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Are we too distracted to think? The answer is worse than you’d expect. In his latest book, New York Times bestselling author Johann Hari says we’re all the victims of attention theft and the consequences are catastrophic, for our personal lives and our democracy. Adults in the workplace focus on a task for 3 minutes on average, and that number is declining. “We’ve got so many crises we need to deal with that require sustained focus and attention on the part of the citizenry,” Hari tells Laura, but our focus has been stolen by companies out to make a profit. “Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again” was named one of the best books of 2022 by many publications and is out in paperback this month. In this wide-ranging conversation, Johann and Laura discuss how we got here, what structural changes we need, and how we need to stop beating ourselves up. It’s not our fault we can’t focus, says Hari, but we do need our minds back if we want society to function. All that and a commentary from Laura on Luddites.

“The nice people are muffled, the angriest people are amplified . . . Imagine that applied to a whole country. Except you don’t have to imagine it, because we are living it.” – Johann Hari

“We are not medieval peasants begging at the court of King Zuckerberg for a few little crumbs of attention from his table. We are the free citizens of democracies and we own our minds. If we follow the scientific evidence, we can take our minds back if we want to.” – Johann Hari


  • Johann Hari: Bestselling Author, “Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again”

Portions of this interview are featured in our episode “Johann Hari: Get Your Mind Back / Save Democracy?

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