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: Values

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)

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.

August 23, 2013 | Recorded on May 21, 2013

Amity Shlaes on Coolidge’s life, ideas, and success in bringing about low taxes and small government

Hoover fellow Peter Robinson (left) and author Amity Shlaes discuss her book Coo

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, Amity Shlaes sheds light on the life of Calvin Coolidge, the thirtieth president of the United States. The harsh conditions of Coolidge’s childhood shaped his political ideas and led to his deep understanding of life and helping people succeed, especially in business. Believing in small government and low taxes, he thought government needed to get out of the way so individuals and businesses could prosper. His supply-side economics were a resounding success, with an unemployment rate of 5 percent or even 3 percent, as the economy grew and the government shrank.

July 23, 2013 | Recorded on June 20, 2013

Author Tom Wolfe discusses his latest novel, Back to Blood

Tom Wolfe is the author of numerous bestselling works of fiction and non-fiction.

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, author Tom Wolfe discusses the ideas and inspirations for Back to Blood, a story of decadence and the new America. In the book, Wolfe paints a story of a decaying culture enduring constant uncertainty. Heroes are spurned and abused, and values are dissolving; yet the message seems to be to stick with the good values. (47:32)

May 31, 2013 | Recorded on January 30, 2013

Joseph Epstein and Andrew Ferguson discuss the state of liberal arts education on Uncommon Knowledge

Clockwise from left: Hoover fellow Peter Robinson, Andrew Ferguson, and Joseph E

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, authors Joseph Epstein and Andrew Ferguson discuss where liberal arts came from and what has happened to them. Liberal arts, they say, emerged from an ancient stream of thought, learning, and belief about what is important in life, yet liberal arts degrees are not held in high regard today. (30:57)

May 17, 2013 | Recorded on April 23, 2013

Thomas Sowell discusses his newest book, Intellectuals and Race

Thomas Sowell discusses Intellectuals and Society on Uncommon Knowledge.

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, Hoover fellow and author Thomas Sowell discusses his newest book, Intellectuals and Race, which argues that the impact of intellectuals' ideas and crusades on the larger society, both past and present, is the ultimate concern. (38:27)
“The intellectuals have told them [African Americans] that the world is unjust, that other people are keeping them down, that the fact that they don't have what other people have, is somebody else's fault.”

May 1, 2013 | Recorded on April 22, 2013

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush offers his outlook on immigration

Jeb Bush

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, former Florida governor Jeb Bush offers his outlook on immigration into the United States and discusses the policies he believes would improve the issue. (47:16)
“I think we've [the Republican Party] become too reactionary. We have not been as positive, offering concrete proposals that are based on this principle that the future is incredibly bright. If we believed it, we would be advocating across-the-board principles and policies that would advance that notion.”

March 27, 2013 | Recorded on February 24, 2013

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker

Scott Walker the Governor of Wisconsin

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker discusses a wide range of issues facing his state, the nation, and the future of the GOP. (32:53)
“What we've tried to do is take a step back and instead of getting engrossed in the nuances and acronyms here in our nation's capital is instead try to focus on what does this mean to real people? What does this mean to our state? What does this mean to us long term? My goal is to move people from government dependence . . . and find a way to transition them into the private sector.”

March 14, 2013 | Recorded on March 4, 2013

US senator Ted Cruz discusses his first two months in office and his vision for the Republican Party

Hoover fellow Peter Robinson interviews US senator Ted Cruz.

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, US senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) discusses his first two months in office and his vision for the Republican Party. (36:13)
“I think the biggest divide is not even a divide between Republicans and Democrats; it's a divide between the people. And [between] the entrenched elites in Washington that are growing their own power. And I think there is an incredible desire to get back to commonsense conservative principles.”

February 6, 2013 | Recorded on November 12, 2012

James Buckley discusses the challenges we face after the 2012 election

Hoover fellow Peter Robinson and author and former Senator James Buckley discuss

This week on Uncommon Knowledge, author and former Senator James Buckley discusses the transformation of the federal government and the challenges we face after the 2012 election. (28:30)
“It is going to be an extraordinary challenge for [future generations] but there are certain realities that are going to be faced. If the debt goes off on the trajectory it is currently on, in terms of devastating, destroying the economic basis of the country my grandchildren are going to face problems that I never dreamed of and you never dreamed of. Nevertheless insofar as they pay any attention of any advice I might give them it would be you have responsibilities not only to yourself and your family but to the public.”