The Evolution of Religions - Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond, professor of geography at UCLA, received the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 1998 for Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. In 1999, he received the National Medal of Science. His most recent book is Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2004).

Professor Diamond argues that religion has encompassed at least four independent components that have arisen or disappeared at different stages of development of human societies over the last 10,000 years.

How Much Do We Differ From Others and When Do We Know it?

About the Lecture

Envy Shane Frederick’s Consumer Behavior students. They get to assign prices to such real but quirky products as jalapeno- and popcorn-flavored jelly beans, as well as to hypothetical products, like a pill that enables one to speak French instantly. More to the point, Frederick asks his student-confederates whether they would pay more or less than others for these goods. From classroom experiments and his own research in cognitive and social psychology and decision theory, Frederick has discovered a “false consensus” around our “willingness to pay for goods” (WPG). Individuals assume that whatever they would be willing to pay for an item, others would pay more. This applies to imaginary and actual products, as well as to such experiences as “spending time in a discomfort room.” And while Frederick’s research shows how firmly individuals differentiate themselves from others, at least around “WPG,” he remarks on an apparent paradox: people find common preferences when confronted with stimuli as disparate as Chinese ideograms, sachets, and even lines arrayed on a page. Frederick concludes that “a shared evolutionary and cultural history induces some degree of agreement about nearly everything,” so that our own beliefs are often “the best signal (we) have about others’ preferences.” Yet, don’t assume too much, because “humans have a widespread, mistaken belief that they value things less than others.” Frederick sees some relevance in these findings for marketing strategy

Neil deGrasse Tyson- Death By Black Hole And Other Cosmic Quandaries

ommonwealth Club of California
San Francisco, CA
Feb 9th, 2007

Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about Death By Black Hole And Other Cosmic Quandaries
Ever wondered what would happen to your body should you accidentally fall into a black hole? The man who first suggested Pluto was not a planet - setting off scientific soul-searching about our solar system - now leads an exciting journey through the extremes of the universe, from the excruciatingly hot, to the unbearably cold, to the ultra-gravitational.

Night Talk: Niall Ferguson - The Ascent of Money

In The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson shows that finance is in fact the foundation of human progress. What’s more, he reveals financial history as the essential backstory behind all history.

Through Ferguson’s expert lens familiar historical landmarks appear in a new and sharper financial focus. Suddenly, the civilization of the Renaissance looks very different: a boom in the market for art and architecture made possible when Italian bankers adopted Arabic mathematics. The rise of the Dutch republic is reinterpreted as the triumph of the world’s first modern bond market over insolvent Habsburg absolutism. And the origins of the French Revolution are traced back to a stock market bubble caused by a convicted Scot murderer.
With the clarity and verve for which he is known, Ferguson elucidates key financial institutions and concepts by showing where they came from. What is money? What do banks do? What’s the difference between a stock and a bond? Why buy insurance or real estate? And what exactly does a hedge fund do?
This is history for the present. Ferguson travels to post-Katrina New Orleans to ask why the free market can’t provide adequate protection against catastrophe. He delves into the origins of the subprime mortgage crisis.
Perhaps most important, The Ascent of Money documents how a new financial revolution is propelling the world’s biggest countries, India and China, from poverty to wealth in the space of a single generation—an economic transformation unprecedented in human history.
Yet the central lesson of the financial history is that sooner or later every bubble bursts—sooner or later the bearish sellers outnumber the bullish buyers, sooner or later greed flips into fear. And that’s why, whether you’re scraping by or rolling in it, there’s never been a better time to understand the ascent of money.

YouTube - Night Talk: An Interview With Niall Ferguson