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Appearance on the Russell Brand Podcast
Plus an Ask Me Anything update and a new CSPI report
I was just on Russell Brand’s podcast, called Under the Skin, to talk about corruption in American foreign policy. You need to be his subscriber to listen to the whole thing, but here’s a podcast preview and an eleven-minute clip.
This was a really cool opportunity, as I’m used to talking to people who are famous in the world of politics and ideas, but this is a different level of celebrity. I checked and Brand has 11.4 million Twitter followers. The biggest person I regularly interact with on the site is Glenn Greenwald, and he is at a measly 1.8 million. I thought maybe Tucker might be comparable to Brand, but I looked and he’s only at 4.9 million (Maddow is interestingly at 10.6, despite much lower ratings). Some of us tend to assume that news and politics dominate the inner lives of our fellow citizens, but this is a reminder of how culturally insignificant those of us in this arena actually are, even if we may punch above our weight in influence. Is politics just celebrity culture for the minority of the population that has a college degree?
I’ve gotten a lot of good questions in response to the Ask Me Anything post. In the coming weeks I’ll be releasing my answers to paid subscribers. It’s not too late to ask new questions here. I’ll determine which ones people want answered by seeing which comments get the most likes and taking that into consideration.
A pretty important realization I’ve had in the last few years is that if you look at any random social science literature closely you will most likely find that it is either trivial, wrong, or irrelevant to the real world. Academia is driven by misaligned incentives, which means that bad research practices like those highlighted in the replication crisis are the norm, not aberrations in a system that is otherwise working. This is an important prior to have whenever you hear talk of what “experts say.” They might be right, but you have to check, and that assertion by itself should mean little to nothing.
Behavioral genetics is perhaps the most important exception, as a field that keeps consistently delivering the same earth-shattering results that provide deep insights into the social world. But since the findings are politically incorrect, they’re ignored or declared irrelevant to policy. Some marketplace of ideas!