The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish

The Knowledge Project takes you inside the heads of remarkable people to explore the frameworks and mental models you can use to make life more meaningful and productive. Learn more at
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The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish






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Now displaying: 2016
Nov 28, 2016

Samuel Arbesman is a complexity scientist whose work focuses on the nature of scientific and technological change. Sam's also written two books that I love, The Half-Life of Facts and Overcomplicated.

In this episode, Sam and I discuss:

  • Our relationship with technology and how it has shifted the way we consume and retain information
  • What “mesofacts” are and how to keep our mental databases updated in a world that’s constantly changing
  • Whether art or science is more fundamental to a thriving, successful society
  • The metrics Sam uses to define success for himself
  • The difference between physics thinking and biological thinking and why it matters
  • The phrase Sam’s father repeated to him every time he left the house that helped shape who he is today
  • The books that had the most profound impact on Sam’s life/li>
  • How to prioritize our learning so we’re spending time on information with the highest return on our investment

And much, much more!

If you love learning, but feel like it’s impossible to keep up with the endless flow of information in the world, then Sam’s your guy.

Enjoy this fascinating interview below.

Oct 24, 2016

On this episode, I’m happy to have Morgan Housel (@morganhousel).

Morgan is a partner at the Collaborative Fund. He’s a former columnist at the Motley Fool and a former columnist of the Wall Street Journal. His work has also been published in Time, USA Today, World Affairs, and Business Insider. You name it, he’s been there. Simply put, he’s one of the shining lights of the business press.

More than that, though, he’s one of the few people that I read all the time. As I’ve gotten to know him over the years, I can also tell you he’s an exceptional person.

We cover a lot in this interview, including:

  • What valets are really doing in your sports car once you hand over the keys
  • Morgan’s shocking discovery that his dream of becoming an investment banker wasn’t a good fit
  • The hilarious way Morgan was “not fired” from one of his earliest jobs
  • The three types of financial writing and the one Morgan finds most useful for readers
  • The brilliant method Morgan uses to keep his confirmation biases in check
  • When it’s ok to change your mind and when it’s important to double down on what you know
  • The teachers that most influenced Morgan’s life and what they did differently that made them so outstanding
  • The process Morgan uses to generate fresh ideas even when he feels like he’s exhausted them all
  • How he structures his daily routines around when he does his best thinking and writing

We even tackle a few of your questions, like what would he do if he knew there were no consequences, how life has changed since becoming a new father, and what’s on his bucket list.

You’re going to love getting to know Morgan. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

Aug 30, 2016

On this episode of The Knowledge Project Podcast, I am so happy to have Pedro Domingos (@pmddomingos) who is a professor at the University of Washington.

Domingos is the leading researcher in machine learning and recently wrote an amazing book calledThe Master Algorithm. I was fortunate enough to have a long and fascinating conversation with him over dinner one night that lead to the recording of this episode. I think you’re going to love it.

In this conversation we explore:

  • The three sources from which all humans obtained their knowledge for thousands of years, and how a new fourth is changing everything.
  • How AI is finding its way into every sector of our lives, and what that means for future jobs and future opportunities
  • Why white collar jobs are easier to replace than blue collar jobs and what the workforce may look like in the near future
  • How a hedge fund recently placed an algorithm as a full voting member of their board of directors
  • The difference between traditional computer science and machine learning and how it will impact technology
  • The five major schools of machine learning and how they’re revolutionizing the way computers analyze information
  • How “robot scientists” could transform the way we make medical and scientific discoveries (one recently discovered a drug for malaria)
  • How machines might compete in professional sports and serve more entertainment purposes
  • The future of self-driving cars and how humans will learn to adapt to them as the technology improves
  • Pedro’s vision of the future of AI and human’s daily interaction with AI

If you use technology in any way, you’re going to be floored by this interview. Enjoy!

Jul 24, 2016

On this episode of The Knowledge Project, I talk about one of my favorite subjects with one of the most respected sommeliers in the world: Véronique Rivest.

After placing twice in the top 12 in 2007 and 2010, Véronique became the first woman to make the podium by taking second place at the world's best sommelier competition in Tokyo in March 2013. She's also the owner of Soif in Hull, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite wine bars.

On this episode we learn:

  • How Véronique self-directed her education in wine, and the steps she took to become one of the best in the world.
  • The three traits of every sommelier (the most important one actually has nothing to do with their knowledge of wine)
  • How to properly taste wine (including an on-air tasting where Véronique guides me through the three phases of wine tasting)
  • Tips and tricks for serving wine to enhance the experience
  • The twenty-minute rule that ensures you serve perfect wine, every time
  • How to tell if a bottle has been corked and why it matters
  • The first rule of a wine tasting, no matter how much or little you know about wine
  • How to hone your sense of taste to appreciate the subtleties that each wine has to offer
  • How to host a wine tasting party that will impress your guests

If you want to impress everyone at the table the next time you’re at a restaurant with friends, listen to what Véronique has to say in this episode. You’ll be a wine expert in no time.


May 16, 2016

Ryan Holiday is the author of a number of incredible books, including Trust Me I'm LyingThe Obstacle is the Way, and Ego is the Enemy. He also runs Brass Check, a premier book marketing agency responsible for dozens of New York Times bestsellers and tens of millions of books sold. In short, Ryan is the real deal.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What Stoicism is and how it differs from many of the mainstream “philosophies” you learn about in school
  • How Dr. Drew is partially responsible for putting Ryan on the Stoic path
  • How Stoicism has helped Ryan navigate some of the challenges he’s faced in his life
  • How Ryan juggles everything he has to do as a writer, a business owner, and consultant
  • The impact working with Robert Greene had on Ryan and how that experience influenced everything from his writing, how he does research, and even the kind of person he turned out to be
  • How Ryan uses the famous Notecard System he learned as a researcher for Robert Greene
  • Why Ryan insists on writing his thoughts longhand, and why copy and paste is almost a capital offense
  • The process Ryan uses to write a book and what the ideation, writing and editing stages look like
  • The brilliant way Ryan runs his consulting business, including how he charges clients and how he gracefully handles people looking for free advice

You're going to get so much out of this episode. Enjoy!

Mar 30, 2016

An inbetweenisode of sorts where Jeff Annello and I discuss whether we're too busy to pay attention to life - on whether we're too busy to live. If you want more of these let me know #tkp on twitter.

Mar 18, 2016

On this episode of The Knowledge Project, I talk about the architecture of music with conductor Alexander Shelley. Out of all the amazing conversations I've had, this might be my favorite.

Shelley is currently chief conductor of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra and music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.

In this fascinating interview, we discuss:

  • How Alexander prepares himself before stepping on stage (and how his process changes depending on the music the orchestra will play)
  • Why live performances create a powerful and almost spiritual experience
  • The delicate relationship between audience, orchestra, and conductor and how balancing them is like a beautiful dance
  • How to manage the egos, personalities, and different playing styles of 80 world-class musicians on any given night
  • How the structures of music have changed over the years, and how our ears still recognize shapes and patterns in any piece from any era
  • Why Beethoven’s 5th Symphony is so popular (Alexander breaks down the DNA of the song and how all music has its own unique “cell structure.” This alone is worth listening to the interview)
  • Why the sciences and the arts are inseparable and should be studied, practiced and revered hand in hand
  • How familiarity with music history allows you to appreciate and enjoy any piece of music (even current pop hits) at a whole new level

Whether you’re someone who always has music playing, or just occasionally taps your fingers on the steering wheel when the occasional tune comes on, you’re going to absolutely love this episode. I can’t say enough about it.

Enjoy the interview!

Feb 20, 2016

On this episode of The Knowledge Project, I talk rationality, changing minds (our own and others), filtering information, the role of intuition, and a lot more with Julia Galef.

Galef is the President and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, a non-profit organization based in Berkeley, California, devoted to developing, testing and training people in strategies for reasoning and decision making.

She also hosts the Rationally Speaking podcast, a biweekly show featuring conversations about science and philosophy.

This is a topic I could talk about for hours, so we wasted no time at all. In this discussion, we cover a lot of ground, including:

  • What happened when Julia was 7 years old that first sparked a lifelong interest in good argument
  • The one thing her parents did that helps her keep an open mind to new evidence even when she might be wrong
  • The two types of rationality and how they both affect the way we view reality and the world we live in
  • Why she co-founded the Center for Applied Rationality and how they are changing the way people think about problems and make decisions
  • The role intuition plays in our decision-making process, (and when we can trust it to take over)
  • What the strengths and weaknesses of the 2 systems of our brain are and how they interact to help us function
  • The two-step process to changing minds (both your own and others’)
  • Julia’s tips on how to process the daily deluge of available information with a more rational mind

And a lot more ...

Jan 28, 2016

Venkatesh Rao is the founder of the blog Ribbonfarm, the technology analysis site Breaking Smart, and the author of a book on decision making called Tempo.

We talk about a host of fascinating subjects, including:

  • The dangers and the benefits of tribalistic and individualistic thinking
  • The 3 types of decision makers and a brief overview of each (which are you?)
  • The brilliant way he describes the power of mental models through Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings
  • How mental models simplify the sheer volume of information our brains are forced to process every day
  • Why it’s critical to continually update your mental models, and how most people are doing this wrong
  • How Venkatesh processes the information he reads, and how he handles material he doesn’t enjoy reading
  • How technology will impact the way we run businesses, manage people, and even interact with each other