Episode 49

Published on:

8th Jul 2022

Lex Fridman & Jonathan Haidt: The Techno Monk & The Social Scientist

First, we apologise sincerely for the delayed-release. Matt and Chris have been busy beavers splicing together this decoding which proved particular gruelling for all sorts of uninteresting (but on-theme) technical reasons.

But finally, the wait is over and the long-anticipated episode on AI-aficionado and popular podcast host, Lex Fridman, is here. Although as the title indicates this accidentally turned into a joint decoding episode of his guest, the 'heterodox' social psychologist, Jonathan Haidt.

Lex is an interesting character and as such, for the decoding, two rather different pieces of content were selected: 1) a day-in-the-life video dairy and 2) one of his characteristic long-form interviews (with Haidt discussing social media). The format of a day-in-the-life video is perhaps inescapably cringey but it did give some unique insight into Lex's techno-monk lifestyle and his ongoing fascination/discovery of just how bad the Nazis & Hitler were. His interview with Haidt on the other hand was more substantial and covers a lot of tech-related issues that are genuinely complex and subject to an ongoing debate.

Jonathan Haidt is a famous and well-regarded academic but also something of a controversial figure online in part because of his involvement in the dreaded 'culture wars'. In particular, Haidt co-wrote the influential book 'The Codding of the American Mind', founded 'Heterodox Academy', and is a vocal critic of 'wokism' and certain aspects of social media. We take a look at his arguments and try to discern whether he is a nuanced social scientist offering prescient warnings or a boomer shaking his fist at the kids these days?

Join us and find out!


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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.