Episode 54

Published on:

3rd Sep 2022

Interview with Helen Lewis on culture wars and religion, that Jordan Peterson interview, and gurus generally

Today Chris and Matt are visited by Helen Lewis, a journalist, editor, and writer with what could very fairly be described as a rather distinguished career in those fields.

Helen has previously worked at the New Statesman and is currently with The Atlantic. She has also served as a Women in the Humanities Honorary Writing Fellow at Oxford University and also on the steering committee for the Reuters Institute for Journalism at Oxford University. Her books include Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights. Helen's work covers a broad array of topics including politics, feminist issues, and contemporary/online culture. She is also known for a particular long-form interview which became a 'viral moment' when she sat down for a challenging discussion with one, Jordan B. Peterson.

Most recently Helen has produced "The Church of Social Justice" for BBC4, which asks whether political movements might be taking the place of traditional religions in Britain. A question which never generates any controversy whatsoever. She is also working on an upcoming project that looks at internet gurus and the ecosystems they spawn. So, we were glad to take the opportunity to catch up and talk about the intersections with our rather idiosyncratic collection of interests.

Join us as we try to decipher whether everything is a religion, if social justice requires a pope, and how exactly can we resolve ALL of those thorny culture war debates. We might not ultimately reach any satisfying answers but Helen does offer her one rule for life at the end of the interview!

Also featured on this episode: our most defensive response to a review to date, and a segment on the dangers of JAQing off!


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About the Podcast

Decoding the Gurus
A psychologist and an anthropologist try to make sense of the world's greatest self-declared Gurus.
An exiled Northern Irish anthropologist and a hitchhiking Australian psychologist take a close look at the contemporary crop of 'secular gurus', iconoclasts, and other exiles from the mainstream, offering their own brands of unique takes and special insights.

Leveraging two of the most diverse accents in modern podcasting, Chris and Matt dig deep into the claims, peek behind the psychological curtains, and try to figure out once and for all... What's it all About?

Join us, as we try to puzzle our way through and talk some smart-sounding smack about the intellectual giants of our age, from Jordan Peterson to Robin DiAngelo. Are they revolutionary thinkers or just grifters with delusions of grandeur?

Join us and let's find out!
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About your hosts

Christopher Kavanagh

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A Northern Irish cognitive anthropologist who occasionally moonlights as a social psychologist. Chris has long standing interests in the psychology of conspiracy theorists and pseudoscience. His academic research focuses on the Cognitive Science of Religion and ritual psychology. He lives happily in Japan with his family.

Matthew Browne

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An Australian psychologist and numbers-guy. He does research on all kinds of stuff, but particularly enjoys looking into why people believe the things they do: religion, conspiracy theories, alternative medicine and stuff. He's into social media in the same way people slow down for car accidents.