Spencer Greenberg is a mathematician, social scientist, and entrepreneur. He received his PhD in applied math from NYU and is the founder of SparkWave, a social venture foundry. As we discuss, SparkWave has created a number of apps tackling problems like depression, anxiety, and finding participants for academic studies. Spencer also created the site www.clearerthinking.org, which offers free online tools and training programs to help users avoid bias and make better decisions. This site has a lot of fun and thought-provoking exercises. My favorites that we didn’t dig into: common misconceptions, political bias test, and leaving your mark on the world. Spencer has spoken at Effective Altruism Global and been published in the New York Times.
We cover: life changing questions you can ask yourself, intrinsic values, some hard problems for utilitarianism, Sparkwave’s apps for anxiety and depression, how to ensure social ventures don't become evil, Effective Altruism, the profound challenge of doing good in the world, the connection between our happiness and the news, gaming Facebook for your happiness, the best legal approach to prostitution, Spencer's thoughts on fiction and nonfiction, why memorizing is underrated, and the best description of Burning Man I've heard.
When I conceived this show, Spencer was one of the first people that came to mind. As you’ll soon see, he has informed and well-developed thoughts on a huge range of topics. He’s changed my mind quite a few times, and I appreciate his approach to thinking through the hardest problems we face as a species.
Spencer’s referenced work: