Self-described "classic Scottish enlightenment liberal" and prolific historian Niall Ferguson — author of The Square and the Tower, The Great Degeneration, and, most recently, Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe — graced the pod with his keen mind and sexy Scottish tones. Niall explained why we are so fixated on the end times, and yet so woefully unprepared for catastrophe when it strikes. He also shared his theory on why historical thinking (beyond your go-to Hitler comparisons, thank you very much) would actually better prepare us for disasters. And by the end of the conversation, we even got his takes on a few hot topics: big tech, section 230, and the Cold War II we're already living in.
On the agenda:
-Remembering Norman Stone [11:39]
-The nexus of economics and everything else [15:52]
-Doom & cataloguing catastrophes [23:03]
-We'd love history to be cyclical (and torture data to make it so) [31:48]
-Seeing the tigers in the grass - and responding rapidly [40:02]
-Diagnosing the pathologies of pseudo-preparedness [49:25]
-We need to teach history differently (and forget about the frickin mid-20th century) [58:23]
-Networks, ideological contagions, and section 230 [1:06:25]
-In defense of uncertainty [1:23:25]
-Cold War II and the cumbersome West [1:30:45]
Niall’s recommended read on Israel/Palestine.
Uncertain Things is hosted and produced by Adaam James Levin-Areddy and Vanessa M. Quirk. For more doomsday ruminations, subscribe to: uncertain.substack.com.