For your holiday listening enjoyment I have assembled five stories, nay parables to bring enlightenment and edification during these otherwise dark and gloomy months. You may not always agree with the moral, but you will find some (generally me) doing something dumb in all of them.
Last month wildfires ravaged California, including the inappropriately named Camp Fire which killed 86. Many people want to blame the fires on global warming and the changing climate, while other's think it could be solved to more logging. More likely it's due to fire suppression efforts which have allowed deadwood to accumulate, meaning that when fires do come they are much more destructive.
Suppressing fires is not the only place where we're trying to bend nature to our will, and the question I pose in this episode is whether there are other areas where we're accumulating metaphorical deadwood, and risk stockpiling fuel for a conflagration much greater than we expect.
In "The Coddling of the American Mind" Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt discuss the new culture of safety that has developed on campuses around the country, and argue that children and students need challenges and stress and even suffering in their life to develop properly. If we grant their premise, how do we decide how much suffering to introduce? And how do we convince people to accept more suffering into their life? How do we determine the right level of suffering?
Milan M. Ćirković's book The Great Silence is a fantastic exploration of the philosophy and importance of Fermi's Paradox. I spend the first half of this episode doing a review of the book and the second half discussing how my own explanation of the paradox fits in to Ćirković's framework.