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Ep. 167 Gad Saad on Mind Viruses, and the Evolutionary Explanation for SJWs

Gad Saad is Professor of Marketing and holds the Concordia University Research Chair in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and Darwinian Consumption. He talks with Bob about his new book, The Parasitic Mind, and its relationship to the culture wars.

Mentioned in the Episode and Other Links of Interest:

The audio production for this episode was provided by Podsworth Media.

About the author, Robert

Christian and economist, Research Assistant Professor with the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech, Senior Fellow with the Mises Institute, and co-host with Tom Woods of the podcast "Contra Krugman."

4 Comments

  1. Not bob on 12/06/2020 at 1:42 AM

    Great episode! Ordering his book.

  2. Marko on 12/06/2020 at 10:11 AM

    Dear Bob,

    Your podcast, your content. And Gad Saad is definitively an interesting guest. But, I never stopped asking myself how come you never mentioned in any of your podcasts the fact Stefan Molyneux was de-platformed from practically every popular platform. If I had a podcast, I would at least mention that, but I would also invite him, at least once to help him somehow. You are the Austrian economist, so you know that the libertarian audience is not a finite cake, so if one podcaster disappears, it does not create more listeners to the others necessarily. Therefore, I must conclude that you may not appreciate Stefan any more for some other reason. If so, what that reason would be?

    If the problem is not that, I may think of our nature. The socialist are so dominant, not only because they are selling their story so easily (who does not want free stuff for nothing) but also because collectivists are naturally inclined to group. OK, we are wolves, and they are rabbits, but even wolves gather together during strong winters. We are in the middle of a very strong winter.

    Stefan is not perfect, one can object him several things, but behaving like nothing happened to him, come on. Ignoring him is worse than killing him. He invited hundreds and hundreds of people on his podcast, you included, more than once. Of the people I follow, only Peter Schiff and Vox Day said good things (or anything) about Stefan after the grave events.

    If we do not stand for our fellow combatants, we are all going to be exterminated soon. First morally, then physically. Sometimes, I wonder if all this libertarianism is not a lost cause, because we lack the combat skills. Reading Rothbard and discussing it is just a bare beginning. Standing for each other, looking for each other’s back, fighting together, … Without that, we are all just a small fish living in isolated buckets, easy prey for the statists.

  3. Tel on 12/09/2020 at 9:53 PM

    There’s a lot in this one, but to start with the concept of “rationality” … I find it shocking every time I hear economists confidently explain that they have a definition for rationality. To start with, there’s only one example that we have available … which is humans … therefore at best from an empirical standpoint we would need to define rationality as what it is that humans do, making it ludicrous to then go and claim that humans are not rational. No one has ever built a rational machine, therefore no one can claim to know the design of such a machine. Various special case machines have been built to operate in narrow abstract domains (e.g. chess computers) but I doubt anyone would consider such engines to be rational beings.

    You could perhaps say some humans are more rational than others, so pick the best and define the standard by these people … and then you need a criteria to select “best humans” such as what? Wealth? Power? Fame? Good deeds? Good looks? Health? Lifespan? Number of children? Number of grandchildren? There does not appear to be any reliable selection criteria, and to the best of my knowledge no economist has proposed such a thing. There have been philosophers who have come up with idealized attributes that they decided humans should strive for, but what special authority do philosophers have?

    You can mathematically define an optimization problem such that some variable needs to be maximized and claim that solving this optimization problem is regarded as “economically rational” … with the proviso that under no real circumstances are you able to measure the variable being optimized. It’s no longer empirical, we are now in the realm of pure theory. Perhaps interesting theory … but if Gaad Sad does decide he likes the Scientific Method, then he must always be dragged back to empiricism and real world measurement. Mathematics is a nice toolbox and sometimes a source of amusement, but there is no science without measurement.

    Then you run into the difficulty that you don’t have a clear answer, “What is the purpose of humans anyway?” From an evolutionary standpoint, the purpose of humans is to produce more humans, therefore “rational” humans are only defined by their ability to reproduce. Every person currently alive must be the product of rational decisions made in the past, and overall we must be very rational because every year there are more humans out there. Annoyingly, the same argument applies equally well to asparagus, or mushrooms … they too have proven successful at producing more asparagus and more mushrooms.

    If you allow each individual human to define his or her own purpose, then you are back at the tautology that everything we do must be rational … because each human does what they wanted to do under the circumstances. This applies to all the major religions, in as much as if one human made the choice to be Christian, this human has chosen the purpose of doing the things Christians do … so on for every different religion. Therefore every religion is rational in the same manner, even when those religions contradict one another.

    By the way, there’s a book “Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain”, describing what happens to people with the rare but fascinating type of brain damage that disables some aspects of emotional response. It turns out to be a severe disability, much worse than you might at first glance imagine. Far from becoming more “rational” these people become mentally disabled, but astoundingly, not cognitively disabled. People damaged in this way tend to fail at many aspects of life which would be widely regarded as essential (employment, marriage, money management, etc). Every economist should first study this before any discussion on rationality … it’s an empirical book, detailing real cases. The author Antonio Damasio is still alive although it might be difficult to get an interview out of him. Not saying I agree with all his theories, but the failure of economists to even give him recognition, let alone try to grapple with these concepts is disappointing.

  4. Wilt Alston on 12/18/2020 at 6:08 PM

    Awesome, Bob! I have heard Gad speak on other podcasts. I have his book, and have read it. (Enjoyed it immensely.) Hell, I follow him on Twitter, with glee, given his on-line persona and gift for sarcasm. All that said, this interview still offered new, different, substantial, insight. Good stuff!

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