#2102 - Will Storr

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Will Storr

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Will Storr is a writer, journalist, and photographer. He is the author of several books, the most recent of which is "The Status Game: On Human Life and How to Play It." www.thescienceofstorytelling.com

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One point in time when Bourdain had a show on, they were doing some very interesting things. They were trying to do shows, not just the news, right? So there had no reservations was the best one of them. Where they had, you know, they just told Anthony Bourdain, just be you and just do your best version of your show. And they really just got out of the way. And it was fucking amazing. Yeah. Yeah, so they got out of his way and they let him be best of himself. They figured out how to do that. You know, Kamal Bell had a really good show too. Is that show still on? I don't think so. What was that show called? I'm sorry, I forget the name of these shows. But W Kamal Bell was really good at being calm. He's a... Shades of America. Shades of America. Really good at being calm, like talking like KKK people. And he's black. And he's a comic. But he's just a very nice guy. He's a very nice guy, like genuinely a nice guy in real life. And so when he's doing a show, even when he's confronted by the most ignorant racists, he can have conversations with them and then you know they're like well you're not like the others. Well that's the best kind of journalism you know you can properly immerse yourself in those worlds. Yeah and CNN did that for a while you know they had that other show was it radical with that one gentleman who ran his ass long? Is that his name? That was another good show. They did some interesting stuff. They did like quite a few interesting shows Where they were just shows it wasn't what it is now Which is this like bizarre Version of news tick-tock Just grabbing you with everything's gonna terrify you every day. There's so much to terrify you about today. You know? Yeah, yeah, yeah. They seem to have lost the art of stories heading. Yeah, it's very unfortunate. So ladies and gentlemen, we started this podcast [2:02] after a long conversation about Anthony Bourdain, but it felt like we were already rolling, so let's just roll into it. I really enjoyed your trigonometry, and that's why I wanted to talk to you here, because it's just, I think your book is the status game? That's right. And I think what's really interesting about what you're talking about mechanisms that make people understand like behavior patterns. And instead of just accepting them, because I think a lot of people fall into accepting behavior patterns, but what you're showing is these status games that human beings play. They sort of wired into our being. And we don't recognize them. They can get hijacked by far right movements or far left movements or a lot of different things can happen that can really screw your life up if you get hijacked by these just normal mechanisms of human thinking. [3:01] That's right. So I think the general thesis is that the humans want two things. They want connection into groups and then once they're in the group, they want status. So it's not enough to feel like we're a Christian. We have to be a good Christian and that means following certain rules. And that's what brains just want to do. That brains don't really care about what's true. Brains are always asking this question, who do I have to be and what do I have to believe in order to earn connection and status? We're all vulnerable to this stuff. And that's how people end up believing, fucking crazy things, because the brains just believing it has to believe. I've seen it with people that get what you call audience capture. Yeah, absolutely. They're audience, they find, they get some love. If you're doing it politically, you only do it once. It's a dangerous move. It's like changing genders. Like you can't go male to female. The back's male again, it's too complicated. It's a bunch of people. Right? You have one shot. If you start out of liberal, you're a lifelong liberal and that 36 all of a sudden you become like the most hardcore right-wing [4:06] Republican like that seems like I well what did you believe before and what happened did you take mushrooms did you fall in your head something happened yeah will you just radically change your ideology or did you get captured by the idea being accepted with much more vigor by the other side? Like that's one thing that they really do enjoy when someone bails on the other side. And then again, you can only do it once, but you get like really embraced. That's right. And the more you're embraced, the more you believe. And yes, I mean, there's this concept that I write about that I call it active belief like there are loads of beliefs that we have like How long is the Mississippi River? You know what how do you what is coffee like we don't argue about these beliefs But there are certain categories of belief that that possess us and these are the beliefs that that we form our identity around and there's beliefs that we [5:01] Plug our status into so you know like if you're a Christian.'s like, I believe Jesus died and in the three days later got up. And, and as I said, you know, like these beliefs are kind of dangerous because they take us over. It's not enough just to believe them, passively. You have to act them out with your life. And so that these are the beliefs that drive things like the satanic panic, cult movements, communism, Nazism, these are beliefs that sort of possess people and take them over. It's like a parasite. They're kind of scary things. But as I said, we're all vulnerable to these kind of active beliefs. I am fascinated by cult documentaries. And I was talking to my friend Todd, we were talking about wild, wild country. We both said the same thing. God, in the beginning, it looked awesome. In the beginning, it looked there. They were having so much fun. And I think of myself at 21. And I had no real confidence in my view of the world. [6:04] I had no, I was 21. I was a young dummy Yeah, I did not know you know what was correct and what was incorrect I had a general sense my family was very left-wing We grew up my parents were hippies and San Francisco So I had sort of an ideology attached to that But I had no idea how anything in the world works. And if I ran into the wrong yoga teacher, but that's how humans work with this tribal animal and nobody has any idea how the world works until they plug into a group. And the group has its stories that it tells about how the world works, every group has its model of what a hero is, and this set of beliefs a hero has. And once we've plugged into that group, we, you know, we, Ori and Tassel's tour was becoming that person. And, you know, cults are interesting because cults are like, all human groups are kind of cults, but loser. So every human group is a status game in the sense that it's a group of people [7:06] who believe the same things and there's sort of rules for being part of that group. And the better you become at following those rules and becoming its ideal of self, the higher you rise up that status game, the only thing is we didn't cult and a religion and a business and a political group is just so it's much tighter. So the rules are much stricter. Like there's a zillion rules, like, you know, I've written before about what they call, they, they, they, they, they, they, there was the, what was the cult that they cut? They, they castrated themselves. Yeah. Heaven's Gate. That's right. Yeah And they had rules even about how much toothpaste you were going to put on your toothbrush. They had a rule about exactly how scrambled eggs were to be cooked and the rule was dry but not burned. So there was a rule about how much water you put in your bathtub. Was the leader, was he castrated as well? No, he wasn't surprisingly enough. [8:02] Mealin? Yeah, they were called tea and dough and... That guy was... He was tea. Yeah. no he wasn't surprisingly enough yet the court t and though and that he just just imagine you are so low in your life that you think that the guy that has all the answers uh... is that a tribal thing this is what i've always assumed that that's just some holdover from when we were a part of groups of a hundred fifty people that needed a leader and generally that leader would be some old warlord. It's probably like 35, like, you know, back then. But it had gone through a lot and was a strong leader. Was someone that you admired as a leader. And maybe in these tribal times, that's baked into our DNA. And when someone comes along and speaks confidently, yeah, I am never confident. I'm never confident about, if you're so confident about all these thoughts and about what life is about and where we're going and what awaits us. And if you follow these rules, God, that's so confident. I'm not that confident. So I could get sucked in. [9:01] Yeah. Any human could get sucked in, but is that what it's from? Is it from tribal time? Yes, and no. So one of the really surprising things about tribes, the tribe is in which we have evolved, is that the idea of the big man is a bit of a myth. So they were kind of leaderless. Leaders would bubble up by consensus when say we wanted to solve a particular problem to do with hunting, then the best hunters would be deferred to. And what do you think? So at some point in time they became leaders. I mean, even leaders for so long. When we settled down. When was that like agriculture? Yeah, it was about 11,000 years ago. But does it only think that's enough to bake it into our DNA? I don't know. I think what is in our DNA is that idea of A, stories. So, you know, we're storytelling animals, we think in stories. Every tribe has its particular story about the world. And so we're very good at channeling those stories. And as I said, every story has its design of what is a hero, and we try and become that kind of hero. So that's that holder from the tribal day. But more fundamentally, again, it's that brain question [10:02] of who do I have to be? What do I have to do? Tell me what I have to do in order to achieve connection and status. And that's what a carismatic leader does. It tells you this is what you've got to do. These are the rules. This is who you have to become. And that's really seductive to us subconsciously because those two things of connection and status are so incredibly important to us. Yeah. It's... Is it something you think should be taught like very early on? It seems like this is information we should get to kids as young as we can so they can recognize these patterns that people fall into. Absolutely. I've always thought that there should be a lesson in school about what is a human, what is the basic brain system manual for a human, and these are the mistakes that humans make. Because as I said, one of the sort of big ideas is that we're not particularly interested in the truth. The truth is, it doesn't matter to human brains. What matters is, what do I have to believe in order to, for people to like me and respect [11:05] me? Well, that's why religions, like even radical religions, are so intoxicating. Like, you have to be all in. You're part of a very special group, and you're all love each other like brothers and sisters, because you're part of this group. Yeah. And you can come up with some radical ideas and get people to subscribe to that. Especially if you attach things like death where people who leave, you know. Yeah, that's right. That's right. You're operating in some red line territory. Like that's a wild group. And the religions and the cults always do that thing of offering amazing rewards. Of course, getting that point in the future. Bro, heaven. It's the best spot ever. And the diversion of heaven differs between how bad the place where you live sucks. Yeah. And it's like, I think there's like, there's like eight and a half billion people in the world. And I think it's like 500 million atheists. [12:02] So that just shows you how many, just how wide we are to believe Basically any old shit we're told to believe as long as it we feel like it's gonna get a status and secure connection into a supportive group We were I remember during this suicide bomber days when that was something that was in the news all the time They talked about 72 virgins and that these gentlemen thought that they were gonna get 72 virgins in heaven. Like that is so cultural. Yeah. Like if you offered 72 virgins to a Christian, they'd be like, what the fuck are you talking about? I'm not fucking the virgins. You crazy psycho. How old are they? What are you saying? I'm not a pedophile, dude. I just like women. Yeah. The fuck you know what I'm saying? It's like, yeah, I'm not sure how, I mean, I don't know if that's 72 versions, it is true. I think it could be like 21 year old versions that have been saved for this moment by the great one. But I think that term is not real. I think the term 72 versions is like saying, how many times have you lost your phone, a fucking million? It's like that kind of, it's an exaggeration. But I think the real promise there though, [13:06] I mean the 72 versions is here, but I think the real promise for suicide bombers is again, it's status, it's like, if you sacrifice your life on behalf of the group's mission, you're a hero, you're like a god. Yeah. So that's the promise. And again, I think it's a really good example of how human beings value status over their lives. I mean, that's how much we value status. We're the only animal that kills ourselves, which is just a weird thing in itself, an animal would voluntarily end its own life. And very often, the reason that people will kill themselves is because it's a sudden drop in status or they feel completely isolated and alone. So they're lacking in those essential kind of psychological resources to such an extent that they, you know, in their own lives. And that's how much we value these things. And suicide bombers are another manifestation of that. Like, if you're gonna consider me a hero, and if Muhammad is gonna consider me a hero, strap me out, brother, you know? That's how much, that's how crazy we become [14:02] about these social rewards. God, that is such an insane belief. It's so insane and when the most evil thing is when you hear about them talking kids into doing it. Yeah You know a young child, you know, you're getting it. I mean, what is the youngest suicide bomber they've ever used? I don't know. Just the idea that you can buy into it so much that you're willing to let your children go do that. Yeah, but it's wild. It's, it's evil if you think it's this kind of calculating kind of mathematical algorithm of advantage, but they sincerely believe it. They really believe it's true. I mean, when a pro is an author, there was a journalist, I've been meeting kind of crazy people, including Nazis as part of my journalistic career. That's one of the things that always strikes me is that [15:00] they really believe it. This crazy stuff. So it's not even in the sense that they're doing anything calculating my talking to children to being suicide bombers. They think they're doing something heroic. They think they're doing something amazing. As did the Nazis. As did the communists. As did the KKK. People can fall into belief structures and they don't necessarily have to make sense. But if they find enough supportive people around them that also believe that, then it becomes part of their tribe identity. And it can be really stupid. It can be really stupid. We're fucking way more vulnerable than we would like to believe. That's one of the things that I was saying, like when I watched those cult documentaries, part of me is like, thank God, I didn't run into those people. Thank God. They would have got me. And when they look at the psychology of people that are vulnerable to falling into cults, it's very often people that have struggled to fit into the status games of ordinary life. So they've got, the family hasn't worked, the job hasn't worked. Exactly. So they've got no identity, they've got no tribe. So they're really vulnerable to these cults, which, because what cults offer is absolute certainty. [16:06] If you cook your scrambled eggs this way, if you only put two inches of water in your bath, you're gonna, you know, the UFOs will come down and they're gonna take you to the level above. That's what they were offering to you, though. The level above humor. We're the Nike's, remember you have to wear the purple Nike's? But that's right. There's this crazy memoir of one of the guys who was in this group. He didn't cut his own balls off. He left before the ball cutting. But he was jealous. He wanted to have his balls cut. There was only one person that could have it done at the beginning. And they flipped a coin. And he was really annoyed that he lost the coin flip. Oh my god. But what was interesting about his memoir was he said that people talk about brainwashing in cults and people talk about how we were forced to follow these rules. But we wanted to follow the rules, like not following the rules would be like being a NASA astronaut and just not caring about how the space shall work. But you know, so they're not [17:08] they don't consider themselves brainwashed. They consider themselves whether just in a status game, like any other status game, it's just a very, very strict one. Right. Well, that's why one of the fascinating things about some cult is they do use very bizarre language and that they all agree to it. They're like specific terms that they say. Like, doesn't Scientologist, they'll call people, they have like an abbreviation for someone who's like a hostile person. What is it that they do? Because I remember someone was, someone was explaining to be someone who left, the church was explaining to me how like if someone would be hostile, you have like a very specific way you describe them and that they'll all do it in the group. And it's like, It's like, That's a press of person. Yeah, so you're a press of person. Well, potential trouble sources. Dude, I ordered Dianetics in like 1994. I had just moved to LA and I thought it was a self-help book. I was like, all right, yeah, fucking, look at your brains [18:01] gonna explode. You gotta get your shit together, look at all these people that are succeeding on dionetics, you know, 26 or whatever it was. So I ordered this book and they've never stopped sending me things. I mean, they fucking never stopped sending me things. With the ever-appointment, you thought, hang on a minute, this is quite interesting. No, no, no, once I've realized it was Scientology, it was like, oh, dionetics is Scientology. I was like, okay, but then part of me was like, damn, a lot of these Scientologists are doing really well in Hollywood. Maybe that's a good cult to join. Maybe if they just let me be me, because it seems like that was part of it. There was a big allure where how many successful people were following that religion. I mean, some of the most successful actors, Tom Cruise is one of the most successful actors, Tom Cruise is one of the most successful actors of all time and he's literally the poster boy for that. Yeah, that's right. It's, some of you are saying to me that the day that they thought that actors were particularly susceptible to scienceology because they've got this weird, they don't really have an identity [19:00] actors, they were always sort of slipping into everybody at different people. Right. I thought that was all interesting. Especially if you're really good. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're probably lose who the fuck you are. Oh, am I, am I rocky? Am I the mission impossible guy? Yeah. Well, then when they're walking around, everybody treats them that way. I'm sure they treat Stallone like he's rocky and you gotta give respect to Tom Cruise though because Tom Cruise is like 60 years old and he still does his own stunts, including jumping on motorcycle off a cliff. That's how much he believes in this stuff. That's why these goobs are kind of functional as well. I kind of have a week on a sympathy. I grew up in a very strict Catholic household with very strict Catholic parents and I was very, I hated it. I was very rebellious as a teenager. And I guess in my 20s and 30s, I was very, very atheist and hated religion. But then I kind of did a lot of this research. And when you're once you accept that what humans need to be healthy, psychologically, and physically is connection and status, [20:00] you see that that's actually what religion provides people. That's what religion provides my parents, is that they're connected into community and they feel important, they feel their good Catholics because my dad conducts the choir and you know this and the other and so that's invaluable, that's what humans need to survive and in our you know in the in the current world in the huge populations in which we live it's very hard to feel securely connected. I mean, you said it, remember we got the tribes in which we evolved were very small, like 30 to 50 people. So it was quite easy to feel securely connected. It was quite easy in that environment to feel important, like valued by other people. I mean, probably, it was not rare in the tribe to feel invaluable, like you're needed, because everybody was needed, there wasn't many people around to find the tubers and catch the rabbits or whatever. But in this day and age and these huge groups in which we belong to, it's much harder to feel relative status because you're competing with millions of people, especially online. [21:02] And I think that's a source of a huge amount of sort of misery in the modern world, of stress, sort of, and identity anxiety, identity stress. We feel really unsatisfied with the amount of connection and status that we have, because we exited these fucking massive international tribes now. I think there's another factor. And the other factor is I think because of the nature of commuting and public transportation and of going to work all day and then being under someone else's control most of the day and then commuting home, I think we're conversation starved. Yeah. I think the way human beings figure out what's the best way to behave and what's the nicest way that we can all get along, what makes the most sense is when we talk the most. And most of the day, you can't really talk. Most of the day, you can't sit down for a couple hours like this and just say, why do we [22:02] behave this way? Why is there this weird pattern that is so strong? It's such a tightly cut groove that cutting your balls off and wearing purple sneakers becomes a feeling. Like it could fit right in there. It seems to be there's like a pathway for this. Yeah, and that's how he communicates. We sit down and we tell stories to each other. And if we don't get to talk, yeah, absolutely. We're very lucky. We get to talk. But most people don't get to talk like this. Yeah, they love the talk. Absolutely. Yeah. And that's to our huge cost. Yeah. Like, because where do we get the stories from? We get them from social media. We get them from the news, which is increasingly politicized and hysterical. Yeah. And so the outrage goes out. Like if you're a used car salesman and you talk to people, you bullshit and people all do long. When do you ever turn the bullshit off? Do you know how to do anymore? You probably become a used car salesman forever. Yeah. Well, that's what we do. That's a perfect example of how the status game is work. It's the used car salesman is a status game and has its particular model of self, [23:07] which we kind of, the brain identifies and turns us into. By the way, I should just say there's a lot of very cool used car sales. I don't want to pitch it. It's just a joke. It's like, it's a term. But you do know, there's a difference between salespeople that are just real friendly folks, and then super salient guys. And those super salient guys were like, how does that guy turn that off? Like that's such a bullshit way to talk. Yeah, John Paul Sartre wrote about this. He called it bad faith. And he was sitting in a cafe in Paris at one time. And he was watching the waiter. And he realized that the waiter was just behaving like a waiter, like a classic prison waiter is going, look at his movements and he's just really annoying. Yeah. It's on for surgery. He's acting in bad faith, he's doing the dance of the waiter. That's not really who he is. Right. He's just being the waiter. And he said, there's the dance of the auctioneer, there's the dance of the used car salesman. Yeah. And that's kind of what we do. And I think once of this trip club DJ the answer the number of the cults, you know, like, like, the answer the lead singer of a rock and roll band. [24:05] Yeah, yeah. And that's what the brain does though. It identifies, okay, what group am I in? Yeah. What does a hero look like? Right. I've got to turn myself into this person. Yeah, that was a giant thing and stand up to the point where the punchline in Atlanta, Georgia had a back green room and people would write on the walls Yeah, and someone wrote in big letters quit trying to be Hicks When Jamie toward the place down he's not this Jamie Jamie that owns the club toward the place down He's poor he saved that for me. I want that little piece of memorabilia Yeah, because it was it was just so there were so many people that saw Hicks and were like, God, he's so profound. I want to be profound. But you know, I'm shit to say. Don't even read. I know. I know. Do we talk about Dennis Liri and this? There's no need to. Okay. Yeah. There's no need to. Okay. Okay. I just a lot of that. There's a lot of posturing. [25:06] It's not really how you feel, but you see how this is appealing, and you see that there's a pattern that seems to be successful, and then you just mimic that pattern, mock that pattern. Yeah. And that's why it's so incredible when someone comes along and does something in that space that's new, that still works. That's like for for me the definition of a genius, that anybody can experiment. The most experiments go wrong, but if you experiment with the form of standard, whatever, if everyone's doing Hicks and you come up with something new and it works, that's incredible. It's just people are so easily influenced when someone is really stunningly good. Like there's a David Tal problem. Okay, the David Tal problem is, David Telle's so good that when you work with him all the time, you start delivering your punchlines like him. But they're not as good as his punchlines. And you fucking sound like David Telle. But it's not even, they're not like plagiarists. They're just easily influenced people that are starting, they're not good yet. [26:02] You know what I mean? I don't get susceptible to patterns. Yeah, I don't even know if I would say that it was easy. In fact, I think it's just normal. That's how brains were. Yeah. You know, they mimic that they copy and when guys work together all the time, I see they start making the same sort of similar hand movements on stage. They start doing the same kind of things. What is the same writing? If you read a book that you really love the next day you'll turn your computer on and you'll be writing in that like a bit in a shit version of that style. Well that's what I was really annoyed at. I was really annoyed at it. I was really annoyed at it. I was really annoyed at it. I was really annoyed at it. I was really annoyed at it. I was really annoyed at it. I was really annoyed at it. I was really annoyed at it. I was really annoyed at it. He's really sensitive is writing this kind of a pock elliptic madness. I'm sure of it that a similar thing about, I don't know if he rewrote the revelations or whether he needs to read it over and over again, but I'm sure I remember reading that about Hunter Thompson. I believe that for sure. Tiped out the great chaspian farewell to Ones. Word for word. A method for learning how to write like the masters. Wow, that's that's how indebted commitment. Yeah, that's dedicated to it. [27:06] He's another guy. It's like, man, if you just like drank half as much, you'd probably still be around. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I would have loved to have met him. You know, he's just at the end though, man, fuck. I remember he did an episode of Conan O'Brien and you couldn't understand a word he was saying. And it was so, it's so sad. It's like when you watch an old boxer and they can't talk anymore. It's kind of a similar feeling because like in the early days, like when he was running for sheriff, picking county in Colorado and Aspen. I mean, he was on fire. He was amazing. He was like at the height of his verbal skill. He was young and vibrant, and then to see him at the end where he could barely, you couldn't understand what he was saying. He was like, everything was a slur. It was all this weird, like he had a bunch of health problems, hip replacements, you know, it was before he killed himself, [28:01] but not much before. Yeah, and the suicide tragically almost becomes predictable in a way, because again, it's that he had this status, he was this incredible brain, and he knows that he's down here now, and that's intolerable for somebody to live with, that's the tragedy of that. Yes, you gotta manage the biology kids. Yeah, you gotta manage your biology. Yeah, and you've gotta manage the decline, I mean, I think when you've got as high as, you know, status-wise as he has, it's that level of genius and then you fit that decline. It's a dangerous place to be. It's also, it has to be just tied to the alcohol because the mind is still the same mind, like when 9-11 happened, he still wrote a brilliant piece about 9-11. Did you ever see that? It was still the same mind, like when 9-11 happened, he still wrote a brilliant piece about 9-11. Did you ever see that? Johnny Depp narrated it in the movie, and it was fucking great. He narrated a couple of these hundred pieces in the movie. And one of them was like, how the 60s, see if you can find that, Jamie. [29:00] When Johnny Depp does this, Hunter S. Thompson, When Johnny Depp does this, Hunter S. Thompson, he narrates this story about the wave pulling back. It's the wave of culture. And it's so eloquently brilliantly written. It's about the hope that he had in the 1960s and how the 1970s came and it all pulled back. It's brilliant, it's brilliant. And it's just, this is a strange memories on this. Not beautiful. And so accurate. And when we think about the way our world changed four years ago. I mean, it's kind of similar in a way like the like what the fuck happened four years later you're like what the fuck happened yeah yeah and I think with us though there's hope that we'll eventually get to someplace of normalcy and and and and some semblance of peace but what what [30:04] happened in the 1960s is fucking bananas. I mean, they basically turned this counterculture, hippie love movement into Charles Manson, and the Manson family, and the fucking CIA was dosing people with LSD, and they were doing anything they can to stop the anti-war movement. Anything they can to stop these hippies and made everything illegal. They made marijuana, well marijuana is already illegal, but all the scheduled one substances. It's all the sweeping part of the 1970s psychedelic act that was all about the civil rights movement. It was all about just arresting people for any kind of protests, any anti-government, anti-war. Let's find these hippies. Everything's illegal fuck you go to jail and they put water on it they just put the fire out I didn't know that they pulled the foot the fire out on this psychedelic counterculture that was the 1960s and we paid for it artistically if you look at the 1980s as a fucking disaster what happened [31:02] in the 1980s it's like people, all they have was cocaine. They're just doing cocaine and alcohol and the movies are out of control. Yeah, I mean, the 1980s, the other thing that changed was of course was the economy in the 1980s. And that was, for me, that's the big thing that, that changed, like the economies of the West felt a bit in the 1970s, like before the 1970s. The gas crisis. Yeah. I think we forget about that. They're ruined American automobiles. Yeah, and then so thatcher and Reagan came up with this neoliberalism idea of increasing competition everywhere, getting rid of the big state, selling off and privatising all the national industries, going to war with the unions. When I was doing my research from myself here, I was interested to know if you changed the rules of the status game, do we change as a culture, as a bunch of people? It really [32:02] does seem like that. If you think about who were in the 1960s versus who were in the 1980s, you go from fuck the man to greed is good. You know? You know, we've become, you know, we've, you know, we've, like, and I found this really quite sinister interview from 1981 with Margaret Thachar, where they're interviewing her about, you know, what are your big plans? And she said, she was going on about, you know, in the last 30 years, everything had been about the collectivism and getting together. And now that we're going to get rid of all that, an increased competition. And she said, the thing, she said, the method is economic, but the object is to change the soul. Which is a really like megalomaniac, change bond villain thing to say. But she did do that. They did do that, like, changes us. Yeah, like so, but by changing the rules of who we have to be in order to achieve success, they changed who we were. Like, we became, you know, as a people, Gordon Gecko, material girl, Madonna. Whitney Houston, the greatest love of all is loving yourself. [33:02] Like, we became, you know, this big, as you say, we went from pot to cocaine. It was, there was a really interesting study that founded in 1983. They were looking at changes in birth names. And for generations and generations, babies had been called things like, you know, Alfred and John and Barbara, like all the traditional names. But in 1983 suddenly we started naming our kids weird names because we wanted to, I guess, to stand out and be a star. And when you look at the changes in values between like the 60s and the 80s and 90s, suddenly money becomes a dominant value, celebrity becomes a dominant value, being good looking becomes a much more dominant value. But there was a study about 20 years ago, they asked 2,500 British under tens, what is the best thing in the world? And these under tens, number one was being a celebrity, number two was being good looking, number three was being rich. Like that's who we've become. [34:03] And the big change is the economy, like we've become these kind of neoliberal profit obsessed celebrity obsessed what's number four? I don't know what number four. I want to know why. Yeah. I think because they're young though right? When you're young that's what seems like everybody wants. But not in the 60s and 70s like when when they did a similar study in the 60s, I think it was 1965, it was less than half of people thought being rich was an important thing in your life. And now it's way over 75%. That's interesting. I wonder how many of those people wanted to be famous before the invention of social media and reality shows? Well, I think, you know, I wonder if there was less of an aspiration. There was. Yeah so all that celebrity stuff comes out of the 80s and the 80s what defines the 80s is these big economic changes. Yeah. You know like in order to survive in the 80s you had to be like a radical individualist you had to be a get up and go profit motive self-sustaining individualist, [35:05] like a competitive individual. Because before that, we had the big state, we had big social security cushions, we had public housing, and they got rid of all of that. I feel like there's a comfortable medium in there. Yeah, we're missing out on, don't be competitive to the point where you're a fucking psychopath. You're saying breed is good. Don't be that guy. But also don't be competitive to the point where you're a fucking psychopath. You're saying breed is good. Don't be that guy. But also don't be lazy in relying on the state to take care of you either. Well, yeah, I think I'm not sure if it was Tony Blair, but certainly I think it was Tony Blair that talked about the idea of neoliberalism with cushions, which I love that idea. Where because it's true that it kind of worked. It was brutal in the 80s, but most of us are much wealthier now than we were in the 80s. Like it's kind of worked. But it's also creative much more separation between the top and the bottom of the much more inequality. So the rich are much richer now and the poor are much poorer than they were in the middle of the 20th century. So it's created a lot more unfairness as well. So you do need those cushions, I think. Well, it also becomes an insurmountable position too. [36:07] Like when we say the rich get richer, the poor aren't getting any richer. So there's that's part of the problem. It's like there's no escape from like severe poverty. No. Very few people escape. And when you're in severe poverty, especially if you're in another country, like when people look at this caravan of people coming in through South America, through Mexico, I would do it too. 100%, 100%. I'm not a terrorist. I would hope that it wouldn't be a terrorist in a different life. But 100%, if I was living in a place that sucked with dirt floors, and I found I could walk to America. I can get a job there. Let's go. You would do it 100%. It's natural. Seems like a normal thing that people want to have a better life. I think that we've just got to figure out why we have these parts of the world, why we [37:03] have these communities that are just never getting better and help them. It just seems super simple. You want the world to be a safer place. Take all these places and suck and give them economic security, give them education and healthcare. Set up school systems that are really good. You're going to change the whole atmosphere. You're going to change everything. Provide job opportunities. Set up places where we should make, how about here's a law. Here's a law that should make. You can't sell anything made by people who make less than would be legal here. Wouldn't that be an amazing law if we passed that? If we just said, listen, we all know this is bullshit. Okay, we all know that if you we just said listen, we all know this is bullshit. Okay, we all know that if you're buying an iPhone, there's a lot going on that you wouldn't like to see. Yeah. There's a lot going on from the mining of the cobalt to the people in the factories. I don't want to see that. I want the shiny titanium thing. It's so pretty. Yeah. You know, you move it around your hand like, wow, that's amazing. That's what you want. [38:05] You don't wanna know how the sausage is made. But if you really wanna, I mean if you really wanna try to fix everything everywhere, say I'm not buying anything from anybody who doesn't get paid, where you're supposed to get paid here. Yeah, but you go to a account for the economy is a different, and if it pops to the bottom. So when it's founded, after the economy is those places. Yeah, yeah, I think that's a good rule. Do they do that though? They might actually be, I mean, what is the economy? In, if you're in Mexico, what, what are you allowed to pay people in Mexico? And how much does it go? Like let's say, let's pick a place. Juarez. That's kind of a border town to cycle. If you have a own a factory in Warras, how much do you have to pay those people? What is that? Don't economists have that Big Mac test where they look at how much of Big Mac costs in each territory and from that they can work out the relative strength of each economy? [39:00] It's like, so the test would be you'd have to be able to buy X amount of Big Macs per day with your daily wage. You know, we just have this real, real weird desire to never stop making more, like real weird desire to like maximize profit, expand, expand, make a bit, nobody ever has a company and goes, we're good. Just leave it like this. That's because status is relative. Right. And so you're always insecure about your, like status is imaginary resource. Like it only exists in our minds in the minds of other people. But you can't keep it. You can't put it in a box. So you're constantly having to make sure that it's still there It's still there. You're constantly measuring your state like Apple and measuring their status versus Google and Samsung or whoever. So there's that constant Chippinus. So so you were always trying to ratchet up. There was this really hilarious study they did where they got a bunch of [40:03] Multiple millionaires and billionaires and they asked them how much more money would you need to be perfectly happy? And uniformly they said between two and three times more money. And it's like you're not going to be perfectly happy, you delusional. But that's the human brain subject. So we think we're going to achieve this thing, I'll be perfectly happy. But of course we we were happy to bet 10 seconds. They were wanting the next thing and the next thing. And actually, it's exhausting, but it's also how we built civilization. It's also an incredible, amazing thing that we're restless, we're never satisfied. We want better and better and better and better. Like it drives us forward. But I was gonna say about the McDonald's thing. It's also a function of being a part of a public company. You have an obligation, your shareholders, to make more money. Like the whole idea is let's make more money. We have to make more money. Let's make more money. Yeah, I'm looking at the money, and it's not more. I like more money. That's the slight problem with it, because you can measure your status. Money being just one of them, but that's part of the problem with the public company. [41:08] Money becomes the only important. It's not just money, it's short-term profit. It has to, every quarter has to go up and go up and go up and go up. How much damage do you incentive in a way? How much different would the world be if we made that illegal? I'm not saying we should. How much different would the world be where we made that illegal. I'm not saying we should, I'm not saying we should. But how much different would the world be where all corporations have to be private? Yeah. All of them. You just have to be a company. You can't just sell your stuff to people. Like whatever you are, what piece of this and whatever you want to call it, stocks, call it whatever you want. You're selling chunks of your company, right? Nope. you have to own it. You want to be in business? You got to own your own company. Because there are two ways that you can measure the status of your company, I guess, to main ways. One is how much money it makes. And the other is the quality of the product. And what you see in today's world, of course, is the stock price. Yeah, so quality tends to go the quality, it's what you're getting for your money goes down and down. [42:05] So it's going to like fake, it gives you the illusion of growth in the company. We're making more money. Yeah, because you're putting less berries in the yogurt, you know, that's why. You know, it's not a positive, productive growth. It's a growth that comes from cutting or the good stuff out. the product. Also you would eliminate all the Gordon Geckos because that's not a business anymore. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You can't just sell stock anymore. It doesn't exist. You can't do that anymore. Own something, bitch. Own a company, make a product to stop. That's a fascinating thought. Again, I'm not a supporter of this nor do I know anything about economics. But I would imagine that that would be better if like the company's had to be owned like you have to own the fucking company Yeah, but then everyone's pensions would be fucked because basically those pensions are all in stocks on that Yeah, we'd have a we would be a Yeah, I think we're in this now But but also this dirty thing where you can't buy stock if you know things [43:05] Yeah, you know things. Yeah. You know, like if I knew that some shit was about to pop off and I bought a bunch of stock, it must be so tempting. Like if you know for a fact, that tomorrow this stock is gonna be up here. Oh yeah, it's tempted to shit out of me. I don't know whether I be able to not have it. Yeah, I'm not that motivated by money that I would do that. But it's just a natural desire people have for sure. Yeah, because we attach up. Whatever we've attached to our status to, we want more plan and number of things. And it's not how famous and rich we become. It never ends. It never ends. It's a bottomless pit. It's a game you can never win. and I think it's designed to make human beings create aliens That's what I think this is my thought. I think that is design I think this whole like competing with the Joneses keeping up with the Joneses What is it it always fuels? Technology at the end of the day because that's the thing you buy like every year people buy phones and laptops [44:04] If you're really balling you buy a new laptop every couple years, you know? And that is your constantly looking for new processors, new innovation, what is it, AR, how big is the battery, what's the battery, and it's constantly going in this general direction of ever complex technology that interfaces with human beings and now with AI. And it's going gonna be an artificial life form. And whether it's 10 years from now or 20 years from now, or it's already happening in a fucking lab at Ohio. Yes, yeah, yeah. It might already be happening right now. That would be. Where they have an artificial life form. And that's gonna be the new dominant life form on Earth. It'll be far smarter. It'll hopefully will coexist with it. It comes from, yeah, and it comes from the tribe. It comes from, well, it comes from before we were human. We've been competing for status since before we were humans. Since we were animals, well, we're still our animals. But since before we were human animals. [45:01] And in the tribes in which we evolved, the more status that you were and the more food you got, the better food you got, the safer your sleeping sites, the greater your access to your choice of mates. So basically, the more status that you get in your group, everything gets better. And wouldn't that motivate you to make the most complex thing human beings are a mate? 100%. An artificial human. Yeah, 100%. And it's not about the money or the bling or the it's just what we do I want to be better than you and I want to be the best inventor of artificial life form there is in the world yeah better than that dude and that person and yeah and then that's what motivates people that's what pushes people to create amazing things we have this distorted idea of what is like a fiercely competitive person when we think of fiercely competitive people we only for whatever reason, consider basketball players, football players, baseball players, fighters, athletes, race car drivers. We consider fiercely competitive people, the people that are engaged in sports and activities every day, but no, no, there's fiercely competitive people [46:00] that are involved in business and government and all sorts of other things. And they're fucking psycho about this game that they're playing, whatever it is. Or it's stocks and bonds or cell and pharmaceutical drugs. They're fucking psycho competitive about that. And that psychonist is the status. It's like, I need the status. Like I love, there was a great story that I found for the status game about Steve Jobs and like the true origin story of the iPhone. Then if you've heard this, the true origin story of the iPhone, which is that Steve Jobs, his wife used to hold these barbecues in wherever they lived, Silicon Valley, and one time it was at this barbecue and the husband of one of her friends worked for Microsoft and he's like rubbing Steve Jobs face and it's saying, oh, we've invented the future of computing. You're done. It's this pat thing with a stylus. And apparently he really annoyed the fuck out of Steve Jobs. So Monday morning Jobs comes into Apple, furious swearing. And going, right, we're gonna prove this prick wrong. It's not stylus, it's a finger. He used the finger. And from that barbecue came his rage. and from the rage came the iPhone and and that story was told by Steve [47:08] Forstall who was you know, intimately involved with all this stuff and he said it was not good for Microsoft that that guy went to that barbecue that day It's absolutely right, but but that's status like that that that It was personal for Steve Jobs. Yeah, It was Microsoft telling Apple that they were fucked and that they'd solved computing. That's a perfect example of a psycho competitive duo who would have probably won bike races. Yeah. Yeah. It's funny Apple. Yeah, back in the day, like 20,000 years ago, he'd been the best warrior in the tribe like stuck in the shitsack of everyone. Yeah, for sure. And that's the kind of upside of aggression in a way. It creates things. It creates value in the world. It certainly has created a lot of great things, right? It certainly has created a lot of amazing inventions that enhance our lives, but it's also, it's like, it's moving in this non-stop direction. [48:01] It always seems to me like, we're a bunch of fucking buffalo being hurt it off a cliff. Like, did anyone know where this cliff is? But we just keep going with this stuff. Like, I mean, with all the international chaos that's going in the world, the conflicts, the wars, the Ukraine thing and the Israel Hamas thing, it's like, fuck, man. How much longer? I mean, that's a status thing too, right? And ultimately. Yeah, yeah. I mean, when you can get groups of people to go after other groups of people and be convinced that those people that you don't even fucking know are your problem, the fact that that game is still being played in 2024. But it would never stop being played because we're storytelling animals and we tell stories about status. And I think one of the sort of key things that I kind of realized when I was doing the book was that the conscious experience of life is a story, but the subconscious reality is this game. The brain's constantly playing a game for status. And we've got all this insane subconscious technology that we use for measuring [49:03] our status versus other people that we're completely unaware of. Like there's one about the tone of voice during conversation. They call it the parraverable frequency band. And you can't hear it consciously, but it's a way of organizing status hierarchy when we meet people. And the person whose top sets the tone and everybody else matches to meet the tone. And this psychologist studied a bunch of Larry King interviews, a bit like this one. And they stripped out the parable frequency band and they could work out who he felt superior to versus who he felt inferior to. So he felt inferior to, I think it was Liz Taylor and Superior to Dan Quail. And there were particular interviews which were very irrascible and didn't go very well. They were kind of, they weren't getting along and one of them was Dan Quail. And they found that they were just not matching. So there's all this stuff going on beneath the hood of consciousness, which is constantly organising us into kind of status games. [50:09] And so, you know, and it's that that causes the hierarchies of life. That's the reason why communism could never work because, you know, they're trying to wipe out the effects of status in society, but you can't wipe out the effects of status in society because it's in our brains. You're going to elevate her with three other people and you've already figured out within seconds who's the highest status where you sit in the pecking order, who's got the nice luggage, who's getting out of the sweets floor at the top. We can't help but do it. That constant work of the subconscious brain figuring out where we sit in the state of saviour, he creates human life. Yeah, that's why Fidel Castro lived in a fucking mansion. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, there's communism, that's how it works. One guy and a bunch of fucking people with guns tell you what the fuck you're gonna do. Yeah, that's it, I mean, it's the only way. [51:01] It's like a god, isn whole idea of communism, they wanted to create a kingdom of equality. They called it. It's like, come on. But the funny thing is when you talk to people about this and you just point out these just logical patterns of human behavior, it doesn't work. You can't just have equality of outcome. It doesn't exist. They will always just point to that it has been done right. Yeah. Come on. What is that amazing? Isn't that amazing? That despite how many thousands of people are in jail, is it millions? How many millions of people are in jail? Despite all that, despite all the crime and poverty and chaos that somehow or another, you're just gonna bring this all together. If you just do it this way, and everybody just divides the money up. Yeah. Just to see it. Who gets the tell people they gotta give their money up because people with guns. You take people's status away. Like years ago I went to Poland to do some reporting on, [52:01] like at the time the big story in the UK was all these Polish people coming to the UK to do all this work. Right, so where's all the Polish people come from? So I went to Poland to find out where all the Polish people had come from. And we went to this old steelworks, it's old sort of style in era steelworks and the Polish journalist who was my fixer said, oh, you know, I just mentioned Cassia, the Poles are hard workers. And she was like, we're not hard workers, we're lazy. I can't believe that you've brought this thing with hard workers. And she said, we've got this post-Soviet mindset. So I said, what do you mean the post-Soviet mindset? And she said, well, when everyone's getting paid anyway, you're not motivated to do any work. So in a steelworks like this, nobody would do any work. And if somebody came in on enthusiastic and ambitious, they'd be bullied to fuck until they calmed down and stopped doing work. So that was how it worked. And there was a phrase, like you can turn up for work or you can not turn up for work, you're still gonna get paid. So removing that stuff from human society removes something that we need, [53:01] which is individual status. We're like, you know, if you don't reward individual status, you don't motivate people to contribute to work. And that's partly why communism collapsed because it's incompatible with human nature. Like capitalism is the only system that we've got that is compatible with human nature. It rewards the status instinct. Yeah. Yeah, it's really fascinating when you break it down that way because it kind of makes it undeniable. Yeah. It seems this pattern just constantly happens over and over and over again. But there's always people that they play to the most charitable and the kindest people in the world and they phrase things in a way that if you oppose this idea that somehow another you're cruel or that your greedy or evil that there's something negative about you being competitive and it's essentially I think the roots of it is kind of a cop out of people that have been beaten in life yeah you know there's this thing that [54:02] certain people do when it's there things aren't going well They want the tank. Yeah anything that's going well, you know, that's right and I think it's a big misunderstanding About what that what that competitive instinct what that status instinct is and when and I found it We're talking about the book a lot of people just really don't like it this idea that I'm arguing the status is a human need That everybody has it. And they're like, I don't, I'm not interested in status, you know, and say, you are. You're definitely interested in the benefits of it. Do you like iPhones? Yeah, exactly. Exactly. You're getting it there, tapping on there, I found this shit idea. It's crazy, right? But all that status is technically is the reward that we get for being of value to the tribe. So back in the days that we evolved, there are three essential ways of earning status for human beings, aside from boring things like looks and height and whatever. There's dominance games, so this is the animalistic, you can force somebody to attend to you in status, either physically or with social violence [55:01] or the kind you see on social media. There's virtue games, so people compete to have a reputation of being very virtueous, so courageous, somebody who knows the rules, follows the rules, believes the sacred beliefs. So a religion is a virtue game. The role family weirdly is a virtue game because it's about being deference and knowing the rules. And then there's success games, I call them, which is about competence, about being a great hunter, a great honey finder, a great sorcerer. And that's what defines the West. That's what made the West what it is, is that we started playing for millennia, mostly playing virtue games. It was cast, kingdom, game of thrones kind of land. And then, starting with the Industrial Evolution, we started playing success games. so we started mostly like much more rewarding competence. And so that competitive instinct is channeled into figuring out how to solve problems, how to create wealth. And it's right that we reward that. We've evolved to reward people who offer value to the human family, that status. [56:02] It's not a negative thing in that sense. It's not a negative thing in that sense. It's massively positive. And weirdly capitalism is an economic system that does the same thing. It works with how status games work. It works with how we've evolved to operate in human triumphs. That's why I love how you talk about this. Because you change the term in a lot of people's eyes as well that listen to you because status for a lot of people is kind of a Pajorid. Yeah, it is. Yeah. Yeah. It's like a dick. I think you want that status. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You're just an asshole. Yeah, but it's just a natural human pattern that if we can recognize we can also like mitigate some of the problems that come with it. Yeah, and that's why I like talking about communism, because communism was the biggest experiment we've ever had in eradicating status. So Marx and Engels, their big idea was that status comes from private property, from private ownership. So you could have a house, and it's a perfectly functional house, [57:01] and you're happy with it. But then somebody builds a big palace next door, suddenly you feel shit. Right. So they said, you know, like communism could be sent up in one sentence, which is the abolition of private property. If we get rid of that, we get rid of people being interested in status. Everybody works together. But it just didn't work. Like there was some anthropologist, sociologist, the Wences Soviet Union in the 50s and they found 10 distinct social classes in the Soviet Union. All they did was they took the existing status came hierarchy with the wealthy at the top and the workers at the bottom and they flipped it. So the workers were at the top and the wealthy, the wealthy and former wealthy really were at the bottom. And those former wealthy, the bourgeoisie, the children of the bourgeoisie, were absolutely discriminated against openly and horrifically. If you weren't tortured and killed, you were held back in every sense. And that's the thing about utopians. Utopians often talk about we're going to get rid of the hierarchy, but they don't want to get rid of the hierarchy. They just want a new hierarchy. You at the top every single time. [58:00] Yeah. That's what got Brett Weinstein in trouble when he was teaching at Evergreen University Huh, do you remember this story? I do. Yeah, it was the same situation Brett they they had had a it's like I think it was like a day of appreciation For people of color where people of color could stay home. They still get paid and go wow. I wish Mike was here He's very helpful, you know, whatever it was. And they decided one year to switch it and make it so that white people can't come. You cannot come. And then which is a very different sentiment. Then you can stay home if you like and you still get paid. But you can come. Yeah. But if you want to stay home, you just get paid. And everybody just chose to stay home, you just get paid and everybody just chose to stay home It's nice right and thank you for appreciating me. That's not a negative right if you have the money to do it And if doesn't fucking stop everything in its tracks. Cool. It sounds great. Yeah, it sounds great Sounds like a nice liberal hippie thing to do But the other one doesn't the other one scares me because that's racist. Yeah, if you're you're saying white people can't be here like [59:05] Why not yeah, like people can't be here. Like why not? Like what did I do? I didn't do anything. Like you're saying that why people shouldn't be allowed to be in a place where they work? Because you decide, because you decide they have to stay home. Look, there's a better way to go on about this. It's a bad idea. It's the idea behind appreciating people is great. But the idea about discriminating people in any way is bad. And it's the same. Why do people have to stay home? But that also characterizes, I'm not saying that the kind of woke thing is the same as communism. But it has echoes of it. And it's the same flipping of the hierarchy. So when I was doing my research into communism, there was this phrase that came up. So the former bourgeoisie, wealthy business people and the children of them were called former people. It's a dismissive, you're a former people. And that's how, you know, when you think about how, especially, you know, men, especially white men, especially straight white men are treated. At the moment. Talked preach brother. They're former, you know, they made to feel like former people. [1:00:02] There's a whole generation of guys who've been raised in a culture where they're being made to feel you've had your turn sit down shut up. The future is not for you, the future is for people who don't look like you and think like you. And so that former people really resonated with me. It's like you straight white men, you're former people, you're yesterday's people, you're not the future, you're not tomorrow. I was watching you on Twitter. We're this man and this woman were going at it. And the man said something that was factually correct. And the woman said, if you think that I'm going to take information from a straight white man. That was her comeback. That was her comeback. I'm not taking that information coming from a straight white man. Like the last thing we need right now is straight white man speaking. Well, I thought, don't speak. Just listen. It's time to listen. That's my favorite. Just please be quiet and listen. Like, hey, sometimes that's good advice. And sometimes you're just selling people you want to talk. [1:01:03] Yeah. Yeah, it's so ignorant. I had a similar experience once. I used to teach a storytelling course at the Guardian newspaper, science of storytelling. And so it's like how to use psychology and neuroscience to make, except for better storyteller. So I'm talking about studies and this study and that study. And during a break, this woman came up to me and she worked for a major academic, like one of the biggest academic journals. And she said to me, there's a problem with, I've got a problem with what you've been talking about and it's that most of what your, most of these studies are by straight white men. I was, so, like, okay, and what's the point? And she was saying, well, you can't really trust them because they've got their own, you know, they've got their own, they're all, their perception of the world is wrong. And, you know, I felt actually a bit intimidated by that because I'm standing in the garden with this woman telling me that effectively, I guess I've been racist somehow or sexist somehow. [1:02:01] So I just said to her, I'm not going to have this conversation with you. Okay, I'm and she kind of went away. But I just thought it was the fact that she worked for a major scientific publication. She was telling me that because the work was done by straight white men, it could not be trusted. Like that's that's a Mississippi level like Mississippi 1932 level racism. It was absolutely a baffling kind of moment. And she was a smart person. She was clearly a smart person. But again, that's the human brain. It believes what it has to believe in order to make itself feel important and valued. I've got an amazing example of that that I just sent Jamie. I want you to see this headline. Please make sure this headline is real first because I have been duped before with someone sent me this on the Instagram and if it is true praise the baby Jesus because it says good as the Babylon be It's so good. It seems like satire. It's so good. Oh, I think I know what it is. Oh, please. Is it real? [1:03:01] Is it the teacher he's trying to no no no no, no, no. He's trying to type with Carl. That was a little buddy. He's 17. It's from 2017, but it's real, right? I mean, I'm seeing other people talk about it. Okay, so just post that, let's see the article. Look at this, straight black man are the white people of black people. That's South Park level. That is amazing. It feels counterintuitive to suggest that straight black men as a whole possess any sort of privilege. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. This is the great irony of these people. It's amazing. And you know, these kind of woke people to talk about privilege. There was a study that was done in the UK a few years ago. It was the more in common report. It's the biggest ever psychological study [1:04:00] of Britain's social psychology, you know, over 10,000 respondents. And they were looking at these belief sets. And they found there were seven distinct belief groups in the country. One of those belief groups, they called them progressive activists. And these are people for whom the fight for social justice is at the heart of their identity. They believe that how you get on in life is about not about your talent and your hard work, but about your race and gender. So we know who they're talking about. Yeah. And so always interesting about these people was just astonished me. First is that they are the richest of all the seven groups. So they had more people earning over 50,000 pounds per year as a family. Secondly, they were the most highly educated of all the seven groups. So these people that are constantly going on about privileged, if they're the most privileged people in Britain, they're amongst the most privileged people in the world. So that was the first thing. The second thing which I thought was amazing was that they were six times more likely to make political comments on what was then called Twitter. [1:05:02] And they make more social media contributions than all of the rest of the groups combined. Doesn't make sense though? Completely. They don't have any financial stress. They probably feel real guilty. And if they're white, they feel super guilty. And then they're young and you get status from being progressive and an activist. And you don't have to be competitive in the workplace. You're out here throwing paint on the Michelangelo. Yes, absolutely. Yes, so they also have the numbers. So in the UK, they make up 13% of the population in the US and make up 8% of the population. So on social media, because they dominate social media, they feel like sometimes the majority of the country, but their beliefs are actually really marginal. Like one of these, I think it was you that I've asked people, who do you think should be the next governor of the Bank of England and man are all women? This is the kind of story that drives our major into paroxysms, you know, if it's a, they've hired another white man, [1:06:01] ah, you know, they get the shivers. And this poll found that 5% of people thought it should be a woman, 3% of people thought it should be a man. Everybody else pretty much didn't give a shit. That's great. That's the reality. That's good progress. Yeah, most people think it doesn't matter. That seems indicative of the general population that I come across. Yeah, exactly. But because these people, these 13% or 8% in the US, are so highly educated and so wealthy, they dominate the media, they dominate the gatekeeping positions in publishing companies and TV companies. So they really have the kind of commanding voice in our culture very often, but there are tiny minority of who we are. But it really does behave like a religion in a lot of ways. It really does. Mark Andreessen broke it down very eloquently. He's explaining that it has all of the things that a cult has. It has the indoctrination. It has the excommunication where he's shamed, he kicked out of the group, the disconnect [1:07:03] from the group members. It's got all those things to do. And that's a big part of it. It's like worried about being shamed and cast out of the group, which is terrifying for people. So they're willing to say and believe things that aren't that logical, just that they can stay in the group. Yeah, absolutely. They, they, it's natural. We believe what we have to believe in order to earn status in our, in our groups. And that's true for these people. Is this true for, for anyone else? And I agree with the cult thing, but, just to add that all, all human groups have cult elements. They have special languages. They have rules, hierarchies, rewards, and punishments. It's just that cults are the tightest possible form of human group. I learned that when I started doing martial arts, because one of the things that was really interesting about the martial arts world is it's very cult-like, especially when I did it, in the 80s, the early 80s when I started, they were the masters, you bowed to them, you bow and you enter the, I was so committed to this that I had this girlfriend when I was in high school [1:08:05] and I had the keys to the gym because I would work out there like anytime I wanted and I taught classes there and stuff. And she wanted to have sex in, and I couldn't do it. I wouldn't do it, she was so hot. I wouldn't do it, I was like, I can't do it here. This is not, this can't happen here. At like 17 I was so horny. It's so stupid. But I was like, uh-uh, we can't do it here. Yeah, I guess the power of the state is good. It was like it like like now. I'd be like, where? What did you do? You want to do it on the floor? You like, but back then I was that was a religious place for me. I didn't think about that way at the time. I just knew what the rules were. Yeah. And I was not violating those rules in any way. There's no way. Yeah. You know, but that's uh, there was a lot of weird stuff where like some of the masters would date some of the married women. It was, it got real weird, got real weird, yeah, got real culty. I died down to it. I was very culty because these, you know, you adore this person who is commanding the group and [1:09:03] getting everybody to march like to the bark of his voice and everyone's doing and he just commands all this attention and respect. So there's the gym I went to was a very good place where it was very little that shenanigans going on, but there was a bunch of them where it was like it was a big thing where like you see that about like yoga places too like the yoga guru guys or banging the banging of people's wives. It's just like a, there was a place that I bought out here that was owned by a cult. I bought a place for my comedy club and I didn't wind up completing the deal. I got out of it because there was some problems with the property and then I bought the place that I bought on Sixth Street. But before it, I bought this place called the One World Theater. And the One World Theater was created by this guy. His name was Jaime Gomez and he was a gay porn star and a hypnotist. And he started to call it a Hollywood. There's a documentary about it called Holy Hell. And then they moved out to Austin and he had his followers build him this theater so [1:10:04] that he could dance in front of them. And that was the place that I bought. So he could dance in front of them. He put on performances and dance in front of them. Just the followers. And he had a gang of them, man. He had a gang of them in LA and West Hollywood. And then when the cult awareness networks are going after people, he took off. He thought they were on to them because the parents are like, where's my fucking kid? So then he moves to Austin and builds this one world theater. So my friend Ron White tells me about the theater. He's like, because I tell him I'm looking for a comedy club location. He goes, you should get that theater, it's amazing. So Ron White's my hero, so I'm like, all right, I'll get that theater. And as I'm like in the middle of the purchasing it, my friend Adam calls me and goes, did you watch the documentary on that call? I was like, oh no, how bad is he go? Oh dude, it's bad, you got to watch it. It's crazy. And it's these people that just get sucked into believing that this guy can give them enlightenment and connect them to God by touching their head. [1:11:01] That's status. Yeah. And the thing is, man, even after this guy got exposed, and hypnotizing the man and having sex with those crazy shit, right? But even after he got exposed, the people that went through the experience of having this guy touched their head when it was called the knowing, it was built up for days and weeks, and some people were denied the knowing they could never get it, and other people today is your day. And they couldn't believe it. And they would sit there on their knees, and this guy would touch their head, and they would be an ecstasy. And it looked real. And they talked about it, even after they liked this guy's a fraud, he's crazy, he was this, God. Yeah, yeah. Like he did something to me and I felt, I felt the world change forever. God, I don't mind. There's a powerful thing. Crazy how it works. So what's the stuff you're buying that theater? There was a problem with the property. It wasn't because of the... No, no, there was just some issues and we couldn't negotiate it. [1:12:01] And I was like, this is, and then I was like, you know what, it probably better to be in the city city, like where people walk, you know, just make it more convenient for folks too. Because people are used to going to 6th Street, and then I found that place, and I got the places there. But the cops, they're called, they're called, they're not a real problem, because a for to me, the real problem was, I don't necessarily know if I believe in energy, but I'm not energy, you know, I believe in energy. But I mean, like that energy gets left in a space that like my stepdad went to Gettysburg and he said you can feel the sadness and he's not like spiritual fucking Ouija board type dude. He's a very rational architect and he's like you feel the sadness because it's like you feel it you feel how many people died here. Yeah I get [1:13:01] feeling like Berlin, people go on about how great Berlin is, but there's always get this immense sense of heaviness when I've spent some time in Berlin. Do you think that's because you know or do you think it's in the air? I don't know, because I'm not expecting to feel that way. But I don't know. I mean, who knows? I mean, there's certainly, it's striking when you were ining, you still see all the sort of shrapnel marks in the size of buildings are still there It's kind of that's quite confronting. That's why I was thinking I don't necessarily know if I want that building Yeah Because that building was built by people got juke by a con man. Yeah He's fucking shenanigans them into building him a theater And even if there's no point in doing all one percent chance, he's just, yeah. A lot of shit happened. I mean, there's one, one of the guys left, he sent this mass email that's guys been abusing me for fucking years. Did the whole thing is nuts. Like they flew the guy to Hawaii and he started a new cult out there. It's in the documentary. They go visit him in Hawaii. But it's just so fascinating. [1:14:05] So people just fall into these patterns. It's just a natural thing that we have to be aware of. Yeah. I think that's why it's so important, the way you say it, and the way you talk about these things, and the way you lay it out, it makes it so much more palatable to a lot of people. They look at it, oh, these are all just patterns of people play. Yeah. We believe what we have to believe in order to... Yeah, you know. And one of the things that one of the things in history that this status research has really made me understand is the rise of the Nazis, that like growing up in the UK is always this question, how could it have happened? How could this technologically advanced sophisticated country descend into Nazism? And once you understand the role of the status place, it becomes completely, for me, it's crystal clear. Like, before the First World War, Germany was just absolutely killing it. There were the most successful country in continental Europe. There were like, you know, massive, like the Apple and Google of the days, BASF, Siemens, [1:15:05] you know, huge companies, they were producing a third of the world's potatoes, like quality of life had rocketed in the early part of the 19th century. And then the first world all happened, and they just assumed we're gonna kill it because we're amazing. And of course they didn't kill it, they lost. And so that's humiliating in itself. And humiliation being the loss of status. And then there was the Treaty of Versailles, which was savage. They had to give up load of land, they had to give up their military, they had to pay the equivalent of hundreds of billions of dollars in reparations. When all that triggered hyperinflation, their economy collapsed, we took their industrial heartlands off them. So it was humiliation and ponhumiliation. Then Hitler comes along. And so this is the thing that we were never taught about Hitler in schools, which is probably still a bit, I don't know, who's going to trigger people, but it's the truth. Hitler was an incredibly successful leader [1:16:01] of Germany for the time when he was in charge. The first thing which was as surprised to me was that when you see those black and white films of Hitler spitting and shouting and renting, you assume that he's talking about the Jews all the time. Have you seen how they've translated into English now with AI? They're going through it. Yeah, yeah. There's voice. I haven't seen that. I saw that going on on Twitter. Yeah, it's fascinating. Because of AI, one of the things that they can do now, like that they can do even with podcasts. So this podcast, when Spotify runs its AI through it, they'll be able to translate you into perfect Spanish in your voice. Wow. And they have this technology now. I know they could do it in German, Spanish, and I think French. And of course English, back and forth. So they could do that with Hitler. For correctness, whether you believe that I have been given that's amazing. That I have advocated for you in these years, that I have been decent. I have spent my time in service of my people. [1:17:02] Now cast your vote if yes Wow See he's talking about That's not so much scary. Yeah, it does the eye of voice hasn't really got the attitude You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! You are! I wasn't ranting about the Jews because everybody was anti-Semitic in that period in history. But the middle class, they didn't want to see the Jews being attacked and killed. It didn't play well. So he suppressed all of that stuff. And all that ranting, most of it he's talking about, I'm going to restore Germany's status. I'm going to create this third right, this thousand year kingdom. [1:18:00] And that's what convinced people to support him. And he did, like some of the statistics are quite extraordinary. When the Nazi party came in, a third of the population were unemployed and by 1939 they had full employment between 1932 and 1939, GDP went up 81%. So he was doing the thing of restoring Germany's status. And when you see that footage of people going completely mad, that's when he's reversing the humiliations of Versailles. So he took back the industrial heartland by force and nobody stood in his way. They went mad. He took Austria, nobody stood in his way. So it was all about the restoration of status. That explains the rise of Hitler. And they did, there was some mad stuff in the research like women would get swastika tattoos, they would do the Hitler salute at point of orgasm. There was a butcher that was making swastika sausages People would even name their female children after Hitler [1:19:08] People with tuberculosis would stare for hours at pictures of Hitler because I thought they would make them better So again, that's another example of that status. That's how mad people go for status It was taken away from them and he didn't just promise to restore it for a while He did restore it so that's why they loved him. It wasn't to do with really anything else. When do you think meth came into the picture? Okay. Because somewhere along the line, the Hitler story is not complete, unless you realize Hitler was a meth head. Yeah, and it wasn't his own army on Amphetamines. Everybody was on Amphetamines. That's how they talk the kamikazis. He's doing that. Yeah. Yeah, that's not a natural pattern of behavior for grown men. No. No. Flight planes and boats. You gotta be flukking giant parts of your country. You just wanna take everybody out. But Hitler was a full on meth head. full-on methad and there's video of him at the Olympics in 1936 just straight up [1:20:05] tweaking. Have you ever seen that video? Yeah, I have. Yeah. It's nuts. Yeah. And if you see that video, that is that's like like a guy. He's not just doing that once. Yeah. I'm gonna go to the Olympics for my first time trying methad. That was a methad. You know? That's it. Blitz. That was a big deal. While other drugs are banded to scourge, methane-fedemene was touted as a miracle product. What had first appeared on the market in the late 1930s. I bet it was a miracle. Indeed, the little pill was the perfect Nazi drug. German neo-wake, the Nazis had commanded, energized, energizing and confidence boosting methane-fedemene played into the third Reich's obsession with physical and mental superiority. See, see, superiority here, superiority. In sharp contrast to drugs such as heroin or alcohol, methamphetamines were not about escapist pleasure. Rather they were taken for hyperalertness and vigilance, areas where the embodiment of human perfection and Nazi ideology could now even aspire to be superhuman. And such superhuman can be turned into super soldiers. [1:21:02] That's superhuman. So the same as the, you same as the cult that was promising, we're gonna take you to a level above human. It's always the promise of these mad people that we're gonna give you so much status that we're gonna essentially become super human. It's what the communists thought as well that the average human, their intelligence would become so much that everybody would be a genius. That's what they really believed that communism would lead to. Like the promise of these lunatics is always insane amounts of status. And religions too, that's what heaven is, isn't it? It's heaven is. And it's also hope to people who have none. But if you go along with this and there's much more people that have none than have some and have a lot. You know, those people are the problems. Go get them. They're the reason why I'm so sad. Yeah, but you don't understand, that's just a trap. It's just a giant trap. That massive trap. But it's so wild that most people don't address it that way. They just get even really brilliant people I know, just get locked into these ideologically captured echo chambers. [1:22:01] Yeah. And when there's a story that our status has been unfairly squashed and it's these people's fault, that's when it's dangerous. And of course you had that with the Nazis, they blame the Jews for everything. But you also get that in this day and age. I mean, you know, like, then get blamed for a lot in this day and age. Why would we get blamed for a lot in this day and age? And that we get blamed for a lot in this day and age? And that's why I get to, I'm not saying it's anywhere near as dangerous as that, of course. But it's the same psychological kind of patterns repeating again and again and again. We've been unfairly deprived of status and it's their fault. And that's really dangerous, those kinds of stories. It is, but I feel like it's just an over correction and I feel like it's the wind the you know The wave washes this way and the wave washes that way and if you look at the wave of what black people at a face in this country It's cut by every definition. Yeah, far worse. Absolutely. Yeah, of course Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah [1:23:07] It's also a clear indication that an imbalance, which was always there, still exists in so many of these places where people have the most despair and people have done nothing to fix it. And those places that a lot of them that have the most despair, it's directly connected to slavery. Like you could follow it to that poverty that's where it came from. Like it's generations later, but they never recovered. And you don't do anything about it. Like that's that when in the face of they just last night, the middle of the night passed some new Ukraine bill, like in the middle of the night. They passed some bill. It's like how much is it Jamie? 95 billion. 95 billion. Plenty of money. Wow. That's a lot of money. Yeah. Yeah. Imagine what they could have done with the money that they've already pumped in the Ukraine. Just in the inner cities of this country. Yeah. Imagine if there was, we said there's a war on crime and poverty and despair. This is our new war. Instead of a war on drugs, instead of a war on foreign countries, you know, questionable origins of how this conflict started, what [1:24:07] about a war on the things that suck about America? Yeah. That's what happened in America in the 1920s. There was the new deal, the Social Security cat, the GI Bill. They pumped loads of money into fixing America after the Great Depression. And it worked. There was a whole era in America that called it the Great Compression And it worked. Like there was a whole era in America, they called it the great compression, because it was a compression between the gap between the rich and the poor. And that was the era in which an ordinary American person without a college degree could have a house and a car and a vacation every year and a wife at home raising their children. That's how it can work without socialism. Like everybody rides up. Not fucking take all the money away from the successful people. You could rise up too. But we have to figure out a way to fix these problems that have existed forever in this country that get no attention. Yeah. At a certain point, like one of my favorite stories of this year was when Gigi King came to San Francisco [1:25:03] because when San Francisco has this horrible homeless problem, it's really bad, where they have tents everywhere. But when he came, they cleaned everything. They took everybody away. They don't know what they were doing. Nobody said nothing. They put offenses so they couldn't put the tents there anymore. They put offenses in front of these buildings, where they would camp out. They just took them all away. And when GGP came through it was all beautiful. It's amazing isn't it? It's literally sounds like what we would say China would do. If we were going to make fun of a foreign country that we were in dispute with, we would say yeah I'm always sending our leaders there, you know what they did? They fucking got rid of all the protesters, everybody was protesting, they killed the protesters, they took all the homeless people away, all the bombs in the street urchins. This is what it's like. It's a totalitarian. Yeah, that's what it's like. It's like, that's what it didn't say for this go. Yeah, that's hilarious. It's just... But the people that live there are so in that cult. They're so in that leftist cult that they're never going to go hey this is not working. Doesn't matter how many fucking needles you have to jump over how much human shits in [1:26:09] the street they'll keep voting the same way. Yeah, because they have to believe what they have to believe in or just for their peace to give them your thoughts on this. The way you describe it is the only way that makes sense. It must be a status game you can't get out of otherwise they would have gotten out of it. Yeah. be a status game you can't get out of otherwise they would have gotten out of it. Yes, yes. It's counterintuitive to success and the evolution of the community. It's counterintuitive to it. I mean one of my favourite ones is the satanic panic was an insane status game and thing and that began in the early 80s and essentially what you're doing is you're saying to a bunch of therapists and family counsellors. The you can be like an incredible hero because America is full of these satanists running kindergarten. And they're secretly abusing your children and we need to go and hunt them out. [1:27:01] And so because that belief gives some status, they all decided to believe it. And the same with the police, the police think they were like on the hunt for the, you know, they also put memories in the children's heads and had those children come back and change their stories. That's right. And some of the stories that came out that were believed, it was like children were saying they had their eyelid stapled shot. There was one kid that said that she got flushed down a toilet into a secret underground abuse chamber. Somebody said, I knew. That was it. It began with this book, it was Pazdas. Michelle remembers. Michelle remembers. The discredited 1980s book written by Canadian psychiatrist Lawrence pastor the beginning of the sheet she said that she she was she had um devil horns and a tail surgery attached to the mariner yeah yeah said an eventual wife I bet she was hot crazy ones like that I bet she was fun and that's what happened he bought into it it's like [1:28:03] yeah baby yeah he said I first I thought she was making out, but then I thought was true. And I, and I couldn't tell her story. There was an 81 day, satanic ritual with it, with it, where Jesus and the Archangel Gabriel turned up and conveniently removed all the scars of her abuse. There was, there was nothing left. Oh, that's convenient. Yeah. I bet she was hard. But the amazing about the satanic panic was that, I think it was like there was 190 arrests, 83 people went to prison. Oh my God. One person went to prison on the solely on the basis of the testimony of a three year old child. Oh my God. So this one couple that owned a daycare, spent 22 years in prison. And there was never, obviously never physical, any physical evidence. There was no tigers or sharks or scars in the eyelids where they stayed with the shot but people were offered status for believing this bullshit. So they believed it and therapists, police officers, lawyers, judges, Oprah was big on it, her elder of arrows, big on it, journalists were big on it, everybody believed, even though there [1:29:02] was no evidence. Like one of the one of the great guiding slogans of the Satanic planet people was believe children, which has amazing echoes, doesn't it? It's not today. That's what it says. So you had to believe the children, and they had this statistic that only two in every thousand children make this stuff up. So you have to believe them. So they'd even have badgers believe children. They had the believe children organization. Oh, they're about vengeance. Why? Can you show me a photo of the woman? Yeah, yeah. I wanna see if she was hot, eventually was. And I bet it goes back to what you're talking about too though, because I think status in his relationship with his woman allowed him to believe some nonsense. And also the thought and compliance. And the advance he got for his family. Well woman allowed him to believe some nonsense. I'd also had the three-year-old comparison daughter of the advanced he got for his family so much for my theory. Damn it I hate when I'm wrong. But that's a power. She might have been just fun. You know, he was ugly too though for him that's probably as good as he gets. Right? [1:30:01] You got to judge it on a curve. That's older bro. no one looks great when they get old that's not fair that's not fair you son of a bitch who is but this is our older pictures she's a young woman here these pictures when when she's a young woman the one up there in the corner is that when they first arrested her yeah these are from the eight these are from like the 80s or whatever they started, but whatever I was just looking at, like this NPR brought up says QAnon revives the satanic panic, but who is this woman? Maybe that's her now, I don't know. The problem is some people are crazy, and they will make up stories. And then there's people that are just trapped in these witch hunts like the like the mycarthiasm of the the 50s Everyone was a communist. Yeah, I mean Oppenheimer got roped into that shit. Yeah, there's so many people that were being accused of being Communist if you went to one meeting like what's the solve out? Well, that's it before there's more orpanics, but I don't think they are more panics. They're status gold rush You know, so the status on offer for finding Satanist was massive. [1:31:06] They were like the government pumped tens of millions of dollars into these organizations. They became famous. There was one person who interviewed children who got paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for it. And their kids. So when they're saying, I got flushed down a toilet, I got a forced to kill baby tigers. It's clearly stuff that foyer out to inventing. But it was taken to be serious. And people went to prison for years on the basis of of forced to kill baby tigers. It's clearly stuff that foyerelt are inventing, but it was taken to be serious. And people went to prison for years on the basis of this testimony. And so that's nothing that changed my thinking inside of moral panics. I think often moral panics are actually just these status friends is, status kind of gold rush movements, where there's so much status and offer for believing this nonsense that people helplessly, because that's how we're wired, start to believe it. But social media doesn't do us any favors with that. The ability to just tweet out something, the moment something hits the news or whatever and your heart take on it. How many fucking people have lost their careers? Yeah. [1:32:00] Because of a heart take. Yeah, exactly. I mean, that's the thing. I mean, I was talking about those different kinds of status, virtue status, success status. Virtue status is the easiest status to get. Success is hard. You've got to become competent. You've got to become good at something. Virtue is easy, especially on social media. It's always. So that's why it sort of becomes addictive. People just make themselves feel good, get these little hits that feel good. But it's also indicative of who you are, because no one is really competent at something is engaging in that all day long. Like that thing is usually by people that don't feel like they're getting the attention they deserve. And then they go after whatever the fuck it is, they absolutely elevate them, whatever it is. Whatever cause there is, it's de jour. Yes. You have to find, that you get to either yell at people or yell with people. Yeah, and I think for me, it's interesting, I don't know whether this is true or not, but one of my sort of pet theories is that the rise of all this social justice activism online happens after the financial crisis. [1:33:00] So in 2008, it begins with the Occupy movement, and you can sort of draw a straight line through Occupying to what's going on today. And I think there's a sense amongst millennials and Gen Zeds, partly a real true sense that the success games that we were playing in the 80s, 90s and 80s, and that over now, the game is fixed for millennials and Gen Zeds. Life is harder in lots of real ways. They've got the property ladder, they got a master's student debt, they're under employed. So what do you do if you can't play the success games that we Gen X has played in the 90s? Well you play virtue games instead. So you know we have to get our status from somewhere. So if success is hard we're gonna do more virtues. So I think that's at least part of the explanation for what's happened since. You know that's what the was this, you know, the story that we were left with because of these people were unpunished, that the game is fixed, it's dangerous, it's not working anymore. So there's a lot of anger comes out of that. Yeah. It's just so unfortunate how easy it is [1:34:02] to engage in this behavior and how few guidelines there are to like other than your work and some other people have talked about it but it's like it the way you're saying it and the way you're saying it in your book and the way you said it on trigonometry it allows people to have like a look at the wiring under the board like oh this is what the problem is and I would hope that people that are engaged in that realize, like what a psychological capture that shit is, it's so weird for you because you get it. I've had friends that have had like real problems with like engaging with people on Twitter, like they'll post a hot take and then someone posts back and they'll be like walking on the street and they can't even walk five steps before they're checking. They want to check their likes and check their things. He was responding and then respond to the walking on the street and they can't even walk five steps before they're checking. They wanna check their likes and check their things. He was responding and they respond to the person who's responding and fuck you and fuck this. And everybody's trying to zing on everybody and it's not good. It's not good in any way, shape or form. It never turns out well. There's never one of those. You go, I feel good about that. That was really good. I definitely won that one. Not just that, but I feel like we got some good accomplices. [1:35:05] No, most of those are not that. Most of those are hostile, weird, unnatural ways of communicating. You're just communicating through text with strangers. It's like so unnatural. And it is, I mean, that's what social media is. It's they've taken the status gains of life and put them in your phone. In the 90s, there was all this, like from Wired magazine and people all this digital utopia, and I thought that when we were all online, it was going to create this hierarchy-free utopia. Of course, that's not what happens when you connect billions of people together. They play status games. That's what they do. Those three games of dominance, virtue and success, that's social media. You know, we're pushing each other around, we're virtue signaling and we're showing off about our success. That's what we're doing. And that's why, you know, that's why social media is so addictive because every time you make a contribution to social media, you're like pulling the wheel of that slot machine and all your status goes to go stuff where it goes down and that's why they're doing this because it's [1:36:06] compulsive because if we're gambling with a resource that is incredibly important to us. Yeah and you can do so in a way that never existed before. Like if you're some guy shredded and you just do plucking curls on on Instagram all day you'll get a lot of people to pay attention to. Yeah absolutely. Workouts where you're shirt off you'll get a lot of people to pay attention to you. Yeah, absolutely. So if you work out where you're shirt off, you'll get a lot of followers. If you're a woman in your underwear, rolling around on sheets and stuff, you get a lot of followers for doing not much else. And that's the sort of the whole thing when I realized that actually, status is a resource that we need. If we don't get enough status, we get mentally ill and we get physically ill too. So being low status is bad for us physically. And a lot of people have more status in their phones than they're doing their actual real life. They're going to their ordinary job and their ordinary town. But on this platform, they're really someone that's got a bunch of followers. So that shows you how, you know, why social media is so powerful, it's like it's been globally successful [1:37:06] in every culture. Social media is caught on because it's offering something that humans fundamentally value enormously and need to survive, which is status. It's the new way of harvesting this incredibly valuable resource that we value more than gold, you know. When you say that people get physically ill from it, what happens to people and they're not good status physically? It's the same as, I think it's quite well known that loneliness is bad for us, but loneliness is connection, status is the same. So there was a bunch of really interesting experiments done in the UK in the British Civil Service, which is a massive organisation hugely stratified. And this guy, Dr. Michael Marma and his team went in there and they found that you're placing the hierarchy predicted your health outcomes. And this wasn't to do with how healthy you were in other respects or wasn't to do with your diet, you know, where they control for all of that stuff. Literally the person one down from the very top [1:38:01] had slightly worst health outcomes from the person at the very top. And they were really significant. So for middle-aged people, the people at the bottom of the hierarchy had four times the risk of death and the people at the top of the hierarchy. And then other academics went into the lab and they did an experiment with monkeys, I think baboons. And they gave these monkeys these delicious diets of like pizza and ice cream. They've basically made them really unhealthy. So I filled them with athletic, scrossic black and figured and tried to work out who got sick and who didn't get sick as a result of their terrible diets. And it was the the monkeys at the bottom of the hierarchy got sick more, you know, more reliable than the people than the monkeys at the top. And they try to the same terrible diet. Yeah. And crucially, they then they then somehow changed the hierarchy and the health outcome has changed in long lock step. So the monkey that was at the top. How did they change the hierarchy? I don't know. They did that. I probably don't want to know. It's probably really horrific because it's monkeys. Yeah. How do you pull that off? Yeah. So it is it's the status hierarchy and [1:39:02] it's for the same reason as loneliness, when the brain registers that we're lacking in the resource of status, it puts us into that stress state of raise inflammation, lowers our antiviral response. And we're not designed to be in that state for long periods of time. That's a response that's designed for being chased or attacked. It's supposed to be like this. And so chronic inflammation is really bad for us. It makes us more vulnerable to cancer, Alzheimer's, all kinds of horrific issues. So that's why lacking in status is bad for our physical health. It's the same reasons why loneliness is bad for our physical health. And that has to play a role in the stress that... It gets diagnosis, depression. Oh, status is massive for depression. A sudden drop in status is a red flag for suicide ideation and we suddenly drop in status. So anxiety, depression, self-harm, it is all tight to feeling sort of low in status. And in my spare time I volunteered back in the UK [1:40:01] for a crisis hotline. People phone it particularly when they're suicidal. Oh man, what a great thing if someone's suicidal they get a hold of you. That's cool conversation. You know, some people they'd be drowning on and I like, bro you're not inspiring. Help me out. Well, what I found is that the people who are suicidal call me, there's generally three reasons why people get suicidal in my experience on the phones. The first one is chronic pain, people, obviously. The second one is people struggle with recent bereavement, people become suicidal when somebody they love or a pet they love has gone. But by far the most common reason people phone, when I've spoken to a suicidalist, to do with their identity failure, they're severely lacking in connection or status usually both. And not only are they lacking, they're stuck, they're trapped. They feel like there's nothing I can do. My life is so fucked, there's no way I can ever meet anybody, there's no way I can ever feel statusful in the world. [1:41:02] And so yeah, it's a massive red flag for you know That's that's a huge reason why humans choose to end their lives because they they feel like I'm severely lacking in connection in status This is such an important thing to talk about because this is never discussed when people talk about Depression all they ever want to tell you is that it's a chemical problem, it's not your fault. It's all they ever want to tell you. They don't want to tell you that the quality of your life affects the way you feel. And if you're doing what you want to do and you have good friends and you having fun times and you're a good person, you're nice to people, they're nice back, they like being around you because you're fun, then your life is better. But that's connection. Stations is also really, you know, it's really essential. Yeah, it's a big part of that. And all that contributes to this thing that we call depression. Absolutely. And no one wants to say that. They want to say, get on this. Come on, man. We got something for you, buddy. Yeah, it's this. Yeah, yeah, it's obvious. It seems so obvious. It does, but you can't bring it up. No. [1:42:05] It's almost like it's a forbidden topic. Like you can't say, well, how much of it is like what you're doing with your life? Does that factor in at all? How much of it is like a kind of friend you're really? What kind of relationship do you have? One of the things I do because of knowing about status, as I always make the point of, at the end of the call, trying to build them up a bit. I tell them, and I mean it sincerely, that the fact that they've phoned in this, what is probably the worst night of their life, is heroic, that they're courageous, that most people don't suffer like you're suffering. And so, and it always goes down well, they always go, oh my god, wow, no one's ever said that stuff to me before. Like it's magic, the effect it has on the phones when you just give people a bit of, I think you're an impressive person, I think you're kind, I think you're smart, or whatever it is that I feel they are on the phones. And there was a case recently in the UK, [1:43:02] a teacher, a head teacher killed herself when her school was inspected by the government inspectors and it went down from outstanding to inadequate, you know, and she killed herself and they found her journals from like the day before she did that and she said in the journal the words in adequate keep flashing before my eyes. I mean, so that's horrific. It was a big scandal about, you know, are these judgments, can we really reduce a judgment of the quality of the school to one word? But that was an example of somebody, you know, that her problem was that she was really proud of the school she was running. It was an outstanding school and suddenly it went to an adequate and the pain of that sudden loss of status was too much for this poor woman to... Was it a kind of your statement or was it... I don't know. Was the school doing poorly for some reason or was it just a country person? That's the question. That's the problem with countryness, right? [1:44:00] We kind of tolerate that kind of communication with people. When we look in and we watch from a side like, oh, you know, but there's something to that that is, you really are pumping out negativity. It does have an actual effect on human beings on the other end as much as you like to pretend it's some sort of a sterile professional act that you're doing. That's it. Yeah, you're pumping out shitty things. I mean, we're doing it for status, right? Well, when you take someone's status away, like they took her status away, you're, I feel of it is like an act of social violence. Like our identity is of massive importance to us. And so when someone takes that away, that's why acts of actual physical violence, while they often happen, is when someone is disrespectful to somebody else. And the act of physical violence doesn't only restore that status back to its sort of set point. It turns that humiliation into a sense of pride. So that's why violence is so tempting. It's why if you have the capacity of violence, it's often used because it can transform [1:45:02] that sense of humiliation into a sense of pride. It sends a negative status into a positive status. And yes. The key is to have enough faith that you don't care. Yeah. You have to have enough where you don't mind some little breach of your status. You're like, oh really? Some in disrespect. So you don't have to prove to them. Because you have to understand what gain you're playing. Most people don't with the consequences of violence or grave. Like you do not want to engage in this pattern of behavior that people have locked into their brain. Most of the time we don't use it. You know, the vast majority of human history, they used it a lot. Yes. That again is carved into your brain. Yeah. You must resist. Yeah. You is carved in your brain. You must resist. And most, but most sort of violent acts, it sort of concentrates in young men who are lower on the socio-economic scale. So then people who are more aggressive by nature physically because they're built [1:46:02] for that, but the socio-conomic stuff. They feel slided. Yeah, their sense of status is much more fragile because they haven't got some great job, they haven't got a college education. And so they're much more worried about the insecure about their sense of status. So when you take it away from them, it's kind of much more challenging. That's a real danger of the status gain of telling those people that someone's done this to you and that those people, those people should not be heard from. You know, those people, the reason why you're in the situation that you're in. And you're empowering people to hate someone specifically because of the way they look. No matter what you think, the justification for that, it's the exact same thing in every culture when that happens. It's just racism. Yeah, absolutely. It's all it is Yeah, and you can and you're getting trapped into it because of what you're talking about because it's a status game And you could you could dominate someone by calling them out because of their privilege and you could stop a conversation In his tracks and become completely illogical just by deciding I'm not listening to a white man. [1:47:06] Yes, but that's absolutely right. That's absolutely true. It's interesting because it's like the oldest trick in the book. It's been around for so long and we would think that we would learn. But there's something about us where we don't see the exact same thing. If it's not Nazis with swastikers. We don't see a common. Well, I think, again, it's that story's heading brave. We're playing a status game, but our conscious experience of life is a story, and it's fiction, and the story always wants to make us heroic, so we're virtuous. And I think that makes people's hatreds are invisible to them. So you could say to somebody, and I have said something relatively recently, I think you hate men. You've got a problem with men. You're always saying this about men and that about men. It's not very nice. And then she said to me, well, you don't understand. The problems I've had in my life with men, I've been abused, I've been to stand there. [1:48:00] All of which is true. But so that's her brain telling herself a heroic virtuous story that justifies her hatred of this class of human beings. And that's true for everybody. That's true for people who hate women. That's also true for misogynists. That's true for white people who hate black people. That's true for everybody's hatred is dressed up in a virtuous story. And I think that's right, as soon as you start identifying a class of human being and saying these people are low status, these people are the source of my problems. That's when you know that's happening to you. And at some point, it happens to all of us. It's human nature. We are xenophobic by design. Our groups, our status games, we feel we're wired to feel their superior because they're our source of status. So this stuff is incredibly tempting. Like, we've all fallen for this stuff in our, if we're honest in our past. And I think it's just really important just to be on the lookout for it. And to be conscious of the fact that our brains are [1:49:03] really good at turning our hatreds into a virtue. They're really good at telling us, no, you're right, you're right, these people are the problem and your animus towards them is actually a good thing, it's heroic. Boy, what a weird fucking programming that we have. Yeah, but it's pure tribalism. Yeah. It's just, it's so bizarre to see how baked in that is. And even with really well-intentioned, highly educated people, they just get sucked into it. Well, especially, you probably know about the studies that show that intelligence is no inoculation to this stuff. So being more intelligent doesn't make you any better at finding reasons why your story is about the world of false. But it does make you better at finding reasons why they're true. So really smart people can give you 10 reasons why they're justified in their hatred of this that and the other. Right, somebody that's smart can give you three or four. [1:50:03] So intelligence is no inoculation to this stuff. If anything, it makes it kind of worse. I mean, one of my stories that I wrote in one of my books, called The Heretics, was I was hanging out with this guy, David Irving, you know David Irving. So David Irving was a really well respected historian of the Second World War. And he just decided one day that Hitler was actually, in his words, a friend of the Jews. And that's what he said. And he had no idea the Holocaust had happened, and it was all done by his abordinates. Yeah, he's been to prison for his antisemitic beliefs. But he was really respected. The reason we know about Dresden, the far-browing of Dresden was because of his scholarship. I think even in Stortelheim's five, he's mentioned positively. And so he's completely ecstatically communicated now from the historical establishment. He believes this stuff so passionately that he was offered the opportunity to withdraw [1:51:03] his opinions in an Austrian court. As in his 70s, this was, and he refused, and went to prison in his 70s. And so what I did, was it invite, does the heretics, it's called The Abbasidables in the US, it was about why people believe crazy things and the stories that we tell. And I wanted to hang out with him because he's an incredibly intelligent man who has this fucking mat, you know, believes about the world. And so what I did was in order to make money at the time, he was selling these tours of Holocaust sites, so you could pay to an half grand and go for a week with him on these tours and he would give you the real in the vertical as history of what actually happened in these places. Where was he getting this information from supposedly? Well, I mean, he was from the archives. I mean, he was his own scholarship, but he was doing that thing that, you know, he was finding his own interpretations of this scholarship. And what did he say about like the trenches filled with bodies? Oh, well, I mean, he went through a period of outright Holocaust denial, which he then [1:52:03] kind of repented. And the reason that he's flirtatious with outright Holocaust denial was based on this study, this guy, this guy, he took a chip out of the wall of one of the gas chambers and had it analyzed. And he says- Is the doctor death thing? I don't think so. There was a documentary on this guy, Dr. Death, He's a guy who made execution equipment in the United States. And he got roped up with this hall cost in our group and they sent him to Auschwitz. To Navy. And he said that it didn't show any of the signs of gas. No, the one that got Earth was that this person said, well, the amount of toxins in this concrete isn't even enough to kill a cockroach. But what he didn't understand was that cockroach is a really unbelievably good at surviving and it's much easier to kill a human than a cockroach. Well not only that, that's tough subsides into the air. We looked at it the other day. Yeah, there are tough subsides into the atmosphere very quickly. Like if you if you used it in a room and then opened up the doors, it would go into the atmosphere very quickly. Yeah, so anyway, but to be fair to Irving, because he did admit that he'd made a mistake [1:53:10] there, but he's still a deeply, deeply anti-semitic man. I mean, when I was talking to him. So he was from the beginning and then that flavored his hard-cost denial? Well, it was weird. What I got from him was that he actually was somebody that is very pro-British empire. And I think he liked Hitler. Like his family, his history goes back to, he's all very embedded in the British empire. And he blamed Hitler. He liked Hitler because Hitler was modeling the Third Reich on the British empire. And we had to kind of relinquish empire to pay for the Second World War or something. So that was my sense. But more interesting than Irving with the people, because the people on the tour were actual proper Nazis. Like they had proper Nazi tattoos, like full on. And I was undercover. So I had to pretend that I was also like them. [1:54:01] It was kind of a scary week. But one of the most you get to talk to any of them. All of them, I was hanging out with them, I was on holiday with them. Was it a coach with them and Jamie and yeah, like it was like, they're so weird. So they're all men. I mean, I write about this in the book. I hesitate to say it, but I do write about it. They were quite nice. So, this is still British. Yeah. So this is the weird thing. So what happened was, I interviewed David Irving on day one, and at the time I was a guardian journalist, I couldn't hide my disdain for him, and I kind of fucked up. I let it be known through my line of questioning that I felt he was a racist lunatic, so he kind of walked off. And I was kind of panicking because I think I'm not going to have material from my book. I need to interview him again. And I was talking to the Nazis about a heart in freaking out. And then the person organising the tour, I kept hassling, I said, I need to speak to David again. And she said to me, oh, you know, you might not know this, but all the boys have got together. [1:55:05] And in your lectures at the end of the day, they're all asking questions, asking David questions that they think are gonna be useful and helpful for your book because they think you've been really badly treated. I just thought, that's so nice of this. I know, but that's the thing, that storytelling, they're just blokes, have made a mistake about the world. And what was most interesting about that was that the majority of those men had parents that had fought for the Nazis in the Second World War. So there was one guy on the last night of the trip, they were going to have the showing of the film downfall, the super, did you have the film downfall? No. As a German film, it's incredible. It's a super realistic account of the last seven days of Hitler's life in the Hitler bunker. It's an incredible, incredible film. It's all set in the bunker. And so Erving was going to show downfall and give his alternative taken what was really [1:56:00] going on. And one of these guys couldn't watch downfall because his dad was in the bunker with Hitler and he found it too upsetting. And that was a big light bulb moment for me. So my take away from that was that these David Irving aside, these guys had all been brought up by parents who had proper Nazis and obviously Nazis are sinning for evil. And they couldn't cope with the fact that their dads, probably, or mums perhaps as well, were evil. So they kind of gone on this lifelong mission to convince themselves that the Holocaust was this kind of fabrication and that none of it actually happened. So the stories that in Brainkicks didn't allow themselves to believe this horrific thing about their parents who they adored and looked up to. And probably their parents had filled their head with some of this stuff too, you know? Knowing what you know about our desire for status and how that's just impossible to remove from the human mind and the human society. Do you think [1:57:01] that we could have like a warning guidebook for human beings. The same way the Constitution is sort of a warning guidebook to establish a republic. Like, let's make some real clear checks and balances and let's make sure that the senators and the Congress people and all this stuff gets in place and judicial branch and they planned it out to make sure that one person couldn't just kind of take over and run it. It feels like we should have guidelines, specifically that we teach people at an early age, to recognize that and call it out when you see it and go, no, no, no, no, no, no. Yeah. This is not, you know, I know what you're doing. Like you're, you're hijacking this for your own good. Yeah. And we know when people do it We can't say it because if they attach themselves to a virtuous cause. What do you criticize and blank? You know like what do you not see a racist to transfer whatever it is? It's like we should be able to see those Outside of the merits of the ideas that we're discussing. So whatever we're discussing, whatever it is, it's some sort of public social issue [1:58:09] that everybody's debating. We should be able to discuss it outside of this status trap, where if you yell this, everybody goes, yeah, that should be childlike. We should like shun people to do that. And teach people at a fucking really early age not to do it It's hard to learn because there's no precedent. It's not like there's like You know a hundred years of history on how to use the internet property Nobody knows yeah, they're just doing it because it seems like a thing to do that makes you feel good Give you a little shitty dopamine spike and so they just dive in but if we could It gives you a little shitty dopamine spike. And so they just dive in. But if we could explain to people when they're very young, when they're impressionable, these are patterns that human beings fall into. And this is why they do these things that you think they're being mean or they're being bullies. This is why these are all the patterns. And so the kids could get it in their head. [1:59:01] And maybe they could stop doing it while they're doing it at a young age and learn better patterns. And then as they get older, just sort of like, we're gonna have a much more rational way of interfacing with people. Yeah, I think so. I think we should be taught this stuff. I mean, one of the things that I took away from this was that you get this idea about fascism and totalitarian. So how that happens is that these evil people you come marching in and forcing everybody to believe certain things. When you look at, say, the rise of the Nazis, fascists, totalitarians, they don't go in and force you to do anything. They tell you stories that you want to hear. They flatter you into, you know, that's what the Nazis did. They tell the Germans, you're right, they're wrong. We're gonna get you what you deserve and we're going to take it out on these people that whose fault it is. So, this fascist government, this horrific episode in our history, it didn't begin with force, it began with telling people stories, stories that they wanted to hear, simplistic stories about status, about your wrong, it's wrong is therefore we're going to I'm going to give you what you know [2:00:07] We're going to make Germany great again and you know people people love that stuff I mean the other thing that I think is that people that people sort of need to hear at the moment I suppose is about you can't take the status away from a group of people and expect no pushback So that you know that that's why Trump got voted in. Because since the 60s, the left of stop caring about the white working class and poverty and started caring much more about minorities and women for lots of very good reasons, obviously. But when you ignore a group and they feel disparaged and the real working wages for the white working class in America has fallen since the 60s, their quality of life has plummeted. They're going to react. It's the same way that I feel that we're treating young men at the moment. You can't raise a generation of young men in an environment where you take all their status away and not expect them to react. So people worry about, oh my god, Andrew take our people, flocking [2:01:00] to these men that I don't know anything about Andrew Tate, but say he is misogynist. How could it be that the eye young men are flocking to this individual? It's because you're calling the names, you're removing their status. So you can't, the left need to understand that you can't disparage and dismiss and insult these entire categories of people. And I speak as a lifelong left-wing person. You can't do that and not expect some pushback. My friend Duncan said that about the pandemic. When the people on the left were attacking all the people on the right, he said, dude, this is going to lead to a totalitarian right-wing government. He goes, watch what this happens. Watch what happens. Because all these people on the left are going crazy. It's like, and when I saw the riots and shut it down streets, he was like, oh, this is gonna lead to a totalitarian right-wing government because it's gonna be the opposite reaction to this. Yeah, yeah, exactly. So the harder one hits the harder the response and then the harder they hit back. And it ratchets up. [2:02:01] To several wars. And it ratchets up to several more with the rhetoric ratchets up. Doesn't it? I mean that's what happens. It's some it is potentially dangerous. It's potentially very dangerous and it's not dangerous right here yet right now. But it is. And if you're in Gaza, it certainly is. If you're in Ukraine, it certainly is. And other parts of the world, they convinced people that these people are the bad people, were good people, go get them. Whoo. And then there's the reality of bad people. What do you do about them? I mean, you can't just ignore the fact that there's terrorists out there. Like, you gotta look at all of it. The whole thing is fucking nuts. And if we can recognize patterns and how people fall into patterns, I think we can have less nuts. Just like this has to be established like at a young age. Yeah, you got to get it into it's hard for people once they've become set in their ways And especially if they're like politically active or socially active online and they're really kind of addicted to it That's really where they get their jolies from if you just tell them right now you got to cut that out Like what am I gonna do for 10 hours a day? Yeah, that's literally what I do [2:03:02] You know that's one of my Things that I've always gone back and forth in my head about is universal basic income. One part of me is always like, you know what, if people just don't have money for food and shelter, then they could go do what they wanna do. They could chase their dreams and pursue their dreams. The other part of me is like, yeah, but then they're not gonna have any incentive to do anything. They're gonna have their food taken care of, they're gonna have their shelter taken care of, and they're just gonna fucking, there's gonna be a certain percentage of people that are never gonna get their ass going. They're never gonna miss wasted potential of people who could have pulled their life together and become something really special by overcoming these bizarre obstacles that lead you to success in any given field. But if all of a sudden you have all your food taken care of and your shelter taken care of and you just want to sit there and you're okay. But you see, there's a certain amount of people that need a little something to get them going. And a lot of like really ambitious people came from poverty. Yeah. And it's because when they were young, [2:04:01] they didn't have shit and then they figured out that you got to work harder and you got to go after things. But I think we will have different personalities and people are going to respond to poverty in different ways and some people have a particular personality where they're wired more for the besiege of status where they're going to go fuck this. Right, you know. So as a percentage, you're going to of that is genetic and can't be helped. Really? Genetic? Yeah. Bullpark figure, 50% of who we are is genetic. We all have different personality types. If you're extraver, that's a good thing. Neal, liberal market economy because you're sociable, you're ambitious. If you're low in agreeableness, that's also a good thing in our particular environment because you're competitive. But if you're not those things and if you have a low IQ and if you are, then you are going to struggle massively to compete in the world today. So my argument is that is that those people deserve [2:05:08] some help. You know, those those people deserve a social safety net because there's no such things as a pure meritocracy because we're not we don't human brains don't roll off the production line at Foxconn. We're all wired differently with different talents. And the fact is some people have low IQs. Some people have personalities which are anti-social, which mean that they can't get on in human groups, they lose their temper. And we can try and help those people, but you can't completely rewire those people, like it's impossible, for example, to turn an extrovert into an introvert, because of, you know, because a lot of that is genetic, like we're born with these semi-finished brains. So, so genes aren't fates, but they do set us in a certain direction. And most of the rest of that kind of creation of self happens when we're young in the first 20 years of life. And it's mostly sort of episodes of life over which we have no control. So about the summer in our 20s and 20s, we're kind of who we are. There's not much that's [2:06:02] going to change us in a dramatic sense apart from serious trauma. So I think that's why we, you know, that idea of neoliberalism with cushions. I think there are categories of people that are always going to need our help through no fault of their own because they're just not equipped biologically to deal with this hyper competitive world that we were all brought into these days. What percentage of people that do have the potential to break out of that won't because of a social assistance net that's a little bit too comfortable? Well I think is there a percentage that we're going to lose? I don't know but I think what we need to have is, I mean I think that's why education is so important because a good school system will find those incredible talented people. Like my father was from a family of brick layers going back generations and he had a scholarship to Oxford University. You know you, you, you, [2:07:00] yeah a great school system discovers those people and motivates them and tells them you could have incredible stuff if you just do a bit of work You've got an excellent mind and an excellent personality and and I think that's the job of the school system Is to is to find those people and give them the very best education they can possibly have and again That's a that's a welfare kind of social safety net. Oh, yeah, big sort of slightly bigger tax That certainly is, but the idea of just straight money in housing, that's what I'm talking about. Straight money in housing is a different kind of social safety net. And I think that there's a real good argument for what you're saying that some people are just, they just don't have the tools. But then there's also a good argument that some people have never been given the opportunity to excel in a thing that they're interested in because they never really found a thing they're interested in. It's just getting, there's some people that will like lead very unspectacular lives and then they found this one thing and they got really good at that one thing and became a superstar at it and they'll tell you, you know, I was 28 years old, I was just kind of fucking around one day with my friends, and then I really got into it. [2:08:05] And then I started to, and then next thing, you know, like this guy's like a famous person in the field or whatever it is. That happens. That does happen. But it probably happens less if you have everything taken care of. So there's a bunch of things going on. There's people that are kind of hopeless, unfortunately, and maybe that is a genetic thing. Maybe at least some of them, it is a genetic thing. But there's also people that are uninterested and maybe uninspired, and maybe it's not as simple as them going to school. Maybe seeing someone around you that lives life in a way that you admire. Someone who's like, I wanna be like that guy, or I wanna be like Like, what is that? And where, how do you get that to people? Because that's a big factor. It's a giant factor on who you become as an adult human being. It's like who are you exposed to as a child? Absolutely. Yeah. So there's a really great academic. He may have even been on this. I don't know. good Joseph Henrich, he's done also work in how we operate in groups and he's done this research that shows that [2:09:10] those people that we kind of glom onto, especially when we're young, but we never stop doing it. There are various cues in our environment that we subconsciously seek out to mimic people. One of them is similarity. So we had to divide people who are a bit like us. They're men and all likely to glom onto men, women, women, that kind of thing. And then there's other various cues. It's like skill cues. So if we see somebody's really competent at something, we'll start to mimic them and copy them. They're success cues. So the symbols of success, so the fast car or in the tribal context, the necklace of teeth. And then the other one is prestige cues. So if we see lots of other people attending to one person, we'll also attend to them. And then the psychological school, this is the Paris Hilton effect, where the more people look at somebody, [2:10:02] the more people look at them and it just goes into this runaway thing and do you get some doubt, Paris Hilton who's got no apparently a skill for anything who becomes globally famous. So the brain's always looking for these people to identify and then copy. And the logic is that these people are high status. They've worked at how to earn status in the game that we're playing. And so by copying them, we too will learn and rise in status. So I guess that's just a log windowed way of saying that role models are really important. And I think that's why we see the government always worries about issues of street gangs in socioeconomic, poor places. Gihadist groups in those places. And the reason we have street gangs in socio-economic, poor places. Gihadist groups in those places. And the reason we have street gangs in Gihadist groups isn't because boys will be boys and they're naughty, they're criminals, they're monsters. It's because they need status. And so if you're a young man growing up in a horrible estate in South London [2:11:01] and you're 14 years old and you want status and you've got a choice, and you're gonna years old and you want status and you've got a choice. I'm going to work in the supermarket, stacking shelves. I'm going to become a drug dealer and drive a Ferrari. What are you going to choose? Yeah. So that's what society needs to figure out. It's kind of what you were saying is that we need to give young people, especially in lower socioeconomic groups, more opportunities to earn status. That's one of the things that being middle class is you get all those opportunities to earn status. I mean that's one of the things that being middle class is you get all those opportunities to earn status, you get education, you go to college, you can choose all these careers but poorer people just don't have those opportunities here and so I think you're right, I think lives are wasted, human value is wasted because those opportunities just aren't made for young people. You ever listen to Gangstar? No. Gangstar has a song about it called Just to Get a Rep. Oh really? Yeah. It's all about people doing things just to get a reputation. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. There was a guy in the 70s who went to this Nigerian Africa and it used to be this like a run by the royal, so aristocratic rulers. [2:12:07] And then this jihadist came in and just got rid of them all. And he was curious, his guy, his name is Basqam, I think, that what Jerome Basqam, why is it that Islam is really popular in this place? Because it should be hated, because they've swept away everybody's status games, the existing status games they were playing. So he went in and he met to a former like descendants of the Royalty and one of them was a peanuts seller and he was miserable and he was kind of stooped and depressed and struggled in his marriage and was bitter because he used to be this big man and now he was nothing. And the other guy had gone into the Islamic, the Muslim, the status game of Islam and he learned the Quran by the age of 16, which is very prestigious. Yeah, and he was killing it. He was proud, he had multiple wives, he was happy, so he wasn't [2:13:00] wealthy, but he was happy. So he said, that know, that's why Islam was popular in that place. It's because it was offering a new and functional status game. So when you've got nothing, you find a game to play. If you want to be successful in your own mind and in your own health. And so that's how Islam became so popular and successful there. And that's how religions become popular generally. They offer people who have not much else reliable past the status Yeah, that's why they try to squash them as quick as they can this country. We knew once pop up That's we go, you know, yeah, and that's so many of them Well, that's what it's again That's what happens in under communism and Nazism one of the first things they do is they get rid of all the other rival status games. Like, a big one in the Soviet Union was the Christians. You know, they were torturing kill them. Yeah, because it was because... And it's still in China today. We could... Yeah, it's... They see religions as a rival status game. And you can't have that in a big totalitarian state. [2:14:02] Ooh! Yeah. The weaker one's a crazy one, right? Because it's hard to get information about what exactly is going on. What are they making these people do? Yeah. It's such a strange subject in that it's so pivotal. It's so crucial to understanding how human beings behave and what we do. but yet it's so rarely addressed. Instead they look at all the symptoms. Everybody looks at all the side effects and all the problem They're not looking at the actual pattern that people seem to just naturally fall into. Yeah, I was amazed When I wrote the book that nobody had written it before because it's just seems so fundamental Yeah, and I think part of the thing is that people are in denial about their own interest in status. I think we've evolved to hide it from ourselves. And so people insist that they're not interested in status. But you are. That keeps in your wiring, everybody. It's like nobody wants to be called an asshole. [2:15:02] Yeah. At all. And that's because it's a removal of your status. Yeah, it's like that thing, the I don't care thing. Of course you care, every one of course. Yeah, it's nonsense. And you get self-help guru saying you shouldn't care what other people think about you. But it's like, you always go into care. It's nonsense, it's nonsense. We're designed to care very deeply because other people give us our status. And also, why would you not want to care? Because that's a psychopath. Exactly, that's the problem. The other thing that says that how do we get out of the status game? And it's like the same thing. It's like, why would you want to? Because status is your reward for offering value to other people. So why would you not want to offer value to other people? That's like the definition of a loser. Right. If you stop caring that other people think you're a valuable person, then you really are those people that you were talking about that just have no gap and go. Then you're the unabomber. Exactly. The unabomber really did like people. No, but he was another one. He was another guy that, you know, the roots of the un of the universe is fascinating that he went to was it half of [2:16:06] a university and had those experiments and that was an exercise in humiliation. Yeah, so it was the LSD studies and part of what they did when they dose them up with LSD and they would do humiliating things to him and be raided him and they were doing it as an experiment. They were trying to see what they could do to him and how he would react and the fact they were using LSD while they were doing this is so nuts. Yeah, they got him to, they said it was going to experiment and the first thing to do was he had to write down in great detail all of his secrets, all of his hopes and dreams, like his most personal important things and then he was sat in a desk like this with lights shining in his face and all these people were just mocking him, mocking him, mocking him, tearing him to bits. So absolutely humiliated him. And then what happened? You know the story of his childhood too? I don't know the service child. When he was a baby, he was very ill. And so they brought him to an infirmary and he wasn't allowed to have any contact [2:17:01] with his parents for like months. So for like several months while he was a child, I don't remember exactly how long but it was horrifically long. He didn't get human touch, which they didn't understand back then, I guess, that that's crucial to the development of a human being without it, you literally a baby will go mad. And so then when he was older, one of the things his brother talked about because his brother was the one who read the manifesto and recognized his brother's handwriting. Because it wasn't just a manifesto. It was the specific way that he was talking about things and the way his understanding of technology and it was his brother. His brother had this like crazy anti-technology philosophy a long fucking time ago, but he was saying that like if he made an advance on a girl and the girl rejected him, he would be horrific. And angry and write letters and just be raided. He was crazy where he had to go. I mean, what the fuck are you doing? So he knew his brother was just broken. [2:18:00] He was always broken. So to take that guy, you know, don't sum up with LSDSD and humiliate him like they made a fucking monster Yeah, and who did he attack like the the you and in unibomber his universities He he took his you know it was revenge on the intellectual class who were kind of creating this world He he hates it. It's like It was about Elliot Rogers the the the spree killer, you know He felt rejected again and again and again by the by the pretty girls of the world So his brain told in his horrifically misogynist story that Girls with a women were the responsible for all the evils in the world and decided to go out and you know killer bunch of them That's what the brain does it tells us these stories that the people who are responsible for my lack of status are evil and they must be destroyed It's a horrible pattern. Mm. It's a horrible pattern that people get into. And again, not really that commonly discussed. We've only discussed the actions themselves, not the root cause of it. But how do you get a guy like that Elliot Rogers guy? [2:19:02] How do you fix that? How do you stop that from happening? Well, he left behind a, like a, I think it's 80,000 word autobiography called My Twisted Life. Does anybody publish it? He put it on the internet before he did his killing. He's a chaotic people. And it's an incredible read. Like, I'm not joking, I reckon. Really? Yeah, it's horrific, but he's brutally honest about himself. Like, he's life was absolutely miserable. And so what I felt was really interesting was that he always, starting in adolescence, he felt where he was bullied relentlessly at school and he was desperate for a girlfriend. And he was just weird around people in general. But he was kind of holding it together because he was obsessed with World of Warcraft. So he would play World of Warcraft obsessively, he got a lot of status and he got to the highest level which apparently is a very rare thing to do. And then what happens is that he's just got these two or three friends that he plays World of Warcraft with at the internet cafe. And then he finds out one day that they're actually playing without him in secret because they don't want to play with him anymore. And that breaks him. [2:20:10] That's the thing that breaks him. So he goes from just being a casual, you know, very unpleasant misogynist to somebody who is mentally ill. He starts talking about how... Was that definitive though? Because what did they say the reason why they'd start hanging out with him for? He might have been insane already. Well, he was certainly... Well, he certainly wasn't normal, but in his memoir, he goes from being a definitely a weirdo, like without a doubt. But then he starts telling a story where actually he's this kind of god-like character that has a special insight in the world. And the special insight is that all the evil in the world is because women choose jocks to procreate with and not superior people like him. So what he's going to do is take over the world and abolish sex because sex is a root of all evil and he's going to allow certain women to procreate under certain [2:21:04] conditions, but only for the continuation of the species. So this, he goes from just being a misogynist and an outcast to somebody who's mentally ill. Well, calm and cynical, but I don't think people not playing world of warcraft with you can do that. I have a feeling. He might have already been out of his fucking mind. Yeah, he was just me. Well, yeah, he was definitely getting that way. But for me, it was interesting that he's only remaining source of status was the world of rocker. It was taken away from him. Yeah. And it was that day when he had this revelation. So maybe it's the coincidence that I already out of his fucking mind. Yeah, there's no way that just does it to you. No, no, I'm not saying you went from black to white. The Starr. He went from being a horrible awkward misogynist to somebody who was having these fantasies of abolishing sex and that he was a god. That's a kind of difference. Yeah, it was the, it pushed him over the edge. Yeah, that's what I think. And there's a lot of people out there that are just on the edge. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. [2:22:06] So that's why I think it's so, that's why I think it's healthy to have, you know, lots of different status games. You know, I think I think the healthiest people have multiple sources of status. Yeah. You were talking about that in the trigonometry podcast. Like have more than one thing that you're interested in. That way all of your emotional self-worth is not invested in one particular thing that you do. Yes, it's like a really good advice. Yeah. I try to follow that advice. Good. Yeah, I like to keep, I tell comedians too, you should have things you're interested in other than comedy. Have something you really love that's fun to do. It's something you engage, not just something you watch, but something you do. That's why I joined this volunteer for this crisis line because it's like the only thing I do is right if this is taken away from me Right, right, right. It's interesting. Yeah, but also there's like something really powerful about helping somebody You know, it's almost selfish It but you know what I mean? It is though. It is like it like it definitely it's um [2:23:01] I mean that in the best possible way. Yeah, I'm not really think it's selfish, I think it's wonderful. But I think it's kind of selfish in that when I do really nice things, it feels good too. But that's again, this is the status game. It's like we are wired to when we offer, earn that kind of virtue-based status. We want to feel good about ourselves. That's healthy, that's normal, it's good. The fact that humans automatically reward each other and ourselves when we give to others is probably the most wonderful thing about our species. It's like an incredible thing that we do. Yeah. So it's nothing to be, I don't think it's anything to be ashamed of, that people feel good about doing good things. That's how it's ought to be. That's part of the reason why we do good thing if you're wired to give to the trip back to the tribe Yeah, the only thing that stops more of it is people that are in severe despair Mm-hmm, and then they get real selfish because they have to looking out for themselves That's one of the major problems with not addressing all the horrible spots in a country It's like you're just gonna have more people in despair [2:24:01] Mm-hmm less people that engage in this status game in an enjoyable way, in a beneficial way. Yeah, that's right. Yeah. Yeah. And that's one of those things that crosses both ideological boundaries. And this is where I think we have a real problem, is that so many people just subscribe to whatever one side believes because of this status game and they don't take in and consider like why am I attached to this idea? What does it have to do with the other ones that I like? Yeah. Like why are they all lumped in together? How come if I believe this I also have to believe in that? Yeah. Because that's what it is. Like if I if you tell me that you don't believe in climate change I I can guarantee you how you're gonna vote. Yeah, that's right. I mean, that's it. Like in the UK, somebody that thinks that there should be more public money spent on buses. I can guarantee you how you're gonna vote. But also, we will likely to be on the Palestinian side of the Middle East in conflict. 100%. Buses, Middle East. [2:25:01] Nothing to do with each other, but they... And I've got this... And I've got this, you feel about guns, sir. Do you believe in the Second Amendment? Because I fucking do. And then I know how you're voting. That's it. I mean, I've got this kind of idea that... Not always. Once you're past the age of 45, or even be smart enough to have figured out that they've got some stuff right and they've got some stuff right and you should have decided for yourself which is which. So when I meet somebody that's my age and they're just giving this sort of list of talking points from left to right, I just think, oh god, you're 16. You're a 16 year old. That's what's weird. It's weird how some people will argue about something and then when you just calmly and rationally ask him like, why do you believe this? Like what do you know about the studies that we're involved in this? Like what do you know about the origin of this? Like you can say it in the most peaceful way and just talk just like that. [2:26:02] And they'll get hostile. Because they don't have that information. Yeah. They just know that you must be some sort of a bad person if you're not following the narrative. Yeah. Like come on, we all know what's going on. We all know, you wouldn't want Trump to win. If you don't know, everybody knows. Everybody knows. Well, no, not. Yeah. I think you're know why you believe it. I didn't say what I believe. But people can't engage like that. There's very few people can like stand outside their ideas. And one of the things that I always try to tell is many people who listen. One of the things that's benefited me tremendously is when I stop being attached to my ideas. I don't believe in my ideas. I do, in the sense that these are some ideas that I have and I wonder if this is right But if if it's not right, I'm not I'm not attached to it Like I can go oh I used to think that but now I know this and that doesn't diminish your worth and But what does diminish your worth is if you fucking cling to that other stupid thing even that after you know [2:27:02] It's not real. Yeah, that's just's just dumb. Like you're not your ideas. You're just a human being that's interfacing with a fucking shitload of information. And most of it, you're only going to have a peripheral understanding of. You know, ask most people, how's the sewage system work? You can't even know it's so important to use it every day. How does it function without electricity? I flourish. she comes back. What the fuck's going on? Most people have zero idea, but it's like a critical part of their day. That's it, and that's about active belief. It's the beliefs that they've become part of our identity. They're the dangerous ones. Because those are the ones that are status generators for us. Our status depends on this idea that about biological women or about white versus black, men versus women. And then once you're in that space, you can't trust your own thoughts because your brain isn't thinking what's true. Your brain is thinking how can I defend this belief? How can I defend this belief? Because this belief is me. I am this belief. This is my status game. [2:28:00] It's based on this belief. Yeah. And it's a really dangerous trap that everyone can fall into, all of us. That's why cults are so terrifying to me. They're not terrifying to me because I look at these people like, oh, they're so stupid, you know, these fucking dummies are gonna ruin the world. No, I'm terrified, because that could have been me. Yeah. That 100% could be anybody, and I think we are naive to think that we're not subject to the same kind of capture that many, many people have gotten into. Whether it's communism or whether it's socialism or whether it's Nazism or one of these crazy fucking cults where people cut their balls off where the purple sneakers, you could get sucked into it. Maybe not you. Maybe you are at a certain level of your life where you have enough sophistication and understanding and you're good at reading people and you can recognize bullshit but maybe you maybe you have enough for that but maybe the next one will get you maybe there's one that's a little bit better and you know it's kind of a church but it's a rock and roll kind of thing and you know the one of the good so a thought experiment that I like is this idea that the kind of shows [2:29:04] that your irrational beliefs are invisible to you. So when you think about the people that are close to you, like you can, you know, each one of those people what they're wrong about, like this person, don't get them talking about that. No, this person's mad about that. And then the further you go out from your social circles, the more wrong and mad and crazy people will get to you get to the bulk cut and cold and the communists. So that just leaves you in the middle, the island of perfect island of absolute rationality. So you go hang on a minute, that can't be right. So I'm not Jesus. Like I must be wrong about some stuff. How can I be? But when you go looking for what you're wrong about and you can't cheat by going stuff that you don't care about, they're like what, what ideas are really important to you? Well I'm not wrong about that. I'm not wrong about that. I'm not wrong about that. So you can't see it. You feel like Jesus. You feel like I'm the most correct person literally in the world. You know logically you can't be but you can't see you can't find what you're wrong about. Especially if you're rationalizing everything that you do and every idea that you have as being the correct idea. [2:30:03] Which is why it's so dangerous. Your value, your worth, should not be entirely your ideas. That's crazy. It's a terrible strategy because you can be hanging onto a bad idea. And then you have to cling onto it and defend it. You can't say, oh, that idea was bad. Because that's you, you're bad. Well, that's what's stupid about it. It doesn't have to be that way. You can just think of them as ideas. It doesn't mean you, but if you irrationally defend an idea, then it is you. Well, as soon as that becomes an active belief, a belief that you're acting out in the world, that's causing your behavior, that you're trying to spread to other people and convince other people is true. Then you're already on a slippery slope because you're already feeling irrationally about that. I've seen it happen to brilliant people. Yeah. I really have and it's so weird to watch. It's like you lost them. Like I bit by a vampire. Yeah, I did a lot of writing about that. Drimba, the skeptics, Drimba when they were big. Yeah, those guys were great. But it always struck me that they were also irrational about certain things. And when I was doing my reporting, [2:31:06] their big moral panic, status frenzy, was homeopathy, they were obsessed with homeopathy. And they were like, because homeopathy's just empty pills, and it's ridiculous, and do do do do. But I just thought this is weird, because we know the placebo effects works, it's a real thing. So surely homeopathy is just very elaborate placebo theory. It works is a real thing. So, surely, homeopathy is just a very elaborate placebo theory. It works as a placebo. So, it still works. So, I put this to a guy who was a big famous atheist, he presented a very famous podcast at the time. And I said, what about the, it's a placebo effect. So, it's, it's surely it's a valuable thing homeopathy. And he said, no, no, no, no, no, that's not right. The data is in on this. We know about this. He said, what we know is, the placebo is only psychological, not physiological. So people think they're getting better, but they're not getting better. But it's like, hang on a minute. If the perception of pain has decreased, [2:32:02] then the pain has decreased. Like the perception of your depression has decreased, then the depression has decreased. So that's actually like, Abil doesn't work. Yeah, exactly. So it's like this guy who is incredibly smart and incredibly well-known in the skeptic community had managed to convince himself that the placebo effect was this fake thing that didn't really work because it was only psychological. Just so to give him permission to sort of shit on homeopathy. That was a placebo effect work in terms of curing diseases. No, nothing. Things like pain. Zero. I don't just pain. Yeah, things like pain and depression. Things that are, yeah, so it didn't cure cancer, can't shrink a tumor. But it does work with pain and depression. That's fascinating. Yeah, that's fascinating. Yeah, I mean, there were a lot of studies that show that when you buy a brand, I always buy brand name painkillers because it has greater placebo than the cheap supermarket and the brand. And even when you know it's the placebo, it still works more. [2:33:01] So that extra few bucks that you're spending on the the brand name paint. Well, isn't there just a problem calling yourself a skeptic? Because why don't just be a thinker? Yeah. It's like why why are you specifically looking at things and I'm cynical. You know, like that's silly. There's a lot of things that are real. Like what do you do when you stumble across something that's real? Well, I used to be skeptical, but this turns out to be legit. Well, it's like you're just looking at everything, hoping it's not legit, because that's where you get your value in your status. Exactly. In that status from Colin Bullshitt? In that book I ended up meeting, you know, James Randy. He was there big God, you know. And he was a very strange individual. And part of the interview, I challenged him a lot of the things he'd claimed in his life and he ended up admitting to me that he'd lied and been dishonest about his achievements in the past. Oh, no. What achievements? Well, achievements and also lied a lot about the things he'd said about, you know, he [2:34:04] had this million dollar challenge. Yes. So his whole thing was like, is it easy thing to do? If you prove anything that's supernatural or woo-woo, he used to call it, you get a million dollars. And the fact that nobody had ever got this million dollars was his proof that none of this could exist. But there is story after story after story after story of people applying for this million dollar challenge him backing out of the last minute for Spurious reasons and then attacking that person in public So so they happened again and again and again I think the worst instance of that was this Greek again homeopathy person who who'd spent something like half a million euros Setting up a study in a hospital to to test Properly test whether it's home if he worked. And just on the eve of it happening, he insisted that it all had to start again and the pilot study had to be made. And then blamed the other guy for pulling out. So I came to him with a basically a binder full of this stuff and he eventually admitted, you know, I have been [2:35:02] dishonest, I have been untrue. But one of the amazing things about that was that I asked him at the end of the interview, after he admitted, yes, I've lied about this stuff. I said, if you ever changed your mind about anything, and he was in his 80s at the time, I think he couldn't tell me a single thing that he had ever changed his mind about. That's crazy. That is not a critical thinker. That's a. That is not a critical thing. That's the stuff in our soul. Yeah, and on that note, hey man, thank you very much for being here. It's a lot of fun. I really really enjoyed it and like I said I enjoyed your interview on trigonometry. I recommend everybody go. It's a great podcast anyway. So thank you very much and thank you for the book and thank you for being able to like lay this out and still like I said digestible way. Thank you Joe. I already appreciate you