Eric Weinstein on Challenging “Reality,” Working with Peter Thiel, and Destroying Education to Save It (#131)


“We need to realize that we know how to impart expertise, but we don’t know how to impart creativity or genius.” – Eric Weinstein

My guest this episode is my friend, Eric Weinstein (@ericrweinstein), managing director of Thiel Capital, a Ph.D in mathematical physics from Harvard, and a research fellow at the Mathematical Institute of Oxford University. We recorded at my house after Eric emailed me this question: “Wanna try a podcast on… psychedelics, theories of everything, and the need to destroy education in order to save it?”

He’s brilliant and hilarious. If you enjoyed my podcasts with Derek Sivers or Sam Harris, you’ll love this one.

We cover a lot of ground, including:

  • Living from first principles rather than the “consensus reality”
  • The genius of Kung Fu Panda
  • What it’s like working with Peter Thiel and how Peter hired him
  • How to innovate when you risk being crucified by close-minded communities (and experts)
  • His favorite books
  • Why one of his favorite documentaries is about pornographers
  • And much more…

Also, be sure to check this out. Here is the Johns Hopkins psychedelic research I’m backing. Check out the supporters from tech and business.

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#131: Eric Weinstein on Challenging “Reality,” Working with Peter Thiel, and Destroying Education to Save It

Want to hear another podcast related to Peter Thiel? — Listen to the podcast where Peter discusses differentiation, value creation, competition and much more. It is a treasure trove (stream below or right-click here to download):

Ep 28: Peter Thiel, Billionaire Investor and Company Creator on Investing, Business, and Life

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What is a philosophy or mindset that you find fascinating, but that you struggle to apply to your life? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


Selected Links from the Episode

Twitter |

Show Notes

  • The unique career of Eric Weinstein and how he accidentally became an economist [5:23]
  • How a mathematician found a place at Thiel Capital [8:03]
  • Examples of first-principle thinking and facing criticism [13:28]
  • When Eric Weinstein started experimenting with different musical instruments [17:18]
  • On learning languages, even when they don’t seem useful [21:58]
  • Explaining the Overton Window [29:58]
  • Kung Fu Panda and the question of, “How does an innovator leave a successor when it’s his time to go?” [36:33]
  • How autodidacts can pave a path for successors [40:43]
  • How someone in a low-agency area can see the world like those in high-agency areas [44:28]
  • Most gifted books [47:18]
  • Advice for those contemplating a move to the Bay Area [49:58]
  • The key to understanding the philosophy behind Peter Thiel’s Zero to One [51:33]
  • Can people be taught to see things that other people don’t see? [54:23]
  • How Thiel Capital approaches problems to find creative solutions [59:18]
  • Canonical design and creating commonplace solutions [1:01:58]
  • If you were to design a class for a group of students between 9th grade and college, what would it look like? [1:06:38]
  • When you think of the word successful, who is the first person who comes to mind and why? [1:14:43]
  • What purchase of $100 or less has most positively affected your life in recent memory? [1:18:33]
  • Morning rituals and work cycles [1:20:33]
  • If you could have one billboard anywhere, with anything on it, what would it say? [1:25:18]
  • Advice to Eric Weinstein’s 30-year-old self and what his life was like at that time [1:26:43]
  • An ask or request for the audience [1:28:28]
  • Eric Weinstein’s first experience with psychedelic drugs [1:31:33]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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85 Replies to “Eric Weinstein on Challenging “Reality,” Working with Peter Thiel, and Destroying Education to Save It (#131)”

  1. To answer your question of the day: stoicism. To me, this is a philosophy that is very difficult to follow until all of a sudden it just clicks and becomes easy. Maybe it’s time to go read Meditations again. Thanks for your great work Tim, I listen to your podcast every day to and from work – it helps me wake up and I actually look forward to the drive.

  2. while i am not up on the latest umbrella tech, blunt umbrellas made in new zealand have been my personal umbrella of choice. stats between models vary but generally can hit ~72 mph of wind without inverting. plenty of clips and reviews on youtube.

    senz were their only competitor in durability last i checked. very interesting design on those.

  3. Hey Tim, Eric’s reference to classical guitar right hand fingering notation where the thumb is indicated as “p” is due to the use of the Latin names of the fingers Thumb, Index, Middle, Ring become Pulgar, Indicio, Medina, Anular (PIMA).

    Interesting that he interpreted Pinky as “P” especially since the little finger isn’t even used in traditional classical guitar.

  4. Your email asked for a philosophy that the reader might find fascinating, but couldn’t apply it to his life. Well, here’s one that I consider to be central, and the only reason I can’t apply it to my life is that the Thought Police would kill me if I did:

    Stereotypes are the truest thing in the world. All other worldviews or philosophies are based on opinion, sentiment, and fantasy. Only stereotypes are based on actual observation.

  5. I want more of these on Challenging Reality! This podcast was so cool, not some woo woo shit but different opinion expressed in a sensible way. I’ve always been a person asking “wrong” questions. I always follow one of the principles of Leonardo da Vinci. “Question Everything” – I apply that to absolutely everything in my life, and to what I come up with, myself included. I believe to be a true innovator, a scientist, an inventor and a fast learner you got to have only one quality, the rest is kind of optional – a truly open mind that is not attached to any theory, even (and to more extent so) your own theories, ideas, believes… That’s why I always have problems with authorities and any communities really that fall in love with “the right way”. It’s hard for people to put me into any box (cause I don’t have one) and to find a way to relate to me, to define me. But for me it’s the only way to exist and that’s why I see many things others fail to, I just don’t exist in theories, definitions, right and wrong…anyway…I loved loved loved this episode! And what is even cooler? On my last 11-hour flight was watching 2 things: Panda and The Martian – my all times favorites!!!! The Martian really illustrates one of my core beliefs – Anything. Is. Possible. Thank you!!!

  6. Also I believe the problem with our education starts with parenting. Parents very often cultivate that “right/wrong” mindset in kids. I guess it’s kind of ego driven, satisfies the need to be an authority with a respected opinion. we all as kids told there are ways of doing thing in a right and wrong way, things we should and shouldn’t do, things we should think and say and things we shouldn’t…because of some “important” reason.

    As a result when we grow up very often before attempting doing anything we haven’t tried before there is a huge censoring activity…”is it right? Is it wrong? what will others say/think? etc…” and because we are more afraid of possible negative consequences of being wrong (social and not only) we very often choose a safe, very often old (the way it’s been always been done/said/thought) way to do things, to approach our life etc…and that’s is why ultimately we don’t “grow” so many innovators in the first place…

    It’s all starts when we are parents saying: “it’s wrong” to our kids…most often just because it’s the way we do things or it is a socially accepted way…

  7. I love your podcast. I listen to it routinely and it helps keep me more on point. I wanted to make a suggestion for someone you could interview as I suspect many people would benefit from it. His name is Simon Borg-Olivier. I think you will find his carbon-loading breath recommendations, amongst other yogic training to be of great use to heal your own immune system/gut. Keep up the amazing work ^o^.

  8. Thank you so much for a helpful tip about the difference between r/l I am brand new to teaching English. My name is Ryan and my Korean students thought/think I am a lion haha. Will be explaining how to place your tongue to them tomorrow.

  9. An unusual umbrella design is probably the “Rain Shield”. Doesn’t seem to have made it past the concept though.

  10. Struggling philosophy – one of Joe Rogan’s guests recently made a comment distinguishing ‘habit’ and ‘ethos’. The idea was that rather than trying to form a habit (where you’re constantly either maintaining it or failing it), building a personal ethos is more powerful, as an ethos removes any debate about the issue.

    As someone who struggles with his ‘monkey mind’ – this idea is so obviously powerful that I’m surprised I’ve never heard it articulated this way before.

    Implementing or developing that ethos, on the other hand, is something else entirely.

  11. The comment inre 1970 being about when America started widespread acceptance of status quo to keep the “prosperity machine going” was brilliant. It’s not an academic work, but Hunter Thompson’s “Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72” is a good a book as any on the process of the insiders hammering a lone wolf into it’s image and then slaughtering it during a presidential campaign.

  12. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for the interview it’s great. The MacArthur winning mandolinist Eric referred to is a guy named Chris Thile. He might be the greatest living musician today. Plays Bach with Yo-yo Ma, Blue Grass with Michael Daves, Jazz with Brad Mehldau (the best of the best). He jumps from baroque to folk and back again while incorporating Bob Dylan and Radiohead. He is a monster player and composer. Watch the documentary “How to Grow a Band” (on Netflix). You will not regret it.

  13. Vedanta informs that a silent mind transcended ego,i ntellect and mind and is the seat of awareness necessary to manage Natural Law.

    I have worked for more than 50 to stabilize a silent mind an have direct experience that this Vedic teachings about its power are literal and true.

    However, even after decades of practice, I haven’t completely mastered this effortless skill.



  14. Hi Tim.

    I think that bigoteer is a functional term that gets the message across. There is a lot of isting and labeling that closes people out before anything is said.

    The Overton Window might be one of the smallest windows I could draw.

    The idea of having a different teaching form for the high agency kids is right on the money. There is no need to pass on the weakness of the administration or the teacher to the student who wants to perform big.

    I have been listening on and off to your content for years, but now I added you on my podcast listener for during drives and at other times.

    You put a lot of detail into each post and we appreciate it.

  15. Chris Thile is the mandolin player who’s name he couldn’t think of. He played in the band NIckel Creek, and currently has a band called Punch Brothers.

  16. This podcast did not disappoint! I love these hard to define interview types like Sam Harris, Derek Sivers et al. They are always my favorite ones.

    Something I’ve noticed from your interviews when education comes up- You quite often focus on the later years, late high school and beyond. There are some seriously interesting young people coming from families who eschewed traditional education for even their youngest kids. You actually did touch on the idea in Four Hour Work Week about parents pulling kids out of school and bring studies on the road around the world. But that idea can apply to a child’s entire education, in-country or out. I have a friend who unschools her girls in the US most of the year, but when they spend a season in Ecuador each year, they actually put them IN school there. Consider the work of psychologist and education critic Peter Gray. He has a book titled “Free to Learn” and is a sought after speaker in the alternative education world. He might make an interesting interview for your listeners raising or charged with educating kids. Kids grow up at light speed and the little ones today will be the business owners and innovators before we know it.

    Tim, when my podcast player shows me you released a new podcast, I honestly feel a similar sensation as when I was a little girl and I knew there were presents waiting under the tree to be opened that morning! Sounds a little cheesy, but its no joke. Your podcast is truly a joy.

  17. Tim,

    Another great podcast! Mr. Weinstein is a very interesting thinker.

    On a separate note, And I am starting today to fuel the spread of your neologism “bigoteer”. That was just brilliant, Tim. In two years the press will say, Tim Ferriss, the man who coin the term Bigoteer.

  18. Great episode. Couple things:

    It’s gross that “social justice warrior” has entered into the popular lexicon. It was and is just another label to shut down discussion and discredit what someone is saying. I too am concerned about what the scarlet letter nonsense in our culture right now is doing to free speech and peoples’ lives, but let’s not be the pot if we have issue with the kettle.

    Also, Tim, if you haven’t yet, Google “honor versus dignity culture”. It’s a fascinating theory on some stuff that relates to what this episode is talking about overall. Unrelated, that “coffee mug versus luggage” bit was brilliant and should ideally be tattooed on the back of every venture capitalist’s hand.

    Philosophy: Moism. It was a broad rebuke of Confuscian values back in the day in China, and advocated that one treats everyone quiet literally as a member of family. If Mo Tze had walked into the Powell Street BART station after hours, he would have made sure every homeless person got a place to sleep and eat, and then gone about punching the whole concept of homelessness in the face. Because to his mind, there should be no difference between ones in-group and out-group.

    Hard road to walk, that.

    1. I think your def of Confucianism (which you misspelled) is quite confused. And your grand pronouncement of what Mao would say / do – honestly – he would not do a thing. He would refer it to the Cadre – who would certainly set things right. And that’s pretty clear. If you had a point – it got lost in the jungle.

  19. Great podcast as always. Tim, did you describe online critique of discriminatory behavior as “lynch mobs” specifically to bait so-called SJWs? If so, it totally worked. That was problematic as hell 🙂

  20. On the one hand, you and your guest decry the climate of cautiousness created in the public sphere due to the use of words such as “racist,” “sexist,” etc. and worry that the censorious approach of “social justice warriors” is stifling original thinking, then on the other hand suggest your own terminology so that you can participate in the same behavior.

    Do you mean to encourage free discussion or stop it?

    By proposing “bigoteer,” you show that you do not value the complexity and nuance of social issues and instead lump everything into one single “problem,” that being all people who dare to point out where and how bias creates inaccuracy and suffering.

    It was revealing to hear your guest mention Trump as an example of a repressed thinker (!) and refer to statistics to back up his claim that intelligence is not equally shared between binary genders and “ethnic groups.” This sounds kind of familiar… I guess this is the kind of “original thinking” SJWs are repressing?

    Though not with any success, apparently.

  21. The chief problem of the umbrella is the central location of its handle combined with the external location of our arms.

    You are only ever under half of an umbrella because of this. The handle should instead be at the edge of the canopy.

  22. I’m new to your podcast and wanted to say I’m hooked already. I own the books from you but never realized you had a podcast! This episode really impressed me. Eric Weinstein is absolutely brilliant and interesting to listen and learn from. Your skill at extracting the character and topics of interest is outstanding as well. I really believe this is the first podcast episode I have ever listened to twice (I’ve been listening to podcasts for just over 5 years now). Thanks for this episode!

  23. forgot to mention… that was a profoundly brilliant podcast, fantastic. Going to have to listen to this one a few times.

  24. Man I wish that last mini-discussion on psychedelics would have been stretched out another 10-15 minutes 🙂 Maybe a follow up conversation sometime? I am beyond curious how someone with Eric’s intellect was impacted by those recent experiences and especially so late in life.

  25. Happiness. It’s something I strive for every single day, yet despite the help of many professionals cannot seem to obtain. I am fascinated by your psilocybin study and hope it can help those suffering from major depression.

  26. Loved this talk. Eric seems like one of the most intelligent guests you’ve ever had on the show.. and that’s saying something.

    However, while I was really looking forward to checking out the anti-porn doc he recommended, “Rate It X”, it seems clear after doing a bit of research that it’s a horribly dated, biased and all around poorly produced documentary. If anyone here is interested in a good documentary that really dives into the industry I highly recommend “The Price of Pleasure”, which I found much more objective than the more recent “Hot Girls Wanted”

  27. On the possible common language of instruments, I believe Leonard Bernstein address this concept in his Harvard lectures titled, “The Unanswered Question.” Unfortunately I haven’t tried watching it again after my first failed attempt at the age of 19, but I figured I’d throw this bone out into the interwebs.

  28. Excellent podcast episode. Playing multiple/uncommon musical instruments, learning interesting languages, Weinstein is a true example of a worldly person, as he also reflects it in his opinions. A lot of fine food for thought. I was surprised to hear Turkish came to his mind first as one of his favorite languages. The reason why he learned it in the first place made a lot of sense, as Turkish is difficult to learn and pronounce. That is usually the only reason why some people want to learn Turkish. 😉

    “Bigoteer” – That is perfect. Somebody had to come up with a word for the thought police. The word might need to go in Oxford dictionary eventually, since the trend is growing everyday. Being outraged about everything on social media makes people feel important. Also, there are a lot of people taking advantage and even making profit out of the situation. For example, Hollywood stars have been talking about feminism recently just to get some spotlight in the media. They have also been bashing Photoshop, something they can’t live without themselves. All for self-marketing. Media supports it and sheeple buys it. Distorting major ideologies and exploiting them for personal gain is the way to go now.

    On that note, Tim it would be great if you had Ricky Gervais in the podcast. He would love that word. He is bullied by bigoteers constantly.

    DiCaprio’s character in The Revenant is another MacGyver but wildlife version. I highly recommend The Revenant.

    Thanks to both of you for this great conversation.

    Best xx

  29. I would definitely love to hear another podcast from Eric! I’d be interested to hear more about his problem solving methodology & his opinions on the application of multidisciplinary learning. Also further details on his theory of everything would be appreciated. Your guests are getting better and better!

  30. Hi Tim

    I have listened to all of your podcasts and love them, all but this was absolutely the best. Eric has a number of profound insights – my favourite is the comment about consensus toward the end. The bigoteers and SJWs here that have objected to aspects of this podcast have either missed the point or the indoctrination that they have received through their education has closed their minds to the message. That is exactly the opposite of what education should do. Great stuff Eric – I will be reading more of your work.

    Please, Please do a part 2

  31. Loved how the two of you talked about accessing information through language and music and particularly how Eric primes a killer, deep, creative work session with his profane lateral cerebration practice. I relate. I mean the guy’s just got a W in front of the Einstein, cuz this cat is truly an extraordinary, “Stunning and sparkling mind.” Another great piece of work, Tim. Thank you.

  32. Overton’s Window, Bigoteering and the Champion/Challenger Model

    (Disclaimer, I realize I am borrowing these ideas and repurposing them.)

    WRT a frontal assault on Bigoteering by giving it a name, what about expanding on this concept to encourage intelligent discourse by creating a broadly accepted Champion/Challenger model for social media?

    Champion: Someone advocating for or building upon an idea or position, regardless of whether they agree with or have even formed a personal position about the idea.

    Challenger: Skeptic, person pushing against the idea or widely held belief, for the purpose of advancing, clarifying and possibly disproving the original thought.

    A Champion or Challenger (there can be many of both and a person never need be just one) would declare themselves and adhere to three simple rules of discourse:

    1) Commentary stays focused on the idea and not an attack on the originator of the idea and/or the stereotype or group they are part of

    2) Emotion and feeling may be part of the discussion but may not be played upon to insight virtual rioting, used as leverage, or used simply because you have nothing else to say

    3) Facts and logic a premium but application of facts and logic, connecting seemingly disparate parts will be held in the highest regard and celebrated by both sides of the discussion

    Using this method we collectively raise the quality of discourse on social media and the boundaries of Overton’s Window (or however you define societies many “windows”) can be pushed, challenged, widened, or completely removed.

    One additional rule may be in order. The quality of one’s writing need not be used as a measure of their position so long as they are adhering to the Champion/Challenger Rules of Discourse (C/C RoD).

    Want to take a position on this idea or improve it? Simply reply to it using “Champion” or “Challenger” in the title or lead sentence of your response.

    Tim, I know you view this blog as your virtual living room and appreciate you letting us borrow it for this conversation.

  33. Good question. I’d say the “reasoning by analogy” mindset/common thinking pattern. It sometimes results in a step-function change in your understanding of a subject but then again it can be a sinister fallacy which looks clever.

    Example: Treating a career as a portfolio and making small bets in too many differentiated skills. Staying flexible is good up to a certain point.

    Also, though intriguing, Nassim Taleb’s anti-fragile concept is quite easy to misinterpret in so many instances. I’d be psyched to hear a podcast episode with him:)

    Love your work. Cheers Tim,


  34. Re: question of the day

    I struggle with and deeply admire minimalism. It’s something that ties into all areas of life but hasn’t become autopilot for me yet.

    Thanks! Love your podcasts!

  35. Philosophical Question/Proven Thing I am wrapping my head around, here it goes: Everything is consciousness, and it is proven within Quantum Mechanics. So, fundamentally, we are immortal. Fascinating right?

  36. With “bigoteer.” The problem is not so much that that there are few implications for labelling people racist, sexist and so on. Will labelling someone a bigoteer really help resolve the issue? No. What will happen is that you will just add one more unPC label to an ever-increasing list. What is really required to transcend this problematique is to teach people how to assume responsibility for their projections. And this requires a deep, experiential understanding of how the mind functions. Call that mindfulness if you like.

    On the specific subject of race and intelligence. Sure, in an ideal world we should be able to point to the data without being labeled a racist. However, those making such claims should also problematise that data, i.e. they need to address the issues which potentially undermine their own argument – those things which contextualuse that data. A lot of “left-brained” folk want to believe that data exists in a vacuum, and is not affected by the human beings who perceive, collect and communicate that data. For example, in intelligence theory there is the obvious issue that intelligence is culturally defined. At this time in history, knowledge economies tend to value mathematical/logical, linguistic and creative intelligence. However, intuitive intelligence is not on the map, and so brilliant intuitive people are often completely left out of discussions. Those we label “smart” often don’t even understand intuitives, because their own intuitive facilities are undeveloped. Then moving on, neural plasticity brings into question the presupposition that there is a direct, linear link between genetics and intelligence. Epigentic variation suggests that gene expression is environmentally mediated. So that brings us to “culture,” that most despised of words amongst empiricists. Finally, the Flynn effect shows that measured intelligence has increased massively in economically developed societies. The capacity for such cognitive functions as abstract conceptualisation and visual abstraction are massively more acute in an average person today as compared to people of years gone by. It has been stated that an average 100 IQ person today would beat about 98% of IQ test takers from a century ago (there were no such tests then, BTW). Black IQs have doubled in the US in some places since WW2, when tests began. All this indicates that the “hard” data on racial intelligence is not at all straight-forward. And it is unlikely the get any less complex, I predict, as the inadequate models we have been force-fed about nature of consciousness collapse in the next decade or two.

  37. Thoroughly enjoyed Eric Weinstein, particularly his “why hasn’t the Umbrella changed since the beginning of time” challenge. Well it has.

    My son, Justin Nagelberg, has been working on a reimagined Umbrella called the Sa Umbrella. As a Product Designer who has lived in Tokyo for 7 years and obsesses over all things Japanese, Justin created an Umbrella with no moving parts based largely on, as Eric mentioned, Origami.

    After a kickstarter campaign, 30k ask, 140k at completion, he’s been honing the manufacturing process and hopes to launch his new design within a few months. Check out his work on kickstarter, youtube, Wired Magazine.

    The “Sa” Reimagined Umbrella.

    Many thanks Tim for being my go to Podcast.

    Keep on doing what you do!… so we don’t have to.

  38. Hi Tim.. A great admirer of your creative genius.

    The entire humanity’s future can be transformed if we can crack one philosophy well (more than higgs boson experiments) I.e. Present Moment consciousness or consistent Mindfulness .. Can’t technology just shut up this non stop chatter of mind ?

    Would love an episode dedicated to solve this mystery .. Very few can even attempt this so await to hear ..

  39. Tim, on the podcast you said something about having difficulty getting started with musical instruments (aside from drums). Here’s a good lifehack for this: check out a few instruments that are easy to get started with, while still providing the ability to create serious music. Check out the Irish Pennywhistle (a.k.a. Tin Whistle), the Mountain Dulcimer, the Seagull Merlin and the Rock-it Stick. Hope this helps!

  40. That (pretty) perfect educational system exists and was founded by a dude called Célestin Freinet. This pedagogy is applied with success, at least, in a tiny school in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. They don’t teach Indonesian, though. But they do teach Esperanto. How cool is that ?

  41. more like this, less of people who get electric shocks in water for fun. this episode an example of why i listen to the podcast, keep it up.

  42. I start off creatively and quickly. Then I keep on I meet the struggles and frustration and if I finish an idea or project. I don’t know where to go with it. Thus a lot of things remain unfinished. Only God pats my back. I work alone. How do I keep pushing on? To complete a creative idea. Motivation and focus. And this is from a positive attitude I still struggle.

  43. Umbrellas were hacked on 1887; check out Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backwards. Downtown Kyoto seems to do it pretty well.

  44. I think Eric has very carefully and purposefully crafted his narrative in hindsight because it’s a much cooler story than reality. He comes across as very ,very contrived. Certainly brilliant, but not genuine.

  45. You should both look at International Baccalaureate education (IB). “Happy kids” is on the agenda and they hacked the system more than fifty years ago.

    1. Ed, as someone who has a daughter that’s applied for the IB program here in Virginia Beach and crosses his fingers, the rhetorical question becomes why shouldn’t all public schools operate this way?

      Loved your interview too! Thanks for taking the time to do it!

  46. The Air Umbrella is an interesting innovation that does away with the mechanics and replaces them with an air shield. [Moderator: link removed] If you know about TRIZ then you’d recognise this as following the “laws of technical systems evolution”.

  47. The problem is that Social Justice isn’t entirely wrong– when orchestras did blind auditions, they found themselves hiring more women and people of color. On the other hand, Social Justice has a vicious streak and adds a new set of stereotypes.

    LeGuin: “They say here “all roads lead to Mishnory.” To be sure, if you turn your back on Mishnory and walk away from it, you are still on the Mishnory road. To oppose vulgarity is inevitably to be vulgar. You must go somewhere else; you must have another goal; then you walk a different road.”

    Social Justice gets boring. Opposition to Social Justice gets boring.

    Have some alternatives: one of the reasons for stereotypes is that people are unsure of their ability to evaluate people from outside their culture. (Actually, they overestimate their ability to evaluate people from inside their culture.) How can people get a *lot* better at evaluating each other?

    Or, for some open-ended fun, what if people’s prejudices are based on dividing each other into the wrong groups? Could there be better dividing lines?

    I use a rain poncho because I want to have my hands free. If I cared that much about my legs getting wet, I’d get rain pants.

  48. The mandolinist that Eric mentioned is Chris Thile. Here’s some great stuff from the Goat Rodeo days with Edgar Meyer and Yo Yo Ma …..

  49. The problem is not the umbrella. The problem is in thinking that the umbrella solves the real problem – “I want to walk in the rain & show up at my destination warm & dry.”

    That was “solved” years ago by the scuba industry when they invented custom-fit drysuits.

    Website, enter your body dimensions, enter your preferred fit (e.g. tailored, loose, blow me up like a ball so I can roll to work), colors, blah blah, “ship to”.

    As for design, people are freaking ass lazy, so you have to make it fun to get in & out of it. We don’t have Jarvis-tech just yet, but the porn industry of old brought us velcro rip-off pants, so that’s totally solvable until then.

    Just need hot models, kick ass tunes, & a “you’re a freak and you suck” if you don’t wear one campaign. Voila, you’ve got your early adopters.

    As for your briefcase/purse/etc – that was “solved” years ago by they kayak/boating/outdoor industry – waterproof bags & backpacks. Just make um match the drysuit & look fashionable. Done and done.

    Now where’s my million dollars? Yeh. Not happening. I don’t give a flying F about umbrella’s. I live in Seattle – we just walk in the rain, keep rain-friendly hairstyles & bring a change of shoes. 🙂

    ok, back to reality & subsistence living

  50. We need High Agents ‘solving at” things like Flint.

    I’ve posted these thoughts twice & gotten the internet-equivalent of blank stares. I need High Agents & geniuses.

    I rarely have answers, but I am an EXCELLENT person to brainstorm with to get TO the brilliant solutions.

    I get that High Agents are going to tend to be introverts &/or loners – but …

    wouldn’t it be awesome if we came together in a FB group or Slacker something to kick around ideas toward solutions?

    What if geniuses had a safe place to go to kick around ideas with us renegades when they were stuck?

    Veering wildly (but importantly).

    Ok, back to Flint.

    Long term solutions, punishment, blah blah blah – yes. BUT we need MASSIVE short term solutions. It’s going to take a billion years to repipe an entire city including the now-corrupted pipes in each home.

    Until then:

    – installing innovative technologies like this:

    woops, that was a URL, ok – search for “billboard that makes water”

    – old school technologies like:

    – aquaducts, rain reservoirs, anything to get safe water to the town

    – brita filters

    Yeh, I said it, brita filters. It can’t be that difficult to filter out lead.

    If it is, it’s not. We have distillation.

    I have EVERY confidence there are decent short term solutions to fixing the 3rd world problem in our own country.

    If we can pipe oil from Canada to Texas, we can pipe water to ourselves.

    If we can truck in milk, we can truck in water.

    love & kisses,

    – waaaay outside all boxes

  51. Every podcast is my new favorite…I enjoy these so very much. Just fabulous. Do come to Montana, Bozeman is the new ‘place’ (where everything has become sort of a ‘scene’) -everything is a trade off- but beautiful landscape, great skiing- don’t leave out taking in Missoula- very different vibe -great town. Home of the world’s largest kegger back in the day: the Abor Day party. You can look it up-brain child of some hippie capitallists back in the 70’s. Steinbeck got it right: “I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.” Thanks Tim-

  52. Two rich white guys would like a safe space to voice their “radical” or “maverick” ideas. Lolol poor you, persecuted by bigoteers. I’m sorry you feel so constrained by the society that has afforded you every advantage.

    No worries though, you can admit/promote drug use and claim membership among the psychedelic elite; legal/social consequences are for the unwashed.

  53. I wanted to comment on the reference to coprolalia (cursing) and Touretts. I may have misunderstood, but when Mr. Weinstein spoke about coprolalia he made it seem as everyone that has Touretts has coprolalia also. Only about 10% of people with Tourette’s have coprolalia. It is used as a joke most of the time, it is a not a joke for those who have to live with this disability everyday. We would love to see some of these great minds Tim has on to figure out what causes Tourette’s and associated disorders. The interview was great. Thanks

  54. I think Todd and Edster got it right on the umbrella topic. A raincoat is a great solution. Raincoats are hands-free as well. The umbrella is already following some principles of TRIZ. It’s big and small at the same time by being collapsible. Some use telescoping handles to make them compact when not being used. Some really small “pocket” umbrellas are very much like origami. It’s always fun to think creatively about reinventing things. Is the design really so poor in this case that it isn’t possible to find a sufficient umbrella or raincoat? This leads me to believe he had a really bad experience with an umbrella and has never been able to get over it.

  55. This is one of the podcasts guests who I did not agree with on a number of points, and I was glad to see Tim disagree while also probing the other point of view.

    I listened to this right after listening to Sacca’s episode. The differences between their world views is striking (eg empathy focus for Sacca/singular genius view of Weinstein).

    On the “bigoteer” issue – there are a lot of blogs out there that seem to be out to get some gotcha moments of racism,etc. Some discussions do need to be had about certain sensitive issues, despite “political incorrectness “. Surely there must be a midpoint there, because words said out loud do have power. As a minority female person, I have welcomed the current PC environment because shitty things are rarely being said anymore. The discomfort has shifted from the minorities to the people saying shitty things. Perhaps some empathy would maybe help the people like Weinstein and the powers that be to understand how their controversial thoughts, when spoken out loud, can easily turn into widely held beliefs, whether justified or not

  56. Excellent episode!

    I particularly liked the end — the same questions with different answers from other brilliant minds is always good.

    Thanks again Tim for another great episode!

  57. Einstein never left and Einstein and so forth. Agreed. That’s why Tim espouses the wisdom of NOT looking at top performers who may not be great teachers. So then, “How does an innovator leave a successor when it’s his time to go?” Simple. Follow the wisdom of one who did: Joshua Wooden. The father of John Wooden, the iconic “Wizard of Westwood” and greatest coach of all-time, set forth a 7-Point Creed for John to follow after his middle school graduation, saying, “Son, try to live up to these things.” I’d say he did, and then some. Here they are:

    1. Be true to yourself.

    2. Help others.

    3. Make each day your masterpiece.

    4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.

    5. Make friendship a fine art.

    6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.

    7. Pray for guidance and counsel and give thanks for your blessings each day.

    Explicitly teaching how to do each of these is the key. We are the truest versions of ourselves when we are in PLAY (Stuart Brown’s play history and personalities) and in FLOW (Flow Genome Project’s free flow profile). Finding a career or calling that uses our talents in service to others each day, the first three rules above, is how to leave behind a successful innovator. In the end, we’ll have had the courage, as palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware revealed, to live a life true to yourself, and not the life others expect of us. A school that teaches these principles, building 21st century character traits (grit, optimism, gratitude, and curiosity) and skills (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication) in a game-like environment (Superbetter Prep/University Jane McGonigal?), is the future.

    Want an ruthless exercise? Grade yourself on each of the seven points, 1-10 or A-F. Tim, I admire your grades on #2-#7, but see #1 as a struggle in your fight against what you feel you have to do versus what you get to and choose to do. Take the Free Flow Profile (10 questions and maybe 2 minutes to do) and see that a Hard Charger as yourself is always pushing the envelope by nature. Embrace that. It is your compass in a world that pulls you every direction but the one you’re wired for.

    With gratitude for this podcast and all the others.

  58. to me “bigoteer” is a word… neither good nor bad… and in certain contexts it could be useful to describe a very rare type of person… however, in my opinion the majority of people who will use the term “bigoteer” are going to be the people who are unaware of the their own racism, sexism, homophobia, etc… and want a quick way to shut down anyone who critiques them… ironically anyone who is going to use the word “bigoteer” is very likely to do so to maintain and defend the status quo… just as with people who coined the term SJW and whine about “PC” culture… to me, in most cases, bigoteer, SJW and “PC-ness”, tend to be ideas/terms used by privileged people who are unaware of their own privilege and want to have the freedom of saying offensive things without repercussion… in other words they want the “freedom” of preventing anyone else from expressing their criticism… you look at the underlying current of sexism and racism in business and politics (just take a look at Washington and Wall Street… esp. the recent email scandals) and then tell me if we really need yet another a term for rich white guys to “defend” themselves against minorities pointing out to them that what they say and do is often discriminatory and harmful in subtle and not so subtle ways… in any event this is all theoretical… i would be curious to know what specific incidents inspired Tim Ferriss to coin that term… is he trying to address a specific problem we are not aware of… or is he simply going along with herd of rich white guys who like to think of themselves as the “victims” of imaginary “reverse-discrimination”… here is the thing… if you show me a statistic or study that points out to an uncomfortable idea… we can talk about the numbers, the science, etc… you won’t get nearly as much backlash from the SJWs if you stick to the numbers (unless you hastily use those numbers to dishonestly support your own preconceived biases)… however, in most cases people don’t talk about facts and evidence… they simply voice their own biased opinions and then feel personally victimized when someone points out their belief system is not based in reality… having your belief system challenged feels bad, but the response should not be to call other people “bigoteers”… it should be to stop and think… and finally… i really doubt that the consequences of being (mis)-labeled a racist or sexist are as bad as Tim Ferriss seems to believe… if that were the case… Trump would not be so popular…

  59. Good examples of a high agency individuals can be found in Richard Feynman’s book “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman”, as well as Casey Neistats youtube videos. Both are individuals who essentially analyzed societies rules, and then created their own rulebooks and blazed their own trails. Both are good studies on developing creativity.

  60. A great episode. The discussion of music being something innate, brings to my mind the demonstration of the pentatonic scale by Bobby McFerrin at the World Science Festival.

  61. I wonder if Eric Weinstein performs well team settings? Playing in band? An orchestra? Sports? Or leading a trekking party in a far away land etc.?

    His implicit definitions of what is intelligence and what constitutes/creates ‘genius’ are narrow and limiting. How about appreciating Howard Gardner’s multiple types of intelligence? Or acknowledging that every genius was nurtured and cultivated, often with close intellectual interlocutors.

    Running through his discourse (and it’d be interesting to know if he shares this with Thiel) is an implicit Randian belief in the disruptive individual hero, who struggles against the world and overcomes it. That ‘mental model’ I think neither describes the world very well nor is a useful guide for action.

    Which is not to say that I don’t believe in healthy, robust and open debate about the issues of our day. From where I sit and listen (a Brit in Belgium), it is surprising to hear that both of you feel that expression and freedom in the USA is somehow being repressed under a weight of political correctness and justice warriors; and that Eric feels issues of race and intelligence cannot be aired. Respondents below, particularly Marcusanthony have made the counter argument here well. Debate seems alive and well…

    Because seriously gentleman, when your public discourse is saturated with pre-englightenment attacks from Christian fundamentalism; a leading Presidential candidate makes incendiary remarks about Moslems and Mexicans; and you can buy assault rifles in supermarkets- I don’t see the USA mired in some soggy 1970’s consensus that has somehow emasculated you.

    On the contrary, the slow erosion of enormous power and wealth, is precipitating deep feelings of anxiety and fear, causing polarisation within US society, the rise of populism and the collapse of bipartisanship. Similar populist movements are happening across Europe. The answers to that lie both in heroic individuals speaking out AND the groups networked and committed to act.

  62. I didn’t wish to sound too curmudgeonly in last post. Overall, I really appreciate the podcasts and the materials you share with the listeners…Thank you Tim!

  63. Take a shot at this now.

    The “perfect umbrella” Eric, is actually a small anti gravity machine. Obviously..

    There are 7 components to such a thing (in my schematic) – based on I think the only realistic hypothesis. It uses very little power – it basically works like a multi-spectrum radio but in EMF. Keeps you dry for sure. Only one side effect .. Mary Poppins.

  64. One of my favorites, right up there with Ed Cooke’s interview.

    I liked it when you asked Dr. Weinstein the billboard question, and he gave his answer, then explained without relating it back to the question. I had to listen to it a second time to understand. He expects you to follow his logical leaps. My dad is a physicist, and he does the same thing. They think on such a level of abstraction that it’s remarkable that they can find words at all.

  65. Thank you for your podcast again. First time hearing Peter Thiel speak. Barely know anything about him aside from a little re: involvement with PayPal. There was also the thing with Hogan/Gawker(?)

    He speaks so matter-of-factly, it’s a little funny. Like every sentence should end with “fact.”

    Disagree somewhat with what he said about most talented people attending same schools and/or career tracks. There’s a quote that says “what if the cure for [x] was locked in the mind of a person unable to pursue an education.”