Clearer Thinking is the brand-new podcast about ideas that truly matter. Join Spencer Greenberg each week as he has fun, in-depth conversations with brilliant people, exploring useful ideas related to psychology, society, behavior change, philosophy, science, artificial intelligence, math, economics, self-help, mental health, and technology. If you enjoy learning about powerful, practical concepts and frameworks, wish you had more deep, intellectual conversations in your life, or are looking for non-BS self-improvement, then we think you'll love this podcast!
Because this is the podcast about "ideas that matter," we prioritize ideas that can be applied right now to make life better and that can help you better understand yourself and the world. In other words, we want to highlight the very best tools to enhance your learning, self-improvement efforts, and decision-making.
We take on important, thorny questions like:
What's the best way to help a friend or loved one going through a difficult time? How can we make our worldviews more accurate, and how can we hone the accuracy of our thinking? What are the advantages of using our "gut" to make decisions, and when should we expect careful, analytical reflection to be more effective? Why do societies sometimes collapse, and what can we do to reduce the chance that ours collapses? Why is the world today so much worse than it could be, and what can we do to make it better? What is good and what is bad about tradition, and are there more meaningful and ethical ways of carrying out important rituals, such as honoring the dead? How can we move beyond zero-sum, adversarial negotiations, and create more positive-sum interactions?
Scientific Progress and Political Feedback Loops with Michael Nielsen
Is scientific progress speeding up or slowing down? What are the best strategies for funding research? What is "para-academia," and what are the pros and cons of being a para-academic researcher? What are the feedback loops in politics that cause politicians and their constituents to react to each other?
Michael Nielsen is a scientist who helped pioneer quantum computing and the modern open science movement. He also has a strong side interest in artificial intelligence. All are part of a broader interest in developing tools that help people think and create, both individually and collectively. His most recent book is Quantum Country, an introduction to quantum computing. Find out more at his website, michaelnielsen.org, or follow him on Twitter at @michael_nielsen.
52 Living Ideas and the Four Systems Model with Shrikant Rangnekar
What is 52 Living Ideas? How does the Four Systems Model help to classify parts of human nature? What tools do civilizations create that allow individuals to transact with each other without knowing each other? Why has "form follows function" been the most influential idea ever for Shrikant? What is intuitive analytic shuttling, and how does it help to improve creative output?
Shrikant Rangnekar runs 52 Living Ideas, a community of learners engaged in joint exploration of the world, ourselves, and ideas. He conducts daily, open Zoom meetups on psychology, philosophy, and self-improvement.
Also, here's the diagram Shrikant mentions in the episode:
Learning and Governance with Emerson Spartz
What's the best way to learn? Why is learning how to learn "the most important skill"? When should we explore, and when should we exploit? What are the merits and demerits of various models of governance? How should we think about the problems around free speech?
Named "King of Viral Media" by Forbes, Emerson Spartz is one of the world's leading experts on internet virality and has been featured in major media including CBS, CNBC, CNN, and hundreds more. Spartz was named to both Forbes' and Inc Magazine's "30 Under 30" lists. Spartz is the founder of Dose, a top digital media company with $35 million in funding. Dose's videos generate billions of video views, and the company's broadcast TV show, Morning Dose, airs on CW stations nationwide. Previously, Spartz created 20+ of the world's largest viral content sites, including OMG Facts, attracting 50 million visitors monthly. At age 12, Spartz founded Mugglenet, the #1 Harry Potter site and one of the internet's largest communities. By the age of 19, Spartz became a New York Times bestselling author after publishing his first book. Find out more about Emerson at his website: emersonspartz.com
Liberalism and Conservatism with Cassandra Xia and Hank Racette
Why do liberals and conservatives disagree so vehemently? Why are things so polarized in the US right now? What are the core values held by liberals and conservatives? How much value does tradition have? Where and why do liberals and conservatives disagree about climate change? Where and why do liberals and conservatives disagree about free speech and political correctness?
Cassandra Xia's bio: "Cassandra Xia (@CassandraXia) is the daughter of Chinese scientists who emigrated to the United States. Her parents raised her on a blend of logic, reason, and immigrant can-do attitude. She emerged as a strategic liberal that strongly believes in free speech and compassionate dialogue. She recently left her job as a Google software engineer to work on climate change. Cassandra's work can be found at cassandraxia.com and workonclimate.org."
Hank Racette's bio: "I'm an uneducated fifty-something father of six who divides his time between writing industrial automation software and opining about the precariousness of western civilization and the enemies, mostly unwitting, arrayed against it. I'm fascinated by words, mathematics, evolution, human nature, emergent behavior, and saving the most successful nation and culture in history from the innocent mistakes of smart people with good intentions. I'm a free-speech extremist and, in general, what used to be called a classical liberal. I can be found on Ricochet, where I write as Henry Racette, on Facebook, and reached via email at email@example.com."
Psychedelics and Comedy with Sarah Rose Siskind
What are the pros and cons of taking psychedelics? What goes into creating a good setting for psychedelic use? How can experiencing depression change someone's political views? What is comedy? What is the relationship between comedy and social status? Why is it that comedians can get away with saying things that other people can't say?
Sarah Rose Siskind is a science comedy writer based in New York City. She's the cofounder of HelloSci.Com, a consulting group that makes smart people funny, and the producer of Drug Test, a show about Psychedelics. Previously, she wrote comedy for Hanson Robotics, StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson on Fox, and several shows on Facebook Watch. She's written jokes for the White House Press Correspondents dinner and spoken at Comic Con! In the words of Marie Curie, "follow me on Twitter."
Comfort Languages and Nuanced Thinking with Kat Woods
What's the best way to help someone who's going through a difficult situation? What are the four states of distress? What are "comfort languages"? How can we introduce more nuance into our everyday thinking habits? When gathering information and forming opinions, how do you know who to trust? What's the difference between intelligence and wisdom?
Kat Woods is the co-founder of Charity Entrepreneurship, a startup incubator for effective altruist charities. It provides training, seed funding, and the other things necessary to kickstart an effective nonprofit. Previously, Kat co-founded Charity Science Outreach, a meta-organization that raised nine counterfactual dollars for high impact charities for every dollar spent. Subsequently she co-founded Charity Science Health, a direct poverty charity that received multiple grants from GiveWell and has served hundreds of thousands of families in India. You can find more about Kat at her website or on Twitter at @kat__woods.