23 November 2021 / Last updated: 23 Nov 2021

balenaPodcast episode 05: Consilience, how we can better understand everything and each other

In this episode, we’re joined by Tom Beakbane, author of How to Understand Everything: Consilience: A New Way to See the World. Tom and Alex dig into consilience, the twin sibling of science. While science helps us better understand the natural and physical world, consilience is how we agree and understand the approaches of those subjects.
The two discuss how the practice of consilience can help us have a deeper understanding of one another and help us make better sense of this wild, wild world.
Show notes:
--- START EPISODE ---
ALEX MARINOS:
Hi, everybody. Welcome to the balena podcast. Today with us as Tom Beakbane. Um, and we're going to talk about consilience.
We've, we've interacted, you know, on social media, on the unmentionable platforms, uh, you know, several times we've come across each other. And I thought, wow, this guy is, uh, quite quite sharp. But, uh, the reason that triggered me to say, you know, we need to have a conversation is that, uh, I was talking to the team at balena about consilience and it just kind of slipped my, my, you know, from my mouth. And then I would try to explain to them what I meant.
And I guess, like recursion in order to understand recursion, you need to understand recursion. Uh, consilience is kind of, it's a very consilient word.
Uh, so I thought, I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to get, I'm going to get Tom on the podcast and we're going to talk about it for a few hours, and maybe then it'll sink in.
Um, but basically the way we work at balena is the, our, our main sort of organizational unit is the loop, right? Where we, uh, have the, the, what we call the surface, which is what is exposed to the world, right? And from there, we take all of the stimuli, all the channels of information, whether it's social media or servers, or, uh, support surveys, all of those things come together.
From there we extract patterns and those patterns are really the things we talk about. So let's say something very trivial, like our builder's being slow might come up on support. It might come up on Twitter, it might come up on, uh, customer success or, or very importantly, it might come up everywhere, right. Um, three weak signals can come together and say, “Hey, notice this it's coming from everywhere.” Right?
That's what drives our thinking process, where we then with design improvements and we build them and deploy them. And, you know, we have a new version of the thing that can give us new, uh, sensory, sensory inputs.
But I was trying to explain to the team why it's very, very important that our patterns are not segregated, right? We don't have support patterns, and social media patterns, and server patterns or whatever, but they all come in the same, uh, pool of knowledge. And from there, we extract the things to talk about. And, and I was sort of making this point and I said, it's like, consilience.
And, uh, so, you know, uh, at that point, people were like, well, what's consilience? And I started blurting things that didn't make sense to anybody. So, uh, I thought Tom is the person to speak to that's the long story short.
TOM BEAKBANE:
Hi, Dr. Marinos! It's an absolute delight to be on your podcast. I get a real kick out of seeing your exchanges on, on Twitter. And, um, and I can't believe you actually run a company in addition to, uh, handling your Twitter feed, because it seems like, like a 24-hour pre-occupation of yours.
(laughter)
But, uh, yeah, I think we can, we can draw some threads together, uh, can consider it sounds like a, uh, a kind word, a nice work, like concilium like agreement, but, but, but that's not how it originated originally by the set from the same guy that coined the word science, which is William Whewell in 1840. And, and he realized that science and progress and ideas come together, uh, or progress by, by sort of different realms being joined together. So con means together. And silience means, uh, jump in, in Latin.
So consilience is the jumping together of ideas. It's that, that aha moment that we get, I guess, uh, I hope all the time, you know, you think, oh, okay, I get it. And, and, and it can happen on a micro level. Uh, okay. You sort of just put this together with that and see, okay, I get it, I get it.
Uh, it can happen on a sort of a, uh, like a company level, which you're talking about, is sort of the different disciplines, like playing into each other. It can happen on the level of like the hardware sort of developing in concert with the software and the interface and the sort of the artistry of it can happen on that level. And, and I, I, I like using it in terms of sort of the jumping together of different disciplines that is, I believe going to have profound, um, affects that societal levels because, uh, there's really no dividing that line now between chemistry and biology, for instance, or between chemistry and physics.
I mean, those that, you know, those disciplines have merged together. And, and, and my argument is that now we know enough about the human brain in, in very hard science-y ways that it enables us to understand how we understand and, and where human behavior, uh, uh, comes from. And, and, and why we sort of have this amazing tribalism that you see on Twitter.

Consilience and addressing human behavior

And so I believe consilience is happening now at a grand level where, uh, we're actually gonna have to confront the realities of human behavior in a, in a way that's a lot more truthful than ever before. Anyway, sorry about that rant that, um, consider it says a difficult word, uh, and it's, it's not, um, it's not, uh, it's not one, that's easy to get your head around, and that's why I wrote a book.
ALEX:
No, it's, it's, um, we can almost, um, you know, I remember when I, and I learned to, to whistle, um, especially with my, with my fingers, it took me like a whole day of just trying and, you know, like it was messy and annoying to everybody around me before I nailed it. But when you do, you just like clicks in, right. And you never have to really think about it again.
And I think concepts can be like that where you feel your way around them, or, you know, when you realize a muscle group that you can move your nostrils or something, right. Like you can take, you can know somebody else can do it. And so, you know, it's, you prove to yourself that there's a, there, there, before you actually know what it is. Um, and then by, by negotiating the, the, the, the concept, which I hope we can, we can do, um, maybe by the end of it, people can have, uh, you know, at least the broad territory of what, you know, this sort of twin sister of science, uh, is.
TOM:
Yeah. I mean, when, when you're talking about, uh, that sort of, that moment of, um, oh, I could whistle now, I think that happens in so many different realms, you know, spiritual realms, physical web realms of artistic realms and sporting realms. And I would argue that let's say, when you, you've got a young son and haven't you? When that young son sort of figures, figures out how to, for instance, stand up and you see that, like that, um, that moment where, um, he realizes he's, he's got it. He can stand up, or he can say something or, or do something you couldn't do before. I mean, that, that is a jumping together of, of, um, uh, of capabilities that is, that is, you know, for, for a baby, transformative. And, and I would say, you know, rather than putting boundaries around this thing, let's, let's throw it wide.
ALEX:
Uh, and, and, uh, in a, in a way, this is very similar to, I mean, at least for me with, with, with the, the Twitter feed that you just put me in trouble now with where the depth and breadth of my, of my...
TOM:
I guess you don't want your employees knowing how much time you spend on Twitter. (laughter)
ALEX:
They know how much of my time goes into that. They know that I am a one-track mind pretty much so, they know I'm figuring something out and they've seen me bring back, uh, the spoils of my, uh, of my, of my adventure. So, um, it is a, I, I try to understand things and I understand things by immersion. So, um, when I find something that is sort of, I know there's a level up I can, I can have for, for all, all sorts of things. Um, it, it, it absorbs me for, for a good period of time. And that's sort of usually how it goes on. Then I can have that capability sort of, um, very much like speaking a language or, or, or something else.
And I think at balena one of the things we haven't been doing very well is, uh, bringing to the world, the, the incredible work that's being done internally. Um, both in the way that balena works in the technology that we make. So part of this is for me to understand how to convey to the world, you know, ideas, um, uh, in order to be able to also bring, uh, to the world, a lot of the incredible things that we're doing internally.
So what I've assured my team is that it all comes together. Uh, and we're, um, we've got a very particular way of working that is quite fluid. And, and I've been, I've been keeping an eye, of course, I'm also there. Uh, but to the degree that, you know, some of my attention is being attracted away. Um, it's, uh, it's the way we've built balena to be able to do that, I guess.
TOM:
Can I mention some, some interesting, some interesting commonalities or, or sort of contradictions between, like, what you're trying to do with balena and taking that message to the world? What we're experiencing on Twitter and in society with things like the vaccine and ivermectin and alternative therapies and so on? And, uh, and also other complicated matters like climate change. Uh, it's, it's very clear that on the matter of vaccines, and I hope I'm not getting too controversial here, that there's some very sophisticated minds, um, likely at Pfizer and the big pharma companies, uh, crafting messages and, and the way marketing guys.
And I'm a marketing guy. Okay. I've been a marketing guy for 35 years. So I think I can smell the odor of professionals like me. Um, when you know, when I, when I see a well-crafted slogan and then I see that popping up everywhere, and then it spreads throughout the media. I'm not suggesting this is happening with you at all, but tech people, scientists, and logical thinkers tend to imagine that the way to communicate is to, um, try and try and, uh, represent the complexity of what they're doing, right?
But, but in, in a, in a paradoxical manner, the more you try and communicate, the less people understand. And, and the trick is to, to do what, um, you know, branding people like myself do, which is to distill everything down to what I call a brand focus, which is a very simple, uh, metaphor very often that can be encapsulated in a picture and a key phrase, um, maybe a short video, what have you, or that can be then repeated and repeated and repeated in many, many different ways so that people, uh, just grow to recognize it and treat it as the truth, even though it's your truth.
And so there's, there's, um, there's some tricks we can learn from what we're observing, uh, in the public space right now, as to sort of, you know, how, how you can get your message out. And I'm not trying to sort of sell you on any marketing approaches, because the most important thing in any organization is to have a product that people want to use.

Challenges of sustaining seeking consilience and sensemaking in a scaling organization

ALEX:
The important thing for me is to, um, understand this new sort of plane that has opened up to me of how the, uh, how the, the, the, you know, I remember when balena was 10 people, right. And we spent significant time with everybody and we can have, you know, I kind of knew a lot about what was going on with everybody. And then we grew to 20 and then 40, uh, I think I felt when we had a summit at about 60 or something, that it was a very strange overlapping feeling of, I know each person here, but also this is a crowd.
Uh, you know, I can have a conversation with everybody. I know what they're doing. We can sit down for an hour and, and, and make progress on things. But also this is, you know, a thing with its own mind collectively, aside from me, right?
This is enough people now to make, you know, to make a, you know, if they turned on me somehow, you know, it could be, I could be in danger. Um, and, um, you know, then keep, keep adding layers to that, right. And like, say, you know, 60 million or whatever, uh, or, you know, 6 billion. Um, it's not that far in a way, you know, there's a lot more numbers beyond 7 billion, you know, uh, you know, uh, in the grand scheme of things.
Um, and I've just felt that I wanted to understand the language, this thing speaks not in, not in order to mislead it, not in order to be dishonest, but in order to even be able to communicate with it, even to communicate, honestly, you know, if I want to communicate and honestly, with somebody from America, I I'm, I'm not going to speak Greek to them, you know, because they're not gonna understand me, you know, I could say, well, you know, don't want to mislead them that I'm not American. Yeah, sure.
But like being able to speak their language is not about misleading them. It's about being able to convey a message. Now, the message you convey could be, um, you know, red bull gives you wings, which turns out it doesn't. Um, but, um, you know, um, it gives you caffeine addiction at best...
TOM:
I think, um, something that took me a long time to glom onto, which is the difference between sort of external communications and internal communications. Um, and I, I might be useful for people who don't know anything about me to, uh, to know that my background has many commonalities with yours in that, uh, you know, I was educated in Europe, um, sort of a science degree. I started my career in, in the UK, came to north America when I was 23, 24 years old with virtually nothing. And unlike yourself, um, set up a company, uh, my company was a computer graphics agency and, um, and it grew very quickly.
And, and, and after only two or three, maybe four or five years, actually I employed 40 or 50 people. And, um, and I was making, um, a lot of money, uh, and I thought it was very easy and I was pretty smart, but, um, uh, and so, you know, we, we we've had the sort of parallel track, but, um, I realized more and more, and, and particularly looking back on things, that the way people, um, sort of behave in a company is very much patterned, not on what you say, but on what you do.
So that the very little details of how you behave, um, sort of sends a signal to people, signals to people, you know, what you're attentive to, what you like or dislike, or how sort of open you are to other people's ideas. It, it's, it's the little things that people aren't even aware of that they pick up on. And that becomes this, the corporate culture.
When you're communicating out outside, obviously those very same things are important when you're dealing with customers and customers generally couldn't give a about your marketing, but for marketing messages is it's a completely different approach because you want to distill everything down to a brand and figure out sort of entertaining ways to communicate that brand.
But, it has to be super simple and it has to be a direct connection between, you know, what you're offering and indeed the sort of the heart and soul of the company and the way everyone's behaving and, um, and everyone's needs. But, but it's, it's gotta be a very simple, emotionally-poignant, uh, message.
And, and they're, they're, they're not the same, they're not the same at all. And we, I, I don't know how deep you want to go, but I can get into the neurophysiology of it. And, and the evolutionary basis of all of these things.

A neurophysiological look at why high-performing organizations operate “bottom-up”

ALEX:
Let’s do it. Is power a part of it? Because it feels to me like the incentive matrix is what, um, changes the, the sort of the context of the communication and, and, and therefore what works and what doesn't, but maybe you've got, it sounds like you've thought about this a lot. So, uh, please go ahead and, and, uh, guide us down the rabbit hole of, um, you know, how, how, how, how sort of communication, and I mean, this is essentially, again, I think we're going to be coming back to, you know, consilience.
I mean, th this was kind of a, I think a key message I got from your, from your, from your book, that in order to solve a kind of simple question of like, how do I pitch, you know, an idea you have to go from biology to, uh, to, to the, to the brain, to, uh, economics, to, you know, you never know really where it's going to, it's going to get you. So, I I'm, I'm more than happy to sort of just chase, chase that thread down and see where it takes us.
TOM:
Yeah. Yeah. We can chase that thread. There's a, there's a, there's a deeper insight, I think in that I try and communicate in the book and it probably gets lost. Uh, but it, but it's an insight that you probably, uh, don't have any problem understanding because of your knowledge of AI and machine learning. And the, the sort of the, the, the really deep, um, insight that I, that I try and communicate is that the brain has this amazing capability of making sense of everything around us. And we're not even aware that it's doing that because it's just the way it works, you know, so that when you look out in the world, you know, you see a, you see a, a dog or a cat or a wealth or whatever. I mean, you're not there, there's no sense that your brain is actually constructing those categories, um, from prior experience.
Um, and you'll probably know that, like, that's what happens with machine learning. Uh, you, you just feed, you know, lots of different pictures into the, in, into the system and the actual sort of mechanisms as to how that the system is differentiating between a cat and a dog and a wealth. I it's, it's fairly difficult. It's all I would say. It's almost impossible to figure out, um, because it's sort of happening in the various layers of the chip.
Um, but so, so, so the brain thinks top-down, and particularly in academia, people think top down, they think in terms of categories of facts that are right or wrong, um, and, um, all the hierarchies that fall out of that and power structures and systems and so on. And so on the, the, the reality though of the world is that it isn't organized from the top down, even though that's actually the heritage of science, because science is, was sort of a direct offshoot of Newton, trying to figure out the laws of God, for instance.
And when Darwin wrote his, um, his books, he was very much beholden to sort of the power of nature, almost sort of being, uh, another way of expressing sort of God's will and what I'm going to use. God, I don't mean it in a sort of religious sense, but in the sense of a, um, an organizing force, but, but it's, it's pretty clear, uh, now, you know, from physics and biology, that the world doesn't, uh, isn't organized from the top-down, uh, it organizes from the bottom up. And so if you, you know, as you take, uh, a body, um, it's not like any part of it is, is sort of the organizing, uh, or authority, every single cell, 13 trillion, 50 trillion cells in your body organizes itself.
And, and that's, I think it's fair to say it's irrefutable. Like, it's not like someone's going to come along and say, oh, you know, that, that doesn't make any sense. And, and likewise, when you know about the details of our physiology, uh, it becomes impossible to imagine that the brain is, if you like that, that sort of, um, the computer that is actually sort of directing the muscles what to do.
So, um, the world organizes itself from the, from the bottom up, um, in, in ways that are, that have really, um, almost impossible to understand with our current, uh, sort of scientific knowledge. Uh, I mean, you know, I think we're getting smarter and better, and there might be sort of computational ways that we can develop the rules of physics. You know, like Stephen Wolfram is, um, attempting to do, but, but the, but the, the brain organizes, uh, sort of sees the world from the top down anywhere.
Why it's pertinent for, let's say our situation is that when you're, when you're sort of creating an organization, um, it's, it's traditionally been viewed as a sort of a top-down type of system. You have the different departments and, uh, and, uh, and, uh, an, a precedent to the top telling everyone else what to do. Um, but, but, uh, you know, as you, as your alluding to, with, uh, balena, the way, a far better way of, of conceiving of what an organization is, it, it happens from moment to moment and with every individual.
And if you get the moment to moment things happening, and everyone's sort of, uh, uh, organizing themselves, you have likely a high performing organization, like it's a fast, stronger organization, if you actually let it build from the bottom up. So I'm not sure if that makes any sense to you.
ALEX:
It's actually touching on this sort of meta narrative. I don't know if I'm using the term correctly, but it makes sense to me at least, um, of, you know, what is, what are we experiencing, right?
Uh, in one, on one hand. Um, and I, and I think that you, you sort of touched on this in the book, you know, it was, uh, no, it was actually in the article that you sent us, um, you know, this, this feels like a special moment by, they all feel like special moments, right?
Uh, but, um, in a way this feels a little bit more special than, than others, and I think what is happening and it's exactly what you're touching on, is that we are rewiring our own understanding probably of ourselves as well as, you know, each other and what we are as, as, as a species from a sort of top-down hierarchical, um, uh, sort of militaristic almost, uh, organizational paradigm to, uh, you know, companies, they talk about, you know, the org chart, but there's also the grapevine, right. Which is actually a lot of the times it's the actual org chart.
Um, and then so, but, but maybe we're shifting from understanding that the org chart is the primary data structure that we're looking at to the grapevine is the primary data structure and the org chart. It may be more, um, vestigial if, if, if anything, um, and, and, and that idea then transferring into society itself, right? Um, where, you know, the, the, this, this sort of paradoxical concept of, you know, to “trust the science” or whatever, we're, we're, we're science is literally invented to become the opposite of, of, of trust. It's like at least trust, but verify if not trust nobody, you know?
Um, so, um, th this, this is, uh, I think there's a paradigm shift that we are experiencing. And I think a lot of people have been attracted to it almost like fireflies, you know, uh, just gathering around sort of, not the fireplace, whatever, the various sort of insects flying insects that are gathering around light.
TOM:
Like moths to a flame.
ALEX:
That's it, that's the one, uh, yeah. Right. So, so, so I feel like, you know, people like you, and I've met a lot of other incredibly smart people who have the most varied of backgrounds from sort of from biology to, uh, you know, policy wonks, to, you know, lawyers to just, you know, whatever it is you are or whatever it is. I am, you know, uh, people with like very, very deep and varied backgrounds being attracted to this thing, whatever it is that's happening and trying to understand it. And, and, and I think that the ideas you're touching on are exactly in that vein, which is, again, it's confusing, and maybe it's not worth trying to nail down exactly what it is that we're talking about, because we might, we might, you know, it might slip through our fingers, but it's it's, um, yeah, I dunno if this is sort of triggering any, any, uh, any connections.

We’re in an era of amazing ideas that aren’t publicly digestible

TOM:
Yeah. It triggers a lot of thoughts and, um, and a new thought has just sort of popped into my head. That's sort of, I could consider it store jumping together thought, and that is, um, like there'd been unbelievable developments in mathematics. And so, you know, as I explained in the book, uh, 30, 50 years ago, there were basically sort of two forms of math. There was the, the math of sort of predictability and new sort of new tone mem Newtonian mechanics. And then on the other side of the, sort of the math of randomness, but now over the last 20, 30 years, we've obviously viewed, ruffle, incredible new, um, math of complex criticality and chaos and, and, um, catastrophe theory and so on. And that, you know, that, that sort of fed into the whole mathematical and computing realm. That's providing us these unbelievably powerful tools that enable us to look at cells, look at genetics and understand the world in new ways.
And so that developments sort of that, of being propelled in biology, in genetics, in archeology, in astronomy and, and, um, and also in neuro physiology. But, but here's, I mean, here's the wacky thing. All of those things are tending to well, that, that they're becoming, uh, indigestible in the public realm.
And unfortunately, very, very few journalists have the sort of scientific and intellectual chops to actually dig into the science. And so they just listen to the headlines about science. And so consequently science is becoming sort of too big, too complex, uh, too puzzling for just about everyone who, uh, doesn't want to dig into the details. And so science is sort of breaking the public square and it's breaking the whole sort of media world. And, um, I think very, very few politicians, uh, sort of have the background and the time to really get that around what is happening in the scientific realm.
So we're getting to this fracture point where, uh, the, the really smart writing about, uh, science and scientific matters is, is no longer actually coming from Nature and the Lancet and all those sort of traditional publications. Uh, it's actually, you know, on Substack and some of my favorite magazines, like Quanta and so on.
Um, but, but it, it's becoming quite rare and, and certainly, um, not part of the public discourse at all. And, and, and you never read any decent articles about science. Let's say in the New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal, uh, late. So the system's like getting to this, like, I don't know what you'd call it an explosion point. Um, and unfortunately the schism between sort of the various tribes, you know, the red tribe and the blue tribe is now like running well ahead of, um, sort of what's happening in the scientific realm.
And, and, and you're experiencing that with all these discussions about alternative therapies of, to, to COVID and, uh, and variants, and exactly how serious the pandemic is.
ALEX:
One thing that I've been realizing recently is a area of misunderstanding. And maybe you have some something to, to help me understand it more is that people lose track of the levels of recursion that we're working with. So I'm not a biologist. And I, and I say this very often, so I don't actually have much to say in terms of the underlying mechanisms or stuff like that. I think if I keep, if I keep up in these conversations, I'll start having, you know, a real intuition, but right now my intuitions are predominantly in argument structure. Uh, so I can see when somebody is pulling a trick that isn't, um, quite on the up and up, you know, there there's, there's some, some, uh, slight of hand occurring where you're, you're being led to adopt a fact that isn't actually a fact, you know, that you, by, sort of a misdirection, um, and, and what I've been really doing, I've been trying to do at least this to be the, the child, you know, in the parade saying he's got no clothes! Uh, really, it's not, you know, it's not about, you know, in the, in that context, if we, if we, if we move that to Britain, it's not about being a Royalist versus a Republican, is that this particular, uh, Royal has no clothes, right?
That's my, my main point, but that's being mapped into the underlying conversation about me having, uh, a position. Whereas the most, the strongest position I've ever taken is a return on investment one, which is like risk-low possibility of, of benefit, you know, we're uncertain, but the uncertainty is not about what, you know, doesn't mean it's low. The benefit could be anywhere.
So, um, we are certain about the downsides. We're uncertain about the upsides. That to me, from an entrepreneurial perspective means “do it” right. Um, but there's, um, there's a medical perspective and there's an incentive gradient there where nobody is really motivated to, uh, exit the exit, the herd, so to speak, to, to, to exit the, the boundaries, um, because if you differ and are wrong, you might end up in prison.
If you differ and are right, you get nothing. So, um, there is that. I find it fascinating, however, that my main, um, area where I get misunderstood is on the recursion levels. It's like, I can say what you are saying is wrong. And they saying, well, you agree with the people I disagree with, which is it doesn't have to follow.
TOM:
Yeah. Can I, can I play devil's advocate with you?
ALEX:
Please!
We massively agree. And, and I think the one thing that we agree on, correct me if I'm wrong, more than anything else is that it's, it, it's important that people can discuss these matters. And I have several, several conversations and discussions about, uh, whatever it is, uh, especially if it relates to our, um, our health and wellbeing and, and, and, and our ability to live together purposefully and productively, you know, that beyond anything is, is important, I think to you and me.
I want to, um, tell you though why I also, I love that Better Skeptics initiative. You know, I took part in it. Um, I, I, and I, wasn't trying to actually sort of pick one side or the other, um, because I I'm, um, I'm hugely sympathetic to Brett Weinstein and Heather Heying, um, but at the same time, I, I, I find that, um, some of the things that he says about evolution and, and, um, zero COVID, I just can't, I just can't agree. And we can talk to them about some of those details if you want, but, but I'll tell you, why your goal, while it's very worthy, is not going to get anywhere, if I if I could be so bold.
ALEX:
Absolutely.
TOM:
Okay. Because, because when, when you are talking about, let's say Ivermectin efficacy, okay. Uh, you know, there are many, many different, uh, studies and, uh, there's a ton of detail and, and you can pick any one of the studies and you can choose what, you know, what's important, or what's not. And, and, and I, I believe you're going to have a discussion with, um, that fellow that wrote The Atlantic article. What's his name? James?
ALEX:
Perhaps. James Heathers. It's not, uh, it's not set in stone yet, but that will be good to try.
TOM:
Yeah. And, and, and you've, you've offered up some money to charity if you could make that happen. I'll tell you why. I don't think it's going to work though. Um, because no one has the stomach for the detail. Uh, they want to basically know whether frankly, and this is over simplifying it, whether Ivermectin is good or bad, um, you know, and they couldn't really care about the difference between prophylaxis and early treatment or, you know, treatment after five days, um, and exactly what it's going to do. And, and, and whether monoclonal antibodies, uh, are doing the trick or not. And sort of the intersection between that and comorbidity. I mean, there are just so many factors that are extraordinarily important that the people aren't interested in that. They want to know how to react in an instant. You know, is, is, um, is, is as Dr. Marinos right or is James Heathers, right?
And of course, James Heather's with The Atlantic and, and, um, you know, that whole sort of media machine behind him sort of appears to be more legitimate.

What we’re experiencing in the real world and the perspectives of academia

I want to take this to actually sort of, um, insights about the human brain, because this is where there's a huge split between the reality of what we're experiencing in the real world and the perspectives in academia, because strangely strange to say, uh, academia has given rise to, um, uh, uh, views of, of the human brain that are completely, completely wrong, uh, in that, you know, because of the dynamics of, of academia, where you're dealing with kids and, and, and, and, and answers can be right or wrong, you know, do you understand what a virus is? Well, a virus is sort of nucleic acids, nucleus, nucleic acids, sort of, um, packed into a protein of some sort, and it's not quite living, but nearly living.
So that's what a virus is. And, you know, you answer that either it's right or wrong. And, and that, that leads sort of to an academic way of viewing the world that, uh, the science comes up with facts that are either right or wrong. And, and, and that's not my, that, wasn't my upbringing in science at all. Um, I was lucky enough to go to schools where we actually did science. We didn't actually use textbooks, and that was pretty unusual.
Where I'm leading is that the brain, the human brain works in the moment. And I don't know if you read that part about, you know, in my book about how the brain works, but, um, we did some of the academic perception of, of human behavior is that we make decisions. You know, you, you, you collect all the information you think about it, you consider it, and then you use rationality to make a decision.
You might be over emotional and make the wrong decision. But our behavior is the result of, um, sort of conscious thought processes now with, uh, current understanding of genetics and microbiology and neurophysiology. Um, that, that view is completely untenable because the difference between a cell in the human brain and a mouse brain is, is almost indistinguishable.
And indeed, um, you know, neurons [inaudible] ...tiny little round worm and the human brain, this is not nearly as, as, as massive as we imagined. So, um, so the human brain is essentially the same as, like, let's say a dog brain. A dog brain and human brain work in the moment. And, and our brain is, is, is, is constantly, um, sort of extrapolating forwards in time in milliseconds. Okay. And, and, and the, the thinking brain is playing catch up, you know, a second or two later.
Uh, so, so what I'm, what I'm, I'm getting to is that when someone hears a word like vax, or anti-vax, it's an immediate trigger for, is that person in my tribe or out of my tribe. And they couldn't really, they, they'd also arrive at that through logic. They arrive at that, through who they feel most comfortable with. And if you've been looking at CNN or CNBC and reading the New York Times, you're, you're part of that blue tribe. And frankly, that blue tribe is predominant in, you know, Stanford and Harvard and MIT and, and, and, and the skeptics tend to be not of that tribe, but they tend to be more of the blue tribe, but people instantly make a judgment as to which tribe you belong to. You know?
So, um, no matter how many facts you, uh, argue about, people will choose to either think of you as part of the tribe or not part of the tribe. And it it's, it's, it's instant, it's instant. And, um, I mean, people might think that they're sort of giving you the, the, the benefit of the doubt, but they're waiting to hear the trigger words that I call tribal banners, you know, does he believe in science? Does he not believe in science? Uh, does he, does he believe in viruses or does he think that they're sort of some crazy, some crazy idea?
And, and, and so when, when you have your discussion with, um, James Heathers, it'll be, it won't be one will be one and lost on facts. It will be one on sort of personality and, and who can come up with, uh, the clipped most appealing, most lovable sort of way of looking at things.
ALEX:
Sure. So let me, um, I think we, this was also part of your, um, partly a piece on Better Skeptics earlier, and it actually triggered some thinking in me about the perhaps errors I made in communicating, uh, what that was supposed to be about, because I, um, I think this, uh, falls into an ecology of, you know, we need to be objective or, you know, we need to be unbiased. And, you know, that is sort of part of the, or the old world that we are realizing. You know, we all know to some degree that that is a silly notion to be carrying around, right. That we can be objective. Uh, this is one of the main ideas I've been sort of bringing up over and over again, that if reality is objective, then we are not, and we cannot be. And a map is not the territory, right.
We all carry a map and our map is custom made for us and by us, and it will differ. It is a compression, it is a, it is a loss of fidelity of the underlying thing. And that is totally okay by the way. Right? So, uh, the Better Skeptics project, um, I, I should have been a lot clearer. I, I did, I believe I did say it, but I, it should have been my first sentence, every time I opened my mouth, that it is for me. And, and, uh, first and foremost, and because it was for me, uh, I, it was a, for an audience of one I wanted for myself to know if this person that I... So I, you know, I fancy myself a fact-checker okay. Or like, not a fact checker necessarily, but being able to process information and find logical flaws.
And then I had, so this was puzzling to me because I have this body of knowledge here. Um, that is A) very different from, you know, what's coming from, you know, the surrounding atmosphere and B) I cannot find flaws with, right. This was my predicament. Uh I'm like, I can't Pierce it. It doesn't mean my normal tricks are not working. Um, but it's disagreeing with everybody else and their attacks on this thing I can take apart.
I tried myself, you know, I think you've seen some of my work there, and I'm like, this is not, this is not working right. And this is why we called it Better Skeptics, because I said, we need better. These skeptics are, are not very good. We need better ones if we're gonna make any progress on understanding this distance. Right? And again, the audience is really me plus whoever else wants to understand it for what it is.
Um, so it's not really about, uh, convincing the mainstream though. I'll get to that. Um, and so since then, uh, this is the underlying, um, motivator for me, at least is not necessarily to try and convince. I think if you, if you do that, you, you you've lost already in, in, in a way it is to play with ideas, try to understand the underlying structures. And every once in a while, you're given an opportunity to sort of move a piece somehow, right.
Because while I do agree that the mainstream already has their minds made up and they get made up, uh, not the mainstream, just everybody, including ourselves, you know, we, we, we save our brains, our power saving devices first and foremost, right. They don't waste, you know, calories for fun. Um, um, so everybody relies on heuristics that are like, you know, twitch-fast.
Uh, so, so that's, that's totally, uh, okay by me, but at the same time. So my, my, my first sort of entry into this conversation was to list out, um, all the narrative shifts I could remember. Right? Um, because somehow there's a magical element that happens where, you know, we all agree that, um, for instance, to talk about things that are in my field, uh, you know, in the, in the, in the early 2000s, or maybe even in the late 90s open source is cancer was sort of a thing that was being broadly broadcasted via the media, right.
By, by all, even the technology media, you know, by Steve Ballmer. And oh, if you use it in your company, it's going to destroy, it's going to steal your IP and you're going to infect, you know, they were, they were basically taking certain legal terms and turning them into a whole narrative that like just went broader and broader and sort of absorbed the whole world.
Um, and then, you know, something happened, right. Some, some events, uh, unfolded. Um, and now that, that idea sounds-- did any, like, if you say it to somebody who wasn't around at the time to live that they're like, people really thought that? Come on now... they can't be as bad as you say. Right?
And it's like, no, I was there. You know, it was really, really bad, but somehow it flipped. Right. So, so that somehow it flipped is the, is the moment that, you know, this kind of, is it a, is it a critical mass thing? Is it a, uh, “Butterfly in Beijing” thing? I don't know what it is, but there are. And, and, and, and I agree with you that the opinions of, you know, my parents at home probably don't matter in the grand scheme of things, you know, they're not going to be that butterfly, maybe they're going to, maybe they are, but like most likely it doesn't feel like that's it, but there are some people somewhere whose opinions can matter.
And, and maybe you can, you can try to inch them towards something over time. Uh, and, and also, I think maybe it's not as, um, as, as, as, um, step-wise, as we, as we think, right. Maybe things happen. Um, maybe you shift somebody, you know, uh, by a centimeter, uh, or an inch depending, uh, you know, a little bit, maybe they, they they're like, well, you know, this, this, this person is an idiot, but they take one thing, one little thing away, and maybe it stays in the back of their head. Right. And maybe it drives them to challenge to other things, and maybe that's your victory, but, um, yeah, that's, that's the, I don't know if this helps you understand where I'm coming from…
TOM:
Absolutely, absolutely.
ALEX:
It’s partly play. And partly my, my goals are far lower than they might appear.
TOM:
Yeah. Well, I, I, I, I think that what you're doing is actually a lot more important then, uh, what you, um, are aspiring to do, uh, because it, it is important that, um, as a society, we can talk about therapies and we can actually trust physicians, not, not as, uh, as representatives of, um, sort of a drug company or the government, or sort of a talking point, but we can trust physicians because they can actually, um, look at us as a patient with their many, many years of, uh, ex uh, expertise,. And look at our unique situation, look at the actual facts about a specific drug or a therapy, and, and that they can make a good decisions, good judgments, and actually show us a little love, um, because, uh, as is repeated, you know, as, as, as evidence so often it's, it's actually, uh, the sympathy and the love that is probably, uh, for, in many elements, far more powerful as a, as a treatment than, than a natural chemical.
Um, and so we, you know, what you're, what you're doing is, um, sort of breaking down, I think some of the crazy tribal narratives that we've, um, that many people have started to embrace, because they don't realize, frankly, that at one point they were well-meaning ideas, you know, that vaccines are good and they're going to save us. And Fauci I'm sure, you know, came into this whole thing, thinking he was going to end up with a, um, a Nobel Peace Prize. You know, he's gonna save the Western , save the world.
ALEX:
Maybe do the three-peat, you know: medicine, peace, and a new one for him.
TOM:
You know, he, he, um, you know, he obviously did some things that in hindsight were verging on evil with the gain of function, um, financing as to exactly how much he knew and, and so on. Uh, who knows at this point. But one little lie or sort of gravitate to, to, um, to others and, and, and the hope for saving the world sort of has become self-reinforcing and it's turned into, frankly, what, for me, it doesn't look any different from propaganda, um, because it's now government, uh, at a government level. Now I don't want to get, I don't want to get, um, controversial about this. I mean, we're all...

How do we improve how we dialog and find answers as a species?

ALEX:
It’s okay. We're gonna, we're gonna, we're gonna, that's gonna just happen, you know, we should, uh, um, go there as far as we need go there, uh, to, to, to explore because to me, all of this is a case study, right? In a way, it is finding the right answer to some of these questions that we're dealing with is important.
But I think to me most important is how do we find answers as a species? Like, that's the problem that I am preoccupied with. Um, and there's most real, I don't know if it's visible, but this is the, the, the, the, the, the problem I've been handling in tide. Balena how does a team come to the best possible solution for a problem-- complex problem?
And the problem I've been, and I think I've transferred some of my skills to the outside and say, how do we do that as a species? How do we answer complex questions? Because if anything, and I, and I think you probably will agree with me on this. Um, there's going to be more of this, right? This is not the last difficult question were gonna be facing.
TOM:
I think, I think the most important skill that one needs in running a company, selling things, or even running a country, um, or, uh, or dealing with matters, like this is the ability to have a dialogue, you know, the dialogus, that the ancient Greeks were, um, sort of proponents of. And we, for whatever reason, because of this sort of digitized world that we're in, we've lost that ability to really listen and to realize that every word that we use is socially constructed and every word means a different thing to different people, depending on their background and the situation. Um, and, and the, the context that it's being used in.
So you know, when we need those skills, we need those skill. We need to relearn those skills. And, and, and, and, you know, as a, uh, President/CEO of a corporation, sometimes it's the hardest thing to do to listen to people, but it, but it is the most powerful tool that you have.
And if you can get everyone around you to actually genuinely listen to each other and genuinely listen to customers, you have a successful organization. It's when you fall into tropes, uh, that things fall apart because you start then becoming dishonest with yourself and with each other.
So, um, yeah, I mean, this, this is absolutely transferable, not only to organizations, but to societies and, and, and I believe it has political implications because frankly, uh, politicians and, and also educators have of, I think, lost, lost direction in that they imagine that education is all about sort of imparting facts and knowledge, rather than empowering individuals to be who they want to be and wanting to be something, uh, fantastic. Um, so you're getting kids coming out of school now, and they, you know, they're impossible to work with because they've lost, you know, they they've lost the will...

Can we keep up with how social media is changing our neurophysiology and how our brain works?

ALEX:
It's almost, it's, it's almost that we, there are certain things that may have been going the other way as well. We listened too much in, in, in some ways we, we, we over, uh, we over-weight a certain, um, you know, negative emotions, for instance, like nobody should feel them. And it's like, no, they're not. We call them negative emotions. That's a word, right. Again, I think I'm coming to your, to your, the way you're thinking about that's a negative emotion. You shouldn't feel it. It's like, well, no, we call it negative. It's, it's a survival emotion is what it is. And it's been there for a very long time.
My sense is that we, we, we, we find certain emotions that we, we, we think are our, we ignore and then other emotions that we over, uh, you know, over focus on and there's certain things happening. But the, the, the, the, the, the question I had for you is to what degree do you think this is new in reality? And to what degree is it new to our attention?*
Like, to what degree is it that this is always the case, but we're just now seeing it versus this is actually a new, um, situation that is just now like, has started happening recently.
TOM:
Yeah. I, I, I agree with, um, what Jonathan Haidt has been talking about in, and, and other intellectuals. Um, and, and, you know, what he, what he says is that, uh, we got these new tools and social media, uh, between 2008 and 2012, sort of completely changed the psychology of, of, um, particularly young adults, you know, teenagers. Technologies this powerful and changes this powerful, generally take several centuries to, for us to digest.
And we, you know, we need as a society to, to know the barriers, know what's safe, what's unsafe and come to a collective agreement as to what reasonable behavior is. And, uh, a decade is not enough for us to be able to figure out, um, you know, what is reasonable online?
Um, who, who can we trust? Uh, is it reasonable? I mean, I love, I love Google. I use it pretty much every second of the day. I use all their tools, but, but, but is it, is it reasonable that Google, um, has some young kid making a judgment as to what is on or not on, you know, YouTube and email and, and all of the other platforms that they control?
I mean, it, you know, is, is that, is that reasonable and how do we manage that? And, uh, I personally, I'm very wary of, of the dynamics of large organizations, because as you were saying, you, you, you, you get forced fields there that aren't, um, that, that aren't driven by truth, that they're driven by people trying to keep each other happy and, and make more money on, do all of the things that drive people on as sort of a, um, a micro-moment, uh, level.
So, um, yeah, so there are huge changes and like, what your experience going on Twitter just didn't exist a decade ago.
Uh, YouTube didn't exist 20 years ago, and we have all of these, you know, unbelievably powerful tools. Um, so we're two clicks away from, you know, discovering how to build in the atomic bomb or of, uh, uh, a biological weapon. We’re also two clicks away from, you know, kindness and love and, and, um, two clicks away from amazing lectures and education. Two clicks away from horrible graphic porn that sort of, um, can really twist one's mind th th this, this is brand new and, um, hopefully we'll figure it out before society explodes. Um, because I think we're very close to that.
ALEX:
You must be familiar with Daniel Schmachtenberger, right? I imagine...
TOM:
I do! He’s got the Consilience Project. He stole my work! (laughs)
ALEX:
Well, you both, it's like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, you know, you both stole from this.
TOM:
Absolutely. Absolutely.
ALEX:
Um, so he has this thing he says about, um, uh, you know, we are, you know, acquiring the, the, the power of the gods, but without the love and wisdom of the gods approvals, self destruct, which is sort of my, uh, my concern, I think the concern of many people, um, that again have been sort of getting, uh, oh, they all been hearing, you know, the dog whistle. Not in the way that that's being used, but there's some people who are sensitive to a signal that maybe not everybody is, and they're all being attracted from the different points in the horizon, uh, to this sort of conversation, I think because of, uh, of, of seeing that fact pattern that, that, that, that is emerging. Um, and, and I, this is essentially coming back to my preoccupation. This is essentially what I am developing.
If I'm a mad scientist in my basement. I mean, I am in my basement and I am a scientist though. The madness, I suppose, is, uh, different people will evaluate it differently than that. And I don't entirely, uh, refute it either.
Um, the, the thing I'm trying to develop is, uh, you know, ways to acquire that love and wisdom of the gods. So that to go with the techno-- like this was actually part of the building. This podcast was exactly this is to talk about on the one hand, the power of the gods, like what is coming to us down the pike, technologically. And on the other hand, you know, how do we, uh, get enabled by it, but also how do we control get control over it so that it doesn't, uh, it doesn't overwhelm us and it doesn't destroy sort of our natural, um, you know, the, the, the various instincts we have to have, you know, say what you will about them. They've, they've gotten us this far. Uh, so this is really the narrative. Yeah. So go ahead. Yeah.
TOM:
I think the glimmers of hope, um, to be found on Twitter, um, pick a, because the structure of Twitter is, is, uh, tends to, uh, compartmentalize and divide and oversimplify. I mean, I was deeply fascinated, and I'm sure you've seen this, the exchange between Joe Rogan and Sanjay Gupta about, um, you know, about horse paste and, um, and, and, and what was fascinating
there was to see two people that, um, are really far apart on apparently far apart on sort of significant matters relating to, um, sort of COVID therapies. And, and, and, and indeed Joe Rogan didn't really hold back. You know, I, I just, I just can't forget some of the, you know, the, the, the, the devilish things he was saying, you know, I couldn't afford people, medicine...
ALEX:
And then I will say, however, that was a far better conversation, like, uh, uh, the, the clip sounded a lot worse than it was, it was far more sort of chummy, I think.
TOM:
I mean, so that's my point, that's my point. So then two and a half hours, or however long it was Sanjay Gupta. And Joe Rogan basically had a meeting of the minds and now Sanjay got to, he went back to CNN and talked to Don lemon, and he basically sort of, um, walked back or all of the progress. Um, but, but, um, th th the hope is coming from these long-form podcasts and videos, like by Lex Friedman and, and, and, um, and Joe Rogan and who, who knows like them, they're popping up all over the place…
ALEX:
..and you might be in one right now!
TOM:
There you go! And, and they're dead in many cases, like super intelligent. And, and I find them, I mean, beyond fascinating. And I, I love, I haven't done it for a while, but getting on Clubhouse and, and, uh, sort of dialoguing with people who, uh, you have completely, you know, different viewpoints.
And I, I think if there's more of that, there's hope, um, and, and, and here's, this is going to sound pretty strange, um, because I'm a marketing guy and I've spent that 35 odd years crafting crafty little messages, you know, that, that, uh, change people's minds. We've got to become a lot more, um, alert and sensitive to how our minds can be played. And we have to be a lot, you know, to use your term, we have to become better skeptics, um, not, not in terms of really of, you know, picking one side of an article or argument or the other, but, um, in smelling the odor of a cleverly crafted talking point, because they can be evil, they turn into evil.

What are the consequences of neglecting our principles, open thought, and running things with solely “good intentions”?

ALEX:
And, and the, the thing about evil, um, you know, there's the, the, the book by Hannah Arendt there, the, the, the banality of, of, of evil. I think there's also the emergence of evil. Um, one of the rules I've been sort of observing, and, uh, I'd love to hear what you think about this in my attempting to understand various difficult questions is “no sociopaths.”
Um, which is that, uh, whenever, um, I have a complicated question about, like, why did this person do this? Or, you know, how did, how does that system operate in that way? You know, it, it, it's such so available to say like sociopaths, it's almost like “witches!” You know, um, to, to, to, to just attribute that, oh, well, there's some people who are not well, and they are in the wrong places, you know, whatever. Um, I found it extremely, um, uh, to, to yield great results for myself, uh, to just not, it's like a highway and there's that, it's an exit.
It offers itself up. It's like, you could go, you could take this exit. And it's like, no, I will continue going. I will, I will refuse the solution, even though I can, I can understand it almost on principle because it's, it's, it's dumbing things down.
And, and, and what I've been finding is more and more is situations where everybody can have the best of intentions. Um, and yet the result is, uh, and, and, and in a way that is perhaps the most depressing, uh, outcome, you know, because you can, you know, when they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I I've really, really see that at an incredible depth of how everybody can have the best of intentions. And if you don't, if you've abandoned your principles, um, entering, you know, uh, like, uh, oh, it's a pandemic, it's a crisis. It's a, this it's that throw out the principles. It's like, if you don't have one of the things I've been saying, if you don't have principles in a crisis, you don't have principles.
It's not, that's the whole point. They're not contextual. Um, but, but I, I dunno when we think about this, that, that, that a lot of the times what we see as an end result that is, you know, most people will agree is sort of really distasteful. Um, you can get there by just bad structures and good people.
TOM:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think it sort of ties into sort of a bottom up thinking. Um, and, and, um, when I, when I hear people talking about conspiracy theories, I tend to not go along with that because conspiracy theories in first that there's some masterminds who are nefarious and evil, and indeed there are people who are sociopaths and narcissists.
Um, but, but I think a better way to think about it is we all have the capabilities to be sociopaths and narcissists, and sociopaths and narcissists also can be, um, you know, loving and kind and generous. Uh, we have to recognize the shadow in ourselves. And, um, when, when you look at sort of the world from the bottom up and organizations from the bottom up governments, from the bottom up, what, what you generally see is that people tend to want to work together with other people, uh, cooperatively.
They want to be liked. We all want to be accepted in light. And so, consequently, you know, you, you, I, you know, let's say I see something slightly dumb. Well, let's say because you're, you know, president and, and running a very successful organization, you, you say something that's slightly dumb and I, I don't want to say Alex, that's bullshit! Uh, so I go, “yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, you're absolutely right.”
And, and so those little, um, those little touch points where people are just trying to be nice to each other and get along sort of become amplified and, and, um, you know, it happens with organizations in their products. Uh, I'm I'm sure no one in Pfizer sort of has sort of super nefarious, uh, uh, aims, you know, the, the president, he wants to keep all of the stockholders happy, the employees happy, he wants to, uh, serve up therapies that are gonna save the world.
Like we're all generally trying to do the right thing. And when people do the right thing and they try and keep each other happy, it frankly can, you know, it can lead to world wars. It can lead to genocide, it can lead to the destruction of, um, civilizations. And that's why he had just, uh, just to be horrible about everything. You know, when I hear Steven Pinker talking about rationality and what it is and why it seems scarce and why it matters, do you know his latest book? And I hear him chit-chatting with Jonathan Haidt and, uh, um, and, uh, my friend, who's not my friend, but someone, I deeply respect Jordan Peterson. Um, it, it really bugs me because he sounds so smug.
“You know, everything's been getting better. Uh, we're all becoming more reasonable, more rational. And, and that's the way it's going to continue because rationality has got to win out…” That, that I find such a dangerous sentiment. Um, but of course you see Jonathan Haidt and Jordan Peterson, who should be like shaking their heads and going, no, no, no, no, that this is, this is the road to self destruction. Um, because that's exactly what Jordan Peterson, uh, you know, is an expert in, but, but they don't!
They, you know, if you listen to their YouTube video, they recorded, you know, fairly recently. And, um, the end of October, you know, that they're all agreeing with each other. So, you know what you're saying? And I think, I think what you're saying and what I'm certainly saying is that because we're nice to each other, we agree with each other. And, um, you know, we, we, it makes us smug!
ALEX:
And let things slip, right? We'll let little things slip that we see, and we shouldn't have let slip, but they're right there and you, you're not going to interrupt exactly the president, the CEO, the VP, the SVP, the, whatever to say that that was wrong. Right?
Um, and, um, it's a matter of culture. It's a matter of all sorts of things, but that one little detail, then you remind also we'll airbrush it from your, even from your memory. Um, and then somehow it becomes relevant at the worst. You know, Murphy's Law is not to be, you know, it's not to be underestimated. And I think we very often say, as you say, things are going to get better because they have been getting better and maybe they have been getting better because we didn't expect them to get better. And now that we do expect them to get better, you know, if we start over relying on that fact, um, is one of those times...
TOM:
And here's where I think a long view of history is so important. And not only, not only in the fall of civilizations and the fall of countries, um, uh, but also actually in our perspectives about medicine. I mean, if you study medicine over the long run, it's absolutely astonishing how at every stage the doctors, the people in authority are unbelievably confident in what they know.
The four humours, you know, for 1500 years was the way of, uh, understanding what was happening in the human body and that sort of jive with the physics of the time. And, you know, the, the idea that the blood and phlegm and black bile and yellow bile was sort of...
ALEX:
We use these words in Greek, right? These are, when you say a melancholic. Melan is black and choli, is one of the organs that are...
TOM:
No, no, yes. That was mainstream science. And so consequently like, uh, bloodletting was mainstream science and everyone was 100% convinced that that was the right way to go about.
ALEX:
And don’t listen to the anti-- what is it? Uh, anti-blood-letters!
TOM:
Yeah. Yeah. And, and so once you even look back, you know, 20 years ago, 50 years ago, a hundred years ago, um, and you realize how many therapies are reversed and there's a lovely book by, uh, Prasad called Ending Medical Reversal. It was a book that they published in 2015, you know, you, you read that and that it sort of, um, it encouraged you to be humble, everyone, experts, to be humble about what they know or don't know. And that, and that's, that's my view of the whole sort of COVID, uh, pandemic and the vaccines and everything-- it's like right now, I don't profess to sort of, to know. I think it'll take another five, 10, maybe 20 years before we could actually look at the data and, and, and evaluate it without getting sort of wrapped up in, in, uh, sort of tribal perspectives.
Um, and, and, and the longer run, you know, it, it, it bugs me that, um, the academics in North America who are sort of sealed off in, in their universities, don't have a sense of, um, you know, how evil people can be. And, and, and many, many immigrants in North America, uh, have come here to escape evil regimes, um, or their forebears have been gassed or tortured or whatever, you know, from South America, from Europe, from Southeast Asia.
So, so many of us, actually not me. I, you know, I'm fortunate coming from another country, but it's hardly ever, well, since 1066, hasn't been invaded, you know, so we're, we're in North America, we're extraordinarily privileged. Um, and we forget, uh, how, how things can go badly wrong, even when people don't mean to be evil. I mean, no, no, no, none of those rules like Mao and Stalin or Hitler, I mean, they didn't go into this whole thing thinking they were evil. They thought they were actually helping. Um, so we, we shouldn't, we shouldn't forget that.
ALEX:
I think that's an extremely important point that needs to be drilled into people that, um, you know, how does it feel to be wrong exactly. Like it feels to be right.
You know, how does it feel to be evil exactly like being the kindest person you know.
Um, and, and, and, and that is something that I think people will have a very, very hard time, uh, accepting. Um, but I also know, again, from my team and, and parents understand that, I think intuitively that sometimes you're to be, if you're as responsible as a caretaker, sometimes you have to do something that will be perceived as perhaps, you know, unkind, right. Uh, and, and not nice in order because you are actually caring for the longer run. You, you are actually the way you are nice is by not doing that, playing that game of like, “yeah, that's fine.” You know? Okay.
TOM:
Yeah, absolutely. If you're going to love someone that doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to like you, um, and, and you'll, you'll find, you know, when, when you're bringing up your, your son, that they're probably moments when, um, you know, he'll hate you. Um, but that's fine, you know, that's, that's, that's part of the rough and tumble of life. That's what makes it fun.
And, um, you, if you're honest with yourself and you can face the shadow in yourself, you can become not only a great father, but you can remain a great leader. And, uh, yeah. You know, it all starts with, um, a comprehension of oneself. And then that spins out, you know, to those around one, you know, I'm making it sound like, you know, I'm an honorable person. And I, and I, I don't want to profess to be that cause I, I like, um, sort of spinning through my life, um, making loads of things and having fun.

Is consilience the opposite of gatekeeping?

ALEX:
So actually, uh, to throw you in a completely different direction, you mentioned, you know, uh, civilization and how, uh, the, these ideas are on consilience and around sort of, you know, consilience, to me is kind of almost the opposite of gatekeeping, right? It is the expelling of, of, of gatekeepers and silos and, and, and sort of vertical lines, um, or, or maybe re reintegrating them in, on some different plane, but definitely not these ones that we're working with here.
Um, but I, I, I wonder what you think about, how could, do you have any thoughts at all? And you might say no, uh, about how, you know, governance could be adapted to the insights of consilience. What is an enlightened ruler, uh, or set of rulers, or is it a self-ruling group? I don't know how to-- how do we apply governance in light of the insights that, uh, consilience gives us?
TOM:
Yeah, That's... that's an important question. And, um...
ALEX:
You said you wanted to make light...
TOM:
So people who read my book, um, people who read my book, uh, if they get through it, because it's, uh, it has a lot of sort of science effects. It has a lot of biology, has a lot of history, a lot of, uh, um, mathematics. It, you know, I, I attempt to sort of weave a lot of different things together and that makes, uh, the ideas accessible to people. But, but I, I really do believe that, um, the, the idea of consilience enables one to completely reconfigure how one, uh, approaches everything because it concerns the human mind with which we sort of use pretty much for everything.
And, and, and so I think that it's the start actually, I'll, I'll say this, um, and quite a few people who have read the book, don't read it once they read it two, three, four, five-- I one guy read it five times. Um, and he believes it's like a massively important and transformative book. And the reason you almost need to read it five times is because I, it's not prescriptive.
Um, there is a chapter, however, on education. And, um, and I, and I believe that the sort of the ideas and the principles can be spun into, um, you know, how, how we teach people to, um, sort of live and, and to take command of their life. And, um, I believe the, I believe consilience sort of changes the lens by which one can judge sort of political, uh, progress. And, and, and by that, I mean, I have absolutely no time for this sort of left wing versus right wing, you know, communism and socialism versus capitalism. I have no time for that because I don't believe it's representative of where we are, and where we need to be, uh, or the sophistication of the discussions that we need.
Uh, I think, uh, a far more productive way of sort of judging whether something is good or bad is, does that organization or law or thing, um, empower individuals to lead a productive and meaningful lives, you know? Is, is it providing the playing field and the rules that enable people to get on and do their sweet thing and, um, prosper or mess up, um, you know? Give, give people the freedom to do that.
And it's not a left or right-wing type of thing. And it's, it's not even libertarian because libertarians don't believe in rules. And I think we need rules, we need codes of behavior, but it, but it's got to come from the bottom up. And so, uh, you know, when, when I'm attacked on Twitter as being right-wing, it's very evident that no, one's actually read the fricking book, um, because...
ALEX:
What's the word it's just, uh, it's just like, um, you know, and, and, uh, 20, 30 years ago that I'm not going to repeat the certain terms, but they had an overt meaning in a covert meeting, You throw it around. It's fine.
TOM:
So I, I think consilience, um, once one gets one's head around, um, the implications or changes, uh, w how one views education, um, and how one should be equipping children to, um, to not think in silos, but to develop skills. I mean, you know, we need skills: the skills to analyze and think, and, and, uh, to, to conduct oneself in a positive manner. We need the skills to make things and program things. And, and, and, and, and, but, you know, become, uh, parents, if indeed that's what you want to do. And, um, becoming a productive and, uh, um, decent members of a community.
Uh, it, you know, it's gotta be built from the bottom up and anything that, uh, professors to put in a system or, uh, create a, sort of a power structure that somehow looks after one, um, is, is destined to fail because of the, the, the, the craziness and the dynamics of organizations they eventually, um, become self-serving and, uh, and poisonous. And so you, you know, we've got to, we've got to be careful with that.
ALEX:
I think this has been my way into this conversation, honestly. Uh, I, I've been thinking about organizations for maybe a good decade, maybe more, maybe less, depending on where you draw the line, but, um, the, you know, the, this, this, the insanity they can, they can emerge from, you know, uh, well-meaning people, plus people just, you know, doing their job and, you know, this is not my job description type, you know, a line drawing. And, you know, one of the things we say inside balena is like, you know, the, the process is not an excuse for anything, you know, you can't say “I followed the process. There was always terrible, but I follow the process!”
No-- the process that would help the result, if the result is not good, you're supposed to pull the cord, but many, many, many places they don't even understand uh, Goodhart's law, that, that if you create an incentive, um, you know... we still have laws that say that if you make $600, you get a, you know, a stipend, and if you make $601, you do not this, you know, which is absolute madness, but they're there, they're in the books. You know, this is well known. Well, understood. You can explain to somebody in 20 minutes, right? That, that is absolutely insane idea yet. We're still doing it.
Like the... our organizational structures are 100, maybe 200. I don't know how many hundreds of years behind what we know today. Um, just in, we can... these are ideas that are simple, are not talking about complexity, science, or recursion here. We're talking, you know, like we're talking about things that everybody understands and day-to-day life in their lives, but we don't... we've given up on expecting them from our organization.
So, um, that's been my way into this situation because I don't, maybe I don't understand biology, but I do understand how incentives and people and organizations work and how you might get a, uh, like a uniform voice from a group of people, right? That might say, this is right, or this is wrong yet, they might all privately somehow believe some, a different lens to more current, uh, or there with, um, preference falsification, uh, comes into that as well. But, you know, these are things that you understand from our organizational perspective.
And, and to me that have been very obvious, but again, and maybe this might also be consilience related because the, um, in, in, in networking, we have these things called checksums, right? They, you send a package, um, and there's a, there's a tale that tells you all the bits should add up to one. You might not know what is being carried, right? You might not know the biology, but you know, the organizational structure. And you can maybe if you know the biology, but not the organizational structure, you can conclude that this is wrong. And you can also see it from an organizational perspective and not from a value perspective that this is wrong, right? You… all true facts align, you, you will actually end up the same conclusion no matter where you come into it from, um, if you follow the, if you follow the thread.
TOM:
Yeah, I think this is a very exciting, this is a very exciting time, uh, because there are so many, uh, like tools that we can use Blockchain, and GitHub and, and, and, and YouTube, and ways of sort of sharing content and, and videos and so on. Uh, it, that there's, there's so much potential, but there's also so much potential for misusing them.

How consilience can help us root out what might destroy us

And, and I think where consilience can help is that it gives us, um, ways of figuring out which parts are potentially, uh, massively destructive and evil. You know, when, when, when you're sort of, um, passing off responsibility to, you know, someone that's sort of above one who has sort of, um, been anointed with expertise, it's extremely, in my view, it's extremely dangerous.
And, and this, if I'm going to talk, talk about sort of different realms coming together, I believe that that is linked very much to what I believe is sort of a biological factor.
Um, and, and sort of a fairly recent discovery. Although I haven't seen it written about it at all in that, uh, I think that the human propensity to, uh, live and work in groups, uh, is deeply plumbed into our brain and, and as emergent from what I call the parenting instinct and the being parented instinct.
So, you know, like young mammals, uh, get extraordinarily stressed when they're separated from their parents. Uh, and, and you see that with your, you know, your, your son, you know, sticking it, sticking him in a playground, and walk away and see what happens.
ALEX:
As long as his mom was there, he doesn't seem to mind… (laughter)
TOM:
It's right from probably celebrating you walking away, but once you both walk away and, and, and within seconds, you know, you see the stress levels go way up. Um, and then the parenting instinct is, uh, you know, that, that, that instinct that we lash out at people that are threatening sort of our offspring, our family, and that, you know, that that's part of the, the mammalian brain. And that's, that's the root of, uh, human society. It's though those genes continue to express themselves, or, you know, those mechanisms continue to express themselves into adulthood.
So we get extremely stressed out if we're ejected from our tribe. And you see that in organizations. You can make someone miserable by, uh, singling them out or firing them or whatever. Um, and, you know, we love to be loved-- all of us. And we also, many of us, uh, to some degree, at least one, uh, want to be looked up to and parents, you know, we want to be the parent.
So I think the consilience is, you know, you've got all of this incredible technology that you, that you're using new ways of thinking about organizations, and I'm saying, oh, well, you know, you can understand those things and how they manifest themselves by understanding some of the uncomfortable realities of our, our brain, um, and, and our social proclivities as it's pretty weird going all these different directions at once.
ALEX:
I mean, I don't know if you've been how you've, you know, you know, Daniel Schmachtenberger or so, I don't know how much you've been exposed to Game B uh, ideas or the concept, but one of the, the way I explain it at least is, um, that, you know, we w we, what we are trying to do, um, is sort of almost go back to go forward, uh, because we used to have only win-win, you know, the, the tribe's tank take care of each other in a far more organic way. And we used to have, um, uh, anti-fragility, you know, try again, tribes live together and die together. So that was very much, uh, the feedback loop. There was pretty real. Um, and with our success at scaling, which is the third thing you want, right? We have almost, we've been victims of our own success.
We've lost, anti-fragility, we've lost Omni win-win. Um, and now we have to, somehow to go forward, we have to go back and recover the, like, the way I describe it to my team, because we are a firmer company, uh, is the human firmware, right? Like we have these instincts, but what you're referring to. We need to somehow marry them with this world that we're in and almost through technology leapfrog into the future, you know, with, um, bringing these instincts back.
So it's, it's, it's the project, what makes me excited and optimistic, and maybe you can see it in my, in my, in my mannerisms is that, um, you know, there, I see a path where that can happen, where we can recognize what we have been always doing in a way, and it's always there in the background, right. Whether we do a lot of it or a little of it, um, and, and make it a thing, you know, actually like accept it and recognize it and bring it to the fore. And, and, and maybe even use this keyhole of Twitter, the way I understand Twitter is like, you're, you're trying to perform, you know, surgery through keyhole. Um, you got, you know, the characters, but that's kind of the fun of it, um, to, to trigger some of that. Like, I don't, I don't know exactly how it's going to come together, but it really feels like this marriage of the old and the new is kind of what has to somehow occur.
TOM:
Yeah. Um, yeah, it, you know, I like Benjamin Boyce, because you were on Benjamin Boyce’s podcast, and he was expressing some optimism about the, um, the contributions of, of entrepreneurs. And I think, I think these ideas are gonna the can transform society are going to come from the likes of you. I mean, I'm an old guy, so I'm I'm. So just now sort of, um, backing off my due. I did write my book because I, I think it's necessary that we understand ourselves better.
And, and, and, uh, I think it it's, it it's necessary for academia to realize, um, when I say academia, I mean, it's not one big monstrosity, but for aspects of academia have just completely gone wacko. And, and we need to, uh, point that out and, and enable the saner people to come to the fore. But, you know, I'm like Benjamin Boyce who expressed that optimism.
And I think, I think it's guys like you and organizations like you and, and, and the Daniel Schmachtenbergers of the world and, and the sensemakers, uh, you know, including Rebel Wisdom and Dave Fuller, and, uh, Peter Limburg at the store in Toronto here, you know, who are, are going to show us the way forward. And, uh, and I'm, I wish I could say I'm optimistic. I think we're racing against, uh, um, unstoppable forces, unfortunately, that are political and evil. Um, not, not, not deliberately evil, but it's, it's, it's, uh, it's potentially incendiary of what we're facing. And I, and I hope I really, really hope that, um, we figure out a way forward.
ALEX:
The, the, um, this is something that's been, you know, of course tormenting me as well. And the way I think about it is look, it's the, the, the, the, the same way I proved to myself that, uh, solipsism isn't worth working with is that, well, you know, I'm in my head, right? Um, either everything is an illusion, or it's not, if it's an illusion, that's a path worth, not worth taking it. I mean, I can't make any conclusions about it. So might as well just ignore that one, assume things are real.
So the same way I exit this situation is to say, well, okay, it's either going to all explode in which case, you know, that's, that's was that, you know, you know, the, the Looney Tunes sort of, “That's all folks!” sort of pops up, which is not an eventuality worth, you know, spending a lot of gray matter on because, well, if that happens, that happens.
So that's why I'm almost treating it as an assumption that we'll get somewhere better. And the question is, how do we get there? How do we minimize the damage? How do we increase the likelihood that we get there? Um, but that there is a, there, there is almost an article of faith for me. And, and, and if only because, you know, like Sudoku, you know, you, you eliminate the possibilities that don't get you anywhere.
TOM:
Yeah. I agree that we shouldn't be sort of retreating to our basement and doing just Yoga and Tai Chi and becoming dissociated from the world. That's, that's, that's not going to help.
Um, I do however, think that, uh, it's necessary to recognize dangers, um, and, and not hide from them. And that I believe is a reality that we, um, that I'm not seeing enough of. I'm not seeing enough awareness of, uh, the, uh, the lessons of history. People don't seem to be interested in that, or, or they, they just use it as a tool to justify the, you know, their preconceptions.
So we need, uh, you know, like when you rock climb or backcountry ski, or, uh, you know, do say sailing or whatever it is, you anticipate accidents. And so therefore you, uh, have safety equipment that will save you.
And, and, and we need, we need that anti-fragility we need. We need the safety equipment. Uh, we need to prevent ourselves from going too close to the precipice. Um, so yeah, yeah, let's, let's, let's not hide in the basement. Let's acknowledge the dangers and let's create the tools. Uh, absolutely.
And I, I personally, um, I'm actually very skeptical of, of, um, sort of using too many words and, and the whole, uh, sort of self-help movement and, um, and, and the sensemaking movement. I think it's, it's become too, too intellectual a lot of the time. And, and, and I think, I think there should be a lot more emphasis on excuse the language, but getting shit done, you know?
ALEX:
Absolutely. I actually, this is one of the reasons I admire Elon Musk because, you know, he can talk for a long time if he wants to, but what I feel is one of his on... so I consider Elon Musk's companies to be operating at the peak of what is possible with the old paradigm, right? So I'm not saying he has solved the hard problems, but he has taken everything possible of the old paradigm and tuned it to the max.
And one of the things he does really well is to up the ambition, always up the ambition, never let the capabilities of his teams catch up to what he's asking them to do, because that's when people start looking inward and looking at each other. It's like, “what do you have more than me?” And like letting other things intrude.
And that's why I think we should always have, uh, uh, an objective that is, um, just at the, you know, at the boundary of what we can dream almost, um, if not accomplish, um, because we need to be sort of future facing outward facing forward, facing whatever you, wherever you want to put that, the other next thing. But, but the, the inward element can be useful. It's almost like, you know, uh, you broken a limb and you need to rest for a little bit, but it can't be your main mode of, um, interacting with the world. I mean, that, that would be like living your life in a hospital that, you know, some people have to do that, but that's not, you know what everybody should, you know, nobody would say like, that's how we should be living our lives.
TOM:
Absolutely, absolutely. I'm with you. And, and I, um, I wish there were more Elon Musks in the world. I think...
ALEX:
It is kind of embarrassing that there's only one of him, yeah. As a species...
TOM:
Yeah. You know, he he's got enough wins, uh, that are adequate for, I would say a dozen people. I mean, you know, to build a car company like he's done and to send rockets into space and build light networks of satellites. I mean, it's just, it's beyond astonishing what he's been able to achieve. And so he must be using, um, some unbelievable management techniques to get all of those things done. I don't, I really don't know much about him.
ALEX:
Actually, it's funny because, um, I think the, I was, um, into, uh, I was almost ready to sort of understand the situations because I've been, uh, very much following Elon and the way I describe it to people, it was like, if I was a basketball player, I'd be studying Michael Jordan, but I'm an entrepreneur, so, you know, that's the equivalent.
Um, but I was studying him and the misinformation that was sort of directed towards him, which felt completely unfair. Right. And I'm not one for just always like averaging out the points of view and things saying like, well, you know, the truth is always somewhere in the middle. I really needed to get to the bottom of it.

How did Tom get into consilience?

Um, so, so I think that's where I, I cut, I cut my teeth a lot, but, um, one of the questions I had for you for you similarly, is how did you find your way into this conversation? How did you sort of get in the, because I saw, uh, I saw you around Better Skeptics and then with your commentary and we've been interacting since, but what was, what was the backstory there? I'd love to hear that, that part.
Speaker 2: (01:53:45)
Oh, okay. Well, the back the backstory starts actually probably when I was a kid and that, you know, I was fascinated with science, but then I, um, loved making stuff, you know, like yourself, um, amplifiers and, and electronic stuff and stuff out of clay and word, and, uh, turning chess sets out of aluminum and, uh, making kayaks out of fiberglass. I mean, I just loved making stuff.
Um, and then I, you know, early, even before my career got started, I became a sous chef in France. And so I, I, I became just fascinated by food and, and, and then I went into, you know, study neurophysiology, and then I went into marketing. And I love marketing because it, it sort of enabled me to, um, to use my ability to not concentrate on any specific thing for very long to, um, you know, to, to deal with technologists, and artists, and writers, and statisticians, and so on.
Um, and so that's where I started to notice the, uh, discontinuities between all of these different realms, uh, of, of human life. And, and, and, and I became sort of fixated on trying to understand that, um, mostly using science.
Then I guess in about 1998, I, uh, and I, I described this in my book. I, I started trying to write a manual for my company on total quality communications that sort of picked up some of the techniques from, uh, industry Kaizen and Six Sigma, um, because I'd seen those being, uh, used by Japanese managers of the company I was involved with in England. Um, and I, and I quickly realized that you can't use those techniques, uh, in, in the arts, uh, and in design, they just aren't applicable, but why is that?
And I, I kept sort of going deeper, like, well, if we understood our brains, scientifically, if we understood our eyes and ears scientifically, surely we can sort of get to a point where there are laws that, um, I can put in this manual so my, my, my staff can make decisions themselves and, and not sort of, they come to me and say, “Oh, you know, is this, uh, is this good enough Mr. President?” Um, and I, you know, cause I'm not, I didn't want to manage people. I wanted them to manage themselves.
So that's when I started to write the first, um, iteration of my book and it turned into an angry rant, um, sort of complaining about the short-sightedness of, um, marketing textbooks and business textbooks and books on leadership and management. Um, and that's where I, I sort of left everything because it was an unpublishable book until I guess the COVID came along. And then I started to recall sort of what I'd been learning about, uh, like way back and, and how, I guess I had begun to look at society and people in ways that were different than I was reading in the press.
Uh, I, I couldn't believe that journalists weren't understanding what was happening at a, at a level of sort of tribal identities. Uh, it just struck me that they were just sort of superficial thinkers. And so I started to write how to understand everything.
And, um, and I'd become sensitive to the gap between the complexity of a subject to scientific related subject, uh, and the headlines, uh, because I'd become interested in climate change. I'd been asked to run a seminar for some people who are interested in the details of the science, and how to transition off fossil fuels in the long-run, or how to, um, sort of communicate that the relationship between carbon dioxide and climate isn't as simple as most people believe. And I, and I realized that, um, the, what we were hearing about in the press was a very craftily, um, created story.
Um, uh, in essence, a well-meaning narrative that has become unfortunately propaganda because it's not working to solve the issue that needs to solved: which is how do we look after the environment. Importing windmills and solar panels from China isn't going to do it. Certainly not in Canada, because we don't have enough sun and wind and the winter is too damn cold.
So I, I just became, um, worried and sensitized to the gap between the complexities and the wonders of science and what scientists are actually discovering. And this, this mantra that, um, you know, there's a consensus amongst scientists. Well, there's a consensus amongst any group of people, uh, who are part of an organization who depend on their living, um, to believe something, you know, I used to work at Pepsi-Cola. We all believe that Pepsi-Cola was an amazing product. Um, was that the right thing to believe?
Oh, well, you know, and to believe in hindsight, you know, I'm rather ashamed that I believe that. Um, so that, that's my, my journey. Um, and, and, and, you know, when we're looking at, uh, the complexities of COVID and, and therapies relating to that, um, I love the science and the details of the science. I, uh, I, I find it, um, just so objectionable though, that science has sort of becomes turned into a mantra that frankly, completely unscientific and, and yet...
ALEX:
And that’s the thing… Anybody who understands science understands that the way science is being, uh, sort of, you know, Feynman's quote is science, the belief in the ignorance of experts, right? And that cannot, cannot be turned around and say, you know, science is the belief in the experts that like, you know, Richard Feynman is a science as a gets, you know, you, if you can't, if you can't get him along, you're probably doing something wrong, you know? I'm sure he wasn't perfect. But...

Closing thoughts: “Modernity is uncertainty denialism”

TOM:
Yeah. I want to ask you a question. You have a pinned tweet: “Modernity is uncertainty denialism.”
I can't quite get my head around that one.
ALEX:
Oh, I can rant about that for how long... which, which size do you want the short, the medium, or the long...
TOM:
You know, we've been going close to two hours, so may maybe the very short one, because we probably should be wrapping up.
ALEX:
Okay. Yes, let's wrap up, but I, I think it actually could connect precisely to, uh, what we've been talking about. So what I think is that as humans, we lucked into a way to solve a lot of our problems, but we became the guy with a hammer, right?
So we found a way to reduce, um, you know, childhood mortality, and that's great, but then we pushed it from 99 to 99.99, 99.999999... We'll keep adding nines at some point, we're giving up something somewhere else.
And we, we haven't realized that we were just pushing that number, you know, or, you know, no, no bad emotions or no, anything that creates uncertainty, ambiguity, uh, confusion, um, potential for conflict is, is considered bad, right? And to be removed and raised and, and, and sort of eliminated, not realizing that everything great also comes from that ambiguity, uncertainty, uh, allowing a little bit of confusion, allowing a little bit of the potential of something negative to get something positive. Otherwise you just in spaces, right?
That's essentially what, what my reading of the situation we're in right now. And the great evil let's call it, that is this push to sterilize everything, um, is the met, I've met a narrative that I'm, I'm detecting, and that's why this is something I told the team it's like enablement over control, um, you know, embodiment over sort of abstraction.
You know, we need to make things real, bring them close, understand, accept, you know, that uncertainty is there and it's going to be there. You know, complexity is the, uh, you know, complex systems is the, is the base layer. We can't turn that into a machine that is like my blender, you press a button and it does a thing. And that's how it works. It's not how it works. So that, that, that, that was the point of that.
TOM:
That's probably a marvelous way to sort of wrap this whole thing up. I wanted to just sort of add one, one observation that, you know, me writing this book about, um, consilience and, uh, and us being able to use technologies like this, you know, Zoom, Zencastr, um, has been a complete, absolute delight. And some of the people I've met on, uh, on, on Twitter and, and, uh, Clubhouse have, have, um, you know, I've had just, just beautiful, amazing conversations, like way, way, way deeper than you could ever get into um, you know, if you're having a coffee or a beer. One of my readers, James Jenko, someone I tripped over on Twitter. And, um, and, and one of his quotes is “Tyranny is the deliberate removal of nuance.”
ALEX:
I remember you actually putting that out there. That was one of the things I thought, okay. Yeah, this is, yeah. Incredible.
TOM:
And so, um, you know, let's hope that you and I can, um, avoid the, um, the, the arrows and the take-downs, and the craziness. Um, and, uh, you know...
ALEX:
I just have to accept them, you know, I think we just have to make our peace with them. That's, that's, that's my point anyway, but, um, thank you so much for your time. This has been, uh, uh, a great conversation, and I think I took a lot away from it. I don't know if anybody else will, but again, this is a podcast with an audience of one.
TOM:
It's been a delight doc, Doctor Marinos, and, um, I, uh, have the utmost respect for you. And, and, and I, I hope you continue to, uh, build this great organization and, uh, and, uh, you know, an example of what can be done with new technologies.
ALEX:
Thank you so much. If people want to, uh, get more of what they just experienced, uh, where can they, or can they find you?
TOM:
Oh, they can Google me. I'm lucky that I have a name that’s Google-able: Beakbane: B-E-A-K-B-A-N-E. Tom Beakbane.
Uh, but I'd love it. If more people who have a stomach for non-fiction either read my book or listen to my book. I'm not, it doesn't appeal to everyone because not everyone is into non-fiction reading these days. Uh, I would say the audiobook I think is extremely well narrated by a British stage actor called Phillip Battley. Um, but just Google my name and the word consilience in. It'll pop up on Amazon and, uh... I'd love to, you know, dialogue with people that have read the book. You can just, um, send me a note through my website, which you can find by Googling it and, uh, yeah. Let's continue. Continue the fight.
ALEX:
Excellent. Thank you so much.
TOM:
Awesome. Take it easy. Cheers!
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by Andrew NhemAndrew is the Content Strategy Lead / Product Builder at balena, and enjoys tinkering on web content, building stuff, music, hydroponics, and homeschooling