Jonathan Haidt on Why We're So Divided and What to Do About It
How do we get beyond Right versus Left, "Us" versus "Them," and even "Me" versus "You"? Jonathan Haidt has a few theories about this all too-familiar tribalism and the seemingly endless culture wars of our time. As someone who studies morality and emotion, Jonathan has deep insight into the moral foundation of our politics and his research in moral psychology has revealed new ways for us to engage in more civil forms of politics, which can help make us all more cooperative and decent. In this conversation, Alan Alda talks with Jonathan about what makes us happy and how we can overcome our natural tendency toward self-righteousness, in order to respect and learn from those whose morality (and politics) differs from our own.
Michael Tomasello On the Surprising Origins of Communication and Cooperation
How do we actually learn to communicate? How is it different from how other animals learn it? Michael Tomasello explores what may be at the very heart of relating and communicating: shared attention. Alan Alda first met Michael when he interviewed him a few years ago in Leipzig, Germany. Michael was already doing experiments that studied the differences between how human children and chimps learn to communicate. He’s tracked the fascinating path humans take in learning to connect with one another – and we can learn a lot from it. Michael Tomasello heads up the world renowned Tomasello Lab at Duke University. His latest book, “Becoming Human: A Theory of Ontogeny” offers a radical reconsideration of how we develop the qualities that make us human, based on Michael’s decades of cutting-edge experimental work when he was the head of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
Sarah Vowell on Writing with Clarity (and Shenanigans)
Sarah Vowell is not short on facets. She’s writer, a historian, a satirist, a radio star and an actor. While he writing voice can be satirical, you might recognize her speaking voice as that of Violet in the Pixar animated series “The Incredibles.” She's a contributor to the public radio show This American Life, and has written seven New York Times ’ bestselling books on culture and American history — all from a number of strange and interesting angles. In this conversation, Alan Alda and Sarah explore writing for different kinds of audiences— and her irresistible attraction to verbal shenanigans.
Sherry Turkle on How We're Losing Touch With One Another and What We Can Do About It
Sherry Turkle is an expert on both our cultural and personal well-being. She's a professor at MIT, an author, a licensed clinical psychologist, and someone who's deeply concerned about how people connect and communicate. In this conversation with Alan Alda, Sherry shares her concerns about mobile technology, social networks, AI, and robots. She explores our relationships with our devices and how our constant connectedness isn't always the best thing for us -- and what we can do to disconnect from our technology to reconnect with our humanity.
Stephen Fry On How Our Myths Help Us Know Who We Are
Stephen Fry loves words. But he does more than love them. He puts them together in ways that so delight readers, that a blog or a tweet by him can get hundreds of thousands of people hanging on his every keystroke. As an actor, he’s brought to life every kind of theatrical writing from sketch comedy to classics. He’s performed in everything from game shows to the British audiobook version of Harry Potter. And always with a rich intelligence and searching eye. In this conversation with Alan Alda, Stephen explores how myths — sometimes very ancient ones — help us understand and, even guide, our modern selves.