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Dialogues with Richard Reeves

The motto of Dialogues with Richard Reeves is "thinking together in relationship". This podcast features in-depth, lively conversations with leading thinkers on the big questions facing modern societies. dialoguespod@gmail.com @richardvreeves

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Tyler Stovall on white freedom

“To be free is to be white, and to be white is to be free. In this reading, therefore, freedom and race are not just enemies but also allies”. That’s my guest today, the historian Tyler Stovall on the idea that animates his new book White Freedom: The Racial History of an Idea. It was an idea, Tyler says, that “kept him awake at night”. We talk about whether the most important racial line is between white and others, or between Black and others; the startling true history of the Statue of Liberty (“the world’s most prominent example of the racialization of modern ideas of freedom”, Tyler says); the controversy surrounding the 1619 Project and specifically the extent to which retaining slavery motivated some of the colonies in the War; the fight over school integration; the use of reason and rationality as gatekeepers to enlightenment ideas of liberalism; the decolonization movement; and the fights over both voting rights and Critical Race Theory; and much more besides. It’s a topical conversation but also one that reaches across history. I found this a stimulating and challenging conversation. Tyler Stovall Dr. Tyler Stovall is a lauded historian of modern and twentieth-century France, with a specialization in transnational history, labor, colonialism, and race. His work has covered topics ranging from the suburbs of Paris to Black American expatriates in France and the French Caribbean. He has written numerous books, including the widely-popular “Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light.” This summer, Stovall was appointed as the Dean of Fordham’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Previously, he was the Dean of Humanities at UC-Santa Cruz and served as the President of the American Historical Association from 2017 to 2018. Stovall currently lives in Berkeley, California with his wife Dr. Denise Herd.  More Stovall In this episode, we discussed Stovall’s new and thought-provoking book “White Freedom: The Racial History of an Idea” He recently wrote an article in The Nation titled “Liberty’s Discontents” While serving as President of American Historical Association, Stovall gave an address on “White Freedom and the Lady of Liberty”. You can watch it here.  Also mentioned  Stovall mentioned the book “Men on Horseback”, written  by David Bell  We discussed the iconography of the broken chain on the Statue of Liberty The hat that was given to former slaves in Ancient Rome is known as a ‘Pileus’  Stovall referred to the famous painting by Delacroix, “Liberty Leading the People” We discussed the New York Times 1619 project which you can learn more about here.  Stovall mentioned Crispus Attucks, an African American man killed during the Boston Massacre and believed to be the first casualty of the American Revolution.  Here’s a clip of The Allman Brothers Band performing their song ‘Whipping Post’   We discussed Phyllis Schlafly and her role in opposing the Equal Rights Amendment In On Liberty, J.S. Mill wrote that “Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end.” (p. 19)  After WWI ended, Black American soldiers returned home to a violently racist society and were threatened with increasing riots, lynchings, and additional brutality.  Stovall mentioned Julius Nyerere, the former President of Tanzania.  A man in Texas, after waiting in line for hours, now faces a 40-year sentence for voting while on parole.  I referenced Amartya Sen on the concept of meritocracy and its central conflict of who gets to define merit. Read more of his work on this topic here.   In his book, “Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too?”, John W. Gardner writes, “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.” The Dialogues Team Creator: Richard Reeves Research: Ashleigh Maciolek Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

1hr 1min

26 Jul 2021

Rank #1

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Carole Hooven on testosterone and masculinity

What makes a man? My guest, Harvard evolutionary biologist Carole Hooven, has a one-word answer: testosterone. She is the author of the new book T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us. Carole describes her own difficult educational journey, her own suffering as a result of male behavior; how an obsession with human behavior led her to the a chimpanzee colony in the jungles of Uganda; and ultimately to a focus on testosterone in explaining not only physical but psychological differences between men and women, especially in terms of aggression, sex drive and status-seeking. Carole talks about how the debate over sex differences has become over-politicized, leading to bad science. As you’ll hear, one of my takeaways from Hooven’s reality-based approach is that it makes culture even more important, not less. We end with a discussion about the importance of not pathologizing the male desire for sex. This episode gets quite personal at times, which seems appropriate given the subject.  Carole Hooven Carole Hooven teaches in and co-directs the undergraduate program in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. She earned her BA in psychology from Antioch College in 1988 and her PhD at Harvard in 2004, researching sex differences and testosterone, and has taught there ever since. She has received numerous teaching awards, and her Hormones and Behavior class was named one of the Harvard Crimson's "top ten tried and true." Carole lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband Alex, son Griffin and cat Lola. She loves watching birds, running and biking, Belgian beer, salty snacks and freedom of speech. She tweets from @hoovlet and has a website: http://www.carolehooven.com.  More Hooven Read her new and informative book, T: The Story of Testosterone, the Hormone that Dominates and Divides Us She also recently wrote an interesting article for The Telegraph, The real reason men are more likely to cheat? Science has the answers, as well as a piece for Stylist Magazine: How understanding testosterone will help you understand yourself (and everyone around you) better Also mentioned  We mentioned the book, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, co-authored by Richard Wrangham I referred a 1998 piece by Francis Fukuyama titled Women and the Evolution of World Politics Learn more about the Guevedoces in the Dominican Republic who are born with 5-alpha-reductase deficiency syndrome.  Check out Carole’s recent appearance on Andrew Sullivan’s podcast I mentioned Melvin Konner’s book, Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy I quoted Margret Mead who once said: “I do not believe in using women in combat, because females are too fierce.” Last year, Jeffrey Toobin was suspended for masturbating on a Zoom video chat.  In the movie City Slickers, Billy Crystal’s character says: “Women need a reason to have sex, men just need a place.” (I wrongly attributed the quote to Seinfeld) I referenced research from Pew that shows that “masculine” is seen as a negative trait for both men and women.  In an earlier article, I quoted the Stowe headmaster J. F. Roxburgh who said: I am trying to produce men who are “acceptable at a dance and invaluable in a shipwreck.”  Learn more about the Carnegie medals awarded to those who exemplify physical bravery.  The Dialogues Team Creator & Host: Richard Reeves Research: Ashleigh Maciolek Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

1hr 10mins

19 Jul 2021

Rank #2

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John Gray on why cats are wiser than philosophers

"I do not believe the United States can now claim to be a liberal political culture". That's just one of the big claims made by the philosopher John Gray during our wide-ranging discussion of the history of philosophy, liberalism - and of course, cats. John does not think liberalism has “gone astray”; he thinks it contains the seeds of its own destruction from the beginning. We argue about this first, before turning to his new book Feline Philosophy, which I see as a natural extension of his earlier work.  Gray points out that "cats are happy being themselves, while humans try to be happy by escaping themselves." Inspired in part by observations of the life and death of his own cat, Julian, Gray urges us to pursue a cat-like ethical position. This means abandoning the search for meaning outside of ourselves, and instead seeking to live in a way that aligns with our own nature. Here Gray suggests we can draw on Taoism, Spinoza and other strands of thought. Self-consciousness and a fear of death have cursed humans with the need to make a story of our lives, rather than to simply live it.Our goal should not be to create ourselves through projects, he argues, so much as to realize our own nature, and live by it. Philosophy is not the answer, says this philosopher. "Posing as a cure," Gray says, "philosophy is a symptom of the disorder it pretends to remedy". Along the way, John and I discuss the rise of what he calls "hyper-liberalism"; the impact of 1989; Joseph Conrad; the Genesis myth; American libertarianism, the impact of the lockdown on our our ability to distract ourselves, liberalism foundations in Christianity; life after Covid; and of course, our cats - Julian (his) and Cookie (mine). John Gray John is one of the leading and one of the most provocative philosophers of our age, having retired from his position as School Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Gray is a prolific contributor to and reviewer for the The Guardian, Times Literary Supplement and New Statesman. Works  Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life (2020) “Two faces of On Liberty” (2020) Mill on liberty: a defence (1983, 1996) "The crisis is a turning point in history", New Statesman, 23 April 2020 “The problem of hyper-liberalism”, TLS, 30 March, 2018 Postliberalism: Studies in Political Thought (1993) Two Faces of Liberalism (2000) Gray's Anatomy: Selected Writings (2009) False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism (1998) The Dialogues Team Creator: Richard Reeves Research: Ashleigh Maciolek Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

38mins

12 Jul 2021

Rank #3

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David French on how judges are saving the republic

America is either a plural republic or it dies. Right now, the judiciary is keeping pluralism shielded from attacks from both the political left and right. David French, one of our most thoughtful conservative public intellectuals, describes his own journey from partisan to a man without a tribe; how fighting in real war changed his view of the so-called culture war at home; the central importance of the Bill of Rights; the remarkable strength of religious liberty protections in our nation; why white Evangelicals flocked to Donald Trump ("white protestants have lost power and gained liberty and haven’t liked the exchange”, he says); how the judges, especially on the Supreme Court became "the only adults in the room"; the pros and cons of more federalism in public policy; and how the overturning of Roe v. Wade could de-escalate the culture wars. And much more.  A mini-rant from me This conversation really made me realize how much liberal pluralists like me have come to rely on the courts now, with politicians on both sides proposing or even passing laws that are anti-pluralist and unconstitutional - and probably knowing that they are when they do it. Laws become signals of whose side you’re on, rather than of actual policy intent. The dangerous point we’ve got to is of an illiberal, performative politics held at bay only by the judiciary, which is holding the line and maintaining our liberal republic, much to the frustration, depending on the day, of the culture warriors on both sides but to the enormous relief and eternal gratitude of all liberals. The judges are keeping the Republic safe, for now. But we can’t ask the courts to do this job forever, they can’t remain in DF’s phrase, the only grown up in the room. Also there is growing pressure to appoint more politically reliable judges in the future, rather than the constitution-loving, liberty-protecting, precedent-respecting bunch we have at the moment. We need a grown-up politics rather than the pantomime we have been subject to in recent years.  David French David French is a leading political thinker and commentator focusing on the intersection of law, culture, and religion. He is currently a senior editor of the Dispatch and a columnist at Time. Formerly, he was a senior writer for National Review and served as the President for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. French holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and has worked on numerous religious-rights issues. Additionally, he served as senior counsel for American Center for Law and Justice and the Alliance Defending Freedom. In 2007, French was deployed to Iraq and served as a squadron judge advocate.  More French-ism Read his new and prominent book “Divided We Fall: America's Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation” Subscribe to his newsletter, The French Press, and read his work on The Dispatch or his column at Time. Be sure to check out his piece “Decency Is No Barrier to Justice or the Common Good” which sparked the debate between French and Ahmari. Watch French debate Eric Metaxes on the question “Should Christians vote for Trump?”  Also mentioned I referenced Margaret Thatcher’s infamous question, “Is he one of us?”  We discussed Sohrab Ahmari’s piece, “Against David Frenchism”  In 2016, Donald Trump promised to restore power to Christianity, saying that it was “under tremendous siege.”  And in 2020, Trump claimed that if Biden became president “There will be no oil. There will be no god. There will be no guns.”  Last month, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of religious liberty in the Fulton v. City of Philadelphia case  Recently, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law to fine social media companies that permanently bar political candidates. A few years ago, Jonah Goldberg characterized Congress as a “parliament of pundits”  We mentioned Scott Alexander who ran the blog Slate Star Codex until 2020 In 1992, Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered the Madison Lecture at NYU School of Law. On the topic of Roe v Wade, she said that “a less encompassing Roe, I believe . . . might have served to reduce rather than to fuel controversy.” (p. 1199)  The Dialogues Team Creator: Richard Reeves Research: Ashleigh Maciolek Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

1hr 11mins

5 Jul 2021

Rank #4

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Joseph Henrich on how religion changed sex, families and culture

What made some societies so individualistic, so democratic, and so rich? The short version of Joe Henrich’s answer is: religion. By undermining kin-based networks, universalizing religions (especially Western Christianity) prompted the “big innovation” of impersonal trust, altered the Western brain and laid the foundations for free markets, geographical mobility and democratic institutions. In other words, some people became WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic). We discuss how the concept of coevolution helps to get us past the tired nature v. nurture distinction, the role of culture in shaping our biology, how polygamy causes a “math problem of surplus men”, the rise of the incel movement along with feminism, how monogamous marriage lowers testosterone (and why that’s a good thing), The Life of Brian, morality and politics and much more. Joseph Henrich Dr. Joseph Henrich is Chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology and Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at the University of Harvard and Principal Investigator of the Culture, Cognition, & Coevolution Lab.  Joe’s research focuses on evolutionary approaches to psychology, decision-making and culture, and includes topics related to cultural learning, cultural evolution, culture-gene coevolution, human sociality, prestige, leadership, large-scale cooperation, religion and the emergence of complex human institutions. His latest book is The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous (2020).  More Henrich The Secret of Our Success: How Culture Is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating Our Species, and Making Us Smarter (2015). “Do Markets Make Us Fair, Trusting, and Cooperative, or Bring out the Worst in Us?”, Evonomics (August, 2016) Also mentioned Michael Tomasello’s work on humans as “imitation machines” especially his book The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition (1999) Here is a good summary of Auguste Comte’s “religion of humanity”  “Longitudinal evidence that fatherhood decreases testosterone in human males”, Lee T. Gettler, Thomas W. McDade, Alan B. Feranil, and Christopher W. Kuzawa (2011) “What have the Romans ever done for us” sketch from the 1979 Monty Python movie The Life of Brian My previous episode on liberalizing Islam with Mustafa Akyol The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again Book by Robert D. Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett For a good introduction to the politics of moral foundations theory see “Liberals and Conservatives Rely on Different Sets of Moral Foundations” by Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt, and Brian A. Nosek (2009) “Moral Values and Voting” by Benjamin Enke (NBER, 2018) The Dialogues Team Creator: Richard Reeves Research: Ashleigh Maciolek Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

1hr 3mins

28 Jun 2021

Rank #5

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Jeremiah Johnson on the new neoliberalism

What is the difference between a liberal, a neoliberal, a new liberal, and a progressive? In this joint episode with The Neoliberal Podcast, hosted by Jeremiah Johnson, you'll get all the answers you want and probably a few more besides. This is a pretty wide-ranging discussion on the state of liberalism in the world today, how to lean into identity politics, the threat from authoritarianism, what the term "neoliberal" means both historically and in contemporary politics, the case for race-conscious policies, why right now liberals basically have to be Democrats, politically speaking. Enjoy! Read more about the Neoliberal Project, the Center for New Liberalism at the Progressive Policy Institute and listen to The Neoliberal Podcast. Also check out their magazine and newsletter, Exponents. Jeremiah Johnson Jeremiah is the Policy Director at the Center for New Liberalism and host of The Neoliberal Podcast. Jeremiah has worked as a consultant for Ernst & Young and as the Director of Innovation for The NPD Group, specializing in predictive modeling and advanced analytics. He holds a Bachelor's in Economics and a Master's in Statistics, both from the University of Georgia. More reading Jeremiah and I mention and recommend some books along the way, including: A Thousand Small Sanities by Adam Gopnik The Neoliberal Mind by Madsen Pirie All Minus One - Chapter 2 of On Liberty, edited by Jonathan Haidt and me, and illustrated beautifully by David Cicirelli The Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen Anti-Pluralism by Bill Galston John Stuart Mill, Victorian Firebrand. My biography of the great man, written before the world fell apart Also mentioned Steve Pearlstein's column on Dream Hoarders: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/07/01/is-it-inequality-of-income-we-care-about-or-inequality-of-opportunity/ My review of Gopnik's book for the Literary Review. Matt Yglesias - Stop marketing race-blind policies as racial equity initiatives My paper with Scott Winship on multigenerational race income gap, Long shadows: The Black-white gap in multigenerational poverty The Dialogues Team Creator: Richard Reeves Research: Ashleigh Maciolek Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

1hr 23mins

21 Jun 2021

Rank #6

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Jennifer Morton on creating a better elite

Societies always have an elite - but my guest today thinks we need a better one. Philosopher Jennifer Morton says we draw our leaders from too narrow a pool of institutions, especially educational ones, and that affirmative action does little or nothing to improve genuine representation. In what is at times quite a personal conversation, we discuss the ethical costs of upward mobility, animated by Jennifer’s own story of growing up in Peru before attending Princeton as first-generation student; as well as how to balance personal success against the dangers of complicity in unequal systems and institutions. She argues that less advantaged students face sharper trade-offs between different goods, and that as a society we under-value the ones related to associational life - family, friends, and hometowns. This conversation, and Jennifer’s work generally, has really shaped and challenged some of my own thinking - and I really enjoyed the conversation. Jennifer Morton @jennifermmorton Jennifer Morton is an associate professor of philosophy, currently at UNC Chapel Hill but she will be taking up a position at the University of Pennsylvania this fall. Her work focuses on the philosophy of action, moral philosophy, philosophy of education, and political philosophy.  She is also a senior fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Ethics and Education.  More from Morton Read her insightful book, Moving Up without Losing Your Way: The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility. Morton recently wrote this reflective piece on being a first-gen student and now educator: Flourishing in the Academy: Complicity and Compromise. She also published The Miseducation of the Elite which we discussed quite a bit.  You can follow her work on twitter, @jennifermmorton, and on her website Also mentioned Joseph Fishkin’s book Bottlenecks: A New Theory of Equal Opportunity. I actually liked this book so much I ran a blog series on it over at Brookings! I referred to this study that shows that low college application rates for Hispanic youth can be explained in large part by their desire to stay close to home Morton’s approach to ethical good bundles is in some ways similar to Amartya Sen’s capability set Using data from The Equality of Opportunity Project, made interactive by the New York Times, here is the breakdown of economic diversity at these institutions: At CUNY, the median household income for students is $40,000, 15% of the students came from the top 20%, and 23% came from the bottom 20% At UNC Chapel Hill, the median household income is $135,000, 60% of the students come from the top 20%, and only 3.8% from the bottom 20%. At UPenn, the median household income is $195,500, 71% of the students come from the top 20%, and only 3.3% come from the bottom 20%.  At Georgetown, the median household income is $229,000, 74% of the students come from the top 20%, and only 3.1% come from the bottom 20%. We referenced Anthony Jack’s work, including his book The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students The Dialogues Team Creator: Richard V. Reeves Research: Ashleigh Maciolek Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

1hr 8mins

14 Jun 2021

Rank #7

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Jonathan Rauch on how to know what's true

How do you know what's true? Who do you trust? These are questions that are no longer academic, philosophical ones, but at the heart of our politics and society. My friend and colleague Jonathan Rauch has a brilliant new book out, The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth, and that's the basis for our dialogue here. He describes the CoK as "liberalism’s epistemic operating system: our social rules for turning disagreement into knowledge" - and describes how it works - or should work - in the four cornerstones of academia, journalism, government and law. We discuss the threats to the CoK from the "troll epistemology" of the political Right and the "cancel culture" of the political left, and how institutions, groups and individuals can work to defend and restore our truth-generating systems. As Jon writes: "Both constitutions rest, ultimately, on versions of what the American founders thought of as republican virtue: habits and norms like lawfulness, truthfulness, self-restraint, and forbearance. If anything could ruin the American constitutional experiment, they believed, a failure of republican virtue would be the most likely culprit".   We also discuss the most important philosopher you've likely never heard of, Charles Sander Pierce (and why his name is pronounced so weirdly), as well as how lockdown has been for a man famous for his introversion...  Jonathan Rauch Jonathan is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution working in the Governance Studies program. He has written numerous books and articles on politics, economics, government, sexuality, and free speech. He also serves as a contributing editor of The Atlantic. Among other awards and nominations, Rauch is the recipient of the 2010 National Headliner Award and the 2005 National Magazine Award. More Rauch Read his impressive new book The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth, which builds upon his previous work Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought His popular 2003 essay, Caring for Your Introvert Follow him on twitter here: @jon_rauch Also mentioned For more on the greatest philosopher you should know about: Charles Sanders Peirce In 2018 Steve Bannon was quoted saying “flood the zone with shit”  PolitiFact’s scorecard on the truth value of Trump’s statements shows that he lied the majority of the time.  A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that 44% of Republicans believe the conspiracy theory that Bill Gates is implanting microchips in the COVID-19 vaccine.  Read more on the concerning election audit currently happening in Arizona  We spoke about the case of Brandon Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla, who was fired for his previous political contributions against gay marriage.  Cato reported that 62% of Americans have political views they’re afraid to share I mentioned the story of the Ku Klux Clowns that appeared in Knoxville, TN in 2007.  Four lions, the satirical movie we mention. We referenced this video of a Georgetown Law professor making racist remarks. Rauch referred to the grass-roots organization Braver Angels which adopts counselling techniques to reduce political polarization in communities.    I quoted Martin Luther King Jr.’s statement that “11 o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in American life”  Rauch referred to Abraham Lincoln’s Lyceum Address I quoted Mill in On Liberty (Ch V): “The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it” The Dialogues Team Creator: Richard Reeves Research: Ashleigh Maciolek Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

1hr 19mins

7 Jun 2021

Rank #8

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Nick Clegg on Facebook's Trump decision

Facebook just imposed a two-year ban on Donald Trump for inciting the Jan 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. I talked to Nick Clegg, VP for Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook, about the decision - and how the company will handle public figures on the platform from now on. We also discuss the challenges of striking a balance between free speech and protection from harm; the mistake I think the company made in banning some content about the possible origins of COVID-19; how “frothy techno-utopianism” has curdled into a form of “techno-pessimism”; the choice between open and closed politics; the paternalism implicit in many critiques of social media; the urgent need for government regulation; how the company’s Oversight Board could be an embryonic regulator for the industry as whole; how JS Mill got it right about when to curb speech that could lead to violence; elitism in politics; why he’s really not an aristocrat; the pros and cons of life in California; and much more.  Nick Clegg Nick has been Vice‑President for Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook since 2018, having previously served as Deputy Prime Minister of the UK from 2010 to 2015, as Leader of the Liberal Democrat party from 2007 to 2015, as Member of Parliament (MP) for Sheffield Hallam from 2005 to 2017, and as a member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2004. He was appointed a Knight Bachelor 2018 for political and public service. Fun fact: he used to fact-check Christopher Hitchens at The Nation. More Clegg  Read his important Medium piece from March 31st: You and the Algorithm: It Takes Two to Tango Here’s an opinion piece in which he calls for more regulation: Facebook’s Nick Clegg calls for bipartisan approach to break the deadlock on internet regulation A good interview here with the Decoder podcast, Facebook's VP of Global Affairs doesn’t think the platform is polarizing In October 2017, Nick wrote How To Stop Brexit (And Make Britain Great Again) Also mentioned This line was published in the New York Post: “What was the point of the American Revolution if some aristocratic British nerd can decide which Americans get to speak?”  Nick referred to Facebook’s Community Standards (just updated), which define hate speech and other rules of content on the platform. We talked a lot about Facebook’s Oversight Board. In its Charter, the purpose of the board is described as being “to protect free expression by making principled, independent decisions about important pieces of content and by issuing policy advisory opinions on Facebook’s content policies.”  After Facebook banned Trump indefinitely, the Oversight Board was critical: here is the  case report in which they wrote, “In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the Board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities. The Board declines Facebook’s request and insists that Facebook apply and justify a defined penalty.” Nick released a statement in response to this news. I referred to the UK’s Social Mobility Commission More details on the recent reversal of the decision to ban content suggesting that Covid could be man-made Mark Zuckerburg said in a speech at Georgetown in 2019: “I’m proud that our values at Facebook are inspired by the American tradition, which is more supportive of free expression than anywhere else.” Additionally, in May 2020, he said Facebook should not act as an “arbiter of truth”  I referenced this passage from On Liberty (Ch III): “An opinion that corn-dealers are starvers of the poor, or that private property is robbery, ought to be unmolested when simply circulated through the press, but may justly incur punishment when delivered orally to an excited mob assembled before the house of a corn-dealer, or when handed about among the same mob in the form of a placard.”  The Dialogues Team Creator: Richard Reeves Research: Ashleigh Maciolek Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

1hr 2mins

4 Jun 2021

Rank #9

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Cass Sunstein on Noise and nudges

If bail decisions were made by an Artificial Intelligence instead of judges, repeat crime rates among applicants could be cut by 25%. That is because an AI is consistent in its judgements: human judges are not.   This variation in in bail decisions, as well as in sentencing, and many medical diagnoses and underwriting decisions are all examples of what Cass Sunstein calls "Noise" - unwanted variation in professional judgement, which is the theme of his new book Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement, co authored with Danny Kahneman and Olivier Sibony. Professional judgement and discretion sound great in theory - especially to the professionals themselves - but in practice they end up creating a lottery in some high-stakes situations. He tells me why there should be statues of the legal reformer Marvin Frankel all across the land; how we can reduce the "creep factor" of AI decision-making; how early movers influence opinion especially through social media, and much more.  Cass Sunstein Cass Sunstein is a professor at Harvard Law School, as well as the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy. He has written hundreds of articles and numerous books, ranging from constitutional law to Star Wars. He has also served in several government positions, formerly in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in Obama’s first administration and currently in the Department of Homeland Security to shape immigration laws. Sunstein’s influence is wide-reaching, most notably from his work on advancing the field of behavioral economics, making him one of the most frequently cited scholars. He is also a recipient of the Holberg Prize and has several appointments in global organizations, including the World Health Organization.  More from Cass Sunstein Read “Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement” co-authored with Daniel Kahneman and Olivier Sibony Read his widely influential 2008 book “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness,” co-authored with Richard Thaler, as well as his later book “Why Nudge? The Politics of Libertarian Paternalism”  Dig into his work on “norm cascades”, as well as how group polarization works in jury pools Check out his previous work on jury behavior with Kahneman including “Assessing Punitive Damages” or “Are Juries Less Erratic than Individuals?”  Also mentioned Cass mentioned the 2007 asylum study by Schoenholtz, et al. titled “Refugee Roulette: Disparities in Asylum Adjudication” I referred to this NBER paper by Eren & Mocan showing that the behavior of judges can be influenced by arbitrary factors, including by the outcome of local sports games.  Cass brought up the work of Sendhil Mullainathan, which includes a study on “Human Decisions and Machine Predictions” and another on “Who Is Tested for Heart Attack and Who Should Be” We discussed the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 which imposed guidelines for criminal sentencing but was essentially dismantled in a 2004 Supreme Court ruling  Learn more about the APGAR infant score Jim Surowiecki, the author of “The Wisdom of Crowds,” discusses the weight of the cow parable on an episode of Planet Money Yet the wisdom of crowds phenomenon is often diminished when the group discusses their judgements and are exposed to social influence, as demonstrated by the study: “How social influence can undermine the wisdom of crowd effect”  In 2006, Duncan Watts, along with two co-authors, explored how early downloads were instrumental in predicting popularity in their article “Experimental Study of Inequality and Unpredictability in an Artificial Cultural Market”  I quoted John Stuart Mill in Utilitarianism, “Men often, from infirmity of character, make their election for the nearer good, though they know it to be the less valuable”  Cass referred to Mill’s harm principle, something he expands upon here. We also discussed Patrick Deneen’s book “Why Liberalism Failed”  The Dialogues Team Creator: Richard Reeves Research: Ashleigh Maciolek Artwork: George Vaughan Thomas Tech Support: Cameron Hauver-Reeves Music: "Remember" by Bencoolen (thanks for the permission, guys!)

1hr 8mins

31 May 2021

Rank #10