The Bryan Callen Show

The Bryan Callen Show

Canada

The Bryan Callen Show is a one-on-one, one-hour interview, featuring an array of different personalities, from celebrities to authors, producers, film makers, directors and other accomplished individuals. We discuss a variety of topics, focusing on perspective and experience.

Episodes

Ep224 - Cathy O'Neil on Weapons of Math Destruction  

For regular listeners of the show or readers of the accompanying blog at mixedmentalarts.club, you know that power rests on mystery. That is how you eliminate the possibility of being held accountable. Fortunately, there are decent people in the corridors of power and periodically they get so fed up that they decide to pull back the curtain and let the people see that there is no Wizard. There is just a man pulling some levers. What is he up to? And is he using his power in the interests of the people or is he abusing his power to puff himself up. Well, it's not for us to say, because that's not what science is about. But when you read Cathy's book, you realize that sometimes that data is being used to make people's lives better and sometimes it's not. All math rests on assumptions and if those assumptions are bad assumptions then they can do an awful lot of damage. Math's assumptions can contain all sorts of biases. They can have a liberal bias, a conservative bias, a racial bias, a sexist bias and on and on. Biases like Baskin Robbins ice cream come in 52 Flavors. In addition to laying out a couple of examples of Weapons of Math Destruction (or WMDs), Cathy and I [Hunter] talk about their own experiences leaving the tribe of academia and finding their own way. Science powerfully needs both internal and external accountability in order to make the most progress possible in the least possible time. And that's why Cathy and I [Hunter] will be building a coalition of science writers, scientists and citizens to push for a Scientific Reformation. You deserve to have experts who use their intellectual power responsibly and whose primary focus is on serving you, the citizen. We hope you'll join us and we'll keep pulling back the curtain regardless. As Cathy so neatly puts it, science isn't about taking things on faith or relying on the authority of the establishment. It's about having the evidence presented to you in a clear way so you can form your own conclusions.

Ep223 - Michael Malice!!!  

"Michael Malice!!!" seems like a fitting title for an episode featuring Michael Malice, because, well, how exciting is it that Michael Malice is on the show? Since Trump's election, Michael Malice is an even bigger deal and we are lucky to even have half an hour of his time. In this episode, we discuss the basic failing of the left's assumptions about other cultures and the personal struggles Michael Malice goes through as a recovering Russian. If you're interested, you can learn more about how you can most productively learn to use optimism and pessimism at http://www.mixedmentalarts.club/single-post/2016/10/07/Optimism-and-Pessimism.

Ep222 - The Power Paradox  

Awww, yeah! Dacher Keltner is back, ladies and gents, and we're going to talk all about power, which seems like a really relevant topic after the election of Donald Trump. Here in California (or as my grandfather describes it the land of fruits and nuts) there's a lot of fear about Donald Trump abusing power. However, Mixed Mental Artists don't just buy into the narratives of one culture, they roam across cultures so other people can help them see the logs in their own eye…and so there's another type of abuse of power at work that it's awful hard for liberals to see: the abuse of intellectual power. A long time ago, Lord Acton said "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Dacher has studied this phenomenon experimentally and improved on that understanding finding that power makes people more impulsive and less empathetic. In one of the all-time great experiments of human psychology, Dacher and his colleagues watched cars at an intersection and recorded which makes and models stopped for pedestrians and which zoomed through. Guess who was super impulsive and less empathetic? People driving luxury cars. And this is why I drive a dinged up 2005 Ford Escape. It's because I want to keep my empathy super high. :) And because this problem of power affects all people it has led to the intellectual abuse of power by experts. In this episode, Dacher and Hunter talk about the intellectual abuse of power by Hunter's old boss, Jim Watson, co-discoverer of the Double Helix of DNA. There is, however, much more than that and I [Hunter] am pulling back the curtain on all of it. I'm going full Toto so you can see that there are no Wizards just a man pulling some levers. You can read about those abuses of power in economics and how my own tribe of scientists helped undermine American democracy by damaging your faith in your intelligence. There are emotionally difficult conversations ahead for all of us and it's time we had them. Featured Links An Apology From Science for Undermining American Democracy Economists' Dirty Little Secret: Greed Was Never Good for Society Guest Promotions The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence

Ep221 - Ghost Face Willer Drops Some Knowledge  

Rob Willer has the best twitter handle of any academic ever: @GhostFaceWiller. Yes, he's a Professor of Sociology and Psychology and Business at Stanford…but he also has an amazing twitter handle. All of these things matter. What's most important? That's not for me to say. I think that really the whole is greater than the sum of any of these parts. As the Germans say, it's the gestalt of Rob Willer that makes him especially cool. He's also done some incredibly cool studies. He darkens Obama's face to see if that makes white folk more anxious. He studies how testosterone affects people's tendency to react to potential perceived threats to their masculinity. And, most awesomely, he studies how the work of Jon Haidt can be applied to help groups be better at recruiting people from different tribes/cultures/cults/political parties/religions to their point of view. Of course, one of the big questions for the college-educated crowd is what is up with Trump's supporters. Part of that story is racism. But a big part of that story is also the Hillbilly Honor Culture that has been passed down for ages from the Scots-Irish. It's a culture that made sense in a herding context. It's not a culture that serves the needs of people in the Information Age. That's not a comfortable thing for humanity to talk about but that's the moment in history we've reached. It's time we became more reflective and each took a look at what we've picked up from our families and why. The science is all there. Now, it's time to put it all together. It's time for Mixed Mental Arts.

Ep220 - Jordan B. Peterson  

When Canada began passing laws that limited what Professor Peterson could say in the name of political correctness, he felt compelled to speak out. And so, in three YouTube videos, he laid out his case for why he would not be complying with the law…in the most reasonable and Canadian way possible. Professor Peterson is a practicing and research psychologist at the University of Toronto and like countless other campuses the University of Toronto has become a place full of people who are going full Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. In fact, a tiny fraction of individuals have decided that there aren't just two gender identities or even three but up to seventy...and they all have different pronouns they want to be addressed by. The reality is that any policy or set of behaviors comes at a cost. Competing goods must be weighed against each other. Words are tools for communication and having seventy sets of pronouns makes communication clumsy. What's more important? Protecting the weak is great but setting off a witch hunt that potentially takes psychologists like Jordan B. Peterson out of working with patients does potentially greater harm. Which is more important? In practice though, the behavior on college campuses is just as listener @TWestGate put it the ouroboros. It is the snake eating its own tail. What is the final result of an academic culture that believes in human reason and is massively atomistic? It's a culture so obsessed with individuality that any weird thought that wanders across a person's brain has to be treated seriously, especially when the person is claiming historical oppression. The sad truth is that Social Justice Warriors aren't bad students. They're great students who have just taken academia's cultural biases to the end of the line. Everyone is now a special snowflake and any claim you make about yourself has to be treated seriously. In the end though, there is further insanity coming such as otherkin. These are humans who believe they're not humans. Instead, they believe they are vampires or werewolves or fairies or wolf-dog hybrids. These even more special individuals want their unique identity recognized too!!! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the snake is eating its own tail. At a certain point though, it just becomes too much. People like Jordan B Peterson can't put up with it anymore. As Bryan points out, alumni are refusing to donate. And, increasingly, people are wondering why anyone would pay $120,000 and spend four years to be surrounded by thinking that is, frankly, garbage.

Ep219 - Interview: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace  

For the last couple of months, I (Hunter) have been talking about The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace. Why? Because Rob Peace's story is what happens when you have a culture that does not take culture, tribe and emotion seriously. Rob Peace was an African-American kid who grew up in a rough part of Newark, New Jersey. His mom worked hard and paid to send him to a prep school. His dad helped him with his homework whenever he could and through tenacity and hard work he not only got into Yale but a wealthy, white benefactor paid for his entire college tuition. Once at Yale, Rob graduated with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. And yet, after graduation, Rob didn't go to medical school or Wall Street or politics. Instead, Rob drifted back to Newark where he taught school for a little while and then drifted into a life of dealing drugs. By the age of 30, this brilliant man was dead in a drug shoot out. Rob was a man caught between two worlds. By the age of 10, Rob's father was in jail for a double homicide connected with drug dealing. And for all his community celebrated his educational success, he often had to downplay it and hide it in order not to draw attention. Academically, he was a perfect fit for Yale but culturally he never really belonged. In short, Rob's story is the real-life version of Good Will Hunting if there was no Robin Williams character. Without help dealing with that history that lives within us all, a man full of potential and promise has his life wasted. The book Jeff has written is a eulogy to a friend and a roommate gone before his time. Of course, there are the inevitable questions about why Jeff, a white, suburban kid, gets to write a book about his roommate, a black, urban kid. There are uncomfortable feelings here but the human family isn't going to get anywhere by avoiding these feelings. Instead, we must do what any family must do: talk through them. Fortunately, there's The Bryan Callen Show, a safe space where rather than issuing trigger warnings we just manage our own emotions. It's revolutionary stuff. And not something you'll get at Yale...or Harvard. Guest Information GUEST NAME: Jeff Hobbs GUEST BIO: Jeff Hobbs graduated with a BA in English language and literature from Yale in 2002, where he was awarded the Willets and Meeker prizes for his writing. Hobbs spent three years in New York and Tanzania while working with the African Rainforest Conservancy. He now lives in Los Angeles with his wife. Guest Promotions The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League Hillbilly Elegy A Culture of Honor

Ep218 - Interview: The Dorito Effect  

In the wake of The Depression and World War II, it's understandable that the focus of North America's agricultural system became producing as many calories as cheaply as possible. And so, competitions were held like the Chicken of Tomorrow contest which aimed to produce chickens that grew more quickly and were in every way better suited to industrial production. The one thing that wasn't a priority was flavor. The result was that even by the 1960s Julia Child was warning that American chickens for all their impressive size were beginning to taste like teddy bear stuffing. This it turns out isn't some trivial concern. In fact, it may be the driving force behind why Americans overeat. Given how much of the human genome is devoted to tasting (with flavor sensors not just in your nose and tongue but also in your gut), it would be incredibly strange if flavor was something trivial. In fact, more of your genome is devoted to flavor than is devoted to your genitals which gives you a sense of just how evolutionarily important it must be. As Mark Schatzker, the author of The Dorito Effect, explains in this episode explains, flavor is the signal our bodies detect as a proxy for nutrition. The Dorito is the perfect way to mess up that signaling. You take a corn chip that is full of carbs and pretty much nothing else and you wrap it in massive amounts of flavor. You eat and eat and eat but you never get the nutrition you need. Once you pop, you can't stop isn't just a campaign slogan; it's a warning label. Doritos, Pringles and other junk food are perfectly engineered to make you overeat. And this is where the mixed mental arts element of this all comes in. Culture is driving these choices. Doritos, Pringles and other junk food are an American invention. And while obesity is a problem everywhere, it is particularly a problem in America. And, however much Americans might try and rationalize this behavior based on cost or practicality, it actually doesn't make any sense. There are varieties of chicken (La Belle Rouge) and tomato (those belonging to Harry Klee) that produce commercially viable quantities while still being much more flavorful. The costs? Obesity costs the US $190 billion a year. That's 21% of US Healthcare costs. There are no good reasons why Americans shouldn't have chickens that are as delicious as French chickens and tomatoes that are as flavorful as Italian tomatoes. More flavor. Less overeating. Less obesity. Lower taxes from healthcare savings. What's not to love? Expect to see a forthcoming blogpost that expands on this at mixedmentalarts.club. Featured Links The Geography of Thought Guest Information GUEST NAME: Mark Schatzker GUEST BIO: Mark Schatzker is an award-winning writer based in Toronto. He is a radio columnist for the Canadian Broadcast Corporation and a frequent contributor to the Globe and Mail, Condé Nast Traveler, and Bloomberg Pursuits. He is the author of The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor and Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef. Guest Links WEBSITE: http://www.markschatzker.com/ TWITTER: https://twitter.com/markschatzker Guest Promotions The Dorito Effect

Ep217 - MMA For the Mind: You Must Accept Your Elephant Before You Can Train It  

Thanks to a suggestion by @ElliotBlair_ on Twitter, Mixed Mental Arts is introducing something new and very exciting. We will now be awarding belts. First up, the white belt which is already live at mixedmentalarts.club. Except, that's not how The Kid rolls. The Kid gets excited and wants to talk about the difference between being a rationalist and an intuitionist…which is definitely green belt-level material. Fortunately, any Mixed Mental Artists knows how to be like water. As Master Bruce Lee said, “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” And so, Hunter flows like water into whatever direction the Kid takes the conversation and then channels that energy into breaking down what it means to be an intuitionist. It means accepting your elephant. After hundreds of years of science, we have a pretty good model of how the brain works and that model suggests the brain is like a rider and an elephant. As a child, your elephant is trained by the culture around you to behave in certain ways. As an adult, it is your job to become aware of your elephant, to recognize what it is doing and to retrain it to act in more constructive ways. That is what Mixed Martial Arts or tennis or education is about. It's using your reflective system (your rider) to slow things down enough that you can get your intuitive system (your elephant) behaving in the most productive way possible. And that is not something that any of us have truly mastered in all areas of life which is why we're going to go ahead and say that there are no black belts in Mixed Mental Arts. Maybe though…you will be the first. Featured Links WEBSITE: mixedmentalarts.club TWITTER: twitter.com/mixedmentalarts FACEBOOK: facebook.com/mixedmentalarts INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/mixedmentalarts/?hl=en

Ep216 - Mixed Mental Arts: The Callenphate Part 2  

In the last few years, ISIS has attracted people who don't feel like they belong in their own society to Syria with the promise that together they're going to rebuild The Caliphate. From the outside, it's pretty understandable. Being part of a revolution is exciting. You're changing the world. You're part of a great cause. And you get to destroy the old society which you feel treated you like crap. Revolutions are like start ups. The problem is that ISIS' startup is trying to make a place filled with rape, slavery, beheading and the sort of anti-scientific attitude that will lead really bad internet speeds. It's terrible really. Fortunately, there's an alternative. If you're feeling dissatisfied with the existing system in anyway, then you can help us in building The Callenphate. All ideas and suggestions are welcome. It's time to take Mixed Mental Arts out on the road and use it to beat up some of the world's toughest problems. There are some similarities but also some important differences between The Callenphate and The Caliphate. Both offer really good Arabic food but, in the Callenphate, you can drink it with excellent red wine if you choose. Both like sex but the Callenphate likes it to be consensual for both/all parties. Both believe that beheading looks really good on film but since ours is in Hollywood, we understand that you can do that with special effects, guys. You don't actually need to chop a real person's head off. The Callenphate also has a very different relationship to the past. We don't have any desire to repeat it. While the original Caliphates achieved some remarkable things, they still existed in centuries like the 7th and 12th. It doesn't matter where you went in the world life in the 7th and 12th centuries just wasn't that good. The reality is that the prosperity of the modern world makes it better to be a court jester like Bryan Callen or a court tutor like Hunter than a legendary King like Henry VIII. We have inherited the accumulated cultural progress of billions of humans from all around the world. The key to improving our lives is get better at setting the mood for idea sex than any group of humans ever have before. So, what is the idea sex equivalent of putting on some Barry White? Well, it's a lot of things we already know but that aren't consistently done. It's embracing and analyzing your mistakes to improve your performance. It's creating a society that both takes care of its members and in which its members are constantly striving to be responsible for themselves. And it's about creating a society, in which we all have the kind of purpose which makes humans happiest and most productive. And doing that is also the key to having the most successful life for you. These three ideas are beautifully summed up in Daniel Pink's book, Drive, as autonomy, mastery and purpose. As Pink reports, research shows that people who tap into these forms of motivation are much more successful in the long run than people who are just trying to make as much money as possible. Pursue autonomy, mastery and purpose and money will follow. Pursue money first and it will be hard for you to compete and stay relevant in the Information Age. The Callenphate is built on living and spreading that kind of ethos. We don't need to drop bombs. We've got knowledge bombs. And all we have to do is go around and take all the ideas that are already out there and put them together into one dynamite cultural package which we call Mixed Mental Arts. Of course, any movement needs to be able to spread its ideas and that means not only understanding them but retaining them. And so, the episode ends with how Hunter remembers the names of these books and organizes these ideas. The secret it turns out is The London Cabbies. As Hunter and his co-author Katie O'Brien explain in The Straight-A Conspiracy, the map of London is way harder to memorize than the map of New York. It's full of strange, twisty streets with odd names. To master this information–which cabbies call "The Knowledge"–requires far better memory techniques than just flashcards. And so, cabbies begin by memorizing the routes. What are the major routes through London? With those in place, they can build off that and add side streets. Like building a puzzle where you start with the edges, they then fill them in. At the Bryan Callen Show, we've been trying to figure out how to get you the most powerful version of "The Knowledge" possible. It took Hunter years to learn the routes that serve as the backbone of Mixed Mental Arts. By learning them first, you can acquire the knowledge without having to spend the money and time that the majority of highly boring and massively repetitive nonfiction books require. Once you have those routes, then filling in the side streets will be easy a

Ep215 - Mixed Mental Arts: The Callenphate Part 1  

The number one book Hunter is getting recommended right now is Tribe by Sebastian Junger. It's an amazing book. Mostly, it's about why US soldiers often have such a hard time reintegrating back into US society. It's pretty easy to understand. You go off to war and you have a group of people who will die for you, who look out for you and who are engaged in a great mission together. And then you come back and there's no sense of shared purpose. In war, people have tribe. In the modern world, most of us don't. And when people don't have tribe, they go looking for it; they try and create it and that's a big part of why you have ISIS. What is it that tribes provide? They help provide food and defense against violent death. Modern societies do that incredibly well. Way better than hunter-gatherer tribes ever did. But tribes also provide belonging, shared purpose, community and a magical thing called dignity. When you bring back food, the tribe (your family) recognizes what you have done and they're grateful for it. You feel appreciated and that is no small thing. In fact, William James, the Founder of American Psychology, said "The deepest principle of human nature is a craving to be appreciated." Do you feel appreciated in your life? A lot of people don't. A lot of people feel like they get no respect. And that can make them very angry and resentful. And that's when they start or join groups like ISIS. ISIS provides its followers with many things: sex slaves, treasure and the chance to get shot at. However, besides the real life video game aspects, it also provides its followers (if not the women unfortunate enough to live in the region) with dignity and purpose. ISIS succeeds as a movement because the societies its followers have come from have failed to satisfy that deepest principle in human nature: the desire to be appreciated. One of Bryan's favorite quotes is from Amos Oz. It's about how the key to beating a bad idea is to provide a better idea. However, the full quote is instructive: "But Hamas is not just a terrorist organization. Hamas is an idea, a desperate and fanatical idea that grew out of the desolation and frustration of many Palestinians. No idea has ever been defeated by force — not by siege, not by bombardment, not by being flattened with tank treads and not by marine commandos. To defeat an idea, you have to offer a better idea, a more attractive and acceptable one." No idea has ever been defeated by force. It might be appealing to think that you can just make ISIS' ideas go away by bombing them out of existence but nothing makes ideas fascinating and intriguing like trying to kill the people who have them. Making martyrs doesn't destroy ideas; it gives them power. Boko Haram, for example, was a nothing movement until its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, died in police custody in 2009. At the time, Alhaji Boguma, a government official in the region, said that the "wave of fundamentalism" had been "crushed." In practice, Mohammed Yusuf was like Obi Wan Kenobi. He was struck down and became more powerful than Ahlaji Boguma could possibly imagine. An angry, ranting cleric with a crappy world view was transformed into a perfect symbol. And so, if we really want to defeat ISIS or Boko Haram, we need to "offer a better idea, a more attractive and acceptable one." The problem is no one is really doing that. Imagine being born in Libya. You now have a Libyan passport which pretty much means your only opportunities are in Libya…where there are pretty much no opportunities. In order to get married–which in the Muslim world is your only real path to sex–you have to provide a lot of stuff. Depending on what kind of Libyan you are that might mean a house, a car and a washing machine or it might mean a bunch of camels. Either way, it's not something you're likely to be able to afford because the wealth of the country is controlled by a tiny number of families who use their power to prevent others from outcompeting them. Basically, you're screwed and with no chance of getting laid. What you want is an awesome house, a beautiful wife and maybe most importantly dignity. You want to contribute to society and be recognized for that contribution. Except, the international community constantly tells you your country is a sh*thole and your people suck. No dignity there. The success of ISIS isn't that it is a good idea. It's that it's basically the only idea that is being targeted at people that our global society values so little that we don't even bother to think about them until they create problems for us all. This problem isn't just a Libyan or a Nigerian problem. It's not even just a problem among marginalized Muslim communities in the West. It is a problem for an increasing number of people all over the world. People whose culture is geared towards Industrial Age factory work are finding that they can't make a living in an Information Age economy. They can't get dignity. And so, they want to do the only thi

Ep214 - MMA For the Mind: Keeping it Simple isn't Necessarily Stupid  

Albert Einstein famously said, "Everything should be as simple as possible but no simpler." Sadly, though he's famous for saying this, it's pretty clear that like most internet quotes he never actually said this. Still, it's a great principle and quotes are like tennis shoes, hamburgers or sodas. If you put them next to a celebrity, they seem way more legit. Regardless of who came up with it though, it's a great principle. Silicon Valley understands this trade off really well. Great software often becomes worse over time because it suffers from a disease known as featuritis or feature creep. It's an easy trap to fall into. The idea is that if the software is good then if you keep adding new widgets, doodads and other functionalities that it will be even better. Actually though, it gets worse because it becomes increasingly unusable. While writers of New York Times op-eds can wave their hands and say things are complicated, Mixed Mental Artists don't have that option. And while pandering politicians can offer super simplistic solutions to voters that make sense but don't work in the real world, Mixed Mental Artists don't have that option. We are entering the octagon and struggling with problems until we find real world solutions. In practice, Bryan is the perfect person to do this with because, as of today, he's intellectually bipolar. One moment he's simplistic. The next moment things are too complicated to be understood. One of Bryan's great Mixed Mental Arts abilities is the ability to escape any train of thought but Hunter pins him down and trains him out of some old habits into some new more effective ones. Why? It's almost like Hunter is grooming Bryan for something…and in this episode we find out what it is.

Ep213 - MMA For the Mind: Why is the World Full of Horse Shit Right Now?  

A century ago, the world faced a tremendous problem: horse shit. The world was full of it. And then an amazing invention pollution-saving device was invented: the car. As the world fills up with all kinds of horse shit (this time of the verbal and behavioral kind), it's worth revisiting this experience to see what lessons Mixed Mental Artists can learn to clean things up. When the horse-drawn carriage was updated, the only thing that was changed initially was the form of locomotion. The horse was swapped out for a gasoline-powered engine. It was a super-specific and fairly limited change. That is exactly what Mixed Mental Arts is going to do for your culture. We're going to swap out very specific parts to retrain your beliefs, values and intuitions for the Information Age. A great example of what that looks like for a culture comes from Japan's Meiji Restoration. After 200 years of isolating itself from the world, Japan got a massive shock when Commodore Perry sailed his big, black steamships into Tokyo Harbor. Japan realized it needed to adapt or it would be subjugated by much stronger foreign powers. It sent experts around the world and retooled the engine of its culture to shift its culture from a feudal age culture to an industrial age culture. The culture of Silicon valley is obsessed with analyzing mistakes and using them to improve and yet when it comes to helping students do better in school, tech giants like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg don't copy the cultural traits that are the basis of their success. Instead, they give them resources like iPads and computers. iPads and computers are awesome but, at the end of the day, it's analyzing your mistakes that allow you to improve. Analyzing mistakes and using them to improve is a simple behavior anyone can do. And Hunter believes it speaks for itself as a good thing to do. Then, Bryan accuses Hunter of sounding like a Philosopher King…and that's when things get real. Philosopher King = I think I know how everybody else should live their life…and that is not what Mixed Mental Arts is about at all. Oh, yes. Things get very, very real.

Ep212 - MMA for the Mind: Master Kim and Tail Piece Tackle Black Lives Matter  

Welcome to the dojo! By special request of Hunter's mom, we're going to take our skills on the road and see what Mixed Mental Arts can do about a current, real world social issue like Black Lives Matter. One of the many wonderful things about social media is that it has revealed just how bad at humans are at making sense of things are. We're the same species that for a long time believed that the best explanation for lightning was an angry man on a cloud. Well into the 1800s, scientists believed infectious diseases were caused by bad smells and that if you didn't smell your own droppings then you wouldn't get sick. (The "whoever smelt it dealt it" logic of kids wasn't that far from the medical state of the art just two hundred years ago.) And if you still doubt just how bad all humans are at explaining things, then take a wander around the internet and google 9/11, Obama birth certificate, GMOs, vaccines, global warming, Trump, Clinton or any other damn thing. The number of theories that surround any of these things and just how opposite these things are tells you that clearly our species isn't very good at figuring out why things happen in the world. So, that Hunter's mom wants a little help understanding Black Lives Matter is simply a recognition of a hole in every human's mental game. Fortunately, there's a group of people who stake their reputations and their lives on figuring out why things happen. They will do anything to be right. And careers are made and broken on taking down current World Champions of explaining the world. And after generations and generations of entering the intellectual octagon, they've gotten some pretty darn good explanations for why things happen. They're scientists. Like all other humans, they're individually crappy at figuring things out but collectively their explanations are pretty good. (PS This whole blurb up until now is partly here because this topic is so emotional that there's a good chance that some of the things said in this podcast will be massively misunderstood. There's always a disaster scenario for even the best intentioned well thought out response to a situation that is then posted on the internet and so we've got to plan for that.) So, we're going to introduce a couple of key concepts that are going to be vital not just to understanding Black Lives Matter but that are going to be real fundamentals we use again and again in Mixed Mental Arts: 1) The Dunbar Number: Humans can only have a limited number of relationships to other humans in their head. Hint: It's not 7 billion people. Stereotyping is necessary. The issue is that we often form our stereotypes around the worst-behaved people in another group. Terrorists explicitly use that psychological quirk to set people against each other. The problem is that we tend to massively underestimate the importance of bad behavior in our own group on others. So, some dude flushes a Koran down the toilet and posts it on social media. Americans don't see the big deal because it isn't their holy book. However, that one dude has a huge impact on how Muslims perceive Americans. Ted Cruz says he wants to bomb the middle east to see if sand glows to get elected in the US but, in practice, he's handing a huge propaganda tool to ISIS that actually makes the US less safe. Lena Dunham says dining hall sushi is cultural appropriation and liberals brush that off as dumb but it gets played on Fox News again and again and is exactly why conservatives think liberals are entitled, spoiled and out of touch with the real world. Lena Dunham gives all liberals a bad name. Just as companies have to protect their brand so do groups. It doesn't matter what the facts are. It is the perception. And when there's money on the line people take those perceptions very seriously. With black lives matter and terrorism, we're not talking about money; we're talking about lives. The lives of cops, African-American men, innocent Europeans and Americans and the majority of Arabs who are so wrapped up in their own lives that they don't spend much time worrying about how other groups perceive them. The UAE, however, takes this very seriously. They had a bunch of young guys with more money than sense going and driving fast sports cars recklessly around London and giving all Emiratis a bad name. And so, they passed a law that traffic offenses committed by their citizens anywhere would be prosecuted in the UAE. Just like in a marriage between two people, things are going to work best if both sides make an effort to improve relations but even if one side or individual makes more of an effort than things can get a lot better. 2) Shit we pick up from our parents without even realizing it. Racism is now hundreds of years old. Like anything we pick up from our parents and the people around us, it is transmitted blindly from generation to generation mostly by emotional cues on the face. The problem is how you then deal with fucked up shit in your own family.

Ep211 - MMA for the Mind: Don't waste your money going to fuckin' Hahvahd. Study with Master Kim instead.  

Global warming, vaccines, evolution…it's pretty clear that scientific ideas aren't doing a very good job winning out. Neil DeGrasse Tyson has proposed building a country called Rationalia that would be entirely ruled by the evidence. But do scientists like Neil DeGrasse Tyson even know the evidence? Sadly, after over 200 episodes, it seems like they don't. The majority of them have become such narrow specialists that they don't even bother to read what other scientists have been up to and so many people with PhDs have heads filled with magical thinking. In this episode, we go through some of the different kinds of magical thinking that many scientists believe in from beliefs about their own brains, other people's brains and how ideas move. Hunter used to be the same way. Basically, he was like that dickhead in the Harvard bar in Good Will Hunting who thought that because he knew a bunch of facts that he had a realistic view of the world and the right to intellectually bully others to make himself feel big. Then, he hung out with a bunch of actors who talked endlessly about their feelings and he got so annoyed that he went off to see what science had to say about emotions. What he found left him profoundly humbled. The more he's read the more he's gotten a real education and come to realize that when Will talked to that Harvard dickhead he was talking to most people with fancy degrees: "See, the sad thing about a guy like you is, in 50 years you're gonna start doin' some thinkin' on your own and you're going to come up with the fact that there are two certainties in life: one, don't do that, and two, you dropped 150 grand on a fuckin' education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library!" The world believes in the magic of degrees. That's what you're paying for. But if you want a real education that allows you to achieve things in the real world you can study for free in the Mental Dojo of Master Kim (aka Bryan Callen). You can be Will and learn how to make Harvard dickheads submit and beg for mental mercy. While science's principles are perfect so is the Christian principle of loving thy neighbor as itself. Just because science has perfect principles that doesn't mean that the most powerful members of the institution built on those principles actually live them. When Jonathan Swift satirized science hundreds of years ago, he gave us a good idea of what Neal DeGrasse Tyson's country would look like. It would be a floating island filled with eggheads who were so interested in theories that they never bothered to question how they might be out of touch with reality. Featured Links The Reluctant Mr. Darwin The Double Helix The Autobiography of Ben Franklin Gulliver's Travels

Ep210 - MMA For the Mind: A Tale of Two Kims  

In this next installment in our journey to mastery of Mixed Mental Arts, Bryan and Hunter take a look at the primary method by which culture is transmitted from generation to generation: blind copying. Although, in everyday speech we often talk about power is if it's one thing, scientists distinguish between two forms of power: dominance and prestige. Dominance encourages submission and prestige encourages people to copy people. It's the difference between a bully and a role model. However, as spiderman learned, with great power comes great responsibility and savvy dictators and social media personalities can highjack people's prestige systems to get us to either follow their leadership blindly or to buy whatever product they want. The latter is something that really bothers Bryan. So we talk it out. We really air out all of those feelings. Does Bryan cry? Or does he break something seemingly unbreakable? When you're an actor as versatile as Bryan "Brando" Callen you're never quite sure what choice will come out. You can be sure that it will be Oscar worthy.

Ep209 - Harrison Query  

Harrison Query is a screenwriter who at 25 years old has found success in the film industry that eludes most throughout their lifetime. With the guidance and mentoring by some of Hollywood's biggest writer's - Harrison left college and began writing full time at the age of 19. He has since worked for the industry's biggest studios, directors and producers -- his next project "Honor For Sale" is currently in development with John Hillcoat (Lawless, Triple 9) in the director's chair.

Ep208 - MMA for the Mind: Henrich Sensei  

Bryan and Hunter enter the dojo of the mind with Joe Henrich, master of our first fundamental of the mind: cultural accumulation. As regular listeners will know, in his book The Secret of Our Success, Henrich lays out the case for why problem solving and critical thinking are not humanity's great superpower. Rather, our great superpower is social intelligence. It is our ability to pass on culture from generation to generation that makes us so successful and able to conquer everywhere from the tundra to the desert to being able to venture out into space. This idea is the fundamental that is going to allow all of us to make sense of the seemingly chaotic world and benefit from rather than being hurt by the clash of cultures.

Ep207 - MMA for the Mind  

After literally hundreds of episodes, you would hope that Bryan and Hunter had learned something. In fact, they think they might have. Now, it's time for a new direction in the show where rather than endlessly collecting more interesting tidbits they try and synthesize it into a unified worldview. There are lots of academics who know a lot about one thing but are clueless in other areas. We're going to try and round out our mental game and yours so we can handle anything that's thrown at us. We'll certainly be wrong along the way but maybe just maybe with the help of a lot of other people we might become slightly less idiotic over time. The fundamentals of your mental game are getting your assumptions right. We start here with the most basic assumption of all. What makes humans succeed? After hundreds of interviews and a lot of reading, we believe Harvard Professor Jo Henrich has found the answer. Humans are the only animal that can acquire culture. You can follow Professor Henrich on twitter @JoHenrich

Ep205 - Adam Grant  

Adam Grant is the youngest tenured and most highly rated Professor at the Wharton School of Business BUT he passed up the opportunity to invest in the massively successful eyewear company Warby Parker. Why did he do this? Why did Steve Jobs think the Segway was going to change the world? Why do some people do things so original that they change the world and why do people who are brilliant in one area often misread brilliance in other areas. We loved Adam's first book Give and Take. Then, as he says in the interview, he got fed up with talking about that book so he wrote another all about how non-conformists succeed and fail in changing the world for the better. Full of fascinating stories and the latest research, the Originals lets us know that Give and Take wasn't a fluke. Adam Grant has now written two brilliant books. And though it's probably premature to say this from a statistical standpoint, it's pretty clear that based on his first two books that Adam Grant really knows how to write great books. Thank goodness for us he's so young so he can keep pumping great books out for years to come.

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