The Common Sense Theory That Explains Inequality - Eric Weinstein | Joe Rogan

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Eric Weinstein

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Eric Weinstein is a mathematician, economist, and managing director at Thiel Capital. www.ericweinstein.org

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The J.Rogan experience. You brought up the issue of interests. So like the Google memo, the James DeMoor issue. Right. Which is a great example publicly. Okay, but my wife went on Dave Rubin's show. And she, you know, look, this is a woman who brought techniques of gauge field theory into economics. So she's no slouch when it comes to analytic thinking. She's a major. Gauge field theory similar to gauge symmetry? Yeah, gauge theory. Okay. Just call it gauge theory. She wasn't doing quantum theory, but she was taking, her thesis brought techniques of bundle theory like the Hopf vibration that we had and showed that economics without any alteration was a mature geometric system in a gauge theoretic idiom. So we collaborated on showing that you can't accommodate changing preferences in economics without gauge theory. So that was kind of pretty amazing. It was really great fun. Her point was I didn't enjoy the unpleasantness of focusing on these things because they were so abstract and so I wanted, you know, I was interested in people. I was interested in making sure that our models could capture human dynamics better. And you know, I was just really excited by the collaboration we were doing, which was, you know, she and I came from two different worlds and we found this bridge between them. So she went on Dave Rubin and said, look, it's not about abilities. Women are as smart as men. It's interests. We're not interested in the same things necessarily. And that should be okay. But when she said it on Dave Rubin's show, it didn't register anywhere. Then James DeMoor said it and like the world freaks out. How dare you. But that's also because he said it within the environment of Google. He just wasn't on a podcast. But if he had said that same exact thing and he was an employee of Google and he was on a podcast, even if it was a popular podcast, I don't think he would have created it. But it was also somewhat spectrum-y and it was the fact that it's Google and the fact that you can get paid for these, you know, these weird sort of spectrum-y skills, which, you know, guilty. That's what I care about. I really enjoy doing isolated things in the absence of other people that have a very technical nature to them. And you know, my experience in general is that, you know, I've had female collaborators in very technical subjects. Fewer women are interested in things that involve isolation and technical things removed from human interaction. And so that statement will undoubtedly cause a flurry of activity. And if a person says it who's not suspected of trying to keep women out of something, my point is I want a much more equal world, but I have a very different diagnosis as to why the world is as unequal as it is. And your diagnosis is that it's unequal because people have varied interests and that... But also like something as dumb as kin work. Kin work? Kin work. Women take care of sick relatives, children, and the elderly at a level that most men can't be bothered with, you know? It's just like, yeah, I don't care. So you've got all of these guys hyper focused on their career who are doing the equivalent of jumping down a flight of stairs on a skateboard. Maybe it's not healthy. And then you've got another group of people who is like saying, you know, I want to have children. I want to stay home with the kids for a couple of years because it's really important in terms of their development and bonding and all these things. And I say, absolutely. How do we create a financial product that gets you money early in your life when you need it? And then, you know, maybe you pay something out when you... Like, it's just a different diagnosis as to what the problem is. It's not all oppression. Part of it is resources and financial products. Part of it is interests. Part of it is the fields being set up in a way that is biased. I do believe in structural oppression. I just don't believe in the level of structural oppression or the remedies for structural oppression. Like if we don't... We are losing many of the best minds that are on female shoulders. We just are. I don't have a question about it in my mind. And rather than saying... What do you mean by we're losing them? Well, they exit the system. They get through the, like, let's say, BAs and STEM subjects. A lot of them enter PhD programs. Like, let me give a very simple example from the Harvard Math Department from years ago. I think Harvard had this weird thing where it would very often allow one woman in a year to the PhD program in mathematics. And that person usually felt isolated and would often kind of leave the program. And then one year, a female who was admitted deferred. So that meant that there were two women starting the next year. And they formed a support network and they both got through. And then other women came in after them. So it's like, oh, that's interesting. We just learned something, right? If you let women in in pairs, maybe they're going to do better. And then maybe three will do better or four will do better. Okay. I'm totally up for that kind of a remediation up until we can build up enough female experience so that women have role models. It's really helpful to be able to look at a senior female researcher and go to her and say, how did you do it? You got married, you had kids, you had a very successful career. How did you come back? One of the things I found... I used to be interested in this problem and I found that a lot of the women in the 1950s were very successful in STEM subjects had a lot of money or their husbands had stable jobs that allowed them to use nannies and housekeeping in order to free themselves from drudgery. Well, that was an unadvertised feature of the system because that's not available to everyone. It's a feature where financial privilege actually enabled somebody to stay in science. So the issue isn't a question of inclusion or exclusion of groups. It's a question of how are you so sure that everything is structural oppression? That's a really weird thing. And if you can launch that objection cheaply, if you can just say, I can take any group and say, why does this group have no one in a wheelchair? Now I've got to spend 30 minutes explaining that. Right. I don't want to do it. It's not a good enough objection. Like if we're going to make progress, let's actually make progress that matters rather than making ourselves feel good. Why do you think that this social justice movement has reached such hysterical levels over the last decade? Well, a couple of things. One, I think that certain positions became like the failing business of traditional media meant that you couldn't actually employ people at the same level that you could employ them before. So a lot of people who didn't have huge opportunity costs entered journalism. What does that mean about huge opportunity costs? Let's imagine, for example, that you're very ideological and somebody offers you a $50,000 a year job, which allows you to be ideological, or you could take $150,000 a year job and ideology isn't a large part of the offer. Only the ideological people are going to give up $100,000 a year for the privilege of activism. So in part, when you have a failing business model, you start select, as a system of selective pressures, it's going to start selecting for very different people. So that's one of the things that's going on is that you have very economically frustrated people because the silent generation started a problem. The baby boomers amplified the hell out of it. Gen X is still waiting to take its place in society and the millennials just don't even see a path through standard careers. Nobody's putting a glass of scotch in their hand and a cigar in their mouth and saying, come with me, kid, let me show you how it's done.