135. Niall Ferguson (historian) – The Ghost of Future Past

Episode of: Think Again – a Big Think Podcast

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Feb 17, 201845m
135. Niall Ferguson (historian) – The Ghost of Future Past
Feb 17 '1845m
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Every time he sees a triangle these days, my 10-year-old son points and says “Gasp! the illuminati!” This is a meme he and all his friends absorbed from YouTube.   

It’s interesting that several centuries after the Illuminati first appeared, as basically a idealistic secret boys’ club, followed by the Freemasons, these kinds of shadowy organizations still exert so much power on our imaginations. That’s because power doesn’t always come in the shape of Queens, Presidents, CEOs or Members of Parliament. Often it exists in the more or less invisible relationships between people.

My guest today is renowned historian Niall Ferguson. His new book The Square and the Tower: Networks and Hierarchies, from the Freemasons to Facebook looks at the two ancient power structures that continue to move the world today.

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:

Derek Thompson on why successful people don’t try appealing to everyone’s tastes

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