Dear readers, Rationally Speaking is soon going to be (also) a podcast, produced by New York City Skeptics, and co-hosted by Julia Galef and yours truly. Before each (initially biweekly, starting at the end of January) episode we will publish a “teaser” like the one below, introducing the topic of that episode and inviting comments from our readers. Your comments will provide us with additional food for thought, and the most interesting ones will be read and discussed during the show.

For our inaugural episode, we’re going to kick things off by asking: Why is “speaking rationally” a worthwhile goal, anyway? It’s not self-evident, at least not to many people. Human beings certainly don’t seem made for it. Aristotle may have famously dubbed us “the rational animal,” but cognitive science tells a different story, with plenty of evidence that our brains blithely flout logic all the time and are excellent at rationalizing our irrational decisions after the fact.

So why fight our irrational natures? After all, some people argue that irrationality can make us happier, at least in certain situations. There’s also a widespread attitude that even if irrationality has some negative consequences, it’s nevertheless inextricably linked to the best parts of our humanity: love, passion, and creativity. From this standpoint, “rational” is synonymous with “cold, soulless, dispassionate” — in other words, Vulcan.

What do you think — are reason and emotion at odds? Are there downsides to being rational, and if so, are they necessarily outweighed by the upsides? And even if you personally choose to strive for rationality, should you try to make other people more rational as well? What if their irrationality makes them happy?

Leave your thoughts below, and we’ll pick the most interesting comments to discuss in Episode #1 of Rationally Speaking: The Podcast!