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Lex Fridman & Jonathan Haidt: The Techno Monk & The Social Scientist
Episode 498th July 2022 • Decoding the Gurus • Christopher Kavanagh and Matthew Browne
00:00:00 03:03:42

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First, we apologise sincerely for the delayed-release. Matt and Chris have been busy beavers splicing together this decoding which proved particular gruelling for all sorts of uninteresting (but on-theme) technical reasons.

But finally, the wait is over and the long-anticipated episode on AI-aficionado and popular podcast host, Lex Fridman, is here. Although as the title indicates this accidentally turned into a joint decoding episode of his guest, the 'heterodox' social psychologist, Jonathan Haidt.

Lex is an interesting character and as such, for the decoding, two rather different pieces of content were selected: 1) a day-in-the-life video dairy and 2) one of his characteristic long-form interviews (with Haidt discussing social media). The format of a day-in-the-life video is perhaps inescapably cringey but it did give some unique insight into Lex's techno-monk lifestyle and his ongoing fascination/discovery of just how bad the Nazis & Hitler were. His interview with Haidt on the other hand was more substantial and covers a lot of tech-related issues that are genuinely complex and subject to an ongoing debate.

Jonathan Haidt is a famous and well-regarded academic but also something of a controversial figure online in part because of his involvement in the dreaded 'culture wars'. In particular, Haidt co-wrote the influential book 'The Codding of the American Mind', founded 'Heterodox Academy', and is a vocal critic of 'wokism' and certain aspects of social media. We take a look at his arguments and try to discern whether he is a nuanced social scientist offering prescient warnings or a boomer shaking his fist at the kids these days?

Join us and find out!