Ep 33: Peter Godfrey-Smith on Sea Life and the Evolution of Consciousness

In this episode I talk with Peter Godfrey-Smith, author of Metazoa, a book which explores consciousness from an evolutionary perspective. We talk about octopus arms, impudent tongues, and theories of consciousness, including panpsychism.

Related links:

Peter Godfrey-Smith homepage

Metazoa on Amazon

Other Minds on Amazon

My discussion with Tam Hunt about panpsychism

 

Ep 32: Grant McCracken on Honor Codes, Artisanal Cultures, and Time Machines

The Filter: Grant McCracken

In this episode of The Filter, I talk with Grant McCracken about his most recent book, The New Honor Code: A Simple Plan for Raising Our Standards and Restoring Our Good Names. We discuss the ways in which our culture relates to the concept of value. We talk about various examples of honor codes, the role of hazing rituals, creating a marketplace for good behavior, the rise of artisanal cultures, and how one might get a sneak preview into the future.

Related links:

The New Honor Code

Grant McCracken homepage

My discussion with Tim Virkkala (includes discussion of the topic of honor)

 

Ep 31: Our Glorious Future as Amish or Termites

In this solo episode, I explain why the future of the human race, if we have one at all, will look a lot like Amish life, or like one giant termite colony. I dive into the forces that push us in each of these directions, and how the conflict between these two possibilities might play out. Along the way I blow up the pyramids, trigger an all-out bee attack, look for bleeding predators, and check in on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

You can find a transcript of this episode at https://mattasher.substack.com/p/our-glorious-future-as-amish-or-termites

Crossover Episode: LocoFoco with Timothy Wirkman Virkkala

What follows is my appearance on the LocoFoco podcast. In it, I discuss some of the ideas in my Black Box episode with host Tim Virkkala. Tim is one of the most interesting thinkers I’ve met, and I still remember some of his comments from 25 years ago, including his observation that I should call risk a transaction cost in an article I was writing at the time. It took me a day of pondering the idea to go from strong disagreement, to the realization that in the context of my article, this was the only way to look at risk.

Tim’s personal blog can be found at Wirkman.com.

Ep 29: Black Box Thinking, UFOs, and a Fist Full of Dung

In this solo episode, I discuss black box thinking in the context of our current Dim Age of epistemology and the role of journalism. I unpack my previous thoughts on Occam’s razor and discuss analyzing the contents of boxes you cannot open, with examples drawn from politics and the pandemic. Finally, I explain the self-coined Asher principle, which connects black boxes, labels and power.

Related Links:

The Filter Episode with Vin Armani

The Filter Episode on the New Colonists

Pat Tillman and the Pentagon’s Black Boxes

Ep 28: Fantasyland Redux, a Deeper Dive into the Dark Complexities of Magical Thinking

In this solo episode, I build on ideas from the previous episode with guest Kurt Andersen, author of Fantasyland: How Americans Went Haywire. I examine the and the relationship between spirituality and politics he presents. I also clarify some earlier thoughts and go farther down the rabbit hole that his book has opened for me. I discuss fantastical thinking in politics and pandemics, the relationship between individualism and accurate beliefs, and discuss the effect our modern clerisy has on suppressing truth.

Related Links:

The Filter Episode with Kurt Andersen

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire by Kurt Andersen (2018)

The Filter Episode with Jesse Walker

The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory by Jesse Walker (2013)

Image adapted from Follow the White Rabbit by David Álvarez

Ep 27: Kurt Andersen on Fantasyland Nation

Kurt Andersen is co-founder of Spy magazine and the author of several bestselling books, including Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire.  We discuss the fantasy industrial complex, new urbanism, and the draw of comforting explanations. We also discuss the relationships between science and fantasy, conspiratorial thinking, links between spirituality and politics, and the cultural legacy of Spy magazine.

Related Links:

Kurt Andersen’s Website

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire

Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America

The Filter episode with Jesse Walker

Spy Magazine Archive

The Half-life of Facts and
What if we’re wrong

Ep 26: Deborah Mayo on Error, Replication, and Severe Testing

Deborah G. Mayo is professor emerita in the department of philosophy at Virginia Tech, a research associate at the London School of Economics, and a pioneer of the “Error Stats” method for testing scientific claims. We discuss the history of the problem of induction, her developed approach to scientific claims, and ideas from her most recent book, “Statistical Inference as Severe Testing”.

Related links:

Error Statistics Blog

PhilStatWars

Deborah Mayo’s publications

My analysis of the global warming data

Statistical Inference As Severe Testing by Deborah G. Mayo (2018)

Error and Inference: Recent Exchanges on Experimental Reasoning, Reliability, and the Objectivity and Rationality of Science by Deborah G. Mayo & Aris Spanos (2009)

Ep 25: Patrick French on the Military Tourism and Mysticism of Col. Younghusband

Patrick French, author of Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer

In this epic episode, Patrick French and I retrace the steps of imperial adventurer Francis E. Younghusband, from crossing of the Gobi Desert to assaults on Tibet and Mount Everest to a quest to unite the world’s religions. We talk colonialism, mysticism, The Great Game, and why Lhasan Lamas have extra long sleeves.

Related links:

Patrick’s Author Page at Random House

India and Tibet by Francis Younghusband (1985)

Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer by Francis Younghusband (2004)

The Epic of Mount Everest: The Historic Account of Mallory’s Expeditions (2000)

The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham (2003)

Modern Mystics (2013)

The Heart Of A Continent: A Narrative Of Travels In Manchuria, Across The Gobi Desert, Through The Himalayas, The Pamirs, And Chitral, 1884 1894

Ep 24: Adam Kotsko on Fear, Sacrifice, and our Permanent State of Exception

Adam Kotsko is an American theologian, as well as a political and religious scholar. Adam and I discuss his work on Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, with a focus on the idea of the State of Exception. Adam gives his interpretation of several Agamben quotes, and I give my own thoughts on something Agamben said about the use of lockdowns in response to the Covid epidemic. Agamben’s anti-lockdown stance has made him unpopular with many on the political left in recent times.

Related links:

Adam Kotsko Homepage

Agamben’s Philosophical Trajectory (2020)

Awkwardness (2010)

Žižek and Theology (2008)

Agamben’s Philosophical Lineage (2007)