the timeline back to true zero, and go any measure back from that…you have two sets of options in thinking. Set one says I “know what happened (i.e. G-d created the universe, aliens seeded the universe, a big turtle shit out the stars or whatever). Set two says “I don’t know what happened” I believe that to claim set two, you have to allow that anything that might be in set one COULD be true. And because you have ZERO evidence either way, it’s kind of silly to get excited about other people claiming to know or believe something about it…to say something like “Really? That’s your explanation? That G-d just magically ‘created’ everything?”

    So again, to define my terms….faith equals having a confidence or trust in something happening (or not happening) We don’t KNOW a lot in science but we have faith that its true (theories that are not yet laws) When you talk about origin I say to look around all everything….all this shit came from someplace, and I don’t think either science or religion has (or possible will ever) come close to explaining it. I feel that a lot of time “science” and “religion” talk irresponsibly about what they know respectively.

    Please forgive me if my logic is vague or meandering…I’ve been up for about 22 hours. All shalom.

  29. Roy says:


    “Second, on a causal scale, science by far has killed and made miserable (economics of war, medical practice etc) far more people than religion, granted, religion has no shining record either.”

    Please elaborate on the ways in which science killed far more people than religion. Because that sounds like complete BS to me.

    “I say science defaults to faith specifically on the issue of origin. There is a point that cannot be empirically known or understand (the origin or evolution of matter)”

    What do you mean by “defaults to faith”?
    I agree with Matt Grandis that if you don’t know, you simply don’t know. What is there to have faith concerning the issue of origin?

    Sorry, but for someone who claims to love science you don’t seem to have a good understanding of how it works.

  30. NathanaelBenDavid says:

    @Matt G. YES! Semantics has certainly done more harm than both religion and science combined. Cheers.

  31. Matt Grandis says:

    @NathanaelBenDavid: I agree. There will probably always be a point that will be beyond our understanding. But since my default is “I don’t know”, I call this default position agnosticism, not faith. This agnosticism of course leaves room for many possibilities. So, all in all — I think we’re talking about the same thing, just using different labels.

    @Chris: I blame your fucking niceness for turning us all into sensible, respectful people who can have a serious discussion without flinging poo. So fuck you for destroying good old fashioned internet values like poo flinging and name calling. Hope you’re proud of yourself. (Hint: you should be. Hugs.)

  32. NathanaelBenDavid says:

    @Matt G. I say science defaults to faith specifically on the issue of origin. There is a point that cannot be empirically known or understand (the origin or evolution of matter)

  33. NathanaelBenDavid says:

    @ Chris H.: You be going to hells yo! *Hug

    @Roy: Please know that I really do love science, but there are some things that need to be admitted about it. I suppose science is closer than ever to the “truth” but what needs to be said is that it has gotten to where it is via some pretty fucked up beliefs (bleeding people out etc) I suppose in another 50 years the same will be said about today’s cutting edge. Second, on a causal scale, science by far has killed and made miserable (economics of war, medical practice etc) far more people than religion, granted, religion has no shining record either.

    I will say that of the sciences, Math is probably the safest bet as to being truly solid…everything else (all the potential counter points to whatever flavor of religion) is fluid enough to allow for the wall that I just banged my head into to NOT be solid at all… If I timed it right I could put my little head right through that wall and both of us would be fine (An effing miracle no!?)

    Again, I genuinely love science, I just wish a little more logic and humility were in play when it comes to science v. religion. Science is not the philosophical counter-point to religion broadly (this is not true with EVERY religion, just religion as a whole)

    Bottom line…lets have conversations about specifics because broad strokes don’t cover it (except of course for all the broad strokes I just made, those are all spot on.)

  34. Josh says:

    @Fantas! — you do know that anonymity precludes the need to save face, right? @Doc won this round, bud. Probably best not to quote his masterful comeback — the dude is a sharpshooter. Better luck next podcast!

  35. Chris Hardwick says:

    I just need to take a minute to say how genuinely moved I am that guys that you are discussing a very sensitive issue in a calm and intelligent manner. With a topic like this, name calling and shitty comments are easy but everyone is being super cool while expressing their opinions. THANK YOU!!! I can’t tell you how much this kind of respectful discourse means to me. Atypical Internetting FTW!

  36. Patty Marvel says:

    I’m starting to wonder if someone (maybe Penn Jillette?) should make a PSA about atheists along the lines of “I am an American Muslim” or “I am a Mormon.” We don’t claim to know everything (how did THAT stereotype come about?), being non-theist doesn’t necessarily mean ANTI-theist (whatever gets YOU through the night is alright by me), yes, I still have a code of morals I live by (it boils down to “Don’t be a dick”) and some of us are very nice people. That last one kinda hurt – I heard through the grapevine that one person’s reaction to my lack of religion was something like, “But she seemed so NICE.” Yeah, I am nice – and I’m an atheist. Why should these two states contradict each other?

  37. Kaprou says:

    LOVED, the cara podcast. Had so much fun listening to Chris forget how to speak because: a)- He didn’t want to sound like an idiot in front of a really smart person. b) Carla is mega hot. Mega.and smart.Mega.

  38. Roy says:

    Science evolves because it is self correcting at it’s very nature.
    It slowly but steadily converges on knowledge.
    That’s why science makes progress and is so successful.
    It’s not perfect but it’s the best tool we have for gaining knowledge.

    Religion pretty much start out with the ‘Truth’ and tries to stick with it through faith. As member start to interpret the ‘Truth’ differently it will invariably fracture and diverge.
    Take the sheer number of christian denominations alone.

    I appreciate that at times peoples beliefs help them get trough hard times.
    But on the whole it does more damage than good.

    Look what christian doctrine is teaching children.

    Charging them with a crime they didn’t commit. (original sin) Treathening them with eternal punishment for this finite crime.(Hell)
    Discouraging them to question and just have faith.

    Am I supposed to be reverent to that just because christianity has a privileged status in our society?

  39. Matt Grandis says:

    Well, if I burn in Hell, at least I’ll have barbecue every day for the rest of eternity :)

    @NathanaelBenDavid, I disagree that science would ever default to faith. I would say that science defaults to agnosticism. Neil deGrasse Tyson (can’t wait for his show on the Nerdist channel) recently said that he considers himself an agnostic, not an atheist:

    He makes a good case. But just yesterday YouTube atheist ZOMGitsCriss made an interesting video about Tyson’s reasons for not identifying as an atheist:

    Differentiating between atheism and agnostics can be difficult. In most cases people are both. But it’s seldom simply faith-based.

  40. Fantas! says:


    “It was funny because the character was very long winded and still fancied himself very witty. ”

    Exactly. Thanks for catching up.

  41. NathanaelBenDavid says:

    Surprise! I have a couple of problems with a couple points made on this one. First, creation v. evolution: both sides, at SOME POINT default to uncertain (read: un-provable) faith. I would like science as a whole (because I adore science) to get over the “naivety” of creationists. I am an adapted creationist. That is is to say, I fully believe in Natural selection and much of what is considered “evolution” but am unsure of the “origin” of it all. I think G-d had something to do with it.

    Second comment, and a brief one. I was annoyed at the description of religion having to constantly adapt to the proofs of science, and not the other way around… Are they serious!? Science is CONSTANTLY “evolving” and adapting and disproving previous concepts and theories. The more you know, the more questions you should have…right? Ok… there’s some whiskey in the jar.

  42. Alexthellama says:

    This was a perfect podcast, funny, smart and interesting. I would pay real money-cash to listen to Cara each week.

  43. Josh says:

    Oh, and btw, I’m ambidextrous. Does that make me twice as sexy-time or half as sexy-time? It’s 1:20 in the AM here in NY, Mother’s Day … maybe I’ll go wake my wife, the mother of my daughters, and ask? She’d appreciate that, right?

  44. Josh says:

    Holy moly! Well, if there’s one thing we’ve learned in this comment thread, don’t ever, ever refer to @Doctor Quemmento as “kiddo”. Wow.

    Quick note about the scientific process: Check out Thomas Kuhn’s, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” — pretty famous and powerful argument for understanding the role of subjectivity in science. Turns out, it’s not just about proof.

    Slightly less quick note about religion: You know, there are lots of different ways to categorize and understand religion. There are three different types of monotheistic religions, for example, three different ways to understand God’s oneness. 1. God as Other: Christianity often understands God as transcendent — the ultimate out there, above, and beyond. Christians believe humanity needed God on earth. Thus, Jesus was sent. 2. God and the earth are one and the same: A la Gaia — though, most monotheistic religions flatly reject pantheism. 3. God is everywhere and everything: Hinduism, Buddhism, certain theologies found within Judaism, all believe in the One-ness and Everywhere-ness of God. This is similar to Gaia, but extends out to the entire universe and all of existence.

    These are obviously disgusting oversimplifications. Just gross. But If we conceive of a creator God as the ultimate beyond, the Big Kahuna in the sky, very much not on earth, it’s easy to see how this theology may develop a contentious relationship with science, which sees no evidence for any such thing. On the other hand, if God is everywhere, and God is one, then even science is a part of God; and as such can be used, like any tool, in our never-ending search for deeper meaning and understanding.

    Cara’s point about Carl Sagan’s affect is wonderful — that “awe” and “wonder” he portrayed was described beautifully by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in his book, “God in Search of Man”. Not sure what Sagan would say about Heschel’s work. But Heschel would hear Sagan speak and say, “See what I mean?”

  45. Andy Derer says:

    I dont practice Santa Maria, dont got no crystal ball. Had a million followers but I, I retweeted them all…

    I know its stupid. But the episode was so smart I had to balance it out.

  46. Ian Miyashiro says:

    Young, brilliant, attractive, and deals with the challenges of depression. But enough about me. It continues to be a pleasure to discover who The Nerdist Podcast will feature from week to week. Cara Santa Maria is a champion in the cause for education. An intelligent and fun way to explore the world of science is what the country and the rest of the world needs to progress through to a better world. Maybe we do need to be challenged on our ideals by listening to what the ‘other side’ says and does, but it is always nice to hear more on what we already believe and hope to learn from such an engaging and articulate scholar. Thanks again for such a wonderful resource.

    -Enjoying my burrito.

  47. Fingerbang says:


    What a cool response to my post. I especially appreciate the tone of Doctor Quemmento and Matt…even though Matt is obviously going to burn in Hell (joking!)

    Just wanted to clarify a few things.

    @roy – I wasn’t hurt or have any feelings that I posses a right not to be offended. I wasn’t offended in the least, in fact, I do not recall ever being “offended” (The word just has a weasely undertone to it that should be reserved for Politically Correct douchebags) My faith is strong and has gotten me through a bunch of shit in my life. I guess my broader point was I just don’t listen to Nerdist to hear a long drawn-out one-sided discussion on a topic like this. Chris can talk about whatever the heck he wants to, but I also don’t have to listen, so I will choose not to, that’s all. Not trying to convert anyone to the cause, just puttin’ some words out there as feedback.

    @doc – You were spot on in the interpretation of the general intention of my original post.

    I think it is healthy to question your faith and any good pastor will say the same. I personally believe God wants us to question and not take other peoples’ (i.e. The Church’s) word for it. After all, that’s why he created scientists (couldn’t resist!) :-).

    I have a very strong scientist within me and process most things on logic. It just seems logical to me that Intelligent Design and not some random cosmological event led to sentient person I am today (not starting an argument here, just stating my opinion and making a little joke). Of course we could get in to a whole discussion here, but that isn’t my intent and this certainly isn’t the appropriate venue.

    As Doc eluded to, what got me most is the arrogant and “matter of fact” tone Atheists always seem to take that ends up somewhat counteracting their argument of Fact vs Faith. Cara even said that there is no way to prove the consciousness or sentient nature of a human being. Now the Atheistic rebuttal would probably be, “Yeah, there is no way to prove it…YET”. And that’s cool. My counter, “There is no way to prove God yet either”.

    To me, (and this is just my opinion) it just seems that Atheists always have this inner need to push their opinion on everyone when the topic of religion comes up because they know better than us silly dreamy-eyed believers. Whereas (with kooky exceptions) every Christian I know doesn’t jump to start shit or try to convert everybody when talking about religion. If believing in God makes me look ignorant to Atheists, then ignorance is bliss bitches!

    Again not trying to start shit (He says with a carefully intoned passive-agressive bazinga! ;-). I do appreciate the tone of the posts after mine and being a person who has never posted here before, it is cool to chat with you guys.

    That’s all and since I have 3 more beers to drink before bed, I better get my ass moving! Enjoy your burrito!

  48. Nathan says:

    As someone in the midst of acquiring his PhD in research, I’m amazed at her ability to explain science to non-scientists. I know when I try to explain what I’m doing to friends, I’m really bad at translating science jargon to normal people talk