Episode 37

Published on:

26th Feb 2022

Interview with Virginia Heffernan on Edge, the dangers of Scientism, & Culture Wars

On this week's show we have a broad ranging discussion with the well known journalist and author Virginia Heffernan. Virginia has written a bunch on the topic of technology, social media, scientism, and especially the Edge organisation. We discuss her research into Edge and related figures but also range further afield to cover debates in academia, the culture war and gurus, anthropology debates in the 90s, race & IQ rationalists, and other such topics.

One short service note is that Matt is incognito for part of the conversation as he had a prior appointment so you will have to endure Chris functioning on his own but do not fear our intrepid psychologist re-emerges to offer some words of wisdom at the end. Also, the conversation with Virginia was recorded in advance of the events in Ukraine so no recent events are discussed (which is probably for the best).

For those who want to do a bit more digging on the topics discussed, below are a bunch of related articles and you can also follow Virginia on Twitter (@page88) and check out her new podcast 'This is Critical' which encourages people to look critically at a wide array of topics, which is quite on brand for us!


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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.