Announcement: Polls Are Open for “Who Are You?”

Much gratitude to everyone who sent in guest nominations for “Who Are You?”! — our experimental subseries in which Jim won’t know who the guest is, or what they’re going to talk about. (More here.)

With much difficulty, we’ve narrowed the field to six candidates, and invite you to vote for your favorite here:

The poll will be open until this Friday (5/27), midnight Eastern. Remember, Jim can’t know who the candidates are if this is going to work. Luckily, he’s taking a break from social media, but please, no DMs.

Please feel free to share the poll widely and to campaign for your favored candidates.

Announcement: Send Us Your Guest Nominations for “Who Are You?”

We are seeking guest nominations for an experimental subseries, titled “Who Are You?”

Listeners to the Jim Rutt Show will know that one of its hallmarks is Jim’s extensive preparation for interviews. Guests on the show are people he already knows about, and generally he’s familiar with their work before he invites them on.

“Who Are You?” will reverse all that. In these interviews, Jim won’t know who the guest is or what they want to talk about prior to showtime. Not a clue! That’s why he’ll begin with the question: Who Are You?

Guests will need to be prepared to start from ground zero—to explain who they are, what they do, and why anyone should care. Jim will need to be prepared to adapt on the fly to what he hears and to steer the conversation in a direction he and the audience can learn from.

Once nominations are in, we’ll select a subset of reasonable options and list them in a poll, to be shared on this site and all of our social media feeds. (Luckily, Jim is on a break from social media and won’t see the posts or any discussion about them. You of course should not inform Jim about any of the nominations during this process.)

Please see the guidelines below, and send your nomination to by this Friday (5/20), midnight ET. Note the brief window and act quickly.

Nomination Guidelines:

Limit of one nomination per person. You may nominate yourself. Please limit nominations to people who:

  • Are doing, saying, or working toward something you consider interesting and useful enough to warrant Jim and his audience’s attention—or, who you just think it’d be entertaining to throw into conversation with Jim.
  • Would conceivably want to come on the show.
  • Jim does not know or know of as far as you’re aware. (We’ll run a search for any likely connections as we narrow down options.)
  • Exist and are human.

*** If possible, please provide an email address for your nominee, and notify them that you’ve put their name in.

Says Jim: “This is an experiment and may fail, but it ought to be good for a laugh, if nothing else.”

If it’s successful, we may choose to launch “Who Are You?” as an ongoing subseries on the Jim Rutt Show.

Again, send nominations to by this Friday (5/20), midnight ET.

EP 157 Terrence Deacon on Mind’s Emergence From Matter

Jim talks to Terrence Deacon about the ideas in his book Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged From Matter. They discuss the story of zero, integrating absence into physical theories, systems that generate entropy to stave off entropy, the history of emergence & the risk of mysterianism, reframing emergence as removal & constraint, orthograde vs contragrade processes, 3 layers of emergence, the special case of end-directed (teleodynamic) processes, a simple model of autogenesis, contrasting & integrating Shannon, Boltzmann, and Bateson, moving toward sentience, nested teleodynamic processes, feeling as primary to consciousness, rethinking the nervous system in non-computational terms, consciousness as a self-undoing process, inverting the hard problem, and much more.

Professor Terrence W. Deacon has held faculty positions at Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, Boston University, and the University of California, Berkeley. His laboratory research has combined human evolutionary biology and neuroscience, with the aim of investigating the evolution of human cognition. This work extends from cellular-molecular neurobiology and cross-species fetal neural transplantation to the study of semiotic processes underlying animal and human communication, especially language. These topics are explored in his 1997 book, The Symbolic Species: The Coevolution of Language and the Brain. Currently, his theoretical interests have focused on the problem of explaining emergent phenomena, in such unprecedented transitions as the origin of life, the evolution of language, and the generation of conscious experience by brains. His 2012 book, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter, explores how the interrelationships between thermodynamic, self-organizing, evolutionary, and semiotic processes are implicated in the production of these emergent transitions.

EP 156 James Poulos on Remaining Human

Jim talks with James Poulos about the ideas in his new book Human Forever: The Spiritual Politics of Digital War. They discuss his decision to publish the book on the blockchain, going beginner’s-mind on media & communications theory, the meaning of Gnosticism, responsibility as worship & its transfer to machines, returning worth to the human, a short introduction to Marshall McLuhan, raising the first fully digital generation, expert engineers vs ethereal ethicists, “peak woke” & the collapse of wokeness, religion as “the only permanent state of mankind,” resisting the temptation to call down apocalypse, the hubris of messiah-hood, Hebraic British Protestant theology & its incongruence with American civilization, how queerness & transgender identity became culturally dominant, the left’s abandonment of liberalism for a new post-human religion, differentiating transhumanism & human-maxing, and much more.
James Poulos creates and advises brands and ventures at the intersection of technology, media, and design. He is the Cofounder and Editor of The American Mind at the Claremont Institute and the Founder and Publisher of RETURN at New Founding. He is the author of Human, Forever and The Art of Being Free, and his writing has appeared in The Claremont Review of BooksLe FigaroNational AffairsThe New York Times, and The Washington Post, among many other publications. He lives on the edge of Los Angeles.

Currents 062: Stephanie Lepp Interviews Jim Rutt on Musk and Moderation

In this episode, Jim Rutt is a guest on his own show! He’s interviewed by Stephanie Lepp about the ideas in his Quillette essay “Musk and Moderation.” They discuss where things stand with Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter, Jim’s 41-year background in online community moderation, strengthening & clarifying Twitter’s decorum moderation, loosening point-of-view moderation, the “green sprouts” issue & the importance of tolerating fringe ideas, an appeal protocol for rulebreakers & stepping through an imagined violation by Trump, the meaning & plausibility of Twitter as a “fair and effective marketplace of ideas,” a crowd-sourced fact-checking system, defining the metrics of a thriving marketplace of ideas, whether stricter moderation is needed at the start, using theory-practice-theory loops in complex domains, Elon Musk as a potential bridge from GameA to GameB, a direct invitation to Musk, and much more.

Stephanie Lepp is a producer whose work strives to hold up a mirror — inviting us to grow from what we see. She’s the Executive Producer at the Center for Humane Technology, the organization at the heart of the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma. Her project Deep Reckonings — a series of explicitly-marked deepfake videos that imagine morally courageous versions of our public figures — won two Webbys and has been exhibited worldwide. Deep Reckonings was also the subject of her first appearance on The Jim Rutt Show, in episode 129. Be in touch with Stephanie on Twitter: @stephlepp.

EP 155 Iain McGilchrist Part 2: The Matter With Things

Jim has a second talk with Iain McGilchrist about the ideas in his book The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions, and the Unmaking of the World. They discuss whether the continuity of time matters on the human scale, randomness as a real attribute of the universe, differentiating between unpredictability & randomness, deterministic chaos, the measurement problem in quantum mechanics, consciousness as an ontological primitive vs a biological process, separating consciousness from intelligence, animacy as a matter of degree, a non-reductionist view of purpose, finite vs infinite games & intrinsic vs extrinsic purpose, the purpose(s) of a white-tailed deer, the meaning of teleology, a drive toward increased complexity in life, the self-domestication of humans, relating the many-worlds idea to right-hemisphere damage, reasons to reject arguments from infinity, the odds of extraterrestrial intelligence, the lesson of paradoxes, and much more.

Iain McGilchrist is a former Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, an associate Fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford, a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Consultant Emeritus of the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital, London, a former research Fellow in Neuroimaging at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, Baltimore, and a former Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Stellenbosch. He now lives on the Isle of Skye, off the coast of North West Scotland, where he continues to write, and lectures worldwide. He is committed to the idea that the mind and brain can be understood only by seeing them in the broadest possible context, that of the whole of our physical and spiritual existence, and of the wider human culture in which they arise – the culture which helps to mould, and in turn is moulded by, our minds and brains.