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Updated: 57 min 30 sec ago

Defending the Experts

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 5:25pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Tom Nichols about his book The Death of Expertise. They discuss the “Dunning-Kruger Effect,” the growth of knowledge and reliance on authority, when experts fail, the repudiation of expertise in politics, conspiracy thinking, North Korea, Trump, and other topics.

Tom Nichols is Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, an adjunct professor at the Harvard Extension School, and a former aide in the U.S. Senate. He is also a five-time undefeated Jeopardy! champion, and as one of the all-time top players of the game, he was invited back to play in the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Nichols is the author of several works on foreign policy and international security affairs, including The Sacred Cause, No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security, Eve of Destruction: The Coming Age of Preventive War, and The Russian Presidency. His most recent book is The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters.

Twitter: @RadioFreeTom

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Is Life Actually Worth Living?

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 4:48pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with David Benatar about his philosophy of “anti-natalism.” They discuss the asymmetry between the good and bad things in life, the ethics of existential risk, the moral landscape, the limits and paradoxes of introspection, the “experience machine” thought experiment, population ethics, and other topics.

David Benatar is Professor of Philosophy at University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is the author of Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence and The Human Predicament: A Candid Guide to Life’s Biggest Questions.

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Humanity 2.0

Tue, 11/28/2017 - 6:53pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Jennifer Doudna about the gene-editing technology CRISPR/Cas9. They talk about the biology of gene editing, how specific tissues in the body can be targeted, the ethical implications of changing the human genome, the importance of curiosity-driven science, and other topics.

Jennifer A. Doudna is a professor in the Chemistry and the Molecular and Cell Biology Departments at the University of California, Berkeley, investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and researcher in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She is internationally recognized as a leading expert on RNA-protein biochemistry, CRISPR biology, and genome engineering. She is the author (with Samuel Sternberg) of A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution.

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Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Matt Dillahunty

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 7:57pm

The following conversation between Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Matt Dillahunty was recorded at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver on November 2, 2017.

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The Lessons of Death

Tue, 11/14/2017 - 7:27pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Frank Ostaseski about death and dying—and about how the awareness of death can improve our lives in each moment.

Frank Ostaseski is a Buddhist teacher, international lecturer and a leading voice in end-of-life care. In 1987, he co-founded of the Zen Hospice Project, the first Buddhist hospice in America. In 2004, he created the Metta Institute to provide innovative educational programs and professional trainings that foster compassionate, mindfulness-based care. Mr. Ostaseski’s groundbreaking work has been widely featured in the media, including the Bill Moyers television series On Our Own Terms, the PBS series With Eyes Open, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and in numerous print publications. AARP magazine named him one of America’s 50 most innovative people. In 2001, he was honored by the Dalai Lama for his many years of compassionate service to the dying and their families. He is the author of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.


More info:
mettainstitute.org
fiveinvitations.com

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Meme #14

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 8:19am
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American Fantasies

Wed, 11/08/2017 - 5:04pm

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Kurt Andersen about the American aptitude for unfounded belief, the religious lunacy of the Puritans, populist mistrust of authority, the link between postmodernism and religious fundamentalism, the unique history of American religious entrepreneurship, the Trump phenomenon, the effect of fame on politics, and other topics.

Kurt Andersen is the bestselling author of the novels Heyday, Turn of the Century, and True Believers. He contributes to Vanity Fair and The New York Times, and is host and co-creator of Studio 360, the Peabody Award–winning public radio show and podcast. He also writes for television, film, and the stage. Andersen co-founded Spy magazine, served as editor in chief of New York, and was a cultural columnist and critic for Time and The New Yorker. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, where he was an editor of The Harvard Lampoon. His most recent book is Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, A 500-Year History.

Twitter: @KBAndersen

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Meme #13

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 12:52pm
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Is Buddhism True?

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 11:06am

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Robert Wright about his book Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment.

Robert Wright is the New York Times bestselling author of The Evolution of God (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), Nonzero, The Moral Animal, Three Scientists and their Gods (a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award). He is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the widely respected Bloggingheads.tv and MeaningofLife.tv. He has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Time, Slate, and The New Republic. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at Princeton University, where he also created the popular online course “Buddhism and Modern Psychology.” He is currently Visiting Professor of Science and Religion at Union Theological Seminary in New York. His most recent book is https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1439195455/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwsamharris03-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=1439195455&linkId=336e85af8e97f47d185eda72b93289db"> Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment. 

Twitter: @robertwrighter

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Meme #12

Sat, 10/28/2017 - 9:10am
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Defending the Republic

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 7:58am

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Cass Sunstein about the fragmentation of American society, “choice architecture,” the importance of face-to-face interactions for problem solving, group polarization and identity politics, virtuous extremism, the wisdom of crowds, direct democracy, the limits of free speech, the process of Presidential impeachment, and other topics. 

Cass R. Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, where he is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy. He is the most cited law professor in the United States. From 2009 to 2012 he served in the Obama administration as Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He has testified before congressional committees, been involved in constitution-making and law reform activities in a number of nations, and written many articles and books, including Nudge (with Richard Thaler), #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media, and Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide.

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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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