Ep 34: Jeff Deist on Magical Monetary Thinking, Doomsday Cults, and Decision Making for Strippers

My conversation with Jeff Deist, president of the Mises Institute. We talk about the political reaction to the pandemic, perverse monetary incentives, and the end of American as a single, unified nation. This was the first in-person interview done at The Filter’s new Moray Bay studio.

Related links:

Jeff Deist at the Mises Institute

Book La Guerra Del Fin Del Mundo

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