Past episodes
About Uncommon Knowledge

For more than a decade the Hoover Institution has been producing Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson, a series hosted by Hoover fellow Peter Robinson as an outlet for political leaders, scholars, journalists, and today’s big thinkers to share their views with the world. Guests have included a host of famous figures, including Paul Ryan, Henry Kissinger, Antonin Scalia, Rupert Murdoch, Newt Gingrich, and Christopher Hitchens, along with Hoover fellows such as Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz.

Uncommon Knowledge takes fascinating, accomplished guests, then sits them down with me to talk about the issues of the day,” says Robinson, an author and former speechwriter for President Reagan. “Unhurried, civil, thoughtful, and informed conversation– that’s what we produce. And there isn’t all that much of it around these days.”

The show started life as a television series in 1997 and is now distributed exclusively on the web over a growing network of the largest political websites and channels. To stay tuned for the latest updates on and episodes related to Uncommon Knowledge, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Uncommon Knowledge by date

March 28, 2014 | Recorded on March 28, 2014

Robert Thomson on the Media

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Rumor has it that newspapers will inevitably disappear, but according to the Uncommon Knowledge interview with Robert Thomson, chief executive officer of News Corp, that does not need to happen. Thomson discusses how newspapers have always created a community and how that can be done better now than ever before. Thomson became CEO in January 2013; before that he was editor in chief at Dow Jones & Company and managing editor of the Wall Street Journal. News Corp, often called the New News after it recently separated from Twenty-First-Century Fox, is a network of leading companies in diversified media, news, education, and information services.

March 14, 2014 | Recorded on March 14, 2014

Mike Lee on Politics and Conservatism

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Utah Republican senator Mike Lee joins Peter to discuss the positive reforms he has put forth since being elected in 2010. The senator’s legislation caused the New York Times to refer to him as the “one-stop shop for provocative reform ideas.” Senator Lee explains his policies to restructure the tax code, change transportation funding, and how to move immigration forward. Senator Lee, before becoming a senator, clerked for Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito, served as an assistant US attorney in Salt Lake City, and practiced law with large firms in both Salt Lake City and Washington, DC.

February 18, 2014 | Recorded on December 17, 2013

David Berlinski on Science, Philosophy, and Society

David Berlinksi on Uncommon Knowledge

David Berlinski, a mathematician, philosopher, and biologist, discusses the current state of the scientific community, the theories of Darwinism, and the science behind global warming on Uncommon Knowledge. Peter Robinson gets a sneak peek at his new book, The Best of Times, on the history and perplexities of the twentieth century. Berlinski is also author of The Devil’s Delusion, The Deniable Darwin, and The King of Infinite Space: Euclid and His Elements.

January 22, 2014 | Recorded on October 9, 2013

Max Boot on guerilla warfare

Hoover fellow Robinson, left, and Max Boot, right

Military historian Max Boot discusses current events in Syria, Iran, and his recent book Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to Present on Uncommon Knowledge. Boot explains how guerrilla warfare has been, and still is, the most common form of conflict even today, as seen in Syria and Afghanistan. Since conventional tactics do not work for unconventional armies, Boot offers lessons to be learned and applied to today’s battles. Boot further argues that now it is more important than ever to understand the history and operation of insurgent forces.

December 26, 2013 | Recorded on December 26, 2013

Peter Robinson remembers Christopher Hitchens

Peter Robinson remembers Christopher Hitchens

In this special episode of Uncommon Knowledge, host Peter Robinson remembers Christopher Hitchens, a British American author, journalist, and personal friend, through a series of excerpts from past interviews on Uncommon Knowledge. These excerpts cover discussions of Marxism, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Great Society, Iraq and the Middle East, the war on terrorism, and the history of the American Left.

December 6, 2013 | Recorded on October 9, 2013

George Gilder on knowledge, power, and the economy

Hoover fellow Robinson, left, and George Gilder, right

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, author George Gilder discusses his conception of knowledge, power, and the economy, as described in his latest book, Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing our World. He argues that a low entropy, or predictable and stable, carrier is required for the emergence of knowledge – whether it be a fiber optic cable and communication, or a social system governed by the rule of law and economic innovation. Such a social system is not spontaneous, but rather developed through sacrifice and a religious order. (41:32)

November 20, 2013 | Recorded on October 29, 2013

David Mamet on conservatism

Hoover fellow Robinson, left, and David Mamet, right

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, playwright David Mamet discusses his book The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture and his conversion to conservatism. Mamet explains how, by studying Jewish and Christian texts such as the Talmud and the Bible, he came to approach arguments from a new perspective that aligned itself with conservative politics. Throughout the interview, Mamet discusses his newly found conservative position on several issues, including social justice and civil rights, the decline of the family and the sexual revolution, affirmative action and race, and domestic politics and foreign policy. (35:34)

November 11, 2013 | Recorded on October 29, 2013

Archbishop Gomez on immigration

Hoover fellow Robinson, left, and Archbishop Gomez, right

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles discusses Catholicism, Mexico-US relations, and immigration, which, as a prominent issue in the United States, provokes a wide variety of opinions as to how it can best be addressed. Gomez argues, both in the course of the interview and in his book Immigration and the Next America, that those who come to the United States from Mexico are honest people looking for work. He points out that this pattern is consistent with the role of immigration in the historical relationship between the United States and Mexico and that, historically, immigrants do not supplant the existing culture but integrate within a generation. (29:17)

October 12, 2013 | Recorded on October 2, 2013

Joel Klein on using technology to transform education

Hoover fellow Peter Robinson (left) and Joel Klein, Amplify CEO and former chanc

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, Joel Klein, Amplify CEO and former chancellor of the New York City department of education, discusses technology, school choice, and the challenges facing the US educational system. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing, with huge implications for the United States; the way to reduce the gap and create knowledgeable, skilled, problem solvers is through education. For the past two hundred years we have had the model of one teacher and thirty plus children, but that model is not working for many students. With less than one-third of students ready for college, Amplify is reimagining the way teachers teach and students learn to build a better K–12 educational system and thus a better society. (37:03)

September 19, 2013 | Recorded on September 13, 2013

Peter Thiel and Andy Kessler on the state of technology and innovation

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This week on Uncommon Knowledge, host Peter Robinson mediates a discussion between PayPal founder and Stanford Professor Peter Thiel and Velocity Capital Management founder and journalist Andy Kessler on the state of technology and innovation in the United States over the past four decades. Thiel argues that, outside of computers, there has been very little innovation in the past forty years, and the rate of technological change has significantly decreased when compared to the first half of the 20th century. In contrast, Kessler asserts that innovation comes in waves, and we are on the verge of another burst of technological breakthroughs. Industries covered include education, medicine and biotechnology, as well as robots and high tech.