34: America, the Urban/Rural Divide and Girard with Zak Slayback

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Hosted by
Will Jarvis

In this wide-ranging conversation, we’re joined by Zak Slayback to talk about America, the Urban/Rural Divide, and Rene Girard. Zak is a venture capital professional at 1517 fund, career coach, and occasional writer. You can find Zak’s work at https://zakslayback.com/

Show Notes:

Zak’s book How to Get Ahead (Highly recommended!)

Nozick’s Anarchy State and Utopia.

Girard’s I See Satan Fall Like Lightning.

Caplan’s Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids

Caplan’s Case Against Education.


Will Jarvis 0:04
Hey folks, I’m well Jarvis along with my dad, Dr. David Jarvis. I host the podcast narratives. narratives is a project exploring the ways in which the world is better than it has been. The ways it is worse in the past or making a better, more definite future. I hope you enjoy it.

Well, hey, Zack, how are you doing today? I’m doing well. I’m exhausted. But well, didn’t throw it. You know, time changed. lots going on today.

Zack, can you go ahead and give us a brief bio and tell us kind of some things you’re interested in?

Zak Slayback 0:48
sure so I am. professionally. I spent most of my time as a principal at 1517 fund a pre seed stage venture capital fund spun out of the teal fellowship, primarily backing founders who are uncredentialed outside of track institutions. The way I kind of like to put it as a pithy littleblurb is dropouts, renegades and deep tech scientists So I spent a lot of my time reviewing investments, they’re working with our current portfolio, things like that. We’re a small team of four. So it’s a little bit of everything kind of kind of world. Outside of that, I’ve authored a few books, several self published, one published by McGraw Hill education, McGraw Hill business. And I’ve done in the past, I’ve done some career coaching with some folks, which mostly is and ends up being early stage business coaching, helping people make the leap from a traditional job to doing some kind of employment by themselves. Oftentimes, that’s consulting or something attached to more of what you might call a personal brand. So knowledge based skill work outside of that, you know, I, yeah, that’s that’s the vast majority of how I spend my time. That’s great tech. And I wanted to mention, can you name the book, it’s excellent. The McGraw Hill book tour, I found it very actionable. Just for the listeners, I put it up there with like, Scott Adams read a career help book that I thought was excellent. It’s up there with that. And zero to one is kind of my favorite.

Will Jarvis 2:24
It’s very, it’s very actionable. I mean, you know, most business books are very fluff driven, and right now useless, but I thought yours was quite Hell yeah, I found that I’m most productive when I’m driven by some kind of spite.

Zak Slayback 2:37
I felt I agree with you on business books, they’re horrible. Most of them could be blog posts, like one blog post one, a short one, a short blog post, right. So I set out to write a book that I was like, Okay, I want this to actually be worth it, like whatever 18 $19 that people spend once it’s discounted by Amazon. So it’s called How to get ahead. And it’s primarily a career book, in the sense of I work with a lot of very ambitious, very competent people. And often these people have a couple problems facing them. One is, the whole world really is their oyster. And they often have a sort of analysis paralysis, where it’s difficult for them to focus in on one area, they get shiny object syndrome, things like that. So includes a section on how to focus on the few things that really matter for advancing your career, both what really matters to you, and what really matters to actually make the advancements, which then really focuses on how people signal their skills. So I work with people and have worked with people who come out of, you know, top elite universities and people who haven’t stepped foot on the university. And both groups of people need to find a way to actually signal real skill. So the book breaks down a lot of different things like that.

I in some very like meta strokes, I do take some inspiration from you know, zero to one and in less meta strokes, inspiration from Scott Adams, how to fail big at almost everything, how to fail at almost everything and still win big isn’t the best what I was thinking of Actually, yeah, you’re actually not the first person to compare it to that which I again, I find very flattering. I think that Adams is has a lot these right onto there. So yeah, it’s designed to be actionable designed to be you can pick it up, you can read any chapter, you’ll get your money’s worth out of it. And then if you read the whole book as a whole, it’s supposed to give you kind of like a meta system for thinking about the career.

Will Jarvis 4:30
That’s great. Yeah. And I gift it to anyone who asked me for career advice, and I don’t know why they’re asking me but if they asked me exactly how I wrote it, I wanted people to gift it to people who are asking for career advice. So that’s, that’s great to hear. My agent will be happy to hear that. Excellent. And we’ll put a link to it down in the show notes.

So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and this, it really is switching gears to sew up you’re ready to back up. So you’re from rural Pennsylvania. Correct. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. I’ll 1015 minutes from where

Zak Slayback 5:00
Flight 93 crashed on 911 got a well.

Will Jarvis 5:04
So I, I’m from rural eastern North Carolina. And you know, I go back home, I live in a big Metro pool now. And I go back home. And I tell people, you know, they say Americans divided but I just don’t think they have any idea how divided it is, and how big the polarity is and belief systems between rural America and urban America. And it’s interesting to me because you know, I worked in London, I wasn’t I didn’t work in line, but I studied in London for a little bit. And the difference between London and a Metropole, in the United States was much smaller than rural American urban America. And I think that’s probably just a symptom that’s widespread in the West. But do you feel that that’s true? And is there anything to be done with it to be done about that? I mean, it certainly is true. You just have to spend some time in both places. And when I say spend some time in both places, I don’t mean like, a lot of you know, upper middle class, lower upper class, Metro Paul, folks going and spending time at an air b&b in like rural West Virginia, I mean, actually spend time out in these places meet people, talk to them figure out like what their hopes, dreams and fears are. And often you’ll find that they don’t have a lot of hopes. Because it’s difficult, right? It’s very similar to that of I think, in a certain weird way, it’s very similar to the divide between

Zak Slayback 6:26
working class people in the cities and non working class people in the cities, the divide between the urban and the rural is very similar in a weird way.

It’s not necessarily a working versus non working class thing, because you get a middle class out in the country. Right, you get it, you get a professional class out in the country, but it’s a very different kind of professional class, you spend time talking to medical professionals who work at small rural hospitals, right? It’s a very different experience of life. I wouldn’t call it a quality of life, but a very different experience of life that they have, then a doctor working in a large metropolitan area.

Yeah, so I think it’s absolutely true. I, what to be done about it is

I mean, my, I don’t want to call it a knee jerk reaction. But my intuition is that if there needs to be,

there’s a couple things going on. One is a lot of row areas experienced brain drain.

Just as like a lot of secondary and tertiary Metro markets experience a drain brain drain to primary Metro markets. And that ends up causing a lot of these areas to be looked over when it comes to general wealth gain over generations, so reversing brain drain is probably part of it. But then the question is like, how do you do that you actually have to make these places places that people who have again, the world is their oyster, where they will actually want to be? Right, right.

And that can be that can be at times difficult. as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more and more amenable to the idea of like something like national service.

Because I think what ends up happening is there is a, I say this as someone who who used to have like fairly a libertarian

inclination. So to hear myself say that you’re people who’ve known me for a long time, say that comes as a surprise. And it’s not something I’ve spent too much time thinking about. But when I do think about what is to be done, you know, with the quotation marks around it.

I kind of like the idea of something like a national service model, because I think what we have right now is we have the universities working as a de facto national service that people go into the the government, the government pushes it like it’s national service, it’s expected of people who have any sort of opportunity in front of them as if it were a national service that if they did anything other than go to university, then they’re almost disregarding their national, their civic duty, in a sense.

And I think what you end up having happen is, you end up having people who are going to be successful in life.

You know, so we’re talking about people who probably high IQ, high conscientiousness, high openness, all aggregating in the same places. And then once they aggregate in the same places, they often get it drawn into career tracks that also tend to bring the fertility rate down, which was another important question I think you have to have when you’re talking about the urban versus rural divide,

and just the future of America in general. So if you were to do something like a national service program, you don’t want it to be something would end up being a

just another set of feeders right where the the university tract people are going to go to this, this version of national service and the people who aren’t going to go to university are going to go to this version. They’re all going

To be pulled with each other, and you’re gonna have ascertain of meeting at that at that level, right?

Yeah, so it’s a big question. I suspect it is something like you, you deploy young talent to places they wouldn’t otherwise go to, they can be exposed to real problems inside their own country, and actually have some skin in the game in solving those problems. And hopefully, those are being problems that they wouldn’t otherwise be asked to solve. I’m not a believer in most human capital theories of higher education. Again, I think that the way that education private higher education primarily works is the universities are very, very good at selecting for people who are going to be successful anyway.

So the joke I like to tell my friends is, if you wanted to start a university, the way you do it is you start a private club. And in that club, you do an IQ test. But it’s not actually an IQ test, because that’s illegal. So you do something that’s essentially an IQ test. And something that’s essentially a tracker for conscientiousness and something that’s essentially a tracker for openness. And then you select the people who are in the top quartile or a top decile of whoever comes through and those are now your club members, you filter out, you know, use them, you do some filtering to get you know, your dangerous, like dark triad characters out for the most part, so they don’t bring the organization down on itself. But for the most part, you bring those people in, you do that for 10 years, and then the people from the first class are going to be successful, because they were going to be successful anyway, right. And then the people in the 11th class are going to be even higher quality people, because what they’re doing is they’re just imitating the successful people they see around them who are now graduates of your club.

So I think that’s effectively how universities work. There’s a small multiplier on success from like network, again, ascertain of mating elements, probably more than anything else, and

maybe some exposure to resources. But I think a lot of these resources, these people probably would have found anyway, as a function of high conscientiousness, high openness and high intelligence, whatever you want to call intelligence. I know IQ is a controversial measure of that.

So I feel like mixing the bag up a little bit would be helpful. So do you think this divide between urban and rural America has changed in the last century? Or was it like this 100 years ago, as well? I mean, if you go back, that’s a great question. If you go back to the federalist papers in the anti federalist papers and the constitutional debate in the 18th century, you can see there was this divide back then, between the Jeffersonian system and the Hamiltonian system.

So I think it’s something that’s just kind of inherent in the American model as a function of just how large the United States is. Were a very, very big country.

you sometimes see this image go around on Twitter that I have to kind of pick on that is a a,

a, you see this an urban new urbanist? Twitter sometimes of high speed, proposed high speed rail system? Yes, United States. And I always look at that I think it’s kind of funny, because it’s usually based on either a Japanese model or European model. And there’s a couple differences between the United States and Japan and Europe and largest being population density and size. The other largest being that both of those regions were completely demolished in the 1940s for a very specific historical reason and rebuilt with trillions of American dollars. We have plenty of airports, we should make better use of our airports.

But that aside, aside, yeah, I think that’s something that’s kind of inherent in the American model.

And I just the thing I kind of worry about more than anything else.

You know, I was thinking about the the question that will post me, because he mentioned it over a document he sent me before the interview. And in a certain sense, I don’t think the divide is a problem. I only think the divide becomes a problem. When the differences are amplified, the stakes are increased.

And I think what we’ve kind of had happen in the United States, probably as a function of mass media, is that the differences are amplified, the stakes are increased. So my solution politically would be some something like I wouldn’t call it decentralization, I would call probably something more like localism


Yeah, subsidiarity, something like that, where the stakes on the national scale are massively decreased. And then the differences become like the difference from county to county.

And people should be more concerned with who their you know, county commissioners are than who their senator is. So, you repealing the popular election of senators is probably also a good move in the right direction. And type one follow up question to that and we’ll and I were talking about this before just before we got on one of the the facts of the pandemic is a lot more people are working from home that allows them to live

David Jarvis 15:00
Anywhere. And there’s there seems to be movement out into the rural areas to have families raise children, just quality of life, I guess. Do you think that can have a leveling effect? I hope so.

Zak Slayback 15:12
I think that it will you’ll, you’ll just end up moving goalposts a little bit because the reality is people are probably moving to

places more like Asheville, North Carolina, rather than moving to like, suburbs of Wheeling, West Virginia. I mean, maybe some people are.

Will Jarvis 15:32
I think that it’s going to have a generally positive effect in getting people outside of a few urban hubs. I don’t think it’s going to be a massive solution for the problem. And, and Zach, you know, you mentioned localism, a little bit and this kind of brain drain from rural America, I was just reading sound in the Fury by Faulkner. And it is one of the weirdest elements was one of the characters that went to Harvard and came back to practice law in you know, rural Mississippi like this is that is the that it was so foreign to me to see that like that would never happen nowadays. of it would happen nowadays, he would be planning to run for senator and like,

Governor, that’s how I’d be president. And it’s gonna be great. Right, exactly, exactly.

Do you do you have any thoughts on on why that shift happened? Because that is, that’s really bizarre to me. You know, I talked to a hospital minister, administrator recently. And he said, even in his career, there’d been a shift where physicians would, you know, usually, you know, they take a little bit more money to go work in a rural area. But now he’s got to pay him 234 times as much as they would make in Charlotte versus in rural North Carolina, to, to live in these different places, which just struck me is like a real cultural, cultural shift. I mean, if you’re from a rural place, and have moved to a city, you know, what it feels like, to go back to a place that has a dwindling population. It’s a very weird, existential experience.

Zak Slayback 17:03
I don’t want to call it depressing, because I feel like that’s too easy of a word to grasp and to grab that. But if you’re asking people to go someplace that just genetically speaking, and I just mean, just as a function of who’s moving in versus who’s moving out, is dying. It’s really, really hard to sell people on that, you know, there’s this old Kevin Williamson, I think article about rural America, that was just abhorrent. And he made the claim in it that it was at National Review. He made the claim that these places deserve to die, because the resources, you know, that there are economic drains in the country, their moral drains in the country, etc. I think he’s absolutely wrong about that. But it’s difficult to paint why he is wrong, somebody who’s just looking at something on a spreadsheet, right? Right, I suspect he’s looking at, he’s looking at the data on a spreadsheet. And, and, and looking like how these people how people, they’re on average vote, how

the general quality of life comes down again, on spreadsheets, you have to get people to move there, they have to have roots.

People move to cities and part again, for meeting purposes. If you if you’re like a doctor who doesn’t have a family, and you want to have a family, you’re gonna be you’re much more, you’re gonna have a much better dating market in New York, even if you’re making half of what you would make in rural Pennsylvania.

Family is a huge part of it. Most of the people I know who didn’t who did go to elite universities and go back to their hometowns. If they didn’t do it for like some weird borderline sociopathic reason to run for office someday. They did it primarily because they have family.

So I think the the the earlier you can get people to responsibly have families and put down roots, the better.

operative word there obviously, is responsibly.

But I think we’ve taught people that it’s far more expensive to start a family than it needs to be. Brian Kaplan has really good research on this out of George Mason University has a nice little book called selfish reasons to have more kids. And he does admit, you know, it’s moderately expensive to have the first child, but every additional child, marginal child’s Yeah, the marginal cost ends up going down.

So if you can, if you can really focus in on that first one, I think for a lot of people, both the the actual financial cost and also the psychological cost of it in to directly answer your question, because I realized now I haven’t really answered the question about the move. big part of it, as you alluded to, is financial. I think the financialization of the economy in the 1980s probably played a big part. You know, being a bond trader in the 60s and 70s was actually not that like lucrative of a job.

Most of the jobs we think of as very extremely lucrative Wall Street jobs were like pretty middling, like banker jobs in the 60s and 70s. So if Iran

Private private equity in the end of the 60s, beginning in the 70s. You’ve the financialization of everything in the 80s. I think that just naturally moves and moves a lot of money to the financial hubs, which tend to be the coastal urban hubs, then you have globalization, money, no matter where it is in the world looks for yields. And it turns out the United States has just been the best place the best open market, at least in the world for yields. So now all the money in the world is going to a handful of American cities. That’s exactly what we have going on right now. You know, I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, who is super wigged out by the housing market right now. Yes, it is concerning I do think we are seeing indicators of inflation pop up in things other than consumer goods, although they’re starting to see some price increases and consumer goods. But really more what it is than anything else is like the US stock market and us real estate, whatever you want to whatever American financial good market, you want to look at money all over the world as a function of the global markets being brought to their knees because of Coronavirus is going to the United States. And that’s what’s really been happening on and off over the last 20 or 30 or 40 years. And that just means if the money isn’t going to go directly into wages, safer doctors, in your case, it’s going to go somewhere in the local ecosystem. So you’re just going to have more and more expensive amenities in these these cities then you’re going to have out in the country. And even if the cost of living is much lower out in the country, the quality of life, especially for somebody who is now

attending their tastes of attenuated to those large city, it’s just you again, it’s going to have to be a very non financial kind of decision on their part. That’s a great point I remarked to someone just on the amenity side, there was more diversity and dining within half a mile of my apartment now than within 50 miles of where I grew up. Oh, yeah. It’s just like, you know, this crazy scale thing. I remember I had to drive three hours growing up to go to a Persian restaurant. Like that’s not that’s not the dang the town I grew up in, you know, there’s there’s a lot of good things about what that town can represent. But I think about that today, where I’m like, Oh, you know, to be fair, where I live now doesn’t have a lot of Persian options, but I can find something. Right. Like it can happen. Yeah, right. Like, it should not be a memorable experience for me growing up to have gone to a Persian restaurant, but now I know exactly the dish that I had, because I was like 12 years old, the first time I’d ever seen a Persian restaurant. And now I see the dish, and I instantly remember that. It’s just a function of exactly what you mentioned. Interesting, interesting. Um, what are your current thoughts on free trade? I know you know, you’ve studied with, have you studied with Jason Brennan.

Okay, yeah, I know, Jason. I’ve interviewed him. Jason’s prolific. That’s what he puts out so much. It’s incredibly admirable. He’s also like, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He’s one of these people that if you’re like, friends with them on Facebook, they’re they’re a little.

They can be a little harsh with people and you think like, oh, man, this person? I don’t know if I want, what it’s gonna be like talking to them. And then you meet them. They’re actually like, one of the nicest people you’ve ever met. Um,

Will Jarvis 23:23
so yeah, I I’ve interacted with Jason. That’s great. Yeah, I studied under one of his kind of mentees, I suppose at UNC Chapel Hill. That’s why I had heard him but yeah, it’s a free trade, you know, are you I become more skeptical of free trade since my time in college, which actually is seems to be a natural effect when they do these studies with eco eco one on one students, and they forget everything. But I am, you know, China shock theory, you know, the loss of American industries and industrial power is, is fairly concerning to me just on a strategic level. And, you know, looking at the pandemic, how we were just unable to build, you know, certain things, my sister just she just LED, but she worked at the only vaccine filling facility in the US, and it was located in eastern rural eastern North Carolina, and that’s the only one we have left. They’re all in China. Fine. That’s gone. You know, think about clothes naked like Jesus. You know, what happens then? Um, but yeah, free trade, you know, what are your current thoughts on it?

Zak Slayback 24:22
I mean, my stances on a lot of isms tend to come down to the

what’s the prediction power of the ISM, judging the people behind it? Right.

And for the free traders, you know, one of the big things I keep coming back to and I’ve had this conversation with friends of mine who were like, dyed, dyed in the wool anarcho capitalists who will even kind of get a little on this topic.

Is the free traders told us that free trade would liberalize China. But it seems like all it’s done is it is authoritarian. Nice.

Much more powerful. It has made China much more authoritarian China much more powerful, right?

It’s kind of like there’s this old observation by Nathaniel Branden, great psychotherapist who’s written a lot of books on self esteem. He has one of his books, he talks about the self esteem of romantic love. I think free trade is kind of like that. He says, you know, people tend to

fall in love with people have similar levels of self esteem and what you have.

But it just ends up dragging that person down. So I think free trade and liberalism is kind of like that. We might see some examples where it’s led to liberalization, but I think just by the sheer number of people in a certain population group, it seems like on average, it’s actually led to,

has opened up the opportunity for a lot more authoritarianism.

It’s almost like this weird idea people had, it was like, they were reading Karl Marx. And they’re like, once you hit this standard of purchasing power parity, you can suddenly become like this capitalist, you know, liberal nation. I don’t know. I mean, I think maybe perhaps more charitably, what it was was, you know, you hear the old stories about blue jeans, bringing down the Soviet, or like Gorbachev, I think it was Gorbachev might have been it might have been Khrushchev, even before that, going to a grocery store in the United States and thinking it was all fake.

And like, I think that’s probably the really what they’re doing is it’s more of a political economy kind of prediction. extrapolating. Yeah, extrapolating out, and it’s like, yeah, the Chinese have studied the USSR.

And just because something worked in the USSR does not mean that it’s going to work elsewhere.

So yeah, for for a lot of reasons, you listed strategic reasons, I’m skeptical, at least of trade with certain authoritarian regimes.

You know, I heard somebody say, once, so I, I did not come up with this phrasing. But I think it’s genius. And I, if I was, if I could spend more time thinking about trading globalization, this is probably the direction of going. Gentlemen said once, you know, if I were running American economic policy, it wouldn’t be America first would be America’s first.

which really means shortening our supply chains, strengthening our strategic relationships in the Western Hemisphere. I think the reality is, at the end of the day, the United States has lasted as long as it has without an invasion from outside forces, because we’ve got two large bodies of water on both sides of the country.

Like, we just we got really, really lucky and and, you know, our former heads of state, were really smart to try to build the country from one side to the other side.

And I do worry about a certain Far Eastern authoritarian regime putting down roots in Chile, Mexico,

Panama, other other countries, you know, said said regime

has taken out advertisements on New Year’s Day in Chile,

telling the Chilean population, how much they appreciate their national relationship.

Chile is an important, it’s an important minor mineral mining hub. So that that’s concerning, right? Like I would want those minerals to primarily go to the United States.

So North and South America, West Africa, the reality is, the perception of Americans is probably better in West Africa than it is anywhere else in the world. West Africans. Remember the amount of resources to George,

one of the one of the george bush’s george HW Bush, I believe, put into fighting aids there.

That’s important that goodwill should we should use.

So yeah, I’m skeptical of I’m skeptical of the liberalization narrative behind free trade, I understand a lot of the arguments for free trade. I also, though, understand that, like national morale matters, and people need to believe that the future is going to be better than the past. And that’s hard to do, like even look at the raw GDP per capita, but when the GDP per capita ends up concentrating in a few places, with relatively few people, that leads to political instability, and political and social instability is a political and social stability is kind of a prerequisite for that increasing GDP. So I guess at the end of the day, I’m talking about massive inequality of some kind. I don’t know if it’s necessarily income inequality. I feel like that’s probably the wrong thing to focus on.

But I would call like optimism and equality.

Will Jarvis 29:48
Wages should keep pace with cost with with like the cost of living, at the very least, right? It seems very important. And I wonder if a lot of these symptoms we’ve been talking about are you know,

They’re symptoms of slow growth, slowing growth, so maybe growth still, it’s still growing, but not as fast. And that’s a real problem when you when you feel like your kids aren’t gonna be as successful as you are, you know that that’s very, it’s a very negative feeling. And that’s, something’s very foreign to us in America. Well, and the other thing that that leads to is people just have fewer kids.

Zak Slayback 30:23
In there lots of reasons why people have fewer kids. You know, central planning can be one of those reasons. You know, we talked about fertility crises here. Again, I said, there’s a certain authoritarian Far Eastern regime that has a much worse crisis that will lead to a pension crisis.

So there, there are lots of core reasons that that

one should Institute natalist, pronatalist policy,

some of which being optimism, maybe too much optimism. But I think pessimism is a big part of it, you meet lots of people who say, I’m not sure if I am ready to have a family. And it’s like, well, why you you would only say that if you honestly did not feel like the next couple of years, were going to go well, if you believed that the pace of the your quality of life was going to increase, you’re going to get that promotion, you’re going to get that wage increase, you’re going to be able to move to that better apartment or buy that house. Even if you’re not in a very good place right now you’re you understand, like, it takes a while for kids to grow up? You’d have, you’d be more comfortable having children.

Will Jarvis 31:27
Definitely. That’s that’s a huge problem in our society. And this is connected to another question I had for you. Um, you know, a lot of people’s lives seem to be fairly devoid of meaning at this time, at least, you know, that’s what you see on Twitter. Right. And people behind this back, and I do think it’s true to a certain extent.

You’re a cat. You’re Catholic, correct? Yeah. And and how is that, you know, working in tech, where, essentially, you know, everyone I know is, you know, fairly agnostic, at least or even atheist. You know, how has that experience been? And?

Zak Slayback 32:00
Yeah, I guess that’s my question. Yeah. It’s funny. I have more people who asked me like, How are you, Christian and working in tech, then people who actually like make me feel uncomfortable?

Yeah, it is good. It’s a it’s a it’s a really good kind of disparity to have.

Yeah, I mean, I do think that like the materialist atheists, the new atheists that that group of people, they have a lot of sway over again, particularly urban oriented, high competence individuals. But I also think there’s kind of a historical reason for that. So, you know, one of my colleagues, Daniel Stockman, used to she’s the co founder of the teal fellowship used to work at the teal foundation. And we were talking one day on bunch of us, some of our founders, myself, her.

And one of our founders, and I were talking about religion, and she just kind of brought up, you know,

we get people to come to these these teal summits for the 2020 fellowship, but the teal fellowship. And they would always assume that Peter was an atheist because he was in tech, and then they’d be really surprised to find out that he was a Christian, right?

And Daniel kind of asked us, like, why do you guys think that that’s kind of like the overarching sentiment that people have? And I honestly think, without abstracting it too much, I think a big part of it is that the new atheists were just early adopters to new media.

If you were growing up in the early 2000s, you were listening to podcasts or on YouTube, it’s just far more likely you were going to come across Sam Harris than you were Bishop Aaron.

Like just just as a fear as a as a mere function of exposure.

And I think that the

into the extent that you would come across a lot of religious and religious adjacent thinkers, it was often kind of like the am talk radio people, right, unfortunately, which end up giving people I think, a bad impression myself included grab I’m, I’m a convert to Catholicism and almost a revert of sorts to Christianity.

Because people often were exposed and speaking for myself here to the much lower caliber arguments for

you know, Christian metaphysics, Christian theology in general.

And certainly for ecclesiology.

So I think that that’s a big part of it. So for me it really, I have not found that people are dismissive of it. I try not to like I don’t put it in people’s faces for work, like, I’ll post some, you know, pretty church pictures on Twitter, sometimes I think and share some articles on on those topics.

And what that has actually led to is more people in tech who identify either as cash

Will Jarvis 35:00
Catholics or as Catholic adjacent coming and talking to me in private, so if anything, it’s been crowded. unintentionally. That makes sense. And could you could you pitch Catholicism so you’re talking to him I, I, you know, I would call ourselves inverse Catholics for both Quakers. So

and I am convinced if you’re Christian should probably be Catholic or Quaker like this, like, these are your two real options. Everything else is just like Shades of Grey in between. I don’t know a whole lot about quakerism. I did go to Penn. So I post a lot of like Quaker images.

Zak Slayback 35:37
But no. So I mean, again, going back to what I said a few minutes ago, for me a lot of isms come down to the predictive power of the ISM and of the

of the primary proponents of that ism. Right. And for me, the primary proponent proponents of Catholicism, tend to be the thomists Got it? So when I was flirting with materialist atheism, probably the furthest I got was like, a weird sort of like, deism like all like, I joke with my friends like crypto Masonic deism.

Will Jarvis 36:14

Zak Slayback 36:16
yes, that’s that’s probably the furthest that I got. And when I was flirting with some of them, more materialism friend gave me at phasers book at phasers, a NEO scholastic thinker out in California that I think just decimated materialism just really made the the philosophical argument that you can’t you can’t have philosophical arguments within the realm of materialism. About about about which materialists try to use materialism as their set their ground of arguments, right? That was really helpful for at least keeping me out of that world.

But for me a lot of the the predictive power of Catholicism but especially Catholicism through the lenses of Aquinas, Aquinas, exposition of it.

And to a certain extent, even though he’s more in the platanus vein, Augustine’s exposition of it

just lined up with my experiences of reality, right, like the predictive power of the human condition seem to be very well explained by the church’s doctors.

You know, the deeper and the deeper I interact with them, the more I tend to find that that’s true.

So, I identified closely with virtue ethics, before becoming a Catholic. So it was easy for me to I don’t say it’s easy for me to grasp onto but the learning curve for me in in Thomas moral theology, it was not that difficult to overcome. Aquinas call Aquinas calls Aristotle, the philosopher, when he’s when he’s writing to talk about like the evangelists, talk about the philosopher. And he’s talking about Aristotle in the case of the philosopher. So that was an easier learning curve for me. But again, the predictive power of

the Catholic worldview of the sinfulness of man, and then the need for reconciliation, and the need for grace was just, it cohered very closely with the data I saw on the world.

And then then there was an aesthetic element of it as well. You know, I’m not a particularly effective person. So it’s difficult for me to fall into. I have some friends, for example, and this is not not at all bashing Pentecostals, but some friends who are Pentecostal, and you’ll see like Pentecostal church services, and it’s it to me just seems very effective within a

lot of emotion.

And I get it, like if their theology is right, it would be a very emotional experience. So I understand that. But the most that I’ve had the affective experience in a church has been in

both the traditional the traditional Catholic mass and in some Byzantine masses, which look more like an Eastern Orthodox mass. So again, to the extent that I understand the theologies, the way I came to Catholicism was okay, I, I generally think the the, the narratives and historicity on Christ are true.

It’s one of the most well documented things in history. And if it weren’t true, we would have like a real knockdown argument against it and we really don’t.

So that being said, if I had to look at a Christian system that is going to carry the most accurate explanatory power, I’m going to defer to two things. One, I’m going to defer to the one that has the closest

caption to the people who actually knew Jesus. Because I think the people actually knew Jesus are most likely to

have the right interpretations of Scripture, right? Like, Jordan never really, like really made a whole lot of logical sense to me to be quite frank.

I, the scriptures are a creation of the church and the creation of documents created by church father, so I want something to at least goes back to the church fathers.

So there’s that side. And then there’s also the side of taking the shorthand, that’s Taleb ask of I want to go to something that I think is most likely to stand another, you know, 1500 to 2000 years. So for me, it was I defaulted to like orthodoxy or Catholicism.

And then I had to dig into the question of the primacy of the chair of Peter,

ie the papacy. And he there’s a lot of good arguments on both sides of that debate. I do think that it comes down somewhat clearly that that it was intended by the fathers that Rome have some sort of primacy.

And then everything, all the other debates between orthodoxy and Catholicism really extend out of that. So things like the totally okay.

And then, you know, doctrinal differences.

So, that wasn’t a short elevator pitch for it. But my argument for somebody who would be in my shoes is like, okay, you have to all the debates within Christianity, there’s 44,000 different branches of Christianity, right, you have to have some objective standard that you will, that you will defer to that. I think that the objective standard is probably and I think, I think any branch is going to say it’s going to be Christ. And it’s like, Okay, any branch can claim that though. And often you’ll see these certain branches, say it’s like some inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And then you end up getting a lot of debates on like, well, who’s inspired? Who isn’t inspired? You see this in the 16th century, where all these different reformers and radical formers are anathematized each other because they say they don’t have the gift of the Holy Spirit. So it’s like, okay, in that case, that’s not what we’re going to base our arguments off of, we have to go to something even more fundamental, I think it ends up being a historical chain.

And I think that that chain leads to again, either orthodoxy or Catholicism. I’d love to hear a pitch for quakerism, though I know very little about quakerism. To be frank. Yeah, I think it’s kind of like you.

Will Jarvis 42:31
And I say the inverse in that. It’s, it’s kind of like, you read the New Testament, and you’re like, well, should there be this institution between me and God? Like, no, not at all. If that’s what you take, then you’re gonna be like, you’re gonna be a Quaker, like COVID comes into ecclesiological question. Right? Right. But that’s, and you have to kind of figure it out yourself. That’s kind of one of the things but you know, that that’s, that’s the primary difference. I feel like everything else is like, well, you’re claiming to be Catholic, but you’re not really Catholic. Yeah. That’s my stance and sorry, if anyone out there? No, I mean,

Zak Slayback 43:05
the church has done a terrible job of catechism over the last 100 years in particular cases. You know, I live in a very Catholicism city and there are a lot of nominal Catholics and a lot of shrinking parishes.

So I think institutionally ecclesia illogically. There are certainly

there are certainly things that need to be solved. And I find myself closer to some of my non denominational friends and I would suspect, probably Quakers at times, and I do with a lot of people with either formally within the church structure now and I’ve heard some of the interpretations of Vatican two, because there’s this debate comes up in the Vatican two documents, right? And can can can Christians outside the church, capital C church be saved, right. And the the church’s stance historically has been nobody outside of the church can be saved. However, the analogy that I’ve heard that kind of comes out of Vatican two is that you can imagine that the church has this massive, rickety, probably at times, in deep, deep need of repair ship, going from point A to point B, and sometimes off the side of the ship. You’ll find dinghies and these dinghies, the you can think of these Dinis as certain other denominations. And sometimes those things are actually on the right path with the ship. And there’s all these bad things happening on the ship all these problems, people need to be thrown off the ship, whatever, but the ship keeps going ahead. Right. And some of the deniers will also make it there. Right. And that’s great. And those those people are our brothers and we want to we want to

treat them as our brothers.

And I’ve certainly seen that borne out with with some of my and just just as a function of being on the ship does not mean you’re like actually on the ship.

I I was recently watching

Old reruns have to catch a predator. And I remember they’re, they’re asking questions this one guy they get that shows up. And if you haven’t seen the show for listeners, it’s this old show from the early 2000s with Chris Hanson on Dateline NBC where he would, they would set up internet predators in chat rooms. And then when they get to the house, they wouldn’t actually be like a 14 year old girl there, there would be Chris Hansen, news, crew and police.

And there’s something like there’s something weirdly deeply satisfying about it.

Especially the seasons where they actually have the police there. But at one point in the police interview with this one guy, the police asked him like, you know, are you religious? He says, No, no, like, not at all. And he’s like, Well, you know, I was raised Catholic. And the police asked him, you know,

did that stop you? And he’s like, Well, you know, I’m not actually really practicing. And the cop says something like, Well, yeah, but they’ve, you know, they’ve got lots of priests that do stuff like this. And the guy that they arrested made a really good point, he said, Well, they’re not practicing Catholics either. Like, just because they’re priests does not actually make them a practicing Catholics. And this can be hard ecclesia logically and from a sidereal soteriology perspective for some people to grasp, because if you have a one saved, always saved understanding of soteriology.

Like, I remember when I told one of my Pentecostal friends, that’s like, yeah, you know, there, there could be Pope’s who are in hell, right. Like, that’s possible. I don’t know. He does that completely.

He was not able to grasp that. So the ecclesiology questions, just a massive, massive question.

And I can understand how somebody ends up in a perspective where they think that the church is more of an invisible church. Again, I think if you read the church fathers, it’s kind of clear that they didn’t intend that that to be an interpretation. But, you know, I respect that interpretation, more than I do. Like I was raised Episcopalian, and I respect that interpretation more than I do like the interpretation.

Will Jarvis 47:01
It’s a really, really interesting question. Dad, did you have any questions? Well, it just it brought to mind. A lot of people describe Quakers as secular humanists, which I think is really accurate. And then the other thing that brought them on was, we did the episode of our podcast on our Albion seed, where they talk about Quakers. And, and that book sort of made the case for Quakers not being very successful as a religion, but being really successful in helping create a modern world kind of about that. Right, let’s have you read Albion seed money. David egg Fisher, it’s really a really excellent book. But yeah, so you know, the four founding English kind of cultural groups that came to American founded America, Quakers borders, kind of the English Cavaliers and the Puritans. Anyway, yeah. His his thought is that, well, when you think of like, maternity and you think of like the modern values a lot of people hold now. It’s like secular humanism. And it’s like, the is the values Quakers held in the 1600s when they came wherever, to Pennsylvania. And those ideas have kind of, to a certain extent, won the day in the cultural realm. And you don’t see a lot of like competing alternate Well, you do see competing alternatives. But I think that’s the thesis you’re talking about bad? Yeah, right. Yes. Yeah. I’m not familiar with the the argument from I mean,

Zak Slayback 48:31
I’m not familiar with the the argument of how you go from the Quakers coming to Pennsylvania to the secular humanism of, say, the early 20th century, I’d have to fill myself in on that. Because I think the natural conclusion of 1517 is secular humanism. Got it? Like I would, I would say that that’s the year the world ended.

And maybe you could say a new world began but I think that’s the year where, you know, one of my

one of my, I guess I’d call him like an intellectual mentor.

Put it to me put it well, where

the, the

an equation to reason that you have to make posts 1517 when you are trying to understand divine revelation, ends up sounding more like Schoenberg than it ends up sounding like Mozart.

Because you just you lose any like basis for tonality, right.

Once you once you move to personal interpretation, I think you you lose the basis for tonality.

And it’s a fundamentally post 1517 probably realistically post 1521

the world be the frame of reference off of which we try to understand the world just shit right? Definitely. And the natural conclusion from that is going to be something like humanism, right?

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I really think that’s well put. And I guess I’m assuming you do. But do you believe the physical resurrection? The physical resurrection of the dead or the physical resurrection of Christ? Christ is fun. Yeah. I mean, I believe in both. But I do believe in the physical resurrection. Because again, I think if you look at the arguments against it, they end up being just as outlandish as the actual claim that is put forward. Exactly.

That’s, like mass hysteria of hundreds of people in Judea all at the same time, it would be very odd, including some secular historians like

Will Jarvis 50:37
God, just even as a Bayesian. That’s, that’s great. I really like that. So I wanted to shift now to

one more question, and then have I have an overrated underrated segment? If that’s okay, here, yeah. Okay, cool. So, it and this is around career. So this is total left turn. But if you had one lesson you give to people about their careers, what would it be?

Zak Slayback 51:02
And, you know, I’m a big fan of mental models and filters.

Use opportunity cost as the main way of trying to make career decisions. You know, I was talking to a young lady the other day, who asked me, should I work on my company? Or should I go get a job working at a venture capital firm? And I told him, Well, first of all, venture capitalists, we are glorified Mortgage Bankers. Like, the job is not nearly as interesting as people try to make it seem like and certainly super interesting, and I love my job. But in other ways, it’s like I I’m looking at, you know, whether I’m trying to trust somebody enough to make a decision on on their business. And the same way that old Mortgage Bankers would try to, like get to know you in your hometown before they’d make a decision to lend you $100,000. Right.

And I tell her, like the reason I work in venture capitals, I have a terribly undiagnosed ADHD. And I’m not I can’t focus long enough to be a founder.

But I don’t I also just look at the opportunity cost, right? Like, if what are you going to learn by building your company over the summer? versus what would you learn by working with a VC firm and not being able to build your company over the summer, right. So I wouldn’t advise a lot of people think of think of career decisions in that way.

18 year olds, I always tell them, like, Look, get into the get into the the best college with the best financial aid you can get, and then immediately request a gap year, and then go work on something in that gap year, if you’re already working on something in high school, some passion try to professionalize it in some kind of way, a startup, a, an initiative, anything like that, if you’re not, you know, take your professional interests, cold emails from people who work in that profession, and see if you can intern for them for the next year. Right. And then you can always go, then you can You’re expected after the gap year to go to school. And so there’s that forcing function that if you don’t find something, you can go do that, whatever.

But if you’re on a good track, you can definitely take that gap year, once you’re in, you’re in, like,

universities have not kind of changed that policy. I, I people don’t understand that they don’t immediately have to go to university right after

they finish k 12. And I think a lot of people end up in the wrong place in their careers as a for as a function of going immediately to university. So if you end up thinking in terms of opportunity cost, that means that you can do things like oh, no, I can get into this school that I’ve been focusing on or whatever, or maybe you haven’t been focusing on a school, great, whatever.

And I can take that next year, and I can do something productive with it. And if you get to the end of that year, again, apply the opportunity cost filter, if your business that you’re working in, let’s say you started a startup, if it’s going really well, and you can go raise a pre seed round, and you think you can get some good traction, and then maybe go from there. The opportunity cost of going starting your freshman school year at school is pretty darn high. Right? So you should probably keep working on the company. And then you can re examine it again, right? Is the company doing well enough? Do you should you be at the helm? Are you learning a lot of things? Is it valuable? Do you enjoy it? Will you enjoy it?

And then make that decision again, so use some sort of filter like that. I think that’s incredibly helpful for people. It was very liberating for myself when I started applying it.

Will Jarvis 54:23
I think that’s, that’s really an important lesson when people don’t get enough. I wanted to ask you this, you know, in the foundries you work with and once you see is it for the successful ones is it just you know, what are some of the more important factors is it just not giving up and that was my personal experience with our company. It was just literally like this terrible. It it’s tough to describe it as being like a professional running back. I mean, you’re getting hit constantly. It’s just like trying to stay healthy enough to play for the whole season. If you can make it to the Super Bowl. You’re You’re good but it and and so much of it is

is trying to survive. I mean, we looked at it statistically. And it was like, well, there was 12 separate occasions where we’re there, we thought there was a higher than 75% chance we wouldn’t be there the next week, and we just like cap fare out to play out these miracles over and over again. Is it just tenacity? Is it? You know, of course, you got to be smart. You know, there’s all these prerequisites. But what do you think? What have you seen?

Zak Slayback 55:21
on like, a meta level at a skill level? Yeah, grit is super important. Especially if you’re a solo founder, like we almost exclusively exclusively investing teams got, when we do invest in solo founders, they’re either people we know really well, or they’re people who are very experienced, because it’s lonely. Right? I’m sure everything you’re talking about, like, you didn’t have somebody to lean on with. Yeah, we lost your mind. Yeah, most people would. It’s really, really, really hard.

From a more practical level, or like a more, you know, actionable level, I’m a big fan of customer discovery.

Talk to you guys. Again, I’m working with companies at the pre seed stage, they, when I first started talking to him, they may not have any customers.

Typically, when we invest, they have like at least two pilot, b2b customers.

But I tell them, Look, I need you to talk to 100 people who are in your user profile, who don’t know you. And if you actually talk to 100 people, you’re gonna get an insane amount of information. They’ll both help you in product development, but also help you in sales and marketing. And somebody as a founder who’s comfortable with talking to 100 people, and reaching out to plenty of people who are going to tell him to eff off. Like that. That’s an important personal skill to build.

That’s huge. That’s and that’s an important part of the tenacity. You know, we have a company in our second fund that Mike and Danielle made the investment in early on that was a travel company, and then March 2019, happened on March 2020. Right Jesus.

So they, they had to pivot and the founder. She’s one of the best people I know, in customer discovery, she, they made a couple of different ideas of products, couple different user verticals that they could look at, they targeted the one that they thought was probably the least oversold to, which ended up being office managers. And she talked to 100 plus office managers about what kind of problems they have. And they pivoted their travel software company to being a software company that helps office managers, but their their tasks and their cues. And it’s actually like pretty good traction, their users love them. And that’s just a function of doing really good customer discovery.

So I think that’s, that’s a huge part.

You know, for things we look for, this is less something that can be developed. And I think it’s something that people just kind of have as a function of their personalities.

Something Mike and Danielle call hyper fluency. It’s the ability for somebody to speak on a complex topic at multiple levels.

So it’s particularly important in the deep tech field, because we’re generally respond. We’re not scientists, ourselves. And we have to review things like nuclear batteries and quantum computers and GPS, 3.0. And LIDAR, and how do we do that is on scientists, right? And a big part of it is GPS. And other fun recently asked me, you know, you’re investing in really often, often young founders.

How do you How is a 20 year old going to take company to go public someday? Right? The answer is they build a very good team around them, right. And part of being able to build a really good team is being able to speak with hyper fluency on multiple levels. So if you’re a 20 year old, who’s talking about nuclear batteries that are the size of tabletops, you better be able to speak with appear, appear, who’s 55 and is a nuclear scientist, who has been talking about miniaturizing nuclear reactors for the last 30 years of his career, right. And you also need to be talking about a level where you’re able to hire more entry level people.

And you’re also going to need to be able to talk to him on a level where you can talk to your investors who are probably like way down here, and really need you to make sense of what you’re working on. So hyper fluency is that ability to jump between those levels without putting up what what we also call cloud of abstraction, where sometimes, especially in complex matters, people will abstract out know they’ll end up using all these acronyms and all these this jargon, to make it sound like they know a lot. And at the end of the day, they actually probably know less than they think they know as a function of that. In the humanities. I’m convinced. You know, I studied philosophy myself, and I’m convinced this is what the post modernists do. Like continental philosophy, like I’m like, man, like, I can’t tell if you have anything important to say. It’s like

Or if you’re just saying nothing you’re trying to write and most people will therefore defer to thinking you’re saying something really important, I think should be the opposite. I know that that was nice as well. But you can find you’ll find online I forget what it’s called. It’s something like the postmodern

Will Jarvis 1:00:16
paper generator. I that Yeah. This is that the scandal where they sent it to this like huge journal, and it got accepted. It was no that’s the SoCal affair. That’s okay.

Zak Slayback 1:00:26
I’m just talking about is one of these things. It’s like a lorem ipsum generator, just press. But it just generates jargon, that you presented it at one of these conferences, you would probably like actually be able to present it. So you’re talking about as the so called fair,

I think that’s what it’s called, soak our scope out there, something like that, where I think it was a math mathematicians wrote up jargon papers like, like, gibberish papers full of postmodern jargon, and submitted them to certain journals and humanities, like reputable journals, and they got accepted. They weren’t saying great.

It’s just such an indictment of how postmodern

thinking ends up clouding the the ability of one to even judge postmodern thinking.

And I think, you know, realistically, I don’t think that this is like some grand conspiracy or anything like that. Realistically, what I think it is, is we’ve we’ve over produced PhD holding

individuals in the humanities who are all talking to each other, and they need to find more to talk to each other about as a function of justifying their jobs, getting more grad students to come in to talk to each other, about more things that they can all talk to each other about. Yep. Utterly self referential, just going around. Exactly. That’s exactly what I think it is. I think that Yeah, man, it’s a wild world. Um, so overrated or underrated. I’m gonna throw a tournament term out and just tell me why it’s overrated. underrated. Maybe give me a sentence or two. Whatever you feel like. So David Schmitz, overrated. underrated, underrated?

Now, I mean, I think he’s just not he’s not well known out of like, certain goofy like libertarian adjacent circles and the philosophy world. We’re talking about at the University of Arizona, right? Yep. Yep. And his life story. I mean, he was a postman, and then he like, it became this philosophy. It’s awesome. Yeah, I never I never met David. But I think that unless you’re talking to a very weird, like libertarian adjacent group of people in academia, they don’t know a whole lot about his work in inside liberalism. You know, as a school thought, I only had one professor in school who was a,

like, one of the world’s leading roles, you can see we even know about him. Oh, wow. Really? Yeah. No, it’s such a shame. Yeah, no, I think that his his work is really really underappreciated. And again, they you have a is produced a lot of very prolific people. I’m pretty sure Brennan got his PhD there.

I think you’re right. Have you read? Schmitz is a property rights paper? I think it’s no I haven’t. Okay. He describes the Roanoke colony in Virginia and how everyone starved because it was, you know, they had to collectively share the calories they produced. So, you know, if the three of us were on the island, and I went out and hunted rabbit, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard this argument. I haven’t read the paper. I know exactly what you’re talking about. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, on the on the lifestory. Note, too, like I have an interview somewhere. I don’t even know if it’s still hosted somewhere with Jason Brennan, where he talked about his life story and like he had to work in a factory as a kid in my came from a like a relatively impoverished New England family, and is now probably one of the best compensated philosophers in America and as a function that in the world and also the probably the top percentile of output.

So really impressive people like whether or not whether you agree with them or not, they’re they’re deeply impressive individuals to get to that level.

Well put up nozick, anarchy, state and utopia, overrated and underrated. Among libertarians, I think it’s overrated. But again, outside of the like little libertarian and libertarian adjacent world, I again, I also think it’s underrated. This is one of these books where so much of the book focuses so much literature on the book in the conversation, and the book focuses on the response to Rawls, but the first part of the book is actually a response more or less to rothbard.

And he’s trying to make the case for why Rothbart is wrong. So the first part of the book and the third part of the book anarchy and utopia are dramatically under studied.

And and I think and I think that they’re, they’re underrated. I think utopia is just a really fun section to

like, it’s one of these ones where, when we talk about it, we’ve done a few workshops at 1517 on things like polycentric governance, and there’s just like, some variations.

Fun sections you can pull out of the utopia section in anarchy, state and utopia. nozick, just as again, as an individual was just like really impressive, and surprisingly fun. For years, I was working with a friend of mine,

Chris Nelson to try to find there very few recordings of nozick. Actually, I’ve noticed this too. I’ve never been able to find him talking. And he wasn’t ready. It’s not that he was around in the 18th century or something. I mean, we we found one in the Harvard library. Oh, really? Yeah. And I think somebody got it online. Because we were looking at trying to get it online, there was. So we found one in the Harvard library, I’ve just heard from from people who are privy to the matters that just personality wise, nozick and Rawls, you know, they were contemporaries teaching at Harvard at the same time, we’re just polar opposites as people

nozick was, you know, very charismatic, very easy to use, handsome, like, he could come up with these crazy thought experiments kind of on the spot. Whereas Rawls was a much more melancholic figure. Wow, much more reserved, much more your your kind of typical philosophy professor that you would expect.

And nozick would always be teaching I think with a can of something like Diet Coke, so it’s not a surprise he died of stomach cancer.

Will Jarvis 1:06:21
Geez, poor guy. Yeah, that’s really interesting. And it kind of it makes sense when you read their works, you know, how it’s entering one’s personality plays into, I think he’s just so witty like, interesting, fun read.

Zak Slayback 1:06:36
here’s, here’s a bunch of other things, too, that are really fun. There’s one I constantly come back to that is online, hosted by the Cato Institute,

called Why do intellectuals oppose capitalism, that I think is really indecisive as well. And he kind of makes the argument that

a capitalist society doesn’t mere, like the meritocracy, and a capitalist order is very different than meritocracy in a school, and intellectuals, people who succeed very well in school, and people who succeed in a capitalist order, more or less, there’s there’s not a rhyme or rhythm to it that you could institutionalize like in school. Now, again, I think, like we talked about at the beginning here, a lot of the traits that do such for people to succeed in school are people who are going to succeed in life period. But it doesn’t work the other way around, where just because you succeed in school, are you going to succeed in life?

So you get a lot of people who could be very successful in it could be very successful in school who are not going to be very successful in the real world. That make sense.

Will Jarvis 1:07:42
Gerard, and I feel like it kind of depends on tech and saying, Yeah, all these come down to like, who I’m talking to?

Zak Slayback 1:07:50
Um, yeah, no, I mean, again.

I wouldn’t even say that he’s overrated in tech. I still think he’s underrated. People like talking about him because then they means like, Oh, I read something the Peter teal talks about looking

Will Jarvis 1:08:05
to real.

Zak Slayback 1:08:07
Like, I my Lenten penance this year has been to get off Twitter, and it has been nice. So good.

I might not go back. I go back on the Sundays because those are non penitential days. And every time I’m there, I’m like, why am I here?

At some points in a year, find this podcast. And if I’m still on Twitter, by then I bet you that the only people I will follow would be like nuns and priests.

Like I and like, maybe my colleagues if that? Um,

yeah, again, I think in tech, people are looking at the wrong thing. They’re talking about just mimetic theory. Like, yes, people were imitative. That’s not that insight, right.

I think it gets interesting when

you talk about what what are the implications from mimetic theory, and the, you know, we recently hosted a clubhouse conversation on this at our firm. And I, there’s a, my recommended Girard book that anybody read is I see Satan vault like lightning. I love that book. It first of all the translations good. I you know, people will tell you, you know, either start with scapegoat, which is fine. Or sometimes people say things hidden since foundation. That’s like telling someone like, oh, you’re interested in in Iran. Go read atlas shrugged. It’s like no, no, no, like, maybe go. I remember I ran into a girl in high school who I saw had atlas shrugged. And I asked her if she was reading and she said, I’m just reading john Galt speech because that’s the whole book. Like, if I read that, then I know everything I need to know about Iran.

That’s actually a really good point. And it’s the length of a book to its pages.

Gerard Do you want to you want to read it Satan for like lightning because the the for First of all, the preface is one of the best Q and A’s on mimetic theory out there. It’s written by

The translator whose name is escaping me right now. But it’s just a great q&a on what Trent what mimetic theory is, then the rest of the book is translated very well. So it’s not too dense. And it’s looking at the medic theory through the lens of the Gospels, and whether or not you are religious, obviously, based on our conversation I am but even if you’re not, you should still have some basic grasp of the Gospel story. If you if you grew up in western civilization, you should have some general grasp of what happened, right? There’s this guy named Jesus that people thought was some people thought was like, maybe God, we weren’t, they weren’t sure, and caused some problems. And then the Romans and the Jewish leaders at the time, had him crucified. And then he rose from the dead, like, most people get some basic understanding of that if they’ve seen Christmas and Easter, right. And there’s a lot in that the Gerard pulls out on what, what the nice is does to community, but also how one can avoid the horrors of what minisas can do to a community. And then he says left unchecked.

You know, people often say, you know, if you’re looking at if you’re if you’re going through kind of the process that I went through for a couple years, we’re kind of looking at different religious systems. There’s this really cynical interpretation of Christianity, that’s just the same retelling of the same Mesopotamian and write stories that you’d heard time and time again, right? There’s, you know, you’ll hear people come up, and they’ll say, Well, you know, there was this, this, there is this deity that came 2000 years before Jesus, and he was sacrificing rose from the dead. JOHN points out one really important distinction here is that the Christian gospel narratives take the perspective of the victim. And they are the first real example of a narrative to do that, where all these other ones did not take the perspective of the sacrifice victim, they took the perspective of the crowd. And when you take the perspective of the victim and that, that care for victims, you end up flipping the entire order on its head. And whether whether you know, then the outcome from that means like, oh, maybe there’s some explanatory power to Christianity, or it means like, oh, maybe I should be very cognizant of what mimetic desire ends up causing to a community and how to prevent the prevent the violence that comes as a function of that doesn’t really matter to me when it comes to reading Gerard, I think if you go deep enough in George Bernard himself was Catholic, you’re going to end up finding a lot of theology.

So you know, it’s like,

the underrated or overrated question. I was talking to my spiritual director, maybe nine months ago, a priest at a parish nearby. And I was just asking him, you know, they’d like six priests. They’d like six priests at this parish, and I was asking him about the other priests there. And he and Mike who’s good at spiritual drag, who has that? charism Right, right, your introduction? Who doesn’t? He said, You know, like, oh, Father, Peter might have it. But he’s, he’s a little bit on the younger side. No, father, Michael, it’s not really his thing. But he’s he you might be interested in talking to him just taking you’re interested in ideas. He’s really interested in this really obscure thinker called Rene Girard. He wrote his dissertation on him. He’s very interested in the guy, like, Oh, no, I’m actually I actually got to know a bit about Sure. I would love to talk to him. And then when I talked to father, Michael, he was just astonished to hear that there’s like this weird cult following among, like, tech professionals. In particular, he was very confused by this. He’s like, why, and I told him, it’s mostly because Peter teal mentioned him in a best selling book, and he talks about him occasionally.

So that that even shows you like very much underrated in the, in the culture at large, like Gerard is is fairly popular among Catholic thinkers like Bishop Baron has referenced him fairly often. You know, Bishop Barron’s organization put together a beautiful binding of the Gospels, where Gerard is cited in the commentary several times, but outside of like weird niche, Catholic thinkers and tech people very under appreciated in the culture at large. I will I will say he is overrated when Rene Girard is cited on cable news, like primetime.

Will Jarvis 1:14:16
Yeah, I think that’s what but and you talked about, you know, all these philosophers have having really interesting life stories with Gerard, you know, he, I saw it maybe was an interview with them, but you know, he said, I did my PhD. And I never read any books. And then I’m like, trying to figure things out my wife and then he stumbles upon this and it’s, it’s, it’s fascinating. It’s really fascinating. Yeah, really interesting story, how he ends up essentially becoming a philosopher of everything. Right? I think something he would object to being called, but that’s what he ends up becoming. Definitely.

Unknown Speaker 1:14:49
Zack is any other closing thoughts here? Where can people find you? This has been a lot of fun. Um, Best place is my personal website. Zach slay back. COMM ZAK SLA wide

Zak Slayback 1:15:00
Ba ck.com I have email list I sent out an email right now maybe like once every two months, I don’t try to spam people with that. I am ostensibly on Twitter

on Sundays, yeah, on Sundays and class one feast days.

So depending on when people listen to this, if it’s after Easter, I will probably be back on Twitter. I’m not sure how active I am. I’ll be there. But you know, my DMS are open love chatting with people.

And yeah, people can always email me my email information is on my on my website. Right. Thanks, Zack. Yeah, thanks, guys.

Will Jarvis 1:15:43
Well, that’s our show for today. I’m Bill Jarvis. And I’m will join us next week for more narratives.

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