109 episodes

Made You Think is a podcast by Nat Eliason, Neil Soni, and Adil Majid where the hosts and their guests examine ideas that, as the name suggests, make you think. Episodes will explore books, essays, podcasts, and anything else that warrants further discussion, teaches something useful, or at the very least, exercises our brain muscles.

Made You Think Neil Soni, Nat Eliason, and Adil Majid

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.4 • 104 Ratings

Made You Think is a podcast by Nat Eliason, Neil Soni, and Adil Majid where the hosts and their guests examine ideas that, as the name suggests, make you think. Episodes will explore books, essays, podcasts, and anything else that warrants further discussion, teaches something useful, or at the very least, exercises our brain muscles.

    109: The Pursuit of Intelligence: Flowers for Algernon

    109: The Pursuit of Intelligence: Flowers for Algernon

    “I don’t know what’s worse: to not know what you are and be happy, or to become what you’ve always wanted to be, and feel alone.”
    Welcome back to another episode of Made You Think! Today, we're delving into Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Join us as we take you through the journey of an intellectually disabled man who undergoes a procedure with the hopes of increasing his mental abilities. We'll unpack several themes that resonate deeply with the human experience, and seek to get our questions answered on what it truly means to be intelligent.
    We cover a wide range of topics including:
    The relationship between intelligence and loneliness Whether the experiment actually made Charlie worse off Influence of social norms and media on individual beliefs and behaviors The existence (or lack of) internal dialogues How handicapped people are often viewed and treated And much more. Please enjoy, and make sure to follow Nat, Neil, and Adil on Twitter and share your thoughts on the episode.
    Links from the Episode:
    Mentioned in the Show:
    Apple Vision Pro (0:01) Rabbit (0:56) Playdate (2:41) Slack (3:54) Lambda Technologies (4:16) Discord (5:17) Flowers for Algernon Wiki (14:41) Internal dialogues (42:01) Reddit thread on Internal Dialogues (43:45)  Texas Tower shooting of 1966 (53:49) The Crowded Room (1:14:04)  Books Mentioned:
    Flowers for Algernon Infinite Jest (Book Episode 1) (Book Episode 2) (Nat’s Book Notes) Enders Game (30:45) The Three-Body Problem (30:46) (Book Episode) (Nat's Book Notes) Permutation City (31:36) (Book Episode) Straw Dogs (48:02) (Book Episode) The Minds of Billy Milligan (1:13:42) East of Eden (1:18:12) (Nat's Book Notes) Logicomix (1:21:02) People Mentioned:
    Daniel Keyes Sam Altman (5:53) Sam Harris (53:24) David Foster Wallace (58:49) Michael Chang (1:15:02) John Steinbeck (1:17:15) Show Topics:
    (0:00) We open the show by talking about new hardware innovations on the horizon from Apple’s Vision Pro to the pocket-sized Rabbit. 
    (3:23) As it's become increasingly easier to make software, what will this mean for SaaS companies and the future of software?
    (6:18) Today we’re talking about Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. The book takes us on the journey of a severely handicapped man who enters into an experiment in order to increase his intelligence. There will be spoilers so if you're planning on reading the book, we suggest you do that before listening to this episode!
    (12:28) Through Charlie's progression and regression, we get a glimpse into his levels of intelligence, awareness, and loneliness. He finds himself lonelier the more intelligent he becomes because as he gains more awareness, he learns that some people aren't truly his friends.
    (13:21) There seems to be a human desire to improve no matter what. Nat, Neil, and Adil debate whether Charlie was better or worse off in the end than he was at the start of his journey.
    (18:35) We discuss some of the other characters in the story and what their relationship with Charlie is like. Notably, Alice is one of the only people who saw him as a person throughout his whole life, even before he gained his intelligence. 
    (22:00) Charlie's family life and how the author wrote each of their closures with Charlie, or lack thereof. 
    (25:12) Despite Alice being a very positive figure in Charlie’s life, you could make the argument that he didn't treat her very well. Regardless, Alice kept her hope and optimism in every situation.
    (28:18) Though the book is classified as science fiction, it also poses instances of moral philosophy. Showcased by the author were examples of how people with mental or physical disabilities are treated by others, both obviously and subtly. 
    (32:52) One of the symbols in the story was a window that Charlie would watch the world through. It was a way for him to interpret his disconnection from society. Throughout the story, Charlie makes progress once he acknowledges himse

    • 1 hr 24 min
    108: To Strive or Not to Strive: Straw Dogs

    108: To Strive or Not to Strive: Straw Dogs

    “If you believe that humans are animals, there can be no such thing as the history of humanity, only the lives of particular humans. If we speak of the history of the species at all, it is only to signify the unknowable sum of these lives. As with other animals, some lives are happy, others wretched. None has a meaning that lies beyond itself.”
    Welcome back to another episode of Made You Think! This week, we’re diving into discussion on Straw Dogs by John Gray. From questioning moral structures to pondering the collective soul, we'll journey through the philosophical landscape of Straw Dogs, examining technology, lifespans, and the very essence of humanism.
    We cover a wide range of topics including:
    Connections between Straw Dogs and Taoism Whether becoming more moral as a society is possible Individualistic vs collectivistic ways of thinking Gray's critique on the idea that humans are special over animals Technology, striving, and human progress And much more. Please enjoy, and make sure to follow Nat, Neil, and Adil on Twitter and share your thoughts on the episode.
    Links from the Episode:
    Mentioned in the Show:
    Gaia hypothesis (2:45) The Vulnerable World Hypothesis (25:50) The Expanse (52:28) 3 Body Problem (52:31) Silo (52:36) Dark Matter (52:41) Books Mentioned:
    Straw Dogs  Novacene (2:41) (Book Episode) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (7:47) (Book Episode) Lila (27:18) Tao Te Ching (29:14) (Book Episode) (Nat's Book Notes) The Fourth Turning (36:22) (Book Episode) Four Thousand Weeks (36:36) Feline Philosophy (39:03) The Way of Zen (43:11) (Book Episode) (Nat’s Book Notes) Happy Accidents (45:24) (Book Episode) (Nat’s Book Notes) Dark Matter (55:33) The Redemption of Time (59:00) The New Leviathans (1:02:08) People Mentioned:
    John Gray James Lovelock (2:40) Nick Bostrom (25:46) Max Planck (32:50) Andrew Yang (Book Episode) Alan Watts (43:12) Show Topics:
    (0:00) In today’s episode, we’re covering Straw Dogs by John Gray. We kick off the episode by sharing our overall impressions of the book and connect it to one of our previous reads, Novacene.
    (3:23) How would we summarize this book? Nat, Neil, and Adil share their interpretation of the book in their own words, comparing and contrasting their summaries.
    (8:19) We discuss the disparity between our aspirations for progress and the reality of human nature, exploring how societal foundations have shifted.
    (12:35) Examining John Gray's argument, we delve into the book's six sections, analyzing its reflections on human nature, morality, and the essence of progress. 
    (14:55) Are we evolutionarily any different from other animal species? We share the example of a hive of white ants, and their contributions to the collective vs. the individual.
    (18:19) Measuring happiness and progress are both tricky. Plus, is it more harmful than beneficial to have faith in humanity and progress?
    (23:11) We pull out some of our key quotes from the book about technology, evolution, and the collective. Technology is not a human-only thing, and over time, new technologies will continue to emerge.
    (29:55) Differences between Robert Persig’s and John Gray's ideas. We look at whether our views on life can change and how science fits into all of this.
    (36:12) Gray appears anti-striving, with ideals that we shouldn't try to control life or we'll end up disappointed in the end.
    (41:30) To strive or not to strive? We talk about the evolution of technology, it's accessibility in today's age, and the hard work that has happened in order for tech to progress. 
    (46:48) Black holes and string theory and dark matter. Oh my! We chat about some cool scientific theories and how they affect our understanding of the world.
    (50:59) Lots of sci-fi books are being made into tv shows and hitting the major streaming services. Nat, Neil, and Adil list a few that they're excited about.
    (59:42) Don’t judge a book by the Goodreads reviews! If yo

    • 1 hr 6 min
    107: What is Quality: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

    107: What is Quality: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

    “Quality...you know what it is, yet you don’t know what it is. But that’s self-contradictory. But some things are better than others, that is, they have more quality. But when you try to say what the quality is, apart from the things that have it, it all goes poof! There’s nothing to talk about. But if you can’t say what Quality is, how do you know what it is, or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn’t exist at all. But for all practical purposes it really does exist.”
    Welcome back to another episode of Made You Think! In this episode, we're discussing Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. Join us as we ride through the intersections of philosophy, a father and son motorcycle trip across America, and the pursuit of Quality. 
    We cover a wide range of topics including:
    Different learning styles and the value of hands-on experience Exploring the elusive concept of Quality Reflections on the narrative and philosophy of the book Overcoming gumption traps and staying enthusiastic  How the journey is just as important as the destination And much more. Please enjoy, and make sure to follow Nat, Neil, and Adil on Twitter and share your thoughts on the episode.
    Links from the Episode:
    Mentioned in the Show:
    Apple Podcasts (0:46) Spotify (1:07) Steve Jobs Presents to the Cupertino City Council (6:30) Chris Langan: The Bouncer (30:24) 24 (58:01)  Books Mentioned:
    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Lila: An Inquiry into Morals (15:40) The Animate and the Inanimate (30:49) Outliers (31:39) Tao Te Ching (40:50) (Book Episode) (Nat's Book Notes) Gödel, Escher, Bach (47:37) (Book Episode) (Nat's Book Notes) Infinite Jest (47:58) (Book Episode) (Nat's Book Notes) The Three-Body Problem (57:29) (Book Episode) (Nat's Book Notes) People Mentioned:
    Robert M. Pirsig Michel Thomas (13:07) William James Sidis (30:32) Christopher Langan (31:22) Jack Bauer (58:00) Liu Cixin (58:37) Show Topics:
    (0:00) We open the episode with our take on podcast analytics. Though people can choose where they want to listen, it’s hard to get a sense of overall listening numbers across platforms as a whole.
    (2:49) Today's episode is centered around Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Neil connects his college experience to the book, describing the contrast between theoretical vs. applied learning.
    (5:35) Different learning styles, emphasizing hands-on experience, and the importance of practical understanding over theory. 
    (9:43) Why is it that not every great athlete can go on to become a great coach? It all comes down to being able to apply and share your knowledge in a given setting.
    (12:59) Sharing our thoughts on how the story was written, the narrative of the motorcycle trip, and how the sequel compares to this story.
    (18:43)The author opens the door to a variety of ideas such as learning to be in the present moment and how to focus on one thing at a time. Though Pirsig is intuitive across several domains, we find that he struggles to put these concepts into words. 
    (23:12) While on a trip with his son and another couple, the author reflects on flashbacks in his life, including the treatment of his past insanity. Through fixing the bike and traveling across the country, he learns many valuable lessons and philosophies along the way.
    (28:23) We briefly discuss the sequel where Pirsig highlights William James Sidis, known for his incredibly high IQ and profound ideas on the origin of life. 
    (32:43) Comparing bike riding to a full-body meditation. Each limb has a specific task to operate the bike, and you have to be focused on the road in front of you, truly bringing yourself to the present moment.
    (34:10) Nat, Neil, and Adil ponder the concept of Quality, its connection to science, spirituality, and the importance of peace of mind. Quality is all about applying yourself and your senses in the present m

    • 1 hr 12 min
    106: Building Blocks of Civilization: How the World Really Works

    106: Building Blocks of Civilization: How the World Really Works

    “Modern economies will always be tied to massive material flows, whether those of ammonia-based fertilizers to feed the still-growing global population; plastics, steel, and cement needed for new tools, machines, structures, and infrastructures; or new inputs required to produce solar cells, wind turbines, electric cars, and storage batteries. And until all energies used to extract and process these materials come from renewable conversions, modern civilization will remain fundamentally dependent on the fossil fuels used in the production of these indispensable materials. No AI, no apps, and no electronic messages will change that.”
    Welcome back to another episode of Made You Think! In this episode, we're delving into the intricate layers of How the World Really Works by Vaclav Smil. From dissecting the dynamics of energy to unraveling the building blocks of our material world, this episode takes us on a journey through the realms of numbers, magnitudes, and the underpinnings that shape our daily existence. Get ready to expand your mind and question the fabric of the world around us!
    We cover a wide range of topics including:
    The four foundational products of civilization Why our food and nutrition isn't the same anymore Intricate steps and nuances in global energy creation What may be on the horizon for crypto this year How much diesel is embedded into the production of a tomato? And much more. Please enjoy, and make sure to follow Nat, Neil, and Adil on Twitter and share your thoughts on the episode.
    Links from the Episode:
    Mentioned in the Show:
    Preorder Crypto Confidential (0:03) Solana Mobile (1:28) Outside the System (16:12) The Joe Rogan Experience - White Oak Pastures (18:52) Oatly (27:48) SpaceX (29:47) Terraform Industries (31:29) Helion Energy (38:01) Inflation Reduction Act (38:53) Monsanto (52:04) Kraken (57:00) The White Pill (1:00:19) Age of Miracles (1:02:17) Hardcore History 59 The Destroyer of Worlds - Dan Carlin (1:12:40) Books Mentioned:
    How the World Really Works Energy and Civilization (7:18) (Book Episode) (Nat's Book Notes) Where Is My Flying Car (7:32) (Book Episode) What Your Food Ate (20:44) (Book Episode) How to Avoid a Climate Disaster (54:02) Project Hail Mary (1:05:20) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1:06:01) Straw Dogs (1:06:02) Superintelligence (1:06:24) People Mentioned:
    Vaclav Smil Joe Rogan (18:51) Bill Gates (48:40) Greta Thunberg (54:37) Nick Bostrom (1:06:10) Dan Carlin (1:08:35) Show Topics:
    (0:00) The news is out - Nat’s new book Crypto Confidential is available for preorder! We open the episode by talking about crypto, AI coins, and how BTC and ETH have established themselves in the world of crypto.
    (6:53) In today's episode, we're discussing How the World Really Works by Vaclav Smil. We draw some similarities from some previous reads in the podcast such as Where Is My Flying Car? and another great from Smil, Energy and Civilization.
    (10:20) Adil highlights some of the key points from the book, including the four fundamental products—ammonia, cement, plastic, and steel—that shape our modern world, shedding light on challenges in essential industries.
    (14:19) Because we're so disembodied with how things are built and how people are fed, we’re able to indulge in things as a society that are not necessarily realistic in terms of decarbonization.
    (19:34) Discussing nutrition deficiencies, we explore the disconnect between the food we eat and its nutritional value, raising questions about our reliance on technology over essential fields like soil science and food production.
    (22:31) The impact of fertilization, nutrition deficiencies, and current farming practices. Nat, Neil, and Adil discuss alternatives for a healthier, more sustainable future.
    (28:13) While more and more attention goes into technology rather than food science and soil science, we have seen an increased interest in nuclear energy. For many decades, we’ve been

    • 1 hr 18 min
    105: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

    105: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

    “Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is because we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity — but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our "biography," our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards… It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are?"
    Welcome back to another episode of Made You Think! In this episode, we're diving into The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. We'll navigate the realms of meditation, telepathy, and the essence of a peaceful death. Come join us in this mind-opening episode that transcends the ordinary and challenges our perceptions of life, death, and everything in between!
    We cover a wide range of topics including:
    How to find more meaning from your meditation Telepathy, shared hallucinations, and the uncharted territories of the brain and body The role our egos play in spiritual practices Reincarnation and the continuous nature of consciousness The sacredness of birth and dying And much more. Please enjoy, and make sure to follow Nat, Neil, and Adil on Twitter and share your thoughts on the episode.
    Links from the Episode:
    Mentioned in the Show:
    Headspace (4:22) Waking Up (4:23) Zazen (5:00) The Marathon Monks (19:10) Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (23:06) Spiritual awakening meme (41:37)  Life is Short (1:00:12) C-section rates by country (1:17:04) Books Mentioned:
    The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying The Comfort Crisis (1:26) (Book Episode)  The Way of Zen (4:54) (Book Episode) (Nat's Book Notes) The Denial of Death (16:44) (Book Episode) (Nat's Book Notes) Happy Accidents (27:28) (Book Episode) (Nat's Book Notes) A Monk’s Guide to A Clean House & Mind (38:34) The Myth of Sisyphus (39:09) (Book Episode) (Nat's Book Notes) The Beginning of Infinity (53:17) (Book Episode) (Nat's Book Notes) People Mentioned:
    Arthur Flowerdew (20:54) Wim Hof (33:17) Show Topics:
    (1:02) In today's episode, we're talking about The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying in which Rinpoche explores the concepts of life, death, and rebirth. We open up the show talking about meditation, microdosing, and how to incorporate meditation into your day.
    (6:07) Finding meaning from meditation, the role it plays in rehearsing death, and finding profound meaning in the experience.
    (7:59) Is death just a middle step in our journey as opposed to the end? We talk about the author's beliefs regarding reincarnation and the idea that while our energy never dies, it has the capability of taking another form. 
    (11:41) Attachments, the terror of losing your identity when you die, and why believing in reincarnation offers a valuable perspective.
    (16:51) The author’s definition of “attachments” would most likely be broader than you’d expect. It not only encompasses your material possessions, but anything that contributes to what you see as your identity. 
    (20:09) We talk about different phenomenons that happen in your body once you pass, plus some interesting stories in the book, such as remembering information from a past life.
    (24:57) Telepathy: Is it realistic? Everything can seem magical or nonsensical until you can gather some sort of argument or case or explanation for it. Hundreds of years ago we may have thought the idea of electricity was a hoax, but today, it exists.
    (28:15) There are so many things about our brain and body that we have yet to understand. Plus, we discuss the potential effects of electromagnetic pollution on our bodies.
    (33:02) The first step in working your way up to telepathy or cross-mind communication is knowing your own mind and body first. 
    (34:23) How mindfulness can help you pull yourself back into the present moment. We often worry about the future or something not

    • 1 hr 31 min
    104: Are We Destined to Be Pets? Novacene by James Lovelock

    104: Are We Destined to Be Pets? Novacene by James Lovelock

    “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
    Welcome back to another episode of Made You Think! In this episode, we're diving into Novacene by James Lovelock, a book which challenges the very essence of human intelligence. Get ready for a thought-provoking conversation that delves into the realms of evolution, deep oceans, and the enigmatic dance between humanity and artificial intelligence.
    We cover a wide range of topics including:
    Gaia hypothesis and its connections to the book Intelligence beyond the human-centric view How the evolution of organisms has affected global temperatures The uncovered mysteries of the deep ocean Will AI be a friend or foe to humans? And much more. Please enjoy, and make sure to follow Nat, Neil, and Adil on Twitter and share your thoughts on the episode.
    Links from the Episode:
    Mentioned in the Show:
    Gaia hypothesis (1:53) Tesla Bot (23:52) Stealth (25:05) Cruise (27:26) Waymo (27:26) Arrival (35:54) Bees playing soccer (39:32) Brilliant Earth (49:01) They Did The Math (49:42) Dark Forest theory (55:16) Rooted Local (1:02:16) Books Mentioned:
    The Three-Body Problem (0:03) (Book Episode) (Nat’s Book Notes) Homo Deus (0:46) (Book Episode) (Nat’s Book Notes) Breath (13:35) (Nat's Book Notes) Deep (13:37) The Hidden Life of Trees (19:14) Permutation City (21:12) (Book Episode) Where Is My Flying Car? (22:35) (Book Episode)  Antifragile (36:24) (Book Episode) (Nat's Book Notes) The Fighter’s Mind (37:41) (Nat's Book Notes) People Mentioned:
    James Lovelock (1:54) James Nestor (13:36) Nassim Taleb (36:24) Show Topics:
    (1:46) Buckle up for this episode as we discuss Novacene, authored by the originator of the Gaia Theory, James Lovelock. The book probes into humanity's role in the world and speculates on a future where machines might supersede us.
    (4:34) Lovelock wrote this book with the help of his assistant when he was 99 years old. We talk about what exactly the Gaia Theory is and the end of the age of Anthropocene.
    (9:50) We go deeper into sharing our thoughts on the Gaia Theory and how the evolution of organisms have affected the regulation of the global temperature. 
    (13:10) How much do we actually know about the deepest parts of the ocean? Plus, learn about the author’s involvement with designing instruments for NASA.
    (16:40) Nat, Neil, and Adil make connections from Novacene to The Three-Body Problem. Historically, we've looked for life on other planets the way we would measure life on earth, but are extraterrestrial species carbon-based like we are?
    (19:04) Our idea of time here on Earth is based on our life and our own orbit around the sun, but another civilization could view time in a completely different way.
    (24:21) Addressing AI predictions, military applications, and the challenges of AI intervention, including experiences with self-driving cars.
    (32:08) Is our technology watching us? 
    (35:28) The limitations of language as an information interface and the intuitive nature of processing multiple inputs. Speaking, for example, is completely linear. However, when you have multiple inputs, you're able to be more intuitive.
    (39:18) We talk about exploring intelligence beyond the human-centric view, considering the collective intelligence of species like bees.
    (42:05) It’s powerful the progress that has been made with ChatGPT, but there still remains the question of whether or not it will be a linear process to AGI (artificial general intelligence). 
    (46:02) The intersection of crypto mining, Bitcoin, and futuristic energy societies, along with the possibility of harnessing CO2 for creation.
    (52:24) Earth is a rare, one-of-a-kind planet. How the universe had to align for habitability on earth, and the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe.
    (58:29) Would AI have the potential for parallel processing capabilities

    • 1 hr 6 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
104 Ratings

104 Ratings

RiskyRawr ,

Rediscovered after hiatus

I had downloaded the episodes on “Infinite Jest” quite a while ago and had honestly forgotten about then until the most recent update episode popped up and I’m definitely enjoying the commentary. I’m not sure if it has been suggested before for a fiction book but “House of Leaves” is a other heavy read with a ton of nuance and an excessive message board with all those details. It would be interesting to hear your take!

INDYMADE ,

What’s episode 100 gonna be?

Love this show. Like a private book club.

paulycalzone ,

Nerds ideal pod

Perfect amount of tangents

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