68 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.

Disclaimer: Personal podcast, no organisational affiliation or endorsement.

Ben Yeoh Chats Benjamin Yeoh

    • Arts
    • 4.6 • 11 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.

Disclaimer: Personal podcast, no organisational affiliation or endorsement.

    Hansong Li: China, political economy, intellectual history, Tangut and Hamilton, the Musical

    Hansong Li: China, political economy, intellectual history, Tangut and Hamilton, the Musical

    Hansong Li is a political theorist and historian of political, economic, and legal thought. We discussed a breadth of topics ranging from the Tangut language, Eastern philosophy, development economics, to modern political ideologies and cultural expressions. Hansong’s insights shed light on historical contexts while drawing connections to contemporary issues.

    The conversation delves into broader philosophical and economic themes, comparing past and present political thoughts and examining the effects of international aid on development. Hansong emphasizes the importance of learning from history and cultural interactions for a more nuanced understanding of contemporary global dynamics.

    Transcript, video and links: www.thendobetter.com/arts/2024/6/14/hangsong-li-china-tangut-political-economy-history-podcast

    The Tangut People and Their Language
    Modern Interpretations of Chinese Philosophy
    Global South and Regional Concepts
    Montesquieu and Sea Imagery
    Rousseau's Plan for Corsica
    Economic Development in Northeast Asia
    International Aid: Help or Hindrance?
    Global Economic Thought: East vs. West
    Hamilton: A Political and Cultural Analysis
    Underrated or Overrated?
    Current Projects and Life Advice

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Rasheed Griffith: Progress, Caribbean, Policy, Food, Music, Talent Assessment, Culture

    Rasheed Griffith: Progress, Caribbean, Policy, Food, Music, Talent Assessment, Culture

    Rasheed Griffith discusses the factors impeding progress in the Caribbean and shares his optimism for the region. He identifies the decline in public sector quality since the 1960s as a major obstacle. Transcript and links here.

    Griffith suggests that reforming the public sector could significantly advance the Caribbean by attracting international talent and improving policy implementation. He also discusses the historical impact of British technocracy in the Caribbean, proposing that adopting a more internationalized public service could be beneficial. Griffith urges a shift towards leveraging global trade for growth.

    The discussion also touches on the potential of dollarization, the limited utility of charter cities in the Caribbean, and the importance of understanding regional culture through food and history. 

    “every Caribbean country should be dollarized. No exceptions. Caribbean countries, any small country, there is very little utility of having your own currency except for having the ability of the government to mismanage it at some point in time. And that has historically been the case in the Caribbean, been the case in Latin America, been the case in Europe, Asia, it goes down the line.

    There is no real extra benefit you have from having your own currency, as a very small country, dependent on a global currency anyway. This manifests even stranger things. So for example, Caribbean still has very harsh capital controls, not all Caribbean, but the ones that have their own currency do, and that limits people's freedom to consume as much as what they want.

    It also has again, the ever present risk and reality of the government abusing the exchange Abusing money creation tool obviously hurts the exchange rate hurts inflation all those kind of things So when you really look into it, there's no proper counter argument to dollarization to me when someone says What's the counter argument to me?

    That's like saying what is the argument in favor of having an unsound currency? It's a non starter in that sense.”

    We talk about culture including reggae, VS Naipaul and Rastafarians. And on food:

    “when you understand why you, in Barbados, eat curry goat and roti, of course that has a very big impact on how you think about your own history. Jerk chicken, is very famous in Jamaica. I think it's very difficult to get good jerk chicken outside of Jamaica. There are some spots in London that have some good jerk chicken, but usually, if you go to a place that has jerk chicken, it's likely not actually jerk chicken.

    Any case, even jerk chicken, for example, if you understand how it works is very deeply into how Jamaican history operates. So it came from Mexico after the slaves, this plantation has this thing called Maroon, like free slave holdings in the mountains in Jamaica. And jerk chicken is one of the food products they actually created.

    It's very, goes really far back. And one of the current ingredients of jerk chicken that we usually use in sauce is soy sauce. Now soy sauce, of course, it's not from Jamaica, it's from China primarily speaking. So you see how the Chinese influence in Jamaica, for example, goes back to the food, like the core Jamaican food has this Chinese influence as well.”

    We discuss how to assess talent, what questions to ask in an interview and how to be better for interviews. 

    We play underrated/overrated on: GDP, Universal Basic Income and carbon tax.

    Griffith shares insights into his creative process and the importance of public intellectual engagement. 

    Finally we end on some advice thoughts. Advice:

    "I think people should try to be a lot more public in their thoughts. Writing things online for the public is a nice constrained device."

    • 1 hr 9 min
    Henry Oliver: Late Bloomers, Second Act, Hidden Talent, Biography, John Stuart Mill

    Henry Oliver: Late Bloomers, Second Act, Hidden Talent, Biography, John Stuart Mill

    A conversation with Henry Oliver, author of 'A Second Act', exploring the concept of late bloomers. Transcript here.

    Oliver elaborates on societal pressures, hidden talents, and how these impact individual successes at various life stages, advocating for a broader recognition of potential beyond conventional timelines.

    The dialogue includes themes such as the significance of networks, the role of luck, and the historical context of late blooming, challenging prevailing notions of talent and achievement.

    Following this, the conversation delves into the philosophical contributions of John Stuart Mill, particularly focusing on his expansion of utilitarianism and its inadvertent influence on contemporary moral behaviors like vegetarianism. It contrasts Mill’s stance on liberty and value measurement with other philosophers and highlights the importance of engaging with diverse perspectives for personal growth. The chat connects Mill’s philosophies to present-day issues. 

    We end on Henry’s advice: the importance of personalized approaches to absorbing content, seeking expertise, the application of tailored advice over generic guidance; and to ignore those who do not have recent advice experience.

    On Hidden Talents and Societal Barriers:

    "So in the case of someone just happens to emerge later, and in the case of someone has been held back, I would call that hidden both times. Because very often when you've been held back by your circumstances, people like actually cannot see your talents. And so they are hidden, not in the sense that you've kept them in, or you were scared, or whatever, but in the sense that, you could have put it on your t-shirt and people wouldn't have realized."

    On Overcoming Historical Bias and Recognizing Talent:

    "And obviously historically, very often that was to do with if you were a woman, if you were a person of color people just aren't going to, people literally aren't going to take that seriously. But that, to me, is interesting, it's an interesting demonstration of the fact that, You can be very confident that you know how to find talent, and that you know who's a good chap and who would be good at this job, and be completely blind to what is right in front of you."


    00:13 Learning from Henry’s mother

    01:01 Exploring Hidden Talents and Societal Constraints

    03:34 The Nuances of Midlife Crises and Opportunities for Growth

    07:45 The Power of Networks and Circumstances in Shaping Late Bloomers

    10:23 Margaret Thatcher: A Case Study in Late Blooming

    16:20 Seizing Luck and the Importance of Being Prepared

    21:32 The Role of Networks in Realizing Potential

    30:20 Addressing Societal Biases and Embracing Equality of Opportunity

    34:29 Rethinking Talent: Early Bloomers vs. Late Bloomers

    42:55 The Fluidity of Intelligence and the Potential for Growth

    45:29 Exploring Misunderstood Characters in Literature

    45:56 Audrey Sutherland: The Unrecognized Kayaking Legend

    47:09 Malcolm X: A Misunderstood Figure in History

    48:46 The Ones That Didn't Make the Cut: Missed Profiles

    51:28 The Writing Process: Insights and Personal Habits

    54:51 The Fascinating World of London's Churches

    59:36 Underrated and Overrated: A Deep Dive into Mindsets and Philosophies

    01:18:23 Current Projects and Life Advice

    • 1 hr 21 min
    Alyssa Gilbert: Climate Tech Innovation, Policy, Technology

    Alyssa Gilbert: Climate Tech Innovation, Policy, Technology

    Alyssa Gilbert, the director of the Center for Climate Change Innovation at the Grantham Institute, talks about the current gaps in climate technology investments. She discusses her research into areas that are currently underfunded, including transport and energy. She also covers the importance of energy efficiency, especially in relation to the built environment. Alyssa emphasizes the necessity of various models in the fight against climate change, including private sector initiatives, philanthropy, and governmental grants - and highlights the need for a diverse range of solutions. She also speaks about the innovation within the London climate tech ecosystem and shares her perspective on various topics including carbon offsets, behavior change, and geoengineering.

    Transcript/Video here: https://www.thendobetter.com/investing/2024/3/1/alyssa-gilbert-climate-tech-innovation-policy-technology-podcast

    00:15 Discussion on Climate Technology Investment

    01:15 Exploring Areas of Underinvestment in Climate Change

    01:54 Climate Change Adaptation and Innovation

    02:23 The Role of Heavy Industry in Climate Change

    03:15 Climate Change Policies and Energy Efficiency

    05:10 Challenges in Implementing Energy Efficiency

    08:09 Debate on Degrowth vs Techno-optimism

    11:34 Role of Venture Capital and Philanthropy in Climate Change

    16:11 London's Climate Tech Ecosystem

    21:58 Pitching Climate Change Ideas

    24:17 Role of Big Companies in Climate Change Innovation

    25:49 The Importance of Corporate Involvement in Innovation

    26:26 A Glimpse into a Day in the Life of a Climate Innovator

    29:13 Overrated or Underrated: A Discussion on Climate Solutions

    40:48 Exciting Projects on the Horizon

    44:02 Advice for Those Interested in Climate Action

    • 47 min
    Garrett Graff: Aliens, Mysteries Of UFOs, Watergate, 9/11, Government Trust

    Garrett Graff: Aliens, Mysteries Of UFOs, Watergate, 9/11, Government Trust

    Garrett Graff, a writer and historian who specializes in 'near history', discusses his book, 'UFO', about the US government's search for alien life. He touches upon how we often misunderstand UFO sightings, suggesting they could be due to a mix of physical anomalies and governmental or adversary secret flight technologies. Graff also shares his belief in the possibility of alien civilizations, arguing probabilities suggest the existence of life outside Earth. He then relates UFO conspiracies to a societal mistrust in government and institutions, tying it back to events like the Watergate scandal. Graff finally introduces his forthcoming oral history book on D-Day, emphasizing how his work emphasizes explaining and organizing complex events in an understandable and comprehensive way.

    "When people ask 'do UFOs?'...That's not actually the question that they mean. The question that they really mean is, 'are we alone?' Because the truth of the matter is of course UFOs exist. All a UFO is an unidentified flying object, and there are things out there that we don't know what they are. Whether those are extraterrestrial is a very different question and potentially unrelated to the question of, are there extraterrestrials."

    Transcript and video available here: https://www.thendobetter.com/arts/2024/2/14/garrett-graff-aliens-mysteries-of-ufos-watergate-911-government-trust-podcast


    00:31 Exploring the Mysteries of UFOs

    03:05 The Probability of Alien Life

    06:21 The Government's Role in UFO Research

    19:03 The Impact of Conspiracy Theories

    29:40 The Connection Between UFOs and Politics

    33:28 The Importance of Trust in Government

    47:21 The Writing Process and Future Projects

    • 54 min
    Hannah Ritchie: Not the End of the World, sustainability, climate, progress

    Hannah Ritchie: Not the End of the World, sustainability, climate, progress

    In this in-depth conversation, data scientist and researcher Hannah Ritchie delves into key insights from her new book 'Not The End of The World', which challenges the pervasive idea that human society is doomed due to environmental degradation. She explores various environmental problems, including climate change and plastic pollution, and emphasizes the potential for progress in tackling these critical issues. Hannah also discusses the essential role of technology and outlines the importance of lifting people out of poverty as a measure against climate change. Her argument centers around the balance of environmental change and human impact in achieving a sustainable planet. Furthermore, she provides advice on dealing with climate anxiety, career progression, and essential work ethics. Link to transcript, video and more here: www.thendobetter.com/arts/2024/1/26/hannah-ritchie-sustainability-progress-not-the-end-of-the-world-podcast

    Approach: Hannah's work is primarily driven by data, focusing on the interplay between sustainability, climate change, and patterns of global development. Her new book, "Not the End of the World," addresses one of the most significant challenges of our time - environmental sustainability. 

    In the book, Hannah dispels a range of myths associated with environmental issues. She counters the prevailing narrative which claims we are doomed and there's nothing left to do about our environmental crisis. Instead, she believes we can change the narrative and become the first generation to build a sustainable planet.

    Tackling Climate Change:   

    Hannah's optimism for combating climate change stems from the significant strides made in technology, especially renewable energy technologies. These technologies are no longer mere futuristic imaginings. They are realistic, economical, and deployable on a large scale. 

    However, she acknowledges the difficulty of the task at hand. The world is on track for 2 and a half to 3 degrees of warming which puts us in challenging terrain. We need rapid technological change coupled with significant societal transformation to alter our trajectory. 

    Addressing Biodiversity Loss: 

    Biodiversity loss, according to Hannah, is among the most challenging problems explored in her book. The manifestation of this crisis is nuanced as it involves intricate geo-political and economic dynamics. While technology can help, solving the biodiversity crisis will require simultaneous action on many fronts, from controlling deforestation to addressing climate change and overfishing. 

    • 1 hr 7 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
11 Ratings

11 Ratings

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