43 episodes

Host Dwarkesh Patel interviews intellectuals, scientists, and founders about their big ideas.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/DwarkeshPatel
Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3oBack9
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3S5g2YK

www.dwarkeshpatel.com

The Lunar Society Dwarkesh Patel

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 32 Ratings

Host Dwarkesh Patel interviews intellectuals, scientists, and founders about their big ideas.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/DwarkeshPatel
Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3oBack9
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3S5g2YK

www.dwarkeshpatel.com

    Byrne Hobart - FTX, Drugs, Twitter, Taiwan, & Monasticism

    Byrne Hobart - FTX, Drugs, Twitter, Taiwan, & Monasticism

    Perhaps the most interesting episode so far.
    Byrne Hobart writes at thediff.co, analyzing inflections in finance and tech.
    He explains:
    * What happened at FTX
    * How drugs have induced past financial bubbles
    * How to be long AI while hedging Taiwan invasion
    * Whether Musk’s Twitter takeover will succeed
    * Where to find the next Napoleon and LBJ
    * & ultimately how society can deal with those who seek domination and recognition
    Watch on YouTube. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcast platform. Read the full transcript here.
    Follow me on Twitter for updates on future episodes.
    If you enjoy this episode, I would be super grateful if you shared it. Post it on Twitter, send it to your friends & group chats, and throw it up wherever else people might find it. Can’t exaggerate how much it helps a small podcast like mine.
    A huge thanks to Graham Bessellieu for editing this podcast.
    Timestamps:
    (0:00:50) - What the hell happened at FTX?
    (0:07:03) - How SBF Faked Being a Genius: 
    (0:12:23) - Drugs Explain Financial Bubbles
    (0:17:12) - On Founder Physiognomy
    (0:21:02) - Indexing Parental Involvement in Raising Talented Kids
    (0:30:35) - Where are all the Caro-level Biographers?
    (0:39:03) - Where are today's Great Founders? 
    (0:49:05) - Micro Writing -> Macro Understanding
    (0:52:04) - Elon's Twitter Takeover
    (1:01:28) - Does Big Tech & West Have Great People?
    (1:12:10) - Philosophical Fanatics and Effective Altruism 
    (1:17:54) - What Great Founders Have In Common
    (1:20:24) - Thinkers vs. Analyzers
    (1:26:17) - Taiwan Invasion bets & AI Timelines
    Transcript
    Autogenerated - will not be perfectly accurate.
    Dwarkesh Patel 0:00:00
    Okay, today I have the pleasure of interviewing Bern Hobart again for the second time now, who writes at thediff.co. The way I would describe Bern is every time I have a question about a concept or an event in finance, I Google the name of that event or concept into Google, and then I'd put in Bern Hobart at the end of that search query. And nine times out of 10, it's the best thing I've read about that topic. And it's just so interesting. It's just like the most schizophrenic and galaxy brain it takes about like how, you know, the discourses of, you know, Machiavelli's discourses relate to big tech or like how source of serial reflexivity explains hiring in finance and tech. So just very interesting stuff. I'm glad to have him back on again.
    Byrne Hobart 0:00:47
    Yeah, great to be back. Awesome.
    Dwarkesh Patel 0:00:50
    Okay. So first, I really want to jump into the FTX saga. What the hell happened? Let me just like leave an open ended question for you.
    Byrne Hobart 0:00:59
    Yeah, so I think the first thing to say is that there's a lot we don't know. There's a lot we may never know, because so many of the decisions at FTX were made through self like auto deleting encrypted chat. So like there are some holes we will never be able to fill in. The lack of accounting is also going to make it tough. Like basically, I think you can tell a bunch of different stories here. The really obvious one is fraud. And you can debate over exactly when it started, like one version of the story, which is getting some currency is that SPF had this entity Alameda, and it was supposed to be this really hot crypto trading fund, but maybe it was a Ponzi scheme all along. And then maybe at some point that Ponzi scheme started to run short on cash. So he decided to start an exchange and the exchange got more cash, and then he used the cash to pay off previous bachelors, whatever. I think that's one version. And then kind of the maximally exculpatory version, which actually is still really bad is Alameda was a real company. They really made money trading. They took tons of risks. And SPF has talked about why he thinks that's a good thing, that FTX cut some corners when they were raising money and that they had really bad internal accounting. And that basically the extended entity of Alameda and FTX sort of lost

    • 1 hr 30 min
    Edward Glaeser - Cities, Terrorism, Housing, & Remote Work

    Edward Glaeser - Cities, Terrorism, Housing, & Remote Work

    Edward Glaeser is the chair of the Harvard department of economics, and the author of the best books and papers about cities (including Survival of the City and Triumph of the City).
    He explains why:
    * Cities are resilient to terrorism, remote work, & pandemics,
    * Silicon Valley may collapse but the Sunbelt will prosper, 
    * Opioids show UBI is not a solution to AI
    * & much more!
    Watch on YouTube. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcast platform. Read the full transcript here.
    Follow me on Twitter for updates on future episodes.
    If you enjoy this episode, I would be super grateful if you shared it. Post it on Twitter, send it to your friends & group chats, and throw it up wherever else people might find it. Can’t exaggerate how much it helps a small podcast like mine.
    A huge thanks to Graham Bessellieu for editing this podcast and Mia Aiyana for producing its transcript.
    Timestamps
    (0:00:00) - Mars, Terrorism, & Capitals
    (0:06:32) - Decline, Population Collapse, & Young Men
    (0:14:44) - Urban Education
    (0:18:35) - Georgism, Robert Moses, & Too Much Democracy?
    (0:25:29) - Opioids, Automation, & UBI
    (0:29:57) - Remote Work, Taxation, & Metaverse
    (0:42:29) - Past & Future of Silicon Valley
    (0:48:56) - Housing Reform
    (0:52:32) - Europe’s Stagnation, Mumbai’s Safety, & Climate Change
    Transcript
    Mars, Terrorism, & Capitals
    Dwarkesh Patel 0:00:00
    Okay, today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Professor Edward Glaeser, who is the chair of the Harvard Department of Economics, and author of some of the best books and papers about cities. Professor Glazer, thanks for coming on The Lunar Society.
    Edward Glaeser 0:00:25
    Oh, thank you so much for having me on! Especially given that The Lunar Society pays homage to one of my favorite moments in urban innovation in Birmingham during the 18th century.
    Dwarkesh Patel 0:00:26
    Oh wow, I didn’t even catch that theme, but that’s a great title. My first question is, What advice would you give to Elon Musk about building the first cities on Mars?
    Edward Glaeser 0:00:35
    [laughs] That’s a great question. I think that demand for urbanism in Mars is going to be relatively limited. Cities are always shaped by the transportation costs that are dominant in the era in which they’re created. That both determines the micro-shape of the city and determines its macro future. So cities on Mars are, of course, going to be limited by the likely prohibitive cost of traveling back and forth to the mother planet. But we also have to understand what cars people are going to be using on Mars. I assume these are all going to be Teslas, and everyone is going to be driving around in some appropriate Tesla on Mars. So it’s going to be a very car-oriented living experience. I think the best strategy would be to create a fairly flexible plan, much like the 1811 grid plan in New York, that allows entrepreneurs to change land use over time and put a few bets on what’s necessary for infrastructure and then just let the city evolve organically. Usually, the best way is to put more trust in individual initiative than central planning–– at least in terms of micromanaging what goes where. 
    Dwarkesh Patel 0:01:58
    Gotcha. Now, since 9/11, many terrorist groups have obviously intended to cause harm to cities. But by and large, at least in Western countries, they haven’t managed to kill off thousands of people like they were able to do during 9/11. What explains this? Do you think cities are just more resilient to these kinds of attacks than we would have otherwise thought? Or are the terrorists just not being creative enough?
    Edward Glaeser 0:02:20
    I don’t know. There’s also the question of what the objectives are. Even for the 9/11 terrorists, their end game was not to kill urbanites in America. It was to effect change in Saudi Arabia or in the Middle East more generally. We’ve also protected our cities better. If you think about it, two things go on simultaneously when you c

    • 57 min
    Kenneth T. Jackson - Robert Moses, Hero or Tyrant of New York?

    Kenneth T. Jackson - Robert Moses, Hero or Tyrant of New York?

    I had a fascinating discussion about Robert Moses and The Power Broker with Professor Kenneth T. Jackson.
    He's the pre-eminent historian on NYC and author of Robert Moses and The Modern City: The Transformation of New York.
    He answers:
    * Why are we so much worse at building things today?
    * Would NYC be like Detroit without the master builder?
    * Does it take a tyrant to stop NIMBY?
    Watch on YouTube. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcast platform. Read the full transcript here.
    Follow me on Twitter for updates on future episodes.
    If you end up enjoying this episode, I would be super grateful if you share it, post it on Twitter, send it to your friends & group chats, and throw it up wherever else people might find it. Can’t exaggerate how much it helps a small podcast like mine.
    A huge thanks to Graham Bessellieu for editing this podcast.
    Timestamps
    (0:00:00) Preview + Intro
    (0:11:13) How Moses Gained Power
    (0:18:22) Moses Saved NYC?
    (0:27:31) Moses the Startup Founder?
    (0:32:34) The Case Against Moses Highways
    (0:51:24) NIMBYism
    (1:03:44) Is Progress Cyclical
    (1:12:36) Friendship with Caro
    (1:20:41) Moses the Longtermist?.
    Transcript
    This transcript was produced by a program I wrote. If you consume my podcast via transcripts, let me know in the comments if this transcript was (or wasn’t) an adequate substitute for the human edited transcripts in previous episodes.
    0:00:00 Preview + Intro
    Kenneth Jackson 0:00:00
    Robert Moses represented a past, you know, a time when we wanted to build bridges and super highways and things that pretty much has gone on. We're not building super highways now. We're not building vast bridges like Moses built all the time. Had Robert Moses not lived, not done what he did, New York would have followed the trail of maybe Detroit. Essentially all the big roads, all the bridges, all the parks, the United Nations, Lincoln Center, the World's Fairs of 1939 and 1964, and hundreds of other things he built. And I think it was the best book I ever read. In broad strokes, it's correct. Robert Moses had more power than any urban figure in American history. He built incredible monuments. He was ruthless and arrogant and honest. Okay.
    Dwarkesh Patel 0:00:54
    I am really, really excited about this one. Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Professor Kenneth T. Jackson about the life and legacy of Robert Moses. Professor Jackson is the preeminent historian on New York City. He was the director of the Herbert H. Lehman Center for American History and the Jock Barzun Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University, where he has also shared the Department of History. And we were discussing Robert Moses. Professor Jackson is the author and editor of Robert Moses and the Modern City, the Transformation of New York. Professor Jackson, welcome to the podcast.
    Kenneth Jackson 0:01:37
    Well, thank you for having me. Okay.
    Dwarkesh Patel 0:01:40
    So many people will have heard of Robert Moses and be vaguely aware of him through the popular biography of him by Robert Caro, the power broker. But most people will not be aware of the extent of his influence on New York City. Can you give a kind of a summary of the things he was able to get built in New York City?
    Kenneth Jackson 0:02:03
    One of the best comparisons I can think of is that our Caro himself, when he compared him to Christopher Wren in London, he said, if you would see his monument, look around. It's almost more easier to talk about what Moses didn't do than what he did do. If you all the roads, essentially all the big roads, all the bridges, all the parks, the United Nations, Lincoln Center, the World's Fairs of 1939 and 1964, and hundreds of other things he built. I mean, he didn't actually do it with his own two hands, but he was in charge. He got it done. And Robert Caro wrote a really great book. I think the book was flawed because I think Caro only looked at Moses's own documents and Moses had a very narrow view of himself. I mean,

    • 1 hr 33 min
    Brian Potter - Future of Construction, Ugly Modernism, & Environmental Review

    Brian Potter - Future of Construction, Ugly Modernism, & Environmental Review

    Brian Potter is the author of the excellent Construction Physics blog, where he discusses why the construction industry has been slow to industrialize and innovate.
    He explains why:
    * Construction isn’t getting cheaper and faster,
    * We should have mile-high buildings and multi-layer non-intersecting roads,
    * “Ugly” modern buildings are simply the result of better architecture,
    * China is so great at building things,
    * Saudi Arabia’s Line is a waste of resources,
    * Environmental review makes new construction expensive and delayed,
    * and much much more!
    Watch on YouTube. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcast platform. Read the full transcript here.
    Follow me on Twitter for updates on future episodes.
    More really cool guests coming up; subscribe to find out about future episodes!

    You may also enjoy my interviews with Tyler Cowen (about talent, collapse, & pessimism of sex). Charles Mann (about the Americas before Columbus & scientific wizardry), and Austin Vernon about (Energy Superabundance, Starship Missiles, & Finding Alpha).
    If you end up enjoying this episode, I would be super grateful if you share it, post it on Twitter, send it to your friends & group chats, and throw it up wherever else people might find it. Can’t exaggerate how much it helps a small podcast like mine.
    A huge thanks to Graham Bessellieu for editing this podcast and Mia Aiyana for producing its transcript.
    Timestamps
    (0:00) - Why Saudi Arabia’s Line is Insane, Unrealistic, and Never going to Exist 
    (06:54) - Designer Clothes & eBay Arbitrage Adventures 
    (10:10) - Unique Woes of The Construction Industry  
    (19:28) - The Problems of Prefabrication 
    (26:27) - If Building Regulations didn’t exist… 
    (32:20) - China’s Real Estate Bubble, Unbound Technocrats, & Japan
    (44:45) - Automation and Revolutionary Future Technologies 
    (1:00:51) - 3D Printer Pessimism & The Rising Cost of Labour
    (1:08:02) - AI’s Impact on Construction Productivity
    (1:17:53) - Brian Dreams of Building a Mile High Skyscraper
    (1:23:43) - Deep Dive into Environmentalism and NEPA
    (1:42:04) - Software is Stealing Talent from Physical Engineering
    (1:47:13) - Gaps in the Blog Marketplace of Ideas
    (1:50:56) - Why is Modern Architecture So Ugly?
    (2:19:58) - Advice for Aspiring Architects and Young Construction Physicists
    Transcript
    Why Saudi Arabia’s Line is Insane, Unrealistic, and Never going to Exist 
    Dwarkesh Patel 
    Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Brian Potter, who is an engineer and the author of the excellent Construction Physics blog, where he writes about how the construction industry works and why it has been slow to industrialize and innovate. It's one of my favorite blogs on the internet, and I highly, highly recommend that people check it out. Brian, my first question is about The Line project in Saudi Arabia. What are your opinions? 
    Brian Potter 
    It's interesting how Saudi Arabia and countries in the Middle East, in general, are willing to do these big, crazy, ambitious building projects and pour huge amounts of money into constructing this infrastructure in a way that you don't see a huge amount in the modern world. China obviously does this too in huge amounts, some other minor places do as well, but in general, you don't see a whole lot of countries building these big, massive, incredibly ambitious projects. So on that level, it's interesting, and it's like, “Yes, I’m glad to see that you're doing this,” but the actual project is clearly insane and makes no sense. 
    Look at the physical arrangement layout–– there's a reason cities grow in two dimensions. A one-dimensional city is the worst possible arrangement for transportation. It’s the maximum amount of distance between any two points. So just from that perspective, it's clearly crazy, and there's no real benefit to it other than perhaps some weird hypothetical transportation situation where you had really fast point-to-point transportation. It would p

    • 2 hr 25 min
    Bryan Caplan - Feminists, Billionaires, and Demagogues

    Bryan Caplan - Feminists, Billionaires, and Demagogues

    It was a fantastic pleasure to welcome Bryan Caplan back for a third time on the podcast! His most recent book is Don't Be a Feminist: Essays on Genuine Justice.
    He explains why he thinks:
    * Feminists are mostly wrong,
    * We shouldn’t overtax our centi-billionaires,
    * Decolonization should have emphasized human rights over democracy,
    * Eastern Europe shows that we could accept millions of refugees.
    Watch on YouTube. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcast platform. Read the full transcript here.
    Follow me on Twitter for updates on future episodes.
    More really cool guests coming up; subscribe to find out about future episodes!

    You may also enjoy my interviews with Tyler Cowen (about talent, collapse, & pessimism of sex), Charles Mann (about the Americas before Columbus & scientific wizardry), and Steve Hsu (about intelligence and embryo selection).
    If you end up enjoying this episode, I would be super grateful if you share it, post it on Twitter, send it to your friends & group chats, and throw it up wherever else people might find it. Can’t exaggerate how much it helps a small podcast like mine.
    A huge thanks to Graham Bessellieu for editing this podcast and Mia Aiyana for producing its transcript.
    Timestamps
    (00:12) - Don’t Be a Feminist
    (16:53) - Western Feminism Ignores Infanticide
    (19:59) - Why The Universe Hates Women
    (32:02) - Women's Tears Have Too Much Power
    (46:37) - Bryan Performs Standup Comedy!
    (51:09) - Affirmative Action is Philanthropic Propaganda
    (54:12) - Peer-effects as the Only Real Education
    (58:46) - The Idiocy of Student Loan Forgiveness
    (1:08:49) - Why Society is Becoming Mentally Ill
    (1:11:49) - Open Borders & the Ultra-long Term
    (1:15:37) - Why Cowen’s Talent Scouting Strategy is Ludicrous
    (1:22:11) - Surprising Immigration Victories
    (1:37:26) - The Most Successful Revolutions
    (1:55:34) - Anarcho-Capitalism is the Ultimate Government
    (1:57:00) - Billionaires Deserve their Wealth
    Transcript
    Dwarkesh Patel
    Today, I have the great honor of interviewing Bryan Caplan again for the third time. Bryan, thanks so much for coming on the podcast. 
    Bryan Caplan
    I've got the great honor of being interviewed by you, Dwarkesh. You're one of my favorite people in the world!
    Don’t Be a Feminist
    Dwarkesh Patel
    It's a greater pleasure every time (for me at least). So let's talk about your book, Don't Be a Feminist. Is there any margin of representation of women in leadership roles at which you think there should be introduced bias to make sure more women get in, even if the original ratio is not because of bias?
    Bryan Caplan
    No, I believe in meritocracy. I think it is a good system. It is one that almost everyone sees the intuitive appeal of, and it works. Just looking at a group and saying, “We need to get more members of Group X,” is the wrong way to approach it. Rather, you need to be focusing on, “Let's try to figure out the best way of getting the top quality people here.”
    Dwarkesh Patel
    If there's an astounding ratio of men in certain positions, could that potentially have an impact on the company's ability to do business well? Perhaps the company could just care about increasing the ratio for that reason alone. 
    Bryan Caplan
    Right. I mean, one can imagine that! I think in our culture, it really goes the other way. People are more likely to be trying to get rid of men, despite the fact that the men are delivering value. If you really pushed me into starting to think, “Suppose you're running a bar, would you have ladies’ night?” well yeah, I would have ladies’ night in a bar because that actually works, and it's good business! However, if what you're doing is trying to actually get correct answers to things, if you're trying to go and make something run effectively, and if you're just trying to make progress and you're trying to learn new things, the thing to focus on is what actually leads to knowledge and not focusing on just trying to get demographic represent

    • 2 hr 5 min
    Tyler Cowen - Talent, Collapse, & Pessimism of Sex

    Tyler Cowen - Talent, Collapse, & Pessimism of Sex

    It was my great pleasure to speak once again to Tyler Cowen. His most recent book is Talent, How to Find Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Across the World.
    We discuss:
    * how sex is more pessimistic than he is,
    * why he expects society to collapse permanently,
    * why humility, stimulants, & intelligence are overrated,
    * how he identifies talent, deceit, & ambition,
    * & much much much more!
    Watch on YouTube. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcast platform. Read the full transcript here.
    Follow me on Twitter for updates on future episodes.
    More really cool guests coming up, subscribe to find out about future episodes!

    You may also enjoy my interviews of Bryan Caplan (about mental illness, discrimination, and poverty), David Deutsch (about AI and the problems with America’s constitution), and Steve Hsu (about intelligence and embryo selection).
    If you end up enjoying this episode, I would be super grateful if you shared it. Post it on Twitter, send it to your friends & group-chats, and throw it up on any relevant subreddits & forums you follow. Can’t exaggerate how much it helps a small podcast like mine.
    A huge thanks to Graham Bessellieu for editing this podcast and Mia Aiyana for producing its transcript.
    Timestamps
    (0:00) -Did Caplan Change On Education?
    (1:17) - Travel vs. History
    (3:10) - Do Institutions Become Left Wing Over Time?
    (6:02) - What Does Talent Correlate With?
    (13:00) - Humility, Mental Illness, Caffeine, and Suits
    (19:20) - How does Education affect Talent?
    (24:34) - Scouting Talent
    (33:39) - Money, Deceit, and Emergent Ventures
    (37:16) - Building Writing Stamina
    (39:41) - When Does Intelligence Start to Matter?
    (43:51) - Spotting Talent (Counter)signals
    (53:57) - Will Reading Cowen’s Book Help You Win Emergent Ventures?
    (1:04:18) - Existential risks and the Longterm
    (1:12:45) - Cultivating Young Talent
    (1:16:05) - The Lifespans of Public Intellectuals
    (1:19:42) - Risk Aversion in Academia
    (1:26:20) - Is Stagnation Inevitable?
    (1:31:33) - What are Podcasts for?
    Transcript
    Did Caplan Change On Education?
    Tyler Cowen   
    Ask Bryan about early and late Caplan. In which ways are they not consistent? That's a kind of friendly jab.
    Dwarkesh Patel   
    Okay, interesting. 
    Tyler Cowen   
    Garrett Jones has tweeted about this in the past. In The Myth of the Rational Voter, education is so wonderful. It no longer seems to be true, but it was true from the data Bryan took from. Bryan doesn't think education really teaches you much. 
    Dwarkesh Patel 
    So then why is it making you want a free market?
    Tyler Cowen  
    It once did, even though it doesn't now, and if it doesn't now, it may teach them bad things. But it's teaching them something.
    Dwarkesh Patel   
    I have asked him this. He thinks that education doesn't teach them anything; therefore, that woke-ism can’t be a result of colleges. I asked him, “okay, at some point, these were ideas in colleges, but now they’re in the broader world. What do you think happened? Why did it transition together?” I don't think he had a good answer to that.
    Tyler Cowen   
    Yeah, you can put this in the podcast if you want. I like the free podcast talk often better than the podcast. [laughs]
    Dwarkesh Patel   
    Okay. Well yeah, we can just start rolling. Today, it is my great pleasure to speak to Tyler Cowen about his new book, “Talent, How to Find Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Across the World.” Tyler, welcome (once again) to The Lunar Society. 
    Tyler Cowen   
    Happy to be here, thank you!
    Travel vs. History
    Dwarkesh Patel 1:51  
    Okay, excellent. I'll get into talent in just a second, but I've got a few questions for you first. So in terms of novelty and wonder, do you think travelling to the past would be a fundamentally different experience from travelling to different countries today? Or is it kind of in the same category?
    Tyler Cowen   
    You need to be protected against disease and have some access to the languages

    • 1 hr 34 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
32 Ratings

32 Ratings

wiiasdlji ,

Great podcast

Interesting topics and a very well-prepared host

OceanQ ,

In depth conversations on interesting topics

Deep, substantive interviews on interesting topics with interesting subjects. The conversations at substantive, assume that you’re reasonably intelligent and informed and don’t waste time with filler.

Guy Knows ,

Good

Good podcast, though it’s the worst at explaining the topics and issues it discusses. The assumption of knowledge is off the charts. Half the time the host doesn’t even use people’s last names when talking about them.

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