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On today’s episode of Impact Theory, I’m joined by Sam Harris to discuss the profound impact of cognitive biases on decision-making and explore the nuanced interplay between truth, misinformation, and societal trust.

Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, philosopher, best-selling author, and podcast host whose work focuses on how a growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live.

In this episode, we tackle the complex landscape of political and social issues, from the importance of relying on experts and institutions to the contentious debates around homelessness and systemic inequality.

We touch on:
– The media’s role in the misinterpretation & distortion of ideas
– Factors negatively affecting trust in experts & institutions
– Cognitive biases & the illusory Truth effect
– Second-order consequences of communication
– Trade-offs in engaging with controversial topics
– Dilemma of preserving democracy vs. free information flow
– Impact of political manipulation on institutional trust
– Importance of understanding arguments despite disagreements
– Class-based views & institutional change on societal issues and policy
– Proposing solutions for inequality & advocating for meritocracy
– Impact of poverty on education & brain development

We also address hot-button topics like homelessness, the balance between free information flow and preserving democracy, and the critical importance of the peaceful transfer of power.

Prepare to challenge your perspectives and gain new insights on navigating today’s complex world!


[0:00] People & incentives
[14:26] Shared resources in society
[36:39] Second & third-order consequences
[53:17] Toxic information landscape
[1:31:38] Balancing institutional trust with rational decision-making


“If you have the right system of incentives, you can even have sociopaths effectively behaving like saints because they’re just appropriately incentivized to do that. Whereas if you have the wrong incentives, you can have people who are nearly saints behaving like sociopaths, because it’s just that the incentives are just overwhelmingly aimed in the wrong direction.”

“Just what sort of society do you want to be in? Do you want to be surrounded by desperate, envious people? Or do you want to be surrounded by creative, self-actualized, happy people who can be your customers and who are going to, who are going to celebrate your success when you do something visibly successful?”

“And our default sense is that someone should be free to live out the chaos of their mental illness or their drug addiction or their violence in front of us and even die in front of us on the sidewalk.”

“We’re awash in misinformation and lies. And so our information landscape is just polluted with toxic waste.”

“Do you really want a president whose son is sniffing blow off of a hooker?”

“It’s SO important to have institutions we can trust.”

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Themes: Mindset, Finance, World Affairs, Health & Productivity, Future & Tech, Simulation Theory & Physics, Dating & Relationships

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