Episode 0058 · July 18, 2023

The podcast about what to do next.

Everyone’s An Expert

[Unedited Transcript]


Rich Ziade: You ever been at like a dinner party or a cocktail party

Paul Ford: Not really. I don’t have any friends.

Rich Ziade: Neither do I.

Paul Ford: Yeah’s why we’re here in this room every day.

Rich Ziade: and the topic of the week. Seeps into the

And then they chime in very intense, formal like from their perspective, everyone has left the room and they’re just on air and they’re talking and now they’re taking it to a level of detail.

And they’re sort of the words I like to use. They’re sort of holding forth. They’re

Paul Ford: Yeah, sure.

Rich Ziade: And it’s a bizarre thing. Unless I have Fareed Zakaria at the dinner party and he’s chiming in on [00:01:00] like, you know, world politics. Then he can hold for, he’s fareed’s. That’s all he


Paul Ford: He’s

Rich Ziade: he thinks about.

Paul Ford: fourth holder.

Rich Ziade: Correct.

But this is like the CrossFit trainer,

Paul Ford: Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah.

Rich Ziade: and they’ve decided that. And it’s usually, it’s an, it’s not ego. I’m, I’m painting an ugly picture here. It’s usually just someone that’s just so excited and passionate about this issue that they’ve done some reading, but they’re not talking to us anymore. They are effectively clearing the room and saying, I am the expert

Paul Ford: Sure.

Rich Ziade: you should all listen.

And it’s not, it, it, you know, what happens is there’s moment where it’s clearly not a conversation anymore.

Paul Ford: That’s,

Rich Ziade: You’re more an audience.

Paul Ford: I mean, I gotta tell you, you’re describing this situation. I, I, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’ve probably been the person who is the fourth holder way too often.

I now, if

Rich Ziade: Really, I’ve never done that before.

Paul Ford: No, never. Not a word. Uh, no. I mean, look [00:02:00] in increasingly, I’m the weird, quiet dad in the corner. That’s how I go. Like, uh, because it’s. I, I mean, to my stuff anyway, regardless, I, I feel that the dynamic you described is a normal dynamic, but also It’s everything now everything is sort of info dumping and sort of, here’s the 25 points that I go every, everybody gets talking points, memo, uh, talking points, memos as they go throughout their day.

And then they make sure that they’re kind of in the right place. And then they’re like, okay, well here’s the three things we should know about the submarine. And then I’ll tell you what, like good example. That submarine went down and exploded with rich people in it. And everybody’s like, it was kind of a hilarious situation, but I’m not gonna talk about it cuz I’m a, I’m a civilized human being.

And then people started to make jokes about it on Twitter, which they did. And then everybody’s like, I can’t believe you’re making jokes, and so on and so forth. And then the counter narrative, and I, I, I’m extremely good at predicting the leftist counter narrative because I’m It’s what I do. And I was immediately like, [00:03:00] well, you know, migrants, um, died in similar ways, but nobody makes a a point about that, right?

Rich Ziade: the New York Times wrote a whole article

Paul Ford: I’m like, okay, but also like, and, and the thing is, is like, I get it, it that has a narrative consistency. Also, five kids got hit by cars, right? Like I, that’s also really bad. Like there’s a

Rich Ziade: there’s a lot of bad,

Paul Ford: there’s a litany of really awful things that shouldn’t happen because of structural failings in our society that are killing millions of people right now.

Everybody’s like, yeah, but you, you think that submarine story is interesting? I’m gonna tell you about a story that’s kinda like the submarine story so that you feel like a piece of shit. Yeah. And it’s absolutely exhausting to me in every way because nobody actually wants to talk about the structural stuff.

Cuz those are literally like, we should have a a, a more involved community task force.

Rich Ziade: Right, Boring.

Paul Ford: Yeah. Maybe our taxes should be higher. Right. It’s just so I, I’m like, okay, I’m gonna get info dumped in, in by, and it doesn’t matter which room I’m in, the progressive info dump, the centrist info, dump the technologist.

Everybody has to get their points out. [00:04:00] And so I don’t go to as many parties as I used to. I, I worry that maybe I’m the problem

Rich Ziade: No, I, I mean, look, everyone’s seen this at the party, but the impact radius is 20 people, 30 people.

I think what’s weird on the internet right now is that, um, casual knowledge and expertise have kind of become conflated. Such that it feels really good to share knowledge. By the way, when you know something and others, actually, you don’t even check if others know it.

Paul Ford: Yeah. You just want to get it

Rich Ziade: everyone knows.

It feels good. I think I have some knowledge. I’m gonna share some knowledge

here. We go

Paul Ford: million submarine experts showed up on Twitter. I didn’t know there were, there.

Like over 40% of our country is able to give serious commentary on what happens with submarines in extreme

Rich Ziade: It’s wild. Right? And, and so what you’re talking about is the, is the sort of gotcha counter, which is just

Paul Ford: Well, it’s just, it’s all, all these narratives are highly [00:05:00] predictable.

Like you see billionaires are in a submarine. You’re like, all right, I know. How is it gonna go? And you know what? It goes exactly like

Rich Ziade: I think where it gets a little scary, and I actually genuinely think it’s scary, is when um, someone with a pretty like decent sized megaphone, starts to dish out just a lot of nonsense, but says it in a way of authority and asks for an open mind.

Paul Ford: oh, this is the Elon Musk paradigm right

Rich Ziade: It’s kind of the Elon Musk paradigm.

Paul Ford: runs his full mouth because he thinks he knows everything.

Rich Ziade: I, I think that’s what it

Paul Ford: He’s the biggest blowhard who’s ever existed. He literally is somebody who read Twitter and was like, that is the truth. I need to get in

Rich Ziade: Yeah, but isn’t it scary?

Paul Ford: Everything’s terrifying when you look at it. I mean, I don’t know. Y you know, yes, [00:06:00] it is weird. I think it’s also very American Americans are people who are like neurosurgery. I could do that. You know, nuclear

Rich Ziade: The world’s full of possibilities.

Paul Ford: I’ll just read the Wikipedia page and then I, then I will do the emergency appendectomy myself, cuz I wanna save that money like we are.

We’re we’re very weird that way, you know, we’re, we prescribe fish antibiotics to ourselves and things like Um, partially cuz our healthcare system is a mess. Okay. So in Yougo, you’re, you’re Eli Musk. I don’t know man. Like, everybody runs their mouth and everybody gets upset about everybody running their mouth and gets really worried about running the mouth.

But I’m just like,

Rich Ziade: what about the argument? That people make, which is what are you afraid of? Get it all out there and the truth will surface.

Paul Ford: Yeah, I know, and that’s okay. But it sucks. Like it just shouldn’t suck this bad. Everything sucks. Like you’re just,

Rich Ziade: well answer me this. Does, does the truth surface?

For a lot of people it doesn’t.

Paul Ford: mean, it’s also, what the hell is the truth? I don’t, um, you’re a somewhat religious person. I [00:07:00] am not. We have a different fundamental understanding of how the universe is ordered.

Rich Ziade: Yeah, I know, but I’m talking about,

Paul Ford: who was in the room at that time,

Rich Ziade: who’s behind? GDPR is made by a bunch of lizard people.

Paul Ford: Yeah. Okay. Oh, okay. So if I come out and say that shouldn’t, shouldn’t there be a,

Rich Ziade: the truth, wouldn’t the truth just start a materialize there?

Paul Ford: Nah.

People believe in Wizards Man, and they, it’s just now they believe in Wizards In Public. It used to be that you didn’t talk about the Wizards all day long. But now we just have a wizard believing world and everybody’s just like, man, you know, he really cast a wacky spell that day. And everybody’s like, yeah, well, you know, that was a, that was a MAGA spell, but it could have been a, Zoom zip spell.

And everybody’s like, yeah, spells.

Rich Ziade: Is it bad that lizard. People are, lizard believers are recruiting other [00:08:00] lizard believers.

Paul Ford: Well, some of them are lizard people, so it’s really bad they shouldn’t be in there. No, man, look, look, I gotta just, like, let’s, let’s get down to bras, tacks on this, which is, you can’t change this.

You can’t. You’re gonna let people have a voice and these are the voices you’re gonna And I don’t want to, I used to almost celebrate and enjoy it. Then it was a little weird when the absolute whackadoodles got control of society. That was unusual. I didn’t expect that. But

Rich Ziade: thought they’d be on the fringes?

Paul Ford: But then it actually turns out, if you look historically like Whackadoodles used the new media, whatever it happens to be,

Yeah. But even before that, like I guy can get up and be like, God told me that we gotta go up to this mountain cuz the world’s ending. Yeah. And he uses like he, you

Rich Ziade: and there’s a pamphlet in there.

Paul Ford: There’s a pamphlet and everybody’s, and people were like, oh my God, oh my God. I, I, I saw the pamphlet. He says, the world’s ending. We gotta get up the mountain. Right? And, and everybody else is like, what the hell are you talking about? And they’re like, no, no, you put it in a pamphlet. It has to be real.

Rich Ziade: I mean, what about the blueberry festival? Where’s everyone going?[00:09:00]

Paul Ford: Exactly. Well, we were, we just picked all these blueberries, not a world’s ending, world’s ending. So I, I think like, Yeah, we have a, there was, I think we lived in a kind of golden moment that was in the wake of World War II, where, you know, Edward Arm Murrow would get on television. Walter Cronkite would

Rich Ziade: tell it like it

Paul Ford: I’m gonna tell you the truth, that we have to, we have to really ask serious questions about the Vietnam War and so on and so forth. And so we had this moment where this. Concept of the truth was shared. We had a little bit of a more monolithic society. There was actually much less polarization and everyone could be like, well, we disagree on the fundamentals, but I love Norman Rockwell paintings and so I’m gonna stand up at the town hall meeting and here we go, and school boards Christianity.

And then, uh, that doesn’t hold, that’s actually not a sustainable thing that actually turns out not to be

Rich Ziade: You

don’t think it’s a product of the internet?

Paul Ford: I do. I think that, but I think that every new medium brings with it its own kind of chaos as people use it and abuse it. The internet is incredibly [00:10:00] unusual in that, uh, regulation lagged so far.

So TV was actually kind of born regulated. Radio was not. Radio was born and it was people

Rich Ziade: Preachers

Paul Ford: and Yeah. No, no. The one of the. Literally, um, uh, sort of a goat extract that would keep you erect, right? Like in the twenties, this is going out on the radio. You’re like, you’re just like, Hey, I, you know, I wonder what I’m gonna hear on this radio and be like, you know,

Rich Ziade: are pushing stuff out on the airwaves.

Paul Ford: Mexican

stations, broadcasting when they were worried about us rules. So just absolute nonsense preachers. There was father, father Coghlan, the Irish, uh, anti-Semite in the. Thirties, anti Roosevelt, like, I mean, just sort of like there’s, there’s always been this, this subtext throughout all of these platforms, but essentially like radio and TV kind of fell after, uh, after radio.

And so the regulatory frameworks were kind of in place.

Rich Ziade: well, the FCC jurisdiction includes tv

Paul Ford: Exactly right. So like, so you, you [00:11:00] don’t end up, you don’t end up with that initial phase of chaos, but this, we just went through the first 25 years of chaos. Now, I believe personally that we live in a relatively like law driven civil society in America.

And that basically the unregulated situation where anyone can get out and say like, children should be shot, or things like these extremes. Yeah, are, are sort of well outside of First Amendment and that regulatory, they

Rich Ziade: prosecuted. Right? Like you, they can arrest you for going too far.

Paul Ford: Regulatory frameworks will continue to assert themselves unless they don’t, because there’s been a total capture of our sort of shared cognitive understanding of reality by complete moon bats, and then we’re in really, really bad pickle.

The thing that worries me more, it’s like not. Even, even if we have like another wacky conservative wave in America, I Trump I think is a little bit of an outlier. I don’t think we’re gonna head for full fascism. What bothers me more is like we truly are headed towards a [00:12:00] genuine global migrant crisis and, um, and, uh, a global, uh, climate emergency.

And then when you combine that, With, uh, with the sort of ability of this information to spread mis the, of these platforms to spread misinformation, you have a real pickle on your hands, and we don’t seem to have the leadership. Our current president is over 500 years old. And so it’s just sort of like, I, when I look at

Rich Ziade: how are you gonna get ahead of that?

Paul Ford: Yes. And are you gonna really police it? And probably what that means. I, as I’m saying this out loud, and I hate to say it, it feels like overzealous. Moderation and policing is the only way forward for the internet or otherwise. It will be part of a really great cultural failure, and it already has been.

So, you know, it’s a real uplifting podcast. We try to keep it positive, but I, I’m not super positive on

Rich Ziade: I mean, I hear you. I, I, I think, that, um, People are going to say what they’re going to say.

Paul Ford: Well, and they believe it. There are people who [00:13:00] really do believe that lizards run the world

Rich Ziade: well, I’m, I don’t even wanna go to that

I’m talking just decided to read an article about submersibles and then goes back into social and writes 2000

And, and that person is actually, he owns a chain of, presses.

Paul Ford: Yeah. But is in our immune system at this point. I, doesn’t matter?

Rich Ziade: I guess it doesn’t, I don’t know if,

Paul Ford: I think it matters when people run their mouths about like race, science and affirmative action, but like, let ’em talk about the submarine.

Everybody’s full of it

Rich Ziade: yeah. I, I think it matters when, like, tens of thousands of people die vaccine. So I do think

Paul Ford: matters. Yeah. All right. No, no, no. Okay, so that is a well taken way. First of all, let’s, let’s separate those two things. I think this is a valuable thing to do.

There is I’m gonna run my mouth about the news of the day, even though I don’t know a damn thing.

So I can look clever. I’m suddenly, I read, I read the Wikipedia article. Now I’m gonna tell you all about summaries. Right? Okay, fine. That’s human. That’s just like [00:14:00] the internet taking what used to happen at a barbershop Then there is the, I’m not gonna get that devil juice infected into my arm balls because I don’t want to get no 5G vaccine monsters. That’s bad when people die. You’re right. Yeah. So I, I think like,

Rich Ziade: how do you get ahead of

Because you’re, you just, you just pointed out, you know, there’s gonna be mass migration because of climate and you’re gonna have some, you, you think these theories are kooky?

Paul Ford: Well, I think that today what you do is you go like, well, you know, we’re gonna put a little thing underneath here that says that’s misinformation. And we’re gonna like,

Rich Ziade: a lot of stickers,

Paul Ford: Here’s, here’s where we’re at right now. Despite the fact that everybody acts like we’re at the end of the days and everyone’s miserable all the time online, which should put your phone down.

Um, despite all that, [00:15:00] it’s relatively stable. Global economy and most people are able to participate if they really have some good physical ability and want to. So like, I, I, I sort of feel like, so it’s like, all right, we put the warning on, you know, we put the sticker on like with cigarettes and uh, you know, but then ultimately what happens is you get in real big trouble.

Like the way you stop smoking, you, you charge, you know, the way to solve this is charge everybody $5 to tweet.

Rich Ziade: cigarettes for 12 bucks. Yeah. Seven of it goes to

Paul Ford: Yeah. You didn’t have to arrest smokers, you just had to charge ’em. Yeah.

Rich Ziade: Okay. So, and I agree with you on this, which is the point I was going to

Paul Ford: tax social media

Rich Ziade: No, no, you, no. I think, I think assert, disincentives. On a lot of the ugly stuff that can cause real damage. Right. And the truth is, for cigarettes, it took like 50 years before those kicked in, like a lot of people died needless

Paul Ford: tens, hundreds of

Rich Ziade: Yeah. And look, I do believe that, you know, if you see the label and you’re like, oh, the hell with it, I’m gonna smoke.

You know what, [00:16:00] that’s, I’m okay with that. Like you’ve, you know the risks around it,

Paul Ford: We all do dangerous and or hypocritical things. We drive, sometimes we speed, we drink alcohol sometimes too much. You know, so, and it’s,

Rich Ziade: It’s, we all take those risks. I think what’s challenging here, what’s tricky here, and this is, this is what makes this so hard, is that most people don’t know damage is being done. Like it is paternalistic to suggest that we have to get ahead of this for people. But the truth is, it was paternalistic to finally regulate cigarettes and charge a lot more money for them.

Paul Ford: the great, you know, the nanny state,

Rich Ziade: It. Look man, who was gonna do it? It wasn’t gonna happen unilaterally by the tobacco companies. They decided to do it. They had to do it because they got, there was a massive, I forget the settlement. It was billions and billions of dollars. And now Altria exists, which is a different name for a cigarette

Paul Ford: It’s a great logo, you know? You know.

Rich Ziade: It’s got the rainbows [00:17:00] colors in

Paul Ford: I’ll tell you, you know what killed cigarettes is secondhand smoke.

Once you have a concept like that, once the children are dying, yeah, yeah. Then you can get in there and you can say, no, no, you have to save the children. And I, I feel that like, okay. If you really want a regulatory framework here, you can have Mark Zuckerberg wear, you know, put on his pants all day long, take off his hoodie.

But, um, you have to actually like create a narrative in which the children are dying. And, you know, PE suffering is this. You have to show people this unmitigated

Rich Ziade: Old people are dying. Didn’t work.

Paul Ford: No, we didn’t care too much about that one. Everybody was distracted. It was a tough couple

Rich Ziade: it’s a bad, bad outcome, right? Look, is


Paul Ford: the last 10 years have taught me things about human nature, including my own. I don’t love every day. It is what it

Rich Ziade: I mean, maybe this is our first No advice. The yacht and Ford advisors, let me ask you this question. Answer it directly. Don’t [00:18:00] pull any

punches. isn’t

like all the all of human history. Just the bandaid getting applied after the fact. Like the blood is already dried on the arm and it’s, and it’s, we’re always too late.

Aren’t we always too late?

Paul Ford: We’re always too late. We’re always too late. No, and in fact, actually, you know what’s fascinating is if you really look at the way that the American legal system is structured, it’s designed with that in mind.

Like, it’s like it’s gonna be too late. Like the Supreme Court is not a fast twitch response organization.

I mean, right now it’s mostly a chartered phishing, uh, company. But other than that,

Rich Ziade: No, you’re right. I mean, the civil rights movement, I mean, you could see the dissents in the early cases move up into the majority opinions like within 10 years, but that’s a long

Paul Ford: Well, and it’s, it’s, you’re a lawyer. We are, we are privileged people. And when we look at those timeframes, we’re like, that’s just the process. And when you’re in the middle of the process, you’re like, you know, the, the [00:19:00] great Martin Luther King essay title is why we Can’t Wait.

Right. Like, because everybody comes to you and goes like, Hey man,

Rich Ziade: it a minute, it’s gonna take some time.

Paul Ford: all around, right? And then it, it comes and it goes and people pass laws and then they unpass the laws. And here we are. Here we are at this weird moment. Um, there is no fast twitch response.

It can only be slow. It will only be late. And there is a

Rich Ziade: it’s always late.

Paul Ford: There’s a price to pay in human suffering along the way.

All right?

Rich Ziade: Uh, if you are not an expert as in like accredited or got some sort of advanced degree, You don’t need to chime in at the dinner table. Don’t chime in where you can hit 300,000 people at

Paul Ford: once.

You know what’s bananas though, my friend? It’s that there became, and this is like the truest, most capitalist logic I’ve ever seen for on behalf of social media, there became this cultural logic that if you don’t chime in, you’re part of the problem. You have to have an opinion on I believe so. I feel that way.

Rich Ziade: you’re [00:20:00] Right. Where’s your voice?

Paul Ford: and if you say the wrong thing while everyone is upset about the other thing. Yeah. You’re also, you’re being, you’re disregarding things. Yeah. You know what the rational adult response to that is?

Rich Ziade: Stay out.

Paul Ford: I’m gonna just, gonna go watch

Rich Ziade: Yeah. I’m in duck out

Paul Ford: Yeah. That’s, and it’s, most people, honestly, frankly, most people are, most people have ducked out

Rich Ziade: Yeah, yeah, yeah, Uh, I mean, the sliver of advice in this one, There was a little something in

Paul Ford: oh, it’s okay. You know,

Rich Ziade: humanity on a

Paul Ford: We actually

are very positive, happy people on a day-to-day basis.

And I have a lot, I have still have a lot of faith in the system. I have a lot of

Rich Ziade: yeah.

Paul Ford: in, I, I like humans, I love ’em.

Rich Ziade: Me too.

Paul Ford: But boy, you just, you get a lot of ’em together and you, you get some really bad stuff sometimes. Sometimes really good stuff

Rich Ziade: Sometimes. Really good

Paul Ford: anyway. All right. Zdi

Rich Ziade: Speaking of getting people

Paul Ford: oh yeah.

You know, we actually are building a product we should talk about, it’s called a board. You can check it out@aboard.com. It lets you, um, collect stuff from all over the place, all the information, all the links you could ever want. [00:21:00] It lets you organize those into piles of stuff that you can see right there in your web browser.

And then it lets you collaborate with people like me and Rich and other people too.

Rich Ziade: I think one of the things that makes me excited about aboard is that it’s, it’s smaller circles of people which tend to be less toxic

Paul Ford: Oh, I would, I If you were gonna plan a dinner party or create cells in your revolutionary vanguard, I would use our product over just about any other, I think it’s really quite good.

Uh, check us out on, at Zdi Ford on Twitter and hello zdi ford.com. We love you. And uh, we’re gonna, next, next podcast, we’re gonna talk about something incredibly

Rich Ziade: talk about. Oh, absolutely. Like Sprinkles, ice cream and sprinkles.

Paul Ford: Oh, it’s better than, are you rainbow or chocolate?

Rich Ziade: Rainbow’s. Not real. It’s actually just

Paul Ford: chocolate.

You Absolute monster. Yeah, rainbow’s. Wonderful. All right, we’ll talk about it

Rich Ziade: Bye. [00:22:00]

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