Nicholas A. Christakis is a Greek-American sociologist and physician known for his research on social networks and on the socioeconomic, biosocial and evolutionary determinants of behavior, health and longevity.
Sociologist and physician Nicholas Christakis, named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, is on the forefront of research into human social networks and the evolutionary and biosocial determinants of behavior, emotions and health. In this conversation with host Tom Bilyeu, the best-selling author of “Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society” discusses everything from grieving elephants to colonies on Mars and future sex robots. He explains why good human impulses are eventually more powerful than antagonism and division, describes experiments where interaction with artificial intelligence improves peoples’ behavior towards each other, and expresses hopeful optimism about our ability to constantly expand the moral sphere and upgrade the social contract. This episode is brought to you by: PATLive: Get 15% off their regularly listed rates. Call 866-708-2507 and mention this podcast. For more information, visit  ShipStation: FREE for 60 days when you use offer code IMPACT at ISSUU: Go to to sign up for your FREE account. SHOW NOTES:   Why are we cultural animals in the first place? What is the capacity for culture? [1:00] Nicholas advocates that there is more that unites humanity than there is that divides us [4:43] People don’t really think that their life experience is dictated by their group membership [7:12] When travelling, at first people seem so different, but soon it’s clear how similar we are [9:38] Nicholas discusses the ability of elephants to feel grief, and why faces are different [13:35] Elephants will teach each other how to raid human crops [18:11] Nicholas explains the power of grief, and the way it is so different from other emotions [20:26] Nicholas talks about the rituals surrounding grief, and how they reconnect people [24:20] Nicholas uses whaling to describe how the human moral sphere has expanded [28:28] Nicholas shares stories of being a hospice doctor [30:33] Nicholas talks about how important active listening is, especially as a hospice doctor [37:49] Nicholas explains how to talk to someone who is dying [41:55] Nicholas then explains the basic principles on how to break bad news [46:21] Nicholas discusses colonizing Mars and why he thinks it is inevitable [49:43] Nicholas and Tom discuss Shackleton and shipwrecks [53:11] How does artificial intelligence change the way humans interact with each other? [56:43] Nicholas talks about sex robots, and how we may need a new social contract [1:01:15] How will we program AI, and how will it affect human society? [1:04:27] Nicholas describes an experiment where robots encouraged human sociality [1:13:47]   FOLLOW NICHOLAS:   WEBSITE:  FACEBOOK:  TWITTER: 
Pandemics are predictable; what's not predictable is the intensity, or the precise timing of arrival. That's where early detection -- not just rapid warning (as with something like Google Flu Trends back in the day), or even delayed warnings (as with CDC flu trackers and such) -- comes in. Because unfortunately, many disease tracking efforts old and new are "like watching the weather forecast a week after you've experienced that weather", observes a16z general partner Jorge Conde.And this matters for saving lives; for load balancing and allocating resources (ventilators, PPE, supplies); getting back to work; and much more. Even a two-week advantage could have made a huge difference! Which is what sociologist and physician Nicholas Christakis (who directs the Human Nature Lab, part of the Yale Institute for Network Science, and also author of the book Blueprint) learned from the H1N1 pandemic. Specifically, the role of social network "sensors" -- where friends in one's network graph can be like canaries in the proverbial coal mine to help detect pandemics earlier.In fact, the lab recently released an app called Hunala (which uses information crowdsourced among networks) to determine one's likelihood of contracting flu/ influenza-like or other respiratory illnesses through a personalized daily assessment of risk. Kind of like Waze, but for illnesses not car accidents. So in this episode of the a16z Podcast, the two take that analogy far. They also discuss the role of other mobility data and population flows in China for where and when the pandemic spread; the nuances behind "superspreaders"; how bad is the coronavirus, really; and the near future of "bio-surveillance" -- not just from a personal risk perspective, but from a global public-health perspective... Can we get the holy grail here without sacrificing privacy and agency?
Dave Rubin of The Rubin Report talks to Dr. Nicholas Christakis (M.P.H., Public Health; M.D., Harvard) about what you need to know about the Coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus outbreak is still in its infancy in the US and Dr. Nicholas Christakis gives you the information you need to be able to navigate this constantly changing public health crisis. Dr. Nicholas Christakis explains how we can best fight Coronavirus. He shares how to effectively practice social distancing or as he prefers to call it physical distancing. He explains what flatten the curve means and why it can save many lives. Nicholas describes the ways in which you can most effectively reduce your risk of getting or transmitting COVID-19. He goes into detail of when you should consider going to a hospital and why you should avoid a hospital otherwise. Nicholas also shares what he believes are the best practices for schools to keep people safe whether those schools are closed already or will remain open. He outlines specific risk mitigation strategies that schools can implement to reduce the rate of transmission. Most importantly he provides vital information on Coronavirus prevention and what you need to do to keep you and your loved ones safe. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Nicholas Christakis about the coronavirus pandemic. They discuss the likely effects on society, proactive vs reactive school closures, community transmission, false comparisons between coronavirus and flu, the imperative of social distancing, the timeline of the pandemic, Trump’s political messaging, the widespread distrust of expertise, the importance of "flattening the curve" of the epidemic, the possible failure of our healthcare system, gradations of personal response to this threat, and other topics. SUBSCRIBE to gain access to all content on
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Creator Details

May 7th, 1962
Vermont, USA
Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
18 hours, 21 minutes
Podchaser Creator ID logo 110137