conversations with fascinating people.

Aug. 1 2012 7:15 PM

Michael Lind: Why Rich People Better Start Worrying About Income Inequality

Mitt Romney famously said that income inequality is a subject best discussed in "quiet rooms." Michael Lind, author of the new book Land of Promise, says that if people of Romney’s economic class know what’s good for them, they’ll find a place to talk about the problem very soon—and then do something about it.

You can watch the whole conversation on BhTV.

Follow Robert Wright on Twitter: @robertwrighter

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July 18 2012 6:32 PM

Miriam Elder: Why Russia Continues To Back Syria

Even before today’s assassination of key Syrian officials, the Assad regime was starting to look doomed—yet Russia resisted international attempts to abet its departure. Conventional wisdom attributed this resistance to Russia’s lucrative arms trade with Syria and its fear of losing its Syrian naval base. But Miriam Elder, the Guardian’s Moscow correspondent, takes a different view. She spoke with me this morning, from Moscow, after news of the Syrian assassinations broke:

You can watch the whole conversation on BhTV.

Follow Robert Wright on Twitter: @robertwrighter

July 15 2012 10:30 AM

Lawrence Krauss: And the Winner of the Higgs Boson Metaphor Contest Is…

After a solid week of failing to grasp what a Higgs boson is, I resorted to desperate measures and asked zany physicist Lawrence Krauss (author of The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe From Nothing) to enlighten me. I had read that the Higgs boson “imparts mass” to otherwise massless particles (notably the W and Z bosons). But it was hard to imagine how a particle could give mass to other particles, and my disorientation was only deepened by the fact that some people said it was the Higgs particle that imparts the mass and some people said it was something called the Higgs field that imparts the mass.

Krauss did a remarkably good job of clarifying things. In the first clip below, he explains the particle-field relationship generically (and also takes us on an entertaining digression about the likely contents of his obituary). In the second clip, he explains how this particle-field relationship illuminates the role of the Higgs boson.

OK, now here’s the riveting pedagogical climax (in which I mistakenly refer to the Z boson as the D boson, thus lowering my chances of getting a Nobel Prize in physics):

You can watch the whole conversation on BhTV.

Follow Robert Wright on Twitter: @robertwrighter

July 5 2012 6:30 PM

Dan Ariely: Why Religion Makes You Behave Better

Can religion make you a more honest, upstanding person? Who better to ask than Dan Ariely, whose new book, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty, is about why people lie and cheat? Ariely says the answer is yes but not for the reason you might think.

You can watch the whole conversation on BhTV.

Follow Robert Wright on Twitter: @robertwrighter

July 1 2012 10:00 AM

Dan Ariely: Why You Shouldn't Trust Your Dentist

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely's new book The Honest Truth About Dishonesty argues that pretty much everyone will lie or cheat when the situation is right. The unpleasant implication is that you’re probably trusting people you shouldn’t trust. Here Ariely explains how his view of human nature led to a tense confrontation in his dentist’s office.

You can watch the whole conversation on BhTV.

June 30 2012 10:15 AM

Reem Maghribi: The Syrian Rebels Want to Do the Job Themselves

John McCain wants America to "lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad's forces." But Reem Maghribi, who recently left Syria for Lebanon, says the Syrian rebels don't want outside intervention.

You can watch the whole conversation on BhTV.

June 23 2012 10:15 AM

Seyward Darby: Is Kosovo Training Syrian Rebels?

Is Kosovo’s government training the Syrian rebels? That’s what Russia recently claimed at the U.N. And it would kind of make sense; before Kosovo was a country, it was a part of Serbia with a rebel force and aspirations to be a country. I asked journalist Seyward Darby, who is based in Kosovo, what the story is.  

You can watch the whole conversation on BhTV.

June 20 2012 7:37 PM

Yanis Varoufakis: The Nature of the Neo-Nazi Threat in Greece

The Greek political party Golden Dawn—commonly described as neo-Nazi—did well enough in this weekend’s election, as it had in last month’s election, to sit in Parliament. I recently spoke with Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis about the long term dangers posed by the party, and whether it is a sign of things to come in Europe more broadly.  

You can watch the whole conversation on BhTV.

June 17 2012 8:08 PM

Yanis Varoufakis: Greece's Economic Implosion, Viewed Up Close

How bad is Greece's economy? Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis describes a gruesome implosion, with once-profitable firms going bankrupt through no fault of their own:

You can watch the whole conversation at BhTV.

June 17 2012 10:54 AM

Robert Becker: Are This Weekend's Egyptian Elections Rigged?

Robert Becker is in Cairo standing trial on charges of, as he put it, “teaching democracy.” He was working for a pro-democracy NGO when arrested several months ago along with workers at other NGOs. Here he discusses whether that crackdown has set the stage for government manipulation of this weekend’s presidential runoff election.

You can watch the entire conversation on BhTV.

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