For fans of Russ Roberts’ EconTalk podcast, here’s an opportunity to hear the tables turn as Russ answers the salient questions asked by another expert in the “OG” interview.
Sam Harris delivers by having this lengthy conversation on the subject Logical Podcasts in many interesting directions. Harris begins with warm remarks about his hiking experience while listening to the audio version of wild problemsRoberts’ latest book. Decision making is the main topic.
What if there is he is No right decision, no better decision for our most important circumstances in life? How far do we understand human flourishing? What about our free will? The episode title is aptly named, “Steps in the right direction“.
1. Harris is concerned (carefully?) with how economics is taught today. Ross discusses the shortcomings of the domain as it is defined and believes we should look at variables beyond utilitarian calculus. Does it reduce or revise these two definitions?
- Economics is the study of choice under constraints.
- There is one social science and we are the practitioners of it.” (Stigleys)
2- One of the recurring themes in Roberts is the criticism of teaching in most educational institutions, especially public education in the United States. He questions that “the transmission of information and knowledge”, ignores that “the mind is not a vessel that must be filled, but a fire that must be kindled.” What learning approaches does Ross argue are effective? To what extent do you agree or disagree with what leads to effective learning, from different subjects, by different learners, in different circumstances?
3- Unbridled problems and their taming. What is worth thinking about? How does the story of Darwin’s cost-benefit analysis of marriage and his final decision illustrate Roberts’ opposition to Max U’s approach to problems?
4 Harris suggests that we may be better at making probability judgments than we realize. We can get better at gathering information to use the totality of information to apply to our future decisions. Are there other tools we can hone to improve decision making?
5- Harris believes that we overcome the moral ground “most of us often realize that to be concerned about the suffering of distant strangers is to be a good person”, and that in fact we do better with accepted moral standards as a general trend. Roberts is less enthusiastic about this view and uses the destruction of free speech as a disturbing example. where to do You are Fall on the optimism continuum? Explain.
6 Harris and Roberts discuss the practice of meditation as a practice that leads to increased empathy, enhanced freedom, reflection, change, experience in the present moment, reduced anger and more. How do they relate the “attention” of meditation to what free will is (or the illusion of free will)?