Converging Dialogues is a podcast that is designed to have honest and authentic conversations with a diversity of thoughts and opinions. Wide-ranging topics include philosophy, psychology, politics, and social commentary. A spirit of civility, respect, and open-mindedness is the guiding compass.
#81 - Media‘s Gentrification of the Working Class: A Dialogue with Batya Ungar-Sargon
In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Batya Ungar-Sargon about journalism and the working class. They begin by discussing the history of journalism and the past emphasis of the working class being the main audience. They discuss why mass media has become highly polarized and the evolution of media being for elites. They talk about some of the incentives of media and speculate about some of the potential psychological explanations for the polarization in society. They discuss the impact of social media on media overall along with some of the differences in conservative and liberal media. They also talk about individual journalism and if institutions can be saved and many other topics.
Batya Ungar-Sargon is the Deputy Opinion Editor of Newsweek. She holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times. You can purchase her book here. Twitter: @bungarsargon
#80 - Wrestling With Our Social Taboos: A Dialogue with Charles Murray
In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Charles Murray about statistics, cognitive abilities, and social-political issues. They begin by providing a statistical overview of the bell curve, standard deviations, and the overlap of group mean averages. They discuss meta analyses and factor analyses and why they are important for IQ data. They also mention g and its importance for cognitive abilities. They provide definitions of terms such as race, ethnicity, and populations along with genetic concepts such as SNPs, Alleles, and Polygenetic Index scores. They outline the data on race and IQ and question whether it is important to even study group differences between races. They talk about the current social ideology and contributions to these conversations. They also mention the gene-environment interactions, how some groups use data for nefarious reasons, and many other topics.
Charles Murray is the F.A. Hayek Chair Emeritus in Cultural Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He holds a BA in History from Harvard University and a PhD in Political Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has been involved with the Peace Corps and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He is the author of numerous books, including, The Bell Curve, Coming Apart, Human Diversity, and Facing Reality. You can find some of his work at his website. Twitter: @charlesmurray
#79 - Plagues Upon The Earth: A Dialogue with Kyle Harper
In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Kyle Harper about the history of plague and disease on the planet. They begin by talking about his reasons for writing his latest book and the two main theses of the book. They talk about the five taxa of pathology and the importance of globalization on disease. They discuss the three components of parasitism and how the evolution of disease evolves alongside hominoids. They talk about the importance of hunter-gatherers in the Pleistocene period along with the key aspect of vector borne transmission diseases. They move to the Agrarian period and the importance of fecal-oral transmission for disease history. They talk about examples of typhoid disease and measles and how density and domesticates are implicated in respiratory diseases.
They also talk about the plague and its complicated history while also mentioning zoonotic leaps from bats and rats. They also discuss the Colombian exchange the impact this period had on the spread of disease in the world. They talk about the impact of the mosquito and how modernity has continued to work on the evolution of diseases. They mention public healthy innovations in the modern ages, vaccines, and where COVID-19 sits in the history of disease.
Kyle Harper is a Professor of Classics and Letters and Provost Emeritus and Senior Advisor to the President at the University of Oklahoma. He is a historian of ancient Rome and his interests are disease history, economic history, and environmental history. He is the author of four books, including his most recent book, Plagues Upon The Earth: Disease and the Course of Human History. You can purchase this book here. You can find much of his research at his website. Twitter: @oklahomaharper
#78 - Nuanced Feminism in Modern Times: A Dialogue with Kat Rosenfield
In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Kat Rosenfield about women, men, feminism, metoo, cancel culture, and free speech issues. They begin the conversation by discussing why Kat writes about cultural issues and the current state of feminism. They explore why dissent from other women is not always accepted within many women's rights groups. They discuss women in the workplace, the patriarchy, metoo, and women in film. They talk about whether one can separate the art from the artist and if it is possible to forgive and rehabilitate people for wrong acts they do. They also talk about cancel culture and free speech and many other topics.
Kat Rosenfield is a freelance pop culture writer. She is a former reporter for MTV News and has written articles for Entertainment Weekly, Unherd, Vulture, Wired, and many other places. She is the author of many books including Alliances: A Trick of Light with Stan Lee. Her newest novel is No One Will Miss Her and can be purchased here. You can find her at her website. Twitter: @katrosenfield
#77 - Balanced and Healthy Group Identities: A Dialogue with Dominic Packer
In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Dominic Packer about group identities. They start the conversation by discussing his partnership with Jay Van Bavel and their reasons for writing the book. The define identity and why it is an important construct. They discuss the delineation between self and personality and discuss in-group vs. out-group constructs. They mention the concept of cooperation with group identities and mention some of the classic social psychology experiments. They talk about group identity with political polarization, optimal distinctiveness, and the importance of dissent. They also talk about the need for healthy group identities and many other topics.
Dominic Packer is a Social Psychologist, Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs in Arts and Sciences at Lehigh University. His main focus areas are on dissent, cooperation, and group identities. His book, with co-author Jay Van Bavel, is The Power of Us: Harnessing Our Shared Identities to Improve Performance, Increase Cooperation, and Promote Social Harmony, which can be purchased here. Their book also has a website. Twitter: @dominicpacker_
#76 - The Evolving Complexities of Higher Education: A Dialogue with Nicole Barbaro
In this episode, Xavier Bonilla has a dialogue with Nicole Barbaro about higher education. They discuss Nicole's work in higher education and the importance of mentorship for professional development. They provide a definition of education and its boundaries. They also talk about the role of the federal government (Department of Education in the USA) in overseeing and regulating education. They mention merit vs. meritocracy along with the role of standardized tests and entrance exams. They talk about the challenges of scale for a large country's education system and a public option for education. They spend some time discussing the importance of good, quality teaching in higher education. They mention the variables of synchronous and asynchronous learning/teaching. They talk about the process of formal training and education and why information gathering alone is half of the process. They discuss the alternatives of improving teaching in the classroom, DIY and "education influencers," woke activism, Critical Race Theory (CRT) curriculums, and homeschooling. They also talk about options for improving the future of education and many other topics.
Nicole Barbaro holds a PhD in psychology with an emphasis on evolution and human development. She is currently a research scientist at WGU labs and continues to publish in academia on attachment. You can find all of her publications at her website. Subscribe to her substack to have weekly content on current trends within higher education. Twitter: @Nicolebarbaro
This is a great podcast to listen to if you’re interested in intellectual stimulation. Mr. Bonilla is great in interviewing people on a range of topics, from history to psychology to philosophy, and everything in between. The long format and Mr. Bonilla’s friendly and objective perspective is great for getting to the heart of an issue. Plus, he has a deep voice that’s pleasant to listen to for long stretches of time. Highly recommended and one of my favorite podcasts.
thought-provoking & thoughtful
Xavier Bonilla is an excellent interviewer! He goes in depth with topics while keeping the conversations accessible and interesting to listeners. He’s knowledgeable, compassionate, and open to other viewpoints—highly recommend!
Xavier is a great, kind, and charitable host. Excellent show!