Today humanity is reaching new heights of scientific understanding – and appears to be losing its mind. How can a species that doubled its lifespan, sequenced its genome, and developed vaccines for Covid-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, quack cures, conspiracy theories, and “post-truth” rhetoric? In this interview, I speak to Professor Steven Pinker about rationality. We discuss how he rejects the cynical cliché that humans are simply irrational cavemen out of time saddled with biases, fallacies, and illusions (after all, we discovered the laws of nature, and set out the benchmarks for rationality itself). We discuss how we (as a species) think in ways that are sensible in the low-tech contexts in which we spend most of our lives but fail to take advantage of the powerful tools of reasoning we’ve discovered over the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation and causation, and optimal ways to update beliefs and commit to choices individually and with others
. Steven also takes time to discuss how the rational pursuit of self-interest, sectarian solidarity, and uplifting mythology can add up to crippling irrationality in a society.

Thought Economics

Dr. Maya Shankar is Senior Director of Behavioural Economics at Google and is the Creator, Host and Executive Producer of her brilliant new podcast A Slight Change of Plans which explores the question: What exactly happens when we find ourselves on the brink of change? Using her skills as a cognitive scientist, she delves into the incredible stories of a number of guests. She speaks to Tiffany Haddish on her transformation from foster care kid to Emmy-winning comedian; a former member of the extremist Westboro Baptist Church on her experience walking away from a cult; Kacey Musgraves on how psychedelics changed her perspective on art; a young cancer researcher who gets a diagnosis that changes everything; a Black jazz musician who convinced hundreds of KKK members to leave the Klan; and Hillary Rodham Clinton who was never willing to change in the way people wanted her to. In this interview, I speak to Maya Shankar about her transformation from being a musician to leading the White House Behavioural Science Team, and what she’s learned about change and transformation through her podcast, “A Slight Change of Plans.”

Thought Economics

Ingrid Betancourt‘s story, her exemplary courage, spirit and resilience, has captured the world’s imagination. She is a politician (former Colombian presidential candidate) who is celebrated for her determination to combat the corruption and climate of fear which was endemic in her nation. In 2002 she was taken hostage by FARC, a terrorist guerrilla organisation. Ingrid was held captive in the depths of the jungle for six and a half years, chained day and night for much of that time, constantly on the move and enduring gruelling conditions. She was freed and reunited with her children and relatives in 2008. Ingrid Betancourt has become a global symbol of the freedom and the resistance of the human beings in the face of the most serious adversities. His struggle for democracy, freedom and peace has been a shining example of dignity and courage for the whole world. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Ingrid Betancourt about fighting corruption, her six and a half years in captivity, and what it takes to create change.

Thought Economics

In 2020 protest movements across the world revealed the inequalities sewn into the fabric of society. The wildfires that ravaged Australia and California made it clear we are in the middle of a climate catastrophe. The pandemic showed us all just how precarious our economies really are, and the conspiracy theories surrounding the US election proved the same of our democracies. So, what do we do? In Together: 10 Choices for a Better Now, award-winning political commentator Ece Temelkuran puts forward a compelling new narrative for our current moment, not for some idealised future but for right now, and asks us to make a choice. To choose determination over hope and to embrace fear rather the cold comfort of ignorance. This remarkable and timely book asks you to choose to have faith in the other human beings we share this planet with. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Ece Temelkuran about why we feel like civilisation is being torn apart, and how we can regain our dignity, our hope and our togetherness.

Thought Economics

In her new book THE LONELY CENTURY: How to Restore Human Connection in a World That’s Pulling Apart, renowned thinker and economist Noreena Hertz investigates how radical changes to the workplace, mass migration to cities, technology’s ever greater dominance of our lives, and decades of neoliberal policies that placed self-interest above the collective good have coalesced to  create a society in which loneliness, atomisation and isolation prevail – which COVID has only amplified. Hertz provides an empowering and inspiring vision for how to mitigate this, reconnect with each other and come together again. Hertz combines a decade of research with first-hand reporting that takes her from ‘renting a friend’ in New York to family-friendly Belgian far-right festivals, from elderly women knitting bonnets for their robot caregivers in Japan to Ivy League colleges running ‘How to Read a Face in Real Life’ remedial classes. What she uncovers is a global population feeling more and more alienated and isolated. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Noreena Hertz about the causes of our loneliness epidemic, the consequences for each and every one of us, and what we can do to restore human connection in a world that’s pulling us apart.

Thought Economics

Jaron Lanier is a renaissance man, and one of the most profoundly important thinkers of our age on the relationship of technology to humanity. He is a computer scientist, composer, artist, and author who writes on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technology, the philosophy of consciousness and information, Internet politics, and the future of humanism. He has been on the cusp of technological innovation from its infancy to the present. A pioneer in virtual reality (a term he coined), Lanier founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products, and led teams originating VR applications for medicine, design, and numerous other fields. Officially, Jaron is Microsoft’s “Octopus”, which stands for Office of the Chief Technology Officer Prime Unifying Scientist.. He was a founder or principal of startups that were acquired by Google, Adobe, Oracle, and Pfizer. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Jaron Lanier about the very essence of the relationship between technology and humanity, and why we need to evaluate the ethics of our platforms and our relationship to social media.

Thought Economics

Dr. Gad Saad is a remarkable public intellectual. Alongside hosting the Saad Truth (his hugely popular YouTube show) he is Professor of Marketing at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada), and former holder of the Concordia University Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption. In addition to his scientific work, Dr. Saad often writes and speaks about idea pathogens that are destroying logic, science, reason, and common sense.  His fourth book The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense exposes the bad ideas—what he calls “idea pathogens”—that are killing common sense and rational debate. Incubated in our universities and spread through the tyranny of political correctness, these ideas are endangering our most basic freedoms—including freedom of thought and speech. In this exclusive interview, I speak to Gad Saad about idea pathogens, how they are infecting society, the consequences, and what we can do to immunise ourselves and fight for truth and the freedom of thought and speech.

Thought Economics

David Miliband is President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), where he oversees the agency’s humanitarian relief operations in more than 40 war-affected countries and its refugee resettlement and assistance programs in over 20 United States cities. In 2019 alone, the IRC provided 1,474,900 children with schooling and education opportunities, provided 1,756,000 people with clean water infrastructure, admitted 122,100 children for urgent nutrition treatment, provided vocational and livelihood support to over 226,100 people, helped 151,700 mothers deliver new-borns and offered safe space to over 165,000 women and children. In this exclusive interview, I spoke with David Miliband about the work of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and how we can create a better world for individuals fleeing conflict and disaster. In this exclusive interview, I spoke with David Miliband about the work of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and how we can create a better world for individuals fleeing conflict and disaster.

Thought Economics

Professor Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is former Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Chair of the National Intelligence Council, and a Deputy Under Secretary of State. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the American Academy of Diplomacy. In a recent survey of international relations scholars, he was ranked as the most influential scholar on American foreign policy, and in 2011, Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Prof. Nye on the changing dynamics of power in our world.

Thought Economics

Jacqueline Novogratz has made a remarkable impact on our world. Her work began in 1986 when she quit her job on Wall Street to co-found Rwanda’s first microfinance institution, Duterimbere. In 2001, she founded Acumen which has invested $128 million of patient capital to build more than 130 social enterprises across Africa, Latin America, South Asia, and the United States. These companies have leveraged an additional $611 million and brought basic services like affordable education, health care, clean water, energy and sanitation to more than 308 million people. Acumen has also built a global community of more than 500,000 moral leaders who together are driving solutions enabling millions of low-income people to change their lives. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Jacqueline Novogratz about why we need a moral revolution in our world.

Thought Economics

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