Every week we conduct edifying interviews with interesting figures, all of which are collected below in order of recency.


Eugene Wei on product building, the left brain, and film

17 October 2021

Product executive and filmmaker Eugene Wei—whose writing occasionally graces our recommendations—talks to Baiqu about how we often misclassify choices led by intuition as luck, the benefits of always being a beginner at something, and thinking in infinite timescales despite our finite human lives. Wei is known for his considered writing on tech, but here he speaks lithely on the philosophy of film and mortality.

Transcript: 4,662 words | Video: 33m 16s


A Literal Banana on the problems with social science

13th October 2021

Even beyond fraud and the replication crisis, the problem in social science is "using abstractions poorly." Neither surveys nor "reductive laboratory protocols" are actually capable of meaningfully measuring abstractions like trust or happiness. Study results are often seen as high status, when in fact "stories from yourself and trusted people are almost the only kind of evidence that’s real" (2,218 words)


Chris Williamson on how Love Island cured his existential crisis

10th October 2021

Baiqu sits down with Chris Williamson, host of the Modern Wisdom podcast to discuss finding meaning in life, figuring out masculinity as a working-class northern man, having an existential crisis on Love Island, and cooling mattress pads. (6,297 words)

Transcript: 6,297 words | Video: 33m16s



QNTM on knowledge that resists spreading

6th October 2021

The classical definition of a meme is a piece of information with a propensity for contagious proliferation. Thus an anti-meme is an idea that doesn't spread, whether intentionally—due to government injunction or social taboo—or unintentionally—due to complexity or unpalatability. In this Browser interview, science fiction author QNTM explores the ramifications of self-erasing knowledge

Transcript: 5,242 words | Podcast: 39m 44s


Uri Bram on massage school, importing chilli, and email coaching

1st October 2021

Uri Bram is the publisher of The Browser, and author of Thinking Statistically and The Business of Big Data. This week Uri tells Baiqu about massage school, importing Rwandan chilli, and the benefits of email coaching.

Transcript: 3,364 words | Video: 30m 23s


Slime Mold Time Mold on the obesity epidemic

29th September 2021

Historically, only 1% of people were obese regardless of diet. But obesity spiked sharply and suddenly from the 1980s, across all countries, and anorexia paradoxically increased at the same time. None of the traditional theories explain this fact pattern convincingly. Here, pseudonymous bloggers Slime Mold Time Mold speak about their alternative model: environmental contaminants (3,604 words)


Oliver Burkeman on making the most of life

22 September 2021

Oliver Burkeman, author of the new book Four Thousand Weeks, on the finitude of life. "We have a short amount of time and not much ability to control how it unfolds. We have to drop back down into reality on these matters and to withstand some of the discomfort of that in order to do some things that matter instead of pursuing this futile dream of doing everything one day, but not yet".

Transcript: 3,691 words | Video: 24m 04s


Ada Palmer on science fiction and Machiavelli's laundry

18 September 2021

Ada Palmer is a cultural historian and the author of science fiction novels, including the award-winning Terra Ignota series. This week, she talks to Baiqu about big tech’s censorship problem, the false narrative of the singular hero in history, and Machiavelli's laundry.

Transcript: 15,563 words | Video: 42m 19s


Pamela Hobart on the existential sandwich

16th September 2021

Pamela Hobart is a philosopher turned philosophical life coach, aka "the life coach for smart people," and mother of three. This week she discusses how to deal with an existential sandwich, why small innovations are valuable, and the deathbed fallacy.

Transcript: 5647 words | Video: 30m 23s


Lyz Lenz on keeping balance on the internet

15th September 2021

Caroline Crampton talks to Lyz Lenz, a journalist and author based in Iowa, about religion, marriage, keeping your balance on the internet, and more. "It's this whole idea of writing that I have about chiaroscuro, that idea of balancing in art, light and dark. You can't just be dark all the time, because nobody will want it. And you can't just be light all the time – well, you can, but that's bananas".

Transcript: 15,738 words | Podcast: 53m 29s


Steve R. Waldman on the fallacy of composition

13 September 2021

Steve Randy Waldman writes about finance, economics, and politics at interfluidity.com. He talks to Baiqu Gonkar about wading in the river of intellectual life, the dynamics of capitalism, and the evolution of the blogosphere.

Transcript: 3,523 words | Video: 24m 15s


Three Stanford professors on where Big Tech went wrong

8th September 2021

Uri Bram talks to three Stanford professors –  philosopher Rob Reich, political scientist Jeremy Weinstein and computer scientist Mehran Sahami – about their brand new book System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot, discussing sensible regulation, democratic values and the future of technology in under ten words each.

Transcript: 4,136 words | Video: 26m 39s | Podcast: 26m 34s


Spencer Greenberg on rational thinking and the scout mindset

5th September 2021

Spencer Greenberg is a mathematician and the Founder of Clearthinking.com. He unpacks what it means to be in a scout mindset, and how to apply rational thinking to Amazon purchases.

Transcript: 4,881 words | Video: 22m 49s


Applied Divinity Studies on air monitors

1st September 2021

Uri Bram talks to the pseudonymous blogger Applied Divinity Studies about tech culture writing, how to embrace variance, and why everyone should get an air monitor (7,931 words)


Sylvia Bishop on killing the parents

27th August 2021

Sylvia Bishop is a children's book writer with nine titles translated into 16 languages, part of the musical improv duo Peablossom Cabaret, and (not least) Assistant Publisher of The Browser.

Transcript: 2,830 words | Video:  17m 03s


Jordan Schneider on staging Hamilton in Beijing

20th August 2021

Jordan is a China technology analyst at The Rhodium Group, as well as the host of the ChinaTalk podcast and newsletter. Jordan shares the joy of Chinese landscape painting whilst listening to Anna Karenina, learning to dribble like Devin Booker, and staging Hamilton in Beijing.

Transcript: 3,573 words | Video: 20m 56s


Laura McInerney on education, journalism and Teacher Tapp

14th August 2021

Laura McInerney is an education journalist, app founder and former high school teacher. She was once taken to court by the UK government for asking a question. This week Laura and Baiqu discuss teaching teenagers, how the London Olympics brought people together, and tornados in Missouri.

Transcript: 6,213 words | Video: 32m 18s


Stella Zawistowski on deadlifting and crossword solving

6th August 2021

Stella is a cryptic-crossword evangelist and puzzle maker for The Browser and the New Yorker. She tells Baiqu how she comes to be "the only person in the world, man or woman, who can say both of those things: that they've solved in New York Times crossword in under five minutes, and can lift 325 pounds".

Transcript: 3,299 words | Video: 19m 2s


Ian Leslie on creating the adversary you want

1st August 2021

Ian Leslie, author of Conflicted and editor of  The Ruffian, talks to The Browser's Baiqu Gonkar about the Darwinian nature of disagreements, how to create the adversary you want, and the joy of small gadgets.

Transcript: 3,923 words | Video: 23m 16s


Dan Wang on Mozart, California and Avalon

25th July 2021

Dan Wang is a Shanghai-based writer who covers technology at Gavekal Dragonomics. He talks here to The Browser's Baiqu Gonkar about understanding Xi Jinping, the development of cities in China and America, why Cosi Fan Tutte is Mozart's best Italian opera, the joys of Yunnan cooking, and what board games reveal about human nature.

Transcript: 4,051 words | Video: 26m 15s


Soumaya Keynes on the secrets of economics

18th July 2021

Soumaya Keynes, Europe Economics Editor at The Economist, on the best way to learn economics, how to combine home treadmills with insightfully trashy TV, and the value of cheesy-sounding self-improvement habits.
Transcript: 3,442 words | Video: 23m 22s


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