Clearer Thinking with Spencer Greenberg-logo

Clearer Thinking with Spencer Greenberg

Science Podcasts

Clearer Thinking is the brand-new podcast about ideas that truly matter. Join Spencer Greenberg each week as he has fun, in-depth conversations with brilliant people, exploring useful ideas related to psychology, society, behavior change, philosophy, science, artificial intelligence, math, economics, self-help, mental health, and technology. If you enjoy learning about powerful, practical concepts and frameworks, wish you had more deep, intellectual conversations in your life, or are looking for non-BS self-improvement, then we think you'll love this podcast! Because this is the podcast about "ideas that matter," we prioritize ideas that can be applied right now to make life better and that can help you better understand yourself and the world. In other words, we want to highlight the very best tools to enhance your learning, self-improvement efforts, and decision-making. We take on important, thorny questions like: What's the best way to help a friend or loved one going through a difficult time? How can we make our worldviews more accurate, and how can we hone the accuracy of our thinking? What are the advantages of using our "gut" to make decisions, and when should we expect careful, analytical reflection to be more effective? Why do societies sometimes collapse, and what can we do to reduce the chance that ours collapses? Why is the world today so much worse than it could be, and what can we do to make it better? What is good and what is bad about tradition, and are there more meaningful and ethical ways of carrying out important rituals, such as honoring the dead? How can we move beyond zero-sum, adversarial negotiations, and create more positive-sum interactions?

Clearer Thinking is the brand-new podcast about ideas that truly matter. Join Spencer Greenberg each week as he has fun, in-depth conversations with brilliant people, exploring useful ideas related to psychology, society, behavior change, philosophy, science, artificial intelligence, math, economics, self-help, mental health, and technology. If you enjoy learning about powerful, practical concepts and frameworks, wish you had more deep, intellectual conversations in your life, or are looking for non-BS self-improvement, then we think you'll love this podcast! Because this is the podcast about "ideas that matter," we prioritize ideas that can be applied right now to make life better and that can help you better understand yourself and the world. In other words, we want to highlight the very best tools to enhance your learning, self-improvement efforts, and decision-making. We take on important, thorny questions like: What's the best way to help a friend or loved one going through a difficult time? How can we make our worldviews more accurate, and how can we hone the accuracy of our thinking? What are the advantages of using our "gut" to make decisions, and when should we expect careful, analytical reflection to be more effective? Why do societies sometimes collapse, and what can we do to reduce the chance that ours collapses? Why is the world today so much worse than it could be, and what can we do to make it better? What is good and what is bad about tradition, and are there more meaningful and ethical ways of carrying out important rituals, such as honoring the dead? How can we move beyond zero-sum, adversarial negotiations, and create more positive-sum interactions?

Location:

United States

Description:

Clearer Thinking is the brand-new podcast about ideas that truly matter. Join Spencer Greenberg each week as he has fun, in-depth conversations with brilliant people, exploring useful ideas related to psychology, society, behavior change, philosophy, science, artificial intelligence, math, economics, self-help, mental health, and technology. If you enjoy learning about powerful, practical concepts and frameworks, wish you had more deep, intellectual conversations in your life, or are looking for non-BS self-improvement, then we think you'll love this podcast! Because this is the podcast about "ideas that matter," we prioritize ideas that can be applied right now to make life better and that can help you better understand yourself and the world. In other words, we want to highlight the very best tools to enhance your learning, self-improvement efforts, and decision-making. We take on important, thorny questions like: What's the best way to help a friend or loved one going through a difficult time? How can we make our worldviews more accurate, and how can we hone the accuracy of our thinking? What are the advantages of using our "gut" to make decisions, and when should we expect careful, analytical reflection to be more effective? Why do societies sometimes collapse, and what can we do to reduce the chance that ours collapses? Why is the world today so much worse than it could be, and what can we do to make it better? What is good and what is bad about tradition, and are there more meaningful and ethical ways of carrying out important rituals, such as honoring the dead? How can we move beyond zero-sum, adversarial negotiations, and create more positive-sum interactions?

Language:

English


Episodes

Math as a perspective on life (with Marcus du Sautoy)

5/11/2022
How can we have System-2-type reflection but with System-1-type speed? How can math be considered to be a "fast" way of solving problems? Is math discovered or invented? How can we use math to think better in everyday life? How can math education be improved? Do mathematicians have a snobbish preference for "pure" maths over applied maths? How can math be used to tell stories? Marcus du Sautoy is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics at...

Duration:01:19:58

A former Al-Qaeda recruiter speaks (with Jesse Morton)

5/4/2022
NOTE: When we published this episode a few days ago, we were unaware that Jesse had passed away back in December of 2021. We only just learned of this fact today when a listener reached out to inform us. We're saddened by this news, and we apologize for any possible confusion or hurt we may have caused by linking to his Twitter handle, email address, etc. We have removed those items from his bio but left the link to the Light Upon Light website since it contains many of Jesse's writings and...

Duration:01:54:17

Cognitive biases and animal welfare (with Leah Edgerton)

4/27/2022
What are some of the tensions between short-term and long-term thinking about how best to reduce animal suffering? Why spend time and energy working on animal welfare when human welfare hasn't even been secured? Why do so many animal rights activists and organizations have such negative reputations and elicit such strongly negative emotional reactions from the population at large when they're just trying to reduce suffering? How does animal rights activism from an effective altruism...

Duration:01:37:00

Is it bad to coerce yourself to do unpleasant things? (with Matt Goldenberg)

4/20/2022
What is non-self-coercion? What's so bad about coercing ourselves to do things we don't want to do? What is "the reconsolidation pyramid"? What are the differences between being heaven-oriented and enlightenment-oriented? What does it mean to scale trust? Matt Goldenberg is the creator of Procrastination Playbook and the Head of Marketing at the Monastic Academy for the Preservation of Life on Earth. He spends his time meditating, helping people heal their emotional wounds, and working to...

Duration:01:00:55

Our 100th episode! (with Uri Bram and Spencer Greenberg)

4/13/2022
Is it possible to be both agreeable and skeptical in conversations? How can you give feedback and challenge people constructively without triggering their automatic self-defense mechanisms? More generally, how can you challenge people intellectually without riling them up emotionally? What skills are needed to be able to have detailed, productive conversations across a wide range of topics? How can you push through plateaus in the process of self-improvement? What are podcasts as a medium...

Duration:00:58:00

Volunteering to be infected with COVID — for science! (with Josh Morrison)

4/6/2022
How can we develop vaccines more quickly? What kinds of study designs are used (or could be used) during vaccine development? In pandemic situations, we need to roll out vaccines quickly; but even if we can develop and test a vaccine quickly and thoroughly, how confident can we be that there won't be long-term risks? Between ethics and pragmatics, which facet should communicators emphasize when trying to convince organizations and institutions to adopt certain vaccine development strategies?...

Duration:01:24:52

What we really mean when we say that something will "probably" happen (with Walt Hickey)

3/30/2022
Graphic novels have been around for a long time, so why have graphic novel sales skyrocketed suddenly in the last year or two? Is that growth representative of a possible trend away from reading text-only books? Do animated movies and TV shows allow for greater suspension of disbelief than their live-action counterparts? Does animation make it easier for movies and TV shows to push the boundaries of what's culturally acceptable? What is "soft" power, and why is it so important? How important...

Duration:01:09:34

Why is self-compassion so hard? (with Kristin Neff)

3/23/2022
What is self-compassion? Why do people struggle so much to show themselves the same kind of compassion that they regularly show to others? How can parents find a successful middle ground between authoritativeness / harshness and permissiveness / love? Should our love for ourselves be unconditional? What's the difference between shame and guilt? What should we make of people who are neither compassionate nor cruel to themselves because they simply don't practice self-reflection? What factors...

Duration:01:01:52

Why it's so hard to have confidence that charities are doing good (with Elie Hassenfeld)

3/16/2022
How does GiveWell's approach to charity differ from other charitable organizations? Why does GiveWell list such a small number of recommended charities? How does GiveWell handle the fact that different moral frameworks measure causes differently? Why has GiveWell increased its preference for health-related causes over time? How does GiveWell weight QALYs and DALYs? How much does GiveWell rely on a priori moral philosophy versus people's actual moral intuitions? Why does GiveWell have such...

Duration:01:56:39

Shovelgloves and extreme moderation (with Reinhard Engels)

3/9/2022
Read the full transcriptWhat is "extreme" moderation? What is the "No S" diet? What is a "shovelglove"? Why be a luddite only on the weekend? What are some better alternatives to traditional habit tracking? In the real world, Reinhard Engels is a librarian, software engineer, and father of three. But on the Internet, he's a diet, exercise, and productivity guru. His shtick is something called "Systematic Moderation": simple, common-sense, psychology-based rules for building sustainable good...

Duration:00:54:42

Mental models that apply across disciplines (with Blas Moros)

3/2/2022
What is a mental model? What are "the three buckets"? How can Galilean relativity and alloying apply to non-science parts of life? What is the goal-gradient hypothesis? Why is it useful to know about signalling, especially in a social context? How can the concept of marginal safety apply outside of investing? More generally, why should people learn about mental models? Blas Moros is writer, thinker, and entrepreneur. He's the CEO of Frontier and the founder of Latticework. Find more about...

Duration:00:43:53

Accessing pure consciousness at any moment (with Loch Kelly)

2/23/2022
What is "awakening"? What is a "stateless" state? What is nonduality? Why and how do some spiritual practitioners experience a dissolution of their sense of self? Do these altered or enlightened states require thousands of hours of practice to achieve, or are they always inside us, waiting to be noticed and accessed at any time? Can these states be accessed through a variety of paths and methods? Is there a certain kind of person that does better or worse at achieving these states? Loch...

Duration:01:35:42

Fight, flight, freeze, fawn (with Sasha Raskin)

2/16/2022
Read the full transcriptWhen does positivity become toxic? When is it appropriate (or not) to give advice? Can depression really be healed without systemic changes? What are some ways that society at large gaslights people? Why do women sometimes not come forward after sexual assault? What is "freeze or faun"? Do men suffer as much under patriarchy as women? Sasha Raskin is the Founder of A Beautiful Mess (ABM), a mental health organization that runs corporate talks and events to combat...

Duration:01:16:34

The science of addiction (with Crystal Dilworth)

2/10/2022
Read the full transcriptWhy do people get addicted to cigarettes? Should people use nicotine as a stimulant (without smoking it, of course)? What percent of people have a hard time quitting smoking once they start? What genetic factors predispose a person to nicotine addiction? How addictive is alcohol relative to nicotine? Is vaping less addictive and/or less negatively impactful on cardiovascular health than smoking? How can we train scientists to be better leaders? How valuable are...

Duration:01:11:57

Evidence, reason, and compassion for all sentient beings (with Jamie Woodhouse)

2/2/2022
Read the full transcriptHow can we encourage people to increase their critical thinking and reliance on evidence in the current information climate? What types of evidence "count" as valid, useful, or demonstrative? And what are the relative strengths and weaknesses of those types? Could someone reasonably come to believe just about anything, provided that they live through very specific sets of experiences? What does it mean to have a "naturalistic" epistemology? How does a philosophical...

Duration:01:17:27

Can the economy grow indefinitely? (with Alyssa Vance)

1/26/2022
Read the full transcriptHow is the economy like a differential equation? Can the economy grow indefinitely? Are there economic attractor states? Or are economic outcomes chaotic and/or extremely sensitive to certain variables? What should we know about progress in genetic engineering? Can you (and should you) do genetic engineering in your garage? What are some common mistakes people make when thinking about AI? Should we expect AI abilities to converge in some domains and diverge in others?...

Duration:01:16:40

How many minds do you have? (with Kaj Sotala)

1/19/2022
Read the full transcriptWhat are the advantages of viewing the mind through the multi-agent model as opposed to (say) the rational / optimizing agent model? What is the "global workspace" theory of consciousness? What's going on during concentration meditation according to the global workspace theory? If our brains are composed of multiple sub-agents, then what does it mean when I say, "I believe such-and-such"? Are beliefs context-dependent (i.e., you believe P in one context and not-P in a...

Duration:01:27:36

Are you a wamb or a nerd? (with Tom Chivers)

1/12/2022
Read the full transcriptWhat is a "wamb"? What are the differences between wambs and nerds? When is it appropriate (or not) to decouple concepts from their context? What are some common characteristics of miscommunications between journalists and writers / thinkers in the EA and Rationalist communities? What are "crony" beliefs? How can you approach discussions of controversial topics without immediately getting labelled as being on one team or another? What sorts of quirks do members of the...

Duration:00:55:37

Behind the scenes of the online dating world (with Tom Quisel)

1/5/2022
Read the full transcriptHow do men and women differ in their approach to online dating? How do online dating services deal with the fact that men send many times more messages to women than women send to men? How can online dating services' recommendation algorithms avoid merely recommending the most attractive people over and over to everyone? To what extent do users of such services agree about what makes a person attractive? How do transactions and interactions on these platforms shape...

Duration:01:20:52

The clash between social justice and anti-wokeness (with Amber Dawn and Holly Elmore)

12/22/2021
Is it okay for anyone to have opinions about marginalized communities even if they're not a part of those communities? Do people in marginalized groups have special knowledge (especially tacit knowledge) about their groups that can't be known or experienced from the outside? To what extent can we know and empathize with others' experiences regardless of differences in race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, etc.? Do oppression and discrimination tend to be caused more by...

Duration:02:18:54