In the inaugural episode of this ongoing experiment, Shadi and
Damir talk about how inherent tensions in American identity—between
inclusion and assimilation—are being tugged apart in perhaps
We’re Damir Marusic and Shadi Hamid. Wisdom of Crowds started as a conversation on a bus between two friends in 2019. Since then, our experiment has morphed into a deliberately odd platform—one with a podcast, newsletter, “anti-opeds,” and debates.
We have a distinctive ethos. Our goal is not to win arguments or convince you that we’re right (we may not be). Our goal is to understand why people—even “bad” people—believe what they believe. Once starting premises are clarified, a more frank and productive discussion becomes possible. While we address the news of the day, we aim to go several steps farther: to explore the source of difference—whether cultural, religious, or based on seemingly irreconcilable worldviews.
A growing number of political divides at home and abroad aren’t about facts or policy. Rather, they revolve around “who we are” questions, which are much more difficult to resolve. In fact, they probably can’t be “resolved” at all. They feel existential. How does one deal with this new reality of existential politics, where every debate feels heavy and consequential?
We are also a community. Through Wisdom of Crowds and related ventures, we hope to develop an ethos and sensibility among people who are like-minded only in the sense that they value unfettered, respectful debate around foundational questions. The vision for the project is to expand this community and model a particular approach to contending with deep difference.
Our style is informal and conversational and not always fully formed. Just like you, we’re working out our ideas in real time and hoping to learn in the process. Interrogating the source of difference is the through line in everything that we do—whether it’s podcast episodes or essays. We strive to keep the conversations “agonistic” but civil. It’s been a mentally refreshing project for both of us. And we hope you’ll join us.