Reason Podcast

'Killer' Walkman, 'Insane' Bicycles, and Novels Will Rot Your Brain: Pessimist Archive's Jason Feifer on 'Why We Resist New Things'

Jason Feifer's podcast explores "why we resist new things" and tells great stories about panics over the novel, the elevator, the waltz, margarine, and more.


Are you old enough to remember who Louise Brown is? In 1978, she became the first person born through in vitro fertilization, or IVF. She was called a test-tube baby and the technology that allowed her to exist scared the bejeezus out of everyone. Now it's a completely accepted way of making babies. 

Maybe you're old enough to remember when the Walkman was introduced in 1979 as the first truly portable, immersive, individualized sound system. Its success led to a spate of panicked stories about how it would destroy communal music and even to laws banning its use while walking.

Or maybe you're old enough to remember the panic over rock lyrics in the mid 1980s, when Sen. Al Gore (D–Tenn.) helped orchestrate hearings starring his then-wife Tipper, who railed against songs by Cyndi Lauper and other depraved musicians and warned that Dungeons & Dragons was a "deadly satanic game."

If you're interested in past panics about new technologies and forms of expressions, you'll be interested in the podcast Pessimists Archive, which is dedicated to exploring "why we resist new things." Host Jason Feifer delves into historical moments of panic over everything from novels to elevators to chain stores to that once unforgivably dirty dance, the waltz. He is also the editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine, host of a business-oriented podcast called Problem Solvers, and a novelist.

In today's Reason Podcast, he tells Nick Gillespie why new technologies and forms of culture reliably freak us out, how we can deal better with things, and what are some of the current threats that we should relax about.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.