53 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
    • 4.9 • 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.

Disclaimer: Personal podcast, no organisational affiliation or endorsement.

    Jennifer Doleac: reducing crime, policing, justice, policy

    Jennifer Doleac: reducing crime, policing, justice, policy

    Jennifer Doleac studies the economics of crime and discrimination. In July 2023, Jenn will join Arnold Ventures as the Executive Vice President of Criminal Justice. We chat about trends and causes of crime. How guns, drugs and policing interact with crime trends.

    …there was this huge increase in violent crime in particular in the late early eighties, early nineties. And suddenly violent crime started falling dramatically in the mid-1990s. We still aren't entirely sure why that is the case, this big mystery in the economics of crime world. But we do know that basically crime has been falling since then until very recently. So during the pandemic and since the pandemic, we've seen this big uptick in homicide and shootings, at least in the US. Again, we're not entirely sure why that change. It's kind of like trying to describe what's going on in the stock market. There are lots of sort of little blips and everything, and you can have big picture understanding of the economy and what drives growth, but not be able to predict fluctuations in the stock market. So it's similar with crime rates

    But overall, we're still in a place where homicide rates and violent crime rates are much lower than they were in the early to mid-nineties. So overall things have gotten much safer, especially in our big cities; we're much safer. But of course, as you said, there's a lot of variation place to place; particular neighborhoods, particular communities, they're the brunt of a lot of violent crime that is still going on. So it's a major public safety or major public problem and concern for policymakers in particular places and that has become more of a focus in recent years as homicides and shootings have gone up, which of course we're not used to after this big decline for decades...

    We talk about what we know of policies that work on reducing crime, and how challenging the recent uptick in crime statistics is to ideas on reforming criminal justice.

    We discuss alternatives to jail, and what type of interventions can work on crime, such as sentencing for misdemeanors, and access to healthcare. 

    Jenn explains why the “broken window” theory of crime has not really held up. The mixed studies on body cameras and how deterrents (like DNA databases and CCTV) seem to work.

    Jenn discusses her work suggesting some policies have had unintended consequences related to “ban the box” (where employers are not allowed to know of former convictions on initial job application), and related to her paper on the Moral Hazard of Lifesaving Innovations: Naloxone Access and Opioid Abuse (which has proved controversial in some quarters).

    We play overrated/underrated on: Texas, diversity and universal basic income. We end on Jenn’s current projects and life advice.

    Transcript and video are here: https://www.thendobetter.com/arts/2023/5/8/jennifer-doleac-crime-policing-policy-podcast

    Jenn also hosts her own podcast:   Probable Causation, a podcast about law, economics, and crime.

    • 1 hr 27 min
    Patrick House: Neuroscience and Understanding Consciousness

    Patrick House: Neuroscience and Understanding Consciousness

    Patrick House is a neuroscientist and writer. His research focused on the neuroscience of free will and  in particular how mind-control parasites altered a rat’s behaviour.

    We once had a long chat on the rainy streets of Glasgow. This chat – which I may not fully recall – involved speaking on what consciousness is, and touched on his work on mind-control bugs.

    He’s written a collection of essays: Nineteen Ways of Looking at Consciousness

    “Consider different translations of a poem: Each has something relevant to say, but none can entirely capture the essence. House repeatedly returns to a case in which a woman was undergoing brain surgery to address epilepsy. At one point, the surgeons touched a part of the brain that made her laugh. Did this indicate that emotional responses are simply an aspect of the physical matter inside our skulls?”

    We had a long chat on this. I asked him:

    Do you dream in colour ? 

    Whether lucid dreaming is real?

    What he meant by: "If I were asked to create, from scratch and under duress, a universal mechanism for passing consciousness from parent to child, I would probably come up with something a bit like grafting a plant." ?

    Memory in childhood

    What he finds the most terrifying result in neuroscience

    What translating poetry has in common with understanding consciousness 

    Whether animals have consciousness 

    What he thinks of AI and why he no longer plays Go

    Patrick asks me if I would write a play only for robots.

    We end on Patrick’s advice:

    “My suggestion is to have phenomenological date night with whoever you're interested in the world and ask what their dreams are really like and if it's in images or what inside of their head is really like and see if you get anything, see if you solve any conflict.”

    It was lovely long form chat about consciousness and the mind.

    Transcript/Video here: www.thendobetter.com/arts/2023/3/27/patrick-house-neuroscience-understanding-consciouness-podcast

    • 1 hr 49 min
    Chris Stark: 2023, Climate Policy, NetZero, Adaptation, Heating, Buildings, Incentives

    Chris Stark: 2023, Climate Policy, NetZero, Adaptation, Heating, Buildings, Incentives

    Chris Stark is the Chief Executive of the UK’s Climate Change Committee. The committee is an independent statutory body which advises the UK and the devolved governments on emissions targets and preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change. I think he is one of the most important and thoughtful thinkers on climate change policy today. This is his second time on the podcast.  We covered many topics in 2022 which you can check out here. 

    This time I ask on:

    How does it matter that we will pass 1.5c ?
    What did we learn after COP27 (climate conference in Egypt in 2022)
    How do you think we should think about NetZero at the corporate level
    How should we be thinking of adaptation and the CCCs latest report
    the CCC work on UK domestic energy rating
    Heating and building strategy

    Some of the recent politics decisions and discussions such as the UK government decision on a Cumbria coal mine.

    What the US IRA (inflation reduction act) might mean for climate policy:

    “Now you asked me, has anything changed since last we spoke? And yes, it has. Something quite substantial has changed in the United States of America. So we have this inflation reduction act which is an unfortunate act in only one sense, really. It's the IRA. So in the UK of course it's very difficult to talk about the IRA being good. But it's just a kind of game changing piece of legislation. At the core of it I think is a fairly simple thing really which speaks to our last discussion about the difficulty of implementing carbon taxes. The economic logic of making dirty stuff more expensive than clean stuff is still there.But it turns out that the effort of putting carbon tax on something that you actually need in the present society is enormous politically and maybe it's best at just to make the green stuff cheap. Broadly, that's what the Inflation Reduction Act has done. It has done so in quite a controversial way. We're having a discussion now about the protectionist elements of the Inflation Reduction Act. It is a very protectionist piece of legislation but it has lit a fire under some of these green technologies.
    Chris outlines some of the challenges of a carbon tax and why a carbon tax and dividend may also not work.

    Chris ends on advice on to think about climate impact and future projects.

    Transcript and video available here: https://www.thendobetter.com/investing/2023/2/23/chris-stark-2023-climate-policy-netzero-adaptation-incentives-podcast

    • 1 hr 23 min
    Jade O'Brien: stock broker to teacher, reflections on finance and education, women in finance

    Jade O'Brien: stock broker to teacher, reflections on finance and education, women in finance

    Jade O’Brien was a stock broker (equity sales)  for over 7 years. She then retrained as a teacher and has taught in both the state sector and the private sector in the UK.

    Jade used to pitch me stock ideas and speak about the investment world. I was very curious on why she decided to change careers to become a teacher.

    We chat about what drove Jade to the world of finance. What she viewed as the pros and cons, and what it is like as a woman in a male dominated world and advice she has.

    Jade outlines her experience of finance which has many positives as well as challenges, and what might have changed over the decade.

    (Ben) So what would you say to women wanting to make it in the city or in financial services?

    Do it. Give it a go. I mean, I'm speaking for myself here and I have read that the imposter syndrome feeling is very common within women in finance. But then again, I think, well maybe that imposter syndrome is for everyone in finance but men can hide it better. So I would say do it. Everybody feels insecure and doesn't really know what's going on at times. To have the confidence to go for it and also to not necessarily feel like you need to follow my path of giving up finance and becoming a teacher. I don't think that's something you need to do if you are genuinely interested in finance and you want to get to the top. I think it's definitely possible.
    We discuss the factors that made Jade change her jobs. How we might think about death and how she found teacher training.

    We chat on how we might “value” teaching and why it’s hard to rate teachers. Why some people ask for more homework, and others ask for less homework and how both views can have merit.

    We address:

    The importance of mentors
    the funding situation in UK state supported schools
    A glimpse of teacher training
    Differences between state and private schools in the UK
    Why she thinks teacher quality in both state and private settings are similar
    Why teaching class can feel private
    Views on SEN (special education) policy
    Streaming (where it might work, where it might fail and why she changed her mind)
    What Jade’s perfect class size is, and why
    Her views on uniforms
    School start times
    School food
    The importance of gratitude

    This was an amazing long form conversation addressing many of the debates within education today.

    Transcript and Video available here: https://www.thendobetter.com/arts/2023/2/2/jade-obrien-from-stockbroker-to-teacher-being-a-woman-in-finance-schools-and-teaching-podcast

    • 1 hr 27 min
    Kanjun Qiu: AI, metascience, institutional knowledge, trauma models, structure of knowledge, creativity and dance

    Kanjun Qiu: AI, metascience, institutional knowledge, trauma models, structure of knowledge, creativity and dance

    Kanjun is co-founder and CEO of Generally Intelligent, an AI research company. She works on metascience ideas often with Michael Nielsen, a previous podcast guest. She’s a VC investor and co-hosts her own podcast for Generally Intelligent. She is part of building the Neighborhood, which is intergenerational campus in a square mile of central San Francisco. Generally Intelligent (as of podcast date ) are looking for great talent looking to work on AI.

    We get a little nerdy on the podcast but we cover AI thinking, fears on rogue AI, and the breakthroughs of Chat AI. We discuss some of her latest ideas in meta science based on the work she has done with Michael Nielsen (previous podcast here) and what are the important questions we should be looking at.

    We chat about the challenge of old institutions,  the value of dance and creativity and why her friends use “to kanjun” as a verb.

    We cover her ideas on models of trauma and why EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy) and cognitive therapies might work.

    We discuss why dinosaurs didn’t develop more.

    We chat around “what is meaning” and “what is the structure of knowledge”, what are the strengths and weakness of old institutions; culture vs knowledge vs history  and other confusing questions.

    Kanjun gives her advice on how to think about dance (dance like you are moving through molasses).

    "Dance is inside of you. It just needs to be unlocked."

    We play underrated/overrated on:  having agency, city planning, death of institutions, innovation agencies, high frequency trading; diversity

    Kanjun thinks on how capitalism might want to be augmented and what excites Kanjun about AI and complex systems.

    Kanjun asks me questions and I offer my critique on Effective Altruism. 

    This is quirky long form conversation on a range of fascinating topics.

    Transcript and video available here: https://www.thendobetter.com/arts/2023/1/17/kanjun-qiu-ai-metascience-institutional-knowledge-trauma-models-podcast

    • 1 hr 39 min
    Florence Evans: Mud Larking, Art Collecting, Dealing and Curating

    Florence Evans: Mud Larking, Art Collecting, Dealing and Curating

    Florence Evans is an art dealer, historian, curator, collector and mud larker.  We chat on what does mudlarking tell us about history ? What does art tell us about being human ?

    …we mustn't forget is that ultimately there's a real human connection with beauty. So conceptual art aside which serves an important purpose and helps us to think and challenges us in many ways. On the other hand, there's a human need, I think, a kind of nesting instinct to have art for the home, things of beauty to lift your spirits. I think that's really elemental. …

    Florrie chats on the cultural history of mudlarking, the stories found objects represent from the both the darker side of human history such as beads and the slave trade, as well as the lighter sides of found items.

    We discuss one of her favourite finds, a whole child’s shoe from the Tudor era.

    We chat on what we’ve puzzled out from our river finds including a hand blown glass apothecary bottle from the 1600s.

    We discuss: bottles, beads, coins, stories, Roman items, buttons and costumes and more…

    We touch on her philosophy as an art collector and what art means to us as humans.

    One of my happiest achievements in my career thus far was curating an exhibition on mudlarking and mudlarked art in 2019 for the Totally Thames Festival. That was an exhibition that I put on showing art by artists featuring mudlark finds, still life photographs by Hannah Smiles; a photographer of mudlarked finds and portraits of mudlarks as well that she had taken. That was in the Bargehouse which is a massive warehouse space on the South Bank by the Oxo Tower; so right by the river.That was a joy to be asked to do that and it felt like it was a fusion of both my passion, hobby; mudlarking and what I do in work which is curate and look at art. So that was a fusion of art and mudlarking and looking at craft and elevating it to art. Looking at history and saying, "This is part of who we are as human beings. We create-- There is an impulse and an urge to make things of beauty. Even things that are utilitarian, there's beauty to be found." And that kind of links back to the philosophy of someone like William Morris who believed that art should always be useful and beautiful.
    What art Florrie likes and collects and the challenge of modern art.

    Florrie gives her advice on art collecting and life.

    I've always done what I love and it gives me great satisfaction. You can always find your people, you can always find your niche even just by going online. It's amazing how the world opens up. As long as you are doing something that you're passionate about, you should be okay.

    Transcript and links available here: www.thendobetter.com/arts/2022/12/27/florence-evans-mud-larking-art-collecting-and-art-dealing-podcast

    • 1 hr 12 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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