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The Atlas Project

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It’s a new world. To navigate it, we need new maps. Each episode, best-selling author Chris Kutarna and Scott Jones soar 50,000 feet above the immediate headlines in politics, economics, science and society. The Atlas Project aims to reveal the big picture of where humanity is headed, and the choices we all need to face.

It’s a new world. To navigate it, we need new maps. Each episode, best-selling author Chris Kutarna and Scott Jones soar 50,000 feet above the immediate headlines in politics, economics, science and society. The Atlas Project aims to reveal the big picture of where humanity is headed, and the choices we all need to face.
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It’s a new world. To navigate it, we need new maps. Each episode, best-selling author Chris Kutarna and Scott Jones soar 50,000 feet above the immediate headlines in politics, economics, science and society. The Atlas Project aims to reveal the big picture of where humanity is headed, and the choices we all need to face.






Episode 18: Trust Me?

In this episode we look at the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer numbers ( Surprisingly (at least to one of us) China blows the West out of the water when it comes to its citzens trust in public institutions. Why is this? How does an autocratic state engender this kind of trust, the kind that is eluding most liberal democracies in Western Europe and North America? This leads us to a discussion of Alexis de Tocqueville's famous 19th Century work...


Episode 17: The Art of the Possible

We're in the golden age of television, with dramas like Game of Thrones capturing the attention of millions. In fact we're increasingly critical of our favorite shows, as the critical reception of a recent Game of Thrones episode, "The Battle of Winterfell" has shown. While our expectations of entertainment continue to increase, our expectations of politics and public life get lower and lower. We consider the relationship between the two trends in this episode. We reference an article from...


Episode 16: What Do We Do When The Cathedral's Burning?

In this episode Chris and Scott talk about the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the reaction to it in the media and in Europe and North America more broadly. We also consider what it means to cherish the past and be open to a future that might stand in tension with it. We reference a NY Times op-ed piece by Ross Douthat. You can find it here:...


Episode 15: Through The Looking Glass

In this episode we talk the Mueller Report in the U.S. and Brexit in the U.K. We then talk about the recent horrific shooting in New Zealand (where Chris was at the time). We consider how our filters color the reception of all these events and why it matters.


Episode 14: Weird Science?

In this episode we talk about science, the transcendent moments it can evoke, and how we integrate those moments in to the rest of our lives. We reference a piece in the New Yorker entitled "A Different Kind of Theory of Everything." You can find it here:


Episode 13: Is Humanity on the Right Track?

In this episode we consider the question: Is Humanity on the Right Track? But we do it with a twist. We discuss it as a motion, Oxford debating style. The idea came from a recent talk Chris gave at Oxford, at the great Oxford debating hall. He had the idea to do the talk debating style, debating himself! We had a great time unpacking it!


Episode 12: Is the Truth a Lie?

It’s time to critique “critical thinking”...“Critical thinking” has become a new panacea—society’s go-to antidote to the spread of fake news, the rise of populism, and the AI-driven atomization of our social media feeds. If no one should control which messages get published and spread (given the priority we place on free speech), then everyone should at least possess the skills to judge the logic and legitimacy of the messages they consume. And how do we develop those critical thinking...


Episode 11: To Redistribute or not to Redistribute?...That Seems to be the Question!

In this episode we talk about income inequality and the impact it's having on today's political conversations. We also consider whether or not income inequality stifles upward mobility. And we talk a little Max Weber. We mention a paper by two prominent economists, Emmanue Saez and Thomas Pikkety. You can find it here:


Episode 10: An Empty Space?

In this episode we talk about social media and its effects on public discourse and communal life. We also take some time to look at some of the week's headlines, offering our own less than expert but always interesting insights and analysis.


Episode 9: It's All About The Currency Baby!

In our first episode of the new year we try to figure out which country's government looks more dysfunctional right now: The United State's or the UK's? We found ourselves talking about democratic values and norms as things comparable to currency. Their value is dependent on people choosing to value them, like the dollar or the euro. We also talk about features of the system that come to look like bugs in moments of crisis, and about trashy TV on both sides of the Atlantic.


Episode 8: Does Democracy Need Religion?

In this our Christmas episode, inspired by Andrew Sullivan (and a few others), we think about the soul of democracy and the relationship of democracy and religion. Faith in the democratic project seems to be waning in many places in the West. Is politics becoming a new form of religion today? Is this a good thing? We address these questions and some others as well, and of course we talk about our holiday plans. The piece by Andrew Sullivan can be found here...


Episode 7: Broken Societies—And The Post-Truth Reconstruction

Social media, and the fake news that spread across it, no doubt played a role in delivering the “Brexiteers” their surprise victory in the UK’s May 2016 referendum on EU membership. If the benefit of letting social media run amok is that doing so lays bare some chronic and unrevealed ills in democratic society, then we had best cherish those insights and act upon them. Because they come at a very high cost, opening cracks so wide, mere patches no longer suffice. Tribal tendencies. Historical...


Episode 6: Leadership Then And Now

In this episode, recorded shortly after the death of America's 41st President George H.W. Bush, we talk about his legacy, and what leadership, politics and service meant to his generation and what they mean now. We also talk about the possibilities of reforming liberal democratic systems, the protests in Paris, and a conference on the future of work that Chris went to in Australia. You can find out more about Chris' experience in Australia in his most recent newsletter/map, (Whose) Future of...


Episode 5: The Live From The Toronto Basecamp Edition

We recorded this episode of the podcast in Toronto, where we were there for Basecamp Toronto, a remarkable gathering which Chris Kutarna conceived and convened. This Basecamp was an enabling environment. It is a room of fellow pathfinders—explorers, instigators, creators and thought leaders. It is a room in which you can accomplish, in a single day, conversations, insights, allegiances and commitments-to-action that would otherwise take a year to arrange and complete. It aims is to be the...


Episode 4: The Unstoppable Forces Versus The Indomitable Will

In this episode of the podcast we consider a number of hot button words thrown around in public discourse today: nationalism, tribalism, globalism, identity, populism...the list goes on. Inspired by a podcast discussion one of us heard recently (, we wonder if the whole tribalism versus universalism, nationalism versus globalism is really an age old clash between the...


Episode 3: The Power of Doubt

When too many people believe they have found truth, democracy breaks down. Once truth has been found, the common project of discovery is complete. There is no more sense in sharing power with those who don’t realize it…To rescue the possibility of groping toward Paradise democratically, we need to inject our own group discourses with doubt. In this podcast episiode we dicuss the power of doubt. Its relevance extends far beyond the political realm. It’s an important ingredient in all domains...


Episode 2: Finding The Real In A Post-Truth World

Enterprising minds have spotted our discontent with disintegration and turned reintegration into an industry. Grocery delivery services here in London emphasize, variously, ‘fresh’, ‘simple’, ‘organic’ or ‘mindful’. Meditation apps are booming. Yoga makes you balanced. Electric cars make you clean. To restore lost relationships — with our food, ourselves, our community, our environment, with the truth — has become one of the most compelling stories reshaping consumer behavior. We shouldn’t...


Episode 1: Has China Got It All Figured Out?

These days, the commentariat ( is talking a lot about China and what China’s rising confidence means for the world—and for the democratic world in particular. In almost all these conversations, at some point someone will mention Francis Fukuyama and his 1992 book, The End of History ( Published in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the...