Thayer Global Speaker Series: Mansharamani spells out the pitfalls of the echo chamber

Thayer Global Speaker Series: Mansharamani spells out the pitfalls of the echo chamber

Dr. Vikram Mansharamani is an economist, but he’s also an author … and a teacher … and an entrepreneur … and a politician. In point of fact, Mansharamani is many things, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Watch the full conversation                                              

“I don’t fit in a box,” said Mansharamani, who on Jan. 31 was the guest speaker for “Think For Yourself: Restoring Common Sense in an Age of Experts and Artificial Intelligence,” an installment of the Thayer Global Speaker Series. The hour-long conversation with Head of School Chris Fortunato P ‘26, ‘28 was held in the CFA’s Hale Theater. 

The discussion touched upon many issues, from presidential politics to the future of TikTok to climate change, but Mansharamani emphasized one theme throughout his talk: in order to think for yourself, you must commit to listening to a wide range of opinions, some of which will clash with your own understanding of things. 

“Diversify your media diets,” said Mansharamani. The former lecturer at both Harvard and Yale then clarified that such diversity refers not only to the left, right, and center of the political spectrum but to the forms of media themselves: newspapers, radio, television, and the various types of social media. 

“You can’t just live in a filter bubble,” he said. 

A self-described generalist — “I try to look broadly when others are looking deeply,” he told the audience — Mansharamani pushed back against the growing dependence on experts to solve important issues. While experts certainly are needed, he said, they can’t replace a broad experience that’s sometimes needed to see the big picture. 

“We need experts on tap but not on top,” he said. “You wouldn’t start with a liver specialist if you have a headache.” 

Mansharamani has a PhD and two master’s degrees from MIT as well as a bachelor’s degree from Yale. In addition to his teaching career, Mansharamani is a businessman who has spent his life creating businesses and helping entrepreneurs. His writings have appeared in Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, and other publications, and Worth profiled him as one of the 100 most powerful people in global finance. A resident of Lincoln, New Hampshire, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2022 but said he learned a great deal from the experience. He also said he encountered an unexpected backlash from both people and institutions when he chose to run for the seat as a Republican. 

“It’s hard,” said Mansharamani, explaining that he felt shut out from job offers and other business opportunities while nothing about him had changed. “These labels are destructive.” 

The son of immigrants from India, Mansharamani urged listeners to resist the temptation to fit neatly into a box just because it might be easier in the short term. Instead, he told them to chart their own paths based on their unique passions and perspectives. 

“Go wherever you find something that is interesting to you,” he said. 

As part of the event, all seniors received a copy of Mansharamani’s new book, The Making of a Generalist. His other books are Think For Yourself and Boombustology


Thayer Global Speaker Series

The Thayer Global Speaker Series brings thought leaders, innovators, and difference-makers to the Thayer campus to engage the community in issues that matter to the world. 


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