Crisp conversations with critical thinkers at the leading edge of science, technology, politics, and social systems.
EP104 Joe Henrich on WEIRD People
Joe Henrich talks to Jim about some of the key insights from his book, The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar & Particularly Prosperous. They cover who the WEIRD people are & what impact their WERDness has on academic research, the impact of literacy on cognition, nature & nurture, the unique characteristics of WEIRD people, individualist vs relational dispositions, guilt vs shame cultures, how events in Middle Ages driven by the Catholic Church lead to WEIRDness, kin-based institutions & cultures, non-kin organizations in societies & their impacts, differing views on justice, individualism's role in innovation & wealth, wholistic vs analytical thinking, moral universalism, free will, possible WEIRD genetic drivers, and more.
Currents 023: Terry Gainer on the January 6th Riot
In this Currents episode, Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief, Terry Gainer talks to Jim about his views on the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol. He discusses shortcomings in preparations, intelligence, and operations, highlights failure to adjust as new information came in, describes issues with the chain of command that impacted both preparation and response, the role of "optics" in protest preparations, how macro failure arose from several smaller ones, examines claims of police & military collusion with the rioters, positive aspects of the law enforcement response, and much more.
Currents 022: Curtis Yarvin on Institutional Failure
In this Currents episode, Jim talks to Curtis Yarvin about some key points in his recent article, "2020, the year of everything fake". They start by talking about the ability &/or inability to take the world seriously, presentism, history, political formulas & their connection to governmental failure, the fall of the soviet union, and the stupidity quotient. They then explore aspects of the US institutional failures related to the COVID-19 response: virus origin, vaccines, conflicting incentives, lockdowns, and US governmental ops capacities today & in the past. They go on to talk about the Manhattan Project, oligarchy vs monarchy, and Curtis wraps the episode up by reciting a speech from 1933 to demonstrate how much has changed.
Currents 021: John Robb on Jan 6th, 2021
In this Currents episode, Jim talks to John Robb about the Jan 6th events at the US Capitol. They cover the intelligence & operations failures, the event as an example of domestic opensource insurgency, heterogeneous motivations & intentions among the protesters, self-organizing network tribal dynamics of the right & left, the conspiracy attractor for the insurgents, the criticality of this cultural moment, current & past US election distrust, consensus vs dissent on social media, Trump's role, the shifting political field & strategies, the Parler shutdown, big tech power & alternatives, and much more.
EP103 James Ehrlich on Regen Villages
James Ehrlich talks to Jim about what makes a regen village, potential community organization types, how regen villages could learn from each other, utilizing machine learning, working with existing government regulations, the importance & urgent need for regen villages, the COVID-19 impact on demand, city living & de-urbanization, misconceptions of rural living, climate change, healthy living with less, materialism, funding villages, the future of pre-fab construction, plans for regen village agriculture, and more.
EP102 Debora Spar on Technological Impacts on Culture
Debora Spar and Jim have a wide-ranging conversation on some of the insights in her book, Work Mate Marry Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny. They start by focusing on our transition from forager to agricultural life: the creation of property & new family structures, roles & lifestyles of women, polygyny, hoe vs plow cultures, and bastard children. They then go on to cover highlights of the industrial revolution: fossil fuels & steam power impacts, the idea of progress, factory life, women's changing cultural expectation, class dynamics, washing machines & other impactful household appliances, freeing dynamics of automobiles & female birth control. They finish this chat by talking about more recent technological inventions & their potential impacts: in-vitro fertilization & genetic technologies, surrogacy, online dating, and more.