61 episodes

Podcast by Iona Italia and Helen Pluckrose

Two for Tea with Iona Italia and Helen Pluckrose Iona Italia and Helen Pluckrose

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    • 4.9, 34 Ratings

Podcast by Iona Italia and Helen Pluckrose

    62 - Scott Barry Kaufman - What We Are Capable of Becoming

    62 - Scott Barry Kaufman - What We Are Capable of Becoming

    You can find out more about Scott’s work here:

    Scott’s book, Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualisation:

    Scott’s interview on Sam Harris’ Making Sense podcast:

    Scott’s interview with Sean Carroll:

    Follow Scott on Twitter: @sbkaufman

    Further References

    The OCEAN personality test:

    Kim Stanley Robinson, Mars trilogy: Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars (1993)

    Derren Brown, Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine (2016)

    Sci fi series Salvation: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6170874/

    P. D. James, The Children of Men (1992)

    Peter D. Ward, Robert Brownlee Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe (2000)

    George Eliot, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life (1871–72)

    Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning (1943)

    John Keats, “Ode on Melancholy” (1819):


    2:35 The pyramid image versus Scott’s sailboat metaphor
    13:37 Ascetic orders, basic needs & transcendence. Can monks be self-actualizing?
    21:19 My general assessment of Scott’s book
    23:44 The D-realm (“deficiency” realm)
    26:52 Scott’s interview with Sam Harris
    29:15 Disagreeableness
    30:44 Axes of human personality
    31:51 Stability and plasticity
    34:08 Introversion and extraversion
    38:54 The B-realm (“being” realm)
    42:59 How easy is to access the B-realm and to find transcendence?
    53:34 Peak experiences, flow states, transcendence
    1:01:05 Maslow’s discoveries at the end of his life
    1:02:58 Demotivation and how to fight it
    1:07:04 Attachment styles and other ways in which the D- and B-realms are inextricably intertwined

    • 1 hr 18 min
    61 - Diana Fleischman

    61 - Diana Fleischman

    For updates on Diana’s work, see her website:

    My favourite other interview of Diana’s can be found here:

    Follow Diana on Twitter: @sentientist

    Further References

    Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (2009)

    J. Michael Bailey, The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism (2003)

    Jorge Luis Borges, “Funes el Memorioso” (1944):


    6:36 Training our lovers
    34:25 Training our political allies
    39:36 Training ourselves
    45:54 Intrinsic motivation and external reward
    50:26 Women train, men try to avoid being trained
    1:06:25 Training at home
    1:09:40 Rape and sexual assault
    1:16:14 Why people hate evolutionary psychology
    1:22:55 The non-binary movement and other resistance to stereotypes

    • 1 hr 31 min
    60 - Liam Kofi Bright - The Search for Truth

    60 - Liam Kofi Bright - The Search for Truth

    You can find out more about Liam’s academic credentials here: https://www.liamkofibright.com/

    Liam’s talk on “Why Scientists Lie” can be found here:

    Remco Heesen and Liam on “Is Peer Review a Good Thing”?:

    Listen to Liam’s interview with Sean Carroll on the nature of truth here:

    Listen to Liam’s interviews with Andrew Lynn Lewis here:

    And here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a491GwvnEOI

    Liam’s Letter exchange with Andrea on Critical Race Theory can be found here:

    Liam’s Letter with me on hating oneself can be found here:

    Follow Liam’s blog here: http://sootyempiric.blogspot.com/

    Write to Liam at Letter:

    Follow Liam on Twitter: @lastpositivist

    Liam on the positivists (interview with former guest of this podcast, Aaron Rabinowitz, see episode 46 “Is Civility Overrated”):

    Further References

    Some more sources on Rudolf Carnap: http://www.carnap.org/

    Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn (1968); the 1982 film version was directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin jr.

    David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–40)

    Sam Harris, The Moral Landscape (2010)

    My article on Bruce, “Thoughts on a Friend’s Suicide”:


    2:06 The positivists
    9:32 Moral philosophy and the is–ought gap.
    16:24 Why scientists lie: bad incentives in science
    24:16 The value of diversity of intellectual enquiry
    37:33 The problem with peer review
    44:05 The Star Trek post-scarcity future and the Bladerunner future
    52:55 The nature of truth
    1:22:35 Self-hatred
    1:56:25 Twitter and parasocial relationships

    • 2 hr 9 min
    59 - Clint Margrave - Academic Realities and Fictions

    59 - Clint Margrave - Academic Realities and Fictions

    Clint’s poetry collection Salute the Wreckage can be found here:

    His collection The Early Death of Men can be found here:

    His novel, Lying Bastard, can be found here:

    Write to Clint: https://letter.wiki/ClintMargrave/conversations

    Follow Clint on Twitter: @clintmargrave

    Further References

    Clint’s Areo magazine article, “Forgiving Charles Simic” can be found here:

    Shaun Koo’s Areo magazine article on exploitation in academe is here:

    Clint’s poem “My Therapist Says I Should Date Myself”:

    Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim (1954)

    David Lodge, Small World: An Academic Romance (1984)

    Richard Russo, Straight Man (1997)

    John Edward Williams, Stoner (1965)


    1:47 Clint reads the sample chapter, “Prerequisites”
    9:55 Why so much academic writing is bad writing
    18:45 What inspired Clint’s book
    22:01 The title
    23:24 Influences on the novel
    29:03 The culture of academe
    35:33 Writing poetry vs. writing novels
    37:00 Clint’s poem “My Therapist Says I Should Date Myself”
    42:22 The writing process
    44:44 Separating the art from the artist
    54:14 Why Clint wrote the novel

    • 1 hr 5 min
    58 - John R. Wood, Jr and Roderick Graham - Black Lives and the George Floyd Protests

    58 - John R. Wood, Jr and Roderick Graham - Black Lives and the George Floyd Protests

    For more of Rod’s work:

    Rod’s YouTube channel:

    Write to Rod at Letter:

    Follow Rod on Twitter @roderickgraham

    For more on John R. Wood’s work:

    John’s philosophy of virtue ethics:

    My previous podcast with John:

    Follow John on Twitter: @JohnRWoodJr

    Further References

    Glenn Loury’s interview with Sam Harris on Making Sense, which I allude to, is now paywalled:

    You can find a more recent discussion, with John H McWhorter, here:

    Follow Nicholas Christakis, who has been tracking police brutality since 2014 @NAChristakis on Twitter

    Roland G. Fryer’s work can be found here:
    Jill Leovy, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (2015)


    3:03 Is the problem systemic racism or is it general police brutality?
    9:26 Policing in different communities
    24:40 The police as an institution: militarisation on both sides; feedback loops and the importance of context
    31:27 Racial unification: what this moment might lead to
    42:00 The role of leftists
    47:43 Ways forward

    • 1 hr 1 min
    57 - Buster Benson - The Value of Arguing

    57 - Buster Benson - The Value of Arguing

    You can find Buster’s book Why Are We Yelling: The Art of Productive Disagreement here:

    For my Letter exchange with Buster (one of my two favourite conversations I’ve ever had on the site) see:

    Buster’s Letter exchange with B. J. Campbell on guns see:

    Belief tracking:

    Write to Buster at Letter:

    Write to me at Letter:

    Further References

    James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide (2019)

    My review of Impossible Conversations for Areo magazine:

    Oliver Traldi’s review of Impossible Conversations for Arc Digital:

    2:49 Persuasion vs. changing your own mind
    5:02 The value of honest, open conflict
    9:11 The voice of power, the voice of avoidance, the voice of truth
    13:12 How to make disagreements feel less threatening and more exploratory
    17:42 Techniques for helping a group to have more productive disagreements
    25:12 Conflicts of head, heart and hands
    35:06 Disagreements with people you’re close to
    44:22 Opinion tracking
    51:40 Tribalism
    52:45 Iterated prisoner’s dilemma games
    55:10 Lessons in cooperation from Covid-19
    1:01:46 How to improve good will.

    • 1 hr 14 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
34 Ratings

34 Ratings

Dwarg II ,

Partisanship got you down?

Maybe what you need is the soothing voice of a Parsis tango dancer and English professor turned podcast and letter writing peacemaker? Maybe you're thinking to yourself, "I don't need that." But if that's the case, you'd be wrong.

Yevgeny Kom. ,


Iona and Helen are both extremely intelligent, very thoughtful and discerning, and tremendously articulate. These two are major intellectual talents. Don’t miss out on these valuable interviews and conversations.

Vivian Linden ,

A Hidden Gem!

Iona is a great interviewer and the podcasts are so thoughtful and in depth. I always learn interesting things and the guests are a diversity from the usual podcast academic superstars. What I love as well is that Iona is very open minded and doesn’t (excessively) push her agenda/opinions and it feels like she is as interested in learning from her guests (not having them confirm her beliefs) as discussing her own ideas. More please!

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