87 episodes

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?

Clearer Thinking with Spencer Greenberg Spencer Greenberg

    • Science

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?

    Are you a wamb or a nerd? (with Tom Chivers)

    Are you a wamb or a nerd? (with Tom Chivers)

    What is a "wamb"? What are the differences between wambs and nerds? When is it appropriate (or not) to decouple concepts from their context? What are some common characteristics of miscommunications between journalists and writers / thinkers in the EA and Rationalist communities? What are "crony" beliefs? How can you approach discussions of controversial topics without immediately getting labelled as being on one team or another? What sorts of quirks do members of the EA and Rationalist communities typically exhibit in social contexts? Tom is a freelance science writer and the science editor at UnHerd.com. He has twice been awarded a Royal Statistical Society "statistical excellence in journalism" prize, in 2018 and 2020, and was declared the science writer of the year by the Association of British Science Writers in 2021. His first book, The Rationalist's Guide to the Galaxy: Superintelligent AI and the Geeks Who are Trying to Solve Humanity's Future (originally titled The AI Does Not Hate You), was declared one of the Times's science books of 2019. He worked for seven years at the Telegraph and three years at BuzzFeed before going freelance in 2018, and was once described by Sir Terry Pratchett as "far too nice to be a journalist". Find out more about Tom on Twitter, UnHerd, and tomchivers.com.

    • 55 min
    Behind the scenes of the online dating world (with Tom Quisel)

    Behind the scenes of the online dating world (with Tom Quisel)

    How do men and women differ in their approach to online dating? How do online dating services deal with the fact that men send many times more messages to women than women send to men? How can online dating services' recommendation algorithms avoid merely recommending the most attractive people over and over to everyone? To what extent do users of such services agree about what makes a person attractive? How do transactions and interactions on these platforms shape the way users pursue short-term and/or long-term relationships? What surprising effects emerge in aggregate as a result of these transactions? How well do people really know themselves? How well do they know what kind of relationship partners would actually make them happy? How does gay male online dating (especially on Grindr) differ from heterosexual online dating? What makes for effective management and/or leadership? Is anger a useful tool for managers? How should managers weight the importance of various hiring tools (e.g., résumés, interviews, work samples, personality tests, contract periods, etc.)? What are some tools for designing highly effective self-experiments? Is there alien life in the universe? Should we be trying to reach out to aliens? Tom Quisel is the CTO at Grindr, where he practices servant leadership and works to build a culture that values diversity, collaboration, ownership, and quality craft. He's passionate about making a positive impact on the world and is an online dating veteran with 9 years of experience in the industry, including 2.5 years as OkCupid's CTO. He has a BS in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon, with a background in software engineering, distributed systems, data science, and machine learning. Tom lives in Santa Barbara and loves to mountain bike, explore philosophy with friends, and pursue life-long learning.

    • 1 hr 20 min
    The clash between social justice and anti-wokeness (with Amber Dawn and Holly Elmore)

    The clash between social justice and anti-wokeness (with Amber Dawn and Holly Elmore)

    Is it okay for anyone to have opinions about marginalized communities even if they're not a part of those communities? Do people in marginalized groups have special knowledge (especially tacit knowledge) about their groups that can't be known or experienced from the outside? To what extent can we know and empathize with others' experiences regardless of differences in race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, etc.? Do oppression and discrimination tend to be caused more by active bigotry or by mere lack of care and awareness? What information (if any) does intersectionality fail to capture about people? Is describing someone intersectionally an end in itself, or is it just a way of correcting (or over-correcting) for the suppression of marginalized voices? Should ideas be discussed absent their context or implications (see: decoupling norms vs. contextualizing norms)? To what extent should we focus on individuals versus groups when attempting to fix inequities? Are individuals or groups responsible for redressing the atrocities of their ancestors? Should people be "cancelled" for their views (including their past views, even if their current views are different)? To what extent is the shifting of moral ground around social justice issues unpredictable and/or disorienting? How can democratic societies balance the need to debate difficult ideas with the risk of giving reprehensible ideas a platform? Should rules about offensiveness be enforced from the top down (e.g., from a government, a school administration, a company's board of directors, or even parents)? Is offense only "in the eye of the beholder"? Amber Dawn is an itinerant UChicago PhD student working on Plato and Lucretius. She is interested in philosophy, emotions, mental health and therapy, effective altruism, ethics, gender, sex, anarchism, and social justice. You can find more about Amber on Facebook, Twitter, or Medium, or you can email her at contemplatonist@gmail.com. Holly Elmore is an effective altruist with a background in evolutionary biology. After organizing EA groups at Harvard throughout her PhD, she left academia and conducts EA-style wild animal welfare research. She witnessed the rise of wokism from within American universities, and has followed developments in social justice culture both as an adversary and an interested amateur sociologist. You can find more about her at her blog. Amber and Holly would like for us to remind you that the views they express in this conversation are their own and do not reflect the views held by their employers.

    • 2 hrs 18 min
    Tyler's three laws and twelve rules (with Tyler Cowen)

    Tyler's three laws and twelve rules (with Tyler Cowen)

    Why might it be the case that "all propositions about real interest rates are wrong"? What, if anything, are most economists wrong about? Does political correctness affect what economists are willing to write about? What are the biggest open questions in economics right now? Is there too much math in economics? How has the loss of the assumption that humans are perfectly rational agents shaped economics? Is Tyler's worldview unusual? Should people hold opinions (even loosely) on topics about which they're relatively ignorant? Why is there "something wrong with everything" (according to Cowen's First Law)? How can we learn how to learn from those who offend us? What does it mean to be a mentor? What do we know and not know about success? What is lookism? Why is raising someone else's aspirations a high-return activity? Tyler Cowen is Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University and serves as chairman and general director of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. With colleague Alex Tabarrok, Cowen is coauthor of the popular economics blog Marginal Revolution and cofounder of the online educational platform Marginal Revolution University. Read more at his website, tylercowen.com.

    • 56 min
    Freezing to (not) death: cryonics and the quest for immortality (with Max Marty)

    Freezing to (not) death: cryonics and the quest for immortality (with Max Marty)

    What is cryonics? And how does it work? What do we know right now about reversing death? And what would we have to learn to make resurrection from a cryogenically frozen state feasible? How much does cryonics cost? What incentives would future people have for reviving a cryo-frozen person? How likely is it that a cryo-frozen person will be brought back in the future? Why do people (even pro-cryonics people) "cryoprastinate" and put off considering cryonics for a later time? What sorts of risks are involved in being frozen and later revived? What philosophical and ethical issues are at stake with cryonics? Would a revived person be able to integrate into a future society? Why is there stigma around cryonics in some cultures? Max Marty is an entrepreneur and futurist who lived and worked in the Bay Area for 10 years. He's now in Austin and has been working to build the Cryonics community, including co-hosting the Cryonics Underground podcast and running the largest Cryonics discord community: The Cryosphere. He looks forward to getting back into startups in the future, this time in biotech. Further reading: "Lena" by qntm

    • 1 hr 34 min
    The pre/trans fallacy, and why you should learn the skill of coaching (with Eben Pagan)

    The pre/trans fallacy, and why you should learn the skill of coaching (with Eben Pagan)

    What is the vertical conception of cognitive development? Do developmental stages always occur in a predictable order? To what extent are adult humans able to continue their cognitive development? Is it better to be a specialist or a generalist? What is the "pre/trans" fallacy? What is the importance of coaching as a meta-skill? What sorts of questions precipitate insights and/or clarifications of values? Eben Pagan is a well-known entrepreneur, teacher, and technology investor. He's launched and invested in many companies, selling over $100 million in products and services in the process.

    • 1 hr 23 min

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