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On Opinion

The Parlia Podcast, with Turi Munthe

Where do your opinions come from? Do we ‘think’ our world views, or ‘feel’ them? And what do our beliefs mean for politics and society? In each episode of On Opinion, Turi Munthe asks thought leaders to share their persp
Latest Episode6/16/2021

The Evolution of Cooperation, with Nichola Raihani

Season 2, Ep. 23
S2 E23: The Evolution of Cooperation“Every multicellular being is a collective that operates as a whole - the individual is an ‘invention’ of evolution”Cooperation is at work up everywhere - from our ‘selfish’ genes working together in the genome, through to the democratic societies that regulate our collaboration.Cooperation is what distinguishes us most strikingly from our evolutionary cousin, the Chimpanzee. It is what allowed us safely to descend from the tree canopy into the savannah. It is what defended us from tyrants, helped us build agrarian societies, and forms the basis of our sense of justice and morality.But cooperation has a dark side: we collaborate to better compete. How we regulate that dark force is key to our survival.“Collaboration is the essential ingredient of and largest threat to our success”Listen to Nichola explain:The biological evolution of cooperation in humansHow we compare with other great collaborators: bees, ants and birdsThe evolution of society: from egalitarian to feudal to democraticWhy loneliness is physiologically harmfulWhen cooperation becomes murderousWhy evolution gave us the Tragedy of the CommonsHow the invention of Institutions changes the rules of the evolutionary gameWorks cited include:Christopher Boehm’sReverse Dominance HierarchyPeter Turchinand hisZ-CurveRichard Dawkins’Selfish GeneRead theFull TranscriptNichola RaihaniNichola Raihani is a professor in Evolution and Behaviour at UCL, where she leads the Social Evolution and Behaviour Lab. She is the author ofThe Social Instinct: how cooperation shaped the worldOn Opinion is a member ofThe Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.More on this episodeLearn all aboutOn OpinionMeetTuri Munthe:https://twitter.com/turiLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
6/16/2021

The Evolution of Cooperation, with Nichola Raihani

Season 2, Ep. 23
S2 E23: The Evolution of Cooperation“Every multicellular being is a collective that operates as a whole - the individual is an ‘invention’ of evolution”Cooperation is at work up everywhere - from our ‘selfish’ genes working together in the genome, through to the democratic societies that regulate our collaboration.Cooperation is what distinguishes us most strikingly from our evolutionary cousin, the Chimpanzee. It is what allowed us safely to descend from the tree canopy into the savannah. It is what defended us from tyrants, helped us build agrarian societies, and forms the basis of our sense of justice and morality.But cooperation has a dark side: we collaborate to better compete. How we regulate that dark force is key to our survival.“Collaboration is the essential ingredient of and largest threat to our success”Listen to Nichola explain:The biological evolution of cooperation in humansHow we compare with other great collaborators: bees, ants and birdsThe evolution of society: from egalitarian to feudal to democraticWhy loneliness is physiologically harmfulWhen cooperation becomes murderousWhy evolution gave us the Tragedy of the CommonsHow the invention of Institutions changes the rules of the evolutionary gameWorks cited include:Christopher Boehm’sReverse Dominance HierarchyPeter Turchinand hisZ-CurveRichard Dawkins’Selfish GeneRead theFull TranscriptNichola RaihaniNichola Raihani is a professor in Evolution and Behaviour at UCL, where she leads the Social Evolution and Behaviour Lab. She is the author ofThe Social Instinct: how cooperation shaped the worldOn Opinion is a member ofThe Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.More on this episodeLearn all aboutOn OpinionMeetTuri Munthe:https://twitter.com/turiLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
6/9/2021

Psychometrics: measuring ourselves, with John Rust

Season 2, Ep. 22
### S2 E22: Psychometrics: measuring ourselves> _“Psychometrics is one of the most important or influential areas of applied psychology”_Psychometrics, the study of personality and ability, began with the Chinese Imperial Court exams, which measured intelligence and civility, as well as archery and horse-riding. Via the East India Company, testing - of intelligence as well as psychological traits - spread to the British and French civil service, and then onwards to education. Psychometrics gave us exams.John Rust, one of the world’s foremost authorities, walks us through the history and politics of psychometrics, from eugenics and the fraught question of race and IQ, through to the four core psychographic theories of personality: Freud’s psychoanalysis, Carl Rogers’ Humanistic Theory of person, the Social Learning approach, to the Genetic (Rust’s own focus). In the process, he tackles the very politics of testing, psychometry’s complicated place in the world of psychology, and the validity of Myers-Briggs and OCEAN tests. > _“It's a remarkably important area of science. If we can get it right, we can do lots of good. If you get it wrong, there can be a disaster.”_Listen to John explain:- The origins of psychometrics- The problem with Evolutionary Psychology- The Naturalistic Fallacy- Myers-Briggs and Big 5 Theories of Personality- The Flynn Effect- The ethics of psychometrics in the age of Big Data and ‘Surveillance Capitalism’Works cited include:- Sir Francis Galton’s [Lexical Hypothesis](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexical_hypothesis)- Raymond Cattell and his [16 Personality Types](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16PF_Questionnaire)- James Flynn’s [work on IQ and race](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect)Read the [**Full Transcript**] (https://www.parlia.com/article/transcript-understanding-psychometry-with-john)[**John Rust**](https://www.psychometrics.cam.ac.uk/about-us/directory/john-rust)John Rust is the founder of The Psychometrics Centre and an Associate Fellow of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. He is also a Senior Member of Darwin College.On Opinion is a member of [The Democracy Group] (https://www.democracygroup.org/), a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.Listen toOut Of Order.More on this episodeLearn all aboutOn OpinionMeetTuri Munthe:https://twitter.com/turiLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
5/26/2021

On Inhumanity with David Livingstone Smith

Season 2, Ep. 21
“Dehumanisation both justifies and motivates acts of extraordinary violence - but it is not in any sense an innate disposition”Here lies the terrifying quandary: if humans are the most social of all primates and mammals, if our sociality and capacity for collaboration is at the very heart of our success as a species, how are we able to engage in such acts of hideous violence towards each other?“Dehumanisation is a psychological response to political forces”David Livingstone Smith explains how two key ideas underpin the psychology of Dehumanisation: Psychological Essentialism and Hierarchical Thinking, false heuristics that are nevertheless deeply embedded in all of us.But he goes further. To understand the depths of cruelty and humiliation, the ritualistic violence, the near-religious ecstasy of moral purpose that often comes with genocide and torture, we need to understand the mind of the Perpetrator.To the perpetrator, their victim is both human and non-human, vermin and all-powerful. More than any physical danger, the victim represents a metaphysical cognitive threat - and becomes a monster to be exterminated.“When we say ‘we must put them in their place’, it’s a deep idea: we want to put ‘them’ in their metaphysical place”Listen to David explain:The metaphysical threat of the ‘other’The Uncanny - and its threat to our sense of purity and orderDehumanisation as psychosisWhy cruelty and humiliation are such intrinsic elements of dehumanisationWhat we can do to fix it.“We are disposed to have difficulty harming one another, and yet…”Works cited include:Arthur O. Lovejoy’sGreat Chain of BeingErnst Jentsch onThe Psychology of the UncannyMasahiro Mori’sUncanny ValleyMary Douglas’Purity and DangerNoel Carroll andThe Philosophy of HorrorRead theFull TranscriptDavid Livingstone SmithDavid Livingstone Smith is professor of philosophy at the University of New England. He earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of London, Kings College. He is the author of many books, includingOn Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How To Resist ItOn Opinion is a member ofThe Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.Listen to The Science of Politics.More on this episodeLearn all aboutOn OpinionMeetTuri Munthe:https://twitter.com/turiLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
5/19/2021

The Neuroscience of Dehumanisation, with Lasana Harris

Season 2, Ep. 20
“Dehumanisation is a psychological process, and every psychological process can be used for good or bad.”Humanisation (attributing motive and consciousness) and dehumanisation are flip sides of common cognitive processes, what Harris calls “Flexible Social Cognition”, which he has measured via fMRI scans.“I think of dehumanization much more as an everyday psychological phenomenon”Neurologically, dehumanisation is the ability to regulate one’s own social cognition. We grant more ‘humanity’ to our friends than the bad driver in front of us. And in certain professional contexts, dehumanising is a good thing: to small degrees, doctors do it their patients better to treat them.But thinking of dehumanisation as a scale provides a new frame through which to look at sexual objectification and the commoditisation of labour, all the way through to the Holocaust and the Slave Trade.Because while dehumanisation isn’t the cause of atrocities, it is always used to justify them.“Emotions like anger and fear are much more energising when it comes to committing these human atrocities. What dehumanisation does is it allows you to justify why the behaviour has occurred…”Listen to Lasana explain:Theory of MindSocial NeuroscienceThe role of Stereotypes in cognitionThe Evolutionary reasons for “Flexible Social Cognition”And how we can fight Dehumanisation - societally, and as individuals.“We need to re-engineer our social systems”Works cited include:Dignity Takings and Dehumanization: A Social Neuroscience PerspectiveWhy Economic, Health, Legal, and Immigration Policy Should Consider DehumanizationHow social cognition can inform social decision makingRead theFull TranscriptLasana HarrisDr Lasana Harris is Senior Lecturer in Social Cognition at UCL. Lasana’s research focuses on social, legal and economic decision making and how thinking about what other people are thinking affects those types of decisions. His work explores dehumanisaton, how people fail to consider other people’s minds, and anthropomorphism, extending minds to things that don’t have them.On Opinion is a member of The Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.Listen to Democracy MattersMore on this episodeLearn all aboutOn OpinionMeetTuri Munthe:https://twitter.com/turiLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
5/5/2021

Polarisation on the Couch, with Alex Evans

Season 2, Ep. 18
“Our inner and outer crises are two sides of the same coin”There are many lenses through which to explain polarisation - economic, political, demographic, evolutionary… Alex Evans wants us to consider it from a psychological perspective.Alex has campaigned around inclusion and social justice for two decades, but researchers in Israel changed his mind about social fracture. Polarisation between Israelis and Palestinians is amental health issue- driven by ongoing trauma, anxiety, hyper-vigilance and threat perception.If democracy depends on citizens who can manage their mental and emotional states, feel empathy for each other, and share a sense of common identity and purpose, we need to address our inner worlds as much as the outer one.“The state of the mind and the state of the world intersect”Larger Us, his campaigning organisation, puts psychology at the very heart of its approach to curing our social divide.Listen to Alex explain how society - both governments and individuals - can move from fight/flight to self-awareness and empathy, from powerlessness to agency, from disconnection and loneliness to belonging.Along the way, he also discusses:The changing role of Religion in societyCollective PsychologyHow ‘spirituality’ gave up on social justiceWhen polarisation is goodAnd how we can move from an Us-vs-Them to a ‘Larger Us’ Society“We really have to come together to tackle these crises but our capacity to do so is being eroded by our emotional responses.”Works cited include:Johann Hari’sLost ConnectionsJurgen Habermas onDemocratic PolarisationRobert Wright’sNon-ZeroRichard Layard onHappinessDavid Bohm onDialogueAlex EvansAlex founded the Collective Psychology Project in 2018, which then became Larger Us in 2021. He is the author ofThe Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough?, and is a Senior Fellow at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation.More on this episodeLearn all aboutthe Parlia Podcasthere.MeetTuri Munthe:https://www.parlia.com/u/TuriLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
4/28/2021

Conflict is Good, with Ian Leslie

Season 2, Ep. 17
“The avoidance of conflict is actually the real problem”We traditionally view an argument as a symptom of a problematic relationship, but relationship psychologists have found that they actually lead to healthier and happier people. Children who grow up arguing with their parents do better in school, and couples who air their disagreements stay together longer.What holds true for the family, holds true for all groups of people: conflict is central to Democracy. Humans evolved to reasoncollectively: we need each other to get to the truth.“For valuable conflict to occur, you need two things: a shared goal, and agreed rules of engagement.”Listen to Ian and Turi discuss:Why arguments are good for usWhy most ‘conflict’ on social media isn’t ‘Fight’ so much as ‘Flight’Why emotion is so important in conflictHow we can turn our cognitive flaws to society’s advantageHow human individuals evolved to argue, but society evolved to reason.Democracy as an ‘Infinite Game’How we can have healthy arguments“It doesn’t matter if you are right, it matters that WE, as a society, are right. Arguing is what gets us there.”Works cited include:Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber’sEnigma of ReasonJames Carse and hisFinite and Infinite GamesIan LeslieIan Leslie is a writer and author of acclaimed books on human behaviour. He writes about psychology, culture, technology and business for the New Statesman, the Economist, the Guardian and the Financial Times. He is the author ofConflicted.More on this episodeLearn all aboutthe Parlia Podcasthere.MeetTuri Munthe:https://www.parlia.com/u/TuriLearn more about the Parlia project here:https://www.parlia.com/aboutAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com