The promise of the internet was that by connecting humanity it would boost intellectual exchange, accelerate cultural evolution, and yield ever more novel recombinations of ideas. But in practice, it has often worked in the opposite direction. We flock to our tribes, form filter bubbles, and fortify old beliefs, in part by conscious choice, in part because of algorithms that serve us more and more of less and less.
Half of the mission of this podcast is to stubbornly defy those polarising trends. It aims to make the best of the communications and information technologies of the age by linking disparate academic hubs, admitting good faith arguments of all stripes, and prizing consilience.
Inevitably, it seeks to achieve this through the format of long-form conversation. Virtually all episodes range between one and three hours in length. No apologies are ever made for this.
The topics and guests featured on the show are eclectic (see the recommended episodes below).
Guests have included short sellers, soldiers, moral philosophers, billionaire investors, former prime ministers, former ice addicts, astronomers, investigative journalists, ex-central bank chiefs, evolutionary biologists, comedians, and Nobel Prize-winning economists and physicists. The one thing they have in common is contrarianism.
True contrarianism means two things. First, it isn’t about reflexively stamping a minus sign in front of the consensus. Sometimes mainstream thinking is correct (i.e. the wisdom of crowds), and sometimes it is incorrect (i.e. the madness of crowds). A true contrarian is capable of telling the difference. In that sense, she is uncorrelated to the crowd.
Second, contrarianism is not so much about finding an idea as it is about holding onto one. A contrarian idea is like a ball of hot gold that must be juggled and nursed and borne to a safe place. Courage is (much) rarer than genius.
And so the other goal of this podcast is to introduce you to some first-class heterodox thinkers — and to give you the tools and the temerity to follow in their footsteps. Thinking for yourself is hard, full of doubt and missteps and ridicule, but it’s where progress begins.