Tyler Cowen engages today’s deepest thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between. New conversations every other Wednesday. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
What sort of country would compel you to flee it, draw you back ten years later, then force you away yet again after two decades? Masha Gessen knows the answer all too well, having dedicated her career to writing and reporting about Russian society from both within and outside her native country. A true polymath, Gessen’s wide-ranging books and articles cover mathematics, history, human rights, counterterrorism, and much more. Masha joined Tyler in New York City to answer his many questions about Russia: why was Soviet mathematics so good? What was it like meeting with Putin? Why is Russian friendship so intense? Are Russian women as strong as the stereotype suggests — and why do they all have the same few names? Is Russia more hostile to LGBT rights than other autocracies? Why did Garry Kasparov fail to make a dent in Russian politics? What did The Americans get right that Chernobyl missed? And what’s a good place to eat Russian food in Manhattan? Transcript and links Follow Masha on Twitter Follow Tyler on Twitter More CWT goodness: Facebook Twitter Instagram Email
Born to a Ghanaian father and British mother, Kwame Anthony Appiah grew up splitting time between both countries — and lecturing in many more — before eventually settling in America, where he now teaches philosophy at New York University. This, along with a family scattered across half-a-dozen countries, establishes him as a true cosmopolitan, a label Appiah readily accepts. Yet he insists it is nonetheless possible to be a cosmopolitan patriot, rooted in a place, while having obligations and interests that transcend one’s national identity. He joins Tyler to discuss this worldly perspective and more, including whether Africa will secularize, Ghanian fallibilism, teaching Jodie Foster, whether museums should repatriate collections, Karl Popper, Lee Kuan Yew, which country has the best jollof rice, the value of writing an ethical advice column, E.T. Mensah, Paul Simon, the experience of reading 173 novels to judge the Man Booker prize, and what he’s learned farming sheep in New Jersey. We're coming to New York City! Join us for a live podcast recording with Alain Bertaud on September 9th. To learn more and register for the event, click here. Transcript and links Follow Kwame on Twitter Follow Tyler on Twitter More CWT goodness: Facebook Twitter Instagram Email
If you want to speculate on the development of tech, no one has a better brain to pick than Neal Stephenson. Across more than a dozen books, he’s created vast story worlds driven by futuristic technologies that have both prophesied and even provoked real-world progress in crypto, social networks, and the creation of the web itself. Though Stephenson insists he’s more often wrong than right, his technical sharpness has even led to a half-joking suggestion that he might be Satoshi Nakamoto, the shadowy creator of bitcoin. His latest novel, Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, involves a more literal sort of brain-picking, exploring what might happen when digitized brains can find a second existence in a virtual afterlife. So what’s the implicit theology of a simulated world? Might we be living in one, and does it even matter? Stephenson joins Tyler to discuss the book and more, including the future of physical surveillance, how clothing will evolve, the kind of freedom you could expect on a Mars colony, whether today’s media fragmentation is trending us towards dystopia, why the Apollo moon landings were communism’s greatest triumph, whether we’re in a permanent secular innovation starvation, Leibniz as a philosopher, Dickens and Heinlein as writers, and what storytelling has to do with giving good driving directions. Transcript and links Follow Neal on Twitter Follow Tyler on Twitter More CWT goodness: Facebook Twitter Instagram Email
"The breadth of guests and topics that Tyler has in this series is amazing. If you are already familiar with Tyler Cowen, it won't surprise you that he can talk competently with guests about topics ranging from economics to regional cuisine to historic literature. Some episodes are better than others but I've never really been disappointed by any of the episodes."