EF20 Show Notes

(EF20) AMA-EF4: The Declining Value of Information and Taking Risks to Determine What is the Truth Ask Me Anything of Episode EF4


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Episode EF20 Summary

Spoiler alert: You’re about to listen to a Ask Me Anything (AMA) of Episode EF4, which was Season 1, Episode 2 of the Evolve Faster Podcast titled The Decapitation of Reason: A Skeptic’s Guide.  The driving question of this episode (and this AMA) for you to think through is … How can you know anything? It’s a fascinating question that actually has surprisingly little research or philosophical investigation.

As a reminder about Episode EF4: At the height of his success, a controversial philosopher named Ian Ament reveals a dangerous plan to do a head transplant swap with his brother. Nobody knows why and both the scientific and medical communities at large are very concerned. In a tense live interview being viewed around the world with a potential surgeon, Ross Hunter, Ament methodically explains his reasoning. Yet his reasons only bring more questions. Is there something more behind Ament’s plan? For the next 60 minutes of this interview, the historical arc of reason—and Ian’s head—are both on the chopping block as we wait to find out if the ax will fall.

The second episode of the first season of the Evolve Faster Podcast Episode is driven by the big question How can we know anything. Knowing if you know something is one of those hard-to-open jars that, at first, don’t provide much more than an uncomfortable smell. But the more you try it out, the more you create an acquired taste for this awkward concept.

To peek behind the curtain of Episode EF4, we’ll dissect the following submitted questions:

  • Could there possibly be someone crazy enough to cut off his head just to prove a point? Could something like this happen?
  • Will deep VR rewrite the rules of empiricism? Is reality subjective?
  • Are you saying that if we can’t really know anything that it means knowledge isn’t important?
  • Is Ament based on someone? Hunter?
  • Why the question “How Can We Know Anything?”
  • Would / could we ever throw out one of the models?
  • What did you mean by that Nietzsche quote: Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster?
  • What do the final lines of the episode mean? What happened?
  • What does he do? Will this be resolved later in the season?
  • And more…


DEDICATION: Episode EF4 is dedicated to Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist, and reason-fanatic who, like Ian Ament in Episode EF4, might be willing to cut off his head if it would prove something fundamental about science. Perhaps something near and dear to his heart like disproving the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster might justify decapitation.

Dawkins coined the term meme just like Monty Python coined spam. His work on popularizing the gene as the central unit of evolutionary selection puts him on ‘Darwin of the modern era’ lists, at least in the popular sphere. And similar to the ubiquitous utility of the word spam in an internet flooded with junk, the word meme is synonymous with the current fake news epoch. It’s also likely to be the key concept for which Dawkins will be known.

If we take Dawkins’ perspective and look at individuals as “survival machines”, we can see the irony behind our need to be right. It is not a biological survival, but survival in the arena of opinion where several collections of knowledge are always fighting to be right. Knowledge is less and less used to prove a fact and more to establish a subjective point. It’s a slippery slope because although one side might have the correct facts, they aren’t the goal, but a tool to defeat the opponent.

People aren’t sharing the facts to enrich each other’s knowledge, but to fight, win, and survive. This tendency appears almost to be a biological instinct hardwired in all one of us. Because in the end, we are all only human.


In Episode EF4, the protagonist Ian Ament goes all in to shake the very foundation of humanity without questioning the possible downsides or what might physically happen to him. Progress, it seems, only proceeds in a single direction.

Whether you agree with all of his viewpoints or his combative style, Dawkins’ work is a plethora of thoughtful insights about humanity. Here is more you can check out if you want to learn more:


INSPIRATIONS: Charles Darwin, a man haunted by his discovery of what humanity might be, and the heavy burden of what that knowledge meant in a society still living in the dark. Mary Shelley, the famous writer of the novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus who dared to cut off more than just one limb with her pen. David Hume, a famous philosopher who is directly responsible for developing three contrary schools of thought. Because why should what we know limit us? Sergio Canavero, a neuroscientist who quite literary plans to bring Mary Shelley’s work to life. Episode EF4 was further inspired by Sergei Brukhonenko, Vladimir Demikhov, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Plato, David Hume, Epicurus, Friedrich Nietzsche, Nicolaus Copernicus, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Yuri Gagarin, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin. For a full list of data and references please, see Episode EF4 Show Notes.


Nayan Lamba, Daniel Holsgrove,  Marike L. Broekman, The history of head transplantation: a review, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. https:///pmcwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/articles/PMC5116034/  (Accessed: Feb 15, 2019).
Tyler Wilde, Man dies in VR accident, reports Russian news agency, www.pcgamer.com. https://www.pcgamer.com/man-dies-in-vr-accident-according-to-russian-news-agency/ (Accessed: Feb 15, 2019).

episode quotes

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(EF20) AMA-EF4: The Declining Value of Information and Taking Risks to Determine What is the Truth Ask Me Anything of Episode EF4

Which achievements remain out of humanity’s reach because of ethical reasons? And which are coming online now that probably shouldn’t be?