On Opinion

1/12/2022

The Spirituality Movement, with Jules Evans

Season 2, Ep. 28
S2 E28: The Spirituality Movement“A lot of those who’ve left the church tend to be younger people, who nonetheless still consider themselves spiritual. They’ve been turned off by churches, but they haven’t necessarily gone full atheist, materialist…”Religion is declining around the world. Even in America, the great outlier of the post-Christian West, half the population doesn’t believe in organised religion any more.But the loss of our traditional beliefs has given rise to a growing number of ‘spiritualist’ alternatives. They range from mainstream ‘Wellness’ culture, through eco-spiritualism, occultism, witch culture on Instagram and astrology on TikTok, through to the darker visions of QAnon and Millenarianism.What defines Spiritualist thinking? What are its roots? Why is it flowering now? And why does it bleed so easily into Conspiracy?“In the last two years, spiritual culture has curdled - from positive and optimistic to a much more fearful and paranoid kind of message…”Listen to Jules and Turi discuss:The history of spiritualism, from the 16th century to todayThe cornerstones of spiritualist thinking: from myths and monsters through to harmony and healthThe ‘Meaning Gap’‘Conspirituality’: why conspiracy theories and spirituality so easily bleed into each other.Intuition (over Reason) as a path to knowledgeWhat Rationalists have lostHow Spiritualists have reacted to CovidJules EvansJules Evans is a writer and practical philosopher interested in emotions, well-being, transcendence and flourishing. He is the author of Philosophy for Life: And Other Dangerous Situations, andThe Art of Losing Control: A Guide to Ecstatic Experience.More on this episodeLearn all aboutOn OpinionMeetTuri Munthe:https://twitter.com/turiLearn more about the Parlia project hereAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
11/15/2021

Generational Politics, with Bobby Duffy

Season 2, Ep. 27
S2 E27: Generational Politics“If you truly understand what’s different between generations, you have a much better idea of what’s coming up in the future.”It turns out there are very real differences between the generations. Key external events - a world war, a crippling global financial crash,9⁄11, or even a pandemic - will mark a generation in a way that differentiates them from previous or later ones.But there are also slower cultural and technological differences that also make their mark: consider the dwindling role of religion across the West over 4 generations, or the impact of smart phones on the way we all think.”The concept of the Generation is the most important one… because it is how history moves, changes, wheels and flows”- Ortega y GassetBobby Duffy has writtenthebook on generational differences, and here explains what brings us together and splits us apart - from our attitudes to sex, money and moral values to the way we think of driving or home-ownership.“Because we’re so deeply connected, looking at things generationally is really important to us because we want each generation after us to do better”Listen to Bobby discuss:How to go about defining generationsHow we get our stereotypes right and wrongWhy Gen Z are in a ‘sex recession’Why Gen X are so miserableWhether the Baby Boomers really did have it so much easierWhether there is space for the ‘individual’ in a demographic analysis of culture and personalityThe 3 Key drivers of attitudinal changeAnd why we all live 200 years…Read theFull TranscriptBobby DuffyBobby Duffy is Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Policy Institute. He has worked across most public policy areas in his career of nearly 30 years in policy research and evaluation, including being seconded to the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. He is the author ofGenerations - Does when you’re born shape who you are?More on this episodeLearn all aboutOn OpinionMeetTuri Munthe:https://twitter.com/turiLearn more about the Parlia project hereAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
9/21/2021

Political Predisposition, with John Hibbing

Season 2, Ep. 26
S2 E26: Political Predisposition“40% of the variance observed in political attitudes can be attributed to genetics”Twin studies have suggested that one third of our political orientation can be traced to our genes. But does that mean our politics are predisposed?John Hibbing is one of the greats of Political Psychology in the US. His work spans decades and has broken ground across multiple disciplines - from polling and representation, to the biology of political differences. John believes that knowledge of of this genetic influence can help us better understand each other.“Predispositions are not destiny, but defaults - defaults that can be and frequently are overridden.”Conservatives and Liberals evolved clear and distinct bedrock values deep in our collective past. Our views of the outsider, our perception of threat, our concern for order may be as innate to us as our sense of taste or our personality traits.“Politics is universal; it’s human nature that varies”Recognising how our values differ, and the reasons why we have such different perspectives on what makes for a just and good society is fundamental to the democratic project. Because ultimately, we need both Left and Right to survive.Listen to John discuss:How taste and politics are linkedThe core values of conservatism and liberalismWhy Left and Right are universal across culture and historywhether there is a ‘Liberal’ GeneWhy Nature vs Nurture is a meaningless questionHow to talk to the other sideRead theFull TranscriptJohn HibbingJohn Hibbing is an American political scientist and Foundation Regents University Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is known for his research on the biological and psychological correlates of political ideology. He is the author ofPredisposed: Liberals, Conservatives and the Biology of Political DifferencesMore on this episodeLearn all aboutOn OpinionMeetTuri Munthe:https://twitter.com/turiLearn more about the Parlia project hereAnd visit us at:https://www.parlia.com
6/30/2021

Emotional Politics, with Omar Kholeif and Jonathan Sklar

Season 2, Ep. 25
S2 E25: On Emotion“The world that we live in today is fuelled by heightened emotion…”Over the course of these two seasons of On Opinion, we’ve looked at opinions through the lens of philosophy, psychology, social science, anthropology and evolution. But one area we’ve missed is that of feeling.Omar Kholeif and Jonathan Sklar take very different approaches to understand the world we live in, but both see emotion as something that can affect individualsandcollective groups.Jonathan feels that you can transpose psychoanalysis, which is designed for the individual, to a culture and a moment in history. Omar is convinced not only that ‘ages’ have emotions, dominant leitmotifs of feeling that impact everyone around them, but also that today is a particularly emotional age - that our feelings are closer to the surface.Listen to Turi speak to Jonathan and Omar about:How we define ‘ages’The difference between the Arab Spring and Black Lives Matter protestsWhether we need to ‘fix’ an age of anxietyThe rise of hatred across the WestHow psychoanalysis can heal emotional wounds of traumaThe importance of mourning“There’s a considerable rise in anxiety and tension and people hating other people, and there’s far less debate going on…”Works cited include:William Reddy’sEmotional RegimesWill Davies onNervous StatesRead theFull TranscriptOmar KholeifOmar is a writer, curator, and cultural historian, and is Director of Collections and Senior Curator at Sharjah Art Foundation, Government of Sharjah, UAE. Trained as a political scientist, Kholeif’s career began as a journalist and documentary filmmaker before entering into the picture palace of museums. Concerned with the intersections of emerging technologies with post-colonial, and critical race theory, Kholeif’s research has explored histories of performance art; the visual experience of mental illness; the interstices of social justice, as well as the aesthetics of digital culture.Jonathan SklarJonathan trained in medicine at the Royal Free, University of London in 1973, and then trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy in the Adult Department, Tavistock Centre for four years with adults, children and adolescents. At the same time he trained at the Institute of Psychoanalysis and has been a psychoanalyst since 1983 and a training analyst since 1996. He is chair of The Independent Psychoanalysis Trust.On 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.Produced by Emma PenneyMore 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
6/23/2021

The Journal of Controversial Ideas, with Francesca Minerva

Season 2, Ep. 24
S2 E24: The Journal of Controversial Ideas“You can’t have a good education if you’re not exposed to ideas you don’t agree with”Twelve years ago, Francesca Minerva published anacademic articlein the Journal of Medical Ethics giving a moral defence of infanticide. She was overwhelmed by the reaction she received - for an academic article in the early days of Twitter and Facebook, it went ‘viral’. She received death threats from the public, academics refusing to shake her hand, and she found it hard to get tenure. But she says that she was lucky. If the same thing happened today, she’d be a lot worse off than a few disgruntled colleagues.Francesca is one of the co-founders of theJournal of Controversial Ideas, alongside Peter Singer and Jeff McMahan. Their aim is to promote free inquiry on controversial topics, in the face of what they see as increasing censorship across the academy.“It has become really common for academics to sign petitions to get somebody they disagree with fired or demoted…”Francesca worries that without the capacity to discuss or challenge widely held views, our search for the truth will fall flat. She worries that the very idea of academic enquiry is changing: that truth is ‘constructed’ rather than ‘discovered’.“I don’t know if university as we know it is going to survive.”Works cited include:Jon Haidt andThe Coddling of the American MindRonald Dworkinon TruthRead theFull TranscriptFrancesca MinervaFrancesca Minerva is a research fellow at the University of Milan. Between 2011 and 2020 she has worked as a post-doc at the University of Melbourne, at the University of Ghent, and at Warwick University. She is the co-founder and co-editor of theJournal of Controversial Ideas. Her research focuses on applied ethics, including lookism, conscientious objection, abortion, academic freedom, and cryonics.On 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