New Morality Podcast (draft 2, for your consideration)

by Luke Muehlhauser on August 15, 2010 in News

Two weeks ago I posted a draft of the first episode I’m doing with Alonzo Fyfe. Your feedback was helpful, and in response Alonzo and I have rewritten, re-engineered, and re-recorded the first episode. Now we’d like your honest and helpful criticism once again.

We want to get the format right before we start recording additional episodes.

Download it here, and let us know what you think of it!

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Silas August 16, 2010 at 2:15 am

Satz: Ebene. Klaus Schulze. Awesome.

Really good, Luke.


Kip August 16, 2010 at 5:02 am

It’s probably just me, but the musical interludes seem superfluous. Good job, though. I like it, and can’t wait to hear the next one.


Jacopo August 16, 2010 at 5:18 am

Can I just offer a criticism of the image you’re using?

A man by himself in a Romantic pose deliberately far away from the Real World and all the other people he has ethical obligations to is very, very distant from your subject.


Eneasz August 16, 2010 at 11:05 am

Wow, HUGE improvement! Conversation felt much more natural, with word whiskers, stepping on each other’s lines, and pretty realistic changes in tempo and pitch. It reminded me quite a bit of RadioLab. I’m very impressed that such a large improvement was possible in such a short time. It’s still, at times, a little apparent that it’s scripted, but I’m sure that’ll smooth away with experience. And it isn’t jarring like it was the first time. Bravo!

I think the musical interlude after Alonzo’s recollection of The Racist At The Grocery Store was a bit too long, but at this point that’s just personal aesthetics.


Chip August 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Hi Luke,

Suppose I’ve heard enough about DU to think it’s a promising approach to ethics. Suppose I’m at least willing to try living it out, to try improving the world by improving myself.

I hear a lot about how DU focuses on “malleable desires”. Do you have any resources explaining how to go about actually molding those desires? Say for example I have a pretty good idea about a desire I’d like to have but don’t, or one I’d like to lose. How do I go about actually training myself to have the new desires?

Maybe you’ve covered this before, and I missed it, but I’d appreciate some comments.



Apoteks Salmiak August 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm


Thanks a lot for the regular podcast. Its perfect! :)

I can feel your pain trying to find a format and music that works after listening to this draft. (I didn’t listen draft 1). Here are some ideas an intuitions I got from the show:

-Microphones sound too different. Some EQ on Alonzo’s mic could help.

-The talking appears bit of an unholy chaos of monologue, dialogue, casual chat and scripted lines.

-A third person could help conversation flow more naturally.

-You could try talking a bit faster. But longer sections at once.

-Somehow questions, short conversational words don’t fit into Alonzo’s mouth. He sounds most natural when explaining something a bit longer.

-Music didn’t seem to fit well. For example, the sad piano music after “I couldn’t believe in morality” seems forced into place. If Luke were being interviewed and he was telling some sad story, it could work, but in this case when he is one of the hosts and making philosophical point I feel it gives him the wrong role.

-I’d avoid using music altogether when you are having conversation especially for creating an emotion. But maybe it can be done in subtle way.

-Do you need the short music breaks? Perhaps if the show was longer. I thought the length was good.

-You could try to create a sound scape or use music when you are illustrating a thought experiment or event in history or a quotation. Try making impressions when quoting people :) These kind of sections would be clearly distinct from the normal conversation.

-The ending sentence and the music worked. Maybe you could use the same music for intro.


J Wahler August 16, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Like the musical interludes, though they should follow longer sections of dialogue (maybe they will). Alonzo does sound a bit forced (you’ll work through that). Every serious podcast about morality should end with a band whose name is F**K Buttons. Also, will this be an exclusive “Desirism” podcast or will it include other moral schemes or maybe even a topic based but question fueled series analogous to ‘Astronomy Cast’ on desirism ? The consistent hard work blows me away, keep it up. Oh, and what the heck happened to the ‘Counter Apologetics’ podcast?


Almost Chris August 16, 2010 at 7:59 pm

Agreed that it sounded great, and am looking forward to hearing more. I want to make one point that may seem minor. The Kitty Genovese story has become largely urban legend and is not accurate. The story states that she was killed while 38 bystanders observed in horror and did not act. Only two people realized she was being attacked, and they acted. A dozen others (not 38) heard a commotion but did not realize it was an attack.

The Bystander Effect is a real phenomenon, but the Kitty Genovese story has become urban legend.


lukeprog August 16, 2010 at 10:31 pm


Psychologists, not philosophers, will help you there. It depends hugely on the desire you’d like to change. ‘Psychological Self Help’ by Clayton Tucker-Ladd is the best self-help book I know – one of the few that isn’t bullshit, really.

Do you have a desire in mind you think you ought to change (if DU turns out to be true)? I might be vaguely aware of the psychological literature that is relevant…


lukeprog August 16, 2010 at 10:36 pm

This is excellent feedback, people. Thanks so much.


lukeprog August 16, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Also, nice job at naming the Schulze and the Fuck Buttons.

The first musical interlude is probably impossible to guess, as there are a million Indian ragas that sound pretty much like that. The piano piece should be easy. The second-to-last piece I suppose is more obscure than the Schulze, but guessable. If you’ve heard the lead instrument’s sound before, you probably know the artist immediately.


lukeprog August 16, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Oh yeah, and the intro music I suspect is impossible to guess, so I’ll give you a hint. It’s from one of the longest albums ever released.


Chip August 17, 2010 at 6:23 am

Thanks for the tip. I’ve found Neil Fiore’s book “The Now Habit” to be helpful in that regard as well, though it’s been a while since I read it. The book you suggested looks very helpful as well.

Right now, I’m writing my dissertation. I’m definitely “over the hump”, but procrastination is a strong barrier to just pushing through and finishing. Anyway, I’m off to go writing now :)


RA August 17, 2010 at 7:14 am

Since this web site deals a lot with myth, I will point out that the Kitty Genovese story is now basically considered to be myth.

I think I saw a rundown of the errors of the story on CBS Sunday Morning but here is a podcast on the subject if anyone is interested:


Eneasz August 17, 2010 at 7:57 am

Chris – depending on the habit you’re trying to form, nicotine can help ( (sorry for no hyperlink, spam filter won’t let it go through)). Not that I advocate this action. But it’s an interesting approach.

Re Kitty Genovese – I think by now most people realize it’s a myth, but I think it’s a good myth. It’s powerful, and it quickly sums up a complicated problem in an easy-to-understand-and-remember narrative. It can be used as an anchoring point in a conversation, as was done in the podcast. Myths don’t have to be true to be true.


Eneasz August 17, 2010 at 8:08 am

Should’ve put this in the original: nicotine is very potent, lesser rewards may work as well –


Cyril August 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm


I agree with most of what has been said already (about the vast improvement, but there being too much music and all that), but I have to say I don’t really like the title change.

“Morality without God” had a sort of “exactly what is says on the tin” kind of honesty about it, whereas “Morality in the Real World” is a lot more circumlocutory. Obviously all ethical theories will in some sense reflect the ethicist’s views on what exists on the real world, so it doesn’t really tell the listener as much. Obviously the name of the website it’s on would be a give-away as to what the host’s view of the “real world” is, but it strikes me kind of like someone using a turn lane but not their turn signals. Maybe I’m just more anal than some, but it BUGS THE HECK OUT OF ME.

So yeah. There’s my two sesterces.


Silas August 19, 2010 at 1:49 am

So, what are the songs? I’m curious! :)


lukeprog August 21, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Kitty Genovese a myth is news to me. Thanks for pointing it out!


julian August 22, 2010 at 12:50 am

I prefer the first version of the podcast. The conversational style in this one sounds forced, and I found the music segments distracting. Sure the first version sounds scripted, but I’m sure that will improve with practice.

Having said that, whatever you go with I look forward to future episodes. Thanks for all your hard work Luke and Alonso.


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