Mathematical models of the world — be they in physics, economics, epidemiology — capture only details that researchers notice and deem salient. Rather than objective claims about reality, they encode (and thus enact) our blind spots. And the externalities created by those models — microscopic pathogens invisible to the naked eye, or differences in the social network structures of two neighborhoods, or food webs disrupted by urban development — have a way of biting back when we ignore them. Structural inequality created by an insufficient model jeopardizes not just the ones left off the map, but the entire systems in which they participate. Science fiction author Philip K. Dick put it well when we said that “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” Ultimately, ecological and social justice is dependent on our rigorous empiricism and our dedication to describing all the relevant dimensions of our complex world.
Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and each week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe.
In this episode, Santa Fe Institute President David Krakauer returns to talk about the latest essays in SFI Transmission series, to shed light on the crucial under-examined margins of our maps — and how good science both enables and demands us to do better.
If you value our research and communication efforts, please consider making a one-time or recurring monthly donation at santafe.edu/podcastgive … and/or consider rating and reviewing us at Apple Podcasts. Thank you for listening!
Read the essays we discuss in this episode:
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Podcast Theme Music by Mitch Mignano.
Melanie Moses, Kathy Powers, Brian Enquist, Jon Machta, Dan Rockmore, David Krakauer, Michael Garfield, Edgar Allan Poe, Auguste Dupin, Dan Brown, Vera Rubin, Kent Ford, Fritz Zwicky, Robert Koch, Martinus Beijerinck, Charles Darwin, Jennifer Doudna, CRISPR, Cory Doctorow, Peter Singer, William Hamilton, Lauren Ancel Meyers, Caroline Buckee, David B. Kinney, Kurt Wiesenfeld, Chao Tang, Per Bak, Cris Moore, Sidney Redner, Manfred Laubichler, William Gibson, François de Liocourt, Andrey Kolmogorov, Geoffrey West, Andy Dobson, Jessica Flack, Steve Lansing, Nicolas Rashevsky, Darcy Wentworth Thompson, Mahzarin Banaji
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