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Updated: 2 hours 49 min ago

Facing the Crowd

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 4:33pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Nicholas Christakis about mob behavior, moral panics, and current threats to free speech.

Nicholas A. Christakis is a sociologist and physician who conducts research in the area of biosocial science, investigating the biological predicates and consequences of social phenomena. He directs the Human Nature Lab at Yale University, where he is appointed as the Sol Goldman Family Professor of Social and Natural Science, and he is the Co-Director of the Yale Institute for Network Science. Dr. Christakis’ lab is focused on the relationship between social networks and well-being. Ongoing investigations in the lab explore the genetic bases for human social behaviors and the application of social network principles to change population-level behavior related to health, cooperation, and economic development. Along with long-time collaborator, James Fowler, Dr. Christakis has authored a general-audience book on social networks: Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.

Twitter: @NAChristakis

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The “After On” Interview

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 8:17pm

This episode of the Waking Up podcast features an interview that Sam did with Rob Reid on the After On podcast. They speak about publishing, psychedelics, terrorism, meditation, free speech and other topics.

Rob Reid founded Listen.com, which built the pioneering online music service Rhapsody and created the unlimited subscription model since adopted by Apple, Spotify, and many others. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Year Zero, a work of fiction; Year One, a memoir about student life at Harvard Business School; and Architects of the Web, the first true business history of the Internet. His latest book is After On: A Novel of Silicon Valley.

Website: after-on.com

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What Happened to Liberalism?

Wed, 09/27/2017 - 11:31pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Mark Lilla about the fate of political liberalism in the United States, the emergence of a new identity politics, the role of class in American society, wealth inequality, and other topics.

Mark Lilla is Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University and a prizewinning essayist for the New York Review of Books and other publications worldwide. His books include The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction; The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West; The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics, and The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics.

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Into the Dark Land

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 7:21pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Siddhartha Mukherjee about his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. 

Siddhartha Mukherjee is a cancer physician and researcher. He is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a staff cancer physician at the CU/NYU Presbyterian Hospital. A former Rhodes scholar, he graduated from Stanford University, University of Oxford (where he received a PhD studying cancer-causing viruses) and from Harvard Medical School. His laboratory focuses on discovering new cancer drugs using innovative biological methods. He has published articles and commentary in such journals as Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, Neuron and the Journal of Clinical Investigation and in publications such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, and the New Republic. His work was nominated for Best American Science Writing, 2000. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. His most recent book is The Gene: An Intimate History.

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The Impossible War

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 5:07pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick about their latest film, The Vietnam War.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick are two of the most accomplished documentary filmmakers of our time. Their work includes The Civil War, Jazz, Baseball, The War, along with many other acclaimed films. Their most recent project is the ten-part, 18-hour documentary series, The Vietnam War, which tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history. Ten years in the making, the series includes rarely seen and digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th Century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies, and secret audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. The Vietnam War also features more than 100 iconic musical recordings from greatest artists of the era.

Website: www.pbs.org/kenburns/the-vietnam-war/home/

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The Nature of Consciousness

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 3:18pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Thomas Metzinger about the scientific and experiential understanding of consciousness. They also talk about the significance of WWII for the history of ideas, the role of intuition in science, the ethics of building conscious AI, the self as an hallucination, how we identify with our thoughts, attention as the root of the feeling of self, the place of Eastern philosophy in Western science, and the limitations of secular humanism.

Thomas K. Metzinger is full professor and director of the theoretical philosophy group and the research group on neuroethics/neurophilosophy at the department of philosophy, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany. He is the founder and director of the MIND group and Adjunct Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute of Advanced Studies, Germany. His research centers on analytic philosophy of mind, applied ethics, philosophy of cognitive science, and philosophy of mind. He is the editor of Neural Correlates of Consciousness and the author of Being No One and The Ego Tunnel.

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What You Need to Know About Climate Change

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 1:32pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Joseph Romm about how the climate is changing and how we know that human behavior is the primary cause. They discuss why small changes in temperature matter so much, the threats of sea-level rise and desertification, the best and worst case scenarios, the Paris Climate Agreement, the politics surrounding climate science, and many other topics.

Joseph Romm is one of the country’s leading communicators on climate science and solutions. He was Chief Science Advisor for “Years of Living Dangerously,” which won the 2014 Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Series. He is the founding editor of Climate Progress, which Tom Friedman of the New York Times called “the indispensable blog.” In 2009, Time named him one of its “Heroes of the Environment,” and Rolling Stone put him on its list of 100 “people who are reinventing America.” Romm was acting assistant secretary of energy in 1997, where he oversaw $1 billion in low-carbon technology development and deployment. He is a Senior Fellow at American Progress and holds a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. He is the author of Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know.

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The Future of Intelligence

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 9:19am

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Max Tegmark about his new book Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. They talk about the nature of intelligence, the risks of superhuman AI, a nonbiological definition of life, the substrate independence of minds, the relevance and irrelevance of consciousness for the future of AI, near-term breakthroughs in AI, and other topics.

Max Tegmark is a professor of physics at MIT and the co-founder of the Future of Life Institute. Tegmark has been featured in dozens of science documentaries. He is the author of Our Mathematical Universe and Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

Twitter: @Tegmark

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Meme #11

Tue, 08/22/2017 - 9:09pm
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Identity & Terror

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 3:13pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Douglas Murray about identity politics, the rise of white nationalism, the events in Charlottesville, guilt by association, the sources of western values, the problem of finding meaning in a secular world, and other topics.

Douglas Murray is Associate Editor of the Spectator and writes frequently for a variety of other publications, including the Sunday Times, Standpoint and the Wall Street Journal. He has also given talks at both the British and European Parliaments and at the White House. He is the author of The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam.

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The Limits of Persuasion

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 9:48am

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with David Pizarro and Tamler Sommers about free speech on campus, the Scott Adams podcast, the failings of the mainstream media, persuasion, moral certainty, the ethics of abortion, Buddhism, the illusion of the self, and other topics.

David Pizarro is an associate professor in the department of psychology at Cornell University. His research focuses on how and why humans make moral judgments (such as what makes us think certain actions are wrong, or that some people deserve blame or praise for their actions). He’s also interested in how emotions—especially disgust—influence a wide variety of social, political, and moral judgments.

Tamler Sommers is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Houston. He teaches primarily in ethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of law, specializing in issues relating to free will, moral responsibility, punishment, and revenge.

Pizarro and Sommers host the Very Bad Wizards Podcast.

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The Biology of Good and Evil

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 8:42am

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Robert Sapolsky about his work with baboons, the opposition between reason and emotion, doubt, the evolution of the brain, the civilizing role of the frontal cortex, the illusion of free will, justice and vengeance, brain-machine interface, religion, drugs, and other topics.

Robert Sapolsky is a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant. He is the author of A Primate’s Memoir, The Trouble with Testosterone, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, and Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst.

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Living With Violence

Sun, 08/06/2017 - 9:13am

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Gavin de Becker about the primacy of human intuition in the prediction and prevention of violence.

Gavin de Becker is a three-time presidential appointee whose pioneering work has changed the way the U.S. government evaluates threats to its highest officials. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading experts on the prediction and management of violence. His firm, Gavin de Becker and Associates, advises many of the world’s most prominent media figures, corporations, and law enforcement agencies on predicting violence, and it also serves regular citizens who are victims of domestic abuse and stalking. Gavin is the author of #1 New York Times bestseller The Gift of Fear.

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On Becoming a Better Person

Tue, 07/25/2017 - 10:42am

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with David Brooks about his book The Road to Character, the importance of words like “sin” and “virtue,” self-esteem vs. self-overcoming, the significance of keeping promises, honesty, President Trump, and other topics.

David Brooks is one of the nation’s leading writers and commentators. He is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times and appears regularly on the PBS NewsHour and Meet the Press. He is the bestselling author of The Social Animal,  Bobos in Paradise, and The Road to Character.

Twitter: @nytdavidbrooks

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Must We Accept a Nuclear North Korea?

Fri, 07/21/2017 - 10:11am

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Mark Bowden about the problem of a nuclear-armed North Korea.

Mark Bowden is the author of thirteen books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down. He reported at the Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years and now writes for the Atlantic, Vanity Fair, and other magazines. He is also the writer in residence at the University of Delaware. His most recent book is Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam.

Article: “How to Deal with North Korea.” The Atlantic. (July/August, 2017).

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Triggered

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 11:40pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris and Scott Adams debate the character and competence of President Trump.

Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, one of the most popular comic strips of all time. He has been a full-time cartoonist since 1995, after 16 years as a technology worker for companies like Crocker National Bank and Pacific Bell. His many bestsellers include The Dilbert Principle, Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook, and How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big. His forthcoming book is Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter.

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From Cells to Cities

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 8:29am

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Geoffrey West about how biological and social systems scale, the significance of fractals, the prospects of radically extending human life, the concept of “emergence” in complex systems, the importance of cities, the necessity for continuous innovation, and other topics.

Geoffrey West is a theoretical physicist whose primary interests have been in fundamental questions in physics and biology. He is a Senior Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a distinguished professor at the Sante Fe Institute, where he served as the president from 2005-2009. In 2006 he was named to Time’s list of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” He is the author of Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies.

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Is this the End of Europe?

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 10:15am

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Douglas Murray about his book The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam.

Douglas Murray is Associate Editor of the Spectator and writes frequently for a variety of other publications, including the Sunday Times, Standpoint and the Wall Street Journal. He has also given talks at both the British and European Parliaments and at the White House. He is the author of The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam.

 

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Landscapes of Mind

Fri, 06/30/2017 - 11:10pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Kevin Kelly about why it’s so hard to predict future technology, the nature of intelligence, the “singularity,” artificial consciousness, and other topics.

Kevin Kelly helped launch Wired magazine and was its executive editor for its first seven years. He has written for The New York Times, The Economist, Science, Time, and The Wall Street Journal among many other publications. His previous books include Out of Control, New Rules for the New Economy, Cool Tools, and What Technology Wants. His most recent book is The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.

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