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Where do your opinions come from? Do we ‘think’ our world views, or ‘feel’ them? And what do our beliefs mean for politics and society? In each episode of On Opinion, Turi Munthe asks thought leaders to share their perspectives on why we think what we think and what it means for the world today, discussing everything from the war on truth to how to argue with people you hate. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
 
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Author Julia Galef is the co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality and host of Rationally Speaking, the official podcast of New York City Skeptics. She defines “scout mindset” as the motivation to see things as they are, not as you wish they were – and to be intellectually honest and curious about what's actually true. Goodreads: https://ww…
 
“Our inner and outer crises are two sides of the same coin” There are many lenses through which to explain polarisation - economic, political, demographic, evolutionary… Alex Evans wants us to consider it from a psychological perspective. Alex has campaigned around inclusion and social justice for two decades, but researchers in Israel changed his …
 
“This is one of the most important books that will be published in 2021. The Covid vaccine will soon free humanity from a biological pandemic, and this book, if widely read, could free humanity from an equally deadly scourge—high conflict.” — Jonathan Haidt, Social psychologist, Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University Stern School of…
 
“The avoidance of conflict is actually the real problem” We traditionally view an argument as a symptom of a problematic relationship, but relationship psychologists have found that they actually lead to healthier and happier people. Children who grow up arguing with their parents do better in school, and couples who air their disagreements stay to…
 
Dr Judson Brewer is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist at Brown University. As an addiction psychiatrist and internationally known expert in mindfulness training for treating addictions, Dr. Jud has developed and tested novel mindfulness programs for habit change, including both in-person and app-based treatments for smoking, emotional eating, and a…
 
“The disadvantaged don’t make the world, they cope with it” Since Etienne de la Boetie’s Discourse on Voluntary Servitude (1577), we have asked ourselves why the weak, the poor and the marginalised accept injustice. Social scientists talk to economic and political oppression. John Jost’s work shows that the oppressed don’t just suffer the injustice…
 
“This economist has a plan to fix capitalism. It's time we all listened.” – Wired Mariana Mazzucato (PhD) is Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London (UCL), where she is Founding Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose (IIPP). She received her BA from Tufts University and her MA an…
 
"Populism is a permanent shadow of modern representative democracy, and a constant threat" The last few decades has seen a democratic drift, as populist leaders emerge all over the world - from Bolsonaro and Trump in the Americas, through Orban, Kaczynski and Erdogan in Europe, to Modi and Duterte in Asia. Their policies have little in common, but …
 
Merlin Sheldrake is a biologist and a writer with a background in plant sciences, microbiology, ecology, and the history and philosophy of science. He received a Ph.D. in tropical ecology from Cambridge University for his work on underground fungal networks in tropical forests in Panama, where he was a predoctoral research fellow of the Smithsonian…
 
“The more we increase the connectivity of people, the more people get stuck in extreme positions and echo chambers on the extreme edges of our belief structures.” In December 2017, Jens Koed Madsen heard Mark Zuckerberg talking about the power of connectivity. Zuckerberg’s hypothesis was that the more people were connected, the more quickly we woul…
 
Tsedal Neeley (@tsedal) is the Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. Her work focuses on how leaders can scale their organizations by developing and implementing global and digital strategies. She regularly advises top leaders who are embarking on virtual work and large-scale change that involves globa…
 
Michael Shermer is one of the world’s most prominent skeptics - founder of The Skeptic Society and editor of its magazine Skeptic. Once a fundamentalist Christian, Michael has spent his career uncovering the workings and causes of our 'Believing Brain'. “Our brains are wired to think more like lawyers than scientists - to win arguments, to bolster …
 
Have you ever explored your ancestry? What did you discover? In her 2021 audiobook, The Year of Return: A Black Woman’s African Homecoming, Rachel Décoste shares her epic odyssey to Africa. Like most descendants of enslaved Africans, Décoste could not pinpoint her origins until technology evolved. Guided by a DNA test, she visited 5 countries in as…
 
Roberto Foa's research on Global Dissatisfaction with Democracy and Youth Dissatisfaction with Democracy uncovered the highest rates of dissatisfaction in decades, particularly amongst young people. “The majority of Americans today are dissatisfied with Democracy” 2019 represents the highest level of democratic discontent on record. Around the worl…
 
What are the funny or interesting stories from your life? You know, the ones that get retold at every family or friends get together? In this extended episode, I sit down with Paul Gewuerz, the founder of Made to Order Audio, to chat about the art and possibilities of custom audiobooks. Commission a one of a kind personalized audiobook to commemora…
 
“There’s a subtle but crucial difference between ‘Opponent’ and ‘Enemy’” If Polarization is on the rise around the world, it takes different forms. The “Ideas Landscape” in the US, UK, France and Germany is very different, with the US - unfortunately - most radicalised across its politics. There, political sorting amongst voters and inside Congress…
 
Gates identifies the Five Grand Challenges of climate change as manufacturing (31%), electricity (27%), agriculture (19%), transportation (16%), and buildings (7%). Since there’s no single solution for any of these sectors, Gates proposes we speed up the cycle of innovation and attract a mix of private and public investment that is more risk tolera…
 
“The key division in all political systems is the result of two distinct perceptions of the most dangerous threats” Western politics have traditionally been divided into Conservatives and Liberals - tradition vs egalitarianism. John Hibbing, who more than anyone has put biology back into our understanding of politics, proposes an entirely new appro…
 
In the Tyranny of Merit, political philosopher Michael Sandel attacks what he calls “the rhetoric of rising” and ideas about meritocracy on both the political left and right in the United States. Michael Sandel teaches political philosophy at Harvard University. His writings—on justice, ethics, democracy, and markets--have been translated into 27 l…
 
“We synchronise together through processes of emotional contagion and social conformity… This helps produce a shared experience of the world.” Human beings are social creatures. But is this social nature more than just a desire to be connected? Do we actually form one collective consciousness? Are humans more a ‘We’ than an ‘I’? In her book Hivemin…
 
The Glass Hotel is like a literary mosaic of tiny pieces taken from various times, locations, and perspectives. I found this initially disorienting, but when the bigger picture started to emerge, I was hooked. Emily St. John Mandel was born and raised on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. She studied contemporary dance at the School of Tor…
 
“You really do have to do bridge building at the community level. People have to learn to talk to each other across sides” The Left and the Right today are miles apart. In the past few years, polarisation has become an integral part of our societies. But has it always been this way - is polarisation a natural part of democracy? Covering the politic…
 
Think Again is a 21st Century reboot of Enlightenment ideas, celebrating skepticism and science. Adam Grant’s balance of storytelling and statistics is fascinating, but what makes this listen fun is how Grant challenges us to explore our own tendencies and guides us in how to practice rethinking our beliefs. How often do you think again? Take the q…
 
“Dyadic morality is ultimately about the link between perceived harm and immorality…” Why do we believe murder is “wrong”? Why can’t we compare the effects of a hurricane with the acts of a paedophile? Kurt Gray argues that human morality stems from “harm” - that moral acts have an intentional agent and a victim, and it is this perception of harm c…
 
The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt is a 2006 psychology book written for a non-academic audience, with insights that remain relevant today. Haidt takes 10 classic great ideas from Eastern and Western philosophy and applies these to modern life, while adding context from contemporary psychology. Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist at New…
 
“A lot of the human behaviour that seems perplexing, irrational (like politics or religion) is often most effectively explained by Evolutionary Psychology” We evolved to live in hunter-gatherer communities clustered in small units spread sparsely across the landscape. Existentially threatened by outsiders - who brought war as well as germs - humans…
 
“Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever…” Ultimately, stories have emotional power over us, and great stories stay with us for a lifetime. Haig’s charming style made this listen impossible to put down. And, although it covers some heavy subject matter, The Midnight Library is an easy listen bea…
 
“Microaggressions are so hard because they typically don’t meet traditional philosophical conceptions of blameworthiness…” Microaggressions are the latest front in the culture wars - seemingly harmless comments such as “yes, but where are you really from…” or misused pronouns, over time, can cause profound damage to the receiver. But the idea of ca…
 
All of us have experienced unforeseen circumstances like an abrupt illness, the death of a loved one, a breakup, or a job loss. These experiences can be deeply lonely and confusing. I’m reviewing this book because I’m thinking of all the people I know living through what may feel like one of the most difficult winters of our lifetimes. Katherine Ma…
 
“We need to borrow from both the Left and the Right to achieve a renewal of liberalism…” As a journalist and political commentator, Timothy Garton Ash took a front row seat watching Eastern Europe open up in the 1990s - the heyday of Liberal expansionism around the world. Today, faced with populist authoritarians and illiberal democrats at home, an…
 
In this extended episode, I sit down with author Tom James to chat about his hilarious and thought-provoking book, Your Children Are Boring: How Modern Parents Ruin Everything, which delves into society's obsession with children and parenting and the potential consequences of this. Our conversation touches on how modern parenthood aligns to identit…
 
“We have to come to the table, even if it’s just to say we disagree… then you have a chance to move forward” The number of armed groups created in the last 6 years surpasses the number created since WW2. States themselves have been creating them, globalisation has linked them up, and the population displacement driven by climate change has only exa…
 
One Goodreads reviewer gave this book three stars out of five, criticizing it as a “Love Letter to Listening” (but lacking tips of how to listen better). This same rationale is exactly why I’m giving this title five out of five stars. The fact is, most of us know perfectly well what listening skills are, but we’re not practicing good listening habi…
 
"By gaining greater knowledge of how others think, we can become less certain of the knowledge we think we have, which is always the first step to greater understanding" It goes without saying that the way we think is embedded in our own time and culture. The same is true even of Philosophers: our 'professional' thinkers. Julian Baggini's How the W…
 
Have you ever felt conflicted about the phrase “follow your passion”, or hesitated to try something new because you were already invested in another endeavour? Range offers a fresh take on what success looks like. David Epstein is the author of the #1 New York Times best seller Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, and of the bests…
 
“In their desire for groups to BE equal, Liberals have a bias towards PERCEIVING groups to be equal… Inequality must therefore always be explained through discrimination and prejudice, rather than evolved or genetic differences” Turi talks with Dr. Cory Clark about the origins of bias - why it is so ingrained in our thinking, its evolutionary uses,…
 
This extended episode is also available as an article on medium.com and shares insights taken from some of the audiobooks about listening I've reviewed on my podcast. Want to add lasting value at work and in personal relationships? In our attention economy, being a good listener helps you stand out for the right reasons. If we want to build rapport…
 
Do you feel overwhelmed by data and news about climate change? A Life on Our Planet offers some powerful reasons for optimism. Sir David Attenborough is an English broadcaster and natural historian. He is best known for writing and presenting, in conjunction with the BBC Natural History Unit, the nine natural history documentary series forming the …
 
What does it mean to be American – and is it possible for Americans to unite in a common cause unrelated to war or terrorism? Barack Obama's unwavering vision of American Exceptionalism is not new; it’s been a feature of his rhetoric since he entered politics, but it’s significant that he doesn’t overtly define what it is NOT. This open-ended appro…
 
The November 2018 fire that levelled the towns of Paradise and Concow was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history, and the most expensive natural disaster in the world that year. Named the Camp Fire, after its place of origin on Camp Creek Road, the fire was ignited by a faulty electric transmission line, and claimed 85 …
 
Which habits are keeping you from being a great communicator? Julian Treasure is the chair of the Sound Agency, a firm that advises worldwide businesses – offices, retailers, airports – on how to design sound in their physical spaces and communication. How to be Heard: Secrets for Powerful Speaking and Listening, based on his TED Talk, offers pract…
 
Modern marriage and politics have nothing over the royal court of King Henry VIII. The Wolf Hall Trilogy includes Wolf Hall, Bring up the Bodies (both read by Simon Vance) and The Mirror & the Light, read by Joseph Kloska. These titles represent more than 15 years of extensive research and superb writing by English writer Dame Hilary Mary Mantel. T…
 
“The effort to try to feel happy is often precisely the thing that makes us miserable.” ― Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking is a witty, fascinating, and counterintuitive listen / read that turns decades of self-help advice on its head and forces us to rethink completely our attitudes toward failur…
 
What if you already have absolutely everything you need to feel satisfied (and even joyful!) about your life? Stoic philosophy is based on the idea that satisfaction in life, also described as tranquility, rests on our ability to accept and ultimately embrace life as it is, no matter who or where we are. As William B Irvine sums it up, "to be satis…
 
While forgery and deception are intrinsically linked to the human condition, the information age in which we live is increasingly moving toward what author and broadcaster Nina Schick describes as the infocalypse, a point in the not-too-distant-future when it will become impossible to tell what is real and what is fake in the media we consume. Over…
 
Heroes is the second book in Stephen Fry’s Greek Mythology trilogy; the first book, Mythos, which I also reviewed, focuses on gods and other immortals in Greek mythology, while Heroes focuses on mortals with exceptional abilities, although most have direct connection to the gods, including Perseus, Heracles, Bellerophon, Orpheus, Jason, Atalanta, O…
 
Have you ever ordered something you enjoyed so much at a restaurant that you tried making it yourself at home? Well, I have, and although I never quite succeeded in replicating David Chang’s Ginger Scallion noodles from Momofuku Noodle Bar, I’m glad I can share highlights from his autobiography in this review. David Chang is an American restaurateu…
 
Don’t let the young adult (YA) fiction marketing fool you, this autobiographical story is unforgettable (and much appreciated!) by those with some life experience. Daniel, the author and narrator, flees from Iran as a small child, detours through a refugee camp in Italy, then winds up in middle school in Oklahoma, where he puts on his best impressi…
 
“Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question” – Yuval Noah Harari What is the right thing to do when confronting a completely unprecedented situation? How should we act when we’re flooded by enormous amounts of information, and there is absolutely no way we can absorb and analyze it all? 21 Lessons is…
 
Would you like to have more productive conversations with people who think differently than you or strongly disagree with you? Hint: it’s unlikely to happen online. While many fear that conversations about politics, religion, and values are a futile endeavour these days, this audiobook may encourage you to persevere in your attempts to connect with…
 
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