Why do we get the wrong leaders?

March 14, 2023DR Koncerthuset Copenhagen
Wrongleaders copy
Doors open: 19:00
Start programme: 20:00
DR Koncerthuset
Ørestads Blvd. 13

Science & Cocktails is proud to present an episode with political scientist, Professor Brian Klaas, author of “Corruptible: Who gets power and how it changes us”, who has interviewed more than 500 top leaders including presidents, war criminals and terrorists to understand why we give power to the wrong people. Before just that Tachys plays equal parts pop and experimentation, their sound incorporates a unique blend of genres.

Does power corrupt, or are corruptible people drawn to power? What is the "Dark Triad," and are there more psychopaths in politics and business than the general population? Why do we keep being drawn to people who clearly are unfit for leadership? Should we worry more about bad systems of power, or bad leaders who wield it? How can we reform the system and ensure that good, decent people rule instead? Are tyrants the products of bad systems or are they just bad people? And why do we give power to awful people?

In this talk, professor of global politics and contributing writer for The Atlantic, Brian Klaas, draws on his research interviewing over 500 of the world's top leaders - from the noblest to the dirtiest - including presidents, war criminals, cult leaders, terrorists, psychopaths, and dictators to reveal the most surprising workings of power: how children can predict who is going to win an election based just on the faces of politicians; why narcissists make more money; whether a thirst for power is a genetic condition; and how to fix the mess we're in, ruled so often by power-hungry megalomaniacs.

From scans of psychopathic brains, to the effects of power on monkey drug use, Klaas will weave cutting-edge research with astonishing encounters (including a ski lesson with the former viceroy of Iraq, tea with a former UK prime minister, and breakfast with Madagascar's yogurt kingpin president). Klaas, the creator of the award-winning Power Corrupts podcast, will challenge your basic assumptions about power, from the board room to the war room, and provide a roadmap for getting better leaders at every level.

Event held in English with the generous support of the Novo Nordisk Foundation.


  • 20:00–   20:45
    Jakob Munck Mortensen– 
  • 21:15–   22:15
    Brian Klaas– 

Talk by

Brian Klaas

Brian Klaas is Associate Professor of Global Politics at University College London and an expert on democracy, authoritarianism, US Politics, Western foreign policy, political violence, and elections. In the past, he has advised governments, US political campaigns, international politicians, the European Union, NATO, and more.

Brian is the author of The Despot’s Accomplice, The Despot’s Apprentice: Donald Trump’s Attack on Democracy, How to Rig an Election, the book Michela Wrong argues, “…should be read by every voter, civil society activist, opposition politician, election monitor, journalist, and diplomat.” His latest, CORRUPTIBLE: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us, is a revelatory look at what power is, who gets it, and what happens when they do. He is also the creator and host of Power Corrupts, a podcast about the hidden – and often nefarious – forces that shape our world.

Brian holds a doctorate in politics from the University of Oxford and is a Fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics. Recently, he has worked with individuals at the highest levels of government and public affairs in Thailand, Tunisia, Madagascar, Zambia, Belarus, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire. Brian is a regular commentator on an extensive lineup of international media outlets, including MSNBC, CNN, BBC News, NPR News, CNBC, and Radio France Internationale. Previously in his career, Brian worked in many US political campaigns – including operating as the Policy Director/Deputy Campaign Manager for Mark Dayton’s successful bid for Governor of Minnesota.

Brian was previously the drummer for the Minnesota-based rock band “Contention One,” though given the sales of their albums, he’s decided not to quit his day job.

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Music by


Tachys is a new duo consisting of Tobias Wilner (Blue Foundation, New York United, Ghost Society, Bichi) and Jonas Bjerre (Mew, Apparatjik).

Equal parts pop and experimentation, their sound incorporates a unique blend of genres. With their catchy songwriting, Tachys uses their melodies as a guideline through a mix of modular synthesis exploration, quasi-psychedelic pop, synth/chillwave, and nostalgic swirling shoegazey guitars. It all progress into a blossoming dream-pop, filled with layers of textural electronics, catchy melodies and driving beats.

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