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11 Podcasts Worth Your Attention
2021's top episodes on The Vance Crowe Podcast | Voted for by listeners
For subscribers who haven’t caught me mention before, I executive produce a show called The Vance Crowe Podcast with my good friend and business partner, Vance Crowe.
On the show, we’ve hosted guests ranging from members of the house of lords to cutting edge scientists, and from prostitutes to world leaders. In 2021, we published just over an average of 1 episode per week, and so as the year was coming to a close, we wanted to think of some way to look back at what we’d accomplished and who we’d had on over the last 12 months.
Rather than do a top 10 based on views or some other metric, we decided to poll our audience for their favorite episode in each of a handful of superlative categories. We ran that poll shortly before the end of the year, and so below, I present to you those winning episodes.
If you’ve never listened to our podcast before and are looking for an episode to jump in on, these would make for some great candidates to check it out. I’ll post links for each episode below, but we are also available on Spotify, Apple or anywhere else you like to consumer your podcasts.
On to it —
Most Surprising: Lucy Thackray
The ‘reluctant mouse reporter’ as she calls herself came to us from Twitter. Vance had caught wind of a mouse plague happening in Australia, and Lucy was the face who kept popping up for coverage on the subject.
In this interview, Vance and Lucy discuss the massive amount of mice that were plaguing the rural parts of the country, biting babies and grandparents, ruining machinery, and wreaking havoc on crops. Later in the conversation Thackray talks about Australia's response to COVID, why their lockdowns have been so severe, and the trade tensions Australia is having with China.
Best Pattern Language: David Goodhart
David Goodhart is the author of The Road To Somewhere - a book that describes how western societies have been divided by the aspirations and decisions of young people choosing to go away to college or stay in their hometowns.
When we polled our audience for ‘Best Pattern Language’, we were looking for a terminology carrying a deeper idea that kept creeping back up in future interviews throughout the year. We had a few options, with Rob Henderson’s Luxury Beliefs coming in as a close second, but the clear winner of the year was what David referred to as Somewhere vs. Anywhere People. You can checkout the 13 minute video above for David’s full description of the idea.
Most Up-The-Graph: Lee Cronin
What do we mean by up-the-graph? You can checkout Vance’s full article on his model of the Well, Actually Graph here, but the tl;dr is that we were asking our audience for which guest had the most novel ideas known by the fewest people.
Dr. Cronin initially came across Vance’s radar via a tweet that almost got him canceled by a Twitter mob for a joke he made about the name of his lab—discussed in the interview—but in his research, Cronin is a university professor that is searching for a way to turn chemistry into something living. I’ve talked about how in the past here.
Interview that Changed You: Eric Hoel
Eric Hoel won the VCP Superlative for interview that changed you because of his out of the box and novel ideas about dreams, consciousness and quality of entertainment.
Erik Hoel is a neuroscientist and author of both a Substack blog like this as well as "The Revelations" - a scientific murder mystery that Vance regards as the best new book he has read in more than a decade. I still need to add it to queue, stay tuned for a page crimps post for it on no definitive timeline.
Most Memorable: Jim Rutt
Jim Rutt joined us for not one, but 2 podcasts in 2021. One of the 2 was voted as most memorable far more than the other for one novel reason: It was held and recorded in Virtual Reality.
But more so than the novelty of a podcast in VR, there’s a reason that we had Jim on twice in one year, he’s a darn good conversationalist who’s had lots of practice as the host of his own podcast: The Jim Rutt Show.
I’d initially found and reached out to Jim when I saw that his group GameB had been temporarily kicked off Facebook to come on and have a conversation about platform censorship. As the former CEO of Network Solutions when it was the largest domain name registrar in the world, I figured he’d have some great context to add to the topic.
Fun fact: In the VR interview, we recorded from my viewpoint as I was in the only guest in the room. We’re currently planning a follow-up podcast where we’ll try and open up the room to a live audience, all from VR.
Most Talked About: Rob Henderson
Rob Henderson is a writer, philosopher and Ph.D. student in psychology. Before all that thought, he was a foster kid who entered the military out of high school.
Through his perspective of climbing the socioeconomic ladder, Rob noticed a distinct pattern in how people at the upper echelons of society would purport beliefs that they themselves didn’t adopt, but rather lower tiers of society would to their own detriment.
In their interview, Rob spoke with Vance about this concept of "luxury beliefs", as well as the above mentioned concept of somewhere and anywhere people that just barely beat out Rob’s terminology for best pattern language of the year
They also discussed the value of elite educations, the perception of media and the value of raising children in two parent homes, leaving much to talk about for the everyday listener, and securing Rob’s win for most talked about interview.
Most Uncomfortable: Aella
Gotta say, she had her contenders, but we weren’t too surprised when commercial sex worker and writer, Aella, secured the win for most uncomfortable interview of 2021.
I came across Aella because I’d caught an article from her blog. I rather enjoyed it for it’s broad philosophical takes, and so I subscribed to stay in touch for future content. At some point down the road reading another of her articles, she referenced her experience on OnlyFans when making a point about—oh man, I wish I remember. I looked for the article and couldn’t find it in preparing this.
I immediately hopped to Vance to make the pitch for inviting on Aella as a guest. After a few days’ deliberation, he said yes and we set-up the interview.
While it may be NSFW, Aella and Vance had a super interesting conversation about her experience growing up in a devote Christian home, being homeschooled, and how she came to the decision to make money by showing her naked body on camera.
If there was another title we could have given this category in hindsight, where I think Aella would have still had a good chance of winning the superlative, it would be ‘Most Open Guest’.
Most Relavant to Current Times: Alina Chan
Alina Chan is a molecular biologist who specializes in gene therapy and cell engineering at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. She is also the co-author of a book called Viral, with past VCP guest: Matt Ridley.
Alina initially published a pre-print document regarding a hypothesis about how COVID-19 might have entered humans. This led Chan on a path to discover more about the true origins of COVID-19, and how there was a substantial argument to be made for the possibility that it originated in the Wuhan lab. This exposure put her in touch with Ridley, who as an author of numerous other books, was able to work with Chan to help publish this wildly interesting book.
Most Viewed: Lacy Hunt
We didn’t do any superlatives in 2020, but if we did, Lacy Hunt would be holding not one, but 2 titles for most listened to interview of the year.
Lacy Hunt doesn’t do many interviews, and so whenever we’re able to get Lacy on the podcast, followers of his come out of the woodwork to checkout what the latest is on Lacy’s views about the economy and investment strategy.
In our episode this year, Lacy returned to talk about dis-inflation, the velocity of money and what his economic models suggest is going to happen as the country and world comes out of COVID.
When we re-listened to the 2020 interview before Lacy’s 2nd appearance, it was striking how accurate his predictions had been in hindsight, then a year after his 1st appearance. I look forward to re-listening to this interview in May, a year after it’s publication to see how accurate his predictions were in 2021.
Worth a Second Listen: John Jennings
John Jennings is a Renaissance man. As president and chief strategist of the Saint Louis Trust company, his 50 person office manages the funds of over 60 families, whose wealth numbers in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
That being said, Vance and John’s conversation spanned far wider than the dynamics of wealth management. They talk about everything from the challenges the ultra wealthy face, to books, art and dreams. They also discus the unique model of the reporting structure inside John’s company and how he uses his blog as an outlet for exploring new ideas, very similar to as I do here.
This was the only interview we awarded a superlative to that was an internal judgement call between Vance and I. We chose John’s interview because while it may not have captured crazy attention, the ideas Vance and John discussed here stuck with us both through the remainder of our 2021 season.
Most Profound: Michael Levin
I first heard about Dr. Levin’s work through a New Yorker article and was fascinated by the layout of his proposal that electricity may play a huge role in someday successfully regenerating human limbs.
While Dr. Levin is doing some truly incredible things in the realm of his research, it was no surprise when his name was the clear winner for most profound interview of 2021. Over the course of their conversation, Michael and Vance covered the value of not defining things in binary terms, where Michael believes the human species is headed and how he is preparing his children for an unknown future.
It’s been a great year for The VCP, and 2022 is already off to a great start. Last week, we published an interview with world renowned artificial intelligence researcher and philosopher, Joshca Bach. We’ve got some great guests lined up for the 1st quarter of the year including some returning appearances from a few of last year’s favorites above.
You can listen to Vance’s commentary as host on our superlative winners here.
Next week, I’m going to share some key takeaways from a paper by our winner for most profound interview.
Be a good listener.