Transcript: Ryan Holiday and Eric Weinstein on The Portal episode 31
The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday
The following transcript was generated by a machine and not edited by any human – so it’s full of of errors. I’m posting the transcript because the podcast is excellent and a crappy transcript is better than no transcript. Questions/comments: get me on Twitter @mgmobrien.
[YouTube video not yet posted; here’s the audio: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-portal-2/e/69070975]
Eric Weinstein 0:06
Hello, this is Eric with a few initial thoughts before this week’s episode. First, I want to briefly discuss a pair of mistakes and omissions on my part. To begin with, we released a portal special episode recently about a speculative theory of physics called geometric unity, which was partially recorded on April 1. We did this so as to make use of the opportunity to attempt to repurpose the tired and increasingly irritating April Fool’s tradition, of which many of us have grown bored. I had intended to single out and call particular attention to a man who is very important to the geometric unity theory, as well as the portal project itself. This is a man I think of as my uncle and who means the world to my family, Michael W. Brown, former farmer and commercial fishermen who became the CFO of Microsoft and then the head of the NASDAQ. years ago, during the financial crisis, Mike invited me and my family to take over his two small islands in the Puget Sound archipelago and lead a renegade research oriented science camp. We did this every Some of their for many years and these islands now under new ownership are in fact the origin of the so called double Island rules that we discussed from time to time, which allowed us to get past issues of ego and miscommunication between intellectual and domain specific silos. In any event, we that is I rushed to get the episode out for April 1. And in my haste, I forgot to include the segment of special things due to Mike for a level of generosity, wisdom, selflessness, risk taking leadership and brilliance that honestly i’d previously only seen in movies. I will try to have Mike on the portal at some point. But I wanted to say that his unwavering support of scientists attempting to work outside of and around traditional channels in physics, biology, economics and other subjects has been nothing short of inspirational to me. So Mike, if you’re listening out there, please come through the portal. These are dark times, indeed, and we still need great leaders like you to remind us all of how it’s done. Additionally, as someone who probably does not listen to a broad enough smattering of podcasts, I think I inferred from listening to Sam Harris’s episodes that it is typical to begin a podcast With a section entitled housekeeping, I now realize that that may be an iconic aspect of Sam’s podcast, just like Dave Reubens direct message is iconic to the Rubin report. If so, I apologize and we’ll call this first segment something else. Color Me chagrin for engaging in the sincerest form of flattery here without knowing any better. As for what is on my mind this week, it is this the virus in its curious relationship to the future. For the last month I’ve spent nearly all of my time at home with my family and many of the better thoughts I’ve been exploring during this time are due to my collaborator and wife, Pam Kalani, Pia is the economist who currently runs six, the Silicon Valley Center for Innovation, growth and society, which he co founded with ion at the Institute for new economic thinking. Very early on, I was fumbling to try to understand the most likely effects of the virus and she said something clarifying which I wish I had repeated to you all when it was fresh, she said, I think in a way the virus can be thought of as representing the future. I don’t know. Maybe I’m dense, but I didn’t catch it the first time so I asked her to clarify. She was surprised that this wasn’t obvious to me so she spells her position out. Think about it this way, take all of the seemingly varied issues we discussed constantly over the dinner table and at conferences. All of them I replied with the slightly teasing voices. I assumed she was speaking with hyperbole. Why? Yes, pretty much all of them she said brightly, and without an ounce of self doubt in a voice that I have learned to fear over many years of collaboration, she continued, let’s start with surveillance monopolies automation, telecommuting next generation warfare UBI future of work the retail apocalypse online dating antivaxxers, the student debt crisis supply chain vulnerability, green tech and climate change urban homelessness. College equivalency certificates biohacking, the retreat from globalization, collapse of mainstream journalism, Chinese ascendance social engineering, Saudi monetization and the move away from fossil fuels in the kingdom, inclusive stakeholders political realignment and the problem of gerontocracy and the end of naive capitalism underpinned by you Chicago style economics, in fact, pretty much all the things we’ve used the center to explore. Okay, so nervously Well, she continued, you know that tired tech expression the future is already here it just isn’t evenly distributed. Well, this virus is accelerating that unifying future that was already headed our way across the board, and recapitulating that moment where agent Qian drops, the Kobayashi coffee mug and the usual suspects film before spontaneously emerged for me from the confusion of the trees I had seen previously. All of these seemingly disparate phenomena were suddenly revealed as closely related. Americans were actually calling for their own surveillance only they were calling it contact tracing. The retail apocalypse which had been building slowly suddenly became a matter of a government decree creating an ever more imposing monopoly for the world’s now richest human. he in turn, owns and controls the only paper to take down a US president consolidating control over a sense making apparatus. Most supposedly essential face to face office work was revealed to be illusory as easily monitored and recorded telecommuting replaced the high carbon commute the demand for fossil fuels in turn evaporated pushing oil futures into radical states of contango. Social distancing solve the problem of unwanted me to toxic male touch a sexless zoom dating put the hurt on Netflix and chilling. Indeed, nearly UBI like payments were going out to newly unemployed former workers who were expected to sit at home on couches, as universities effectively all but confessed that they could deliver the same value through distance learning by not rebaiting extraordinary tuition. China through an emasculated World Health Organization seemingly began inducing our own us institutions like the CDC and Surgeon General’s office to impart deadly magical thinking to Americans about the ineffectiveness of masks for healthy people. This all came as if some kind of twisted revenge for the Boxer Rebellion where Chinese believe swords and martial arts made them invulnerable to Western high tech warfare. Spontaneous protests broke out in cities across the country, as mass protesters fought mysterious rules that communicated that one may not peaceably assemble in Congress addiction to the First Amendment. We were also not allowed to contradict public health authorities who are clearly covering for a level of baby boomer and silent generation and competence to keep the manufacturer and storage of essential goods and services, within national boundaries and out of the hands of strategic rivals who think nothing of blatantly lying to us in matters of life, death and statistics. I reasoned, however, that there were clearly too many different things happening in such a situation for the sudden arrival of the future to lack a single ideology. And so it occurred to me and to Peter teal as well. I called immediately that the two older generations of Americans who were to duke it out in the race for the presidency shared a single purpose. Their common goal was to stop the future from arriving and essentially any cost to future generations so that they could live out the remaining days in as close to the style to which they’d become accustomed in childhood and young adulthood as was actually possible. And what did they use to accomplish this? Well, it was a combination of three ingredients. First of all, it required political control. Second of all, it also needed a seemingly inexplicably in difference to the world of trouble that they would finally leave to their descendants after their demise. Lastly, it partially hinged on a reliance on 75 years of astonishingly Good luck, which can partially be explained as a rational universal fear of the future after two world wars totalitarian atrocities, the 1918 pandemic in the Great Depression. This is related to Francis Fukuyama, his theory of the end of history to this way of thinking what was happening was simple. The magic trick of holding back nearly all aspects of our true future required all three elements to be in place simultaneously. And nothing had changed with respect to the first two. In fact, all that it occurred was that their luck had finally run out with the COVID virus to my generation, and the ones that followed that past version of the post war American dream was like a mesmerizing rumor and tale that the older generations had repeatedly and vividly wielded to cast a spell. This intimidated many of us from demanding answers and us saying our own future. If you can’t get a second home in your 30s from a paper route, a low cost education or a life in public service, then perhaps you should wait your turn and let the elders who made it work lead for a little while longer, until the younger generations can prove that they’re ready to assume adult responsibilities. This was a magical spell indeed, which blinded those of us who are forced to repeat okay Boomer to explain our seeming relative inability to earn and lead in the presence of elders who could out earn us in their prime. And this was even under the weight of multiple divorce settlements, or three Martini lunches, and without the extensive training and apprenticeships that we seem to require. Well, that spell is now broken. For me watching our supposedly leaders contend with the true pandemic. The silent and Boomer generations lacking any kind of precedent now look like incompetent adults. I suppose it is theoretically possible that the rest of us former gritty latchkey kids and digital natives would not fare better, but we could scarcely do worse. In fact, our elders are revealed not as go getters or candle leaders but as creatures of The system was simply held back confronting the inevitable future for decades because its shape and form are indeed terrifying. And it wasn’t really the virus that was accelerating the terrifying future across the board. Any worldwide crisis of sufficient depth would have done it. The world has always been caught up in escalating plagues, wars, depressions and conflicts in the Coronavirus was ushering in the future simply because it was the first piece of early 20th century scale bad luck to fall into our new millennium characterized as it is by fragility. After a few words from our sponsors. I’ll be back to introduce today’s guest, author Ryan Holiday.
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In this episode, I get to sit down with author and social analyst Ryan Holiday. I wouldn’t say that I know Ryan enough to consider him a close friend. But I have enjoyed every conversation I’ve had with him for the unique metacognitive perspective that he brings to all things on which he thinks speaks or writes. There are two things in particular that Ryan does that make him one of the most incisive analysts and best conversationalist in the public eye working today. In many ways, the overarching lens that I feel is missing from today’s hyper partisan world is that of expecting conflicting truths to lie in Super positions. After all, why would anyone imagine that the simplified childlike positions of activists would be appropriate for those who issue hyper partisanship in favor of nuance? Well, I can’t pretend to answer that question. I can’t say that Ryan’s ability to fully consider the validity of two or more evident truths that are at least nominally in conflict is all too rare in today’s world of public intellectuals. Well, that itself is reason enough for me to tune into Ryan’s perspective. There’s something deeper that draws me towards his voice in ways Thinking. All too often in my experience, the minority of social analysts who in the internet era can still properly entertain the dialectic in public, without bending to the activist mob, tend to stop there prematurely at a point of detachment. They frequently appear to be disinterested in reframing natural tensions for others so as to facilitate progress through synthesis and reconciliation. Instead, they often prefer the entertainment value of a continuing battle to a satisfying conclusion without Victor or vanquished. In particular, I’ve increasingly noticed a move towards studied in difference in the projection of personal apathy on the part of several metacognitive pundits and what seems to be a mechanism of self protection. I find that Ryan, by contrast is fairly open and sharing that he cares about the future deeply, but always in a thoughtful and measured way informed in an interesting fashion by his relationship to stoicism. That combination of caring without sanctimony makes him one of my favorite conversationalist in private, and I am glad that we got a chance to try to translate this into a public forum. Two words in the setting of this conversation To begin with, it took place in 2020 before the stay at home orders were in place. So it feels in some sense like a message in a bottle from another earlier world. And it oddly filled me with a sense of what feels like a genuine longing for our recent past upon listening to it. With so much rapid change it feels like full on early 2020 in Australia is actually now I think, even though it is only April. Secondly, we discuss Ryan’s book on Gawker and Peter teal. This is one of the first places that I’ve ever shared my thoughts about the episode, and it may surprise people to hear my inner conflicts about Gawker journalism and Nick Denton. To this end, I will just point out that I was later to find out about the story from Peter than many may have imagined, and that Peter actually encouraged me always to act as an independent voice of moral concern, as you may discern from the conversation. I’ll let the conversation speak for itself. However, I do hope you will enjoy our uninterrupted conversation with author Ryan Holiday when we return after some brief messages from our sponsors.
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Hello, you found the portal. I’m your host, Eric Weinstein and I am here today with Ryan Holliday, author of conspiracy and other books and a great all around thinker and voice analyzing what’s going on in our society. Ryan, welcome. Yeah, thanks for having me. So very curious about your thoughts as to whether the time that we’re in right now has any particular feel and why it’s hard to associate what has been going on in terms of a site Geist with any kind of intellectual wrapping that helps us better understand what the forces are that are most changing our lives at the moment.
Ryan Holiday 18:04
I’ve actually been thinking about that a little bit. You’ve probably led to live in LA so maybe you ever watch the show the hills? No. Okay, so the hills is this sort of fake reality show that came out in about originally it started in Laguna Beach, it was a reality show and then they all move to LA but it’s this sort of, like, mid early aughts like reality show about young people moving to LA and it created all these sort of big brands and and sort of personalities that dominated the tablets for a really long time. And then this year, they came out with like the 10 year anniversary of like the show, it ended, they all went on, some of them are successful, some are not successful. This was a show about them in their early 20s. And now they’re in the early 30s and they like revisited it and my wife and I were watching it and I loved it like it wouldn’t it would not think I would like it but I loved it. What I found over and over again This is what I think the sort of Zeitgeist is, is these characters who basically are fake people, but sometimes have real emotions. They the word they kept talking about over and over again was like how anxious they were and how tired they were. And and these are obviously all sort of tail and millennials right and and it would be peak Millennials are at peak millennials. Yes. And and it struck me that there was probably something illustrated there about the sort of millennial mind of for the millennials that what their 20s was, from the teens to the end of their 20s was like the Warner Act, the financial crisis, an economic recovery that they didn’t really benefit from, and then walking in now to becoming a parent. You know, becoming an adult maybe but but starting to get serious about life but without the comfort or security That would suit some of those anxiety. So I thought it was, to me one of the feelings of the age is kind of an anxiety or an unease about things
Eric Weinstein 20:09
like together with exhaustion with exhaustion.
Ryan Holiday 20:11
Yes. Because we’re, you know, we’re on our phones all the time, we’re consuming more information than ever. We have more information about what other people are. I think the exhaustion is from social media in the sense of like, it’s keeping up with the Joneses times like 1000, you know, because
Eric Weinstein 20:28
I don’t even want to call it. We are, we are on our phones. We have merged Yes, with our phones. And so if I think about the phone as a portal, the idea is that I turn this slab towards me and then I suddenly go into some in, like, right now, I don’t know whether you and I are being attacked on social media.
Ryan Holiday 20:48
Sure, we probably we probably are just a percent what percentage of it is attack and what percentage of it is complementary?
Eric Weinstein 20:55
Right? Yeah, but but the point that is that there is this parallel world taking place at all times. And then we have now merged with it so that we there isn’t a way that is on our phones,
Ryan Holiday 21:08
or the idea that it’s a separate world is like, right now, there are people simultaneously watching thousands of hours of video or audio that both of us have produced. So we’re having this conversation, which is obviously not live, but other people are watching a very different conversation with us at this moment. That’s right. And that is strange if you think about it. And yeah, some of those people are hating that conversation so that people are loving that conversation. It’s a one of the one of the weird things I get all the time we’re talking about Tim Ferriss is not going to go like people go, Oh, I just, they’re like I loved you on the Tim Ferriss podcast or whatever is like I did that interview in 2014. But to them, it’s new. So like that the portal, different people are entering the portal at different times. And whereas I think something is old, if you’ve never seen it before, It’s brand new.
Eric Weinstein 22:01
I was I was trying to talk to my son who’s 14 about the old days like, What? What was it like? And I had to explain to him how important the clock was when you didn’t have cell phones in everyone’s pocket that you had to be very precise and careful where you were going to meet someone Sure. On like, what street corner at exactly what time and that these things that were broadcast live. Like the news Yeah, synchronized behavior, we were willing to be synced, because we didn’t have an ability to be independent. And that now we’ve gotten this ability to do everything on demand. We’re we’re surprised that no one carries our informations.
Ryan Holiday 22:44
I was actually just like my I have a three year old So I was thinking like, what’s the what’s the like, when I was you know, when I was a kid, like, what’s the what’s the technology story that I will tell them that will like blow their mind. And I was thinking about this last night because I got to my friend’s truck. It An older truck. And we had an older version of that when I was growing up. But we had this Toyota pickup truck when I was a kid. And it didn’t have a clock in it. It was a cheap old truck. And I remember that whenever like on the way to school to see if we were late, or you know what time it was, we’d have to turn it to, like ksdk. I grew up in Northern California turning to KPK, because every 15 minutes, they said, you’re listening to KPK. It’s 945 and traffic like, so we’d have to turn on the radio and hope we were close to, but would know that in a minimum of, you know, 14 minutes and 32 seconds, we would be getting the time. Right. And so it was it was it’s weird, because yes, things were more synchronized. But also, you could exist in a bubble detached from time also, because not everyone was trying you were you were genuinely unreachable.
Eric Weinstein 23:55
It was glorious. Yeah.
Ryan Holiday 23:56
It’s strange. Not that not that long. I mean, this is I’m telling you probably like 95 or six.
Eric Weinstein 24:04
So I’m interested in in sort of these old stories, but I also just Am I right that probably we will find that our brain structure was altered by our phone use?
Ryan Holiday 24:17
I mean, I would think so. There’s that Louie ck bit about, you used to have to sit with awkwardness or unpleasantness. But now you can instantly relieve yourself of like, like, let’s say, I got here early, and there’s no one here. And I was waiting because
Eric Weinstein 24:33
the host was late.
Ryan Holiday 24:34
No, no, I’m just saying, let’s say you get to something early. Yeah, you would have had to wait with your own thoughts, right. And now you can go into the portal and not have to have thoughts. And so that idea of reflection or downtime, it’s like, one of the things I compare writing a book too, is sometimes if you have your laptop and you shut it and it’s just You’d go into sleep mode, but you’d come back and something had happened. And it’s been on for 11 hours. And it’s like almost like hot to the touch. It doesn’t happen anymore. But I remember that happening on my older Mac books. To me that’s like what writing a book is like, your brain is not shutting off. And I think social media actually creates the phone, create some version of that, where the you’re never getting the downtime between moments, right? Always, always the moment.
Eric Weinstein 25:26
In what ways Am I diminished? What parts of my capacity if I forgotten for that? Well, what I’m really trying to get at Yeah, ultimately, is that a lot of transformations have taken place that have not been well documented, that divorce us increasingly from what might be termed our super ancestors, people. Like there are no 400 hitters in baseball. Yeah, we’ve accepted that that was a different errands. Now that can’t be sure, but it seems like we could accomplish all sorts of things recently. Li that we can’t now. And it’s very interesting the extent to which we’ve lost capacities. And we haven’t documented what it was that took them from us. Like, I can’t figure out why I can’t read a book.
Ryan Holiday 26:13
Well, so related to that one, I think it was Daniel Boston, if you read him at all, he wrote this book, the image about sort of the invention of modern media. He’s basically talking about what television radio does, is fascinating. I think it was like the Librarian of Congress or something. But he was he was like, the Lincoln the Lincoln Douglas debates. It was like Lincoln talked for three hours. Douglas talked for three hours. Then everyone took a break and went home and came back. And then they each argued for like, another three hours. You’re like, now the democratic debates are like, an hour and 20 minutes and there’s eight candidates, you know, like, human beings used to be able to consume incredibly long form complex like these were farmers and blacksmiths and People was sitting here watching one of the smartest people who ever lived. One of the most eloquent speakers of all time talk for three hours without break, you know? unamplified, have you seen certain losses of capability? I mean, I think the I think the ability to consume very long form content whether it’s you know, Robert Caro book, or it’s a, you know, 1000 you know, line poem. I think those are one of the one of the only bright spots to me as podcasts that people will listen to a three hour Joe Rogan and long form podcasting and long form television. Yes, yes. Although I find long form television to be very manipulative and not a sign of progress. Oh, say more. This is great. So I think okay, so it like, when I watch, I don’t know, bloodlines? What I got the sense of is that like, let’s say I watched the first three seasons, which I thought were good and then I realized I just watched 22 hours of television and eight minutes of things have happened. What they did is they like instead of having to create beats inside the show to get you to go from commercial break to commercial break, they, they just know that if they if they keep you going, if at the end, you’re vaguely interested, you will let it autoplay to the next thing. So it’s, it’s taking what what could be a compressed really interesting couple hours of television and and it’s like how the YouTube algorithm rewards watch time, right so people just make shit longer than it genuinely needs to be. Like as a writer, one of the favorite rules, one of the favorite exercises I heard Raymond Chandler would write on basically index cards and his typewriter and his rule is like something has to happen on every The index card. So if you read a Raymond Chandler thing, it’s like beat beat beat beat beat. Now you read, you know, some novel that wins the National Book Award. And it’s like, weirdly, it is 2000 pages or 1000 pages, but nothing happens. The characters learn nothing, you know, no lessons are taught. So like, it’s it’s even some of the long form stuff that we consume. It’s mostly just a testament to our ability to veg out or consume it in the background as we’re doing another thing, rather than be very engaged with uh,
Eric Weinstein 29:38
well, then, maybe what I want to do is to break out is there some long form television that you think isn’t empty calories?
Ryan Holiday 29:47
Yeah, yeah, I mean, I’m sure I’m sure there are
Eric Weinstein 29:49
like, I found that the sopranos was incredibly drawn out and in general didn’t waste a lot.
Ryan Holiday 29:58
So you liked it. I did. And look, I would say that the HBO model is different than the Netflix model. The HBO model is like, this has to be so good. You will wait one week and hold on to the threat and come back to right the Netflix model is Can I Can I steal Tuesday from you guys you know like when you call in sick from work and watch a episodes of gangs con or Narcos or whatever. Okay, well then what’s
Eric Weinstein 30:23
going on with Joe Rogan? This is a singular funnel.
Ryan Holiday 30:27
Yes, it is fascinating.
Someone was telling me that for like, there’s a whole generation of people that don’t even know you can listen to Joe Rogan that you like they just watch it on. Like, I mean, I it makes no sense to me that someone could watch a three hour YouTube video like I just don’t understand where you would well. They’re, they’re lightly watching it often. I think so. But but but I think it is a it’s a generational, also a lifestyle thing that is somewhat new. But I was just listening to his Malcolm Gladwell interview, and it’s like three and a half hours. And I was like, literally entertained for every second. He’s looking he’s, I think he’s a master of it. And I think what he’s really good at is,
Unknown Speaker 31:14
Ryan Holiday 31:17
being the every man in the sense of like, he’s asking the questions that a normal person would ask Malcolm like, like, what would a person who has the opportunity to talk to one of their favorite authors would talk about, as opposed to whatever the subtle political agenda or you know what, like, whatever, somebody in the media would try to use the opportunity of talking to Malcolm Gladwell to accomplish right.
Eric Weinstein 31:49
the funny part is that he’s so far away from being every man. Sure. The persona and the rapper exactly communicates every man like his vibe. Is what you say yes. And then if you talk to him, or hang out with him outside of his show, you’re just aware of what an incredible storehouse of information that’s particularly senior human being is. He He has an enormous body of knowledge so that you’re always close to something that he wants to talk about.
Ryan Holiday 32:18
Yeah, that’s true. One of the interesting that sounds noting soom at that interview is there was like nothing that Malcolm Gladwell mentioned that Rogan wasn’t vaguely familiar with no events in the news there was no he was mentioning this video like this police shooting and this and and he was like he knew all of it. I think I think what defines Rogan to me and good podcasts and why they so exploded is like, actually an earnest interest. Yeah. As opposed to a vague like you’ve been profiled by media outlets, right? And very little but but what happens is actually very, very little interesting. But but you get the sense that this person is very nice to you and very friendly. But when you read the article, it is clear that their intention was to let the reader know that they were above up here
rendering judgment on the quality wise sometimes they don’t cooperate with Yes.
Eric Weinstein 33:20
Right. Yeah, I mean, in fact this this sort of ties together to different
Unknown Speaker 33:25
Eric Weinstein 33:27
success of Joe Rogan above all all others telling us more about what is going on with traditional and legacy media. In that he is offering somehow the best antidote to this kind of seamless, endless interoperable wall of institutional corporate and legacy sense make.
Ryan Holiday 33:57
Yeah, like so. So I think it’s also just genuinely like, most people are fans of stuff, right? And Joe Rogan is a fan of stuff. And when you read a New Yorker profile, or a New York Times profile, or an Atlantic piece, or even some of the, you know, like Recaps of television shows, by outlets that, you know, everyone does this now, there’s this weird sense that everything sucks. People that make it suck, the world is falling apart, and that the job of the media is to tell us what’s wrong with things. Right. And, and like, why would anyone consume that information? Like what what is the utility of you telling me that things suck? Like I talked to? When I when I talk to authors, it’ll, like, the old media model was like, you could write a book about an idea like just generally like, Hey, this is complicated and people are like, I don’t have time for this. Like, tell me if it’s Tony. Is it good? You know, or tell me that this is bad. But there’s this weird sort of thing in a media where it’s just like, it’s just kind of this is this is it’s like a there’s an ambiguity to it. And like, it’s almost like a film on top
Eric Weinstein 35:15
of this this culture. I mean, you know, this word, the commentary, yeah has elected these people. Right. And why do they have a culture? Yeah. And what is it about their jobs that produces this kind of incestuous? Well, she said, she did this think piece about this. And then I came back to that, and so and so digested the two years thinking,
Ryan Holiday 35:43
Well, and I sensibly that should be the role of the editor, the editor should like, I almost get that there’s a commentary of sort of young, opinionated writers who are writing things, but there should be the editor on top who’s saying, who’s asking tough questions about that.
Eric Weinstein 35:59
Is it the The economic is it that the system of selective pressures that is choosing these people to sit in those chairs, yeah, is now imparting such a spin that the world is kind of tuning it out increasingly because, you know, for example, there is a piece I’ve never heard described like a general platonic abstraction which I call envy porn. Yeah. Where the peace talks about fabulously rich people leading shitty decadent lives and you’re supposed to be exactly filled with one part envy in one part pity.
Ryan Holiday 36:39
Yeah, where some version of that piece is like, I’m gonna write about this person whose life seems very glamorous, but I’m I’m a subtly going to show how they’re actually a vapid idiot. Yeah, you know, and and I think what it is is like, okay, so economic like economically and Opera, as far as opportunities, but it’s literally never been Easier to reach a mass audience to monetize your work to, to control your own destiny as a creative person, right? So like imagine, imagine looking at the like the the vast opportunity of podcasts out there, the opportunity to write books or to create YouTube videos are to do any of these things and go, my, I don’t want to do that. What I would like to do is make $42,000 a year without health benefits and be have a full time job at Business Insider, right? You know what I mean? Like you are either you’re insane, or you’re fundamentally somebody, or you’re fundamentally lacking the talent to cut it in the real world eat what you kill, like, sell stuff directly to the audio.
Eric Weinstein 37:54
So it’s a variance reduction model that you know that you’re going to have a job if you do your job, but you don’t actually have Have to test yourself based on whether or not people are dying for your content.
Unknown Speaker 38:03
Yeah, it’s like,
Ryan Holiday 38:04
Okay, if you live in some small town, you might think, Oh, this person is a certified financial advisor. They they’re, they know more about money than me. Yeah. Which might be true. But like, they would not be if they were really good at managing money, they would not be running at Charles Schwab office in, you know, Toledo or something, right. And so it’s like, you just, oh, the people who are writing for this outlet or that outlet are in it, unless, I mean, there’s obviously exceptions, like Malcolm Gladwell writes for The New Yorker, but has is also an entrepreneurial creator in other ways. But, you know, you just realize, Oh, you’re it’s sort of like the survivorship bias. Like all the good people have been all the fundamentally talented people have been siphoned off and work for them
Eric Weinstein 38:50
so that I really, I
don’t know that I hold exactly that take on. There’s a selection bias. I think that there’s an aspect of People merging with these venerable structures. There is power from an institutional perspective that hasn’t been completely lost and frittered I’m not quite sure whether the millennials still pay attention. But that came from Harper’s, that came from the Atlantic that came from the New Yorker. However, what I’m very curious about is at what point do the super vital people start going back into the institutional structures? Like I will see things happen on the Joe Rogan program? Yeah. And unless there’s an angle to take somebody down, it doesn’t filter back into what is this thing I call the gated institutional narrative, because it’s mostly an idea that certain organs only talk to each other and themselves. Right. And that the power of that conversation to stay focused on it could be completely irrelevant and wrong things or misleading things are terrible things, but it still has a measure of coherence that the world Wild West LAX, and I’m questioning what happens when the interesting stuff is incoherent. And the other stuff has a coherence, even if it’s meaningless.
Ryan Holiday 40:10
Yeah, George trout wrote this book called within the context of no context. And he started talking about he was a New Yorker writer. He wrote this like 30 years ago, but sort of talking about exactly we’re talking about is that, like, sort of the job of these old institutions was to provide context to imprimatur a stamp of approval. But now there’s these new media outlets this new wild west where that’s gone. Yeah, it is interesting. It’s like the Elan musk episode of Rogan is newsworthy, but the other episodes of treach still millions more people than, you know, an episode of Lena Dunham’s girls, one is covered and the other isn’t right. But these empty shells are are really he calls them empty shells that like these outlets are empty shells that that there is this significance and meaning equity in them that was built over hundreds of years. In some cases, the Atlantic is, you know, dates before the Civil War. So even if the business model is changing the credibility might have been reduced, still mean something to people because it’s been around for so long. Like a great example of this is like Forbes, is this economic business model is the exact same outlet as the Huffington Post, right? Like it’s run by contributors, most of whom are not paid, most of whom are not edited. And yet, you see something written by for like, you see an article from Forbes calm, it feels like it’s from the media brand Forbes, which states the early 1900s, right. But it’s actually written by some random person who may be, you know, conflicted or not qualified or wet. So these empty shelves matter a great deal. And we because so much advertising has been put behind them and exposure. One of the examples I like to use is like, okay, you you’re driving through la you See a billboard for you know, a new movie. It’ll have the laurel leaves, you know, around the award that it’s one. Well, you know, there used to be like a handful of film festivals and now there’s a million film festivals. And so you’re driving and you see the Laura leaves and you go, Oh, this is an award winning movie. But that might have been, you know, the Sacramento Film Festival or a non existent Film Festival.
Eric Weinstein 42:27
You know, you’ve already got the Charles Schwab Office of Toledo, Ohio really angry. Is
Ryan Holiday 42:32
that ever gonna give us I’m from Sacramento, okay, or I feel
Eric Weinstein 42:36
like you just plugged in a sec. There’s no such thing as bad press.
Ryan Holiday 42:39
Yeah, but but you know what I mean? So like, like, our mind is looking for these symbols. Yeah, tell us like this is the important narrative. This has been vetted. And in fact, most of that has fallen away. And, and so we’re, I think we have trouble integrating what’s even real and not real.
Eric Weinstein 42:57
So if all of our minds are now Really the product of random, not randomly, but eclectically chosen inputs, and we can’t count on a cannon so that there is a less shared context. What would be the art that would be appropriate to this time that we could look back and say, Hey, do you remember how we shared that? I mean,
Ryan Holiday 43:25
like, what is the art we’re creating now that matters? are we
Eric Weinstein 43:27
are we unreachable by art? effectively? Because we’re too atomized.
Ryan Holiday 43:33
Interesting. Yeah. I mean, is there a Is there a painting that could come out that would, Jen that would genuinely pierce the cultural consciousness like
Eric Weinstein 43:45
remember when Gangnam Style came down? Yeah, that was so weird. Yeah, it was so unseen.
Ryan Holiday 43:51
Yeah, there really is dancing into weddings. And
Eric Weinstein 43:53
but we also like the first thing was just your jaw was dropping. What am I watching? It didn’t even make sense. It’s like I’m sort of hypnagogic state.
Unknown Speaker 44:01
Eric Weinstein 44:02
yeah. So that was able to it grabbed the mic and said, Now hear this.
Ryan Holiday 44:09
Well, what’s interesting is that was like the first video to do a billion views. Right? Okay. And now there are videos that have done a billion views that you and I have never heard of, you know, like, which is very strange to think about. I remember the other day I, someone had recommended this book, it’s a, the book is a man called oath, which is this interesting little novel. There’s actually really good, but he’s like, Hey, you should check out this book. And it recently come out and I pulled it up and it had 18,000 reviews on Amazon. And I’d never heard of it. So not like I hadn’t read it, but like, I’d never heard of it. I’ve never seen it written about anywhere. It had won no awards. It had not been made into a movie. And, and so you realize, yeah, things can be flat out cultural phenomenons. But having No cultural impact whatsoever because they are filtered out of whatever that dominant media narrative is, right? I, I yeah, I mean, I even see this with with my with my own books, right like I’ve sold, my books are sold millions of copies have been reviewed, like twice in newspapers really. And they were almost all from the to book because that was a media centric book. So my book that’s got the most media connections got the most attention, but actually sold the fewest amount of copies.
Eric Weinstein 45:47
And for the rest for the rest of it, you don’t really fully exist.
Ryan Holiday 45:52
Yeah, basically, basically, it exists to the people who surface it in the who get it surface to them in the Amazon algorithm. Yeah. So like crazy, but as far as yeah the like, What’s also weird is like, yeah to sell millions of books in you I could walk into, I could walk into a good chunk of indie bookstore it, I think people it. It’s not just the the the media culture, but I could walk into a large number of indie bookstores. And not that they wouldn’t have my books, they would not have heard of my books, right? Even though their businesses literally should be book signing books that are selling copies, right, putting them in front of people. So there is this weird, sort of there’s this weird, it’s almost the New York Times list that I’m passing with the New York Times bestseller list. So two things about it. So why? Because to the to the public, The New York Times list is a reflection of what books are selling best, right? And to anyone in the industry. You know, this is in fact not the case. It’s heavily edited. The New York Times list for instance, discounts Amazon, and ways independent retail as a their algorithms as independent retail matters more than Amazon, even though Amazon is responsible for roughly 80% of all book sales, only until like 2000 it was only in like 2012 2013 that they started counting ebooks. Yeah, audible was, in some cases not included. If you look at the fine print on the New York Times bestseller lists, it says explicitly not included our perennial sellers, which means that like The Great Gatsby should be on the bestseller list most weeks, The New York Times says oh, that’s old. Let’s put how to be anti racist on the list even though actually that book is selling a fraction of
Unknown Speaker 47:51
seven habits. This is okay, you know,
Eric Weinstein 47:53
so this is this complex supporting our human malware and our malware runs between our ears. Okay, let’s client side. So I, I have a program that says if I want to know what’s hot, I should check the New York Times bestseller list. Yes. And the idea is why am I maintaining the malware client side to participate in this crazy drama? Is it only because other people are using the same list? And so it’s a QWERTY phenomena where it’s a terrible arrangement of keys on the keyboard that was originally there to get keys not to stick to slow down. Or, I mean, how do I get rid of my legacy architecture?
Ryan Holiday 48:29
Well, as probably a little bit that, right? It’s the cultural inertia and legacy of like, this thing is existing. And so it’s a shorthand. There’s probably a Gerardi an argument that like we want what other people are wanting.
And there’s also I told
Eric Weinstein 48:46
me, they’re not even wanting that.
Ryan Holiday 48:48
Right. But we think that’s what people are wanting. I
Eric Weinstein 48:50
know. But if I want to have a real, real journey and moment, I want to actually want what you’re wanting, not what somebody else is telling me that you’re wanting.
Ryan Holiday 48:56
That’s true. Yes. So it’s Gerardi in virtue signaling. Then, oh, this is good. And then and then I think a lot of it is the Paradox of Choice, right? There’s so much choice that we need. We gravitate towards anything. So we go to the most read list on the side of the New York Times, we go to the top of Amazon, like we, we just it’s like, please reduce choice for me. I think that’s what we’re saying
Eric Weinstein 49:22
what or mean, or, and please allow me to plug into a large mimetic complex so that my time isn’t wasted with references. Like for example, I drove here, and I have this Discord server of people who talk about the show and the culture. And I wanted to announce myself as coming in. So I said, you know, this line from the HMS pinafore, my gallon crew, good morning, and I was hoping somebody would echo back, sir, good morning, right?
Ryan Holiday 49:58
You want them to get the wrap
Eric Weinstein 50:00
I want them to get the reference and nobody has the reference, right? Because why is anyone maintaining HMS pinafore from the 1800s in 2020 on a Discord server?
Ryan Holiday 50:10
Well, that is when it’s Zen mostly right about ancient philosophy. So I sort of, you know, reading these books, what I what I love is your reading Montana, or Seneca, there’ll be they’ll quote lines from, you know, the Odyssey or Virgil or they’re quoting poetry in place and things. And it never occurs to them to attribute the line. It’s always in the footnote from the translator. This is a last line from a European ease play or whatever, right? But in the ancient world, it was assumed that he was you would not only Yeah, you’d not only have seen said play, but you would have seen said play so many times, that you would recognize it. And you know, I think I think the problem is there was just so much less stuff right. So
Eric Weinstein 50:59
was it There’s that but there’s also this this weird discomfort we have of teaching a Canon for the purpose of keeping inter operable referencing
Ryan Holiday 51:10
well, canon is racist there. That’s why we can’t have it.
Eric Weinstein 51:12
So that’s why we promote it on the portal.
Ryan Holiday 51:15
Now, of course, why we stopped teaching the canon. We’ve certainly like yeah, people used to. People used to learn Seneca when they were being taught Latin, but now they don’t learn Latin. So they’re definitely not going to learn. Senecas. epigrams, you know, like, so there, I think there there’s an element of that to it. But also, it’s like, Look, there was only a handful of playwrights in Athens. Now we have all those playwrights, and we have Shakespeare, and we have, you know, 100 years of movies with the movie canon. Is is the one thing that I really see going in the opposite direction is that we remember these scenes. Yeah. Like if I said to you, if you would say you Can’t handle the truth. Everyone would know what you’re talking about.
Eric Weinstein 52:02
Right? But if I said to you put that coffee down,
would that be resonant with you?
Ryan Holiday 52:08
A little bit? merrigan Ross Yeah, yeah. Okay. Yeah, like so is that coffee is for closers. Yeah.
Eric Weinstein 52:14
There’s those are the thing that that we can do that to some extent.
Ryan Holiday 52:18
Well, one of the so what I do because I do this email every morning I write an email called daily stoic and it’s one sort of stoic inspired meditation every day, instead of quoting plays because no one gets those. I use song lyrics a lot and I find song lyrics are also something that people have a have a lot of familiarity with
Eric Weinstein 52:39
really depends on what era it does. When I found out that my millennial co workers had never heard bridge over troubled waters by Simon and Garfunkel. I had a real moment.
Ryan Holiday 52:49
But I bet if you let’s say you’ve written an email and the title was like, we need a bridge over troubled water, there would be a vague cultural like not in this algebra connection to that, even if they don’t get it. There’s a vague familiarity. I bet
Eric Weinstein 53:07
OMG lol aro FL Really?
I don’t think I mean, I’ve been shocked how little
transmission there is to a lot of my Mullane. And again, this isn’t a knock on them. It’s just things that were incredibly important and salient just dropped by the wayside. And then there will be references. Like a lot of them will know Led Zeppelin. Yeah. And I’ll say wow, why is it that you all know this but you don’t know that?
Unknown Speaker 53:34
Yeah, it’s like classic rock versus full grok.
Ryan Holiday 53:40
I did hear this one thing to tie back to media there is like if you look at like, you know, media headlines over the last hundred years, there’s lots of Yeah, Shakespearean references and like literary references like that. Headlines might be a pun on the and they were like the person was saying like in the future. The headlines will be Simpsons references like Because that is what’s replaced the thing but that was very sneaky of
Eric Weinstein 54:03
you, a friend of mine said that the Simpsons was the only the only pleasure she got where she could actually use her very expensive BA in English literature,
Ryan Holiday 54:17
the people writing it or so. Are you like are Harvard?
Eric Weinstein 54:21
Exactly. So the point is, is that they’re sneaking Sure.
Unknown Speaker 54:24
Yeah, well, but yeah, they’re there.
Ryan Holiday 54:29
I would argue that one of the reasons like the Marvel movies are so big now obviously, there’s a hero’s journey sort of archetypes are whatever. But But if you’re going to make a $200 million movie, or a billion dollar movie, it’s you have to have a large cultural familiarity. Like there has to be in the audience has to already be familiar with the characters. So the reason we get lots of sequels will get remakes because you’ve already invested in building up there’s already a latent audience. Who are at least potentially interested in the idea? Whereas, like, if you think about a movie like Interstellar or inception, what an incredible gamble that is, from a studio standpoint, to make a movie that’s that expensive, but that has no cultural headstart in that people already love.
Eric Weinstein 55:23
Although let’s just take one of those. So Interstellar has this character who never really got his chance. And he’s, he’s now a father. And so he’s got this problem, which is that he’s finally getting called up to the majors to do something real and he and he’s Matthew McConaughey who people know
Okay, well, this character in some sense is playing off. Not as specific archetypes here but something that is very, you know, the past over who has to choose between family and a dream.
Ryan Holiday 55:59
Yes, but But just I think the the point is it’s if you’re doing Spider Man eight, like everyone knows who Spider Man I took your point. Yeah, another question I had about the Marvel Universe. So how many people in interstellar recognize the you know, don’t go quietly into the dark night? You know, like there that that movie is built around poetry? Yeah. JOHN Thomas. Yeah. Did people get it today? No, I don’t know. But But that’s also weird exception in that sense.
Eric Weinstein 56:29
Well, and also, you know, all the work of like, it was a Kip Thorne, who was consulting to this to get the physics right. Yeah, very often a film is over engineered, which I think is a beautiful thing that Hollywood still chooses to do on occasion. With respect to the Marvel Universe, how much of that is really it’s an ensemble idea. But like with the Avengers, how much of that is really based around one or two of these characters that are much more Important than all the others
Ryan Holiday 57:01
I mentioned before, I’ve literally never seen an Avenger or Marvel movie but i’m, i’m interested I think, like what are in 10 years? Or 15 years? What? What will be big enough to have the cultural nostalgia right to be a sure bet for a blockbuster movie? What do we all share? enough that you know what I mean? Are they gonna be Kardashian movies? Like what? What What could you be making movies about? That reached everyone to a degree that I’m not sure what the answer is. So here’s the thing. I
Eric Weinstein 57:39
am always fascinated when I’m positive about something and I can’t get it to land generally you and I have never explored Yes, but I’m convinced that we’re in a revolution. And it’s a weird revolution so that it doesn’t immediately rhyme close enough with any revolution we’ve been through before. And you see this with unrest all over the World, everybody’s incapable of figuring out why things are going in unexpected directions. The last time we were in such a situation, arguably would have been the late 1960s. And the music, we had clearly made sense for the revolution that was going on.
Ryan Holiday 58:14
Eric Weinstein 58:16
I’m positive that the music I’m listening to does not belong to this time. It’s like it’s
unwanted. Even the best of it. I mean, like the what, like the Taylor Swift of the
Ryan Holiday 58:27
Eric Weinstein 58:29
even the hip hop, like a hip hop is everybody will point to the hip hop and say, No, no, the hip hop is actually that that’s what’s now that’s just not getting I listened to it. I’m still not convinced that that’s the music of now. Okay, that somehow our inability to say where we are in common and to build up that kind of PVS and we’ll call it the inner subjective or what have you. Yeah. means that my music, even if it’s great music sucks because it’s not the music of this time.
Ryan Holiday 58:58
Sure. It’s not rooted Anything human
Eric Weinstein 59:02
well that if I heard, let’s imagine that I, I wake up, I get an Uber and the guys playing the radio or whatever, and a song comes on and I just think like, oh my god that is the song of now. This is a sound I haven’t heard yet suddenly I’m grounded again. And then there’s an explosion in this fantasy. Yeah. where everybody’s saying what is that and then people start talking about it and start building it up. So for example, the comedy we had was not the comedy of now up until I think very recently. Okay, I was talking to Joe Rogan about this at the Comedy Store. The Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip now appears to be and maybe the comedy cellar in New York. mana replaces the reincarnation of CB GBS for punk is a subversive voices that politically incorrect voices No, no, it’s it’s a group of people who are talking to each other backstage trading ideas and creating Eating. Like there is a school happening that I don’t know if it’s named
Ryan Holiday 1:00:05
interesting where they
Eric Weinstein 1:00:06
couldn’t figure out how to tell the jokes a few years ago. And they are now crack the code. Yeah. And the jokes are now the jokes of our time where the jokes didn’t feel like they were the jokes of our time. Okay. Right, like in other words, for example, you don’t want to be politically incorrect for the sake of just being a dick. Yeah. On the other hand, you don’t want to denature yourself to the point that your comedy is completely uninteresting. Yeah. Before nobody could figure out how to do an edgy bit that meant something that still had some heart and left you feeling uplifted that somebody had figured out how to say what you’ve been feeling.
there’s some puzzle like that in music that hasn’t been solved.
Ryan Holiday 1:00:52
So two things, one to go to our point about the dominant cultural medium or conversation and then like what people are liking I did you That Jesse singer piece about, like the the Chappelle ratio, whereas like on Netflix or whatever like Chappelle was special had like a 98% rating. And then the rotten tomatoes rating was like 30% Yeah. And so like the people who are supposed to be helping us surface these things and contextualizing them and popularizing them and reflecting back to us what they mean have failed completely to get what
Eric Weinstein 1:01:27
we have failed our betters in Brooklyn.
Ryan Holiday 1:01:30
Yes, right. They actually they know what’s good and we plead we
Eric Weinstein 1:01:35
don’t get it right. That
Ryan Holiday 1:01:36
don’t get it right that that Sure. Sure. But that’s certainly what they think. Right that they’re well they’re telling they’re
Eric Weinstein 1:01:42
waiting to understand
that they look ridiculous.
Ryan Holiday 1:01:46
I think they are but there’s also an argument that like we’re the deplorable zz who are not getting how offensive.
Eric Weinstein 1:01:52
Do you really Hell’s i don’t i don’t believe that. Look, I didn’t think chapels thing was that great to be on.
Ryan Holiday 1:01:58
I think it was amazing, but and I did I think
Eric Weinstein 1:02:00
it was offensive in sometimes uncompensated ways. Yeah. But that wasn’t what was so exciting about the exciting part was the breaking of the joke that broke the fourth wall, where he said, I’m going to do two impressions. Yeah, the second impression is you fuck the audience. Yeah. My audience sucks. You know, you suck. And I am going to point out that you suck to get you to stop sucking quite as hard as you are. Sure.
Ryan Holiday 1:02:25
Yeah. Yeah. No, I love that. The other argument though, is like okay, when we look back, we go okay, the songs of the 60s and 70s I wonder if you if you Okay, give me if you’re like, give me the 10 sort of Vietnam songs. You know, it’s like all Along the Watchtower. It’s,
Eric Weinstein 1:02:42
you know, whatever. The song was Along the Watchtower Vietnam. So
Ryan Holiday 1:02:45
I don’t know. I’m just saying like, What What are these? Um, era? Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s what I’m but I mean, like, do we think what those songs are? It’s because we’ve watched so many movies about them. They’ve been, you know, it’s like, what’s the soundtrack from Forrest Gump? What’s the soundtrack from film
Eric Weinstein 1:03:00
I will take when you pulled up. Bob Dylan is quoting two separate parts of the Bible, one of which is Isaiah, right. And you know this whole concept of Christ on the mound being crucified between these two other figures. And this incredible conversation sketched in thumbnail, between these two figures, evoking the crucifixion the other case, you know, you’re talking about, you know, the loss of a great city and waiting to hear the news that I guess Babylon has fallen or something, you know, and then Hendrix comes out of nowhere combining rhythm guitar and lead guitar, and an other worldly piece that even Dylan has to realize, holy shit, I didn’t get my I didn’t get my own song. There was so much drama in that those three chords, you know that. I know why that song. Worked for that time.
Ryan Holiday 1:03:58
But what I just mean like, if you If you ask someone today, what are the songs and you let’s say you’ve got 10 songs, right? And then you compare, then you look side by side with the charts of that era. Are they the same? Or is it is our sense of it, a thing that happens slowly over time as we get more removed from it. So the argument that what we’re listening to today is not the songs of our time, actually, is to those songs get created afterwards, as we reflect, as we reflect on it as we filter the good from the bad, slowly over time, so maybe you maybe you didn’t actually hear, maybe wouldn’t have heard all Along the Watchtower in a taxi in New York City and 19. Whatever. Just as you wouldn’t hear it getting into an Uber downstairs today. You see what I’m saying?
Eric Weinstein 1:04:48
Ryan Holiday 1:04:52
The Great Gatsby is the book of the Jazz Age, but it was a failure in its own time those logs got you know, but so So it emerges after we sift through it over time, and then we get the reflection. It was being written in that time. It just wasn’t. We just didn’t appreciate it enough, then
Eric Weinstein 1:05:12
I, I love that. I think that’s true for some amount of it. What I think what I’m talking about is an effect so large that we don’t even really want to contemplate. You know, I mean, there’s an aspect which to which Ariana Grande or Billy Eilish is speaking to her audience Yeah. In the time and going through their problems, and they’re making a connection. I don’t mean to say that what I mean to say is that this moment, for young old is wildly incoherent. If you have a civil war, let’s say in, in bear Beirut, yeah, everybody’s going through the same Civil War. It’s not like an old man, your civil war is different. Now. Those checkpoints are real. Whatever it is blowing us apart in terms of whatever assumed interstitial intersubjective is breaking down everywhere. We’re all going through it, and nothing is reflecting it. And we’re not even thinking about like, what I try to do is to give you a concrete realization. I believe that the comedy that’s going on in the lab Yeah. is now the comedy of our time. Yeah. I don’t think that’s yet true for music and people have an automated answer, which is no man. It’s hip hop. Hip Hop is what right now? Sure. And even that’s not right. Like you will see something take over the planet. When somebody actually hits the formula that says, Oh my god, this is the ephemeral of this moment made archival.
Ryan Holiday 1:06:38
Have you watched the Taylor Swift documentary? No, you should watch it okay. It’s interesting cuz you’re watching the most popular artists of our time essentially create a propaganda documentary about themselves. Right. But there is this interesting moment in it where she’s decided she wants to speak out about the the senate race in Tennessee. That’s going on at that time, or what this is, like, filmed in 2017, or something like that. And you watch her. So I think to two things. The first one is, there’s a scene in the documentary where she has to go to her advisors and her parents. And she’s like literally weeping, begging them to try to let her say what she thinks politically, right, which you would never have thought of doing did not have that conversation. Jimi Hendrix did not have that conversation. There was a I think it was both a courage but also the stakes were lower. And so
Eric Weinstein 1:07:36
didn’t Bob Dylan have that conversation by singing Maggie’s farm, gone electric at Newport. And it wasn’t that the import is like, I’m tired of you guys telling me that. I’m breaking free. Screw you.
Ryan Holiday 1:07:52
Maybe maybe that’s a good point. I don’t know. But it’s a very I thought it was a revealing cultural moment that like the person was All the power it I don’t think Bob Dylan was then as big as Taylor Swift is now. He didn’t have 100 million Instagram followers. Do you know what I mean? Yeah. But you’re what
Eric Weinstein 1:08:11
you’re wired thought, isn’t it?
Ryan Holiday 1:08:12
Yeah, it’s crazy. But But you think that they’re, I think it’s a courage thing, but it’s also a vote like her brand is specifically about her being a political, not controversial and not saying what she actually thinks it’s about the mask. And here she’s trying to break that mask or take that mask off and be genuine. And so I thought that was interesting. The other weird sense I got from the documentary is primarily because it is propaganda she makes this herself it’s not like some, you know, 2020 documentary or something. She hurt. I felt the primary mood was that you she wanted you to see her as kind of a victim. Like as weak and as struggling And I’m being buffeted by forces and adversity and difficulty. I can’t imagine 30 years ago Madonna, at the peak of her career, wanting you to feel sorry for her, that would not be the Brant. So it was a weird millennial moment in that for me
Eric Weinstein 1:09:18
well, but sometimes that’s just bringing your context like Madonna effectively was was a metabolizing shame. You know, in something like, like a virgin, yeah, where the idea is, is that if I can assume that you understand the shame. Then my cavorting in this particular way shows you that I’m rising above it. So maybe the idea is, is that a Taylor Swift like you have to be buffeted by forces and pushed down and victimized so that you can rise up and say, No, fucks left to give and all
Ryan Holiday 1:09:52
No, no, it’s it’s, it’s actually closer to something you’ve talked about where Madonna’s narrative is fundamentally of empty Power meant and have and have her agency and the prevailing mood of this and I think of our time to go back to your original original question. It was that she’s a low agency person. Do you know what I mean? That that, like, you think you think she’s acts, but actually she’s just like everyone else, which is that we are not in control of our destiny, and that we are victims, and that this is hard, and we’re helpless. You know, I think that is a weird force of our time that like, even though we actually have more opportunities, more resources more freedom than literally ever before. Everyone wants you to know how powerless they are and how much of a victim they are of
Eric Weinstein 1:10:42
systemically how Taylor Swift came to her consciousness is that you know, she was the the good hearted girl next door when you were focused on the the hot chick. Yeah, they did the cheerleader squat.
Ryan Holiday 1:10:54
And then right as she was winning her award, Kanye West came up and bullied her out of it. Right? That’s Like the narrative of the film really interesting.
Eric Weinstein 1:11:05
What do you think the biggest distortions that we’re wrestling with, in our minds are where there is a resolution that immediately catapults us to a different metacognitive level of understanding of our environment? In other words, what is it that you see is most off in people’s understanding where there is a fix? And you can say what now that I see that I understand why I’m behaving this way Why? I don’t feel right about my family relations. I’m not comfortable with the media or political process. Uh,
Ryan Holiday 1:11:40
yeah, that’s a good question. Um,
I don’t know I get a sense from a lot of my peers, that there’s this kind of feeling of, of on rootedness and being untethered. And it’s like they’re they’re looking for it everywhere. They’re looking for. They’re looking for For peace and meaning in psychedelics and polyamorous relationships and, you know, traveling and, you know, influence it’s exact
Eric Weinstein 1:12:09
same list that I would have come up.
Ryan Holiday 1:12:11
Okay. Interesting. And, and to me the solution of 90% of the problem was Don’t tell me Okay,
Eric Weinstein 1:12:17
yeah, let’s both fix it in our minds.
Unknown Speaker 1:12:19
Eric Weinstein 1:12:22
I won’t change my euro. Okay, give me yours.
Ryan Holiday 1:12:25
I think for most people I think this would be the solution to the elite angsting and and you know, anxiety as well as the alt right anger and fear. It’s like, get married have kids live within your means find work that’s purposeful
Eric Weinstein 1:12:42
and fulfilling to you. So this just happened. I went to think was Joe Greene was opening this this treehouse was one of these intentional communities. Everybody’s talking about we have a loss of of spirituality. Yeah. We have a need for community like now. Before our lives have to be meaningful. Yeah. And then all this stuff about nutrition. You know, I always pick on to loom because people are always going to be there. Yes. psychedelics, all of these kind of intentional getaways. Yeah. And I raised my hand I said, How many of you have children? And like one hand goes up in a very crowded row, right? And I said, Have you ever considered that what it is that you’re looking for?
Yes. And maybe even belonging to your local mosque as a church or synagogue whether or not you believe right,
I don’t think it even occurs to them that this is they’ve got a family size hole in their souls. Hmm.
Ryan Holiday 1:13:52
Yeah, they that’s a weird thing, Silicon Valley and Silicon Valley, but I mean, more like the larger system of Sort of media and questions what it’s like we’ve kicked, they’ve kicked out the legs of all the stools, all the legs of the stool like families kicked out, showing up in an office is kicked out. Even if you show up in an office, having your own space inside the office is kicked, like all the things that used to make us feel normal, normal and comfortable and safe and rooted. invited to go to work and bring your stuff to a large community table every day. Yeah, you should have a desk with pictures of your
Eric Weinstein 1:14:32
I don’t want to say normatively. Yeah, but the thing that I’m just fascinated by is the idea isn’t occurring to these people
Yeah, you know, once you have a kid in a school and you’re worried about how the kid is doing other parents have the same concerns about the same teachers and you’re having these conversations, you start to think, Oh, well, this is what my body is programmed for, is to take this incredible interest in a tiny number of people. Now, I don’t mean to say I’m positive that you won’t mean to say that every single person needs to go have a child, right? It’s just most people, most people. Yeah. On average. Yeah. Even. And I’m not even talking about having a great family like I have a challenge difficult family like everybody else.
Ryan Holiday 1:15:19
Yeah, it could be a gay family. It could be a transgender, it doesn’t really matter at a dysfunctional family.
Eric Weinstein 1:15:23
Have you a family with a lot of pain,
Ryan Holiday 1:15:25
right? No, you need you need that. I do think you need that. Also, I think it has all these weird unintended benefits, even just like oh, it puts you on a schedule, because the kids go to wake up at a certain time and go to bed at a certain time. They need a bath at a certain time and like, they go to a same place most days of the week. You know, like, it routes you in life in a way that when you have unlimited options and unlimited choice. You You are paralyzed.
Eric Weinstein 1:15:58
I mean, I don’t know whether you’re you found Your oldest is three,
Ryan Holiday 1:16:01
three and a half. And then I have a seven month old. So I’m in deeping the shit
Eric Weinstein 1:16:04
all right, yeah, this is great. Yeah. By the way, three was definitely the I heard about the terrible twos. We had terrible threes.
Ryan Holiday 1:16:11
They call it three major. That’s teenagers. Yeah,
Eric Weinstein 1:16:13
good. That was also the most delicious time. But anyway, the thing that I found was that my feelings about death changed. Because this is the human program for immortality. So you could worry like, once your child starts to carry your memes and your thought processes and knows your references, there is a weird way in which you can accept your own death and say, Okay, well, I’m continuing in some form.
Ryan Holiday 1:16:40
Yeah, I had this weird feeling. I don’t feel a lot, but sometime after my son was born. So my career’s been successful. I’ve done interesting things and I had a cane and I was like, I’m, I could be done. Like, like, like, I’ve done it all. Like, obviously you want to be around you want more, you want to do more, but you’re just like Like, I’ve there was this weird evolutionary sense of having ticked all the all the boxes. Did you ever feel that I,
Eric Weinstein 1:17:11
I, so we, our oldest, skipped her last year of high school went to college. Okay. And we had this sense of like, wait a minute, we succeeded.
Ryan Holiday 1:17:22
Yes. Right, right. Yeah. I’m positive. I think College is a good idea. But it was it was just the sense of like, you got them from beginning to the plane has has the wheels have left? The
Eric Weinstein 1:17:35
wheels have left the ground? Yeah. And that was like that was one of these feelings. Where you do have that sense that somehow you’ve contributed one of the things I find very strange is that children are about the most interesting thing to have. But they they’re terrible for talking about them, particularly to people who don’t have them.
Ryan Holiday 1:17:54
Yeah, it’s a it’s an F football.
Eric Weinstein 1:17:56
There’s an inevitable quality and wasn’t gonna try to get something here.
Ryan Holiday 1:18:03
And it also gives you a weird relation to your own body and feelings and that, like, if you can step back from it, you know, it’s hard and exhausting and difficult. And somehow your body and mind is telling yourself that it’s worth it and amazing, like, you get a sense of like, Oh, my body is like that my wife would like to have another kid. I’m like, you saw what this did? Like? It was horrible.
Eric Weinstein 1:18:27
I mean, let’s be honest. Yeah, this was a life and death activity. It still is occasionally but yeah,
Ryan Holiday 1:18:33
yeah, yeah. And and, and you’re still not sleeping from the first to write not gotten any of this stuff. You wanted to get back back yet. But your mind is able to. It’s weird. It’s, it’s like it’s like the equivalent like So normally, you’re flying the plane, and you’re convinced you’re the pilot. And then every once in a while autopilot kicks in. And you realize that it’s overriding you and you don’t have nearly as much have a say and as you think you have had, that I think kids sort of give you a weird glimpse into how biologically driven you are and your life is.
Eric Weinstein 1:19:11
So I’m very concerned about the idea that a lot of the people
really love and take seriously don’t have a particular concern about the world beyond their own lifespan. And that’s very hard to convince them of why they should care. A lot of these people increasingly have an idea of, I don’t really need to have kids, I enjoy my life. But it’s very schematic it’s very much about the purpose of life is to be happy. And if there’s one thing I’m reasonably convinced of the purpose of life is not to be happy.
Ryan Holiday 1:19:47
We I think we would be happier if that’s what we were bred for. Yeah, for
Eric Weinstein 1:19:51
Yeah, well, happiness is approximate to guide you to doing certain things that are actually about something related. I mean, it’s not it’s not our thoughts. to happiness, but some kind of fulfillment.
Ryan Holiday 1:20:02
There’s a Greek saying where it’s like, society is great when old men plant trees under whose
Eric Weinstein 1:20:10
shade they will never sit. Yeah. And I just was trying to make this point to people and they they act as if they’ve never heard it.
Ryan Holiday 1:20:19
Well, what’s not only is it weird people most people have never heard it. If you look at a it’s the exact opposite of how demographics, voting patterns seem to go. The older you get, the more conservative you are, the more selfish you tend to get. It’s It’s strange that we are looking at a political system in which the young people are most concerned about and look, there’s obviously these are nuanced issues. So I’m not mean, but it’s young people who are most concerned with climate change. It’s young people are most concerned with the solvency of serve various institutions or you know, look, they’ve got
Eric Weinstein 1:20:58
a psychotic generation and I don’t know why because you can’t have everybody being a psychopath. Yeah, but the boomer generation, there is something bizarrely wrong. Yes, with these people as an aggregate not as individuals, but as an aggregate their concern for their own children is so diminished from what I would expect. Yes. And they’re concerned with their lifestyle is so exaggerated and again, everything has to be filtered through on average. Sure, sure. So please, before you attack all the standard disclaimers, what the EFF
Ryan Holiday 1:21:35
It’s strange. It’s very strange, that what’s that the term for it now is dream hoarding.
Unknown Speaker 1:21:42
Which I haven’t heard this
Ryan Holiday 1:21:43
yet. So it’s like, like, who are who are the NIMBYs Who are the people who are most in favor of legacy admissions to colleges. But if you go down the list, it’s it’s wealthy people who are primarily concerned With themselves, and in some case it if if we’re lucky, there one to two children. It’s not a sense of like when, when we say our kids that I forget who said it, but it was really brilliant I think about all the time. We said, you know, a generation or two ago, if you said like, we’re going to build a park for our kids, or we’re going to put in a swimming pool for our kids, you meant a community swimming pool in your neighborhood. Now, you mean we’re putting in a swimming pool in the backyard? Right? We’re gonna put a large fence around. So the neighborhood kids don’t come in it.
Eric Weinstein 1:22:34
Well, my version of this is why am I more concerned about your children than you’re concerned about your children? Yeah, like, I’m a Gen X, sir. My audience is largely millennials I rag on the millennials, to an extent sure. But honestly, it’s this avuncular concern, like hey, how do I help you guys? figure out why you’re while you’re feeling blocked with work because let me tell you, I believe all standard career paths don’t make sense which has terrible thing to be growing up with. Yeah. Not all of you need to have children, but a lot of you are pretending you don’t need to have children. Yeah. So that you don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work out. Yeah. How do I how do I say something to help you couple in court? And yeah, and realize these dreams. And then when I listen to the boomers, they have this attitude of like, Yeah, I just figure everybody will find their bliss and, you know, make their own way. We know we did.
And I just think,
do you have any idea for example, how crushing college is as an experience relative to when you went through it? Me?
Ryan Holiday 1:23:36
No, no? rumors, right? Because they remember paying $55 for tuition to go to UCLA, and it’s now $55,000. Well, but why does nothing get through? It’s it’s very strange. Well, what I remember one of the tweet I saw from you many years ago that I thought I think about often is you looked at like, the average age of professions as boomers have gotten and older, and it’s precisely the age of what the boomers are so like a college president in 1970 was 30 because that’s how old boomers were. And the now boomers are 70 the average age of a college president is like 70. You know, like they’ve hoarded all the stuff, and they won’t. They never tire
Eric Weinstein 1:24:23
51 during the 80s Yeah. And it’s now climbed into the 60s, right, but my, I just want to take it away from them, literally. And I think this is just important. I want to say you’re done. You. Timmy needs Timmy needs the tricycle now and you’ve been on it and having a as 69 year old person you want to try sickle is unseemly, right? Get the hell off the trike.
Ryan Holiday 1:24:49
Yeah, it’s time it’s time for it’s almost it’s like nepotism would be refreshing. Like like that. You’re that you’re you’re retiring as CEO and putting Your son in charge, or your daughter in charge would be refreshing better than you just never let it go.
Eric Weinstein 1:25:06
Well, the thing that the one that really breaks my heart is how many weekend getaways Do you people need? And I said this thing about you’re gonna have hard drives filled with photos that nobody cares about and you’re never gonna hold a grandchild in your own arms. What What is even going through your mind? So like gallery, yeah, is a concept that we can sign while
Ryan Holiday 1:25:30
developing world wealth, this redistribution, just give
Eric Weinstein 1:25:33
your kids your money, whether well their ovaries are still fresh.
Ryan Holiday 1:25:38
No, it’s funny, like so my parents I think are sort of typical. My parents were slightly late or like late the last generation of boomers, though the last sort of tail end of boomers but like when my we grew up in California, and then when my sister and I graduated from college, or went to college, my parents moved to Hawaii so they moved so the opposite of like Let’s be near the kids. My parents moved literally as far as you can move away and stay in the United States. And then I can tell it makes them sad that they don’t have as close a relationship with their grandchildren as some of their friends. And it’s like, you know, it’s because you live in an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, right? And you put it together. I’m not going to the end, they go Come visit us. It’s the beach. It’s like, yeah, how hard it is to put two toddlers on an eight hour flight with a three hour time difference. That’s insane. Just
Eric Weinstein 1:26:28
get a paper route and
just get a paper right?
Ryan Holiday 1:26:33
No, no, it’s not an expense. It’s just like, I’m just not gonna do that. No, no,
Eric Weinstein 1:26:36
I understand. It’s a complete disconnect. Yeah. The story I’ve been telling recently was going to my father’s 85th birthday party and one of their friends this is the silent generation who doesn’t take enough shit in my
Ryan Holiday 1:26:51
opinion for this because I think they really need your father’s a silent and my father’s silent jet is born before right before World War Two or born before 46
Eric Weinstein 1:27:00
Okay, got it. So he’s born in the mid 30s.
Ryan Holiday 1:27:04
Got it? Okay.
Eric Weinstein 1:27:05
You know, and this is like McCain and Well, interestingly, no person born in the 30s ever becomes president of the United States, right?
Ryan Holiday 1:27:12
Yeah. Okay, so this is Korea. Yeah, that’s right. In Korea. No.
Unknown Speaker 1:27:18
Okay. But Right, right. Sure.
Eric Weinstein 1:27:24
So one of his friends says to me, you know, everything’s changed so much. There used to be 14 boys who all played in the street where we live, and we’ve been in that house, you know, for decades. And I said, Well, how many boys playing the street now says none. I said, What do you mean? So? Don’t families can afford the street? I said, does that strike you that you were able to afford the street when you started and now you have an idea? Of course no families can afford I mean, is there any part of this that that lands none of it?
Ryan Holiday 1:27:54
Well, it’s also it’s like, you should move into a two bedroom condo. And then people you You should have moved to Florida. And then people could have your house. It’s not only that it can’t afford can’t afford it. It’s that you’re still in the house.
Eric Weinstein 1:28:09
I would say differently,
Ryan Holiday 1:28:12
but I just been in California. It’s like, it’s also because boomers aren’t selling their houses because they don’t want to want to take the tax hit.
Eric Weinstein 1:28:19
That here’s the disconnect for me. Do you understand that you caught a wave? Do you imagine that the rest of us just aren’t as smart as you? Were? Nobody’s hard working because that’s one of the means. It’s like well, and I believe that it’s exactly the reverse that the millennials watch the Sixers This is a friend of mines as I said, we we watched you give everything to try to make these careers work and fail and so we’re not going to fall for that. So we’re going to be interesting Sure.
Ryan Holiday 1:28:51
Yeah. Or it’s like if you know retirements a lie, and it’s not gonna happen, you should go to now
Eric Weinstein 1:28:56
you should go to limit front load your life because quite frankly, we don’t have a Plan. There’s no there’s no retirement plan.
Ryan Holiday 1:29:02
Yeah, no, no, I think I think that’s right. And that’s right. Yeah. It’s, there’s also, I think, let’s say you’re a millennial. It’s like, I remember my freshman year of high school, I watched 911 live on television. You know, then I watched the war in Iraq. Then I watched the financial crisis. You know, I was lucky in that I dropped out of college. I didn’t take any debt. I wrote, I caught some waves that other millennials didn’t get to catch. Right. But like, I mean, that’s a dark 10 year period right there, you know, like, of shit happening and being lied to. And you, we you watched? I think the antagonism between millennials and boomers is not just the straight generational conflict, but it’s, it’s it’s like the boomer conflict between their parents. It’s like sure their problems but like there was a heroism to the greatest generation in history. A sacrifice there. It’s like you just watched like sort of rank moral hypocrisy and selfishness from the boomer generation without much in the way of redeeming qualities. Do you know what I mean?
Eric Weinstein 1:30:13
Well, I don’t think let me just get my spin on this. There’s nothing magical about the generations. Yeah. The question is, what was your developmental environment and your economic environment growing up? Yeah. So I thought I just had a problem with authority. Turned out when I started working for somebody younger than myself as an expert. Yeah, some of the extras don’t figure into the millennials straight, which is very extra thick. It’s hysterically funny. I found that I was easily able to take direction from somebody like Peter teal. Not because I had a hierarchy or authority issue, but because really the problem was silence and boomers have beliefs that I don’t share. Sure, they just don’t understand what they do. Do makes no sense to me? None. I cannot process it. And it’s not like I haven’t studied it or try to understand her. It’s just certain things that are obvious realities to me. It’s like speaking at a high frequency that their ears can’t hear. Yeah.
The division to me is you had
Ryan Holiday 1:31:22
silence and boomers and then there’s a line and then Xers millennial Gen Z, are all saying, well, we’re not part of whatever story is going on above that line. And and maybe to tie back to the art problem, the art discussion. I think one of the big problems is that we don’t have any story whatsoever. There’s no mediums, music, television, especially literature, which is, you know, my focus that is telling any kind of redeeming, inspiring, meaningful, what’s inspiring Laurie,
Eric Weinstein 1:31:55
come on, we I don’t even believe this. What What is it? You’ve taken tremendous inspiration for From stoicism Yeah.
You’ve profiled like, you know, this is an incredibly weird yeah heroic story of Peter against Gawker, unless it’s the reverse which case it’s the, you know, the rich Baron debt laying low the for the Free Press. Yeah. Either way that you tell that story. It’s an effing amazing story.
Ryan Holiday 1:32:24
Yeah. It’s it’s, it’s the story of good and evil. And either way you assign Yes, right. And that’s what I was fascinated with. Who is the good guy, bad guy both characters have. But if you were if you were telling the story in television today or something, the only way you would tell that story is Peter is irredeemably the bad guy. And like it, I think, what what is the cultural? what’s what’s the primary theme of most of the culture that we’re consuming today? I think it’s nihilism. I think that everything is everything is meaningless. everything sucks. Everyone’s a moral hypocrite. There is no good Bad shouldn’t judge other people’s lifestyles so I think we don’t laugh we lack any kind of store like what we’ve we’ve looked back at history right and gone Abraham Lincoln’s actually racist George Washington Thomas Jefferson a total hypocrites founding of America is based on fraud like we’ve looked back at we’ve we’ve
Unknown Speaker 1:33:23
Ryan Holiday 1:33:25
emptied all these things of meaning and replace them with nothing and then we wonder why everyone is content to burn down the system
Eric Weinstein 1:33:33
alright but you sir not afflicted with this
Ryan Holiday 1:33:36
right but i will I’m I I’m a throwback
Eric Weinstein 1:33:39
of no no you know you’re of this moment you’re part of the same which I was very curious when you said your colleagues or your peers who are they? What’s your what’s your what’s your
Ryan Holiday 1:33:48
timing? I feel like I spend most of my time communicating with people that are dead,
Eric Weinstein 1:33:53
like like, you talk to the dead and so do i
Ryan Holiday 1:33:56
do well so so xeno is the founder of stoicism he goes to the oracle of done sigh he’s a young man, he’s This is a merchant family’s incredibly wealthy. He trades tyrian purple, which is the purple dye that makes the Emperor’s cloak. And he stops to the Oracle of Delphi, Delphi, and he says, what should I do with my life? Basically, this is the timeless question, right? And they say, your light, you will, you will become your best self, when you begin having conversations with the dead. And he shortly thereafter suffers a shipwreck washes up in Athens, loses everything. And he walks into a bookstore, and the bookseller is reading it dialogue of Socrates. And this he realizes, oh, this is the conversation with the dead. You know, Socrates is dead, you know, few decades by the time this happens, and he realized, Oh, I’m talking to Socrates and this, this creates the School of philosophy that I now believe in, but I think I think what we have lost is We This is the closing the America of the closing the American mind the blue blue. We’ve lost we’ve destroyed the cannon replaced it with nothing. You know we we destroyed the myths of founding of America replaced it but nothing we’ve questioned patriotism replaced it with nothing. You know we we tore down marriage replaced it with nothing. You know we tore down the office, the community, the small town square, all the things we tore them down and we’ve replaced them with nothing. I feel like I I’m I’m rooted in those. I’m rooted in that a more ancient tradition. That’s to me where I find me to rebuild that a bit. I hope so.
Eric Weinstein 1:35:41
Okay, so when you bathe your three year old Yeah. How’s your nihilism doing?
Ryan Holiday 1:35:47
Oh, it’s not that’s that’s my point. And when I’m reading him Aesop fables, or we go for a walk on our farm in the morning, or, you know, I dropped them off for town in this school in this small town in Texas that we live in, right. I walk Walk down Main Street in my office is 100 year old building and I’m surrounded by ideas and, and I think even podcasts the idea of dialogue like this. Like this is what most of Socrates his work is is the recreation of dialogues between smart people do you know I mean, like, I feel like that is, is what our salvation I’ve gotten back to I think 1609
Eric Weinstein 1:36:26
to find a drinking song for Mike, I don’t want to call them a cult, but the people who are coalescing around this podcast Yeah, they’re probably now 10 different performances of the song on a Google Drive. Oh, you know, one like an EDM. Another was is a swing version. You know, somebody else has done like three part. Religious harmony. Yeah. People want meaning. And the whole point that we can’t get at is these open communities where everybody can comment on YouTube and say You suck. You don’t even get it. You’re so far out, you know? Yeah. You got pawned?
Yeah, that thing
just needs to shut the fuck up. And we need to exclude it. Because I think we’ve wildly overestimated diversity and inclusion. We need interoperability. Yeah. To allow for the diversity and exclusion. There’s certain voices, that we now need to just turn the volume all the way to zero. They can have their free speech. Sure, but it’s very important that those voices not.
Ryan Holiday 1:37:31
I’m a fan of shadow banning.
Eric Weinstein 1:37:33
I’m not a big fan of shadow banning by corporate interests. We’re doing it for the wrong reason. Yeah. I’m a big fan of excluding people and heads on pikes when you actually have the conviction of why that person needs to be excluded from the community.
Ryan Holiday 1:37:50
Yes, like for instance, I don’t I think like Twitter, instead of banning people, Twitter should tweak the algorithm to de emphasize politics. Let’s say and reemphasize photos of pizza, or whatever. Like I think I think what we’ve allowed is toxic conversations or styles of conversations to dominate the town squares in a way that’s made them almost on on on unlistenable or, you know, made them worthless.
Eric Weinstein 1:38:25
Well, that we’re early to your earlier point about public parks. Yeah. When a public park becomes a dangerous Hobbs in square
Ryan Holiday 1:38:36
when you let homeless people turn it into a camp
Eric Weinstein 1:38:38
well, but I’m not even talking about necessarily homeless people. You know, if you have like a solid drug taking community where people who have perfectly
Ryan Holiday 1:38:47
reasonable homes, yeah, you had high school kids drinking it or
Eric Weinstein 1:38:50
whatever it is, you lose that original intent. So exclusion is trading at a discount at the moment because we have a fear that if anybody points out that inclusion as writ large Yeah, is you can’t just stop and an idea that simple.
Ryan Holiday 1:39:07
Yeah, I look like what I love on Twitter is the mute button. I don’t block people I just mute the people that I don’t want to hear from. And they don’t know that they’ve been muted as far
Eric Weinstein 1:39:18
as well there’s that but part of the problem is is that people who are using these attacks on the lower brain so for example, if you have followers and start who starts to say, Wow, right, it really is an interesting point. I really like it is developing. Like then you start getting these like weird accounts that are remoras on your shark.
Unknown Speaker 1:39:40
Yeah. And like,
Eric Weinstein 1:39:42
you know, that blowhard has been mining the same passage from Seneca Yeah, tell me something new. Did you read a new book today? Okay, so now you muted that you don’t realize that that person is changing the experience. Right?
Ryan Holiday 1:39:56
For everyone else are a great example of this. There’s almost like a law that Like a subreddit is formed by people who are fans of a thing,
Eric Weinstein 1:40:03
right? And then it becomes dominated by people who actually hate this process. It’s like if you leave a dead body out, and then you put a time lapse photography, Time Lapse camera on it, you’ll see this weird process by which the body is reclaimed.
Unknown Speaker 1:40:22
Yeah. Okay, sure.
Eric Weinstein 1:40:24
That seems to be a feature of our time that I wish we were talking about that anything hopeful and decent and meaningful left out in this environment. Yeah. will be eroded and Mima FIDE and cheapened and degraded Sure, simply by virtue of the fact that it was out there. Yeah, there is an aspect of saying there’s a reason that we don’t leave the original Constitution.
Ryan Holiday 1:40:51
In an open air Park it’s protected under bulletproof glass and Hell yeah, modifier and
Eric Weinstein 1:40:56
the key point is Can you touch it? Understand why can’t we touch it? were the people, the people? No, you can’t touch it. You just can’t.
Ryan Holiday 1:41:04
Right. Yeah, it’s sure protections and enforcing of boundaries and norms. And
Eric Weinstein 1:41:09
well, this is the thing. This is what has to start. I mean, I literally watched the moderators of one of these groups dedicated to this show, and they were they were in pain. So I don’t want to I don’t want to exclude anybody. I don’t want it. It’s just that heads on pikes. Yeah. Take the first real troll and make a public example of this person. Yeah. And there’s shittiness. Right, and let that, you know, put that at the gates of the city wall so that everybody understands exactly how you’ll be asked to leave the community
Ryan Holiday 1:41:42
right. Now, that’s a great point. That’s a great point. Yeah, it’s weird. I feel like everyone, everyone should have experience moderating an internet forum. Like I cuz I did that as a certain internet nerd growing up and so I, I, you Yeah, you’re like, Look, you gotta You got to ban people or you got to get rid of people or you have to insist on the rule like if there are rules and you don’t insist on people following that rule you descends into anarchy immediately
Eric Weinstein 1:42:11
I also think you need an injustice budget. Like in other words, you can’t move through the world you like the Jains in India? They don’t do any harm. Okay? Yeah. Okay, well, no, you have to you have to be allowed to do some injustice as you move through planet Earth. Got it? So the fact that so many people have an idea that they have to only have type one error and never have type two error is paralytic.
Ryan Holiday 1:42:34
Well, so I wrote a piece a couple months ago about hunting and Hunter. Yeah, I go live on a little farm in Texas mostly mostly boars, because they’re an enormous invasive species. But what I love two things about it. I love one if I took a picture of my breakfast this morning, people Oh, that’s a delightful photo right? If I took a picture of a boar I shot a murder, right? No, actually what One is much less violent and cruel than the other right? Bacon from a factory farm. You know sausage from I encourage everyone to read the walrus and the carpenter poem of Lewis Carroll. I’m read this. Well,
Eric Weinstein 1:43:16
you know, the time has come, the walrus said to talk of many things of shoes and chips and celiacs of cabbages and kings and why the seas boiling hot and whether pigs have wings ever heard now, it’s a dialogue between these two characters who trick a bunch of oysters into being their lunch. Ah, and one of them is very sad about the fact that they’ve done such a nasty thing and the other ones like, Oh, come on, we did it. Whatever. Yeah. And I really detest you. The question is, who do you detest more? Yeah, and I always detested the one with this sort of mock care and sanctimony and pity Yes, whereas other people have the idea. Well, at least that’s a nub of something to begin an empath. conversation
Ryan Holiday 1:44:01
when that was my point in the article, it’s not that everyone should hunt. But it’s, I feel like everyone should do it once because you realize, Oh, this is a complicated thing. Which brings up complicated emotions, you learn that food comes from life and death. And you learn that there is violence in the world. And that sometimes like your point about ingest, like it is, in one respect unjust to kill this animal. On the other hand, this is where food comes from. On the other hand, somebody else killed all the mountain lions and the wolves. And so now there’s not a predator to kill these wild boar which shouldn’t be here. And so there’s an unlimited population of them and they are destroying the environment that you say that you care about.
Eric Weinstein 1:44:50
Well, it’s interesting also, that people tend to think about the top and bottom of the food chain. Yeah. And that
when you kill some Something in the middle of a food chain. You’re killing a killer.
Ryan Holiday 1:45:03
Eric Weinstein 1:45:04
And, you know, in some sense you’ve preserved more life or you know, then there are all these ways in which you can argue that a vegetarian diet takes life in ways that you didn’t expect. So you have to make contact with the fact that there is no way out.
Ryan Holiday 1:45:18
That’s That’s exactly right. And I think I think for instance, this might seem like a stretch but because so you, you, you go out you hunt, wild boar, you do it once you get the experience that it’s, there’s a certain amount of injustice, but this injustice prevents a greater injustice, blah, blah, blah. To me, like Austin is like San Francisco like Los Angeles that’s struggling with a housing crisis and homelessness. So Austin is had this where I live is at this long standing belief that if we don’t build infrastructure, people won’t come here. If we prevent density, our place will not become dense and we will preserve the bubble of our wonderful city. Well, me being outside the city I have a place in town and a place outside so the The on the one hand, it’s great for me that there’s restrictive zoning laws because it means my house in town has steadily gone up in value faster than anything else. The other hand because they can’t build a 30 storey apartment complex in my neighborhood, what they are doing is raising large forests and beautiful tracts of land that were formerly farms right outside city limits and turning them into mobile home parks. So these people who think, well it would be unjust to push these lower middle lower income people out of their neighborhood. So richer people could move into nicer apartments. They think by restricting zoning by not passing laws, they are preventing an injustice, but actually a greater environmental injustice. And a number of other in justices are happening just right on the other side of town, but because they don’t see it, they don’t have to feel it. And and so the whole like People the homeless crisis and then there they cannot see this is a boomer thing they cannot see, their insistence on protecting the single family home is directly responsible for that homeless crisis.
Eric Weinstein 1:47:11
Do you see your own hypocrisy? Clearly?
Ryan Holiday 1:47:14
What like, what in what I just said are in my life? No, just
Eric Weinstein 1:47:17
you’re talking about benefiting from things, things that are also having negative consequences. What is your relationship? i? Yeah, I’m treating it as a dance like a forum. Yeah. Where some some other person would say I’m not a hypocrite. Yeah, I, of course, am a hypocrite. I would imagine that you would recognize that you were one as well. Yeah, no, in
Ryan Holiday 1:47:36
that example, it’s like, Look, I I I’m benefiting from it’s like, Look, I’m not a Trump supporter. But the Trump tax plan has been great for me. Right. Like, and and I think we have to be honest with ourselves about those things to the extent that we can Yeah, and we should look for them and and try to understand them because I’m really one of my favorite quotes from Upton Sinclair is that it’s really Hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it. And so when you don’t understand where you benefit from things, what your incentives are, you can you can drift towards a kind of a moral superiority, which is actually based on kind of ignorance. But I’m sure I’m a hypocrite on a lot of things I don’t know about you try to be aware where I am.
Unknown Speaker 1:48:25
Good on both sides. Well,
Eric Weinstein 1:48:26
I mean, I guess when I have all these trade offs in my life I yeah, I have to say that. The idea of budgeting for badness like this is my we talked about an injustice budget. I have a hypocrisy budget, okay. And I’m trying to live within my means. It doesn’t mean that hypocrisy means nothing to me. It just means I’ve watched every other person make the ark accusation to someone else of hypocrisy, and I always think I have so much metacognitive access. I’m watching my own hypocrisy constantly. And it’s It’s legendary. I mean, it’s really large.
Ryan Holiday 1:49:02
Yeah, I think it’s like, let’s try not to be a raging hypocrite, rather than try to be utterly and hypocritical. I mean,
Eric Weinstein 1:49:09
I think that that’s the right the right posture and I think that I don’t in an online world signing yourself up for being for truth for goodness for consistency. Yeah. You just dooming yourself to fail. There’s no possible way that you’re going to leave a trail that isn’t going to contradict itself many times over.
Ryan Holiday 1:49:30
Yeah. And one of the stoic ideas is sort of be strict with yourself and tolerant of others. We have it the exact opposite in our sort of media culture, especially, like, I always laugh at the sky is falling alarm of media people about the collapse of norms in politics. These are the same people who wake up every day and had been part of a generational collapsing of neurons. Inside journalism, right and so we can be norm enforcement is not something that you insist on other people do. It’s something that you follow. I think religious people get this wrong to the 10 commandments are not you for you to enforce on other people. The 10 commandments are 10 rules to govern your behavior, because that’s also your that’s what’s under your control.
Eric Weinstein 1:50:23
Yes. Yeah. Where do you think we are with our press? Like, if you just look at, for example, the Andrew Yang coverage in the last election, which everyone saw as being very clearly distorted, yeah. Or am I wrong? Do you agree that it’s distorted?
Ryan Holiday 1:50:42
Yeah. Like I read that New York Times piece a couple days ago, where it was like, What was it like to work for Andrew Yang
Eric Weinstein 1:50:48
and forced karaoke?
Ryan Holiday 1:50:49
Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Eric Weinstein 1:50:51
Like horsemen. I mean,
Ryan Holiday 1:50:53
I just thought it was it was a great example of the kind of profiles we were talking earlier. That person it’s not it’s actually Not an ideological bias. I think people get it wrong. That person was not trying to destroy Andrew Yang. Because of political disagreement, that person’s job is to take people down, right? That person’s job is to find hypocrisy,
Eric Weinstein 1:51:19
or if I weren’t happy with the story, we’re not doing our job.
Ryan Holiday 1:51:23
Yes. And so, so that person was probably very friendly to Andrew Yang probably every interview in the course of that story made them sound like an eminently reasonable person. And then the knife
Eric Weinstein 1:51:37
stuck in in twisted.
Ryan Holiday 1:51:38
Yes. And something that I also took from you. I think that story is rife with is what was it? The rustle can rustle conjugation that’s exactly like so how you decide to spin those things is the difference between him looking like ruthless businessman, a fool or savvy, savvy. Seven ruthless might be Russell conjugates. Yes, but but fool is the preferred way of destroying people in our culture. And I actually think what Trump like it, maybe I had this theory that like the media just wants, if there’s a sort of bent towards nihilism, or absurdity, it’s like how do we just undermine the credibility of everyone? Everyone in everything constantly by by sort of pointing out weird flaws, contradictions showing, portraying their worst moments blowing up, you know, bad comments, that that’s that’s the equivalent. The analogy is that’s all you don’t feel good. Here’s some antibiotics, you don’t feel good. Here’s some antibiotics. And then Trump and some other figures, I think, doesn’t just have to be political are the Sooners drugs that are anti biotic or anti right? resistant to antibiotics? Right. And then we don’t have another play. Like we don’t have anything we can do.
Eric Weinstein 1:52:55
Are you fascinated by the Trump phenomenon
Ryan Holiday 1:52:58
was originally a very horrified, and I’ve come back down to more of a bemused fascination.
Eric Weinstein 1:53:06
That’s so dangerous. I mean, I, I’ve always found him fascinating. Yeah.
I think a lot of what he does is just trolling. But he’s trolling as the country commander in chief, he has the world’s most dangerous machine at his fingertips. Right.
he’s like The Cat in the Hat having a field day. Yes, I feel like the fish. And the other thing that I can’t stand is the way in which the left insists on being played by him at every possible opportunity.
Ryan Holiday 1:53:42
No, I think, I think
Eric Weinstein 1:53:45
like no learning seems to take place
Ryan Holiday 1:53:47
well, so it’s impossible to get someone to understand what’s in their financial interest to not understand ideologically they could not dislike Trump more commercially. He could not be You better. So the idea that they would learn this and kill the golden goose is just not going to happen. But when that stat that, oh, we gave Trump, you know, the media gave Trump $2 billion in free publicity. The media business turns around and sells that free publicity at a multiple, you know, like,
Eric Weinstein 1:54:24
so you really think? I mean, it’s not that I don’t understand the economic opposition. Yeah. You really think? I mean, I don’t even think that that media war against Trump is working that well anymore.
Ryan Holiday 1:54:38
No, no, I don’t think it’s working. I think I think they are. They are on the team. Okay,
Eric Weinstein 1:54:46
like, this is the professional wrestling show people tune in for as much professional wrestling as they can stand. Yes. So that means we have no press because what we there is no, like if you take UFC versus WWE Yeah,
you’re talking about a world where what there’s no UFC or UFC is just the rebels who live on farms and do long form podcasts.
Ryan Holiday 1:55:09
I think it’s it’s like
Trump every day wakes up and gives does their job for them and that he gives them polarizing, divisive, controversial, so they want rages they’re gonna be voting for Trump to keep they’re
Eric Weinstein 1:55:27
not gonna be voting because they don’t like him ideologically, but then he gives the lie to what you’re saying. In other words, if what you were telling me is that he’s the best thing that ever happened to them.
Ryan Holiday 1:55:37
There’s a Les Moonves quote was also a shitty person right serial sexual harasser but he said, you know, Trump is bad for America but very good for CBS. So let’s hope it keeps going. So I think at the very top, there’s some sense of that, but I think it’s like if you’re, if you’re a social justice warrior reporter has never been a better time to be that before. There’s an unlimited amount of material. I’ll be honest, I don’t fully believe you.
Eric Weinstein 1:56:03
Okay. In other words, if that were true, then you would vote for Trump. And you won’t. Me. You mean that report reporter that SJW reporters that PR I don’t think these people
I think they are benefiting from it
and implicitly and subconsciously they’re doing things to further this. Yeah. Nicholas conflict.
I’m not sure. Yeah.
I don’t think they really want Trump to continue in office. Yeah,
Ryan Holiday 1:56:32
right. But so I think there there is the, but that’s the Upton Sinclair thing is that you don’t you don’t understand why you’re not understanding it because you’re you think ISIS are blinding you to to what’s happening.
Eric Weinstein 1:56:46
You know, I saw this before I always try to use the same example. So people learn. The word nucular was not understood by the educated because they would always correct it to nuclear And then they would always lose because they would say, okay, you win the idiotic point and you lose the fact that you just look like a jerk. Okay. Okay, so it was like an easy way to always win an argument with somebody with a college education. Yeah. You could always win against the educated. They didn’t ever get it. They didn’t understand the person saying nucular understood it was nuclear.
Ryan Holiday 1:57:26
And they were doing it to bother them. Yeah, it’s just a win.
Unknown Speaker 1:57:30
Yeah. You know,
Eric Weinstein 1:57:32
if I say Democrat Party, and I emphasize rat at the end, rather than Democratic Party, you know, it’s like,
Unknown Speaker 1:57:40
I get the hack. Yeah.
Eric Weinstein 1:57:42
But the other side somehow is, right is weirdly confused. Well, you know, when you see somebody being trolled, like if you if you ever been trolled and not realize that you were being trolled
Ryan Holiday 1:57:54
sometimes Yeah. So it’s happened to
Eric Weinstein 1:57:56
me. Yeah. Most of us.
It shows that you’re On your job, or like somebody slips a reference in that you didn’t get
Yeah. I think that that
kind of thing is constantly happening to the left where they just don’t grasp. They’re so convinced that they’re on top of the game that they don’t realize they’re losing.
Ryan Holiday 1:58:16
Yeah, I think that’s right. Yeah, that’s right.
But I remember you talked about this on your episode of Tyler, where it’s obvious what a terrorist is doing. It’s obviously what a school shooter is doing. It’s obviously what a mass murderer is doing. It’s to get the attention, right? But the media is not able to, to break out of the pattern that the bad actor is maliciously exploiting. And my media manipulation book was sort of all about this. It’s like, Look, if you if you create a website jazz Bell, which is designed to express feminist outrage, right, it becomes very easy for a marketer or a troll or a person who wants to get attention to go okay. The market here is for things that will outrage feminists. So I will do x and I will get y right. And I think Trump as an intuitive understanding of the attention economy, realizes what they want, like, realizes what the media wants, and he gives it to them. And they don’t always realize that they’re playing into it exactly. But it’s why they’re getting raises and why they’re gaining Twitter followers.
Eric Weinstein 1:59:34
Why don’t we do something more hopeful? Why don’t we start a movement inside the democratic party called under new management where we kick the Clintons, the DNC and all the people who presided over the economy from 1992 and share the present the hell out of this party? Yeah, and say, okay, giant mistake cosmic screw up. They’re gone. Yeah. Why do I Why am I dealing with these people year after year? Why are they still in the story? As anyone I mean, so many things have happened in human history that have not involved Hillary Clinton. Right? Why am I still dealing with Hillary Clinton? Right? nobody really wants her.
Ryan Holiday 2:00:12
No, nobody really likes Nancy Pelosi either
Eric Weinstein 2:00:14
or anywhere else. But yeah. Nancy Pelosi when she in her role is Starker. They may not like Nancy Pelosi, but they know that she’s a darker she’s a tough piece of muscle. Sure. And if she’s your Starker then Okay, she’s your bad guy to go up against their back. I don’t think we have exactly the same feeling about Pelosi at the moment. Sure.
Ryan Holiday 2:00:37
Yeah, it is weird. You’re sort of hostage to people who have
Unknown Speaker 2:00:42
Ryan Holiday 2:00:45
very one sided verdict, is it?
Unknown Speaker 2:00:47
Yeah. You know,
Eric Weinstein 2:00:50
it’s not it’s not about her being a woman. It’s not about her specific just don’t like her in specific. Yeah, sure.
Ryan Holiday 2:00:57
Yeah, sure. Yeah, I don’t know.
Eric Weinstein 2:01:00
But like, why aren’t we even trying to take over this party?
Ryan Holiday 2:01:03
I think it’s I think what’s interesting is that like, there’s the argument that Republicans control the levers of power. Democrats control the levers of culture, right? storytelling, like Hollywood’s overwhelmingly liberal, you know, like
Eric Weinstein 2:01:15
that, is it? Yeah. I mean, have you been in these terrible definition? I don’t even know what liberal means. If all what I’m just I’m just saying is, like
Ryan Holiday 2:01:23
many of the greatest storytellers of our time would identify as liberal and vote democratic. And yet, why are the liberals so bad at storytelling, narrative, branding? Like, why is Trump actually the one that is dominating the news cycle? that knows like when you watch the Democratic candidates speak, or when you watch Hillary’s campaign, are they actually so abysmal at saying anything compelling, having any kind of political visuals,
Eric Weinstein 2:01:58
Unknown Speaker 2:02:00
In what sense?
Eric Weinstein 2:02:02
Let’s imagine I wanted to tell heartwarming, heartwarming story about immigration. Yeah. If I just have a story about a guy that comes with a dream and fans a company and puts all sorts of people to work and becomes an American hero, that’s not a great story. At the moment, if I were instead to tell the story about a guy who comes over on an h1 b visa is being cynically exploited by importers of labor who are trying to destroy the American worker. And then he realizes what’s going on. And then he founds a business despite the fact that he’s been used as a pawn in this terrible game. And, you know, he starts speaking out on behalf of you know, do you think that they hate immigrants, they don’t hate immigrants. What they really hate is your exploitation you America, like, Oh my God, what a story that would be. Yeah. Because then I would say, Wow, you’ve just resolved these two things. One, I’ve always been Loved immigrants and to I can’t stand immigration and the reason is because it’s being exploited. That’s a story with an emotional core, which would allow people to say I’ve never heard anyone sing my song before. I work in an environment where I love the immigrants and I can’t stand my American bosses because of what they’re using the parents to do against me. We can’t tell that story. Like, the weird thing is, is that the left is not in any way shape or form the left it’s not liberal. It’s not pro worker, okay, it’s metastasized into some unrecognizable thing that has no authenticity and calling it the left. Like when you had protest songs that were witty that were smart that, you know, that nailed people where they lived. Sure, that worked. Sure you know this thing with gretta when Trump went after gretta, and he didn’t go after credit directly, he went after the the exploitation of graduates He knew that I was a late, which is disgusting and there, but then I start to feel negative things about credit. Why should I feel any negative thing about credit the person, I have to maintain layers and layers, and it’s the layers of manipulation and malware that are making all of us deranged is am I wrong?
Ryan Holiday 2:04:17
Yeah, I went to this thing in LA, there’s a bunch of big screen writers sort of created a consultancy for Democratic candidates. They’re like, we’re getting beaten and storytelling. So why don’t we take the sort of best storytellers, and we’ll consult for sort of ascended Democratic candidates of all kinds of political offices to help them tell a compelling
Eric Weinstein 2:04:37
narrative, Greg, what, I wonder if I know the same
Ryan Holiday 2:04:40
group, I’m forgetting who it was. Billy Ray is one of them. Yep. It was his. I love the idea. I sort of wanted to be a part of it. And I went, and I won’t say who the politician was actually forgetting the name. But the point was, that one of the Democratic candidates who came was was so smug and and, and sanctimonious, and so cloying in the things he was talking about is a person who accomplished like nothing legislatively, you know, but was what it was, it was very illustrated for me of the fundamental problem, I think which goes to your point, which is that instead of being honest and real, and thus relatable, the stories that the democrats are talking about just don’t work. And I think the story you’re talking about has has, is complicated. And there’s some nuance and there’s good and bad and you know what I mean? Like it’s,
Eric Weinstein 2:05:39
that’s a text story, right? My point is an important part of it. Okay, well, the left when they were able to tell like if you have cartoon evil, like you had, you know, with the with lynchings in the south, yeah, you can tell a simple story of farraj. Right. The idea that you’re going to not be able to tell the stories of our time is this means exactly the same point again. All of the great left of center stories in the modern era begin with we screwed up.
Ryan Holiday 2:06:10
Yes. Or we suck. You suck. You’re the worst. You know, we made we screwed up on
Eric Weinstein 2:06:15
trade. Yeah. We screwed up on immigration, and we screwed up on terror. We told you that if somebody says Allah Akbar after a mass killing that that means absolutely nothing. Yeah. And that made you feel crazy. Because if you have any Muslim I’m sure they’re telling you hey, we have a problem in Islam. You guys aren’t taking it seriously. Yeah. And every time I hear somebody say the tear in Islam have nothing to do with each other. I always tell them you’ve just told me that you have no close Muslim friends because if you had them they would be telling you we have a problem in Islam with terror. Yeah, okay. So when you do that thing, you make people like I can’t. You know, I talked about this as a Hercule perot, Agatha Christie mystery, called the Allahu Akbar. murderers. Nobody can figure out why anybody’s uttering this phrase after all of these mass killings, and you’re cute. Hercule perot is the only one who can solve the case. That’s crazy making,
Unknown Speaker 2:07:09
okay, this trade thing.
Eric Weinstein 2:07:13
Go back to Brad delong. Recently, he was one of the architects of NAFTA. And he said, he pulls out, he rips off the mask and he says, you know, this improves your lot based on the cube of your wealth. It’s a social Darwinist welfare function.
Unknown Speaker 2:07:27
Eric Weinstein 2:07:28
Okay, you push a social Darwinist welfare functions like I don’t understand. We made some people poor in the Midwest, but people got much richer in the Mexican countryside. Right? Like
Unknown Speaker 2:07:40
why don’t you just say Yeah, right.
Eric Weinstein 2:07:43
Right. Okay. And then the last one is immigration. We are an immigrant loving country. We love our me because we come from immigrants stock. And as a result, what did you do? You use the fact that we love immigrants and they are open to the world to figure out a way to read Distribute wealth and put a vacuum into most of our pockets that exhausts into yours. So you used immigrants to transfer wealth and then you said, Oh, you wouldn’t hit you know, you wouldn’t hurt a puppy dog, you would hit a girl with glasses, you wouldn’t say anything against an immigrant. Okay, all of those things are invidious. They’re in bittering. And the idea that America is taking its middle finger and sticking it into the eye of the Democratic Party. Yeah. is warranted unless, unless and until it makes contact with Yes, we had a group of people associated with Davos, who played those games on you and created massive amounts of income and asset inequality. They’re gone now. Yeah, we can’t do that. They’re still there. They still want to play the same games. They won’t let us tell our stories. I mean, like, you know, the whole me to thing that happened in Hollywood. There was a lot of texture in that movement. Yeah, that could have revealed all all of the different ways in which, you know, there’s type one error, there’s type two error is ambiguity, right. Instead, it was done incredibly starkly very silently victims, I believe, believe all women Yeah. Right. You know, it’s just, that’s not workable.
Ryan Holiday 2:09:15
Well, and it’s but and I think it’s a betrayal of what are supposed to be the sort of core virtues that we supposedly all care about in terms of
the it I think what’s interesting is is there is
no what what what is what is the actual belief of the point? What is the belief of the Democratic Party, what do they actually stand for? And what are they what are their actual sort of clear policy? objectives like when I think about wealth, wealth transfer? Well, what I think back to the 2016 campaign is in retrospect, and I feel like I missed it, which is embarrassing and somebody writes about media is like, it’s very obvious what Trump was campaigning on who’s going to build a wall. It’s going to kill terrorists. You know, he was going to do away with political correctness. He was going to sock it to the media, you know, he said what he was going to do. And what was Hillary going to do Hillary campaign on. I’m Hillary Clinton’s, and people hate Hillary Clinton. And so I think even now, you’re watching these five or six, you know, the as the pool windows, they’re primarily campaigning on who they are. And they’re all fundamentally been charismatic people, rather than as advocates for charismatic, seductive ideas.
Eric Weinstein 2:10:37
The big issue is Genie negative policy, what can you if the Gini coefficient measures the extent to which income and asset inequality has increased? Okay, what are you going to do to decrease the Gini coefficient create a more equal society? So my claim is that on the far left, you have things like wealth caps, you know, no More billionaires are wealth taxes, asset taxes, then you have sort of neutralise things like UBI, which were Android loan debt. Right. And then on the right, you have things like renegotiation of trade and immigration.
Unknown Speaker 2:11:13
Eric Weinstein 2:11:14
And so all of these are intended to be Genie negative programs. Okay. And so that’s a common consensus that we should do some Gini negative thing,
Unknown Speaker 2:11:24
Eric Weinstein 2:11:27
The problem with the the institutional left as opposed to the imagined left or the historical left is that it is Gini positive.
Okay, like these, the Davos crowd,
figured out how to increase Gini coefficients, while all the time saying that they run to the opposite. Well know that they’re in love with the world and the planet and we have to move beyond and so the idea is that while they’re playing their anthem, they’re picking your pocket. Got it. That situation is something where the easy play to take the you know, everything you just said about Trump? Yeah. Trump makes it sound like maybe the foreigners are bad. Yeah, like, you know, foreigners aren’t the problem. It’s the importers of foreigners, the Americans who are horrible, right, right. Sure. On immigrant on trade. What did we do? We came up with trade policies to enrich an elite and not an intellectual elite are contributing like your rent seeking. Yeah, sure. And Trump isn’t going to say hey, we have bad trade policies. And the reason that you’re out of work in part is automation. And part of it is due to the fact that somebody negotiated your job away. Yeah, screwed you. Right and then share it political correctness. What is the left’s major tool? Every time you try to do something that breaks out of the the left of center narrative, you get hit with this wall of insult and invective chair, a grifter? Yeah, you try to earn a living as a member of the commentary. You’re not part of the club. Everyone’s a grifter. writes hysterically funny. Sure. Now, all of those sorts of things. The left has to recognize, hey, we just screwed sure two to three generations of people out of the American dream to your point of a dream board. Yeah. The other thing would be universities. Like, just the way you know, we have a warm feeling about immigrants. We have a warm feeling about education and training. And
Ryan Holiday 2:13:24
that doesn’t mean the current institutions we have are good.
Eric Weinstein 2:13:26
Well, it allowed them to become parasitic because we weren’t thinking we were so emotionally wrapped up and singing our alma mater songs right.
Ryan Holiday 2:13:35
Now that’s true. Yeah, yeah. So and and there’s a an honest, there’s a, even if it’s not true, there’s a perceived honesty and that we’ve, we screwed up. We’re different now. It’s a compelling narrative, and it’s different than it’s different than saying this time it will be different.
Eric Weinstein 2:13:53
Yeah, no, it’s making the claim that under new management used to find rats and cocktail In your soup when you ordered here, right that those days are over those people don’t live here anymore.
Unknown Speaker 2:14:05
Eric Weinstein 2:14:06
Right. Let me ask you one final. Okay. How about Docker and the whole thing? Yeah. If I’m honest, yeah, Gawker was doing both good things and bad things. Yeah. So for example, on the Epstein stuff, I think that, you know, I don’t know whether it’s a broken clock being right twice a day, but they were they were reporting on theirs. We’re not.
Ryan Holiday 2:14:27
Yeah. And a number of things. Louie ck they talked about Bill Cosby. They talked about Harvey Weinstein, they talked about Yeah,
Eric Weinstein 2:14:35
right. On the other hand, they were doing stuff that was like, really personal and invasive that wasn’t in my opinion warranted it was coming out of out of a gossipy bitterness that was truly frightening. Yeah. And so if we accept that Gawker was a superposition of both good and bad, I think a lot of the claim about whether it was justified to take Gawker Yeah, relies on another set of questions. Do you view this as a legitimate use of the courts or do you use view this as an unadvertised hacking opportunity? right to use the courts? Yeah. Now, that’s enough in play at least two major ambiguities Yes. As to whether or not if there was both good and bad, and there was both a legitimate and a potentially novel hacking aspect to the use of the courts. That gives plenty of room for everyone to come down wherever they want to from moment to moment. Yeah. Do you think it’s a resolvable question about what happened during the Gawker story? Men should say I was guest to Peter and I didn’t know about it for most of its existence. What I love about this story is it’s like a Shakespeare play you.
Ryan Holiday 2:15:48
Each of the characters is saying or doing something brilliant. Each has exaggerated flaws and weaknesses. And at the end, it’s resolved. But fundamentally unresolved, you know that I love it in that sense. Like, I know, Bad Blood and my book conspiracy came out at the same time, bad blood has sold extremely well. My book is sold well, and I think it’ll make a great movie when it gets turned into movie but not not bad but because bat in bad blood. Elizabeth Holmes is the irredeemable villain. theranos is a complete fraud. And the story is black and white and clear. And I don’t think this story has that.
Eric Weinstein 2:16:32
Oh, I thought we were complicit as a next character. That because of our desire to see in theranos
Ryan Holiday 2:16:39
Yes, that that shows that the plot of the book, okay. Probably the book is like, this woman perpetrated a massive fraud and let’s look at her rise and fall. Yeah, I think there’s infinitely complex questions and the thing because it’s like, Oh, okay. Good luck. argument was not we’re right. Guard Gawker’s argument legally was you’ll will never get to a verdict. So it doesn’t matter. You know, and that was actually Dockers, I think positioned for much of its history was like, it wasn’t doing running these stolen photos, let’s say. It’s not a question of whether it was legal or they were, they almost would probably have admitted doing X was not legal, but the enforcement was it was impossible. Yes. And that you as the person who is humiliated or embarrassed whether you’re very famous or your ordinary person, do not have the means, nor does it make strategic sense for you to try to fight us about it because you will only humiliate yourself further by fighting it. Right. And so do you think it had a kind of
Eric Weinstein 2:17:57
ideological justification or it was Just
Ryan Holiday 2:18:00
i think i think in a way it was kind of a trolling and a nihilism. It was what can we get away with? This is fun. It was like a video. It was like a shoot ’em up video game to them. Sometimes they shot actual bad guys, and sometimes they just went on crime rampages.
Eric Weinstein 2:18:18
Do you think that Nick Denton has a kind of hidden moral core that
Ryan Holiday 2:18:24
I did Nick does I detect that he does. This? Absolutely does. And and that’s I’ve never met him, by the way. And that since he and Peter are much more similar than people would think and that they would they would think so is there a Gerardi and aspects
Eric Weinstein 2:18:36
are certainly certainly.
Ryan Holiday 2:18:39
Probably more so. Denton towards Peter than Peter towards Nick, although I think they both I mean, the cultural cachet, and the influence was probably attractive to Peter, and the wealth and the dominance and the power. And the brilliance was attractive to Nick and each other, right.
Eric Weinstein 2:18:59
I didn’t have This says that Peter was very focused on Nick personally.
Ryan Holiday 2:19:02
No, but I don’t think he was that concerned about him being collateral damage in it, but I think what Gawker represented was Nick. But but it even Nick would talk to me later about how he there was an inmates running the asylum kind of a thing. That’s
Eric Weinstein 2:19:24
what I wondered, because you know, that I also saw, I also believe, for example, that jack Dorsey isn’t necessarily in control of Twitter now that Mark Zuckerberg is not really in control of Facebook, all of these things have an emergent structure. So that like, just like the AGI we keep worrying about, nobody’s actually in control of any of these things.
Ryan Holiday 2:19:45
Yeah, Peter compared it to that. Melville story. It was it bonito, the one where it’s a slave ship and can that the slaves takeover, but then another slave ship comes up next to it and so they can’t really veal that they’ve taken it over. So the slaves are patrol are walking the, the, you know decks of the ship, conspicuously sharpening knives and you know, like, like, it’s like it’s it Nick look like he was the head of the machine but was not no longer the head of the machine. The toxic culture he’d created was running the show. I mean, even like, so there’s a tragic aspect
Eric Weinstein 2:20:25
for Nick Yeah, that he did have some kind of a moral core that he couldn’t fully express through the machine.
Ryan Holiday 2:20:32
Yes, especially as he got older and he got the dream that his life he became rich fell in love was happy. Yeah, thinking about having kids, you know, was fascinated. The idea was not which is not the same for aged malaria. Right. Aged malaria had a negative worth of like $50,000 at the time of the verdict, you know, debt and how worth of millions of dollars so that like it’s one was one owned it, but the other was taking the risks that destroyed the company. Wow. Yeah, so I thought it was I thought it was very interesting and complex and and and i think that’s also what happens when you create culture and systems and then you just see what happens. But yeah I’m fascinated with the idea that Peter got. Peter did not manipulate justice in any way I don’t think it was just it was if the fight is between Hulk Hogan and Gawker, Gawker wins. If Hulk Hogan has an unlimited bank account, or if Hulk Hogan can spend the same amount of money as Gawker, Hogan wins, and so is it an is it actually unfair for a billionaire to support that person? Well, is it fundamentally fair, is it actually quite
Eric Weinstein 2:21:56
fair? I mean, I think Peter would view it as a fight against Niall ism? I think so
Unknown Speaker 2:22:01
Eric Weinstein 2:22:02
I mean, I think that the forces, in particular once the press is emboldened by an unreal visited New York Times v. Sullivan, like if you think about, I often compare it to the 66 or 67 memoirs versus Massachusetts coming out of the Warren Court. Yeah. He’s two incredibly idealistic decisions that are very simple and Stark, and very, you know, morally easy to understand. Yeah. One of them gets revisited, because it’s too insane to actually implement and the other one sort of stays with us. And then now that the press seems often to be against the public interest as often as it is for the public interest, like having its own weird, independent agenda, it’s terrifying to see that much protection.
Ryan Holiday 2:22:48
Well, I think it’s like if you’re going to get the protections because in a way journalists almost have where the court decisions are coming. journalists have extra first minute rights that the ordinary person doesn’t have, right? I can’t walk down the street and defame and slander people but journalist
Eric Weinstein 2:23:08
provided there’s no malice Yes, it can be proven.
Ryan Holiday 2:23:11
Right, right. And I
Unknown Speaker 2:23:15
wasn’t gonna say uh
Ryan Holiday 2:23:17
so if you’re going to have special privileges, right, like, if you’re the intelligence community has separate special rates, there has to be a culture of responsibility that goes with it. And with that, you can’t be just like
Eric Weinstein 2:23:30
you ever read the journalists code of ethics? Where is it?
Ryan Holiday 2:23:34
Oh, right. No, it doesn’t. I didn’t really there there is not one is there there is. I mean, there’s different ones but there’s not one that it’s not like the Hippocratic oath or it’s not like passing the
Eric Weinstein 2:23:45
board is one that is more universal than all the others and when you put journalists in contact with it, it’s in a case you freak out.
Ryan Holiday 2:23:54
Yeah, but but but but they’re not in any way like you can be disbarred from being a lawyer your medical license can be revoked those that’s the that’s not really a legal thing that’s like a separate body that we’ve created to to make sure that the people given special
Eric Weinstein 2:24:10
right as if body of law
Ryan Holiday 2:24:12
yeah there is not one for journalists and and i think cases like this ultimately become necessary to as a check if you’re not going to have that extra self enforcing culture on on top
Eric Weinstein 2:24:27
of it right one of the great things about hanging out with you as I feel like just with Tyler I could go on and on direction infinitely come back anytime. I would love that. All right, fantastic. Thank you. Thank you. All right, you’ve been through the portal with Ryan Holiday on a variety of topics. Please subscribe wherever you’re listening to podcasts and remember to go over to YouTube, subscribe to the channel and click the bell to be notified when our next video episode drops, be well, everybody
The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday