47 episodes

Ben Yeoh chats to a variety of thinkers and doers about their curiosities, ideas and passions.

If you are curious about the world this show is for you.

I have extended conversations across humanities and science with artists, philosophers, writers, theatre makers, activists, economists and all walks of life.

Ben Yeoh Chats Benjamin Yeoh

    • Arts
    • 4.9 • 38 Ratings

Ben Yeoh chats to a variety of thinkers and doers about their curiosities, ideas and passions.

If you are curious about the world this show is for you.

I have extended conversations across humanities and science with artists, philosophers, writers, theatre makers, activists, economists and all walks of life.

    Michael Nielsen: metascience, how to improve science, open science, and decentralisation

    Michael Nielsen: metascience, how to improve science, open science, and decentralisation

    Michael Nielsen is a scientist at the Astera Institute. He helped pioneer quantum computing and the modern open science movement. He is a leading thinker on the topic of meta science and how to improve science, in particular, the social processes of science. His latest co-authored work is  ‘A Vision of metascience: An engine of improvement for the social processes of Science’ co-authored with Kanjun Qiu . His website notebook is here, with further links to his books including on quantum, memory systems, deep learning, open science and the future of matter.

    I ask: What is the most important question in science or meta science we should be seeking to understand at the moment ?

    We discuss his vision for what a metascience ecosystem could be; what progress could be and ideas for improving the the culture of science and social processes.

    We imagine what an alien might think about our social processes and discuss failure audits, high variance funding and whether organisations really fund ‘high risk’ projects if not that many fail, and how we might measure this.

    We discuss how these ideas might not work and be wrong; the difficulty of (the lack of) language for new forming fields; how an interdisciplinary institute might work.

    The possible importance of serendipity and agglomeration effects; what to do about attracting outsiders, and funding unusual ideas.

    We touch on the stories of Einstein, Katalin Kariko (mRNA) and Doug Prasher (molecular biologist turned van driver) and what they might tell us.

    We discuss how metascience can be treated as a research field and also as an entrepreneurial discipline.

    We discuss how decentralisation may help. How new institutions may help. The challenges funders face in wanting to wait until ideas become clearer.

    We discuss the opportunity that developing nations such as Indonesia might have.

    We chat about rationality and critical rationality.

    Michael gives some insights into how AI art might be used and how we might never master certain languages, like the languages of early computing.

    We end on some thoughts Michael might give his younger self:

    The one thing I wish I'd understood much earlier is the extent to which there's kind of an asymmetry in what you see, which is you're always tempted not to make a jump because you see very clearly what you're giving up and you don't see very clearly what it is you're going to gain. So almost all of the interesting opportunities on the other side of that are opaque to you now. You have a very limited kind of a vision into them. You can get around it a little bit by chatting with people who maybe are doing something similar, but it's so much more limited. And yet I know when reasoning about it, I want to treat them like my views of the two are somehow parallel but they're just not.


    Transcript/Video available here: https://www.thendobetter.com/arts/2022/11/15/michael-nielsen-metascience-how-to-improve-science-open-science-podcast

    • 1 hr 36 min
    Saloni Dattani: making science better, important questions in science, open science, reforming peer review, vaccines and optimism.

    Saloni Dattani: making science better, important questions in science, open science, reforming peer review, vaccines and optimism.

    Saloni Dattani is a founding editor at Works in Progress, a researcher at Our World in Data and a commissioning editor at Stripe Press. She has recently been profiled by Vox as part of the Future Perfect 50. Saloni is an excellent thinker on progress and science with recent articles for Wired (on making science better) and Guardian (on challenge trials). 



    Saloni tells me what are the most important questions in science that we should be working on.

    We discuss making science better and thinking around challenge trials, making science more open source, reforming peer review and thinking around experimental clinical trial design.

    We talk about vaccines, why Saloni tends to optimism and what risks and opportunities she is thinking about.

    Borrowing from Tyler Cowen, I ask: 

    How ambitious are you ?

    Which of your beliefs are you least rational about?”  (Or what is she most irrational about?)

    What is something esoteric you do ?



    We play over rated / under rated on:

    Substack, Misinformation, Doing a PhD, Women in Science; Vaccines and Drugs

    We end on Saloni’s current projects and advice.



    Transcript and video available here: www.thendobetter.com/arts/2022/11/8/saloni-dattani-improving-science-important-questions-in-science-open-science-reforming-peer-review-podcast

    • 1 hr 6 min
    Jérôme Tagger: sustainability, ESG as a negotiation, impact, investing, preventable surprises

    Jérôme Tagger: sustainability, ESG as a negotiation, impact, investing, preventable surprises

    Jérôme Tagger is CEO of Preventable Surprises. Jérôme is a thinker on long term ESG trends (a catch-all phrase for extra-financial environment, social and governance) and systemic risks. He was a Director at the Global Impact Investing Network, the founding COO of the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, Head of Research at Eurosif and Chief Revenue Officer at ImpactAlpha.

    Link to video and transcript: www.thendobetter.com/investing/2022/11/2/jrme-tagger-sustainability-esg-as-a-negotiation-impact-investing-podcast

    We chat about the differing roles of companies, civil society and government. What Jérôme thinks about the most important levers and theories of change.

    Why ESG could be thought of as a form of negotiation.

    Whether we have an idea on what the neglected issues or under rated ESG challenges are.

    What you should be thinking of as the chief exec of a think tank start-up. How we should think about building institutional capital. The importance of relationships and “social capital”.

    Whether we should consider “less democracy, technocractics rather than democratic decision making.

    What Jérôme thinks about billionaire philanthropy.

    What Jérôme is hearing about views on regulation on greenwashing and, in particular, on SFDR (Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, EU).

    “...

    I haven't talked to a single person whether on the finance side, on the NGO side, civil society or otherwise that is happy with this regulation.”
    Jérôme ends with advice and current projects.

    • 51 min
    Mark Koyama: How the World Became Rich, economic history, intangibles, culture, progress

    Mark Koyama: How the World Became Rich, economic history, intangibles, culture, progress

    Mark Koyama is an Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason. Mark researches comparative national state economic development and the rise of religious tolerance. He is interested in how historical institutions functioned and in the relationship between culture and economic performance.   

    Transcript:  www.thendobetter.com/investing/2022/10/9/mark-koyama-how-the-world-became-rich-economic-history-intangibles-culture-progress-podcast 

    I ask why it has taken economists and historians so long to form central views on how we have become rich?

    Mark discusses what historic progress might tells us about economic development today.  I ask about the interaction between the main factors behind economic progress such as: institutions, culture, infrastructure, geography, energy. 

    I question the role of common law and ask about living constitutions. Mark discusses his reading of the literature and how the UK is relatively unique in its living constitutions. 

    I query the role of intangibles and the patent system and briefly lay out the case (after Brad De Long) for importance of industrial labs and the corporate form. Mark discusses these factors and their importance from the 1870s but also what was important pre-1870.  

    We chat about culture (using Joe Henrich’s terms) as a set of heuristics. Mark discusses the literature on the importance and role of slavery (probably not the most major facotr in the UK’s industrialization, but still heavily argued), and the role and roots of social progress such as women’s rights.   

    We cover impacts of war and also the black death from an economic history view and we discuss the challenge on climate.  

    We play over/underrated on : GDP, carbon tax, representative democracy governance mechanisms, universal basic income.  

    Mark ends with current projects and advice.  

    "….So podcasts; everything is online basically. The young person who's ambitious and interested can actually get to speed quickly. So you can teach yourself econometrics by watching tons of YouTube videos. Most people won't because there's other stuff to watch on YouTube, there's other stuff to do. I could be teaching myself foreign languages on YouTube and I'm not doing it because my opportunity costs I guess is maybe high. But if you're young and wanted to study this stuff, you can get a huge head start just by use of the internet cleverly. Tyler Cowen’s advice is find the right mentors. Find some people and learn from them. But you get a huge amount early on to give yourself a head start before you go to university because to be honest, the university experience isn't necessarily going to be all that…"

    • 1 hr 12 min
    Jacob Soll: History of Free Market ideas, Adam Smith, Hamilton, Cicero, Machievelli, History of Accounting

    Jacob Soll: History of Free Market ideas, Adam Smith, Hamilton, Cicero, Machievelli, History of Accounting

    Jacob Soll is a professor of philosophy, history and accounting. His latest book is Free Market: The History of an Idea. Jake has works on the history of accounting, The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations (2014); the influence of Machiavelli, "The Prince" (2005) and Louis XIV’s First minster, Jean-Baptiste Cobert, The Information Master (2009). Jake works on accounting standards and financial transparency as well as the history of ideas.

    Transcript, video and links here: https://www.thendobetter.com/investing/2022/9/24/jacob-soll-the-history-of-free-market-ideas-cicero-adam-smith-hamilton-machievelli-podcast

    We discuss is better accounting can save the world by looking at externalities, natural capital and human capital better.

    We chat about the central role of Cicero and stoic thought in the history of free market thinkers, and how Cicero was in this respect more influential than Aristotle.

    Jake talks about how Christian thinkers, and Franciscan monks thought about free markets and also Alexander Hamilton and Machievelli.

    We discuss the role of institutions in shaping thought. Jake argues for the importance of patenting ideas and if UK’s patent office gave the country an edge when the industrial revolution started.

    We debate if “idea” or “dream” would be a better word to encompass the historic thinking on free markets.

    We discuss the role of culture, to what extent protectionism and some tariffs helped economies develop historically.

    We play underrated/overrated on: GDP as a measure, carbon tax, standardized sustainability measures, and UBI, universal basic income.

    We end on Jake’s current projects and life advice. Study more serious humanities books!

    Don't read easy to read books. I think they are the most destructive thing on our culture; these CEO books. “Pull up your boots and tie your shoes in the morning. Don't let the government give you eggs.” I read some of these books and I'm like, "How is this helping anybody?" Go back and read the kind of books we were reading when we were actually building big states and building things that have proved sustainable. If you don't know what they are, just go back and read great literature and great novels. What is that? Well, you can make a decision. It can come from any country. It can come from any religion, but there are great books. Over centuries I see traditional books that we've decided over time are extremely useful to us. Go back and read those. For me, it's the 19th century novel. It has become Roman and Greek philosophy. It's also become the early works of the fathers of the church which never ceased to fascinate me. The writings of William of Ockham… Those are fascinating books. Read serious books. I really think it's time to put down the Harry Potter and get challenged.

    • 1 hr 27 min
    Naomi Fisher: home education, unschool, agency in learning, meltdowns, child-led learning, cognitive psychology

    Naomi Fisher: home education, unschool, agency in learning, meltdowns, child-led learning, cognitive psychology

    Naomi Fisher is a clinical psychologist. She has written a book: Changing Our Minds: How children can take control of their own learning. The book is an excellent look at self-directed education also known in the UK as home education, or in the US as home school or unschooling.  

    We discuss her background as a psychologist and her work with autistic people. We chat about her experience of eleven schools and why she has ended up asking questions about control. Why we control people and particularly why we control children.

    Naomi discusses the different schools of thought on education and why progressive doesn't necessarily mean child-led education and why she likes the idea (Alison Gopnik) of a child as scientist.

    We chat about what Naomi views as  the problems of the current system such as the overuse of exams and why behvaiourism only covers a tiny slice of what learning is in the real world. Naomi highlights some of the benefits of a self-directed education process and what home education can bring.

    We talk about the amount of time we have spent in the world of Minecraft. Why parents may be overworried about the use of technology and screen time. Why YouTube might be more beneficial than not.

    Naomi answers my question on how to deal with child meltdown and outlines the idea of zones of tolerance. I pose a question on to what extent we should influence a child’s learning “syllabus” and Naomi outlines her view that a child should always have agency and not be forced into “learning” but that does not mean we should not seek to give a child a rich environment and opportunity to learn.

    Naomi answers listener questions. First, if home education is only for rich people, and, second, the impacts of the pandemic on home educators.

    We play overrated/underrated and Naomi rates: the government setting the curriculum,  the role of exams, social media and technical colleges.

    Naomi talks about her latest projects including a second book on neurodiversity and self-directed education, called “A Different Way to Learn” available in 2023.

    Naomi ends with advice:

    “my number one advice for parents would be trust your instincts about what your child needs and how your child is. There are a lot of parents I talk to they say, "I think that my child is really unhappy or I think that my child needs these things, but the professionals are telling me that I'm wrong." I think you need to just retain your knowledge that you know your child better and you probably have a really good sense. You don't just know your child better, but in most cases you share genes with your child. Therefore you often have a kind of intuitive understanding of the experiences that your child is having and that you can get inside their heads in a way that professionals often can't. So I would say really listen to your instincts, give yourself space to think about what you think as sort of apart from what everybody tells you, you should be thinking. The other thing is lean into the things that your child likes; whatever they are, lean into them and embrace them because this is a short time of life when they're like this and when they're young and it is an amazing opportunity to connect with them if you choose to do that rather than choosing to pull them away from the things that they love.”
    Transcript available here: https://www.thendobetter.com/arts/2022/8/31/naomi-fisher-home-education-unschool-agency-in-learning-meltdowns-child-led-learning-cognitive-psychology-podcast

    • 1 hr 22 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
38 Ratings

38 Ratings

rayray_popcorn ,

Love it !

keep up the good work!❤️

8rmlrubeooyf520 ,

Benjamin Yeoh🎙🎙

It was a joy having Benjamin Yeoh host such a gentle conversation.He is a sunburst of joy and an enthusiast for understanding, tolerance and love for mankind.Here we always get great educational topic with lots of inspireation.

Hannah Nealson ,

Jonathan Wolff!

Thank you Jonathan Wolff
I think this episode is great example of great parson and work .I lern a lot of this episode .Now i am a big fllower of Jonbathon please keep continiue your good work..🎁🎁

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