Dec. 26, 2020

Rory Sutherland & Gerald Ashley on Networks

Rory Sutherland & Gerald Ashley on Networks

How do networks influence our decision-making?

As the Human Risk podcast approached its 100th episode, I thought I’d invite back two guests whose previous appearances have been amongst the most downloaded. And I’m glad I did. Because what Rory...


How do networks influence our decision-making?

As the Human Risk podcast approached its 100th episode, I thought I’d invite back two guests whose previous appearances have been amongst the most downloaded. And I’m glad I did. Because what Rory Sutherland and Gerald Ashley delivered, wasn’t worthy of a single episode - it was worthy of two!

So on this, the 99th episode of the podcast, I’m sharing Part I of their conversation. In it, they explore a subject they’ve both written about - networks. We all naturally like to make connections between things - sometimes that can be extremely useful, but it can also lead to flawed decision-making.

As many of my listeners will be familiar with Rory and Gerald, I haven’t included introductions. You can find those, if you need them, on their previous appearances on the show.

Gerald’s first appearance is here: https://www.podpage.com/the-human-risk-podcast/gerald-ashley-on-uncertainty/

Rory first appearance is here: https://www.podpage.com/the-human-risk-podcast/rory-sutherland-on-compliance/

What makes both such fantastic guests, is that they have lots of stories to tell; in doing so, they often make references that might not be as obvious to listeners not based in the UK.

For that reason, I’ve included much more detailed show notes than usual. If you come across something you’re unfamiliar with, then the timestamps below will hopefully help.

When you’ve listened to this, look out for Part II of their discussion, available wherever you found this shortly after the initial release.


5:35 Rory references a joke involving sheep. He explains it here: - https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-wiki-man-11-september-2010

5:41 Rory mentions disgraced former children’s TV presenter Jimmy Saville. Read his story here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Savile_sexual_abuse_scandal

6:18 Rory talks about the Tube map. Londoners refer to their subway as “The Tube”, and the map of it is “the Tube Map”. You can read about its history and see it here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tube_map

10:00 Rory highlights the Danish Mask Study, which emanated from Denmark, and showed that mask-wearing was ineffective. However, that relied on a particular (wrong!) interpretation of the data. This Twitter thread by Nassim Taleb (https://twitter.com/nntaleb/status/1331639626101104642?lang=en) and this British Medical Journal article explain why - https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4586


10:36 Rory talks about the tragic case of Sally Clark, a solicitor. You can read her story here - https://www.theguardian.com/society/2007/mar/17/childrensservices.uknews

12:01 Gerald mentions advertiser Maurice Saatchi, who ate an egg only diet. His wife Nigella Lawson, a chef, revealed some details - https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1063289/Nigellas-husband-cracks-obesity-thanks-egg-diet.html

13:30 Rory highlighted how we have persisted with stemmed wine glasses, inspire of them being...