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The Lunar Society

The Lunar Society

By Dwarkesh Patel
Host Dwarkesh Patel interviews economists, scientists, and philosophers about their big ideas.

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19: Discussing Where's My Flying Car w/ Rohit Krishnan

The Lunar Society

26: Pradyu Prasad - Imperial Japan, the God Emperor, and Militarization in the Modern World
Today I talk to Pradyu Prasad (blogger and podcaster) about the book "Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan" by Herbert P. Bix. We also discuss militarization, industrial capacity, current events, and blogging.  Get the Book: Watch on Youtube: Follow Pradyu's Blog:  Follow Pradyu on Twitter:  Follow me on Twitter:   Timestamps: (0:00:00) - Intro  (0:01:59) - Hirohito and Introduction to the Book  (0:05:39) - Meiji Restoration and Japan's Rapid Industrialization  (0:11:11) - Industrialization and Traditional Military Norms  (0:14:50) - Alternate Causes for Japanese Atrocities Richard Hanania's Public Choice Theory in Imperial Japan (0:17:03) (0:21:34) - Hirohito's Relationship with the Military  (0:24:33) - Rant of Japanese Strategy  (0:33:10) - Modern Parallel to Russia/Ukraine  (0:38:22) - Economics of War and Western War Capacity  (0:48:14) - Elements of Effective Occupation  (0:55:53) - Ideological Fervor in WW2 Japan  (0:59:25) - Cynicism on Elites (1:00:29) - The Legend of Godlike Hirohito  (1:06:47) - Postwar Japanese Economy (1:13:23) - Blogging and Podcasting  (1:20:31) - Spooky  (1:38:00) - Outro 
April 27, 2022
25: Razib Khan - Genomics, Intelligence, and The Church of Science
Razib Khan is a writer, geneticist, and blogger with an interest in history, genetics, culture, and evolutionary psychology. Watch on Youtube: Follow Razib on Twitter:  Follow me on Twitter: Time Stamps (0:00:05) Razib's Background (0:01:34) Dysgenics of Intelligence (0:04:23) Endogamy and Genetic traits in India (0:08:58) Similar Examples of Endogamy (0:14:28) Why So Many Brahmin CEO's (0:19:55) Razib the Globe Trotter, Geography Expert (0:25:04) Male/Female Genetic Variance (0:30:04) Agricultural Man and Our Tiny Brains (0:34:40) The Church of Science (0:42:33) Professorship, a family business (0:44:23) Long History (0:52:42) Future of Human Computer Interfacing (0:56:30) Near Future of Gene Editing (0:59:19) Meta Questions and Closing
April 21, 2022
24: Jimmy Soni - Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, and the Paypal Mafia
Jimmy Soni is the author of The Founders: The Story of Paypal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley. Watch on YouTube: Buy the book: Follow Jimmy on Twitter: Follow me on Twitter: Timestamps: (0:00:00) - Bell Labs vs PayPal (0:05:12) - Scenius in Ancient Rome and America's Founding (0:07:02) - Girard at PayPal (0:15:17) - Thiel almost shorts the Dot com bubble (0:19:49) - Does Zero to One contradict PayPal's story? (0:27:57) - Hilarious Russian hacker story (0:29:06) - Why is Thiel so good at spotting talent? (0:34:50) - Did PayPal make talent or discover it? (0:40:40) - Japanese mafia invests in PayPal?! (0:44:42) - Upcoming TV show on PayPal (0:48:11) - Musk in ancient Rome (0:52:12) - Why didn't Musk keep pursuing finance? (0:56:32) - Why didn't the mafia get back together? (1:00:06) - Jimmy's writing process
April 16, 2022
23: Bryan Caplan - Discrimination, Poverty, & Mental Illness
I interview the economist Bryan Caplan about his new book, Labor Econ Versus the World, and many other related topics. Watch on YouTube: Buy Bryan's book: Follow me on Twitter for new episodes: Check out my blog: Timestamps: 0:00:00 Intro 0:01:35 How many workers are useless, and why is labor force participation so low? 0:04:49 Is getting out of poverty harder than we think? 0:11:45 Are elites to blame for poverty? 0:15:58 Is human nature to blame for poverty? 0:20:13 Remote work and foreign wages 0:25:45 The future of the education system? 0:30:33 Do employers care about the difficulty of a curriculum? 0:34:15 Why do companies and colleges discriminate against Asians? 0:43:03 Applying Hanania's unitary actor model to mental health 0:51:40 Why are multinationals so effective? 0:54:39 Open borders and cultural norms 0:59:15 Is Tyler Cowen right about automation?
April 12, 2022
22: Richard Hanania - Foreign Policy, Fertility, and Wokeness
Richard Hanania is the President of the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology and the author of Public Choice Theory and the Illusion of Grand Strategy: How Generals, Weapons Manufacturers, and Foreign Governments Shape American Foreign Policy. Watch on YouTube: But the book: Follow Richard on Twitter: Read Richard's Substack: Timestamps: 0:00:00 Intro 0:04:35 Did war prevent sclerosis? 0:06:05 China vs America's grand strategy 0:10:00 Does the president have more power over foreign policy? 0:11:30 How to deter bad actors? 0:15:39 Do some countries have a coherent foreign policy? 0:16:55 Why does self-interest matter in foreign but not domestic policy?  0:21:05 Should we limit money in politics? 0:23:47 Should we credit expertise for nuclear detante and global prosperity? 0:28:45 Have international alliances made us safer? 0:31:57 Why does academic bueracracy work in some fields? 0:36:26 Did academia suck even before diversity? 0:39:34 How do we get expertise in social sciences? 0:42:19 Why are things more liberal? 0:43:55 Why is big tech so liberal? 0:47:53 Authoritarian populism vs libertarianism 0:51:40 Can authoritarian governments increase fertility? 0:54:54 Will increasing fertility be dysgenic? 0:56:43 Will not having kids become cool? 0:59:22 Advice for libertarians?
February 24, 2022
21: David Deutsch - AI, America, Fun, & Bayes
David Deutsch is the founder of the field of quantum computing and the author The Beginning of Infinity and The Fabric of Reality. Watch on YouTube: Read me Contra David on AI: Buy The Beginning of Infinity: Follow David on Twitter: Follow me on Twitter: My blog: Timestamps: 0:00:00 Will AIs be smarter than humans?  0:06:34 Are intelligence differences immutable / heritable? 0:20:13 IQ correletation of twins seperated at birth 0:27:12 Do animals have bounded creativity? 0:33:32 How powerful can narrow AIs be? 0:36:59 Could you implant thoughts in VR? 0:38:49 Can you simulate the whole universe? 0:41:23 Are some interesting problems insoluble? 0:44:59 Does America fail Popper's Criterion? 0:50:01 Does finite matter mean there's no beginning of infinity? 0:53:16 The Great Stagnation 0:55:34 Changes in epistemic status is Popperianism 0:59:29 Open ended science vs gain of function 1:02:54 Contra Tyler Cowen on cvilizational lifespan 1:07:20 Fun criterion 1:14:16 Does AGI through evolution require suffering? 1:18:01 Would David enter the Experience Machine? 1:20:09 (Against) Advice for young people
January 31, 2022
20: Samo Burja - Founders, Markets, & Collapse
Samo Burja is the founder of Bismarck Analysis and a Research Fellow at the Long Now Foundation. Samo writes and speaks about history, institutions, and strategy, and he is the creator of the Great Founder Theory of history. Watch on YouTube: Samo's Twitter: Subscribe to Bismarck Brief: My twitter: My blog: Timestamps: 0:00:00 Intro 0:00:17 Are individuals causally responsible for history? 0:04:34 Was Napoleon a great founder? 0:08:47 What can great founder theory predict? 0:11:17 How many live players are there? 0:15:40 Is the market full of live players? 0:18:37 How to cozy up to both sides? 0:22:58 How do you become an intellectual? 0:27:34 Aligning incentives for intellectuals 0:30:40 What makes someone a great founder? 0:39:29 Why is the centralized internet inevitable? 0:42:21 Samo and I debate odds of civilizational collapse 0:48:17 Is GDP fake? 0:56:52 The world only has 1.5 civilizations 0:59:32 Advice to effective altruists 1:02:30 Advice to young people
January 10, 2022
19: Discussing Where's My Flying Car w/ Rohit Krishnan
Rohit Krishnan is a venture capitalist who writes about "the strange loops underlying our systems of innovation" at  We discussed J. Storrs. Hall's book Where Is My Flying Car? Relevant essays from Rohit: Review of Where Is My Flying Car: The Small Successes Of Nanotech: Isolated Narratives of Progress: Meditations On Regulations: Rohit's Twitter: Buy Where Is My Flying Car?: Timestamps: 00:00 Why don't we have flying cars? 08:09 Should we expect exponential growth? 18:13 Machiavelli Effect and centralization of science funding 27:55 We need more science fiction 32:40 The return of citizen science? 37:40 Have we grown too comfortable for progress? 42:15 Is India the future of innovation? 47:15 Is there an upper-income trap? 50:30 Forecasts for technologies
January 03, 2022
18: Byrne Hobart - Optionality, Stagnation, and Secret Societies
Byrne Hobart writes The Diff, a newsletter about inflections in finance and technology with 24,000+ subscribers.   The Diff newsletter: Byrne's Twitter:  --- Watch episode on YouTube: Follow me on Twitter:  Timestamps:  0:00:00 Byrne's one big idea: stagnation  0:05:50 Has regulation caused stagnation?  0:14:00 FDA retribution  0:15:15 Embryo selection  0:17:32 Patient longtermism  0:21:02 Are there secret societies?  0:26:53 College, optionality, and conformity 0:34:40 Differentiated credentiations underrated?  0:39:15 WIll contientiousness increase in value?  0:44:26 Why aren't rationalists more into finance?  0:48:04 Rationalists are bad at changing the world.  0:52:20 Why read more?  0:57:10 Does knowledge have increasing returns?  1:01:30 How to escape the middle career trap?  1:04:48 Advice for young people  1:08:40 How to learn about a subject?
October 05, 2021
17: Roger's Bacon - Using Cults to Power Science
Roger's Bacon is a pseudonymous blogger and the creator of the new Seeds of Science journal. Seeds of Science: Roger's Bacon blog: Roger's Bacon Twitter: My blog: My Twitter: Timestamps 0:00:05 Who is Roger's Bacon? 0:05:03 The need for scientific diversity 0:10:50 Why are our institutions so homogenous? 0:19:35 In defense of cults 0:24:05 Does innovation require isolation? 0:32:16 Diversity of institutions vs individuals 0:36:05 Can we create weird secret societies? 0:42:40 Secret longtermists and pseudonymous thinkers 0:46:50 Science needs religion 0:54:50 How contingent is science 0:59:05 Seeds of Science 1:09:50 Randomness in science 1:14:55 Why committees suck 1:21:05 Resetting institutions and reinventing ideas 1:32:30 Teaching at a STEM high school 1:53:01 Big picture thinking vs technical skills 1:58:55 Finding blindspots 2:01:57 Being realistic about the far future
September 28, 2021
16: David Friedman - Dating Markets, Legal Systems, Bitcoin, and Automation
David Friedman is a famous anarcho-capitalist economist and legal scholar.   David Friedman's website: My Twitter: My blog:   Timestamps: 0:00:00 Dating market  0:12:15 The future of reputation  0:27:30 How Friedman predicted bitcoin  0:35:35 Prediction markets  0:40:00 Can regulation stop progress globally?  0:45:50 Lack of diversity in modern legal systems  0:54:20 Friedman's theory of property rights  1:01:50 Charles Murray's scheme to fight regulations  1:06:25 Property rights of the poor  1:09:07 Automation  1:16:00 Economics of medieval reenactment  1:19:00 Advice for futurist young people
August 09, 2021
15: Sarah Fitz-Claridge - Taking Children Seriously
Sarah Fitz-Claridge is a writer, coach and speaker with a fallibilist world view. She started the journal that became Taking Children Seriously in the early 1990s after being surprised by the heated audience reactions she was getting when talking about children. She has spoken all over the world about her educational philosophy, and you can find transcripts of some of her talks on her website. Sarah's Website: Sarah's Twitter: Follow me on Twitter for updates: Timestamps: 00:00 Intro  01:23 Taking Children Seriously  05:46 Are children rational?  08:08 Coercion 14:56 Education  26:01 Authority, discipline, and passion  30:41 The psychological harm to children  33:29 Dealing with toddlers  40:08 Are we too optimistic about uncoerced children?  47:38 Why is everyone wrong about children?  53:48 Child labor  56:43 Age of consent
June 04, 2021
14: Michael Huemer - Anarchy, Capitalism, and Progress
Michael Huemer is a professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado. He is the author of more than sixty academic articles in epistemology, ethics, metaethics, metaphysics, and political philosophy, as well as eight amazing books.   In this podcast, we had a wide ranging discussion about his book The Problem of Political Authority. His newest book is an amazingly clear and fun introductory philosophy textbook titled Knowledge, Reality, and Value.   Watch this podcast on YouTube: Follow me on Twitter for new episodes:   Buy Knowledge, Reality, and Value:  Buy The Problem of Political Authority:   Read his awesome blog:   Timestamps:  0:00:00    Intro  0:01:07 The Problem of Political Authority  0:03:25 Common sense ethics   0:09:39 Stockholm syndrome and the charisma of power  0:18:14 Moral progress  0:26:55 Growth of libertarian ideas  0:33:37 Does anarchy increase violence?  0:44:37 Transitioning to anarchy  0:47:20 Is Huemer attacking our society?!  0:51:40 Huemer's writing process  0:53:18 Is it okay to work for the government  0:56:39 Burkean argument against anarchy  1:02:07 The case for tyranny  1:11:58 Underrated/overrated  1:25:55 Huemer production functionl  1:30:41 Favorite books  1:33:04 Advice for young people
May 28, 2021
13: Uncle Bob - The Long Reach of Code
Robert Martin (aka Uncle Bob) is a programming pioneer and bestselling author or Clean Code. We discuss the prospect of automating programming, spotting and developing coding talent, occupational licensing, quotas, and the elusive sense of style.   Listen to his fascinating talk on the future of programming:  Read his blog about programming:  Buy his  books on Amazon:  0:00 Automating programming  8:40 Educating programmers (expertise, talent, university)  21:45 Spotting talent  26:10 Teaching kids  29:31 Prose and music sense in coding  32:22 Occupational licensing for programmers  35:49 Why is tech political  39:28 Quotas  42:29 Advice to 20 yr old 176265
November 28, 2020
12: Scott Aaronson - Quantum Computing, Complexity, and Creativity
Scott Aaronson is Professor of Computer Science at The University of Texas at Austin, and director of its Quantum Information Center.  He was also my professor for a class of quantum computing. He's the author of one of the most interesting blogs on the internet: Buy his book on Quantum Computing since Democritus: Follow me on Twitter to get updates on future episodes and guests: Timestamps 0:00 Intro 0:33 Journey through high school and college 12:37 Early work 19:15 Why quantum computing took so long 33:30 Contributions from outside academia 38:18 Busy beaver function 53:50 New quantum algorithms 1:03:30 Clusters 1:06:23 Complexity and economics 1:13:26 Creativity 1:24:07 Advice to young people
November 20, 2020
11: Scott Young - Ultralearning
I had a blast chatting with Scott Young about aggressive self-directed learning. Scott is the author of Ultralearning and famous for the MIT Challenge, where he taught himself MIT's 4 year Computer Science curriculum in 1 year. Scott has some of the best advice out there about learning hard things. It has helped yours truly prepare to interview experts and dig into interesting subjects.   Please share if you enjoy!   Follow me on Twitter for new episodes and blog posts:  Scott's website:  Ultralearning:  00:00 Intro  01:00 Einstein  13:20 Age  18:00 Transfer  24:40 Compounding  34:00 Depth vs context  40:50 MIT challenge  1:00:50 Focus 1:10:00 Role models  1:20:30 Progress studies  1:24:25 Early work and ambition  1:28:18 Advice for 20 yr old  1:35:00 Raising a genius baby?
November 16, 2020
10: Charles Murray - Human Accomplishment and the Future of Liberty
YouTube link: I ask Charles Murray about Human Accomplishment, By The People, and The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead.   Follow me on Twitter to be notified of future content:   Follow Charles Murray:  Read Human Accomplishment:   Read The Curmudgeon's Guide:   Read By the People:   0:00 Intro  1:00 Writing Human Accomplishment  6:30 The Lotka curve, age, and miracle years  10:38 Habits of the greats (hard work)  15:22 Focus and explore in your 20s  19:57 Living in Thailand  23:02 Peace, wealth, and golden ages  26:02 East, west, and religion  30:38 Christianity and the Enlightenment  34:44 Institutional sclerosis  37:43 Antonine Rome, decadence, and declining accomplishment  42:13 Crisis in social science  45:40 Can secular humanism win?  55:00 Future of Christianity  1:03:30 Liberty and accomplishment  1:06:08 By the People  1:11:17 American exceptionalism  1:14:49 Pessimism about reform  1:18:43 Can libertarianism be resuscitated?  1:25:18 Trump's deregulation and judicial nominations  1:28:11 Beating the federal government   1:32:05 Why don't big companies have a litigation fund?  1:34:05 Getting around the Halo effect  1:36:07 What happened to the Madison fund?  1:37:00 Future of liberty  1:41:00 Public sector unions  1:43:43 Andrew Yang and UBI  1:44:36 Groundhog Day  1:47:05 Getting noticed as a young person  1:50:48 Passage from Human Accomplishment
October 28, 2020
9: Alex Tabarrok - Prizes, Prices, and Public Goods
I ask Alex Tabarrok about the Grand Innovation Prize, the Baumol effect, and Dominant Assurance Contracts. Alex Tabarrok is a professor of economics at George Mason University and with Tyler Cowen a founder of the online education platform Follow me on Twitter for my podcast and blog: Follow Alex Tabarrok: Alex Tabarrok's and Tyler Cowen's excellent blog:  00:00 Intro  00:34 Grand Innovation Prize  08:45 Prizes vs grants  14:10 Baumol effect  27:50 On Bryan Caplan's case against education  31:35 Scaling education online  48:50 Declining research productivity  52:15 Dominant Assurance Contracts  58:40 Future of governance 1:04:05 On Robin Hanson's Futarchy 1:06:02 Beating Adam Smith 1:08:35 Our Warfare-Welfare State  1:19:30 The Great Stagnation vs The Innovation Renaissance  1:21:40 Advice to 20 year old
October 19, 2020
8: Caleb Watney - America's Innovation Engine
Caleb Watney is the director of innovation policy at the Progressive Policy Institute. Caleb's Twitter: Caleb's new blog: My Twitter: My blog: 00:20 America's innovation engine is slowing 01:02 Remote work/ agglomeration effects 08:45 Chinese vs American innovation  16:23 Reforming institutions  19:00 Tom Cotton's critique of high skilled Immigration 22:26 Eric Weinstein's critique of high skilled Immigration 26:02 Reforming H1-B 30:30 Immigration during recession 32:55 Big tech / AI 38:20 EU regulation  40:07 Biden vs Trump  42:30 Federal R & D  47:20 Climate megaprojects  49:35 Falling fertility rates  52:20 Advice to 20 yr old
September 04, 2020
7: Robin Hanson - The Long View
Robin Hanson is a professor of economics at George Mason University. He is the author of The Elephant in the Brain and The Age of Em.   Robin's Twitter: Robin's blog:  Robin's website: My blog: My Twitter: 00:05 The long view  15:07 Subconscious vs conscious intelligence  20:28 Meditators  26:50 Signaling, norms, and motives  36:50 Conversation  42:54 2020 election nominees  49:25 Nerds in startups and social science  54:50 Academia and Robin  58:20 Dominance explains paternalism  1:09:32 Remote work  1:21:26 Advice for 20 yr old  1:28:05 Idea futures  1:32:13 Reforming institutions
August 31, 2020
6: Jason Crawford - The Roots of Progress
Jason Crawford writes at The Roots of Progress about the history of technology and industry and the philosophy of progress.    Jason's website:  The Roots of Progress:   Jason's Twitter: My Twitter: My Website:
August 25, 2020
5: Matjaž Leonardis - Science, Identity, and Probability
YouTube link: Matjaž Leonardis has cowritten a paper with David Deutsch about the Popper-Miller Theorem. We talk about that, as well as the dangers of the scientific identify, the nature of scientific progress, and advice for young people who want to be polymaths.   Matjaž's excellent Twitter:  My Twitter:  My blog:
August 22, 2020
4: Tyler Cowen - The Great Reset
Watch on YouTube:                Tyler Cowen is Holbert L. Harris Professor of Economics at George Mason University and also Director of the Mercatus Center.    0:00 The Great Reset  2:58 Growth and the cyclical view of history  4:00 Time horizons, growth, and sustainability  5:30 Space travel  8:11 WMDs and end of humanity  10:57 Common sense morality  12:20 China and authoritarianism  13:45 Are big businesses complacent? 17:15 Online education vs university  20:45 Aesthetic decline in West Virginia  23:20 Advice for young people  25:18 Mentors  27:15 Identifying talent  29:50 Can adults change?  31:45 Capacity to change men vs women  33:10 Are effeminate societies better?  35:15 Conservatives and progress  36:50 Biggest mistake in history  39:05 Nuke in my lifetime  40:35 Age and learning  42:45 Pessimistic future  43:50 Optimistic future  46:28 Closing
July 10, 2020
3: Paul Frazee (Creator of BeakerBrowser) - Building the Future of the Web
Paul Frazee is the cocreator of BeakerBrowser, where they're pursuing  the ambitious goal of creating a decentralized Internet with a new peer  to peer browser. In this conversation, we discussed how BeakerBrowser is going to affect  privacy, misinformation, government censorship, and innovation on the Internet. And he gave some great advice for young people interested in software. YOUTUBE LINK: Paul's Twitter: @pfrazee Download Beaker:
June 12, 2020
2: Charlie Jungheim (aka Hermes of Reason) - Reason and Emotion
The YouTuber Charlie Junghiem (aka Hermes of Reason) talks with me about inexplicit and explicit ideas, the link between reason and meditation, our political and emotional responses to COVID, and Black Lives Matter.    Charlie makes really awesome and funny YouTube videos about Popperian and Deutschian philosophy. Follow him on YouTube:  and Twitter:
June 09, 2020
1: Bryan Caplan - Nurturing Orphaned Ideas
For the inaugural episode of the podcast, Bryan Caplan talks with me about open borders, the idea trap, UBI, appeasement, China, the education system, and his next two books on poverty and housing regulation.  Bryan Caplan is a Professor of Economics at George Mason University and a New York Times Bestselling author. He is the author of The Myth of the Rational Voter, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, The Case Against Education, and Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration.
May 22, 2020