Motives and Institutions with Robin Hanson

Robin Hanson is an economist, futurist, and blogger at overcomingbias.com. I’ve been following Robin for a while now because he’s a genuine intellectual: he thinks, speaks, and writes intensely and prolifically about whatever he wants, even if it seems weird to other people. His recently published book, co-authored with Kevin Simler, is called The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life. 

In this podcast, we talked about the new book; Robin’s larger motivation behind the book; which minds Robin would like to change; the internet; academia; Robin’s strategic insights on how to be an intellectual, especially for young-ish academic types such as myself; the near future; Robin’s ideas about “futarchy;” Robin’s book The Age of Em; how to incentivize honesty in small groups; the profit motive and the space of institutions beyond the profit motive; and a few other things.

Download this episode.

Ideology, Intelligence, and Capital with Nick Land

Nick Land is a British philosopher living in Shanghai. Nick is one of the main figures in the school of thought known as accelerationism. He is currently writing a book about the philosophical implications of Bitcoin. We talked about accelerationism, cybernetics, ideology, the evolution of Nick’s perspective, Deleuze and Guattari, emancipation and dehumanization, artificial intelligence, capitalism, Moldbug, mathematics and the significance of zero, religion, blockchain/Bitcoin, Kantianism, synthetic time, and more.

We recorded this online, over two sessions. We did have some unavoidable connection problems, so you’ll notice some imperfections such as clicking sounds throughout. We did the best we could; big thanks to those who helped with the editing.

A full-text transcript with timestamps is now available at Vast Abrupt.

Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

On French Philosophy with Taylor Adkins

Taylor Adkins is a translator of French philosophy. He has translated influential books by Félix Guattari, such as Machinic Unconscious (Semiotext(e) 2010), and lesser known works by Jean-François Lyotard and François Laruelle. He’s a philosophy/theory blogger at Speculative Heresy and Fractal Ontology, and co-hosts the podcast Theory Talk with Joe Weissman. You can support them and enjoy extra theory talk at .

Just a few of the books mentioned:

Glas by Derrida

Fashionable Nonsense by Sokal and Bricmont

The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque by Gilles Deleuze

Deleuze and the History of Mathematics by Simon Duffy

A Thousand Plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari

The Cut of the Real by Kolozova

The Political Science of Genetic Explanations with Elizabeth Suhay

Elizabeth Suhay is a political scientist who specializes in the study of public opinion and political psychology, especially regarding beliefs about the causes of inequality. In particular, her work has made some intriguing discoveries about how and why different individuals do or do not believe genetics are an important causal explanation for various phenomena. Dr. Suhay is Assistant Professor at American University, where she is also contributing to a large project on Evidence-Based Science Communication with Policymakers.

Given that debates about genetics and inequality are back in the spotlight today, instead of joining that debate I am more interested in exploring social-scientific angles that might help us decode why these debates are so controversial, confusing, and endless. So I reached out to Elizabeth for an apolitical, scientific angle on the psychology of how and why genetic explanations tend to be adopted or rejected. Elizabeth explains how and why individuals on the left and right favor or reject genetic explanations for different human characteristics. We talk about motivated reasoning, who really believes what and to what degree, and the role of media in activating motivated reasoning about genetic attributions.

Dr. Suhay’s research mentioned in the podcast:

2017. “Discord Over DNA: Ideological Responses to Scientific Communication about Genes and Race.” Alexandre Morin-Chasse, Elizabeth Suhay, and Toby Jayaratne. Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics 2(2): 260-299. Published version & abstract / Author PDF.

2016. “Lay Belief in Biopolitics and Political Prejudice.” Elizabeth Suhay, Mark Brandt, and Travis Proulx. Social Psychological and Personality Science 8(2): 173-182. Published version & abstract / Author PDF.

2013. “Does Biology Justify Ideology? The Politics of Genetic Attribution.” Elizabeth Suhay and Toby Jayaratne. Public Opinion Quarterly 77(2): 497-521. Published version & abstract / Author PDF.

Socialism and Campus Politics with Sean Trainor

Sean Trainor (@ess_trainor) is an historian, educator, writer, and podcaster. Sean has written for The Atlantic, TIME, Salon, and many other venues popular and academic. He is a professor at the University of Florida, where he is currently writing a book about beards in the nineteenth century. Sean co-hosts his own podcast, Impolitic. You can find more about Sean’s work at his website, seantrainor.org.

Sean is a socialist activist so we had some interesting debates about the prospects for activism today, and we covered just about all of the hot-button, culture-war topics of the moment: campus politics, trigger warnings, free speech, etc., including many observations from our personal experiences moving through left-wing circles and academia. We also talked about some more obscure topics such as Catholic anti-capitalism, the pleasures and pains of our respective podcasts, and why beards became so fashionable among men in the nineteenth century.

Early Christian Communism with Roman Montero

Roman Montero (@PantaKoina) is the author of “All Things in Common: The Economic Practices of the Early Christians.” We had a long conversation about religion and communism (duh), Christianity, Protestantism, Catholicism, rationality, love, and marriage.

Roman’s book can be found on Amazon here. Roman also wrote a short synopsis of the book available on Libcom.org. You can also find a video recording of our conversation here.

Reactionary Leftism with Uriel Fiori

Uriel Fiori (@cyborg_nomade) is a theorist and translator based in São Paulo, Brazil. He’s an expert on the work of Nick Land, having translated and archived many of the various fragments Land has scattered around the web.

We talked about Uriel’s idea of “left-wing neoreaction (LRx),” how to combine a commitment to equality with realism about objective inequalities, Proudhon and early modern anarchism, mutualism, Nick Land, patchwork, blockchain, and we even snuck in some #cavetwitter at the end.

Uriel’s website is antinomiaimediata.wordpress.com and he is active on Twitter as @cyborg_nomade.

Photic Stimulation with Philipp Streicher

Philipp Streicher is a doctoral researcher in Informatics at the University of Sussex. Philipp studies photic brain stimulation, i.e. the use of light to boost brain activity. He is currently trying to combine light stimulation protocols with neurofeedback technologies, to help people improve their brain function. His startup, Augmind, recently won funding in the 2017 StartUp Sussex competition.

I visited Philipp at his lab, he conducted one of his experiments on me, and then we recorded this podcast. We talked about brain stimulation, economics, politics, and more.

You can find Philipp’s web page at the University of Sussex here. You can also find a nice video about Philipp’s Augmind project here.

Aesthetic Performance with Greg Osei

Greg Osei is a Soul/R&B musician, performer, storyteller, and model.  His music combines African, Latin, and Afro-Caribbean musical styles, in English and Spanish. He performs regularly throughout New York City. He describes his mission as creating spaces of “possibility, change, questioning, incitement, joy, helpful discomfort, and ultimately love through art and a collaborative creative experience with his audiences.” Greg just released a new video of a performance at Sofar Sounds, which you can find here.

I asked Greg to chat with me because I remember him as a very powerful person. We went to high school together, so when I recently saw his work on the internet I thought it’d be fun to see what he’s been up to. I’ve always been drawn to performers because I’m interested in the aesthetics of existence; I’m not a performer but I do want to exist more truly, which is to say, more beautifully. Genuine performers have specialized knowledge about how to exist aesthetically, so there is a lot we can learn from them. And Greg is definitely a very authentic performer in the sense that his performance tendency colors how he carries himself, his everyday demeanor, attitude, speech, etc. This is why I remember him as a very powerful person, because the ability to perform is the ability to shape reality.

You can find Greg’s website at gregosei.com. You can also find Greg Osei on Instagram here, and on Spotify here.

#13 – Geoffrey Miller (Part 2 of 2)

Geoffrey Miller is an evolutionary psychology professor at the University of New Mexico in the USA, and is best known for his books The Mating Mind (2001), Mating Intelligence (2008), Spent (2009), and Mate (2015). He has a B.A. from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from Stanford University, and has also worked at NYU Stern Business School, UCLA, and University College London. He has over 120 academic publications addressing sexual selection, mate choice, signaling theory, fitness indicators, consumer behavior, marketing, intelligence, creativity, language, art, music, humor, emotions, personality, psychopathology, and behavior genetics. He has given 192 talks in 16 countries. His research has been featured in Nature, Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, New Scientist, and The Economist, on NPR and BBC radio, and in documentaries on CNN, PBS, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, and BBC. He has consulted for a variety of Fortune 500 companies, governments, NGOs, advertising agencies, market research companies, and social media companies. He is also active in the Effective Altruism, ancestral health, academic free speech, and polyamory movements. His current priority is leveraging evolutionary psychology insights to reduce the existential risks from Artificial General Intelligence.

Geoffrey’s personal website: www.primalpoly.com

Geoffrey on Twitter: @primalpoly

Timestamps:

Capitalism, genetics, intelligence, etc. (00:00)

Polyamory with a purpose? (00:13)

Groups, clans, missions, cults, and the politics of optimal lifestyle design; blockchain polyamory? (00:26)

Public opinion toward free speech; hypothesizing about why some people reject free speech. (00:24)

How long will Trump last? Betting and prediction markets. (00:46)

Geoffrey’s advice on how to live an intellectual life. (51:00)