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Future Perfect

Future Perfect

Author: Vox

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Future Perfect explores provocative ideas with the potential to radically improve the world. That’s never felt more urgent than it does today. But the truth is that humankind has faced crises throughout our history, leaving behind rich wisdom for us to draw from.

In our new limited series, The Way Through, we’re looking to belief systems, philosophies, and wisdom traditions to help us navigate what we’re living through today. In eight episodes hosted by Vox’s Sean Illing and Sigal Samuel, we’ll talk to thought leaders who can help us see a larger context, and perhaps help us find something meaningful, ennobling, and even fortifying in our common experience. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network. 

26 Episodes
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Co-host Sean Illing talks to Sister Ilia Delio, a Franciscan nun and Catholic theologian, about the power of love and suffering in Christianity. Relevant resources:  The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love, Ilia Delio Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness, Ilia Delio Featuring: Ilia Delio, a Franciscan Sister of Washington, DC, and Villanova University theology professor Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), senior interviews writer, Vox More to explore: Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down the big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them. Credits: Producer/Editor: Jackson Bierfeldt Editor: Elbert Ventura Executive Producer: Liz Nelson About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts. Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Co-host Sigal Samuel talks to Cornel West, professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard, about Black liberation theology, existentialism, and other philosophies that can help us through these times. Relevant resources:  Cornel West and Tricia Rose on The Tight Rope, Apple Podcasts   Featuring: Cornel West (@CornelWest), professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard Host: Sigal Samuel (@SigalSamuel), staff writer, Vox  More to explore: Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down the big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them. Credits: Producer/Editor - Jackson Bierfeldt Editor - Elbert Ventura Executive Producer Liz Nelson About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts. Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Co-host Sean Illing talks to Robert Zaretsky, professor of French history at the University of Houston, about Albert Camus’s novel The Plague. Relevant resources:  The Plague, by Albert Camus Simone Weil: An Anthology, by Simone Weil Albert Camus: Elements of a Life, by Robert Zaretsky  Featuring: Robert Zaretsky, professor of history at the University of Houston Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), senior interviews writer, Vox  More to explore: Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down the big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them. About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts. Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Co-host Sigal Samuel talks to Omid Safi, professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University, about the benefits of solitude and suffering, according to Sufis like Rumi. Relevant resources:  Radical Love: Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Tradition, by Omid Safi  Featuring: Omid Safi (@ostadjaan), professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University Host: Sigal Samuel (@SigalSamuel), staff writer, Vox  More to explore: Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down the big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them. About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts. Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Co-host Sean Illing talks to David Wolpe, senior rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, about God and how to make sense of suffering in human life. Relevant resources:  Making Loss Matter : Creating Meaning in Difficult Times by Rabbi David Wolpe Religion without God: Alain de Botton on "atheism 2.0." by Sean Iling Featuring: David Wolpe (@RabbiWolpe), senior rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles Host: Sean Illing (@Seanilling), senior interviews writer More to explore: Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down the big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them. About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts. Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On Buddhism and Blackness

On Buddhism and Blackness

2020-07-0101:05:271

Co-host Sigal Samuel talks to Valerie Brown, a mindfulness teacher with a racial justice lens, about how to use Buddhist spiritual teachings not just to soothe us as individuals, but to tackle broader inequality, especially racial inequality. Relevant resources:  "A New Paradigm For Racial Justice and the Global Pandemic" by Valerie Brown and Marisela Gomez, Order of Interbeing "It’s okay to be doing okay during the pandemic" by Sigal Samuel, Vox "“Our calm is contagious”: How to use mindfulness in a pandemic" by Sigal Samuel, Vox Featuring: Valerie Brown (@Valeriebrown951), Principal, Lead Smart Coaching Host: Sigal Samuel (@SigalSamuel), Staff writer, Vox  More to explore: Subscribe to Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter, which breaks down big, complicated problems the world faces and the most efficient ways to solve them. About Vox: Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The money in the moon

The money in the moon

2019-07-1731:083

Fifty years ago this summer, Apollo 11 landed on the moon. Now, NASA’s talking about going back. But is it worth it? We talk to lunar geologists about what we’ve already learned from the first Apollo missions, and what’s left to discover. Then, we take a trip, not through space, but through time—back to a scientific expedition in Greenland almost a century ago. The science done there might have seemed insignificant at the time, but has since proved an important first step towards our current understanding of global warming. Further reading: Brian's in-depth explainer on moon rocks Jon Gertner's book about epic Greenland expeditions, The Ice At The End of The World For more on ice coring, this National Geographic article is great, as is this 60 Minutes episode Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Your PTA vs. equality

Your PTA vs. equality

2019-07-1027:073

Big philanthropists can threaten democracy. But so can small ones, like you and me. One big example? Parent-teacher associations. We examine how rich PTAs can hoard opportunity and deny resources to poor kids. Dana Goldstein on the Malibu-Santa Monica PTA warsThe harm done by parents who hoard donationsRob Reich on superrich PTAsA Center for American Progress report on PTA donations in rich schoolsThe case that the importance of private donations is overstated Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
When Mark Zuckerberg gave $100 million to Newark’s schools, he raised a big question: Who will decide where this money goes? The answer: Not the people of Newark. We examine why the people of Newark turned against a gift that Zuckerberg and Cory Booker wanted them to celebrate.Dylan Scott explains the Newark giftPatrick Wall at Chartbeat has done some fantastic reporting on the outcomes of the giftDale Russakoff’s history of the gift, and the New Yorker excerptThe Harvard evaluation, and a critique of itAnother evaluation finding the intervention worked Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Most charity is focused on the near term. So what happens when you try to only give to charities that will help humans a long time from now — not just in 100 years, but in a million years? To find out, we talk to Jaan Tallinn, a founding engineer of Skype who is trying to force the world to take threats to the future, threats like AI, seriously.Tallinn explains his concern with AI at an effective altruism conferenceKelsey Piper explains the risks of unconstrained AIAI experts on when they expect AI to outpace human intelligenceTed Chiang’s critique of concern with AI safety Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Billions of dollars are donated every year from the fortunes of people who’ve died but are using their wills to influence our world from beyond the grave. Some of these zombie donors left instructions that are racist, classist, or just silly. So how do we free ourselves from the grip of the undead?Ray’s book: Immortality and the Law: The Rising Power of the American DeadThe case against listening to the wishes of the dead“The Bittersweet Legacy of the Buck Trust”The Baconsfield Park case, explainedThe New York Times investigates orphan trusts Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sim City, Wisconsin

Sim City, Wisconsin

2019-06-1220:492

Diane Hendricks is the richest self-made woman in America, and she has used her fortune to remake the city of Beloit, Wisconsin. But she’s also used her riches to bankroll former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and to crush unions in the state. In this episode: How do we reconcile Beloiters’ love for her with her broader effects on the state?Bran Lichtenstein spends a fair amount of time with Diane Hendricks in his documentary As Goes JanesvilleAlexandra Stevenson’s profile of Diane HendricksHendricks’s donations in the 2018 electionsMary Bottari on the Bradley Foundation and public sector unionsWhen Hendricks joined Trump’s economic advisory council Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In the 1950s and ’60s, Western foundations like Ford and Rockefeller pushed hard to control India's population by sterilizing its people. In 1975, India's government expanded that disturbing practice into a massive atrocity. How did this happen — and how can we prevent it from happening again?Gyan Prakash’s history of the emergencyMatthew Connelly’s history of population controlEmma Tarlo has a book of narratives from the EmergencySavina Balasubramanian explains the focus on sterilizing men in IndiaWhy sterilization continues in IndiaA Disney short film featuring Donald Duck advocating population controlThanks to the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College for the audio of Joan Dunlop, taken from their Population and Reproductive Health Oral History Project. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
He bought the law

He bought the law

2019-05-2934:067

John M. Olin isn’t a household name, but his foundation helped create the Federalist Society, turned federal judges against environmental protection and unions, and bankrolled conservative polemicists like Dinesh D’Souza. How did one small foundation do so much to advance conservatism?Jane Mayer’s history of the Olin FoundationMayer’s full book Dark MoneyJames Piereson remembers his time as president of the Olin FoundationJohn Miller’s sympathetic history of the Olin FoundationSteve Teles on the rise of the conservative legal movementAmanda Hollis-Brusky’s history of the Federalist SocietyAsh, Chen, and Naidu on the impact of the Manne seminarsThe time Tim Geithner called Dinesh D’Souza a dick Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Gilded Rage

Gilded Rage

2019-05-2225:333

To put our new age of extreme inequality in perspective, we look back at Andrew Carnegie, who gave America a huge number of libraries so they’d forgive him for his brutal steel mills. We ask: Is the same thing happening in 2019?Richard White’s history of the Gilded Age, and a short review hitting the main pointsA 1911 book examining the conditions of Carnegie’s steel millsThe staggering death rates at Carnegie’s millsHamlin Garland’s visit to the Homestead Mill Carnegie’s “The Gospel of Wealth”How Carnegie got into funding libraries Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
On the second season of Future Perfect: how philanthropy clashes with democracy. First episode drops Wednesday, May 22nd. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app!  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you want to make a lot of money, or follow your bliss, even if it’s not lucrative? The group 80,000 Hours has a different suggestion: Think of your career as a chance to do a ton of good, and try to find the job that lets you help the most people you can. It’s a simple rule, but, as Julia Wise and Jeff Kaufman have found, it’s anything but simple in practice. ––– Further reading: 80,000 Hours’s career guide Jeff Kaufman’s blog, where he breaks down his and Julia Wise’s contributions Julia Wise’s blog, Giving Gladly Larissa MacFarquhar profiles Julia Wise in the Guardian More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage ––– Discover more podcasts from Vox here.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The black-footed ferret was thought extinct — until a Wyoming rancher rediscovered it, in 1981. Since then, conservation workers have been doggedly attempting to save the ferret, only to run into big problems like, oh, the literal bubonic plague. We’re still spending millions every year attempting, hope against hope, to save the ferrets. How much should we spend to save an endangered species — and is it ever time to give up? ––– Further reading: The Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center in Wellington, Colorado Earl Gustkey, in 1985, explains the then-recent rediscovery of the black-footed ferret for the LA Times Morgan Heim explains the reintroduction process in Smithsonian magazine Revive & Restore’s project to save the black-footed ferret with CRISPR More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage ––– Discover more podcasts from Vox here.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Most fish die by slowly suffocating to death on the deck of a boat, struggling for air. That’s horrendously cruel, but it also makes for acidic, rubbery, smelly fish. There’s another way: ikejime, a Japanese method of fish slaughter where the fish is stabbed in the skull and dies instantly with a minimum of pain. That’s good for the animals — and, our guest Andrew Tsui argues, it makes for much tastier food. ––– Further reading: Cat Ferguson’s feature in Topic on Andrew Tsui and ikejime Ferris Jabr reviews the evidence that fish feel pain in Hakai Magazine Ikejime demonstrated by a chef at Go, a Japanese sushi restaurant in Beverly Hills More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage ––– Discover more podcasts from Vox here.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The most reliable, best-documented way to lift someone in a poor country out of poverty? Let them come to the US (or another rich country). That’s the argument of Fabio Rojas, a self-described advocate of open borders. That idea is often used as a punching bag by immigration opponents, but Rojas argues it could dramatically reduce poverty without costing Americans jobs. ––– Further reading: Fabio Rojas’s “simplified argument” for open borders Rojas’s three-part series on how to achieve open borders Michael Clemens explains the debate over the Mariel boatlift from Cuba, which has become super-important in immigration economics The National Immigration Forum summarizes the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017, for which Leon Fresco is lobbying More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage ––– Discover more podcasts from Vox here.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (10)

Marco Gorelli

so happy this is back!!!

Jun 30th
Reply

Modus Pwnens

lol white people telling us how to "solve" the problems. idk maybe decolonization and white ppl fixing themselves would help....

Nov 19th
Reply (1)

Heather Reedy

I wish this were required listening/reading for every prison warden, lawyer, judge and elected official in our country.

Feb 11th
Reply

Wiliam Cunha

Anyone else experiencing poor sound quality for this podcast? I can listen clearly from the website (which is why i know the content is awesome) but can barely listen from any podcast gadget in Android...

Jan 20th
Reply (1)

Jamie MacDonald

What a fantastic series with some wonderful ideas and themes. inspiring stuff.

Dec 4th
Reply

Accordionbabe

Just what we need to hear, discern, and act upon. Looking forward to this podcast. Shareworthy.

Oct 20th
Reply

Bryan Gale

Ben Franklin said " Any society which is willing to sacrifice a little liberty to gain a little security deserves neither and will lose both ". The man was brilliant, ahead of his time, and still ahead of our time. This report, in my opinion, is a step in his footprints, and I sincerely hope that we're not just able to catch up with him but that we can finally blaze a trail forward that would truly honor his brilliance.

Oct 17th
Reply

Bryan Gale

Inspiring story, I am looking forward to hearing more in the future. I have mixed feelings about the qualification of effective with relation to altruism because, as I understand it, altruistic behaviour is a selfless act benefitting another person. Selfless, without regard for one's self, this is what separates an altruist from a philanthropist, a philanthropist only gives that which they afford. Simply put, the altruist would give the shirt off their back because somebody else needs it, the philanthropist would give the shirt off their back because they can afford, or already have, another shirt. It seems to me that a cost/benefit analysis is rather selfish, in that the donation must benefit the giver as much as the receiver, turning a donation into a transaction. I do not believe this to be your intention, rather, I believe you are trying to be more effective as an altruist, as evidenced through your organ donation. Best of luck with this podcast, I'll be listening.

Oct 17th
Reply
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