YANSS Podcast 020 – James Burke and Matt Novak ponder the future and why we are terrible at predicting it

The Topic: The Future

The Guests: James Burke and Matt Novak

The Episode: Download iTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud – Transcript

If you love educational entertainment – programs about science, nature, history, technology and everything in between – it is a safe bet that the creators of those shows were heavily influenced by the founding fathers of science communication: Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, and James Burke.

In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast we sit down with James Burke and discuss the past, the present, and where he sees us heading in the future. Burke says we must soon learn how to deal with a world in which scarcity is scarce, abundance is abundant, and home manufacturing can produce just about anything you desire.

JamesBurkeSmallJames Burke is a legendary science historian who created the landmark BBC series Connections (book) which provided an alternative view of history and change by replacing the traditional “Great Man” timeline with an interconnected web in which all people influence one another to blindly direct the flow of progress. Burke is currently writing a new book about the coming age of abundance, and he continues to work on his Knowledge Web project.

mattnovakWe also sit down with Matt Novak, creator and curator of Paleofuture, a blog that explores retro futurism, sifting through the many ways people in the past predicted how the future would turn out, sometimes correctly, mostly not.
Together, Burke and Novak help us understand why we are to terrible at predicting the future and what we can learn about how history truly unfolds so we can better imagine who we will be in the decades to come.

After the interview, I discuss a news story about how cigarettes affect the way your brain interprets cigarette advertising.

In every episode, before I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, “You Are Now Less Dumb,” and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode’s winner is Patrick Regan who submitted a recipe for orange slice cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

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Links and Sources:

The Episode: Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Transcript of interview with James Burke

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

Connections DVD

Connections Book

James Burke’s Knowledge Web

Paleofuture at Gizmodo

Paleofuture Original Site

PBS Frontline: Generation Like

Movie: Just Imagine

What is Internet Anyway?

Smokers’ brains biased against negative images of smoking

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