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 topic: Ethics

May 23, 2012 | Recorded on April 22, 2012

John Stossel

John Stossel

This week on Uncommon Knowledge author and television host John Stossel discusses his new book No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails—but Individuals Succeed. (45:18)
“Market competition is cruel. There are winners and losers. But that is better than the alternative where there are only losers.”

May 9, 2012 | Recorded on March 15, 2012

Thomas Sowell on the second edition of Intellectuals and Society

Thomas Sowell discusses Intellectuals and Society on Uncommon Knowledge.

On the occasion of the publication of a new edition of his book Intellectuals and Society, Thomas Sowell returns to Uncommon Knowledge for a wide-ranging interview. (52:37)
“It gives them a much bigger role in the world. I mean if you believe in free markets, what about all these people who want to have social justice. People just go out there; they make whatever deals they can with each other, work things out and then go on their way. Here is all this unused brilliance standing on the sideline watching with impotent rage.”

April 25, 2012 | Recorded on February 29, 2012

Pat Buchanan on Suicide of a Superpower

Pat Buchanan on Suicide of a Superpower

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, author and commentator Pat Buchanan discusses the disintegration of the United States as a superpower and a united nation.
“Why are you bringing in each year one million people to work in the United States when we have twenty-three million people who are unemployed or underemployed. What are you doing to your own people, black, white, Asian, whatever, by bringing in new workers when you have this enormous unemployment problem. It does not make sense.” (1:00:41)

April 11, 2012 | Recorded on February 29, 2012

Charles Murray on Coming Apart

Charles Murray on Coming Apart

This week, on Uncommon Knowledge, longtime American Enterprise Institute fellow Charles Murray discusses his controversial new book, Coming Apart, about what America was, is, and will become. He also reveals his personal score on his now famous “bubble quiz.” Take the quiz here.
“If you were a guy [in 1963] and you were in your 30s and 40s, you either were working or you were looking for work, or you had better have a really good excuse like being completely, totally, physically incapacitated. If you were not working and not looking for work at that age group, you were a bum. Your parents would tell you that. Your siblings would tell you that. Your wife, if you had one would be appalled at it. That was all very simple then.” (47:35)

September 6, 2011 | Recorded on August 25, 2011

David Berlinski—Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions

David Berlinski

David Berlinski is the author of a number of books, including the recent volumes One, Two, Three: Absolutely Elementary Mathematics and The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions.

January 31, 2011 | Recorded on January 5, 2011

Stanley Kurtz—Radical-In-Chief

aObama the radical with Stanley Kurtz

An author, journalist, and social anthropologist (PhD Harvard), Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and a contributing editor to National Review Online. His latest book is Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism.

September 20, 2004 | Recorded on September 20, 2004

A LINE IN THE TEST TUBE: The Debate over Stem Cells

Proponents of embryonic stem cell research proclaim the potential of the research to find cures or treatments for many diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Opponents say the use and destruction of human embryos in the conduct of this research are immoral. In 2001, President Bush announced a ban on federal funding involving any new lines of embryonic stem cells. But calls to lift the ban continue, as do movements to increase funding at the state level. Which side of the debate is right? Is embryonic stem cell research ethical or not? Peter Robinson speaks with Ramesh Ponnuru and Irving Weissman.

November 24, 2003 | Recorded on November 24, 2003

GIVE WAR A CHANCE? The Utility of War

The Prussian military historian Carl von Clausewitz famously observed that "war is merely a continuation of politics by other means." These "other" (violent) means have been used on countless occasions throughout human history to settle conflicts over land, resources, and political rule. But what is the utility of war in the modern world? In a world with weapons of mass destruction, have the means of war delegitimized its use? In a world of expanding democracy, and cultural and economic interdependence, has the use of force become outdated?

November 7, 2002 | Recorded on November 7, 2002

WITH DEATH DO US PART? Reforming the Death Penalty

It's been more than 25 years since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. For most of that time, the number of executions in this country climbed steadily higher. In the past several years, however, the death penalty has come under increasing criticism. Executions have fallen nationwide from a high of 98 in 1998 to 66 in 2001. Two states, Illinois and Maryland, declared moratoria on the death penalty over concerns that the death penalty could not be administered fairly. Is the death penalty immoral in and of itself? If not, is it unconstitutional? What is required to ensure that the death penalty is administered with fairness, justice, and accuracy?

October 25, 2002 | Recorded on October 25, 2002

ATTACK OF THE CLONES: The Ethics of Human Cloning

Cloning—using biotechnology to create embryos with specific genetic information, identical to other embryos or even human adults—used to sound like science fiction. Today, however, the ability to successfully clone human embryos is a matter of when, not if. But should human cloning be allowed to go forward? Is cloning morally wrong, in and of itself? Should we make a distinction between cloning for medical research and cloning for procreation? If cloning is morally wrong, could we stop it even if we wanted to? And if cloning isn't or can't be banned, how should it be regulated?