Genes, Germs, & Justice (w/ Nicholas Christakis)
The Lumper's Lament.
We live in a society enamored with divisions, but Nicholas Christakis lives by the outlandish idea that humans are fundamentally similar — and has devoted much of his career to uncovering the universals of social experience. (He's a lumper, not a splitter.) The Yale professor and author of many books — including Blueprint and Apollo's Arrow — unpacks his fascinating findings in evolutionary biology, describes the price we pay for the spread of ideas (namely, germs), and reflects on that now infamous moment on the Yale quad six years ago.
On the agenda:
-The asymmetry of celebrity [5:46-13:41]
-The perception and reality of inequality [13:42-23:24]
-Against the ascendant emphasis of difference [23:25-43:21]
-Lumpers and splitters [43:22-49:50]
-The social suite: How genes shaped our societies [49:51-1:07:10]
-Why utopias and other intentional communities fail [1:07:11-1:14:16]
-Prestige hierarchy and teaching [1:14:17-1:18:24]
-Reflecting on the Yale incident, six years later [1:18:25-1:31:03]
-On Covid (the price we pay for the spread of ideas) [1:31:04-1:37:42]
-Distrusting institutions [1:37:43-1:45:26]
-Blindspots on the left and the right [1:45:27-1:49:22]
-Bonus: Can culture change our genes? (On exophenotypes) [1:49:39-2:01:35]
Uncertain Things is hosted and produced by Adaam James Levin-Areddy and Vanessa M. Quirk. For more doomsday rumination, subscribe to: uncertain.substack.com.