Future Perfect

By Vox

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Description

Explore provocative ideas with the potential to radically improve the world. Vox’s Dylan Matthews tackles big questions about the most effective ways to save lives, fight global warming, and end world poverty to create a more perfect future. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.


Episode Date
How to pick a career that counts
00:19:54

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.

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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

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Discover more podcasts from Vox here.

Nov 28, 2018
How to save a species (if you really want to)
00:21:28

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?

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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

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Discover more podcasts from Vox here.

Nov 21, 2018
How to be a better carnivore
00:23:31

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.

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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

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Discover more podcasts from Vox here.

Nov 14, 2018
How to rethink America's borders
00:23:15

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.

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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

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Discover more podcasts from Vox here.

Nov 07, 2018
How to cool the planet with a fake volcano
00:21:45

When volcanoes erupt, they spray particles into the atmosphere that cool the planet for a bit. As we get closer and closer to truly catastrophic global warming, more and more scientists are wondering whether a similar approach, called solar geoengineering, could be necessary. If it works, solar geoengineering could buy us some time to cut emissions and get our act together. If it doesn’t, the climate could be irreparably disrupted. No pressure.

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Further reading:

Brad Plumer explains the basics of geoengineering at Vox

Umair Irfan walks through a new study on the limits of geoengineering

The Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment, led by Harvard professor Frank Keutsch, seeks to learn more about the likely effects of solar geoengineering without actually doing it

Gernot Wagner and his colleague David Keith make the cautious case for taking solar geoengineering seriously in the Wall Street Journal

More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage

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Discover more podcasts from Vox here.

Oct 31, 2018
How our drinking water could help prevent suicide
00:19:21

Lithium is a potent drug used to treat bipolar disorder, but it’s also the third element in the periodic table, and you can find tiny amounts in most drinking water. Scientists have discovered something remarkable: In areas where the tap water has more lithium, fewer people seem to die by suicide. That raises a big question: Should we put small amounts of lithium in the drinking water? Can we afford not to?

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Further reading:

Anna Fels’s op-ed “Should We All Take a Bit of Lithium?” in the New York Times

Nassir Ghaemi and colleagues review the evidence on trace lithium and suicide, homicide, crime, and dementia

A recent study casting doubt on the trace lithium/suicide prevention link

Jesse Hicks explains the fluoride controversy for the Science History Institute

Jesse Hicks explains trace lithium, for Vice

More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage

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Discover more podcasts from Vox here.

Oct 24, 2018
How to make prisons more humane
00:22:38

Karianne Jackson was working for the North Dakota prison system in 2015 when a trip to Norway changed her life. There, she saw a prison with no bars and no uniformed guards. Instead, prisoners lived in small cottages with common areas, private bedrooms, even kitchens with real cups, real dishes, and real knives. And she started thinking: What if I could make the US prison system a bit more like that?

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Further reading:

Jessica Benko in the New York Times on the "radical humaneness" of Norway's Halden Prison

Dashka Slater in Mother Jones on Karianne Jackson's "Norway experiment" in North Dakota

Vox’s German Lopez explains mass incarceration in the United States

More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage

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Discover more podcasts from Vox here.

Oct 17, 2018
How to save a stranger's life
00:21:43

In 2016, Dylan Matthews donated his kidney to a complete stranger.

He didn’t think he was doing anything really extreme or remarkable. He was just trying to do the most good he could.

Dylan was taking part in a movement called effective altruism, a community that tries to maximize the good you do. In our first episode, we’ll explore the idea of effective altruism, why making our charities more effective matters, and what giving a bodily organ looks like in practice.

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Further reading:

More on Dylan’s kidney donation

Peter Singer’s case against the Make a Wish Foundation

More of Vox’s effective altruism coverage

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Discover more podcasts from Vox here.

Oct 15, 2018
Introducing Future Perfect
00:01:38

Explore provocative ideas with the potential to radically improve the world.

Vox’s Dylan Matthews tackles big questions about the most effective ways to save lives, fight global warming, and end world poverty.

Dylan looks at ways that bills in Congress, actions in your everyday life, and everything in between can help bring about a more perfect future.

Oct 12, 2018