64 episodes

Podcast by Iona Italia and Helen Pluckrose

Two for Tea with Iona Italia and Helen Pluckrose Iona Italia and Helen Pluckrose

    • News

Podcast by Iona Italia and Helen Pluckrose

    65 - Helen Pluckrose - Cynical Theories and Their Liberal Opponents

    65 - Helen Pluckrose - Cynical Theories and Their Liberal Opponents

    Helen’s book, co-written with James A. Lindsay, Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody (2020) can be found here:

    Helen’s writing for Areo magazine can be found here:

    For more on the Sokal Squared hoax, which Helen perpetrated, alongside James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian see:

    You can follow Helen on Twitter @hpluckrose

    Further Notes
    Alexander Pope, Epistles to Several Persons: Epistle II: To a Lady on the Characters of Women (1743) (I misremembered the title as An Essay on Woman):

    Kimberle Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color” (1991):

    Walt Anderson, The Fontana Postmodernism Reader (1996)

    For more on the Evergreen story, see my interview with Benjamin Boyce:
    and this video series by Mike Nayna:

    For the Ravelry knitting group scandal, see:

    Herbert Marcuse “Repressive Tolerance” (1965):

    Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks (1929–35), for the concept of hegemony

    Andrea Lynn Lewis and Liam Kofi Bright’s letter exchange on Critical Race Theory:

    Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind (2015)

    Isabel Wilkinson, Caste: The Lies that Divide Us (2020)

    Akala, Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire (2019)
    Jonathan Rauch, Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought (1993)

    2:40 Helen reads a passage about how people can stand up for liberalism without having to go down the woke route
    5:35 Cultural and moral relativism
    9:14 How postmodernism developed into critical theory: knowledge, power and discourse
    19:45 The two evolutions of postmodernism: in the late 1980s and 2010s and the rise of identity politics
    25:42 Being woke
    26:59 The impacts on wider society and politics
    30:08 Why social justice isn’t neo-Marxism or cultural Marxism
    34:50 The influence of critical theory on academe
    38:00 What is the relationship between critical theory as theory and critical theory as practice
    41:37 How people are being affected in the workplace
    49:01 How much should we focus on economics and how much on identity
    53:03 Freedom of speech
    56:15 Why is it called “theory”?
    57:08 Why should we take the danger of critical theory seriously and not just see it as a moral panic?
    1:00:15 Trump’s announced ban on Critical Race Theory in federal training
    1:05:25 Helen’s crimes against food
    1:07:35 Collective guilt, identity politics and standpoint epistemology
    1:15:51 The responses to Helen as a whistleblower
    1:21:09 Helen reads from the introduction to the book

    • 1 hr 26 min
    64 - Azra Raza - A Better Way to Fight Cancer

    64 - Azra Raza - A Better Way to Fight Cancer

    For more about Azra, see her website: https://azraraza.com/

    The First Cell: And the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last is available here: https://www.amazon.com/First-Cell-Human-Pursuing-Cancer/dp/1541699521

    Her book with Sara Suleri Goodyear, Ghalib and the Epistemologies of Elegance is available here:

    Her physician profile can be found here:

    Follow Azra on Twitter: @AzraRazaMD
    Further References
    George Eliot, Middlemarch: A Story of Provincial Life (1871–2)

    The complete poems of Emily Dickinson (first published 1890) are available online here:

    Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2011)

    Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1897)

    Samuel Johnson, The Rambler (1750):

    The Crown, “Aberfan” (BBC)

    Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Gene (2016) and The Emperor of All Maladies (2010)

    Beginning: introduction and Azra reads from The First Cell
    6:15 How Azra became interested in medicine and in oncology in particular
    14:32 The evolutionary model of cancer’s development in the body
    23:50 Cancer and critical systems; the MIST of aging
    31:54 Peto’s paradox
    41:45 Why cell culture and animal testing methods don’t work
    47:41 The immune system, CAR-T treatments, B cells, checkpoint inhibitors
    1:00:50 Azra’s personalised approach and how she came to develop it
    1:05:59 New, more radical earlier detection methods
    1:21:37 The oncology think tank
    1:22:48 Monitoring technologies
    1:29:32 Azra’s relationship with literature

    • 1 hr 45 min
    63 - Ayishat Akanbi - Styles of Identity

    63 - Ayishat Akanbi - Styles of Identity

    You can find out more about Ayishat by visiting her website:

    Follow Ayishat on Twitter: @ayishat_akanbi

    Further Notes

    Ayishat on the Triggernometry podcast:

    Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness (1928)


    3:40 How Ayishat first became a professional cultural commentator. How we communicate through dress and how we communicate through ideas.
    5:35 Changes to Ayishat’s worldview after her brother’s death
    15:38 Oppression versus discrimination
    28:54 The concept of erasing someone’s identity
    33:40 How to evaluate oppression
    52:26 The value of diversity
    57:50 Friend groups and socialisation
    59:55 Fighting and arousal
    1:06:21 Clothing and style
    1:16:40 Race, heritage, identity and authenticity

    • 1 hr 53 min
    62 - Scott Barry Kaufman - What We Are Capable of Becoming

    62 - Scott Barry Kaufman - What We Are Capable of Becoming

    You can find out more about Scott’s work here:

    Scott’s book, Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualisation:

    Scott’s interview on Sam Harris’ Making Sense podcast:

    Scott’s interview with Sean Carroll:

    Follow Scott on Twitter: @sbkaufman

    Further References

    The OCEAN personality test:

    Kim Stanley Robinson, Mars trilogy: Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars (1993)

    Derren Brown, Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine (2016)

    Sci fi series Salvation: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6170874/

    P. D. James, The Children of Men (1992)

    Peter D. Ward, Robert Brownlee Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe (2000)

    George Eliot, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life (1871–72)

    Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning (1943)

    John Keats, “Ode on Melancholy” (1819):


    2:35 The pyramid image versus Scott’s sailboat metaphor
    13:37 Ascetic orders, basic needs & transcendence. Can monks be self-actualizing?
    21:19 My general assessment of Scott’s book
    23:44 The D-realm (“deficiency” realm)
    26:52 Scott’s interview with Sam Harris
    29:15 Disagreeableness
    30:44 Axes of human personality
    31:51 Stability and plasticity
    34:08 Introversion and extraversion
    38:54 The B-realm (“being” realm)
    42:59 How easy is to access the B-realm and to find transcendence?
    53:34 Peak experiences, flow states, transcendence
    1:01:05 Maslow’s discoveries at the end of his life
    1:02:58 Demotivation and how to fight it
    1:07:04 Attachment styles and other ways in which the D- and B-realms are inextricably intertwined

    • 1 hr 18 min
    61 - Diana Fleischman - How We Have Evolved to Manipulate Each Other

    61 - Diana Fleischman - How We Have Evolved to Manipulate Each Other

    For updates on Diana’s work, see her website:

    My favourite other interview of Diana’s can be found here:

    Follow Diana on Twitter: @sentientist

    Further References

    Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (2009)

    J. Michael Bailey, The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism (2003)

    Jorge Luis Borges, “Funes el Memorioso” (1944):


    6:36 Training our lovers
    34:25 Training our political allies
    39:36 Training ourselves
    45:54 Intrinsic motivation and external reward
    50:26 Women train, men try to avoid being trained
    1:06:25 Training at home
    1:09:40 Rape and sexual assault
    1:16:14 Why people hate evolutionary psychology
    1:22:55 The non-binary movement and other resistance to stereotypes

    • 1 hr 31 min
    60 - Liam Kofi Bright - The Search for Truth

    60 - Liam Kofi Bright - The Search for Truth

    You can find out more about Liam’s academic credentials here: https://www.liamkofibright.com/

    Liam’s talk on “Why Scientists Lie” can be found here:

    Remco Heesen and Liam on “Is Peer Review a Good Thing”?:

    Listen to Liam’s interview with Sean Carroll on the nature of truth here:

    Listen to Liam’s interviews with Andrew Lynn Lewis here:

    And here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a491GwvnEOI

    Liam’s Letter exchange with Andrea on Critical Race Theory can be found here:

    Liam’s Letter with me on hating oneself can be found here:

    Follow Liam’s blog here: http://sootyempiric.blogspot.com/

    Write to Liam at Letter:

    Follow Liam on Twitter: @lastpositivist

    Liam on the positivists (interview with former guest of this podcast, Aaron Rabinowitz, see episode 46 “Is Civility Overrated”):

    Further References

    Some more sources on Rudolf Carnap: http://www.carnap.org/

    Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn (1968); the 1982 film version was directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin jr.

    David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–40)

    Sam Harris, The Moral Landscape (2010)

    My article on Bruce, “Thoughts on a Friend’s Suicide”:


    2:06 The positivists
    9:32 Moral philosophy and the is–ought gap.
    16:24 Why scientists lie: bad incentives in science
    24:16 The value of diversity of intellectual enquiry
    37:33 The problem with peer review
    44:05 The Star Trek post-scarcity future and the Bladerunner future
    52:55 The nature of truth
    1:22:35 Self-hatred
    1:56:25 Twitter and parasocial relationships

    • 2 hrs 9 min

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