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Society-and-culture • Science

Nontrivial is a podcast that looks to uncover deep patterns in life, discussing them at the intersection of science, complexity, and philosophy.

Popular episodes

Science is Saying More, But Explaining Less

Nov 13 • 56:09

Snowballs, Free Speech and the Edge of Chaos

Sep 26 • 58:51

In this episode I talk about snowballs, more specifically, the runaway process that happens when we take an action we think is confined to that instance but ends up becoming something so much bigger. We're all familiar with this process, but I want to peel back its nature and expose its underlying mechanisms in order to truly understand how it works. In doing this, I belie...

If You Want a Clean House, Invite People Over

Sep 19 • 50:33

In this episode I discuss how the only way to become good at anything is to start at the end, acting as though we already know how to do the thing. By placing ourselves directly into real-world environments related to the challenge, we are forced to rise to the occasion and inevitably learn the skill, achieve the objective, accomplish the goal. We are creatures of adaptati...

The Best Preparation is No Preparation

Sep 7 • 31:48

In this episode I discuss how the best preparation is no preparation. I will argue that despite its paradoxical nature there is deep truth to this idea, founded on how information accumulates over time. I will argue that the ongoing effort to solve problems in the moment leads to superior competence relative to that which we get from planning. I'll discuss how preparation ...

If You Want to Learn, Ignore the Details

Aug 16 • 27:16
In this episode I discuss how detailed knowledge falls short, and how high-level thinking is a far superior way to make sense of the world and solve real problems. I'll discuss how the abstraction inherent in high-level thinking is what brings us into the environments where real problems exist, and how the only detailed knowledge worth having is that which comes after we'v...

The Pattern is Not the Path

Aug 8 • 39:06

In this episode I argue that the patterns we notice and study in life cannot be used as the basis for improving things. The inspection of bird's wings does not lead to human flight, the admiration of a wise man's character traits cannot tell you how to achieve inner peace, and the government's preoccupation with desired outcomes cannot be used to direct funding, and other ...

The Rich Don't Penny Pinch

Jul 31 • 33:39

In this episode I talk about penny-pinching, which I take to mean any kind of nit-picking or hyper-detailed behavior, that I argue leads to bad long-term outcomes. Penny-pinching is when we try to use all the information available to weigh pros and cons, and make some informed decision as how to best act. I will argue that while this might make us feel better in the moment...

There Were No Giants, Only Shoulders

Jan 31 • 01:04:44

In this episode I'll be challenging the idea that human progress owes its advancement to the efforts of a few, that society has progressed by riding the coattails of giants; those individuals that history tells us made the greatest contributions. While the narrative that so-called geniuses contribute far more than others seems to make sense, does it hold up to what we know...

Facts and Logic: When They Work and When They Don't (PART 2)

Jul 22 • 01:53:33

Facts and Logic: When They Work and When They Don't (PART 1)

Jul 6 • 01:47:26

In this episode I talk about facts and logic;when they work and when they don't. I explain the power of logic and how it helps us structure arguments. I discuss how to know when arguments are done well and how to know when they're not. I also cover the severe limitations of logic. I explain the mechanism behind why and how logic falls short, specifically in complex situati...

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