Is loneliness the real pandemic? What if we would take advice from a mushroom? Is communism making a comeback? Should we prepare for living alongside robots? Is there such a thing as too much freedom? Should we be afraid of a world without work? Some of the very real and necessary questions that our guests posed in 2021. You can now rewatch some of our best talks of the year. We’ve made a selection of our favorites on this page and you can find our favorites from 2020 here, but feel free to snoop around on our YouTube channel to find some more Brainwash gems.

Noreena Hertz – The Lonely Century

We were blown away by this London economist who challenges us to think about loneliness as a real pandemic, and a sign of our times. In a 1 hour talk she quickly manages to tell us which 21st century developments spur loneliness, how real people are dealing with this issue and what we can do to become a less lonely generation. This was part of our Collective Loneliness Weekend in February of 2021, the weekend also included talks by Olivia Laing, Ottessa Moshfegh and Paul Verhaeghe (all can be found on YouTube).


We're not built for isolation. Loneliness is astonishingly damaging to our health

Jeremy Lent – The Future of Meaning

We aren’t just composed of selfish genes because history shows that cooperation and symbiosis are inherent to life, even at the level of the very smallest organisms. Jeremy Lent made us feel that very symbiosis while we were watching him speak at Brainwash Festival 2021. This programme was the second out of three events we organized together with NRC Future Affairs, the other two (with Toby Ord and Peter Pomerantsev) can be found on YouTube.


Hélène Landemore & David Van Reybrouck – Why We Don’t Get the Best Leaders

While intelligence, calmness and diligence perhaps seem like the best traits for a good leader, we tend to fall for candidates with very different types of ‘fortes’. Why is that? We were excited to bring two of the sharpest minds together to discuss this topic.


All sorts of democrats have argued that a diversity of points of view, and even active and passionate dissent, are healthy for a democracy

Shoshana Zuboff – The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

We have handed over our autonomy and our right to self-preservation to a handful of massive private corporations. Professor Zuboff gives us a very necessary wake up call, but her story is not just alarming, it also provides us with very practical ways forward. This talk was part of our Tomorrow’s Economy Weekend, other guests during this weekend were Mia You, Thijs Launspach, Pavlina Tcherneva & Daniel Susskind (watch these talks here on YouTube).

*be advised: the interview starts at 0:06:49