Rebel Wisdom

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Reflecting on the Pandemic, Zubin Damania

A wide-ranging conversation on the experience of sensemaking during the pandemic, with Zubin Damania (ZDoggMD).

Zubin first came to my attention with a viral video at the start of 2020 where he channelled some righteous anger at the medical establishment's response to the pandemic, and said he hoped that the crisis would be the trigger to “burn this broken system to the ground”. For years he's been arguing for a significant change to the medical system, away from treating people as interchangeable parts in a machine and towards a more holistic vision of what he calls Health 3.0.

During the pandemic we compared notes on what we were seeing, through shared frameworks like Ken Wilber's Integral Theory and Jonathan Haidt's “moral tastebuds”. He argues for nuance and complexity, and dubs his political perspective as “alt-middle”.

0:00 - The Pandemic & the Information Ecology

04:02 - Zubin & Health Care 3.0

08:09 - The USP of Rebel Wisdom, curating a conversation

10:09 - The pandemic was a stress test that we failed

14:03 - The internet leaking out into the real world

16:37 - The religiosity of the Covid debate

19:53 - The rise in conspiracy narratives

22:56 - Questioning our own thinking

29:33 - Public intellectuals going off the rails

32:48 - The hermeneutics of suspicion

39:00 - A culture of bullshit

44:14 - Conspiracies thrive in the gaps of the mainstream

46:31 - The pre/trans of the insurgency after 2018

53:34 - Paradox of being outside the institutions - audience capture

58:27 - Warping effects of the tech platforms accelerated on creators

01:00:37 - Attention hijack as opposite of mindfulness

01:02:41 - The tragic arc of Jordan Peterson

01:06:55 - The return of the repressed

01:14:14 - The return of psychedelic medicine

01:18:57 - The limitations of psychedelics

01:22:51 - Meditation & Awakening

01:29:36 - Ayahuasca

01:32:14 - Culture War 2.0 & the memetic tribes

01:43:06 - Post Pandemic Awakening

01:46:39 - The English Taboo Against Earnestness

01:49:30 - Mutual Appreciation Society

Curiosity & Wonder, John Vervaeke & Jonathan Pageau

This was a special in person dialogue between the cognitive scientist John Vervaeke and the symbolism expert Jonathan Pageau.

They reflect on what each finds valuable about each other's work, the nature of the conversation that they have been part of, good and bad criticism, the nature of symbolism and much more. 

It was recorded in Toronto during the making of the forthcoming Rebel Wisdom documentary about John Vervaeke's thought. Some behind the scenes pictures, and a second part of this film is available for subscribers on the Rebel Wisdom Substack: LINK HERE

John Vervaeke's YouTube channel is here: 

Jonathan Pageau's work can be found here: 

Timecodes for the conversation:

0:00 - What does Jonathan appreciate about John's work?

3:55 - What does John appreciate about Jonathan's work?

9:35 - What is the nature of the wider conversation you are both part of?

16:10 - The nature of criticism & "civility porn"

24:09 - The need to go beyond the political layer of analysis

26:19 - Paranoia fuelled by the 'Hermeneutics of Suspicion'

35:16 - Dialogue, Curiosity & Wonder

48:25 - How Symbolism breaks the frame and rewires our thinking

54:36 - A parable is to a narrative what a koan is to a question

57:35 - "I want to help people fall in love with Being again"

01:05:23 - The moral of Socrates and Alcibiades

01:12:56 - Patterns of Being; love, faith & beauty

01:21:32 - Freedom cannot be absolute

The Religion of Productivity, Oliver Burkeman

For years the journalist Oliver Burkeman became obsessed with productivity and personal growth, documenting his explorations in a weekly column. Finally it struck him that this attempt was a deeply religious quest, tied into ideas of perfectibility and salvation. When he realised this, he was finally able to find more peace.

"For me, the obsession with productivity was totally tied up with this weird self-worth question. [There's] this whole notion that it's all focussed on some moment when everything's going to be alright…there's something about that feels like it's got something to do with justification and salvation, and that feels very religious to me." 

Oliver is someone who has had a similar path to Rebel Wisdom’s founder David Fuller, working for the legacy media, and also very interested in personal growth, and they sat down for a wide ranging and fascinating conversation which we are releasing now as a special preview for all Rebel Wisdom subscribers.

Check out Oliver's latest book 'Four Thousand Weeks', a sobering allusion to the average human lifespan: 

Embodiment and Flow with John Vervaeke, Schuyler Brown, Rafe Kelley and more

Learning how to come to our senses and connect to our bodies is essential in an information landscape that highjacks our attention and pulls it away from what matters to us. 

Our new course 'Embodiment and Flow' helps you reconnect through breathwork, mindfulness, cultural embodiment, movement, rhythm and flow training. In this launch film we play clips from the course faculty - John Vervaeke, Schuyler Brown, Nicola Price, Roger Jackson, Dr. Shama Rahman and Tom Morley - as they explain different ways we can connect to our bodies and get into a state of flow.

Read more and sign up here: 

Learn practical embodiment tools you can apply to your life, and to making sense of culture in a completely new way. Learn how embodiment makes it easier to tap into a flow state - that space of being 'in the zone', where time slows down and we move seamlessly with your environment, performing at the best of our abilities. Find out what your unique embodiment needs are and learn how to meet them with the support of world-class teachers and participants from around the world.

Comedy & Wisdom, John Lloyd

John Lloyd is a legendary comedy producer, who produced some of the biggest comedy hits of the 80s and 90s, including Not the Nine O Clock News, Spitting Image, and all four series of Blackadder.

After a mid life crisis he realised that his success wasn't making him happy, and this led to a lengthy search for meaning and wisdom. 

This conversation with Rebel Wisdom's David Fuller covered everything from comedy, to the nature of creativity, and the meaning of life. 

They also discuss his relationship with his former flatmate and writing partner Douglas Adams, the creator of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


00:00 Intro
05:17 Personal Life
11:59 Knowing Nothing
16:32 Religion & The Origin of Ideas
26:11 Quite Interesting
30:01 Depression & Focusing on the Other
38:34 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy & Douglas Adams
45:29 Religion & Secular Rituals
54:02 Science & Spirituality
01:02:44 Intelligence, Comedy & Wisdom 
01:12:01 Paradigm Shift
01:20:17 Closing

Conspiracy Theories, Russia & Cancellation, Daniel Pinchbeck

This is a wide ranging conversation about conspiracy theories, the occult, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and more with the writer Daniel Pinchbeck. 

Over the years Daniel has spent a lot of time investigating alternative narratives including conspiracy, and has been critical of Rebel Wisdom in the past for not taking these seriously enough. 

Alongside this conversation we are publishing a long written piece about the subject of conspiracy theories, with special focus on the recent high profile interview of Maajid Nawaz on the Joe Rogan podcast: 

We also talk about Daniel's high profile sex scandal and 'cancellation'. 

You can find Daniel's writing on his Substack here: 

Elon Musk, Twitter, Free Speech vs Moderation. Jim Rutt & Aaron Rabinowitz

In one of the most important developments in the dynamic between big tech, free speech and media in many years, Elon Musk is buying Twitter for $44bn.

Much of the commentary online has devolved into the predictable political shouting matches, and there has been very little engagement with the key questions that this brings up about the nature of moderation, of how to create healthy dialogue and what problems Elon will have to wrestle with in taking Twitter forward.

Jim Rutt is the former head of the Santa Fe Institute, and has been involved with online communities since the birth of the internet. He believes that Elon has not fully wrestled with the problem of moderation that he will be taking on with Twitter, a view he explained in his new piece for Quillette, 'Musk & Moderation': 

This is a sometimes robust debate and disagreement with Aaron Rabinowitz, a moral philosopher and host of the Embrace the Void podcast. Aaron has spent time wrestling with these same issues, in particular in a famous experiment he ran during the Trump election of 2016 when he created a completely unmoderated discussion group, called Monster island: 

Check out Jim's podcast, the Jim Rutt Show: 

And Aaron's podcast Embrace the Void: 

The War on Reality, Mary Harrington & Paul Kingsnorth

"This is like The Matrix written from the point of view in which Agent Smith is the good guy, isn't it?" — Paul Kingsnorth

Mary Harrington and Paul Kingsnorth are two of the most intriguing thinkers we’ve featured on Rebel Wisdom. Despite substantial overlap between Paul's concept of "the machine" and Mary's idea of "luxury Gnosticism", they have never been in dialogue with each other. 

This was a fascinating and wide ranging conversation where Paul and Mary pushed back against the modernist fervor for transcending the limits of the natural world — they want to remind you that meatspace is not going away, and that it can be quite lovely!

Mary and Paul are returning soon to the Rebel Wisdom Digital Campfire to talk more about this topic, asking the question, 'What Do We Do?'. To join that conversation become a RW member: 

Check out Paul's newsletter 'The Abbey of Misrule': 

And Mary's work for Unherd: 

The State of Heterodoxy, David Fuller & Meghan Daum

This is a conversation that was originally posted on Meghan Daum's 'Unspeakable' podcast as 'Talking Sense Into Sensemakers'.

David and Meghan talk about their shared history exploring the 'heterodox' space over the last years, and their impressions of what needs to come next.

Unspeakable podcast: 

The Agent in the Arena, John Vervaeke & Jonathan Rowson

John Vervaeke is a cognitive scientist - a good friend of RW - and the creator of the cult hit - awakening from the meaning crisis series.

A couple of weeks ago he travelled to the UK for a series of talks - and we took the opportunity to film this excellent dialogue with the philosopher and chess grandmaster Jonathan Rowson, the co-founder of Perspectiva.

They cover a lot of ground, including John's passion for transformative speech - or dialogos, questions like the existence of God, and much more.

We had our own brilliant event with John - which is listed as a member film - and you can see by signing up for our Substack newsletter: 

John's YouTube channel: 

Jonathan's project, Perspectiva: 

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