Steven Pinker: A New Enlightenment

Long Now: Seminars About Long-term Thinking | 14 March 2018 | 1h 32m | Listen Later  | iTunes
The Enlightenment worked, says Steven Pinker, by promoting reason, science, humanism, progress, and peace. The programs set in motion by the 18th-Century intellectual movement became so successful we’ve lost track of what that success came from. Some even discount the success itself, preferring to ignore or deny how much better off humanity keeps becoming, decade after decade, in terms of health, food, money, safety, education, justice, and opportunity.

John Gray on the Seven Kinds of Atheism

EconTalk | 15 October 2018 | 1h 36m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Philosopher and author John Gray talks about his book, “Seven Types of Atheism”. Rather than being about atheism, this is really a rejoinder to the rational optimism of Matt Ridley and Steven Pinker. While conceding that technological know-how and scientific knowledge improve over time, Gray argues that morality and political systems are cyclical and that there is no reason to be optimistic about the future.

James Belich – The Black Death

RNZ: Saturday Morning | 9 March 2018 | 0h 25m | Listen Later 
Interview with historian James Belich about his book, “The Prospect of Global History”, which argues that the Black Death, beginning in the 1340s, fuelled wider European control and influence across the globe.

Michael Schwimer – Moneyball as an Investment Strategy

Capital Allocators | 15 October 2018 | 0h 55m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Interview with Michael Schwimer of Big League Advance, a company that investments in Minor League baseball players in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings. Discusses his analytical approach to playing professional sport, his application of Sabermetrics, his concern for player welfare and the process of recruiting funders. Fascinating from both sports and data science perspectives.

Tyler Cowen on Stubborn Attachments

Conversations with Tyler | 16 October 2018 | 2h 30m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Interview with Tyler Cowen about the ideas in “Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals”. Makes the moral case for prioritising economic growth by not discounting future humans relative to those currently alive.

What Causes What?

Planet Money | 17 October 2018 | 0h 19m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Discussion with Charles Wheelan, author of “Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data”. Uses stories about school performance and hormone replacement therapy to show how clever natural experiments can distinguish cause from correlation.

Why Bill Gates is Worried

The Ezra Klein Show | 15 October 2018 | 1h 00m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Discussion with Bill Gates about his foundation’s latest annual report which suggests that progress in the fight against poverty and disease may be about to stall. Discusses the geographic and political forces that have held African development back, whether economic growth brings political freedom, the risks posed by artificial intelligence, and how we should weigh future human lives and current animal suffering.