YouTube Heroes Flying Too Close To The Sun: Chris Kavanagh Decodes The Gurus (With An Amazing Accent)


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By Meghan Daum. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
Chris Kavanagh is cognitive anthropologist and one-half of the team behind Decoding The Gurus, a podcast that bills itself as “an anthropologist and a psychologist listening to the greatest minds the world has to offer and trying their best to understand what they’re talking about.” By “greatest minds” Chris and his co-host, the Australian psychologist Matthew Browne, are talking mainly about aspiring or established public intellectuals who’ve gained large followings on YouTube, often for questioning mainstream media narratives and challenging liberal pieties. (Listeners of The Unspeakable are no doubt familiar with at least some of these figures, a few of whom have appeared on the show.) They’ve also done deep dives into figures like Joe Rogan, Russel Brand, Brené Brown and Gwyneth Paltrow. Chris and Matt are sympathetic to some of what these folks have to say, but skeptical of the overall phenomenon of intellectuals as internet influencers and they spend a lot of time laughing at the self-seriousness of their subjects. That said, anyone they discuss has a standing offer to come on show and defend themselves. In this conversation, Chris and Meghan talk about why these figures can be at once fascinating and maddening, what happened when YouTuber Chris Williamson joined the show to defend himself, and why Chris, who’s originally from Northern Ireland and currently lives in Japan, thinks Americans are especially receptive to guru logic. Guest Bio: Chris Kavanagh is a Specially appointed Associate Professor at the College of Contemporary Psychology and a Researcher at the Center for Studies of Social Cohesion at Oxford University. His research interests include East Asian religions, ritual behavior, and the bonding effects of shared dysphoria. Currently he is based in Japan. The episode of The Unspeakable is sponsored by Better Help online therapy. Visit for a special offer.

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