Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the host of the podcast The Michael Shermer Show, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University where he teaches Skepticism 101. In this interview, I speak to him about conspiracy theories, conspiratorial thinking and why the rational believe the irrational.

Thought Economics

Francis Ngannou is a remarkable individual. He is currently the heavyweight champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and is ranked as having the hardest punch in the world. Francis Ngannou was born in the village of Batié (Cameroon), and grew up with very little: no home, no formal education, and no support. What he lacked in support, he made up for with his enormous dreams. He eluded the demands of local gangs, began working in salt mines as a child, and set his sights on a life outside of the town that was determined to retain him. Francis began boxing training at 22, and at the age of 26 took an arduous journey to France to pursue his professional career. Upon reaching Europe, he was jailed for two months in Spain for illegally crossing the border. When he reached Paris, with no money, friends, or home, he became homeless. Francis met fighter Francis Carmot who introduced him to trainer Fernand Lopez and MMA Factory. Lopez gave Ngannou some MMA gear, allowed him to train and sleep at the gym, and with that his career began. Today, alongside his fighting success, Francis operates a foundation in his name which extends his providence to his hometown. In this interview, I speak to Francis Ngannou, heavyweight champion of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). We discuss the power of combat sports, the reality of pain, of resilience, of failure and success.

Thought Economics

Dandapani is a Hindu priest, entrepreneur and a former monk of 10 years. After graduating university with a degree in Electrical Engineering he left it all behind to become a Hindu monk under the guidance of one of Hinduism’s foremost spiritual leaders of our time, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. For 10 years he lived a life of serious personal discipline and training at his guru’s cloistered monastery in Hawaii and on that journey he came to many discoveries around the most common mental maladies that literally plague us, anxiety, stress, worry and fear. Through his lectures and courses, Dandapani’s work has allowed millions to overcome distraction and find peace in their lives. In his new book The Power of Unwavering Focus, Dandapani distils decades of wisdom into insights to help us move through our lives with willpower, awareness, and focus. In this interview, I speak to Dandapaniabout what it means to have a life well-lived, what it means to best understand our minds, and how we can overcome anxiety, fear, stress and worry.

Thought Economics

Human rights activist and recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, Nadia Murad is a leading advocate for survivors of genocide and sexual violence. Her New York Times bestselling memoir, The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, is a harrowing account of the genocide against the Yazidi ethno-religious minority in Iraq and Nadia’s imprisonment by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). Nadia’s peaceful life was brutally disrupted in 2014 when ISIS attacked her homeland in Sinjar with the goal of ethnically cleansing all Yazidis from Iraq. Like many minority groups, the Yazidis have carried the weight of historical persecution. Women, in particular, have suffered greatly as victims of sexual violence. After escaping captivity, Nadia began speaking out on behalf of her community and survivors of sexual violence worldwide. In 2016, Nadia became the first United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. That year, she was also awarded the Council of Europe Václav Havel Award for Human Rights and Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. In 2018, she won the Nobel Peace Prize with Dr. Denis Mukwege. Together, they founded the Global Survivors Fund. In 2019, Nadia was appointed as a UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Advocate. In this interview, I speak to human rights activist and recipient of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, Nadia Murad, about how communities are destroyed in conflict, how sexual violence becomes a weapon of war, and importantly – how we can build peace, rebuild communities, and give hope for a better future.

Thought Economics

How different are the sexes? Is gender uniquely human? Where does gender identity originate?
Frans de Waal is a distinguished primatologist. He has spent nearly half a century working with and studying primates. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on primate behaviour, and the links between human and primate society. In this interview, I speak to Frans de Waal about what his near half a century of studying primate species can teach us about gender, identity, power, and ourselves. We discuss the astonishing closeness between us and our primate ancestors, and what observing primates can teach us about humanity.

Thought Economics

Alan Murray is CEO of Fortune Media. Fortune Media Group are a multinational company that publishes Fortune magazine, Fortune.com and other business media including the Global Forum, Most Powerful Women and Brainstorm conference. Alan has spent four decades at the forefront of business journalism, getting to know the most influential businesses and business leaders on the planet. In this interview, I speak to Alan Murray about the origins and meaning of stakeholder capitalism. We look at how businesses are activating and helping to solve, some of the greatest challenges our world faces from climate to inequality.  We look at why businesses need to engage with broader stakeholder groups, the business case for it, and how tomorrow’s corporate leaders will need fundamentally different skills than today.

Thought Economics

Inauthenticity is a uniquely 21st century issue, which has become an increasing part of society on every level – from governments and big tech, down to our everyday purchases. It seems like there’s never a week without a media storm about some aspect of authenticity, and we are fascinated by it – from NFTs to Barnard Castle and ‘Partygate’ lies, to Inventing Anna and The Tinder Swindler, and of course most recently the propaganda used to justify Russia’s war in Ukraine. The lines between reality and illusion are increasingly blurred; the need to distinguish between the two is an urgent daily challenge. Alice Sherwood is a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Policy Institute at King’s College London and a director of an open-source intelligence company, Alice spent 5 years extensively researching the subject, culminating in the witty, timely, and insightful new book, Authenticity: Reclaiming Reality in a Counterfeit Culture. In this interview, I speak to Alice Sherwood about what authenticity means, why our culture has become so obsessed with authenticity, impostor syndrome, the dangers of authentic leadership, and how we truly can be more authentic in our lives.

Thought Economics

Benjamin Sledge is a wounded combat veteran with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving most of his time under Special Operations (Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command). He is the recipient of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and two Army Commendation Medals for his actions overseas. He was at the front line of some of the deadliest battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, served in Special Operations Command, on the Pakistan border after September 11, and eventually in the deadliest city battle of the Iraq War, Ramadi. In this interview, I speak to Benjamin Sledge about the realities of war, how soldiers prepare for combat, and what war reveals about the best, and worst, of humanity. In this conversation, Sledge reveals an unflinchingly honest portrait of war that few dare to tell.

Thought Economics

Frédéric Gassita is a Gabonese pianist, composer, and record producer best known for his musical work combining jazz, classical music, and African music. He was the third African student admitted to Berklee College of Music and the first Gabonese. Gassita is a founding member and president of the African Music Institute in Libreville. Gassita has recorded six orchestral music albums. The double album “Frédéric Gassita With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra” includes pieces from his opuses released between 2004 and 2008, which were rearranged for the new release. “Symphonic Visions From Gabon”, featuring the London Symphony Orchestra, also a double album, incorporates African music influences. In this interview, I speak to Frédéric Gassita about the deep connection we have with music, the power of African rhythms, the beauty of connecting genres, and what music does for us.

Thought Economics

Dr. Nina Ansary is an award-winning Iranian American author, historian, and UN Women Global Champion for Innovation. She is one of the world’s foremost experts on gender equality through history and in contemporary society. Nina is a prominent human rights advocate and has been ranked by many as one of the world’s foremost visionaries around inclusivity, equality and diversity. In this interview, I speak to Dr. Nina Ansary about the origins of gender inequality in our society, how it traces back to primitive society, and how deeply embedded gender and cultural biases are. We talk about the reality of global gender inequity in today’s world, and look at what we need to do to move to a more equitable society.

Thought Economics

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