May 12, 2017 – Mind & Human Nature

My guest on this program is Daniel Everett, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He is the author of many books, including Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes; Language: The Cultural Tool; and Linguistic Fieldwork: A Student Guide. His life and work is also the subject of a documentary film, The Grammar of Happiness. His most recent book is Dark Matter of the Mind: The Culturally Articulated Unconscious, in which he argues that human nature as normally conceived does not exist. Flying in the face of major trends in evolutionary psychology and related fields, he offers a provocative and compelling argument that the only thing humans are hardwired for is freedom: freedom from evolutionary instinct and freedom to adapt to a variety of environmental and cultural contexts.

Dan’s next book:
How Language Began: The Story of Humanity’s Greatest Invention (To be released November 7, 2017)

Dan Everett’s definition of culture:
“Culture is the abstract network shaping and connecting social roles, hierarchically structured knowledge domains, and ranked values. Culture is dynamic, shifting, reinterpreted moment by moment. Culture is found only in the bodies (the brain is part of the body) and behaviors of its members. Culture permeates the individual, the community, behaviors, and thinking” (66).

August 19, 2016 – Overcomplicated Technology

My returning guest on this program is scientist and researcher Samuel Arbesman, and we’ll be talking about his new book, Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension, in which he grapples with the mystery and wonder of 21st century technology and how we should relate to complex technological systems.

January 22, 2016 – How Do We Establish A Purposeful Life?

My guest on this program is Baylor University Associate Professor of Sociology, Paul Froese, author most recently of On Purpose: How We Create the Meaning of Life. Professor Froese is also the Director of the Baylor Religion Surveys, and co-author of America’s Four Gods: What We Way about God—and What That Says about Us. The current book, On Purpose: How We Create the Meaning of Life, mixes data and analysis with literary and historical examples to show not that life has some ultimate meaning or no meaning at all, but rather that creating a purpose-driven life has always been a collective project.

August 14, 2015 – Original Sin & the Western World

My guest on this program is historian James Boyce, author of Born Bad: Original Sin and the Making of the Western World. The book explores how the centuries-old concept of original sin has shaped the Western view of human nature, right up to the present. He explores how many historical figures have contributed to the idea, and he argues that Continue reading

June 5, 2015 – Are Human Beings Free?

My guest on this program is John Gray, author of many critically acclaimed books. He is a former professor of politics at Oxford, a visiting professor at Harvard and Yale, and a professor of European thought at the London School of Economics. We’re going to be talking about his most recent book, The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom, in which he draws together the religious, philosophic, and fantastical traditions Continue reading

May 8, 2015 – Media and Progressive Politics

My guest on this program is Robert McChesney, Gutgsell Endowed Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois. He specializes in the history and political economy of communication, and the role media play in democratic and capitalist societies. He co-founded Free Press, a national media reform organization. Author of numerous books, we’ll be talking today about his most recent, Blowing the Roof off the 21st Century: Media, Politics, and the Struggle for Post-Capitalist Democracy. Continue reading

April 24, 2015: Mind & Media

My guest on this program is UCLA Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Children’s Digital Media Center, Patricia Greenfield. Her central theoretical and research interest is in the relationship between culture and human development and she sees media as a key component of modern culture. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and recipient of an Award for Distinguished Contributions to Cultural and Contextual Factors in Child Development from the Society for Research in Child Development. We’ll be talking about her classic book, Mind and Media: The Effects of Television, Video Games, and Computers.

October 25, 2013 – “Net Smart: How to Thrive Online”

This week we talk with Howard Rheingold, influential writer and thinker on social media. He has written numerous books, most recently Net Smart: How to Thrive Online.  He has been at the forefront of the use of the Internet and social media for decades, saying that he has been “exploring mind amplifiers since 1964.” He has taught courses at Stanford University & the University of California at Berkeley, among others. His TED talk, The New Continue reading

July 5, 2013 – Charles Eisenstein

This program features a conversation with Charles Eisenstein, a speaker and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution. He is the author of The Ascent of Humanity: Civilization and the Human Sense of Self, and Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition. In these books and other media he has established himself as a genre-defying social philosopher and countercultural intellectual. The Ascent of Humanity argues that our disconnection from the natural world and one another is built into the foundations of our civilization: into science, religion, money, technology, medicine, and education. He talks about what he calls an “Age of Reunion” wherein we have a more expansive sense of self, and a more Continue reading

May 10, 2013 – The Troubled Quest to Remake American Schooling

My guest on this program is Jal Mehta, Associate Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His research explores the underlying structures which shape American schooling, the cultural assumptions which underpin these approaches to education, and the consequences of decisions based on those assumptions for schools, teachers and students. He is interested in the policy and politics of closing the achievement gap that separates economically disadvantaged students and students of color from less disadvantaged students, and creating high quality schooling. His recent book is The Allure of Order: High Hopes, Dashed Expectations, and the Troubled Quest to Remake American Schooling.

Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings
The Futures of School Reform