A review of Pinker's book The Better Angels of Our Nature. While enjoying the book, I feel that he did a lot of subtle things to lead you to believe that the trend of decreasing violence has been going on longer and is more durable than it actually is. In particular I think some of the things he mentions have not been going on long enough for us to truly asses their duration or impact.
In this podcast I discuss the writings of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Beginning with his ideas on how people are Fooled by Randomness, moving on to his concept of Black Swans (extreme, unexpected events) and finally finishing with the idea of Antifragility, which I think is one of the concepts most lacking in the modern world.
This week we look at the subject of infrastructure. We seem to spend a lot of money on it to little effect. Why is that? And is it indicative of a civilization in decline. The idea of catabolic collapse is brought up, which is the idea that your society can start to fall apart when the maintenance costs exceed a certain level. I know it sounds boring, but trust me, it's not.
Bad things happen, and it's impossible to know when they will. Occasionally we find ourselves in a bad situation, but it's difficult to know if it's going to get nightmarish like Poland in 1937 or if it's about to peter out like in East Germany in 1988. But that doesn't mean there aren't ways to prepare for it, and perhaps that's a waste of time an money, but if it is 1937 and you are a Polish Jew than no preparation is too great.
Since the election many people have warned against normalizing Trump. This is a dangerous repudiation of the system of law unlike anything in modern memory, and more closely representing the election of Lincoln in 1860. Making this election potentially a lot different than any other election in the last hundred years. The question then becomes what to do about it, which I go on to address.
In this podcast I present three theories of religion. Religion is either divinely inspired, stupid, or a distillation of accumulated wisdom. I then examine what religious persecution looks like under each theory, and conclude that one of the big dangers is the recent dominance of the Religion of Progress.
In the wake of the election many people were declaring that everything would be okay, while other people were declaring it the beginning of the end. In this episode I admit that I don't know if everything will be okay. But I offer a couple of overlooked reasons for Trump's victory and I examine six areas of concern and give my opinion as to how consequential Trump will actually be.
It is tempting to restrict the speech of those you disagree with, but in doing so you may very well reduce your protections against the authoritarianism you fear most. Any weakening of free speech is a bad idea whatever your motives.
Also this podcast was taken from a blogpost written a few days before the election, thus it's a little bit dated, but important nonetheless.
I make three arguments for why banning and censorship, particularly shadowbanning by Twitter and Facebook should be treated similarly to government censorship. First there is their effective monopoly, second is the way that technology allows particularly devious forms of censorship, and finally there is the precedent of public accommodation as established by the Civil Rights Act.
I engage in rampant speculation about what the half hour of silence mentioned in the Book of Revelation means. From there I engage into a discussion of the benefits of preparing for the worst.
Do we take democracy for granted. I argue that the two presidential candidates are strong evidence that we do. Looking back to the Civil War it is apparent that democracy was viewed very precariously and that most of the deaths on the Union side can be attributed to trying to preserve democracy, rather than trying to end slavery.