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Subscribe now Give a gift subscription Share This week on Unsupervised Learning, Razib is joined by Tim Lee, a former columnist at the Washington Post, Ars Technica, and Vox.com, to discuss his new project, Full Stack Economics, a newsletter on economics, technology, and public policy. The conversation jumps directly into a major issue facing many …
 
Subscribe now Give a gift subscription Share This week on Unsupervised Learning, researcher, blogger, and essayist Tanner Greer joins Razib to consider the challenges facing conservatism in America today, the future of China and its relationship to the US. Much of Tanner’s extensive research and analysis are featured on his excellent weblog, The Sc…
 
Subscribe now Give a gift subscription Share This week on the Unsupervised Learning podcast Razib turns his gaze to space with Eric Berger, Senior Space Editor at Ars Technica and author of Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days that Launched SpaceX. They ask who is Elon Musk anyway, and how did SpaceX come to win the early race to dominat…
 
Subscribe now Give a gift subscription Share This week on the Unsupervised Learning podcast, Harvard professor Carole Hooven joins Razib to discuss her new book T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us. Though they do talk about the science of testosterone, Razib and Carole end up exploring the public reaction to her …
 
Subscribe no Give a gift subscription Share This week on the Unsupervised Learning Podcast, Razib gets into the genetics weeds again with Alex Young of the Social Sciences Genetic Association Consortium (SSGAC). They discuss the heritability of complex traits and how the SSGAC develops predictive models using genetics to tackle questions that have …
 
Subscribe now Give a gift subscription Share This week on the Unsupervised Learning podcast, Razib is joined by genetic genealogist Josh Lipson for a deep dive into the history and genetics of the Ashkenazi Jewish population in Europe. They review the historical demographics of the Jews of both Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, as well as the …
 
Subscribe now Give a gift subscription Share Recently Yale Law School (YLS) student Trent Colbert wrote Why I Didn’t Apologize For That Yale Law School Email: We must end the culture of performative repentance for Persuasion. I was broadly familiar with the culture-war saga that Colbert was caught up in, having read a piece a few weeks ago in The W…
 
Subscribe now Give a gift subscription Share This week on the Unsupervised Learning Podcast I’m joined by author and journalist Kat Rosenfield. She has a new novel out, No One Will Miss Her, is a co-host of the Feminine Chaos podcast, and a contributor at various places, like UnHerd and Newsweek. We first talk about Andrew Cuomo (the former governo…
 
In this week’s Unsupervised Learning Podcast, Razib is joined by author and psycholinguist Steven Pinker to discuss his new book Rationality: what is it, why it seems scarce, and why it matters. Pinker makes the case the humans are fundamentally rational beings, and that it’s this capacity that has allowed Homo sapiens to spread across the planet a…
 
This week Razib talks to Fredrick DeBoer, author of The Cult of Smart, about the heritability of intelligence and its broader implications for society and education. The two discuss the difficulties of having fact-based conversations around the topic of heritability without being shouted down or accused of being proponents of eugenics. They also ta…
 
This week Razib is joined by evolutionary psychiatrist Dr. Emily Deans to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. The conversation begins with the importance of winning and retaining hearts and minds when managing a pandemic, where nations have succeeded and failed in their public health messaging – and how numerous institutional failings – like sloppy c…
 
On this week’s Unsupervised Learning Podcast, Razib sits down with Mahan Ghafari, a doctoral candidate at Oxford’s department of zoology to discuss his ongoing research in the area of viral evolution. They discuss the difference between RNA viruses and DNA viruses and how viral evolution differs from that of more complex life forms – accentuated by…
 
This week Razib sits down with author and tech entrepreneur Antonio Garcia Martinez to talk about some of the myriad ways in which technology and belief structures underpin and reinforce each other. Antonio discusses how his ongoing conversion to Judaism has broadened his lens and allowed him to gain perspective on how secular manifestations of Pro…
 
In this weeks episode Razib sits down with Maximillian Larena of Upsala Universities evolutionary biology department to discuss the peopling of the Philippines via five proposed population pulses and introgression events beginning with the earliest Australasian expansion of the Philippine Negritos and subsequent migratory waves by the Manobo, Sama,…
 
Myra MacDonald is the author of Defeat is an Orphan: How Pakistan Lost the Great South Asian War and White as the Shroud: India, Pakistan and War on the Frontiers of Kashmir. The former Reuters Bureau Chief in India, MacDonald is an incisive observer of South Asian politics and commentator on the region’s history (follow her on Twitter!). On the po…
 
Ruben Arslan is a psychologist who works at the Center for Adaptive Rationality. I’ve long tracked his work because of his interest in leveraging evolutionary and genetic frameworks in the context of psychology. Additionally, Arslan has long been an advocate for, and practitioner of, open science. In this episode we discuss some of his work: - Inte…
 
Jared Rubin is a professor of economics at Chapman University. He works at the intersection of religion and economics. This is not an entirely obscure field, as evident in 2010’s Marketplace of the Gods: How Economics Explains Religion. Nevertheless, Rubin talks about how he was somewhat of an odd duck in the field of economic history due to his in…
 
Jason Munshi-South is a biologist who studies a creature many of us have an ambivalent relationship to, the rat. His lab is at Fordham University, in the New York City area. Jason is an “urban ecologist,” so he studies the wildlife in and around cities. This is what drew him to the rat. Or, to be more frank, there was public demand for him to study…
 
Economics is obviously important. Recently in the US, we’ve been talking about the threat of inflation, and spending financed through debt. What does this all mean? Not only are the answers important on a macro level, but they’re also relevant to all of us. To attack these questions I decided to talk to Karl Smith, a columnist at Bloomberg. We tack…
 
First, I want to mention that readers of Unsupervised Learning may hear the doorbell from Duke (from “Duke Tales”) mid-recording. While he usually visits me evenings, Duke made a special afternoon stop, perhaps thanks to the appearance of a Tesla in the driveway. With that out of the way, I’m very excited to present this conversation with Linda Ave…
 
In this conversation, I discuss “cultural evolution” with Alex Mesoudi. The very term can be confusing and perplexing to some. After all, it seems intuitive that culture evolves and changes. But here Mesoudi and I discuss the science of cultural evolution, which is today a robust and interdisciplinary field (also see my conversation with Richard Mc…
 
Today on this bonus episode of Unsupervised Learning I’m excited to talk to Patrick Wyman about his new book, The Verge: Reformation, Renaissance, and Forty Years that Shook the World. Full disclosure, I enjoyed The Verge, and a review will be posted from me on National Review Online within the next week. Wyman is the host of Tides of History, a po…
 
Last week we saw the debut of two new possible human “species”, one in Israel and another in China (read my post on the topic or listen to the podcast with Vagheesh Narasimhan). The team out of Israel did not explicitly name their find a new species, referring to it as the “Nesha Ramla hominin.” But it is clear reading between the lines that they b…
 
Last week two new hominin fossils were published in the scientific literature, and extensively reported on in the media. “Dragon Man”, discovered in Harbin, China, and dating to 140,000 years ago is claimed to be a new species that is the closest to the modern human lineage. Meanwhile, the hominin discovered at Nesha Ramla in Israel dates to 120,00…
 
Richard Hanania is the president of the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology (CSPI). He also runs a Substack and a podcast that are “must-read/listen.” Richard is perceived as something of a contrarian, so I wanted to ask him about Israel and its role in American politics because he has opinions on that topic somewhat outside of the ma…
 
By popular demand, Samo Burja is my first repeat guest on this podcast. You’ve been asking for him, so when he wrote a great piece in Palladium Magazine, Why Civilization Is Older Than We Thought, I had to ask him back on. Much of the piece is specifically about Göbekli Tepe, an ancient site in Turkey that predates the Neolithic, dating to 11,600 y…
 
I’ve known Ramez Naam since 2003 when he wrote More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement. Back then he was leading a team at Microsoft, and moonlighting as a writer. Over the last twenty years, he’s changed careers, and become a full-time writer and speaker. He’s the author of three science fiction books, Crux, Apex, and Nexu…
 
Three years ago the Golden State Killer was arrested through genetic genealogy enabled by the new direct-to-consumer platforms. Over the past several years many more cases have been solved through new DNA techniques and database searches. But more recently, Montana and Maryland banned the practice. Six years after the original CSI went off the air,…
 
Three years ago the Golden State Killer was arrested through genetic genealogy enabled by the new direct-to-consumer platforms. Over the past several years many more cases have been solved through new DNA techniques and database searches. But more recently, Montana and Maryland banned the practice. Six years after the original CSI went off the air,…
 
James P. Mallory received in Ph.D. in Indo-European studies from UCLA in 1975 under the supervision of Marija Gimbutas. He is the author of In Search of Indo-Europeans, The Origins of the Irish, and The Tarim Mummies, and an emeritus professor at Queen’s University Belfast. Mallory devoted much of his career to understanding the origins of the Indo…
 
Dr. Marie Favereau is an associate professor at Paris Nanterre University. Her academic work has been on the Mamlukes of Egypt and the Mongol Golden Horde. Most recently, she is the author of The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World. I recently reviewed it for UnHerd, What the Mongols did for us: The Golden Horde wasn't barbarous, it created th…
 
Dr. Kristian Kristiansen has been at the forefront of the synthesis between archaeology and ancient DNA. That new joint field has allowed for a deeper understanding of the transition to Indo-European languages in Northern Europe 5,000 years ago. In 2015 he was a co-author on Population genomics of Bronze Age Eurasia, which established that there wa…
 
David Anthony is an emeritus professor of Hartwick College and now a collaborator with David Reich at Harvard. Over the past four decades, Anthony has been involved in exploring the origin and rise of Indo-Europeans from the perspective of archaeology, most especially in his magisterial 2007 book The Horse, The Wheel, and Language. In the 2010’s he…
 
45% of humans speak an Indo-European language. English is Indo-European. Hindi is Indo-European. The language of the ancient Hittites was Indo-European. This is one reason the origin and expansion of this language family is so interesting to so many. Thomas Olander is an associate professor of Indo-European studies in Denmark. He has a deep interes…
 
In the winter of 2021, I noticed a minor controversy regarding ‘academic cancellation’ around Gregory Clark, an economic historian at UC Davis. Representative pieces are Glasgow University in row over decision to invite guest speaker Gregory Clark, and Why is the woke mob so scared? The Free Speech Union put together a petition, Letter to Adam Smit…
 
What are the relationship between Christianity, ancient paganism, and Western culture? Does mass secularization in the West presage a new pagan era? Where is “New Atheism” 15 years after its peak? These are just some of the questions Ben Bassett and I mull over. Bassett is an archaeologist but has a deep interest in ancient history. Three years ago…
 
Abdel Abdellaoui is a researcher in the Netherlands who works in the intersection of psychology and genetics. He’s a pretty active figure on social media, and because of his subject matter interests, he has become embroiled in a few controversies. When scientists talk about genetics and psychology, behavior genetics, the public listens and offers o…
 
Gabriel Rossman is a sociologist at UCLA. The author of Climbing the Charts: What Radio Airplay Tells Us about the Diffusion of Innovation, Rossman takes a deeply analytic toolkit to questions such as why 2005’s “My Humps” became a viral hit. The last 1/3rd of the podcast is devoted to discussing a recent paper that he is an author on, Network hubs…
 
Listeners to some of my podcasts on human evolution often tell me, in a friendly enough manner, that the jargon is often tough going. To be frank I can actually empathize with this. It is difficult for me to keep up with all the paleogenetics, let alone the ins and outs of paleoanthropology. What’s the difference between ergaster and heidelbergensi…
 
Nick Patterson is a computational biologist at the Broad Institute. A collaborator with David Reich for nearly 20 years, Nick has traversed the world of genetics from its medical domain to the realm of anthropology and ancient DNA. But before he was a geneticist Nick had varied lives, including a stint with the British government, as a cryptographe…
 
Normally I post a photograph of the guest for the podcast. But in the case of Matt Ridley, I am making an exception. Rather, I’m highlighting his 1999 book, Genome: The autobiography of a species in 23 chapters. This book is incredibly influential for the generation of genomicists who came of age in the 21st century. Written in the late 1990’s when…
 
Lee Jussim is a social psychologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Known outside of his field as a major critic of stereotype threat, Lee is involved in online science communication and the replication crisis. A major internal critical of his own field, Lee and I discuss: - His experience after Hurricane Sandy - What he actually believes is t…
 
Cathy Young is a writer who contributes to Reason, Newsday, and Arc Digital. Born in the Soviet Union, she immigrated to the United States as a teen in the 1980s. Young is the author of Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood and Ceasefire!: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality. In December she wrote The Guillotin…
 
Chad Orzel is a spherical object…actually, no. He’s a physicist. More precisely, a physics professor at Union College, in Schenectady, New York. He’s the author of four books: Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog Eureka: Discovering Your Inner Sc…
 
This week’s guests made time to chat at a moment’s notice over the last 24 hours as the luckiest of us are just beginning to get back to normal life (though many here remain without water even after power was restored). This is very much a rough draft of history, not my usual evergreen type of content. I’m learning something new daily and I hope yo…
 
Rob Henderson is one of the most interesting young thinkers active today. A writer with an engaging Twitter account and must-subscribe newsletter, he is perhaps most well known today for his popularization of the concept of “luxury beliefs.” My conversation with Rob occurred in the midst of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. I was looking for his per…
 
John Hawks is a paleoanthropologist who has been a researcher and commentator in the fields of human evolutionary biology and paleoanthropology for over two decades. With a widely-read weblog, a book on Homo naledi, and highly cited scientific papers, Hawks’ voice is essential to understanding the origin of our species. In this episode, Hawks talks…
 
On January 22nd, 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States of America declared abortion legal in all 50 states when it decided Roe vs. Wade. This landmark decision was arguably one of the two biggest cases in relation to social policy in the US in the 20th century (the other being 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education). Though abortion has been on …
 
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