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: Science and Technology

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.

September 19, 2013 | Recorded on September 13, 2013

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

an image

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.

July 4, 2012 | Recorded on June 13, 2012

Rick Perry

Rick Perry

This week on Uncommon Knowledge Texas governor Rick Perry discusses the Texas success story, the perils and pitfalls of running for president, and what the rest of the country can learn from Texas. (45:28)
“You keep the taxes as low as you can on those job creators. You have a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable and a legal system that does not allow for oversuing. And then you try to get out of the way and let the private sector do what the private sector does best.”

December 14, 2011 | Recorded on November 11, 2011

James Delingpole: Great Britain, the Green Movement, and the End of the World

James Delingpole

This week on Uncommon Knowledge columnist James Delingpole discusses, with Hoover research fellow Peter Robinson, the European Union, the Green movement, and socialized medicine. (47:41)

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.

December 6, 2010 | Recorded on November 18, 2010

Matt Ridley—The Rational Optimist

Matt Ridley
Image credit: Uncommon Knowledge

A former science and technology editor for The Economist magazine, Matt Ridley is a journalist and best-selling author whose books include Genome:  The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters.  His most recent book is The Rational Optimist:  How Prosperity Evolves.

January 14, 2005 | Recorded on January 14, 2005

MONKEY BUSINESS: Evolution and Intelligent Design

In October 2004, the school board in the small town of Dover, Pennsylvania, ordered its high school biology teachers to preface classes on evolution with the statement: "Darwin's Theory is a theory not a fact. Gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence." As an alternative to evolution, the school board suggested "intelligent design," a theory holding that life on earth could not have developed at random. Are there gaps in the theory of evolution that undermine its credibility? What should we make of "intelligent design"? And just what should we be teaching our children about the development of life on earth? Peter Robinson speaks with Massimo Pigliucci and Jonathan Wells.

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.

July 15, 2004 | Recorded on July 15, 2004

A SPACE CASE: The Future of NASA

In January 2004, President George W. Bush announced a plan for a manned mission to Mars in the first half of the twenty-first century. Is NASA up to the task? Given the recent failures of NASA's manned space program, from Space Shuttle disasters to the overbudget and barely functional International Space Station, should NASA even be running a manned space program? If so, what can be done to revitalize NASA and restore both its sense of purpose and the public's excitement for space exploration that has been missing for twenty years? Peter Robinson speaks with Sean O'Keefe.

June 8, 2004 | Recorded on June 8, 2004

HELTER SWELTER: The Debate over Global Warming

This past summer's big-budget disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow depicted a near-future in which human-caused global warming dramatically disrupted the earth's climate system, plunging the world into a new ice age. Although the scenario in the film is clearly an unrealistic fantasy, some scientists say that relatively sudden climate change is theoretically possible—but how likely it is depends on whether human activity really causes global warming. Does the evidence suggest that higher amounts of so-called greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to fossil fuel consumption are, in fact, causing global warming? And if so, what should we do about it? Peter Robinson speaks with Carl Pope and Fred Smith Jr.