Joe Henrich (WEIRD people and what drives a culture’s success?)

  • 00:00:34 What drove Joe to research and write his latest book – The WEIRDest People in the World and what it suggests about the timeline of human development
  • 00:08:10 What made us these WEIRD people? Why and how did the nuclear family emerge? How did marriage rules contribute to this? How did public markets evolve to support the growth of WEIRD people?
  • 00:13:46 What role did the Catholic Church contribute to the rise of the WEIRD people? How did the Orthodox Church help develop a similar approach?
  • 00:17:16 How early Christianity spread mostly through women in urban areas.
  • 00:20:10 What actually drives the dialectic between pleasure and moral behavior? How are religions modifying our behavior to cooperate more and behave ‘less sinful’?
  • 00:25:59 Is Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel) right? Did we (the West) simply get lucky?
  • 00:30:31 What should we keep in mind if we set up a new society from scratch?
  • 00:34:47 What role should institutions play in a cultural development? Can they define the ‘ought’ but can they leave the ‘how’ open?
  • 00:38:35 Why did other religions not copy the successful innovations of the Catholic Church? Is religion developing in a similar way of ‘creative destruction’?
  • 00:44:10 Does more people (with diverse backgrounds) in the same space produce the most productivity?
  • 00:49:29 Is our declining birth rate a bug or feature? Doesn’t it slow down or rate of innovation greatly?
  • 00:52:45 What roles does polygamy and religion have in the birth rate?
  • 00:59:01 is freedom a central part of a success of a civilization?

You may watch this episode on Youtube – Joe Henrich (WEIRD people and what drives a culture’s success?).

Joe Henrich is a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University (and formerly a professor of psychology and economics at the University of British Columbia).

He is particularly interested in the question of how humans evolved from “being a relatively unremarkable primate a few million years ago to the most successful species on the globe”, and how culture shaped our species’ genetic evolution.

His latest book is now available on Amazon – The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous.

Big Thanks to our Sponsors!

ExpressVPN – Claim back your Internet privacy for less than $10 a month!

Mighty Travels Premium – incredible airfare and hotel deals – so everyone can afford to fly Business Class and book 5 Star Hotels! Sign up for free!

Divvy – get business credit without a personal guarantee and 21st century spend management plus earn 7x rewards on restaurants & more. Get started for free!

Brex – get a business account, a credit card, spend management & convertible rewards for every dollar you spend. Plus now earn $250 just for signing up (Terms & Conditions apply).


Torsten Jacobi: I saw your latest book, which is titled The Weirdest People in the World, and has a really interesting subtitle, how the West became psychologically peculiar, and particularly prosperous. That’s a lot of difficult words, but a really interesting topic that I thought we should really talk. When you wrote that book, what was the main observation that led you to come up with this relatively big compendium?

Joe Henrich: Yeah, I mean, the key idea that I wanted to figure out was to explain the psychological variation that my colleagues and I had documented around the world in a paper in 2010 called The Weirdest People in the World with a question mark at the end. And there, we were really challenging psychologists who had built an entire field based on experiments with largely undergraduates, many of which were Americans. And whenever we could find data from diverse populations around the world, we would plot it. And not only did we show that there’s a lot of variation across populations around the world, but the populations typically used by psychologists and behavioral economists and others to characterize humans turn out to be psychologically unusual, often anchoring the extreme ends of these distributions.

Torsten Jacobi: Yeah. Well, one thing that I, and I think it resonates very well with your book and the theme of your book, one theme that I brought up quite a bit on this podcast is that I feel we are on this relatively strange arc of humanity. And by that, I mean, the Old Testament arc of people who were really fascinated by technology, who have kind of got into this art self improvement life cycle. It’s almost like we read too many self help books in our ancestors. And we went into this praying towards technology instead of living in this world. And we can see this was hunter gatherers in Papua New Guinea that still live in the same world that we probably lived in 50,000 years ago, 100,000 years ago, where we now feel technology is kind of putting us onto this level where we can be God, where we can influence the world, instead of being influenced by these forces outside of us, which is, I think, a whole dear to what hunter gatherer societies do.

Joe Henrich: Yeah, I mean, I sort of get to that place a bit in the book, because I discuss the emergence of notions of progress. And as part of that is that we can fix the world. We can solve problems. We can control nature. Nature is here for us to use. And those ideas, of course, have deep origins. But they also become particularly prominent during the Industrial Revolution, when technology really does take off and people begin conquering diseases and inoculating and public health. And cities, for the first time, become places that are more healthy than the countryside, rather than places that are really death traps and full of epidemic disease.

Torsten Jacobi: Yeah. When you say, beer people, you don’t actually mean beer, right? It’s an acronym. Right.

Joe Henrich: So yeah, my colleagues, Steve Heinen, Aaron, Orinzion, and I, when we were putting together this paper that I mentioned in 2010, we wanted to have some label for the populations typically studied by psychologists and other researchers. So weird is an acronym that’s actually a background, I guess, that stands for Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. And we just thought that was a handy way to raise consciousness about this unusual pattern that we were finding in the psychological data. So the term weird, in some sense, I want people to not take it too seriously, except that it’s meant to raise people’s consciousness about the exclusiveness of so much research and focused on this one peculiar population.

Torsten Jacobi: Yeah. When you look at this time stream beer in, when you look at your research and what you’ve found out, do you feel we are going somewhere? We are going towards a higher complexity and we are too too, I don’t want to say a better human version of us, but a version that is more optimized to work with technology. Do you feel there is a calling out there and we are being pushed this way? Or that’s something we kind of make up in our minds?

Joe Henrich: Yeah, I mean, so in the kinds of cultural evolutionary models that really underpin the book, I’m thinking about what’s driving cultural evolution are very basic aspects of human learning, like who people pay attention to, who become successful, things like prestige, and then also just learning from kind of what works. And then of course, competition among societies. So some societies develop institutions that either allow them to cooperate more or allow them to be innovative, and that leads to success in competition with other groups. So there’s nothing in that in those kinds of models that kind of propel in the direction you’re suggesting. And of course, over the course of history, all flourishing and successful societies eventually collapse. So you don’t want to think about this with a simple linear kind of monotonic increasing, say, economic growth or something like that.

Torsten Jacobi: But it seems like when we look at this long time stream of productivity growth, and that’s usually driven by technology, at least the last couple of thousand years, let’s put it this way, we have this enormous extra productivity that we are really proud of right from the Industrial Revolution only 200 years ago. And do you feel, but it doesn’t necessarily improve our well being, right? It makes us more healthy, but our mental well being, I’m not so sure we actually improved. Do you feel when you look at the different cultural development, you just see them as right objectively, or you feel like there is a better higher productivity, is always better, at least in the long term?

Joe Henrich: Yeah, no, I don’t think about it that way at all. I mean, the question I’m trying to answer is really, while there’s this the weird people question, how do we explain the psychological variation? And then there’s the question of what the origin of the Industrial Revolution, the economic growth that we’ve had over the last 200 years. And in the book, I point out that you can spin that different ways. Of course, there’s the amazing things like flight, going to the moon, things like that, increasing lifespan, reducing infant mortality, all that kind of amazing technological stuff. But of course, I also point out that there’s been lots of ecological destruction, the destruction of Aboriginal populations. So there’s been a real downside to this economic expansion. And we may yet not have suffered the full downside as the climate changes and things like this. So I don’t have an opinion. You can spin it good. You can spin it bad. We’ll only know the real outcome of that in terms of the material conditions of life. If you look at something like happiness, it is the case that greater material security does seem to go along, at least in a log fashion, with greater happiness, at least when you ask people how good do you feel and things like that. So not surprisingly, people like to be more materially secure. Although as you get richer, the extra increment you get from another $1,000 gets smaller and smaller and smaller. But the interesting thing is that some of the things that I argue brought this about, like smaller families, actually make people less happy. So the happiest people seem to be people who are in wealthy societies, but live in big extended kin groups and are surrounded in a mess in these kind of warm social networks that characterize a lot of other societies.

Torsten Jacobi: Yeah, yeah. When what are the factors that you identified that really made us these real people? And I remember some things from the books that we have different marriage rules. What are the key factors that really changed us?

Joe Henrich: So in the book, I focus on how different human institutions have changed how we think. And one of the ones I focus on is the emergence of the nuclear family. So I’m interested in why nuclear families emerged in Europe when they did and then why they eventually began spreading and how those then shape how we think, increasing individualism, increasing analytic thinking. So that’s one of the things I explore is the effect of these kin based institutions, as I call them. So the organization of families. And that really dramatically shifts over the Middle Ages in Europe. And then as the institutions that developed in Western Europe have spread across the world, urbanization has spread. You begin to see nuclear families in lots of other places. So it’s really a global shift. But other institutions like impersonal markets, I think this markets with social norms that allow you to interact and trade with strangers have a big effect on our psychology. And I talk about how being able to voluntarily choose your occupation may shape our personalities and how the pressures of a market environment might shape how we think about time and the equation many people make between time and money, importance of things like punctuality. So I talk about that. And then I talk about intergroup competition. So one of the interesting things about the way the modern economy has emerged is firms and other kinds of organizations. People can move fluidly between them, or at least relatively fluidly. And this means that those institutions are competing for membership. Like which firm do you want to work for, or which Boy Scout Trooper you’re going to join. You’re competing for members. And this actually creates a cultural evolutionary process that favors particular rules and ways of organizing these groups that are lead to success and also attract more joiners, more members. And throughout most of human history, people were members of tribes or clans for which you couldn’t easily switch. And so this creates a new dynamic which I think has important effects. So those are some of the main things I look at in the book.

Torsten Jacobi: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I feel the ability to construct your life in any way you want, being a part of a different, you have your own family as kind of a backdrop, but then you can be part of any kind of order or firm. It’s something that really, and we see this now with the internet, that people can literally just select a different group online that has nothing to do with the group they are associated with in their real life. And it creates these weird barriers that you’re going to move to, in your mind, you move to a different group. But you’re not physically associated with them at all. You’ve never met these people. But you feel you have a certain commonality with them. And it makes people very lonely, right? So you have this one part of you that you want to hang out with people who are more like you, but they are too far away to have a physical connection. And then you have other people you want to be with, they’re physically near you, but they have very little in common with you. How is this over the last 2,000 years? How did this play out?

Joe Henrich: Well, I mean, so the kind of problem I think you’re describing is actually one that we would only encounter with the development of online communities. In the past, I’m thinking about things like people living in deciding which town to live in, of a small number of towns in their region, or deciding which church to join, so there might be different parishes or something within the same community, or which guild to join. And the guilds and the parishes in the towns had to attract members, and they had to compete for members in the way that hasn’t often happened in lots of places over human history. And this led to norms for organizing anonymous strangers and for dealing with people on equal footing. And eventually, those things, in many ways, they still are percolating up and increasingly dominate how we think about human relations. But it really starts with this competition where certain guilds had to make it appealing for new members to join, because the Stone Masons guild didn’t want to lose out to the clockmakers guilds.

Torsten Jacobi: Yeah. Yeah, Eric, Vino was describing this really nicely in the Geography of Genius. I don’t know if he came about this book. And he went to Hangzhou, and he went to Athens, and he tried to replicate what actually made this place a place for geniuses that all seemed to appear in a relatively short time frame, and then the same town can never replicate it again. And there seems to be a cluster of individuals who kind of, usually there’s conflict in this cluster of individuals, but then there is a way for others who are interested in the same topic to join them intellectually, but also physically. And then it takes off, or it doesn’t take off, but at least you have a chance that it takes off. But it’s very unpredictable to forecast where like Athens or Florence when this place actually becomes a place for geniuses.

Joe Henrich: Yeah, and actually that’s a great example. I should explore that more, because one of the ideas that I develop in the book is about the collective brain. And it’s the idea that a lot of innovation, new insights, and creativity is not driven by singular individual genius, but by a collection of minds that are swapping ideas and sharing. And a lot of new ideas are recombinations of existing ideas. So it really fits in with this idea that you need a clustering of individuals to really kick things off and make things flourish. When you talk about when these changes start to appear, or we can measure them, it is the time of the New Testament, right, is when Christianity takes off. Yeah, so Christianity plays an interesting role in the book, because I make the case that a lot of the transformation of European families was driven by what I call the Marriage and Family Program. So one particular brand of Christianity, the one that evolved into the Roman Catholic Church, gets particularly enthusiastic about preventing people from marrying their cousins, which is a type of incest taboo, preventing polygyny and incongumitage, placing some sexual constraints on males, regulating the inheritance system, forcing inheritance to be bilateral through mothers and fathers. And these things have transformed the traditional prechristian kinship structures, which are like the kinship structures you see in lots of the world today that have been recorded by anthropologists, and breaks everyone down over many centuries into monogamous, nuclear families. So by the time you’re entering the High Middle Ages, after 1,000, lots of parts of Europe, especially Western Europe, have lots of monogamous, nuclear families. And this is when you get the beginning of urbanization, the commercial revolution takes off, how people think about laws begins to shift. Yeah, so that’s the role played by Christianity. Now we have a kind of light version of that going on in the Orthodox Church. So you can see some of these effects there, and I talk about that. But then this is not about Christianity in general, because there were lots of other sects. There’s the Oriental Church and the Armenian Church, the Chaldean Church, the Coptics, where this doesn’t occur.

Yeah, why does it not occur there? So it doesn’t happen with Judaism, or only with the Catholic Church. Yeah, so there’s a lot of these kind of Abrahamic religions are taking from the Old Testament. But the Old Testament has lots of polygyny. Cousin marriage is fine. Leverett marriage is there. And so what becomes Roman Catholicism actually very much goes its own direction. And it’s hard to justify a lot of the taboos that it adopts on pure biblical criteria. I mean, you can kind of squint in a few places and suggest that maybe this or that was supportive of various policies, but there’s no coherent story that can be told there. So the way I think about it is different religions are just experimenting with different beliefs, different incest taboos, and stuff. And this was the particular combination that happened to have these long term consequential effects. If you had thought about it, if you looked at the Christian world in the second or third century or something, you probably wouldn’t have bet on the Roman Church being the big powerful one. I mean, the power shifted in Europe to Constantinople. Some of the Eastern churches were more powerful than Rome. So anyway, it’s far from clear. So today, 90% of Christians are descended from the church in Rome, so all the Protestants and stuff. And the rest of Christianity donates the other 10%. You wouldn’t have bet that in the year 300 or 400 or something. The one thing that I heard, and I don’t know if this came up in your research, is that the early Christianity was particularly designed by the early members to appeal to them, especially if the Gentiles in Greece. And they designed it, and as you said, they experimented with changes to what they knew from the Old Testament to make it appeal to them and get a wide adoption. And they did, right? When Paul went back, he literally had a whole church on his hand five years later. He visited Greece, or today it’s Turkey, and then suddenly he had thousands of members in these places he only visited once. So it really took off virally almost immediately in the first century. Yeah, I mean, I’m drawing on, I probably mentioned that. Rodney Stark is the sociologist who discusses that in his book on early Christianity, and makes the case that the way the Christianity spread, first of all, it was an urban religion. So pagans mean rustics, and it was spread by women. So women would join. There were a lot of benefits to women. And then when you get the women, you get the children. And so that’s the kind of strongest avenue in for a religion. And he also makes this interesting case that when plagues would hit, one of the things that’s really at the centerpiece of Christianity was helping and ministering to the sick. So Christians saw it as a kind of heavenly duty to minister to the sick during plagues. Then some of them would get some resistance so they’d get the disease and then get better. Some fraction gets better. And then they would continue ministering. And then they seemed like super people because they were immune to the disease at that point. So this led to lots of conversions of people who survived the plagues into Christianity because they were so impressed by the sort of bravery and commitment of the Christians. One argument that a lot of anthropologists make is that these Abrahamic religions, or any religion that takes off simply by having more believers who think kind of like you, you increase trust. And that itself allows for more specialization because you trust more people, you trade more, and then you increase productivity. But you’re saying that is not really the factor that drove Christianity apart in its success, so to speak, from Islam, which was actually developed much later, right? But seemingly never got these social rules adopted. Yeah, so in the book, I lay all that out. I make the case that to understand religion and modern religions and the moralizing religions that we find in the world today, we need to take into account that certain kinds of religious beliefs, like believing in a powerful, moralizing God, or believing in karma, all of these things can get people to behave better, can facilitate cooperation within religious groups, can stabilize political structures, help to trade amongst coreligionists and whatnot, and that those are shared by many different religious. So you can get some of that from Hinduism. We’ve shown it in some of our research, there’s no reason why you couldn’t get it from Zoroastrianism. But then the question is what’s special about Christianity, what led to the success of Christianity relative to these other moralized and God faiths, which have a lot of the same properties. And then I make the case that one of the key things is this marriage and family program that develops out of the Catholic Church. Yeah, I think that was a big topic for Sigmund Freud, right? That was his whole, that was obviously the very big topic in Judaism. And he is a Jew, he kind of modernized that part of the belief and created psychoanalysis, but this is what makes us go through the world and how much are we driven by these things that are pleasure seeking part of our brain and how can we channel them into something useful? And he kind of, from what I remember, he kind of, I don’t know if he understood what actually happened between Judaism and Christianity, but it’s something where I felt like this is the first time I heard about how do we model, and that’s I think what religion is generally, how do we model, how do we fix certain errors that are put into the system by these pleasure seeking characteristics that most of us have. And that’s how I’ve always felt religion fits into this model. Yeah, exactly. And so I’ve been working for years with people like Arnaud and Zion, who’s a psychologist at the University of British Columbia and Ted Sligoland, a sinologist, trying to pursue this idea that religions have been driven, a kind of, you can think of them as social technologies which are trying to devise ways to kind of manipulate our psychology so as to get more cooperation and get us to behave better. So two aspects of this that we’ve done research on would be ritual. So if you put people in these rhythmic rituals where they all dance in unison or they all speak in unison, people actually do get more bonded to each other. And you can show this in simple cooperation games where people have to sacrifice some of their own money to a group project or to achieve some group goal. You get more of that after people have gone through a simple ritual that you can break down the elements of ritual and show that they all contribute the music, the dancing, all that kind of stuff. And then the other one is a belief in a big moralizing God. So if you unconsciously remind religious people of their moralizing God, they’ll give more to a stranger if you give them an opportunity or more to charity or they’ll cheat less on a test, things like that. So yeah, so there’s good evidence, but yet these primes, these kind of unconscious reminders, they don’t work on atheists. So it’s pretty good evidence that there’s something to all this religious stuff. Yeah, I always argue for the utility of religion. When I have people on the podcast, we always get, need to odd office, but we sometimes, sometimes get into debates. And the idea is, well, religion is weight. That’s what I always hear an argument. It’s way too strict. It prevents us from going further. It doesn’t drive innovation. But my argument is, well, maybe some of those religions have kind of taken over a little bit. They have too firm a grip on us, but generally there’s a lot of utility to religion. Maybe each one has their own slight benefit. Would you agree with that statement? Well, the way I think, kind of the, one of the things I think this approach that I take called cultural evolution, which is a whole field now, it takes is we wouldn’t like the characterization of religion per se. So I really like looking at, say, the variants of Protestantism. If you look at the variants of Protestant that developed in the 16th and 17th century, there are versions of Unitarianism that are associated with people like Isaac Newton. And those guys helped drive the Industrial Revolution because they believed that they were worshiping God when they figured out the laws of the universe and when they did experiments and stuff. So I provide evidence in the book showing that whether if you had Unitarian churches in your British County, you were more likely to have more British patents and you were more likely to have more fancy inventions at the World’s Fair of 1881. And it’s because you had more knowledge societies, people were getting together, probably motivated by religion, or at least there’s a case that can be made for that. Show a similar thing with Huguenots in France, same kind of invention effects on economic growth. But there were other brands of Protestantism. So think about the Amish or something like that, which don’t generate rapid innovation because their beliefs, the details of their beliefs about God don’t facilitate things like invention and finding steam engines and things like that. So supernatural beliefs can do a lot of different kinds of things. And so it’s all about the details and about how they come together. Yeah, yeah, I mean, yeah, that’s true. When you think, and now maybe we can go to the other extreme of religion, a lot of people make religion responsible or one kind of religion or some religion responsible for this clash of civilization, the wars that we have seen over the millennia. Do you feel this is just a part of, it’s a necessary part, or those are just basically offshoots that tried out something, tried out a strategy that didn’t work, right? So this is something we negatively selected later on. Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to know how to respond to a general question like that because, I mean, obviously religions have lots of, or so classes of religions have lots of internal conflict. So there was lots of war between Catholics and Protestants and Christians within Europe, although it’s a little bit less ferocious than at least sometimes, than wars between people who are more culturally distant. So, and of course, politicians often exploit these kinds of divisions and try to use them for their own ends. So some fraction of all this conflict is driven by kind of political maneuvering and the exploitation of differences which could also be a harness in some way. So yeah, it’s hard to, I don’t have a good answer to that question in general. Okay, now I understood it is an extremely difficult, very difficult topic. When you think about Jared Diamond’s book and Guns, Germs and Steel, what he said out was kind of to figure out why do some cultures go a very different way? And I understood your book does something very, very similar, right? What I remember from his answer, it’s a little bit, well, he runs you through all this history and then in the end, in my perspective, he basically says, we got lucky. We got lucky that this is what you’re born into, right? What would be your answer? Well, why does some of those cultures, why did they take off? Yeah, I think that’s a great book and it was a real inspiration to me. I read it when I was in graduate school in the late 1990s and I actually taught a seminar while I was a graduate student on it and Diamond came to my class and spoke to my class. So I’m pretty familiar with the book. And I think, so the argument that I make in my new book, The Weirdest People in the World in the final chapter is that Diamond’s argument, I think it’s actually pretty on target until you get to about 1,000 CE. So if you look at the world at 1,000 CE, one of the most successful societies at this point in history is the Islamic world. And I quote these Islamic scholars who are talking about the white barbarians in the North and how they haven’t contributed much to science. They’re kind of impressed with the Chinese and they like the Egyptians and groups like that. So they’re doing their own kind of sociology of the world stuff. And that makes sense, right? They were the inheritors at that point of ideas, technologies, ways of thinking that emerge in the Middle East. And this is the place, according to Diamond’s argument, that had the best combination of geography and cereal crops and domesticated animals. So in some sense, got a head start in the evolution of complex human societies. It has the earliest agriculture domesticated animals for cities. And then not too far behind that is China. And so they naturally develop, they’re getting ahead of places like Australia, New Guinea and the New World, which are less well endowed with geography and cereal crops and domesticated animals. And so that picture looks pretty good around 1,000 CE. But Europe is actually hard to explain. Diamond sort of waves off Europe. He has this story about geographic fragmentation. But he’s kind of saying that Europe gets the benefit of the Middle East because it’s on Eurasia. But India could have got the benefit of the Middle East. Or lots of other places could have got the benefits of the fast development that occurred in the Middle East. So where I come in is I try to say, well, how do we explain the Industrial Revolution and the unusual patterns that is happening in a remote part of Eurasia? So this island off the coast of Northwestern Eurasia, England, so what’s going on there? And so I’m trying to get to that kind of explanation, places like the Netherlands and all. But we’ve still got lucky, right? Would you say that? Yeah, no. Yeah, there’s still, I mean, the story is very much, it could have happened that this particular branch of Christianity popped up somewhere else. And so, yeah. And actually, I talk about some geographic factors as well. So I mean, yeah. When, so he focuses a lot on food production, right? Especially until 1,000 AD. What is your main driver? Where do you tag yourself on in terms of productivity? Well, I mean, so I’m kind of an unfolding story. But the main thing that’s interesting in my story is the religion angle, the fact that religion is reshaping the family. The family is leading to changes in how people think about the world. But then that gives rise to these markets that I mentioned, which changes people’s psychology a bit more. That alters the nature of the law, leads to competition among firms. And just a kind of different way of organizing society. And then eventually, I get to how that then gives rise to faster renovation. If you have more people who move around a lot and trust each other and share ideas and are willing to join voluntary associations, then you just get more recombination of ideas. And the innovation component goes a bit faster. That makes a lot of sense. You explained 1,000 years of history in 30 seconds. It’s amazing. That’s amazing. And it seems like you really have thought about that a lot. You’ve really gone really deep on those topics and still have those abstract view. That’s pretty fascinating. Would you, if we think about and at this discussion with Robert Zubrin, we go to Mars, right? We go to other places. We kind of give you have the ability to start from scratch. But say we go to a place even on Earth that is barely, that has really no population so far. We start new cities, charter cities. What are the rules that you would prescribe? Do you have like a blueprint from everything you’ve learned that worked in the last 2,000 years, especially the last 1,000 years? What should we look at when we create a new society, so to speak, from scratch? Yeah, I mean, that’s a tough one because, I mean, as we talked about earlier in the discussion, I don’t want to make any normative claims. And so it depends what kind of society you want it to build. So for example, if you’re a religious person, you would have to say that your religion would be, or at least I would think you might want to say, that your religion should be part of that story. Because if you really believe in your religion, then you would think, well, how could you have a proper, well functioning society without knowing about my God? I’m an atheist, so I’m not, I’m disinclined to introduce religion at all. But I know that that’s just me. I happen to don’t believe in any supernatural agents, actually. So I would probably not want to have religion as part of my society. So it’s hard to be too normative. So some people might be willing to sacrifice like, so I think I would be in favor of having gender equality. Because I think we’d want to harness the full creative capacities of all members of the group. But some people have a different norm, and they think that there should be different roles depending on your chromosomal orientation, your chromosomal selection. So yeah, I mean, it all depends on what kind of society you want to build. Well, that’s kind of up to us, right? That’s for us to decide. It’s a democratic question. Yeah, and I guess my point is, would be that depending on which set of humans you asked, you would get quite different answers. And it would reflect the culture histories of their populations. I mean, so the kind of society I might want to live in would be one where we had, where we kept the families weak. So I would want relatively monogamous, nuclear families. I think you need to watch out for things like some of our evolved instincts. So keep people relatively equal. Don’t allow large wealth differences. So policies like that. But I mean, because one of the problems that societies have had is that as they flourish, the amount of income inequality always increases. And then that gets reduced somehow. And sadly, this work by Walter Scheidel, the historian, suggests that usually it’s reduced by war. So there’s some kind of conflict or collapse that leads to the reduction in inequality. So one of our challenges moving forward is to manage inequality without the kind of usual historically bad way of managing it, which is warfare or other collapse. There seems to be this boom and bust cycle, right? And it seems to be intrinsic to what, how we believe, like, we see this in the stock market, that the most buyers show up at the stock market when the valuations are extremely high. Which is when the fuel is the highest, right? But via all this momentum followers, right? We see this momentum, we see this, there’s a trend. I think when people look somewhere on the street, they look to a certain side of the street, a certain object, we can’t help ourselves. We have to look too, right? Until we realize, oh, this was actually nothing. And there isn’t much we can do about, unless we become more rational. But then the problem is obviously rationality requires more input, right? The, these unconscious decisions that we have, they work with lots of variables that are unsolved for, and we just go ahead, right? But as more we put things into our rational brain, as more complicated these equations get, and well, we have to get smarter, I guess. Yeah, although the one thing I have, kind of normative proposal I have put out there in my previous book, The Secret of Our Success, is that, you know, we can all, we can organize cultural evolutionary processes in particular ways. So having a variation selection system. So you want to build a good institution. Maybe you have some ideas about what the output of that institution should be. You might want a lower infant mortality. You want my greater equality. You want my higher production. But as long as you have some criteria on which to judge them, you can then let a bunch of different groups try different things, and just let them be creative as they want. And then keep an eye on them, evaluate them and take the good ideas, or the good practices that they each develop. Because one of the things that’s clear in both of my books is that there’s a good case that can be made that people are pretty terrible at predicting what institutions are gonna do. So if we design an institution in a particular way, how’s that gonna function? Is that gonna be a good one? So the founding fathers of the US never anticipated political parties. They tried to write them out of the Constitution, but of course they immediately show up, right? In the beginning the political parties pop up. And then of course they persist throughout the whole time. So that’s a case where they didn’t actually understand how the institution was gonna work, and it did what it did. But so I guess we need to take into account our own ignorance or the fact that we’re bad at predicting how institutions can work, but we can create an evolutionary system where lots of different groups are trying stuff, and we’re picking off the things that work. So this is a justification for the US state system, for example. Different US states can try different policies. And then at the end, maybe we pick at the national level the particular state policies that seem to work, assuming we can agree on what working looks like. I think this is exactly the right way to approach this. We need that experimentation, and it’s kind of gotten forgotten, right? A lot of people feel like there is an answer already out there and we see this on social media. There’s only two answers, there’s not 100 answers, which should be the right thing to look at, and then see how each of these 100 answers plays out on a small scale, and then we adopt them on a bigger scale. There used to be America’s strength, I think it still is, but it’s kind of gotten on the fire, especially with the monoculture of social media out there. Yeah, I agree. Would you feel that when you, and now it’s easy to look back, that any of those changes that the Catholic Church introduced, they kind of knew what they were up to, or they basically just put it out there because they realized, oh man, it brings us new memories. It’s just a selling argument. Yeah, there’s no good reason, I think, to think that they had any idea of where they were going, at least in terms of the big picture. I mean, it did make the Catholic Church rich, and so individual bishoprics or even the Pope may have realized that certain policies led increased the flow of money into the coffers. Although often this was well after the fact, so the policies about cousin marriage aren’t immediately turned into dispensation. So just as background, so the Church expands its circle of incest from first cousins in the sixth century, fifth century, all the way out to sixth cousins, and then back down to fourth cousins. So, and then later in that process, they decide they can sell dispensation so if you’re a rich person, you want to marry your cousin, you can just basically pay and get the right to do it, but they monetized it late in the process. So you think if it was, they figured out that there’s a revenue slot, they would have done it at the beginning, but instead they implemented the policy and later realized, oh man, we could be cashing in on this, and then they create the revenue stream. So, yeah, so I think it was very much what’s working, and they actually went too far, right? So they went out to sixth cousins and then like elites began using it to kind of de legitimize each other, and they began accusing each other of marrying relatives, and nobody could tell because the relations were too distant. So they contracted again as a kind of practical matter. Oh, we are related by six terms. Isn’t that how, what the old theory, that we all have six people in common, but they’re not necessarily related, right? Right, right, just a kind of links in a social network, six degrees to Kevin Bacon or something, right? Yeah, which is quite stunning. Would, when we look at this competitive marketplace, and I think what we are describing here is a software upgrade to humanity. What usually happens in the software business, someone comes up with something that works, and it’s immediately being copied by everyone else, and then they incorporate it, maybe innovate a little on it, and then do you move on to the next theme? Why didn’t that happen with relations? Why do they seem so stuck in place, some of them at least, right? Well, I mean, I think if you take the big picture, it actually has been happening with religion, but of course, any individual religion, I mean, what’s one of the things about Christianity is that, I mean, the Catholic Church has had trouble changing because if God says it’s this way, or this is supposed to be the eternal way of the universe, it gets hard to justify switching things up and changing your policy, because what was going on before if we’re doing this new thing now? So that’s why particular religions get that way. But if you look at the birth of Protestantism, and there were several other kind of religious movements that came before Protestantism, they were sort of taking elements of Catholicism and making new variants of it, making kind of modifying things and altering the practices and whatnot. And then of course, you get a proliferation of different Protestant faiths, all of which are doing different things. The same thing happened in the 1900s in the US when you had a proliferation of new religious faiths. The big one we know of today is that Mormonism, but that came out of a whole bunch of different religions appeared at that time, and Mormonism is just a big successful one. So it’s a bit like a startup market, right? You can’t really change the incumbents because they’re too stuck in their marketplace and they don’t make enough money from it. You got to go to a place that nobody wants, build your business, and then hope it takes off. Yeah, it’s creative destruction. Yeah, creative destruction. I think not a lot of people really analyze religion that way. It’s the first time I ever hear this, or is that common, this way of thinking of religion? In my field, it is. So it’s our standard. One of our go to moves. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. I’ll write that’s something we learn from economics. And it seems there is this underlying logic of economics that it’s in sociology and anthropology, and it’s a bit of a surprise, I must sometimes feel. I mean, obviously we are not as rational as economists think, but still we have driven long term, but same incentives. And we can’t shake them, right? It’s the productivity growth we’re after. There’s nothing else in the world that really matters. It seems to me, I mean, at least long term. Like short term, you can say, well, we forgot about productivity, we never have kids again, and we just want to live in the cave. Yes, but you’re not going to take over the world displays because in 100 years there’s nobody left on you. Yeah, I mean, that’s the tricky part is you always got to be able to compete. I remember once I was watching Jared Diamond give a talk, and a young archaeologist got up and started to give him a hard time, and the guy was arguing that the society he studied in Peru or something was nonviolent, and so somehow this meant we could reject Diamond’s thesis. And I mean, the answer to the guy’s question, I mean, so Diamond had it back and forth with him, but one society can be peaceful, but you can’t be peaceful if you’re surrounded by other societies that don’t want to be peaceful, right? So you’re never operating in a vacuum, and the same thing, if you could try to want to be, as a company, you could be socially responsible, but that’s only going to work if you’re able to compete by doing that, otherwise you’re just going to be out of business, and so you either need someone to set the rules or you need consumers to make choices that take that into account. But the rules for a lot of this stuff has already been made, right, it’s this planet we live on, it’s this entropy of the universe, right? So it always wants to kill us, it wants to destroy us, it wants to steal our energy. We kind of, in the end, only by escaping this, reaching this escape velocity, we can leave that planet in the sense of we have enough productivity to go to Mars and settle another solar system, right? Yeah, yeah, I mean, there’s definitely always going to be some competition for productivity, for sure. Yeah, it’s there, and in the field of research, when you look at these topics, there’s a lot of economists involved that actually analyze this, how we made this progress, or these two disciplines already talk much to each other. Well, so I work with lots of economists, and so are you, so lots of economists, for example, study innovation, cooperation, the emergence of the firm, all kinds of things like that, is that what you have in mind? Yes, exactly, yeah, which seems to be, when you think of innovation, you think of it of companies, you think of technology, but actually the way we are thinking, and the way we are acting in the world, that’s maybe the bigger innovation. Yeah, so that actually is a super hot topic right now in economics. So just to give you a sense, so there’s lots of papers on the effects of immigrants, for example, in the United States on innovation. So counties that happen to get more immigrants were more innovative, basically, since the beginning, since, and we’re fortunate now, because with big data, we have the entire record, millions of patents, right? And every county, you can look and see what that county’s production of patents is, and then you can see who’s arriving there and how are they interacting. And it’s that interaction, that social structure stuff, that seems to really be a lot of the gris for American ingenuity. Yeah, I was just reading Matthew Iglesias’s book, and he talks about a billion immigrants to the US in the next 20 years. I really like that idea, but he goes on to explain, he has obviously, there’s a couple of issues with that, so how do we actually integrate them? And I think one of the things where it gets really fluffy the book is, how can we prove on an economic basis that bringing in a billion people makes us a lot of money? I think that’s really, what’s the business plan? I think that’s what he wants to get at, but he never really gets there. It’s like, what is not enough data to prove this is what we have right now. Have you seen, we’re starting to just reference some of those. Yeah, so we’ve been, I’m working with some colleagues on this question, and what we’re able to show is actually that we think there’s like a kind of diversity bonus. And what we do is we look at last names from the census. So we have the full set of US sentences back to 1790, and we take each county and we look at the kind of entropy. It’s interesting that you said entropy. So we look at the entropy of last names, so your diversity of last names, and counties with more diverse last names, which we think of as people with different last names as kind of a proxy for having a different knowledge base. So you could come from a different place, you have a different last name, you know some different stuff, and then you kind of interact with people who know other stuff, and you’re more likely to create an innovation. And that’s what we’re able to show, and it seems like a pretty strong result. Now population matters, having more people matters, having more people who know diverse stuff matters, and so I think that’s important. It seems what matters the most, and that’s what he goes on about in the book, is packing a lot of people into a few square miles, or square kilometers, and I live in San Francisco, supposedly still the most fancy populated city in America, I’m not sure that’s really true. And when I look at New York, for instance, that seems to be the best possible outcome, right? We pack everyone together, we make them randomly interact with each other, and then we get the best solutions out of it. Is that still the easiest way? I think that’s, well, that’s definitely what the data’s pointing to, so I mean just cities are the generators of innovation. And there’s this very cool finding, which the bigger the city is, the more innovations you get, but it’s what’s called super linear, which means that of course if you go from a thousand people to 10,000 people, you might expect 10 times more innovation, but actually you get 13 times more innovation. So every time you go up in order of magnitude, you get that much extra bonus in your innovation, so that fits with what you were just saying, which is that sort of packing. So if you bring in a billion people into America into the next 20 years, or maybe if you make more babies, right, that we can also try to do that, that seems to be kind of hard. It’s actually harder than before, right? Of the birth, just hit the lowest level ever. Maybe we are trying, but we’re not succeeding. Anyways, would you like to see that happening, A, Lola, from a personal basis, and do you think what would it generate? What would be the, how would the US look like in 20 or 30 years from now? Yeah, so I don’t, so if your goal is to increase the rate of innovation, then I think lots more immigrants is the way to go. The key though is that you have to figure out some kind of public policy program to distribute people widely, because the, so one of the things in our model, we have a very simple model, which I think captures a lot of the logic here. The more segregated people are, means that people with the same last name interact with people with the other same last name. You don’t get the recombinative power. So you kind of wanna make sure that you’re making use of all the counties in the US and that different immigrants are getting settled in different counties. This would be good, because it would mean you wouldn’t be burdening some places with a lot of immigrants who need to learn English and who need medical care and things like that. So you’d be spreading it out, but behind the scenes, you would also be energizing innovation, because you’d be creating that random mixing of people just bumping into each other who know different stuff and have mutually beneficial interactions. Yeah, so you don’t want everybody to pile up in San Francisco and New York. Yeah, I think that’s also the big fear, right? Because when we see immigration right now, it goes straight away to these big places that already seem overcrowded, but this is where the highest gains is to be made, right? This is where the salary is the highest for most jobs. So it makes a lot of sense. So Matthew actually describes that we would have visas where you have to be in a certain place for a certain amount of time, five years, 10 years, 15 years, and then you can go wherever you want. So you kind of get this initial effect, but people still have some choice. You don’t want to imprison them at Tulsa, for instance. Not at Tulsa is a bad place, but you want people to give them the same freedom as citizens, obviously, and they should be citizens rather than visa. And there’s other kind of simple policy adjustments we could make. I was looking at the research recently on H1B visas. So these are visas companies can get you to come and work for them. They don’t generate any innovation, because you can only work for that company. And then what happens is those people leave and they go back home and they generate innovation back in the country where they came from. You need some kind of more flexible system where they can potentially stay and work for somebody else afterwards. And then I think those H1B, they could generate some innovation also. Do you, when you look at the tongue signs of population and in the world, and do you probably, obviously same scene as in your research, Malthusian, the Malthusian argument is we eventually run out of things we can produce. So there is a total limit. And for the longest time, that was actually true, right? Up until the 18th century, if you had more people, then the living standard for the individual would decline because there wasn’t enough to eat, literally. There was no way to make it better. And then it suddenly changed. Do you feel this is kind of what people instinctively instinctively are up to? Because we have this huge decline in the birth rate. Why do you think the birth rate declines? Is that a bug, or is that a feature? Yeah, that’s a good question. I haven’t seen any good analyses which try to get through that. Because obviously, so a lot of people think that’s good, because we’re producing fewer mouths to feed, we don’t have to deal with the kind of stressing the resources on the planet. But on the flip side, and I think this might be where you’re thinking, if we get fast enough innovation, energy could be limitless. If we get fusion working, or if we figure out all this alternative energy sources, we’ll tap into all kinds of resources we never even thought before. We could be living on the bottom of the ocean, we could be living on the moon. I mean, there’s just potentially limitless sources of if we have the right technology and the right knowhow. But to do that, we need lots of minds, and we need lots of minds interacting. And so, we need more immigrants and more babies to do that. But it all depends, right? That idea could go awry if we don’t, you gotta keep the innovation going if you’re gonna try that route, right? Well, it’s an individual decision to have less children, right? But it’s been spreading like wildfire over the last 100 years. And it seems to be, yes, each individual has a different idea about it, and some still have 15 children. But most would think there’s higher costs of healthcare, and there’s higher costs of any of just housing. But do you think we’ve given up on our future a little bit? Maybe we are missing this piece of religion that makes us hopeful, the self fulfilling prophecy that makes us hopeful about the future, maybe in an irrational way, that we just try away from this task and say, well, there’s someone else’s problem. Children is not my problem. Well, I mean, one of the big findings, I think, from studies of religion infertility is that more religious people, and I criticized the general use of religion a few minutes ago, but of the major religions, when people are more religious, they have more babies. And so there is this strong relationship between that. And what that’s gonna produce, I am also an evolutionary biologist, is that’s gonna, you have this kind of struggle now, because secularism is spreading as people become more educated and become more secular, but religious people are having more babies. And so whether the world is gonna get more religious or less religious, it’s actually unclear at this point, because you have this trend of people having fewer babies. Meanwhile, the religious people are having more, it’s not clear which way it’s gonna go. Can we draw the parallels, I don’t know if this is justified, to what Greece was, or the Greek Empire, just before Christianity actually started, right? So you had a bunch of people who were not very religious, or the religion didn’t play a big role, that was obviously God’s, and that was religion, but generally you would, pleasure seeking was the most important thing, and we’d be curious, we’ve seen a world, at least in our minds, I don’t know if that was actually true, by people who live in the Mediterranean, relative simple luxury, right? And they basically have no controlling additional software upgrade, and then Christianity comes around and just rolls through displays, and just changes it, and obviously it produces more and more offspring, we could say that, because they’re more religious. So we are all descendants, mostly from those people, from those early Christians, more likely than from the Greeks at that time. Does that make sense as a parallel, or is it just super? Yeah, well, I mean, so I mentioned this guy, the sociologist Rodney Stark, he actually makes that case, because he says that, and actually from Caesar Augustus, so he gets worried, because Roman elites are having fewer kids, right? They actually had a demographic transition among the Roman elites, and when Christianity spreads, Christians have lots of babies, and so one of the ways that Christianity spreads in the empire, I mentioned some other ways too, but is just demographically, so the Christians are having more babies than the people with the Roman religion, and so they kind of outpace them demographically, and he then draws the parallel to Mormonism, where Mormonism has been growing by babies, basically, because initially it was polygynous, right? So if you have polygyny, you can have lots and lots of babies, and even now, religious people tend to have more babies, so you have the same thing going on. Polygyny seems on the outside to be a thing to have more babies, right? To actually increase the fertility, but it seems that I think you go into that detail in the book, it increases the competition by being mailed so much that it’s hard to get a stable society. Yeah, so I make the case that, well, so what happens under most conditions with polygyny is you get a pool of low status unmarried men who have little chance to get and compete in the mating market, and so, and that has often been a problem for societies. There’s what that low status group of men does. They engage in crime and they become gangs and things like that. What is the percentage? We see this now, right? So we generally know that when we trace back our genes, we know that only 50% of men actually have children on average, but you talk about low status, is that 90% of the population or is it 10% of the population? What is that? What rate is that? There’s no percentage, well, it’s because it all depends on how what the rate of polygyny is. So in the book, in my book, I give a simple example where the richest 10% of men have four wives, which is a small number, right? And kings and had harems and emperors had harems with hundreds or thousands of women. So relatively modest. And then a lot of men, the most men actually only have one wife, but then you end up with 40% of the population that don’t have any wives. And you have to, and the other thing about it is in order to get into the marriage and mating market, you have to get high status, which means if you’re in the bottom 10%, you’ve got to have a huge increase in status. So you’ve got to take some big risk, get a rob somebody or something. Cause you know, just toiling away in the field or whatever you have given your low station in life, it’s probably not going to get you more than a few percentage up is the idea that you can’t make this big jump. Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that almost sounds like the Chicago School of Economics. Well, and one of the things that I think is happening in the modern world, and I have a postdoc working on this, is that with the entry and gender equality with women into the labor market, this means that more and more women are opting out of any kind of marriage or pair bonding, which means that in order to get a mate, you know, if you’re heterosexual, you got to impress the women. And it sounds funny to say that, but that means there’s a whole bunch of guys who can’t get into the mating and marriage market, because they’re too low status, they don’t earn enough money or whatever. They just don’t impress people enough and now women can be independent. There’s a no option. I’m not going to get married at all. And I think this is generating a similar kind of low status pool. Yeah. You’ve seen this in Japan, right? They seem to be a little ahead of us, but we are definitely going the same way. And I think it’s 40, 50% of adults around age of 30 who are still virgins, that’s incredible. At least they self confessed, right? That nobody knows if it’s true, but if it’s true, it’s incredible, right? And it seems to be, well, at odds with how human population used to behave, right? Dude, I don’t know. I mean, maybe it was different 1,000 years ago. I don’t know, the Catholic church. Yeah, I mean, Japan is really puzzling and their birth rate is really rock bottom. And yeah, there’s something interesting going on there. Yeah. Well, there might be also the space, right? There’s a ton of people, there’s no space. So maybe just the economics dictate, okay, we need less people. There’s something in the brain, I feel like the amount of space that we have and the potential prosperity of our offspring, we take that into account and say, okay, no children is not for me. And that seems to happen automatically. It must have happened before where you see an overpopulation and you immediately trace back and say, oh, we’re not gonna have baby. So that’s like for 90% of the population, an immediate decision. Yeah. Yeah, although the demographic transition is really strong. So I mean, at least the standard story about one of the things that’s driving it is female education, right? So the more women get educated, the more they delay having children, the less likely they are to marry, those kinds of things. So that’s at least one factor. But it’s something that females want, right? So like all these things we’ve seen since 1960s, the rise of feminism, it’s wildly popular with girls. And then like, it’s not that they’re oppressed the other way, right? We always talk about female oppression and maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. I actually don’t know sometimes, but let’s assume this is all a voluntary change that women vote for with their own decisions. It seems quite stunning, right? And I feel like it must have happened before. Maybe it was during degree times or there must have been a time when they were similar. Obviously they had no contraception. Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that. I don’t know of a good case, a good historical case that mirrors this. We did talk about the Roman demographic transition. So that might, but that didn’t involve female education or anything like that. So there was something else going on. Like the mythical Amazons, right? When we watched this movie, but they probably didn’t exist, but something like that must have existed. So that’s why they started with the Greeks. I was curious, and that goes into a slightly different avenue. What role does freedom play all this? Do you feel that’s something a measurable attribute? And obviously it’s hard to measure sometimes freedom. Do you, is freedom a really important part of the potential development of the civilization? Well, I make the case that it became that the centrality of freedom, the pursuit of happiness idea, that that was just coming out of the development of this weird psychology. So part of my story is that you get the emergence of individualism, right? So people can’t rely on this large networks of relationships, extended families, cousins, and all that, so you don’t have all this nepotistic help. So instead you have to go out into the world and there’s a market for friends, there’s a market for mates, there’s a market for business partners, and you’re trying to find mutually beneficial relationships. And you’re cultivating attributes and things that’ll be appealing to other people. That’s one of the things about being an individualist. But then freedom is basically saying that, I have this value that says we should be allowed to do that and don’t inhibit my ability to go out and cultivate the attributes that I wanna cultivate or start the business that I wanna start. So this is notions of liberty and freedom. And that’s actually important to the happiness of weird people, but I don’t think it’s a fundamentally human thing. Lots of people can be happy with a lot more constraints. Even simple things like the difference between Americans and Europeans and the number of ice cream choices they like. Europeans like three or four, Americans like 27 different flavors, and they want a lot of different choices. Well, what I was thinking of is Friedrich Hayek’s work that basically describes freedom from government coercion, right? Not necessarily just ourselves. We obviously influence and coerce each other, but also from this government body that we put up there and Lock’s theme. Is that kind of a byproduct of how it developed? You think more freedom, and that’s kind of the other side of this, more freedom allows for better specialization for it. Obviously that you can use this in a negative or in a positive light. More freedom is always better. Like this theoretical society that’s completely free. Like literally you can kill anyone and there’s no repercussions. So that would be the extreme of free. Not that we want this. Do you think that’s this semi anarchy is a model for survival? Well, so, I mean, the case that I make in the book is that that comes out of this weird psychology. And in part because I make the case that people want to be able to select into occupations, for example, that are a good fit for them. So anything that allows them to make these free choices to get a better fit with our genetic endowments or things like that. Things like starting new businesses because the government is going to infringe upon you. They put too many regulations. You can’t start the kind of business you want. So that’s an infringement upon this expression of what you want to do, which is this new business or new idea you want to pursue. And so that seems to me then a sort of natural kind of cultural evolutionary logic to this particular cultural evolutionary trajectory. Whether that’s good in some sort of more abstract senses out of my area. Yeah, okay. Well, there’s always this juxtaposition between the morals, right? That you can, you obviously be found to follow moralizing God, right? But we create lots of new morals that we’re never in the viral, but we just assume it and we will just make up like an extension of this. And on the other hand, you have this freedom of let me do and let me think and let me develop and I will come up with something. But then we see some really nasty stuff comes up, right? And it spreads obviously because it talks to our Olympic system kind of the dark side of social media. And we feel like maybe it would have been better to regulate that a little bit and not allow it. Like this struggle in between seems to be endlessly complicated. And I was hoping, well, this guideline of freedom is really strong. It’s something that kind of comes out of your research and you feel like, whoa, freedom is the answer, but not necessarily besides choosing your own profession. Yeah, no, I mean, well, so I guess what I’m saying is I think that that tension is created by the power of individualism. And so people wanting to express, you know, pursue their own ends, develop their own attributes and that freedom and creativity but is always gonna have a dark side, right? People are gonna do bad stuff as part of that and they’re gonna try to, you know, things like drug abuse and all that kind of stuff is kind of a natural expression of that. So, I mean, you know, in order to make a well functioning society, you’ve got to kind of harness that but not let it go too crazy, I guess. Otherwise you’ll be less successful than other societies. Even when I grew up, I learned, I grew up in Eastern Germany on the other side of the wall. But with my picture of Eastern or Western Germany and the US with everyone who was literally homeless and a drug addict and had no future, that was 99% of the population or 100% of the population, right? So in the minds, once you instill this propaganda, it’s like, whoa, this place isn’t so bad, at least we are not homeless, right? Right, right, that’s interesting. It was very odd, but very effective propaganda. So I learned that propaganda actually works. People think like, whoa, it’s just out there. But if you repeat it often enough, nobody can escape that really strong effect. It’s just, you don’t have enough time to research it, right? And that’s what we’re experiencing right now. There’s so many facts being pushed upon us that we don’t have time to research it. At some point we have to say, okay, I believe it. Or at least to some point, that might be a fact. I can’t really fact check this. Right, wow, that’s interesting. It said, with the religion, do you feel like it’s one of those things that people, that these religions themselves kind of made it up in the sense of, we give people this make believe and just hope that this is the universal answer to the world’s problems. We just hope it’s a good thing that we talked about institutions before, but this is more like about the belief itself. Because I feel like the institutions they were later, they were like 18th, 19th century, that we have real institution that actually worked on regulated stuff. That we kind of feel like this, we just put out these ideas and hope for the best and hope that people don’t realize that they are actually being manipulated. Well, I think so, there’s, I think there’s a big chunk of religion which kind of evolves unconsciously. And there’s not actually people trying to use it to manipulate it. But then for sure, there’s been emperors and rulers and politicians and all that kind of stuff, which try to twist it or try to add elements to it. Although sometimes they’re subject to it too. I mean, so that you can hoist, you know, you can, that comes back to bite you. There’s a famous mogul ruler who tried to make up his own religion because he was trying to unify his empire. So he made up a religion he thought everybody could join. And he never got more than 19 people to join. But then the Muslims accused him of heresy and he got in a lot of trouble. Yeah, it sounds like Nietzsche, right? That’s our choice. So that speaks our choice, right? That was kind of his way to create a religion, but nobody really understood it. Nobody jumped on board, right? It’s a hard sell, yeah. In Zurich, that jumped on this. If you start another religion, what do you think would take off right now? Just what’s trying to do? What do you think who could actually sell? Hmm, gosh. You gotta bring the girls in, right? So it gotta be something that is, that is like a nice job, I feel, right? So we want to use lessons of history. So we want it appealing to future mothers. Yes. Future mothers at some point, but not right away. So you could sell something else, but eventually they have to use more babies than anyone else. Otherwise you’re not gonna make money. That’s a big advantage. You gotta be more productive, right? So I always talk about the positive and negative cost of a conviction or of a belief. And you want to have something you believe in that actually increases your productivity. If it carries a real cost, then you are being outcompeted in the next 50 years, you know, God, right? So you gotta put something, you pull something outside of the dark. It’s kind of like a hedge fund, right? They take these profits out of nowhere. You want to pull something out of the dark that makes people more productive. Yeah, I’m gonna have to give that some thought. That sounds like a good exam question. Yeah. For your students, yeah, right? So what we should do? I think there’s always going to be something out there. I think it’s like a startup, right? So for the longest time, when you thought about that, about Bitcoin, it’s an internet currency, but it doesn’t do what an internet currency does, where the concessions take forever and it’s very expensive. It’s the opposite of what it should be. But then it still found its way, right? It’s people realize it’s a stored value. It’s like gold, which was absolutely not anticipated. It was the opposite. It was kind of a failure to become a huge success. Oh, that’s interesting. Okay. Maybe we can do the same with the religion. Well, Joe, that was very illuminating. Thanks for doing this. It was awesome. Good. We really thank you for sharing your insights. Yeah, it was fun chatting with you. Thanks a lot. Yeah, it was awesome. Thank you. Take it easy. Talk soon. Okay, see you. Thank you.

Recommended Podcast Episodes:
Recent Episodes: