Think Again – a Big Think Podcast

Think Again – a Big Think Podcast

By Big Think / Panoply

We surprise some of the world's brightest minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. With host Jason Gots and special guests Neil Gaiman, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie, Mary-Louise Parker, Richard Dawkins, Margaret Atwood, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Saul Williams, Henry Rollins, Bill Nye, George Takei, Maria Popova, and many more . . . You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. So each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you've probably heard of with hand-picked gems from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. The conversation could go anywhere. SINCE 2008, BIG THINK has captured on video the best ideas of the world’s leading thinkers and doers in every field, renowned experts including neurologist Oliver Sacks, physicist Stephen Hawking, behavioral psychologist Daniel Kahneman, authors Margaret Atwood and Marylinne Robinson, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, painter Chuck Close, and philosopher Daniel Dennett.

Episodes

[SPECIAL] Clever Creature with Jason Gots - Episode 1: DESERT

NOTE: This is a special guest episode of Jason's new podcast Clever Creature. Please subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts! The Moleskine is open, the page is staring back accusingly/ Like 'come on, Punk, what makes you think you possibly could fill the likes of me? Reflections on a big creative leap of faith: the making of this podcast. A staples manufacturer on the brink of death, taking solace in his gut flora and the memory of his daughter's love for LOL Surprise dolls. A song about deserts, real and figurative. A conversation with Jason's son Emre about the Ice Cream Desert and music-making as a doorway. And a "bonus track" 7 minute guided meditation at the end. . . . You can learn more and join my mailing list at my website. Or maybe you want to join our Facebook Group And hey—I'm making this first season all on my own—it's a blast, but it takes a lot of time! Please consider supporting the show by joining our creative community on Himalaya Premium. Just download the Himalaya app for any smartphone, search for the show, and click "join membership" at the bottom. . . . Episode art by Nathan Gelgud Theme song by Emre Gots Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
13/05/20·40m 30s

235. Neil Gaiman (Jason Plays Favorites #7) – and then it gets darker

[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] Adult life, with all its schedules and responsibilities, can turn into a kind of library of locked boxes. The ones we open every day sit on a shelf at eye level, their keys clipped to a carabiner at our waist: Set the alarm. Pack a gym bag. Pick up milk for the kids. But on the lower shelves and in the dusty back rooms there’s an ominous jumble of odd-shaped containers. They hold the stories that don’t fit so neatly into the skin we’ve decided to live in. Maybe we’ve misplaced the keys, or maybe we’ve deliberately lost them. My guest today keeps all the keys close at hand. In his stories and graphic novels worlds collide and, as the fairy Ariel puts it in Shakespeare’s Tempest, they “suffer a sea change, into something rich and strange”. The walls of reality are permeable, and dangerous magic is always seeping through. Neil Gaiman is the author of the Sandman graphic novels, The Graveyard Book, Coraline, American Gods, and many other wonderful things. His latest is a marvelous retelling of Norse Mythology, with most of the nasty bits left in. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Barbara Oakley on learning speeds and styles Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
22/03/20·1h

234. Robert MacFarlane (Jason Plays Favorites #7) – deep time rising

[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] I’m underground as I write this, one day before taping the conversation you’re about to hear, speeding through New York City subway tunnels that aren’t all that ancient but whose darkness, and rats, and crumbling, esoteric infrastructure holds fear and fascination enough for anyone who contemplates them. Waking up this morning—notice how you wake up, not down—I felt my already barely remembered dreams sliding off of me in layers, like leaves, or hands. And the longing to submit to those hands and slide back down, underground, into the caverns of sleep. My guest today, Robert MacFarlane, has dug deeper than I could ever hope to into the meanings and magnetism of the underworld —tunnels, caves, sinkholes, and the living, fungal earth of our world and our imaginations. At one point in his new book UNDERLAND he brings up the fact that to a neutrino, our solid physical world is just a a mesh—Mount Everest is a wide-gauge net it can pass easily through. In MacFarlane’s writing, the layers of the world are transparent, overlapping, always already present. He’s often called a “nature writer”, but that’s a poor proxy for what he actually is: a philosopher poet with the gift of sight in the darkness, whose penetrating vision turns the world inside out. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: E.O. Wilson on the world of pheromones Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
14/03/20·1h 3m

233. Terry Gilliam (Jason Plays Favorites #5) – the impossible dream

[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] -- Faith in anything is its own special form of madness. It’s a challenge to entropy, and entropy takes no challenge lightly. If there’s any better metaphor for this struggle than trying to make a big budget movie with even a shred of integrity, I haven’t found it. On the one hand, you’ve got this impossible dream. This faith in the beautiful thing that’s supposed to emerge at at the end of the process. On the other hand, the process is a hellish sausage-making machine of studio bosses, financing, and acts of god like four days of flash flooding in the middle of your big shoot. You might as well be Don Quixote, doing battle with a windmill. What kind of masochist would put themselves through that? My guest today, Terry Gilliam, is that very masochist. And we should be grateful, because his stomach for the fight has given us movies like THE FISHER KING, BRAZIL, 12 MONKEYS and MONTY PYTHON’s THE LIFE OF BRIAN. And now, almost 30 years after his first, biblically disastrous attempt to make it, THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE. Starring Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce, the movie is as funny, thrilling, and unpretentiously deep as the best of Gilliam’s work. It’s also kind of like one of those Russian matryoshka dolls: a film inside a film inside a film, all of them metaphors for the holy folly of believing in anything at all. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is out April 19th in select theaters and on demand video. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Michelle Thaller on whether time is real or an illusion Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
07/03/20·53m 12s

232. Anaïs Mitchell (Jason Plays Favorites #4) – sometimes the god speaks through you

[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] -- Among other things, music can be medicine. Like a vaccine, it sometimes works by giving your body a little taste of the disease. Other times, of course, you just wanna dance, and James Brown might be just what you need. But the medicine songs I’m talking about are the ones that break your heart open no matter many times you hear them. And you want them to—because that’s what it feels like to be alive. Nobody knows this better than my guest today, singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell. Like the centuries of blues and folk songs that echo through it, transubstantiated by her voice and guitar into something almost too beautiful to bear, her music is powerful medicine. Anaïs wrote all the songs, lyrics and the book of the new (14x Tony-nominated!) Broadway musical, HADESTOWN, directed by Rachel Chavkin. It makes new again the ancient story of the singer-songwriter Orpheus and his lover Eurydice, who he follows all the way to hell, and leads most of the way back again.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
29/02/20·1h

231. Marlon James (Jason Plays Favorites #3) – don't get too comfortable

[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] -- At this point, it’s very rare to read something and find myself thinking: This is something new. This is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It doesn’t have to be written in hieroglyphs or be some kind of three-dimensional interactive reading experience with pull-out tabs and half the pages upside down. That kind of formal experimentation, in my experience as a reader, more often ends up being gimmicky and annoying than exhilarating. In fact, paradoxically, the “wow this is something new” experience often comes along with a sense that this new thing has somehow always existed, in your dreams if nowhere else.  Marlon James—the Jamaican writer who won the Man Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings— has done something in his new fantasy novel Black Leopard, Red Wolf that’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The first book of a trilogy, it’s been described as an “African Game of Thrones” and likened in scope to Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings. But the stories within stories it tells and the shifts in voice and perspective thrust you into a seething, hallucinatory, morally ambiguous world that’s part Ayahuasca dream and part blacklight nightmare, anchored in a rich African mythology that’s worlds away from all those elves, wizards, dragons, and goblins—all those well-worn tales of light versus darkness.  Surprise conversation-starters in this episode:  Jeffrey Sachs on whether Jeff Bezos should distribute his Amazon wealth Damian Echols on tattoos as a lifeline  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
22/02/20·56m 37s

230. Eve Ensler (Jason Plays Favorites #2) – no way out but through

[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] -- Note: I feel I should let listeners know that this episode of Think Again is about surviving and thriving in the face of unspeakable trauma and sexual violence. And in order to get to the thriving, we have talk about the trauma, which may be painful for some listeners and inappropriate for kids. But I don’t want to scare anybody off—I think it’s one of the most valuable conversations we’ve ever had on the show.  -- For a human child growing up, trust is the foundation of everything. We learn how to regulate our emotions, how to see the world as relatively stable and safe through the connection with the people who care for us. Severely neglected children can suffer all kinds of harm to their ability to think, connect with others, and learn. But what happens when the caring bond is not only missing, but is horribly abused? Distorted through incest and sexual violence? How do you build a self and life after that? And let’s say you somehow manage to survive to adulthood…to thrive, even. How do you fill the place in your heart where the love and the trust is supposed to be? My guest today has had to answer all these questions for herself. She is the playwright, author, and activist Eve Ensler. You may know her as the creator of the Vagina Monlogues. What you might not know is that all the horrors I’m talking about happened to her as a kid. Let me take that out of the passive voice: her father did that to her, and more. And he died without saying anything remotely close to “I’m sorry”. So Eve wrote his apology for him—her book THE APOLOGY is a letter to her—to Eve—in the imagined voice of her dead father, retelling what happened, why it happened, and trying to figure out in these twisted circumstances what an apology would even mean… Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Jared Diamond on immigrants and innovation  -- Thoughts on relistening:  This episode with Eve Ensler means a lot to me. I came late to the feminist conversation about patriarchy and masculinity. About the ways men are taught to be ashamed of vulnerability, and how all that fear and shame can lead to violence. Listening back I’m struck again by this one thing she says: “Language changes everything. It’s like the word 'vagina'. If you can’t say it, you can’t see it. If you can’t see it, a lot of things can happen to it in the dark without your permission.” There is so much hope and power in the work Eve does to break the silence and encourage others to do the same. As a man, I hear it especially loud and clear when she says it’s time for men to “...make a choice. Whether they’re going to maintain allegiance to the male code or step into the next paradigm. Stopping the domination so they get to be free in this lifetime.” I hear it and I personally, enthusiastically accept that call.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
15/02/20·1h 2m

229. David Sedaris (Jason Plays Favorites #1) – Sir David of the Spotless Roadways

[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] Life is full of horrible things. I dare you to deny it. Things like death, sickness, and alcoholism. And did I mention death, which lies in wait for us all? But if you talk about these things at dinner parties, or at work, or to someone you have just met in line at the grocery store, you risk being branded a negative person. In some circles, such as the state of California, negativity is like leprosy. It can really mess up your social life. This does not seem to trouble my guest today, who has spent much of his life turning horrible, true stories into festive comedy. like many people, I first heard David Sedaris’ unmistakable voice on public radio in the late 90s. My sister and I took a couple of his audio books on a road trip across America in her red Saturn with a bumper sticker on the back that read “Humanity is Trying”. Having Sedaris along as company somehow made the endless miles of Stuckeys’ and strip malls, and the weeping people at Elvis‘s grave side in Graceland a little less alien and terrifying. In his latest book, Calypso, David is doing his thing better than ever. It’s about what’s on his mind these days, from decluttering the English countryside, to feeding a surgically removed lump of fat to a snapping turtle, to a sister’s suicide. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Martin Amis on the “etiquette” of good writing Lucy Cooke on the extraordinary genitalia of female spotted hyenas Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
08/02/20·1h 4m

228. Sharon Salzberg (meditation and mindfulness teacher) – on balance

Since 1976, Sharon Salzberg has been sharing ancient meditation and mindfulness practices in a voice the contemporary West can understand. Her warm, funny, down-to-earth books, dharma talks, and guided meditations have helped struggling meditators worldwide establish a strong practice and reduce the suffering in their lives. In this episode master teacher Sharon Salzberg considers whether it's ok to teach mindfulness to the armed forces, how practitioners of meditation and mindfulness should balance openness with discipline, and so much more. Sharon’s latest book is Real Happiness: a 28 day program for realizing the power of meditation, now thoroughly updated and revised for its 10th anniversary.  Note: This will be the last original episode of Think Again with show creator and host Jason Gots. Throughout February and March he’ll be running a retrospective of favorite episodes with new commentary. On May 12, 2020, he’ll launch a new, independent show: Clever Creature.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
01/02/20·51m 47s

227. Roz Chast and Patricia Marx (cartoons, words, ukuleles) – The Beatles stole everything from us

Thelma and Louise, Ponch and John, Pancho and Lefty, Quixote and Sancho Panza, Marx and Engels, Marx and Chast…history and literature are full of magical buddy stories. Every now and then, for reasons no one can explain, Two people come together and produce something greater, or at least very different, from the sum of their parts. I’m here today with one such team: the writer-cartoonist duo of Patricia Marx and Roz Chast. They’re both longtime contributors to the New Yorker and fearsome humorists in their own rights. But together they form a third fearsome thing, a thing which has created books such as Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct it: A Mother’s Suggestions, And their latest: You Can Only Yell At Me For One Thing At A Time: Rules for Couples. They’re also the enigmatic figures behind yet a fourth thing, the legendary ukulele band Ukelear Meltdown.  – Jason Gots Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
25/01/20·45m 42s

226. Joseph Goldstein (dharma teacher) – doubt comes masquerading as wisdom

Freedom. Everyone wants it, but knowing where to look for it is another matter. And to make matters worse, the world is full of things that feel like freedom but might just get us more tangled up in everything we’re trying to escape. How much freedom can money buy? How much money? How free are you on a tropical vacation? Would uploading your consciousness into the cloud and downloading it into a robot avatar on Alpha Centauri make you more free? How about falling in love again? How about three margaritas with friends? Or six? How about falling in love again? A better government? Less government? No government at all?  I’m here today with Joseph Goldstein, a beloved teacher of Buddhist ideas and practice in the West and a personal inspiration to me, to talk about freedom of the mind and spirit—and the kinds of effort and insight that can lead there. Joseph is the co-founder of Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts and the author, most recently, of Mindfulness: a Practical Guide to Awakening.  - Jason Gots Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
18/01/20·57m 19s

225. Jad Abumrad (Radiolab, Dolly Parton's America) – American Multiverse

If you’d told me a couple months ago that a podcast about Dolly Parton could move me deeply and raise all kinds of questions that go straight to the wounded heart of America today, I guess I would have been skeptical to say the least. But that skepticism might be exactly the point. America is an image factory. Country music. Rock and Roll. New York City. Nashville. We paint with big, broad brushes. And if we’re not careful, we miss a lot of the details.  My guest today is audio storytelling wizard Jad Abumrad. He’s the creator and a host of Radiolab, More Perfect, and now, of Dolly Parton’s America – a nine part podcast series that achieves all those aforementioned implausible things. Jad’s trips into the Dollyverse with his co-producer Shima Oliaee reveal the country singer as something between a bodhisattva and one of those fairytale mirrors that tell you the truth about yourself.  – Jason Gots Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
21/12/19·47m 34s

224. Norman Fischer (zen priest, poet) – the only way out of the catastrophe we’re in

The other day on social media a friend asked what the heck is up with this Mr. Rogers revival. Why does everyone suddenly love this guy so much? Moments before, I had been listening to a new podcast about Dolly Parton, and her weird, almost saintlike ability to bring people together across cultural divides. In a moment of deep mistrust and cynicism, there’s this hunger for people and things worth believing in.  I’ve also got Bodhisattvas on the brain lately. In Mahayana Buddhism, Bodhisattvas are the embodiment of compassion. Absolute compassion for all living things, even those that really piss us off.  THE WORLD COULD BE OTHERWISE: the Imagination and the Bodhisattva Path is a wonderful new book by my guest today, poet, Zen priest, and translator Norman Fischer. It’s a collection of thoughts and practices for becoming Bodhisattvas ourselves, warts and all. A Bodhisattva commits to the impossible for the benefit of everyone. “beings are numberless: I vow to save them all.” According to Norman and a couple thousand years of Buddhist tradition, we can do this too.  Boddhisattvas or saints, Dolly and Fred Rogers possibly included, are needed at all times and places. But right now, when trust and kindness are in short supply, we maybe need them—and need to embody them—more than ever.  – Jason Gots Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
14/12/19·1h 1m

223. Karen Armstrong (theologian) – the art of getting outside of yourself

I’ve spent more of my life than most people I know immersed by choice in what my guest today would call “scripture”. I was never much of a Roman Catholic, in spite of being dragged weekly to church until I was about 13 and could no longer be dragged, and, in my boredom, sometimes believing I saw the statue of Jesus moving on the cross. But in late adulthood, the need for spiritual meaning gripped me tight and wouldn’t let go. It led first into Judaism and Jerusalem, and then, for the past couple decades, mostly to Buddhist study and practice. But I’m as troubled as all the Enlightenment thinkers I know by scripture-thumping orthodoxy and intolerance of any kind. Troubled watching my wife Demet’s country, Turkey, split between retrograde, homophobic and misogynistic Islamism on the one hand and intractable secular nationalism on the other. Moses and I don’t have much in common, but like him, I get tongue-tied talking about these things. Religious, or spiritual, or scriptural ideas and practices can be so essential and become so problematic at the same time.  My guest today is Karen Armstrong. On these subjects, she doesn’t get tongue-tied. She’s one of the clearest and most nuanced thinkers I know of on god, religion, and scripture. Author of THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE and THE CASE FOR GOD, recipient of the TED Prize, and a co-creator of the interfaith Charter for Compassion. Her new book is called THE LOST ART OF SCRIPTURE and I’m so happy it brings her to Think Again.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
07/12/19·51m 37s

222. Deborah Levy (writer) – it's those thoughts that are slightly awkward that need an airing

While reading Deborah Levy’s novel THE MAN WHO SAW EVERYTHING and her recent “working autobiography” THE COST OF LIVING I often found myself pausing and kind of sinking into a passage I’d just read. Going back and rereading it not because my attention had wandered nor exactly to unpack an idea but because I felt the need to experience it over again. To have it happen to me.  Levy started her career writing plays that have been staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company and broadcast by the BBC. She is the author of multiple novels, several of which have been Man Booker Prize finalists, the short story collection Black Vodka, and two of the aforementioned “working autobiographies”.  The two books of hers I’ve read are packed with ideas, but like great theater, they treat ideas as verbs. They’re thought in action. In a sense they defy you to talk about them. But let's try to, anyway. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
30/11/19·44m 34s

221. Yancey Strickler (Kickstarter co-founder) – you, me, us: now and in the future

The phrase “common sense” can be misleading. The way we use it in casual conversation, it means something like “that which is obvious to any sensible person, of course”. It’s like what philosopher Daniel Dennett says about the word “surely”. Surely we can all agree that it’s just an innocent word, right? Surely I’m not manipulating you by starting this sentence with a positive conclusion? Common sense, in fact, is just what it sounds like: the commonly agreed upon sense of how things are at any given time. But as social primates, we too easily mistake consensus for truth.  My guest today is Yancey Strickler, cofounder of Kickstarter—the company that made “crowdfunding” a common sense idea. That’s a very big deal when you consider that when Kickstarter was getting, uh, kickstarted, that idea made very little sense to anybody at all. Having people chip in to launch something they’ll never own? Ludicrous! Contrary to human nature as explained by Adam Smith!  Having helped transform how creative work is financed, Yancey’s moved on from Kickstarter. His new book: This Could Be Our Future: a Manifesto for a More Generous World is after bigger game—a kind of values reset that moves us away from a narrow, unsustainable, inhumane obsession with profit at all costs. He calls it “bento values” because it’s a box with four compartments: Me and us, now and in the future. Maybe it’s not common sense today, but surely it could be.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
23/11/19·1h 1m

220. Elif Shafak (writer) – the cemetery of the companionless

“Maybe the opposite of goodness is not evil. Maybe the opposite of goodness is, in fact, numbness.”  There are so many questions we never ask. So many assumptions we make every second of every day because our minds and our lives are sealed off from one another, accessible only through time, patience, and the slow work of trust—all of which are often in short supply while we’re running around trying to stick to schedules. And there are some questions we don’t ask for other reasons—because the answers might tell us more than we want to know about ourselves.  I’m so very happy to be here today for the second time on this show with British-Turkish author, speaker, and educator Elif Shafak. In her latest novel, as in all of her work, she asks some of these forgotten questions and, maybe more important, signposts the infinity of doorways we walk past without noticing. The book, 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World, was one of six on the shortlist for this year’s Booker Prize. Like any human life, that of its heroine Leila is strange, beautiful, and important. And all too easily tossed aside.  Surprise conversation starters in this episode:  Ibram X Kendi on the dangerous idea of the dangerous black neighborhood, and anger and analysis in social justice movements, from our conversation on Think Again Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
16/11/19·59m 39s

219. Reginald Dwayne Betts (poet) – nothing to resurrect after prison

Some experiences change you so completely that you’re left with a choice: either spend your life running from them or spend your life turning them over in memory, trying to find new ways in, through, and out the other side. The power of the impulse to explain or somehow articulate these experiences is inversely proportionate to other people’s ability to understand them. They’re everything all at once. It seems to me that my guest today has made that second choice, the hard choice not to run away. Or maybe it’s a choice you have to keep making over and over again. His name is Reginald Dwayne Betts. He’s 39 years old—an accomplished poet and essayist and a graduate of Yale Law School. But he spent most of his teenage years and young adulthood in prison and over a year in solitary confinement, experiences neither society, nor memory, nor his fellow feeling for the more than 2 million people behind bars in the United States, the vast majority of them black men and boys, has let him forget. Dwayne’s beautiful and necessary new book of poems is called FELON, and I’m honored to have him with me here today to talk about it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
09/11/19·1h 3m

218. Bill Bryson (writer) – the most extraordinary machine

Do you have a body? I do, but I was mostly unaware of this fact until somewhere in my mid-30s, when my life strategy of living like a bourbon-loving brain-in-a-vat became increasingly untenable. Since then, I’ve come to understand something that might have been obvious to you all along. The body’s not just a convenient support system for coming up with clever things to say—it’s how we experience the world. It’s most of what we mean by living. And for all its marvelous autonomy, it’s also wonderfully, bafflingly complex. My guest today is the author Bill Bryson. In his new book THE BODY: A GUIDE FOR OCCUPANTS, he has been kind enough to demystify it for us to the extent that that’s possible, and to help us revel in its mystery everywhere else. Bill is the beloved author of A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING and A WALK IN THE WOODS, and I’m delighted to have him on the show.  Surprise conversation starters in this episode:  Excerpted from Think Again episode #215 with Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
02/11/19·52m 2s

217. Ibram X. Kendi (author, activist) – Antiracism 101

I grew up in the almost entirely white suburbs of 1980’s Bethesda, Maryland thinking of myself and my world as 100% not racist. It’s hard to notice what’s missing: for example pretty much any black or brown people anywhere I went except on vacation, in spite of the fact that we were right next to Washington DC. At some point in middle school I learned that my Jewish dad had been unwelcome at the most popular local country club, and so chosen another, less popular one that admitted Jews at the time. But this seemed like a weird anomaly, and boo hoo about not getting your first choice of country club anyway, right?  Then, at 16, I had to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Anacostia, DC and was astonished to find it wasn’t the “war zone” I’d been told it was throughout the Reagan years. To see people walking calmly to the grocery store or chatting on the corner. No guns. No open air drug markets, whatever those were. Racism, gender bias, economic elitism—they’re not anomalies. They’re cultural, economic, political, psychological. But as Paul Simon—a favorite songwriter of mine who some see as the poster boy for cultural appropriation once wrote: "Well, breakdowns come and breakdowns go, so, what are you gonna do about it? That’s what I’d like to know.” My guest today is Ibram X Kendi. he’s been working on these problems for a long time, and he’s developed some powerful ideas and methods for solving them. Ibram won the National Book award, he’s the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington DC, and he’s the author of the important new book How to be an Anti-Racist.  Surprise conversation starters in this episode:  A read excerpt from MINDF*CK: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America, by Christopher Wylie  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
26/10/19·47m 36s

216. Gail Collins (NY Times columnist) – The brief social media life of Glam-ma

In 1972, the year I was born, there was apparently a famous TV ad for Geritol. My guest today describes it thus: “…a husband spoke to the camera while his wife draped herself over his shoulder, smiling like something between a model and the brainwashed resident of a creepy commune…”My wife’s incredible. She took care of the baby all day, cooked a great dinner and even went to a school meeting—and look at her!” Her potion of eternal youth, of course, is Geritol. It’s got all the vitamins and iron she needs. This perfect woman grins silently at the camera as her husband concludes: “My wife: I think I’ll keep her.”  Though what constitutes “getting old” for women in America has been a moving target throughout US history, it has rarely been a picnic. But our history’s also full of women who have raised hell and pushed back in a hundred different ways against the cultural and literal corsets America keeps trying to stuff them into.  My guest today is New York Times columnist and celebrated author Gail Collins. Her new book is No Stopping Us Now: the Adventures of Older Women in American History. It’s a bumpy, often exhilarating ride through the lives of older women in America from colonial times up to the present day. And Gail’s good company as our wise, wisecracking stagecoach driver. We’re headed West, and there’s hope on the horizon. Conversation starter clips in this episode:  Liz Plank on masculinity, from episode 214 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
19/10/19·51m 6s

215. Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie: the cognitive segregation of America

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. You’ve probably heard of Cambridge Analytica. Maybe you know they’re a company that did some nefarious things involving facebook and the 2016 US presidential elections. If you’re anything like me, you don’t know the half of it. If you get through this episode without wanting to move to a remote hut in the Arctic circle, I will personally refund this hour of your life. My guest today is Christopher Wylie, author of MindF*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America. in high school, he found himself on the outside of lots of social circles. Computers and hacker culture gave him community. Identity. From there, it’s a long strange trip through progressive politics in Canada to military Psy ops in London to helping Steve Bannon and the Billionaire Robert Mercer build the most powerful psychological weapon of mass destruction in existence—one that very likely won the presidency for Donald Trump and the Brexit vote. Chris was 24 at the time. When the scale and consequences of Cambridge Analytica got too big to ignore, he turned whistleblower—and none of our lives, his included, will ever be the same. Conversation starter: A clip from an upcoming episode with Ibram X. Kendi Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
12/10/19·48m 53s

214. Liz Plank (journalist) – men, masculinity, and the unfinished conversation

In the past half century or so feminism has had its hands plenty full dealing with the abuse and inequality women suffer at the hands of horribly behaved men and the systems they build. Too full to worry much about what the hell is going on inside those men and why. And there are powerful arguments to be made for the fact that it is not women’s responsibility to help men figure out how not to be monsters. But I’ve noticed an interesting shift in the discourse lately. In the wake of the #MeToo movement (things happen fast these days…that blew up at scale in 2017), some threads of the public conversation have turned toward what my guest today might talk about in terms of the "gender ecosystem", the ways that ideas about gender shape our identities and behavior and the fact that those behaviors impact everyone in society for better and worse. Regardless of whose responsibility it is to solve these problems, the question of where masculinity goes from here should matter to everyone. My guest today is journalist and cultural critic Liz Plank. she was named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30, has produced and hosted multiple acclaimed digital series for Vox, and is the author of the new book FOR THE LOVE OF MEN: a  new vision of mindful masculinity. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
05/10/19·55m 9s

213. Catherine Wilson (philosopher) – the Epicurean cure for what ails ya

If the word ‘epicurean’ brings to mind a porcine man in a toga reclining on a velvet couch and dropping fat juicy grapes into his open mouth, one by one, you are not alone. But this caricature, probably the descendent of some ancient propaganda by rival philosophers, tells us very little in fact about Epicureanism - the worldview of the 4th century BCE Greek philosopher Epicurus and his later disciple Lucretius, whose ideas prefigured and shaped much of the modern world. My guest today is philosopher Catherine Wilson, author of the book How to be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well. At a confusing cultural moment where many people are looking for a guiding framework, she’s here with a strident defense of Epicureanism as a way of life. In its pragmatic approach to embracing pleasure and minimizing pain, she sees a saner way of living in the world. And maybe enjoying a few juicy grapes while you’re at it. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Mass shootings and masculinity with Michael Kaufman, founder of the White Ribbon Campaign Longevity with Dave Asprey of Bulletproof Coffee Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
28/09/19·50m 54s

212. Downton Abbey film director Michael Engler – the best idea in the room

Like too many of us, I hated history classes throughout my school career, and only realized as an adult that there are few things more interesting to ponder than the ways people lived and thought in different times and places than my own. After all, we’re all stuck in our own time, limited by our culture, consciousness, and whatever knowledge we may possess of what came before. Maybe that explains part of the appeal of historical fiction like the series Downton Abbey, set in a great Edwardian country house in the early 20th century. My guest today is stage and screen Director Michael Engler. He’s the director of the new Downton Abbey feature film, and he directed episodes of Downton Abbey, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, 30 Rock and much more for TV. Meticulously recreating one corner of Edwardian England and building original story worlds within it, Downton Abbey is part romantic comedy, part historical drama grappling with the tensions of class and society at the sunset of empire. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Comedian Pete Holmes on visualization  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
21/09/19·59m 17s

211. Etgar Keret (writer) – a tunnel dug under the prison floor

“A conversation is like a tunnel dug under the prison floor that you—patiently and painstakingly—scoop out with a spoon. It has one purpose: to get you away from where you are right now.” That is from the very, very weird tale Car Concentrate from Israeli writer Etgar Keret’s wonderful new collection of short stories called FLY ALREADY. It’s not a bad description of the situation most of Keret’s characters find themselves in—wriggling like butterflies stuck on the pins of their own minds or circumstances, trying by any means necessary to get free. It’s maybe not too much even to say that this is the human condition as Keret sees it and the reason he writes stories—to open up magical escape hatches in the midst of suffocating realities like divorce or religious hatred. His stories are strange, beautiful, funny, and poignant—somehow emotionally connected even though they’re full of people who struggle to make sense to (and of) one another. Like all great art, they defy description, so ignore everything I’ve just said and go read them…but first, stick around for a bit to see what kind of escape tunnel this conversation might turn into.  Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Michio Kaku on uploading your consciousness and traveling to other planets Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
14/09/19·55m 21s

210. one night in Istanbul, with chef Musa Dağdeviren

There’s a pattern that happens with any new thing. First it’s scary, then you settle in to a rhythm, then you hit your stride, then you get too attached to things being the way they are. For a while there I thought I could only record an episode of this show sitting in a particular chair facing a particular direction. When that kind of thing happens, it’s time to shake things up. So today’s show was recorded 5000 miles away from my comfy New York studio, in my wife’s hometown of Istanbul, Turkey. We took a ferry from the European to the Asian side of the city, to the neighborhood of Kadikoy. There we met Chef Musa Dağdeviren—a one of a kind of food ethnographer who’s trying to preserve techniques and recipes from Turkey’s vast and diverse culinary history before they disappear forever. We ate at his restaurant Ciya Sofrasi and talked to him afterward in the offices of Yemek Ve Kultur (food and culture), the magazine he’s been publishing for the past 15 years. Musa is a man on an ambitious labor of love—a mission his mom gave him as a small child to investigate, understand, and pass on this knowledge. He’s totally unlike anyone I’ve ever met, and I’m happy to share this very different episode with you. THE TURKISH COOKBOOK — Musa’s vast compendium for an English speaking audience. Comprehensive as it is, it contains less than half of the 1500+ recipes he’s collected in his travels. More to come! A beautiful documentary on Musa’s work on Netflix’s CHEF’S TABLE, Season 2.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
07/09/19·1h 4m

209. a mixtape for 2019

When I was a teenager and music was still on cassettes, a mixtape was an act of love. The selection and sequence of songs were a kind of message to the listener that left plenty of space for their own thoughts and feelings. Back in June Think Again hit its fourth year and its 200th show and it feels like the right time to take a step back and revisit some of the places the conversation has gone this past year. I’m intuitive rather than strategic about choosing guests for the show and books to read—when it works, it’s an art rather than a science. And as with any art, themes emerge and recur in different guises. In this episode, I’m putting together some of my favorite moments of 2019, strung together with minimal interruption from me. So kick back and enjoy this eclectic collection, and feel free to write me through my website jasongots.com and let me know your thoughts, feelings, and insights. Or send me a mixtape of your own! Featuring: Joseph Goldstein, Benjamin Dreyer, Anaïs Mitchell, Martin Hägglund, Aml Ameen, Marlon James, Terry Gilliam, Jeff Israel, Eve Ensler, Tracy Edwards, Frans De Waal, Edith Hall, Lama Rod Owens, Elif Shafak, Robert MacFarlane  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
31/08/19·57m 0s

208. Antonio Damasio (biologist) – this incredibly rich machinery

Quick question. Answer without thinking too hard. Ready? Where is your mind? What is your mind? Ok, Raise your hand if you thought of your brain. If you did, you’re in good company. For centuries, Western science, culture, and language has been obsessed with the head as the center of thought and the body as the center of feeling. This split can get hierarchical, attaching ideas like “sin” and  to the body and the emotions while putting the brain, along with rationality, up on a pedestal. I’m very happy to be speaking again today with neuroscientist and philosopher Antonio Damasio, who has done more than anyone one else I know to get that brain down off its high horse and reattach it to the body. We last talked a year ago, about his book THE STRANGE ORDER OF THINGS - Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures, which has now come out in paperback. It turns everything upside down, not only re-anchoring mind in body, but finding in primitive bacteria and social insects patterns that help explain human culture. Maybe there’s more going on in the Mona Lisa than in a bacterial colony, but they also have quite a lot in common. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Frans De Waal on animal consciousness Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
24/08/19·40m 7s

207. Lisa Brennan-Jobs (writer) – on growing up without, with, and in spite of her dad

The first computer I ever had was the first Apple Macintosh, back in the mid 80’s. I can still remember the sense of friendly reassurance from that smiling little icon that popped up on the screen when you turned it on—a cute, tiny computer smiling back at you. This device, it suggested, knew you. Understood you. Was someone you could trust. Since then, we’ve come a long way, baby. The cold, black, addictive rectangle in my pocket—a gleaming window into all the hopes and terrors of the known world—is a far cry from the early, friendly promises of that smiling machine on which I could magically paint things at the touch of a button. My guest today, in a very different way, grew up in the long shadow of that same cultural trajectory. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was her dad. But like our relationship with the machines he helped unleash on the world, hers with him was deeply complicated. In her beautiful memoir Small Fry, Lisa Brennan-Jobs writes about his indifference, his attention, and her struggle to find herself in and outside of his shadow. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: None, due to tight taping time.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
10/08/19·47m 18s

206. Jenny Odell (artist) – attention as an act of resistance

When I think of my childhood home in Bethesda, Maryland, depending on what kind of mood I’m in, I think either of the mall or of the woods. Although there were some fun moments looking at the inappropriate novelty items like at Spencer Gifts, such as edible underwear, the mall in my memory is a symbol of suburban anomie and alienation. A place, as my guest today would put it, without context. The woods, on the other hand, were endless and full of surprises. We’d follow the twisting creek, overturn rocks to find crawfish, and eat sassafras leaves. Once we made Molotov cocktails out of my mom’s nail polish and threw them into the creek with pure, anarchic joy. In the woods, I was always, utterly present—connected to every sound and attuned to the slightest movement. In the mall, I was mostly conscious of whether or not my jacket looked cool. I’m here today with Jenny Odell. She’s an artist and educator who grew up in Silicon Valley and teaches at Stanford, the heart of the attention economy that’s colonizing more and more of the cultural woods. She’s also an avid bird watcher—or “bird noticer”, as she might put it. Her wonderful new book HOW TO DO NOTHING: RESISTING THE ATTENTION ECONOMY is something like a primer for growing the woods inside the mall. It’s about carving out space for ourselves in a world that wants to put our time and our lives to other, more utilitarian uses.  Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Edward Slingerland on the Taoist concept of Wu Wei and how it plays out in Chinese business culture  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
03/08/19·52m 16s

205. Jeffrey Israel (religious studies scholar, old friend) – Private hate, public love, and everything in between

A Rabbi, a Priest, and an Imam walk into a bar. No, wait. Imams don’t drink. Most rabbis don’t drink much either, come to think of it. Priests drink—at least in the movies—but mostly not in bars . . . So maybe nobody walks into a bar? How, when, and where are we all supposed to figure out how to get along? My guest today, who also happens to be an old, good friend of mine, has an answer, or several. He’s Jeffrey Israel—a professor of Religion at Williams College and the author of a new book Living with Hate in American Politics and Religion. He argues that pluralistic societies like the United States need two uneasy siblings: a strong political will to recognize and protect our common humanity and also “play spaces” where we can give rein to the difficult feelings- anger, resentment, even hate- that can’t be erased by politics, a Beatles song, or just by wishing them away. In his generous and provocative book, Jeff mines Jewish-American humor from Lenny Bruce, Philip Roth, and the sitcom All in the Family for models of rough and reflective play. Spike Lee’s film Do The Right Thing gets a well-deserved star turn, too. And for a civics that can protect human dignity while making space for all the nastiness and alienation we have no choice but to live with, He looks to philosopher Martha Nussbaum, among others. It’s a difficult conversation for an imperfect and imperfectable world, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. So Jeff makes a bold case and invites us all to the table —rabbi, priest, Imam, and the rest us who don’t fit into easy categories—to hash it out. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: David Epstein on “lateral thinking”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
27/07/19·1h 7m

204. The Butler Sisters (filmmakers) – identity, intolerance, and change in the American heartland

In spite of all the weird ways the word has been abused since the 2016 elections, I think of myself as a liberal. As a basic value, I try to be open-minded. And like many liberals, I live in a big, liberal city where I rarely meet anyone who doesn’t share my values, religious outlook, and political beliefs. As a result, like it or not, I’m in a bubble. And when I’m not being careful about it, I’m vulnerable to seeing “the Bible Belt” and the American South as one monolithic, mostly white, evangelical, anti-abortion, Christian Right-leaning mass. As some kind of living history exhibit of a past us New Yorkers have left behind. And I know lots of people in some of the same bubbles I occupy who are quick to point to religion as the cause of horrors throughout human history. People who see reason and science as progress, religion as unequivocally retrograde, and who point to data showing that people everywhere are getting less religious as a hopeful sign that humanity might be moving in the right direction. But just as it doesn’t have a monopoly on morality, religion doesn’t have a monopoly on intolerance. And reason alone can’t give us values like love and kindness. Religion’s one of many ways that people organize their lives and like everything we make, it’s subject to both our courage and our cowardice. The best and the worst of us. A recent Pew survey says that 63% of Americans believe in God. In Bible Belt states like Oklahoma, where that number is much higher, there are fierce political battles going on for control of the Christian narrative—pushback against fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible as aligned with conservative republican values. These battles, invisible to most of us out here on the coasts, are the subject of AMERICAN HERETICS, a powerful new documentary by my guests today, Jeanine and Catherine Butler. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Michael Pollan on the history of LSD and psilocybin mushrooms in America Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
20/07/19·53m 54s

203. Elif Shafak (novelist) – The story no one hears

After four years and just over 200 conversations for this podcast, I’m feeling the need for a new kind of politics. One that would champion uncertainty, fragility, emotional vulnerability against the tyranny of opinions that push us one way or another. I used to think that art was sufficient for this purpose. After all, it was books like J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey or Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, bands like the Smiths and the Velvet Underground that gave a much younger me courage to embrace ambiguity as a great teacher. Art’s an open door, but you have to walk through it. And it’s the politics and culture around you that shape your ability to do so. We’re hurting and hungry for connection. Sick of misunderstanding and violence. I think this is true all over the world. I think it runs so deep it’s like an underground river, one whose presence we can only guess at from the contours of the surface earth. I’m very happy to be talking today with Turkish-born global citizen, novelist and activist Elif Shafak. She’s the author of  HONOR, THE FLEA PALACE, and THREE DAUGHTERS OF EVE, among many other books. In her writing and public speaking, she’s one of the most eloquent voices I know of this new politics that doesn’t fit easily on any flag. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Pete Holmes on #metoo and binary thinking  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
13/07/19·55m 11s

202. Tracy Edwards, MBE (British sailor) – If you don't like the way the world looks, change it

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? The thing everyone said was impossible,  that you knew you had to do anyway, and that you doubted a thousand times while it was underway that you’d be able to see through to the end? There’s a good chance you can think of at least one example. And an even better chance it doesn’t even come close in monumental, soul-smelting intensity to what Tracy Edwards put herself through back in 1989 to 1990, along with the all-female crew of her racing yacht Maiden. In that year, with the dismissive, derisive, mostly male eyes of the racing world upon them, this 9 member crew proved beyond a doubt that they could sail every bit as skillfully and fearlessly as their male competitors in the Whitbread Round-the-World-yacht-race. They crossed the southern ocean from Uruguay to Australia, surviving icebergs and deadly waves to win the most difficult leg of the race, then beat their closest rival, move for move, in a tactical sprint to New Zealand. By the time they made it home to England, derision had long given way to admiring awe. Tracy and her crew did a thing everyone thought was impossible. And in doing so they gave hope to countless others. The documentary film MAIDEN, out from Sony Pictures Classics, captures every leg of their incredible journey, and shows the full cost and rewards of Tracy’s single-minded persistence. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Explorer Erling Kagge on journeys and solitude Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
06/07/19·51m 56s

201. Chris Moukarbel (WIG and GAGA FIVE FOOT TWO filmmaker) – The closest thing to actual magic

When I was in middle school in the suburbs of Maryland, a man—let’s call him Robert—started doing some occasional gardening and housecleaning for my parents. By high school, Robert was our full-time housekeeper and a nanny for me and my sister, a family member, really. And he had become a she—let’s call her Tina. My sister and I learned to use her new pronouns and we watched as her clothes and then, with the help of hormones and surgery, her body changed to that of a woman. At the same time, the transition we went through with Tina at home was playing out in American popular culture. Homosexuality and drag and other queer lives and identities came out of the closet and onto the stage, screen, and streets. In 1984, in Mahattan’s Tompkins Square Park, Wigstock was born. It started as a kind of afterparty and evolved into a DIY, outrageous, funny, and fabulous annual drag festival that by the 90’s was drawing crowds in the thousands. It’s hard even to think back to the time when Robert who became Tina had to hide who she was for fear of upsetting her religious mother or—who knows—maybe not getting that job with my folks. In a world where RuPaul’s Drag Race is going into its 12th smash season, It’s easy to forget the courage it took, and still takes, for so many people to live on the outside what they know they are on the inside. My guest today is documentary filmmaker Chris Moukarbel, the director of Lady Gaga biopic GAGA FIVE FOOT TWO. In his new HBO documentary WIG, Chris and his stars—including Lady Bunny, Charlene Incarnate, and many more—take us back through the history of drag in New York City. And they show that now more than ever we need public spaces like Wigstock where we can perform, amplify, and celebrate our differences. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Bill Eddy on “toxic people” John Cameron Mitchell on online communication and miscommunication Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
29/06/19·45m 45s

200. Robert MacFarlane (writer) – deep time rising

I’m underground as I write this, one day before taping the conversation you’re about to hear, speeding through New York City subway tunnels that aren’t all that ancient but whose darkness, and rats, and crumbling, esoteric infrastructure holds fear and fascination enough for anyone who contemplates them. Waking up this morning—notice how you wake up, not down—I felt my already barely remembered dreams sliding off of me in layers, like leaves, or hands. And the longing to submit to those hands and slide back down, underground, into the caverns of sleep. My guest today, Robert MacFarlane, has dug deeper than I could ever hope to into the meanings and magnetism of the underworld —tunnels, caves, sinkholes, and the living, fungal earth of our world and our imaginations. At one point in his new book UNDERLAND he brings up the fact that to a neutrino, our solid physical world is just a a mesh—Mount Everest is a wide-gauge net it can pass easily through. In MacFarlane’s writing, the layers of the world are transparent, overlapping, always already present. He’s often called a “nature writer”, but that’s a poor proxy for what he actually is: a philosopher poet with the gift of sight in the darkness, whose penetrating vision turns the world inside out. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: E.O. Wilson on the world of pheromones Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
22/06/19·1h 2m

199. Lama Rod Owens (RADICAL DHARMA co-author, Buddhist teacher) – the price of the ticket to freedom

Like Mick Jagger, the Indian prince we know as The Buddha taught that we can’t get no satisfaction from this world, though we try and we try, and we try, and we try . . . Buddha means “awakened one”. Awake to the fact that the world is impermanent and we suffer and cause suffering to one another because of that. “Woke” is a newer word for something similar. Waking up to pervasive social injustice. To racism, economic disparity, homophobia, and other forces that poison and destroy people’s lives and relationships. In other words, suffering people cause by clinging onto impermanent things—in this case, power. The intersection of  these two kinds of awakening is at the heart of the work of my guest today, Lama Rod Owens. An ordained Lama in a Tibetan Buddhist lineage and the coauthor of RADICAL DHARMA, he grew up a queer, black male within the black Christian church in the American south. Navigating all of these intersecting, evolving identities has led him to a life’s work based on compassion for self and others, and on trying to help people wake up in all senses of the word. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Michael Shermer on why we die Pete Holmes on the power of words Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
15/06/19·1h 10m

198. Barbara Tversky (cognitive psychologist) – World makes mind

You’re a body in the world. From the moment you’re born, from that very first gasp of air, you’re taking in sensations, trying to get a handle on things and the relationships between them. There’s a lot of things to get a handle on. Too many. So your brain needs to simplify. It makes boxes for objects, maps them onto grids to track their motion. Through this process, the physical world enters your mind. It makes your mind. And that’s where things start to get really interesting. My guest today is cognitive psychologist Barbara Tversky. Her new book MIND IN MOTION: How Action Shapes Thought, upends everything most of us think we know about thinking. Tversky’s first law of cognition is that there are no benefits without costs. We simplify the physical world—reduce it to lines and boxes. We build abstract thought—everything from Shakespeare to string theory to how to design a pair of sneakers—on top of that same flawed foundation. And that explains all of our superpowers and all of our blind spots. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Philosopher Alva Noe on the puzzle of perception Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
08/06/19·1h 3m

197. Eve Ensler (author, activist) – No way out but through

Note: I feel I should let listeners know that this episode of Think Again is about surviving and thriving in the face of unspeakable trauma and sexual violence. And in order to get to the thriving, we have talk about the trauma, which may be painful for some listeners and inappropriate for kids. But I don’t want to scare anybody off—I think it’s one of the most valuable conversations we’ve ever had on the show.  -- For a human child growing up, trust is the foundation of everything. We learn how to regulate our emotions, how to see the world as relatively stable and safe through the connection with the people who care for us. Severely neglected children can suffer all kinds of harm to their ability to think, connect with others, and learn. But what happens when the caring bond is not only missing, but is horribly abused? Distorted through incest and sexual violence? How do you build a self and life after that? And let’s say you somehow manage to survive to adulthood…to thrive, even. How do you fill the place in your heart where the love and the trust is supposed to be? My guest today has had to answer all these questions for herself. She is the playwright, author, and activist Eve Ensler. You may know her as the creator of the Vagina Monlogues. What you might not know is that all the horrors I’m talking about happened to her as a kid. Let me take that out of the passive voice: her father did that to her, and more. And he died without saying anything remotely close to “I’m sorry”. So Eve wrote his apology for him—her book THE APOLOGY is a letter to her—to Eve—in the imagined voice of her dead father, retelling what happened, why it happened, and trying to figure out in these twisted circumstances what an apology would even mean… Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Jared Diamond on immigrants and innovation  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
01/06/19·1h

196. Susan Hockfield (MIT president emerita, neuroscientist) – Extraordinary machines

“Are we in the best of times? Or the end of times? One of the oddities of the current era is that extreme pessimism about the world coexists with extreme optimism — and both have a plausible case to make.” I’m quoting Gideon Rachman from a recent Financial Times piece about Bill Gates and David Attenborough. Broadly speaking, Gates is a technooptimist: convinced, like his friend Steven Pinker, that the world’s getting better all the time due to technological and scientific progress, and that our problems are largely solvable. Attenborough is the world’s most recognizable narrator of nature documentaries and, well, with all that’s been happening to the flora and the fauna of the Earth, you can probably guess where he stands. My guest today, neuroscientist and MIT president emerita Susan Hockfield, is the author of the new book THE AGE OF LIVING MACHINES. And I think it’s fair to say she leans toward the Bill Gates side of the spectrum. Given what she’s seen and done in her historic career, it’s easy to understand why. The technologies she looks at in the book sit at the intersection of biology and engineering—what Hockfield calls “Convergence 2.0”. From water filters based on cellular proteins to self-assembling batteries, they seem miraculous, even to the trained eye. And they’re densely packed with hope for human ingenuity, and for solving global problems from food shortages to climate change. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Nichol Bradford on transformative technology Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
25/05/19·59m 39s

195. Adam Gopnik (essayist) – the rhinoceros of liberalism vs. the unicorns of everything else

If I had to choose one word to capture this moment in American (and maybe world) history, “patience” wouldn’t be it. From every direction, everything demands our urgent attention. Everything is a ticking time bomb, or one that’s just exploded, and we’re all the poorly-trained volunteer ambulance squad. I don’t mean to dismiss the challenges we face: climate change, families being ripped apart while seeking asylum, a school shooting every other week, just to name a few. These are very real. Very urgent indeed. But in fight-or-flight mode, we make drastic, either/or decisions. We forget, as my guest today would have it, how to count to two. He’s New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik, and he’s the author of the new book A THOUSAND SMALL SANITIES: the Moral Adventure of Liberalism. It’s a surprising and surprisingly necessary book at this cultural moment. And it’s willing to look awkward and uncool in the eyes of Gopnik’s teenaged daughter and her generation by defending good old fashioned, pluralistic, humanistic Liberalism. Liberalism, as Gopnik puts it, is more of a rhinoceros than a unicorn—a creature of evolutionary compromise that’s not always pretty to look at. But put a saddle on it, he argues, and it gets you more or less where you need to go. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Kurt Andersen on the gun control debate Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
18/05/19·1h

194. Jared Diamond (Historian) – Look inward, Nation

Imagine yourself a German citizen the day after the end of World War II. Much of your city is bombed to ruins. A good part of the population is dead. The Nazi ideology that has dominated your nation for the past decade has been repudiated as definitively as Bambi in “Bambi Meets Godzilla”. Basically, it’s the end of the world. Now consider Berlin today. It’s the biggest economy in Europe. The center of the European Union. A progressive welfare state where the old racial and nationalist resentments have been reduced to fringe movements. Still disturbingly present, but by no means mainstream. How do you get here from there? And could the pendulum ever swing back again? This is the subject of Jared Diamond’s new book, UPHEAVAL. In it, the geographer, historian and author of GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL looks to human crisis counseling for a model of how nations deal with crises both acute and gradual. For Americans like myself, troubled in this historical moment by dreams of the late Roman Empire, its a refreshingly clear-eyed look at the many different ways these things can go. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Timothy Snyder on partisan politics Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
11/05/19·47m 50s

193. Anaïs Mitchell (HADESTOWN creator, songwriter/singer) – sometimes the god speaks through you

Among other things, music can be medicine. Like a vaccine, it sometimes works by giving your body a little taste of the disease. Other times, of course, you just wanna dance, and James Brown might be just what you need. But the medicine songs I’m talking about are the ones that break your heart open no matter many times you hear them. And you want them to—because that’s what it feels like to be alive. Nobody knows this better than my guest today, singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell. Like the centuries of blues and folk songs that echo through it, transubstantiated by her voice and guitar into something almost too beautiful to bear, her music is powerful medicine. Anaïs wrote all the songs, lyrics and the book of the new (14x Tony-nominated!) Broadway musical, HADESTOWN, directed by Rachel Chavkin. It makes new again the ancient story of the singer-songwriter Orpheus and his lover Eurydice, who he follows all the way to hell, and leads most of the way back again.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
04/05/19·56m 27s

192. Delphine Minoui (journalist) – Land of paradoxes: the inner and outer Iran

I remember visiting New York when I was 18 and thinking about coming here for college. How badly I wanted to be “from” New York. How cool, how real, how substantial that would be. What does it mean to be “from” any place? At what point do you own the culture like you own your native language? Your very own little shard of the broken mirror that adds up to New York. Or Irkutsk. Or Tehran? Actually, you can’t own a culture: it owns you. And you can’t immerse yourself in a different culture without turning into a different person. My guest today, investigative reporter Delphine Minoui, grew up in a relatively orderly, secular France. She wanted to know what it meant to be from Iran, her grandfather’s country, under the veil of the Islamic Republic. Over a decade living there, she found out. Her book I’M WRITING YOU FROM TEHRAN is the story of that investigation and how it changed her. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Robert Sapolsky on religious faith in the brain  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
27/04/19·54m 24s

191. Simon Critchley (philosopher) – the philosophy of tragedy & the tragedy of philosophy

Well into her 90’s, my grandma Selma and I had this running conversation about the state of the world. She’d escaped Polish pogroms as a 5 year old, lived through the loss of half her relatives in World War II, and saw the founding of the UN in 1945 and NATO in 1949 as signs of a world sick of chaos and finally ready to be sensible and humane. Well, that’s not really how things turned out, is it. And I spent a lot of time trying and failing to reassure Selma that there was still hope in the world, just on a smaller, more localized scale. But what if the real problem isn’t the world but our obsessive tendency to systematize and sanitize it? My guest today, philosopher Simon Critchley, looks to the form of tragedy in theater—from Ancient Greece to Shakespeare and maybe also to Breaking Bad, as a possible antidote. In his new book TRAGEDY, THE GREEKS, AND US, he shows us how tragedy works, why Plato was scared of it, and how it answers the kind of deflated idealism my grandma Selma was dealing with. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Ashton Applewhite on happiness and aging  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
20/04/19·1h

190. Terry Gilliam (filmmaker) - The impossible dream

Faith in anything is its own special form of madness. It’s a challenge to entropy, and entropy takes no challenge lightly. If there’s any better metaphor for this struggle than trying to make a big budget movie with even a shred of integrity, I haven’t found it. On the one hand, you’ve got this impossible dream. This faith in the beautiful thing that’s supposed to emerge at at the end of the process. On the other hand, the process is a hellish sausage-making machine of studio bosses, financing, and acts of god like four days of flash flooding in the middle of your big shoot. You might as well be Don Quixote, doing battle with a windmill. What kind of masochist would put themselves through that? My guest today, Terry Gilliam, is that very masochist. And we should be grateful, because his stomach for the fight has given us movies like THE FISHER KING, BRAZIL, 12 MONKEYS and MONTY PYTHON’s THE LIFE OF BRIAN. And now, almost 30 years after his first, biblically disastrous attempt to make it, THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE. Starring Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce, the movie is as funny, thrilling, and unpretentiously deep as the best of Gilliam’s work. It’s also kind of like one of those Russian matryoshka dolls: a film inside a film inside a film, all of them metaphors for the holy folly of believing in anything at all. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is out April 19th in select theaters and on demand video. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Michelle Thaller on whether time is real or an illusion Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
13/04/19·51m 18s

189. Ross Kauffman (Oscar-winning filmmaker) – Tigers and the humans who love them

I was thinking this morning that It’s funny how “humane” is the only word we have for that idea, since so much that’s inhumane has been created by us humans. When we talk about the humane treatment of animals, considering the ways we’ve treated animals for most of our history, what can we possibly mean? Anyway... It’s a fair guess that prehistoric humans spent most of their time in awe of something or other. Mountains, oceans, the Earth, the Sun. And also of big cats with the power to hunt and kill us: lions, panthers, tigers, oh my. Awe is a very special emotion, somewhere between terror and love. And while it can inspire all kinds of superstitious nonsense, the good thing about it is it keeps us humble. For humans, who can be mind-bogglingly inhumane to one another and to the natural world, a little humility goes a very long way. Once master of vast tracts of territory in Asia, wild tigers have been poached nearly to extinction. In fact, many species have gone extinct in recent history. In his documentary film TIGERLAND, director Ross Kauffman, who won an Academy Award for BORN INTO BROTHELS, follows the efforts of a dedicated few in India and Russia who are trying to save them, and with them a little sliver of much needed awe for the rest of us. And if you want to learn more about tiger conservation efforts and how to support them, visit https://projectcat.discovery.com/tigerland Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Tina Brown on why the journalism business is imploding Frans de Waal on why people and chimps throw temper tantrums Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
06/04/19·39m 46s

188. Frans de Waal (primatologist) – You're such a social animal

When I was a kid, there used to be a TV commercial for this series of animal videos you could order that were basically nothing but killing and sex. The tagline was “Find out why we call them . . . ANIMALS”! “Wait a minute . . .“ I used to think: “That’s not why we call them animals. Also, we’re animals too, aren’t we? What exactly are you trying to say?” That video series was a cynical cash grab, but it’s not too far removed from how science has approached animal research, with some very recent exceptions. Generosity? Empathy? Happiness? Reconciliation? These rich emotions and prosocial behaviors were for humans. The animal kingdom was about dominance, survival, and the right to reproduce. Hey, it was a jungle out there. My guest today, primatologist Frans de Waal, has spent decades gathering field and laboratory evidence that the line between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom is very blurry indeed, and that emotions are the deep connective tissue across species. His wonderful new book MAMA’S LAST HUG will help you find out, once and for all, why they call us…ANIMALS. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: David Wallace-Wells on climate change Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
30/03/19·51m 3s

187. Aml Ameen (actor) - how the world teaches you who you are

They say Confucius said “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” I did the research. Confucius probably didn’t say that. But whoever said it was right—revenge bites back. Victor Headley’s 1992 book YARDIE launched a genre of Jamaican pulp fiction. It’s the story of a life driven and destroyed by revenge, from the Kingston gang wars of the 70’s to the international drug trade of the 80’s. And it’s the basis for Idris Elba’s directorial debut—a movie of the same name staring my guest today, actor Aml Ameen. YARDIE, the movie, captures a slice of Jamaican life and musical culture you don’t often see on screen—the clash of rival sound systems and DJs at dance parties. And as the main character, D, Aml captures the complexities of a man haunted by his brother’s murder and torn between the paths of righteousness and damnation. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Ashton Applewhite on ageism Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
23/03/19·55m 35s

186. Josh Clark (podcaster) - It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

I like to think. If I didn’t, this would be the wrong job for me. But I realize that as open-minded as I like to consider myself, I’ve taken a thick, black sharpie to certain areas of the philosophical map, scrawling “here there be monsters” and leaving them be. We’re all like this to some extent—it’s the flip side of interest—even if you’re super-curious, the things that interest you most become safe spaces. Comfort zones. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to keep learning, it’s necessary to spend time in regions of reality that scare the crap out of you. The things you don’t want to look at. And if, like me, your unsafe spaces include the many catastrophes that could befall the human race—you couldn’t ask for a more affable, well-informed, tour guide than Josh Clark. Trained in history and anthropology, Josh is a writer and podcaster—host of Stuff You Should Know and now, The End of the World—a 10 part series that looks at the many ways humanity might go extinct. And what we can do about them. And why it’s all worth taking very, very seriously. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Michelle Thaller on how astronauts poop in space Shane Parrish on emotions and decision making  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
16/03/19·1h

185. Martin Hägglund (philosopher) – What happens to freedom when time is money

What gets a wolf or a pigeon up in the morning? No offense to wolves or to pigeons, but it’s probably not the desire to make the world a better place. As far as we know, humans are unique in the freedom to decide what’s worth doing with our finite time on Earth. But as my guest today argues, we often steal that freedom from one another or sell it off without even realizing it—our finite  lifetime, the one thing we have of real value, is devalued by capitalism and for those who have it, by religious faith in eternal life, or eternal everythingness, or eternal nothingness. . . . It’s a long story. These ideas are better expressed in a 400 page book than in a 60 second intro. Happily, philosopher Martin Hägglund has given us that much-needed book in This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom. Martin is a professor of Comparative Literature and Humanities at Yale and a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. And I’m delighted to have him here with me today.  Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Rob Bell on whether Jesus would have wanted Christianity Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
09/03/19·52m 40s

184. Mitchell S. Jackson (writer) – Notes from the other America

We’re all living inside concentric circles of private and public, inner and outer. From the time we’re small we start to understand that these circles aren’t always friendly to one another. There’s friction at their borders. The stuffed bunny that keeps your heart whole gets you tormented at school. The people you love most don’t look or sound like the cool people on TV. And neither do you. This is true to some extent for all of us, but if you’re growing up black in the other America—the one where everyday life is full of the kinds of experiences that keep cable news commentators shaking their heads 24/7—the friction is something else entirely. Can you own your own life—the places and the people you love—while striving to be part of a world that created the conditions it judges them for? Can you live in both places at once? These are some of the questions at the heart of the project that is SURVIVAL MATH: NOTES ON AN ALL-AMERICAN FAMILY. In these lyrical and meticulous essays, Mitchell S. Jackson tries to wrap his mind around his own coming of age in Portland, looking with relentless honesty—and above all, love—at the frictions at the heart of his America, his family, and himself. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Kevin Zollman on game theory and scientific truth Sean McFate on the billionaire-led future  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
02/03/19·55m 40s

183. Will Hunt (explorer) – into the Earth: the mysteries and meanings of underground spaces

The first time I attempted to play Minecraft with my then-seven-year-old son, we immediately dug ourselves into a pit deep in the Earth and could not get out. In spite of the crappy 8-bit graphics, all of our primal, H.P. Lovecraftian terrors of the underground were activated. We were trapped! We were lost! We might die down here! Will Hunt, on the other hand, has been climbing eagerly since childhood into dank and disorienting tunnels, caves, sewers, and other underground spaces, from abandoned New York City subway platforms to ancient Mayan temples of human sacrifice in the caverns of Belize. In his brilliant new book UNDERGROUND: a Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet, he takes us physically and spiritually along on some of these adventures. Part global, subterranean travelogue, part meditation on human curiosity, UNDERGROUND plumbs the philosophical depths of our primal awe of what lies beneath. . . . and it almost makes me want to go play Minecraft, where at least there are no rats. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Martin Amis on good writing Michael Shermer on living forever Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
23/02/19·50m 12s

182. Ha Jin (writer) – the wild and tragic life of China's greatest poet, Li Bai

Let’s start with a very old poem : On the bank of Caishi River is Li Bai’s grave Surrounded by wild grass that stretches to clouds. How sad that the bones buried deep in here Used to have writings that startled heaven and moved earth. Of course poets are born unlucky souls But no one has been as desolate as you. When you think of an an ancient poet, what do you picture? Wandering? Drinking? A lot of ups and downs? That certainly describes the life of Li Bai, one of the most brilliant and beloved poets in Chinese history—a man of whom it is said that he drowned jumping into a river, drunkenly chasing the reflection of the moon. In his beautiful new biography THE BANISHED IMMORTAL: a Life of Li Bai, the poet and author Ha Jin paints a vivid picture of this extra-vivid man—who suffered the double misfortune of living in interesting times and being interesting himself. Ha Jin is interesting too—a young soldier in China’s Cultural Revolution, he came to America as a grad student. Watching the Tiananmen Square Massacre on TV, he decided to stay in America for good. Surprise conversation-starters in this episode: Michael Hobbes on student debt Ben Goertzel on panpsychism  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
16/02/19·48m 15s

181. Marlon James (writer) – don’t get too comfortable

At this point, it’s very rare to read something and find myself thinking: This is something new. This is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It doesn’t have to be written in hieroglyphs or be some kind of three-dimensional interactive reading experience with pull-out tabs and half the pages upside down. That kind of formal experimentation, in my experience as a reader, more often ends up being gimmicky and annoying than exhilarating. In fact, paradoxically, the “wow this is something new” experience often comes along with a sense that this new thing has somehow always existed, in your dreams if nowhere else. Marlon James—the Jamaican writer who won the Man Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings— has done something in his new fantasy novel Black Leopard, Red Wolf that’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The first book of a trilogy, it’s been described as an “African Game of Thrones” and likened in scope to Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings. But the stories within stories it tells and the shifts in voice and perspective thrust you into a seething, hallucinatory, morally ambiguous world that’s part Ayahuasca dream and part blacklight nightmare, anchored in a rich African mythology that’s worlds away from all those elves, wizards, dragons, and goblins—all those well-worn tales of light versus darkness. Surprise conversation-starters in this episode: Jeffrey Sachs on whether Jeff Bezos should distribute his Amazon wealth Damian Echols on tattoos as a lifeline  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
09/02/19·54m 17s

180. Benjamin Dreyer (copy chief of Random House) – Really actually truly great English

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who don’t give a damn about grammar, style, or  syntax, and those who write aggrieved letters to publishing houses about split infinitives. My guest today, Benjamin Dreyer, is neither. As the Copy Chief of Random House, it is his unenviable task to steer the middle way between linguistic pedantry and letting these writers get away with bloody murder. Scratch “bloody”—redundancy. Before reading his hilarious and practical new book DREYER’S ENGLISH,  I think I would have imagined the Copy Chief of Random House as something like the Arbiter Eligantiae of Ancient Rome—a terrifying, absolute authority on questions of grammatical law and taste. The kind of person who walks around waving a scepter at things to be preserved or destroyed. As the book makes plain, however, there’s no absolute authority when it comes to either taste or correctness in the English language. Still, please avoid “impactful”, “utilize”, and 'very unique.”  And use the Oxford comma. And you can do away with just, really, and actually while you’re at it.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
02/02/19·57m 0s

179. Edith Hall (classicist) – from Aristotle to Oprah and back again: how to live your best life

We’ve been talking a lot lately on this show about happiness. What it is, where we can get more of it, why it does not yet seem to be available on the Internet. Author Ruth Whippman presented some compelling evidence that the way most Americans are pursuing happiness is making us unhappier. Buddhist master teacher Joseph Goldstein talked about a way of training yourself to be more generous, and the happiness this has brought to his life. In her new book ARISTOTLE’S WAY, classicist Edith Hall reminds us that Aristotle’s “virtue ethics” was a sophisticated, subtle approach to the pursuit of lifelong happiness a couple millennia before Oprah thought of inviting us to live our best life. Offering no listicles of the top ten happiness hacks, Aristotle tried to live and taught the virtues of an ethically guided, purpose driven life with plenty of room for good friends, sensual pleasures, and long walks on the beaches of Ancient Greece, Macedonia, and what is now Turkey.  Edith Hall—my guest today—enjoys putting the pleasure as well as the rigor into all aspects of Ancient Greek and Roman History, society, and thought. She’s a professor of Classics at King’s College, London, the author of more than 20 books, and a world leader in the study of ancient theatre and culture. Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode: Nick Offerman on what happiness is Stephen Greenblatt on the Adam and Eve story Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
26/01/19·59m 18s

178. Douglas Rushkoff (freelance intellectual) – It's not the technology's fault

For me, the very best Onion article of 2018 was this one about Jeff Bezos revealing Amazon’s new headquarters to be the entire Earth, as an Amazon-branded glass sphere clicked into place, encasing forever the horrified inhabitants of our planet. More than a grain of truth in that one, eh? At this point, with all that’s happened over the past few years, I think you either have to be delusionally optimistic by nature or have strong vested interests in the tech industry to think that all is well in our digital world. Douglas Rushkoff has been looking at these problems with unflinching clarity and humor since long before the rest of us heard the click of the big glass sphere. on his podcast Team Human and in his new book of the same name, he invites the rest of us humans to team up and stand up for weird, messy humanity against this anti-human agenda. Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode: Johann Hari on depression and anxiety in the workplace Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
19/01/19·54m 26s

177. Joseph Goldstein (Buddhist teacher) – Lighten Up: mindfulness, enlightenment, and everyday life

Love, money, health, great sex, peace of mind—however you define it, happiness in this world is impermanent and unreliable. But we’re all invested in the illusion that we’re just one career move or one Amazon purchase away from permanent bliss. To quote Darth Vader: Search your feelings—you know it to be true. Life is sometimes exhilarating and sometimes devastating, but it’s always, always in flux. This is the first noble truth of Buddhism. That everything in this life is unreliable and unsatisfactory. Maybe it doesn’t sound to you like the beginning of a message of hope, but that’s exactly what it is. A couple millennia ago the Indian prince Siddhartha Gautama, better known as Buddha, offered anyone who would listen a system of training the mind to free it from the suffering that comes from clinging to impermanent things, like how many followers you have on Instagram. My guest today is Joseph Goldstein. He’s one of the most influential Buddhist teachers and writers of the past half-century. In 1975, Along with Sharon Salzberg and Jack Kornfield, he co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre Massachusetts. Since then, he has done immeasurable good worldwide with his books, dharma talks, and meditation retreats.  Four decades ago he started a journey he’s still on today, helping westerners—very much including myself—benefit from the Buddha’s ancient insights and techniques. Joseph’s latest book, MINDFULNESS: a practical guide to awakening, is his magnum opus: the distilled wisdom of four decades of teaching and practice.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
12/01/19·1h 13m

176. Area 51 and the epistemology of the unexplained - Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell (filmmaker)

Between subjective experience and the things most people can accept as objective facts, there yawns a cavernous gulf. Imagine you’re on a stage in front of 50,000 strangers trying to explain what it felt like to fall in love for the first time. There are ways of going about it, but it sure ain’t easy. The facts most of us agree upon—things like gravity, our own mortality, global warming—they rest on reason, evidence, science. Clunky and fussy though they sometimes are, these are the best tools we have to test and replicate knowledge species-wide. But what happens when someone claims that something’s objectively true, but reason, evidence, and/or science are insufficient to test it? Claims of hauntings, cryptozoological wonders, or alien technology under US military lock and key? This is the stuff of endless subreddits and secret societies. Of conspiracies and shadow-wars between skeptics and believers. Where evidence is lacking or disputed, things can get hella heated. My guest today wants to “weaponize your curiosity” in the realms of these extraordinary beliefs. He’s Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell, a mixed-martial artist, a visual artist, and an investigative filmmaker. His new documentary is Bob Lazar: Area 51 and Flying Saucers. It raises some ghosts, some hell, and some unsettling questions. The New York Times article Jeremy mentions about military sightings of UFOs Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode: Heather Heying on neurodiversity Michelle Thaller on how religion affects our view of the cosmos  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
22/12/18·1h 1m

175. Helen Riess (psychiatrist) – Empathy in the brain and the world

Empathy is the basic stuff of human connection. It’s how we hear and are heard by one another. It’s how we deal with one another as people rather than objects. But with massive, relentless trouble in the world, the 24 hour news cycle, the pressure to choose political and social sides, and the struggles of our everyday lives, empathy is sometimes in short supply. My guest today is the psychiatrist and research scientist Helen Riess. She’s an associate clinical professor at Harvard and runs the relational science program at Massachusetts General Hospital as well as the company Empathetics, Inc. Her new book, THE EMPATHY EFFECT: 7 Neuroscience-based keys for transforming the way we live, love, work, and connect across differences, is all about empathy: where it comes from, what its effects are, and how we can develop more of it. That breathtaking song I mention in the intro: "Compassion" by Lucinda Williams Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode: Leland Melvin on hands on learning  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
15/12/18·46m 16s

174. Ruth Whippman (writer) – A mindful, productive, super-positive nation of nervous wrecks

In the years before the election of the impossible president rent forever the very fabric of being, the band Radiohead was busy channeling something many of us were feeling but nobody was really talking about. A kind of ambient, multivalent state of anxiety that seemed to characterize life in the mid-to-late ’90s. Listening to Radiohead was therapeutic. Your own awkward, unpresentable panic somehow dissolved into their sonic ocean, where it was transformed into sexy, transcendent beauty. It felt, uh…empowering? In a New York Times Op-Ed last week, Ruth Whippman wrote: “After a couple of decades of constant advice to ‘follow our passions’ and ‘live our dreams,’ for a certain type of relatively privileged modern freelancer, nothing less than total self-actualization at work now seems enough. But this leaves us with an angsty mismatch between personal expectation and economic reality. Almost everyone I know now has some kind of hustle, whether job, hobby, or side or vanity project. Share my blog post, buy my book, click on my link, follow me on Instagram, visit my Etsy shop, donate to my Kickstarter, crowdfund my heart surgery. It’s as though we are all working in Walmart on an endless Black Friday of the soul.” Modern anxiety cuts across national borders and social classes, but in America right now its artisanal flavor is a blend of soaring, media-driven dreams and dwindling probabilities of making a living while pursuing them. And nobody’s more eloquent or wickedly funny about this reality than Ruth Whippman, the author of AMERICA THE ANXIOUS.  I’m genuinely, sustainably happy that she’s here with me today. Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode: Jonathan Haidt on overparenting Lucy Cooke on anthropomorphizing animals  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
08/12/18·47m 35s

173. Wesley Yang (writer) - The Souls of Yellow Folk

Such and such “doesn’t suffer fools gladly”. That phrase has always bugged me a bit. It’s like someone has just squeezed a pillow infused with an admiration-scented vapor that then hangs in the air for just a second, leaving you to wonder: Who is this remarkable personage? And who are these fools, so unworthy of his regard that he doesn’t even have to suffer them? Well maybe he suffers them. But not gladly. And yeah, it’s usually a “he”. I don’t suffer that phrase gladly. But it’s trying to get at something. It’s asserting that the world is divided between affable idiots and those whose intellectual rigor leaves no time for idle chit chat. Or that the shared social—and now social media—space is mediocre, coercive, and corrupting. That clear thinking is independent and often lonely. When you put it that way, it’s harder to argue with. My guest today doesn’t suffer fools gladly. His pen is sharp and uncompromising, even when he turns it on himself. Wesley Yang writes essays mostly about outsiders and outliers. Some try to fit in. Some try not to. Some succeed. Some fail by succeeding. His new book of essays, which contains some of the best writing I’ve ever read, is called THE SOULS OF YELLOW FOLK. It was just justly named one of NY Times 100 notable books of the year. And I’m so glad it’s brought him to Think Again. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
01/12/18·56m 2s

172. A trans family in the holy land

Everybody is always in a state of transition. All the time, your cells are dying and replacing themselves. Your mind, your emotions, your goals, your sense of self—all of these are shifting from year to year as you age. In families where there are children, the changes are even more visible and dramatic. Bodies change, voices change, identity is always in flux. But we also have an instinct to mask these changes. To find ways of minimizing them to fit in. My guests today have a story to tell about what happens when the changes are undeniable. When they're at odds with the values of many people in your family and community. It's about the pain and the necessity of breaking the masks you've made for yourself. FAMILY IN TRANSITION is a documentary film about Amit Tzuk, an Israeli father of four who transitions to become a woman, and the changes Amit's wife Galit and their children go through. I'm here today with Amit and with the film's director, Ofir Trainin. ​Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode:  ​Jonathan Haidt on untruths to stop telling our children Elad Gil on technophobia Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
24/11/18·42m 7s

171. Michelle Thaller (NASA astronomer) on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

This morning on the way to the school bus, my almost 11 year old son was explaining to me that if you shrunk an elephant down to the size of a mouse, it would shiver, then die, because of its slow mitochondria, due to something called the Rule of Squared Threes, which he also proceeded to explain. Then he explained something about neutron stars, claiming that they are essentially a giant atom, which I don't think is actually true. Then he started on another topic and I explained that this was all very wonderful but that I had learned all the science my brain could hold at 7:15 am.* Sadly, my own journey as a scientist ended in high school biology, when I put the dissected tail of a fetal pig on a toothpick and said "Hors d'oeuvres?" to several classmates, which earned me an F for the project. But happily, there are people like my guest today, Astronomer Michelle Thaller, and my son Emre, who are excellent at explaining scientific wonders to dummkopfs like myself. Michelle is—let me take a deep breath here—the Assistant Director of Science for Communications at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. And her inspiring perspective on science and humanity—which she shares in her TV shows and her podcast Orbital Path—makes me wish that biology teacher had had a better sense of humor. *Note: Emre learned much of this from this very interesting YouTube channel Surprise conversation starter in this episode: Ingrid Fettell Lee on anti-minimalist architecture  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
17/11/18·59m 39s

170. Lynsey Addario (photojournalist) – on art, love, and war

Think about all the images you see in a day. The advertisements. The photos and videos as you search the web or scroll through social media, if you do that. Now think back a century and a half or so to when photography was new. Imagine the first time a British monarch saw a picture of an Inuit family, or vice versa. What did they make of each other? What did it remake in themselves? My guest today, photographer Lynsey Addario, has spent over two decades traveling the world taking intimate and dramatic portraits, often of lives in crisis—the perpetrators and victims of tyranny, revolution, famine, and rape. Her work spans over 70 countries and has won her a MacArthur Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize, but has never been gathered into a book until now. Of Love and War gives her most compelling photos the space they deserve, along with essays, interview excerpts, and letters she wrote home to process the things she was witnessing. Lynsey's pictures offer people like myself, living out our lives in privileged circumstances, a window into the beauty, suffering, and everyday humanity of our contemporaries across the world. And like it or not, ready or not, when you stop scrolling long enough look into one of these images, it looks back into you. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Bruce Feiler on happy families Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
10/11/18·57m 51s

169. Ben Marcus' reality is only slightly askew from our own

A "grow light" for humans that cooks a guy's face. A pharmaceutical mist that puts you in the right mood for mourning the victims of terrorism. The year of All Hell Breaks Loose. The Year of the Sensor. Mudslides. Hurricanes. People who flee and people who stubbornly stay put. A terrible structure. A grand experiment. Creams and lotions that induce false prophecies. People who tumble into other people's marriages after they're dead. Every inch of the earth as a graveyard. More pharmaceuticals. Lives curated by drugs. The pills we swallow and the pills we reject. The way you never really know anybody. That's a quick trip through some of the images and ideas the writer Ben Marcus hits the reader with in Notes From the Fog, his latest collection of short stories. Reading them is like ingesting a powerful hallucinogen synthesized by a computer that's digested a good chunk of the Internet. They feel the way life these days often feels, but with its skin peeled off.​ ​Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode: ​Dickson DesPommier on vertical farming Ben Goertzel on artificial general intelligence Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
03/11/18·1h

168. Michael Palin (writer and comic) – So long as there was laughter, I was safe

I recently spent several hours on a transatlantic flight zooming in and out of the interactive map of the Earth on my seat's personal entertainment unit. Exploring tiny islands in the polar North…impossible inland seas in the middle of Central Asian deserts…Places so remote and strange that they fire the imagination. In 2018, It's not easy to wrap your mind around the fact that not all that long ago no human and no satellite had ever set eye on many of these places. For all anybody knew, much of the Earth was probably populated by Cyclopses and sea monsters. In the mid-1800s, the icy poles, north and south, were the final frontiers. And the brave men—and, even a bit braver perhaps, women disguised as men—who set off to explore them were quite literally heading into the unknown. My guest today is writer, actor, comedian, and explorer Michael Palin. He studied history at Oxford, then transformed comedy forever as a writer and performer in Monty Python's Flying Circus. Since then he's been traveling the world, writing books and hosting travel documentaries. His latest book, EREBUS, resurrects one of the greatest nautical mysteries of all time, and takes us deep into the icy heart of polar exploration in the mid-19th century.  Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode:  Nadya Tolokonnikova (of Pussy Riot) on women's rights in Russia John Cleese on political correctness and comedy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
27/10/18·55m 15s

167. Gary Shteyngart (writer) - Reality catches up to dystopian fiction

Gary Shteyngart's new novel Lake Success is the evil doppelgänger of the Simon and Garfunkel song 'America'. In what is surely destined to become one of those legendary novel openings, right up there with "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times," we meet Barry Cohen, "a man with 2.4 billion dollars of assets under management . . ." in a Greyhound Bus Terminal at 3:20 am, bleeding from his face and drunk on $20,000 of Japanese whiskey. Shteyngart is one of my favorite writers ever. In the three books I've read—a memoir and two novels—we are sad, basically good-hearted schmos twisted into balloon animals by an uncaring world. Or . . . wait . . . the world is made of us…so…how good hearted are we, really? Born in the USSR, Shteyngart emigrated to Queens as a kid. In his memoir Little Failure he describes his first experience of American cereal: "It tastes grainy easy and light, with a hint of false fruitiness. It tastes the way America feels." It tastes the way America feels. Like Paul Simon in the song, Barry Cohen has walked…or stumbled drunkenly…off to look for America. By almost any measure he is a horrible person. He's also a sad, basically good-hearted schmo twisted in into a balloon animal by the world. And maybe America is a false, fruity mirror in which, the harder you look, the more you end up seeing yourself. Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode: Anand Giridharadas on the sham of corporate social responsibility Robin DiAngelo on unconscious racism and white fragility Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
20/10/18·54m 6s

166. Manoush Zomorodi (journalist) — How blockchain might save journalism. Maybe.

Why would two intelligent women running a hugely successful podcast at one of the most respected studios in the audio world, quit to start a small journalism company built on blockchain, a technology very few people have ever heard of? To quote someone on Twitter yesterday paraphrasing Bill Clinton sounding pretty harsh, actually: "It's the business model, stupid." As we keep learning the hard way, as long as we get our journalism from Facebook and 24 hour cable news, we're suckers for infotainment, propaganda, and actual fake news—not the real news Trump is always calling fake, but the real fake news trolls cook up to polarize American culture. And in these raging digital waters, non-profits and public media struggle just to stay afloat. There's got to be a better way, right? Manoush Zomorodi and Jen Poyant thought so. Partners on the podcast Note to Self, they left to start Stable Genius Productions. It's part of Civil, a new blockchain journalism platform. For reasons we'll try to explain, blockchain has the potential to bring us better, more independent media. Better, more independent everything, maybe. That's what Jen and Manoush were betting on, anyway. They document the twists and turns since that fateful decision with refreshing vulnerability on their podcast ZigZag. Its second season started on October 11th. Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode: Maria Konnikova on poker strategy Derek Thompson on what makes a pop song addictive Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
13/10/18·51m 7s

165. Man Booker prize winners Olga Tokarczuk (author) and Jennifer Croft (translator) — As fact and fiction blur, America’s finally ready for Olga Tokarczuk

Does it ever strike you as odd that we manage to inhabit two completely different realities at once? On one level, we have common sense and reason that orient us in the world. We make narrative sense of our own life and self and we go about our day with a provisional yet perfectly satisfactory sense of what the hell we're doing. And on another level, we know basically nothing. Forget about dark matter and multiple universes. Just glance into the eyes of that stranger on the train—there's a whole world in there that you know nothing whatsoever about. I'm here today with Olga Tokarczuk, who won the Man Booker prize this year for her book FLIGHTS, and with the book's Man Booker prizewinning translator, Jennifer Croft. Flights is a patterned assemblage of sketches, short stories, fragmentary essays about travel. Motion. And it kept striking me while reading it that her writing is about these two worlds we always waver between: Orientation and disorientation. Trying to map things out and then getting lost inside our own maps. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Alissa Quart on coparenting as a growing necessity in America Astronaut Chris Hadfield on risk taking Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
06/10/18·49m 24s

164. Jill Lepore (Historian) – Why America keeps going to pieces

As Alexander Hamilton put it, the American Experiment puts to the test the question “of whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice…or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” This question surfaces throughout Jill Lepore’s brilliant new history of the United States: These Truths. Our conversation took place during the live-streamed, virally-watched Senate Judiciary hearing on allegations that nominee Brett Kavanaugh committed sexual assault while in high school. Jill comments on this historical moment and much more. As she puts it in the book's epilogue: A nation born in revolution will forever struggle against chaos. A nation founded on universal rights will wrestle against the forces of particularism. A nation that toppled a hierarchy of birth only to erect a hierarchy of wealth will never know tranquility. A nation of immigrants cannot close its borders. And a nation born in contradiction, liberty in a land of slavery, sovereignty in a land of conquest, will fight, forever, over the meaning of its history.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
29/09/18·49m 57s

163. Four Letter You – Merve Emre (scholar and critic)

Did you ever see the 1951 Disney version of Alice in Wonderland? Where the caterpillar, voiced by actor Richard Haydn, sits laconically on his giant toadstool, wreathed in hookah smoke, peers at Alice under his drooping eyelids and says: Who….Aaaaaaah…..you….? Even as kid, I felt the existential impact of that question. Not, "hey kid, what's your name?" But who, fundamentally, are you as a person? What are you like? Were you born that way? How much of that can you change? All those chilling, thrilling, bottomless, ego-gratifying questions. But what happens when the murky philosophy and psychology of the self meet good-old American pragmatism and business? Something very weird indeed. I'm here today with Merve Emre—she's an associate professor of English at Oxford University and she's the author of The Personality Brokers. It tells the strange history of The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator—a mother-daughter psychological cottage industry that, 70 years in, still has people calling themselves introverts or extraverts, feelers or thinkers, and pondering what that might mean for their lives and their careers. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Benjamin Hardy, most read person on Medium: Want more happiness, change how you relate to negativity​ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
22/09/18·40m 41s

162. Emily Nemens (Editor, The Paris Review) — The Literary Industrial Complex

I have a confession to make: Literary magazines have always kind of intimidated me. Give me an 800 page, impenetrable work of literature any day. Like Captain Ahab, I’ll pursue it relentlessly unto the ends of the earth until it unfolds its briny secrets. But facing a shelf of lit mags at The Strand Bookstore, I always feel either underdressed or overdressed. Like a dream where you’re naked at the Vienna Opera or in head-to-toe Ralph Lauren at a Sonic Youth concert. Maybe all this started when I wrote a poem on the back of a napkin about a butterfly that “split into bloom from the lip of a rock.”, sent that napkin to the offices of the NYU Violet or whatever it was called, and they somehow failed to publish it. I’d keep this between me and my therapist, but I bet I’m not alone here. And yet—the literary-magazine-industrial-complex is where so many of our greatest writers first see print. The Paris Review, for example, which first appeared in spring 1953, has published Adrienne Rich, Ralph Ellison, Zadie Smith, Ali Smith, Vladimir Nabokov, Philip Roth, and the list goes on and on and on. And if you can get over yourself and actually read it, it’s pure pleasure. It’s an immersive, eclectic refuge from the business and the busy-ness of the world.   This summer, Emily Nemens was named the new editor of The Paris Review. She’s a poet, short story writer, essayist and illustrator who previously co-edited the Southern Review. At 34, she’s a fresh new steward for the this venerable old literary gatekeeper. And it’s an opportune moment to ask, or re-ask the questions: who is a literary magazine for, what is it supposed to do, and how can it do that better? Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:  Miki Agrawal on pushback against marketing for women Vicki Robin on how the economy grew beyond its natural bounds Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
15/09/18·47m 45s

161. Congo: This Seemingly Impossible Knot – Daniel McCabe (documentary filmmaker)

THIS IS CONGO, a new documentary film, attempts to wrap its mind around the incomprehensible realities of the Democratic Republic of Congo, almost 60 years after it was founded. At one point, commenting on one of the more incomprehensible recent events, a high-ranking military officer remarks: “They will say, “This is Congo” But when will they ask “Why? why is Congo like this?” Where do we begin? Where can we begin? For as long as I can remember, the news out of Congo has been bad. But my memory of the news only goes back about two decades, to when I started paying attention. The cycle of violence is a funny thing. It has its own momentum. People get swept up in it for personal reasons, or manipulated by politicians fanning the flames of old resentments. Ask anyone on either side of a blood feud where it started—who threw the first stone, and when the sun goes down, they’ll still be talking. Where does Congo’s trouble begin? Why is the country in a seemingly unending state of war between marauding rebel groups and marauding government soldiers, the people’s lives torn to shreds in between? And even if the people of Congo could fully trace this nightmare to its roots, how could they save the tree? My guest today is documentary filmmaker Daniel McCabe. His new film THIS IS CONGO asks all of these questions and more. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Steven Pinker on democracy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
18/08/18·55m 6s

160. Bassem Youssef (political satirist) – Now I Have to Answer for This?

My grandmother used to tell a story about coming to America from Poland. How she sang God Bless America to cheer up all the grownups on the ship. She was 5 or 6 years old, traveling alone with her mom. For her, it must have been a big adventure. I can hardly imagine what it was like for her mom— my great grandmother — how bad things must have been for Jews in their home town of Bialystok for her to pick up and leave like that, without her husband, heading toward some distant cousin in the undiscovered country of Vineland, New Jersey.  My guest today left Egypt as an adult for the US, also under politically grim circumstances.  During the Arab Spring, as his country convulsed toward revolution, he became a leading voice of dissent. A trained surgeon, he made an unlikely transition to famous tv satirist for millions of viewers on his nightly political comedy show. Bassem risked jail, helped facilitate the toppling of a dictator who’d been in power for 30 years, and after all that change decided it was time to start a new life in America.  And just yesterday I was complaining that I’m sick of New York City, but I don’t see how I could possibly leave . . .  Bassem Youssef is a comedian, writer, and the smart, funny host of the podcast ReMade in America. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:  Alvin Hall on being black in the US vs. the UK Michio Kaku on the new economics of space exploration Alice Dreger on social media slacktivism Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
11/08/18·46m 26s

159. Change is Made by the Ones Who Stay – Paula Eiselt (documentary filmmaker)

When I started college at New York University in 1990, nobody lived in Brooklyn. Brooklyn was the dark side of the moon. At least that’s how we NYU students thought about it. Lots of people lived in Brooklyn, of course. Just not us. It’s 2018, and Brooklyn has become an international brand, synonymous with artisanal pickles, gastropubs, and luxury condos. It’s the place even former NYU students can’t afford to live anymore. But in a couple of Brooklyn neighborhoods, people are still dressing and living in many ways like it’s the 18th century, and adhering to laws that date back centuries, even millennia earlier. I’m talking about Hasidic Judaism, and particularly, today, about Borough Park, Brooklyn, where this community thrives. And even more particularly about one woman—Rachel “Ruchie” Frier—who, in spite of being religiously observant as most humans would define it has nonetheless become a thorn in the side of the more conservative elements of this already deeply conservative community. The all-female volunteer ambulance corps she started was a radical move for Borough Park, and it’s the subject of 93Queen, a new documentary by Paula Eiselt. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Reza Aslan on religious faith Michael Hobbes on myths and realities of the millennial generation Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
04/08/18·54m 21s

158. Parker Posey (actor) – I See a Dachshund In You

The impulse to make art is with us from childhood. It’s the desire to play.  To say “hey! Look what I made!” It’s the wild fun of making a big mess that’s nobody else’s but your own—and not having to clean it up. Above all else, art is wild. It’s independent. It’s free. And that’s one reason why the art industry is a very weird thing. In order to make money “at scale” as the Silicon Valley kids like to say, movie studios, fancy galleries, and concert promoters have to quantify, systematize, and package that sense of freedom. If it sounds like a paradox, that’s because it is. I’m just gonna say it: the more money at stake, the less breathing space for everything that draws us to art in the first place. I’m here today with an actor whose name is basically synonymous with creative freedom. Parker Posey has created unforgettable characters in indie films like Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, Hal Hartley’s Fay Grim, and Christopher Guest’s Best in Show, and in big studio productions like You’ve Got Mail and Netflix’s Lost in Space. Wherever she  shows up, Parker fills the screen with an energy teetering between hilarious and deeply uncomfortable. A sense of chaos barely contained. Her new memoir – her first book – captures that same wonderfully unpredictable honesty and humor. It’s called You’re On An Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Danny Sjursen on how Americans value the lives of non-Americans Nick Offerman on staying balanced in an insane industry Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
28/07/18·1h 8m

157. The Spiders From Mars – Jason Heller (Hugo Award-winning writer)

The other day I was at a kid’s birthday party and a fellow dad was joking that “When we were kids, it was all ‘bang-bang-bang!’ and now it’s all ‘pew-pew-pew!’”He was talking about video games and lasers as opposed to, I’m guessing, cowboys? Actually, as I remember childhood, it was all “wowm…wowm!” The sound of lightsabers. I was 5 years old when Star Wars: A New Hope came out, and like everyone who grew up back then, I had sci-fi seeping into my very pores. Alien civilizations. Cyborg killers. The dark, unfeeling menace of advanced technology… Because there can never be too many Jasons, my guest today is the Hugo-award winning writer Jason Heller.  He’s here to tell the eerie and fascinating tale of how sci-fi seeped into the pores of popular music in the 1970s, and how, along with psychedelic drugs and electronic instruments, it produced and was transformed by David Bowie and others into something rich and strange. Something that changed the face of music and pop culture forever. His new book is Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci Fi Exploded. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Reza Aslan on how religious believers describe god Dambisa Moyo on 3 ways to make American politicians better Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
21/07/18·57m 39s

156. While You Live, Shine – Christopher C. King (Grammy-winning music producer)

While you live, shine. Have no mourning at all. Life exists a short while And time demands its fee. – From a 2000 year old tombstone in (then) Greek-speaking Asia Minor I’d like to do a little free-association exercise with you. I’m going to say three words and I’d like you to speak or write down all the words that come to mind as a result. No filtering. No judgment. Ready? American Pop Culture. Go!  . . . Ok. Here’s what I got: Kanye Trump Gun Meme YouTube That’s pretty sad, I suppose. And maybe it anecdotally, non-scientifically supports a claim made by my guest today that culture and music, once mutually dependent, have become totally unmoored and lost in the age of globalism. And that the sounds we make and market today just don’t have anything like the healing power that was music’s purpose for thousands of years. Christopher C. King is a writer, Grammy—winning music producer, and something of an ethnomusicologist. His obsessive collecting of rare ‘78s led him to discover the music of Epirus, a region of northwestern Greece. To his ears, the playing of Kitsos Harisiadis, Alexis Zoumbas, and other Epirote masters virtually unknown outside of Epirus had an elemental power transcending even that of Delta Blues legends like Robert Johnson and Skip James. In Epirus, King  found something he thought had been lost in the world: a musical culture with unbroken roots stretching back into prehistory. And some clues, perhaps, as to why we make music in the first place.  Christopher’s new book is Lament From Epirus: An Odyssey into Europe’s Oldest surviving Folk Music. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: David Kennedy on the biggest problem historians face Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
14/07/18·1h 2m

155. Lauren Groff (writer) – We Should Die of That Roar

The places we live in shape us. I don’t care who you are how indomitable your will…your spirit is in dialogue with the place you live. For example, I live in New York City, a place I wrapped around me like a second skin when I was 18 years old. Back then New York made me feel strong, cool, infinitely removed from the suburbs I grew up in. I’ve been here for 25 years and at this point what I mostly notice is the claustrophobic public spaces, the smallness of the sky. What do you feel when you hear the word ‘Florida’? Do the pleasure centers of your brain light up, imagining palm trees and pristine beaches? Or does your amygdala kick in as you imagine the ancillary costs of a week at Disney World? My guest today is the writer Lauren Groff. In her vivid, dreamlike new book of short stories, Florida is a humid, seething organism that wants to eat you. Snake-infested. Full of sinkholes. A thing to resist, get lost in, surrender to, and sometimes, temporarily escape. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Richard O. Prum on Duck Mating and Human Sexuality Steven Pinker on Struggle Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
07/07/18·43m 10s

154. Jonathan Safran Foer (writer) – One Thing We Can All Agree Upon

What is food? It’s nourishment. It’s comfort. It’s culture. It’s art. For millions of people, it’s not something you waste much time thinking about. You eat what you’ve always eaten. What everyone around you eats. What you can afford. For others, every bite is a careful, conscious choice motivated by the drive to be thin, to impress your friends, or to do the right thing. In 2018, whatever our motivations, most of us live at a vast remove from the places and the ways our food is produced. We meet it gleaming and uniform on the shelves of our supermarkets. It’s cheap and it’s plentiful. Why look a gift horse...or cow...or pig...or chicken...in the mouth? Here’s why: While we slept, the farms that produce our food have grown and morphed and metastasized into something worse than sinister. Something that if you look too closely at it might just put you off your dinner. With every meal we eat, we’re making ethical choices that define us and shape the future of the planet. How long and on what grounds can we justify looking the other way? I’m here today with the writer Jonathan Safran Foer. He’s justly celebrated as a novelist, for books including EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED and HERE I AM,  but he’s here today to discuss EATING ANIMALS. It’s a new documentary narrated by Natalie Portman and based on Jonathan’s book of the same name. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Joscha Bach on why the days of addictive tech are numbered Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
30/06/18·48m 51s

153. Guns: The Genie and the Bottle – Priya Satia (Historian)

When you think of the industrial revolution what comes to mind? Steam engines probably. Lone genius inventors. Factories and coal mines, perhaps. And depending on your professional interests and political leanings, either suffering laborers in sweat shops or the Great Onward March of Civilization.  Did anybody think of guns? According to my guest today Stanford historian Priya Satia, guns are inextricably bound up with industrialization and it is our long and ever-changing relationship with these  tools, toys, trade goods, status symbols, and instruments of war that makes them such a persistent fact of life to this day. Priya Satia’s latest book is EMPIRE OF GUNS: the Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Max Tegmark on artificial intelligence Alice Dreger on the history of knowledge Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
23/06/18·49m 53s

152. Where You Gonna Run To? Lorena Luciano and Filippo Piscopo (documentary filmmakers)

Imagine you’re a father or a mother of three kids. Your city is in the middle of a civil war. At any time a rocket might burst through your wall. Soldiers might round your family up, or kill them in crossfire. What do you do? You leave, of course. You do whatever you have to do to get your kids to safety. There will be many deadly risks along the way. But you know what’s the worst? The not knowing. The constant thoughts inside your head of everything that might go wrong, everything you hope will go right. The trusting looks on your kids’ faces, when, in fact, they have no idea where they’re going or why. Since 2011, an estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes. They and refugees from other troubled nations like Eritrea and Somalia have been trying to migrate Westward and northward, to Turkey, then to Europe. Many have died along the way. Many thousands of others have been detained in refugee camps while nations decide what to do with them. I’m here today with  filmmakers Lorena Luciano and Filippo Piscopo. Their new documentary, IT WILL BE CHAOS airs on HBO this month. It follows Eritrean, Somali, and Syrian refugees on their harrowing journeys to new lives in Europe. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Jeremy Bailenson on virtual reality and empathy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
16/06/18·55m 54s

151. Jessica Abel (cartoonist, creative coach) – Practical Magic

On an  earlier episode of this show the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk said something that I’ve never forgotten. He said that writing programs shouldn’t teach about plots or characters or how to structure a story. Instead, they should  teach writers to manage their own psyches. To be the captains of their own creative ships across the rough daily waters of fluctuating emotions and energies. This kind of self-management, he suggested, is what makes the difference between people who keep producing art and those who don’t.  My guest today is Jessica Abel. She’s an accomplished artist herself—a graphic novelist who did a kind of graphic docu-novel called OUT ON THE WIRE about how some of the greatest radio shows and podcasts are made, including Snap Judgment, Radiolab, and This American Life. In the course of figuring out how to steer her own creative ship she’s learned invaluable lessons about how to help others do the same. Her most recent book GROWING GILLS and her Creative Focus Workshops offer creatives a personalized process for figuring out what they want to make and how to balance those goals with the rest of their busy lives. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:  Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad on storytelling as shamanism Bret Weinstein on how evolution explains religion Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
09/06/18·1h 4m

150. David Sedaris (humorist) – Sir David of the Spotless Roadways

Life is full of horrible things. I dare you to deny it. Things like death, sickness, and alcoholism. And did I mention death, which lies in wait for us all? But if you talk about these things at dinner parties, or at work, or to someone you have just met in line at the grocery store, you risk being branded a negative person. In some circles, such as the state of California,  negativity is like leprosy. It can really mess up your social life. This does not seem to trouble my guest today, who has spent much of his life turning horrible, true stories into festive comedy. like many people, I first heard David Sedaris’ unmistakable voice on public radio in the late 90s. My sister and I took a couple of his audio books on a road trip across America in her red Saturn with a bumper sticker on the back that read “Humanity is Trying”. Having Sedaris along as company somehow made the endless miles of Stuckeys’ and strip malls, and the weeping people at Elvis‘s grave side in Graceland a little less alien and terrifying. In his latest book, Calypso, David is doing his thing better than ever. It’s about what’s on his mind these days, from decluttering the English countryside, to feeding a surgically removed lump of fat to a snapping turtle, to a sister’s suicide. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Martin Amis on the “etiquette” of good writing Lucy Cooke on the extraordinary genitalia of female spotted hyenas Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
02/06/18·1h 1m

149. Yanis Varoufakis (former finance minister of Greece) – Happiness, Inc.

As the Wu-Tang Clan once put it: “Cash moves everything around me... Get the money. Dollar dollar bill, y’all.” I grew up not wanting to believe this. All the stuff that seemed worth having was hard to put a price tag on. but in a global capitalist world, there’s a lot of hard, sad truth to it. As an American child of the 1980s, I absorbed the message “find yourself!” “Follow your passions!” But there are powerful economic forces at work, shaping our lives and opportunities. My guest today experienced this in the most intense way imaginable, wrangling with the European Union over the economy of his country, Greece, in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown. He saw firsthand what a house of cards global capitalism can be, and what can happen to the ones on the bottom. Yanis Varoufakis is Greece’s former finance minister and the author of two recent books: Adults in the Room and Talking to My Daughter About the Economy. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Slavoj Zizek on the problem with happiness Steven Pinker on why there are no libertarian countries Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
26/05/18·56m 56s

148. Jonathan Lethem (writer) – Batman's Greatest Enemy

There’s a famous line from a Bob Dylan song that goes “she’s got everything she needs...she’s an artist...she don’t look back.”  As a person who loves art—music and literature especially—I’ve always been haunted by that line. Does an artist really not look back? Is looking back somehow a threat to creativity? What about Proust? Did he ever look anywhere but back?  My guest today is Jonathan Lethem, one of my very favorite writers since I read his early novel Fortress of Solitude. He’s also the author of Motherless Brooklyn, Dissident Gardens and much more. Lethem is an artist who experiments and explores, playing with forms and genres and trying on new masks, but he also spends a lot of time rummaging through the stacks, unearthing things that are lost or forgotten. His latest book is More Alive and Less Lonely, a collection of essays about books and reading.  Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:  Henry Rollins: what is punk?  Michelle Thaller on human cyber-evolution Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
19/05/18·57m 33s

147. Ronan Farrow (investigative journalist) — A Failure to Communicate

In Hollywood movies diplomats always get a bad rap. I’m picturing Claude Rains as “Mr. Dryden” in Lawrence of Arabia looking, as Clyde Rains always does, somewhat reptilian as he hunches over a map of the Middle East with General Allenby, smirking secretively. Hollywood diplomats are slippery. Untrustworthy. More often than not, they turn out to be double agents. On screen, definitive action plays better than careful talk or compromise. This is true of America in general and of our politics in particular—we’re just not comfortable with ambiguity. Leave that to the French. Americans are about gettin’ things done. But the geopolitical world is complex, and allegedly getting more so every day. Meanwhile, over the last several presidencies, America has quietly been shifting its foreign policy approach from diplomacy to military muscle. With the current president, the gutting of the State Department in favor of the Pentagon is starting to look like Friday the 13th part whatever. My guest today is investigative journalist and former State Department official Ronan Farrow. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his his work in the New Yorker on the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal. His new book is War on Peace, The End of Diplomacy and The Decline of American Influence — and the title is pretty much self-explanatory. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Heather Heying on protest movements Barry Posen on America's intelligence budget Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
12/05/18·41m 56s

146. Think Again LIVE with Kristen Radtke (graphic novelist) – The Fascination of What's Difficult

This episode is really something different. It’s a live show we did on April 21st in Green Bay Wisconsin, as part of Untitled Town Book and Author Festival, now in its second year. I’d never been to Green Bay before. Nice town! You may know about the cheese and the football, but did you know that the Red Hot Chili Peppers once fled from the police due to an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction at a concert and spent the night hanging out at a local fan’s house? I learned this and much, much more from the wonderful people I met there. What’s great about live shows is that anything can happen, and so to preserve that feeling in all its glory, we’re not editing this one too much. So grab your popcorn, sit back, and imagine yourself in sunny, snow-covered (yes, snow in late April) Green Bay, WI. Our guest is graphic novelist and Believer Magazine Art Director Kristen Radtke, author of IMAGINE WANTING ONLY THIS. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Gene Luen Yang on art and empathy Chris Hadfield on information and authority Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
05/05/18·57m 55s

145. Michael Gazzaniga (neuroscientist) – The Impossible Problem

Je pense donc je suis. (I think, therefore I am.) Huh? Who is this I? How do I know that it is thinking? What does it even mean to say that I am—that I exist, if it's this mysterious,  untrustworthy Ithat says  so? To be fair, René Descartes didn't invent these problems. but In the centuries after his death, his thought experiments sent philosophers, psychologists and later on, neuroscientists reeling and spiraling down a seemingly bottomless chasm In search of Consciousness. What is it? Where is it? How did it get there? Surely that icky grey-green stuff can't fully account for the sublime perfection of Beethoven's Ninth! If you've ever heard that there are differences between the left and the right brain, you can blame my guest today, Michael Gazzaniga, who did many of the pioneering studies in this area. Now he's after even bigger game. In his new book The Consciousness Instinct he lays a conceptual framework for closing the gap between the meat of the brain and the magic of Consciousness, and maybe saving us a lot of future headaches.  Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Leonard Mlodinow on your brain and original thinking Johann Hari on inequality and depression/anxiety Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
28/04/18·46m 54s

144. Antonio Damasio (neuroscientist & philosopher) – Where is My Mind?

Why can’t we all just get along?  And conversely, why do we sometimes get along so well, building cathedrals, inventing Democracy, symphonies, and stuff that that?  According to my guest today, the answer is as old as life itself. In the behaviors of the most ancient forms of bacteria, single-celled organisms without a nucleus, we can see the seeds of civilization as we know it, for better and for worse. They form collectives. They go to war. The key is homeostasis—the imperative of all life to avoid harm and seek to flourish. I’m delighted to be speaking today with neuroscientist and philosopher Antonio Damasio. He heads the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California and is the author of DESCARTES’ ERROR and the new book THE STRANGE ORDER OF THINGS: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:  Max Tegmark on consciousness  Maya Szalavitz on addiction Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
21/04/18·1h 3m

143. The Way Brothers (documentary filmmakers) – City On a Hill

In New York City, where we all live in little boxes on top of one another, “Ignore thy neighbor” is a reasonable coping strategy. Live and let live, right? To each her own. But what’s the tipping point at which thy neighbor becomes simply too numerous, too loud, too different to ignore? I’d submit that whoever you are. Wherever you locate yourself on that spectrum of tolerance. You too, have your limits. In the mid 1980s, a group of people in Oregon discovered their tipping point when a massive commune moved in next door. The Baghwan Shree Rajneesh and thousands of his followers decided to build a city in the middle of nowhere—a utopia on Earth. Only it was the middle of somewhere for the mostly white, mostly Christian residents of a tiny nearby town. It was home, and like most humans, they weren’t too excited about the idea of radical, unexpected change in their own backyard. I, on the other hand, am very excited to be here today with the Way Brothers — Chaplain and MacLain… They’re the directors of the fabulous Netflix documentary Wild, Wild, Country, which tells the very American story of this clash of cultures. There’s god, guns, sex, and mutually exclusive concepts of liberty. Like I said - it’s about as American as it gets. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Amy Chua on tribalism Ariel Levy on women’s bodies and American culture Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
14/04/18·1h 6m

142. Meg Wolitzer (writer) – Messages From Another Planet

Ambition and loyalty. What we want versus what we already have and should be grateful for. When there’s conflict here, in some ways it's a tension between loyalty to others and loyalty to ourselves…or maybe loyalty to who we are now versus another possible future self. Have I overcomplicated my life out of impatience and ingratitude? Have I broken something precious beyond repair? Or on the other hand, am I missing out on the life I’m supposed to have? Sometimes I think a lot of the trouble comes from the misunderstanding that these have to be opposing forces at all. These kinds of questions and choices are at the heart of Meg Wolitzer’s novels, of which there are many. She’s the author of THE INTERESTINGS and her latest, THE FEMALE PERSUASION. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Tali Sharot on confirmation bias and why facts don’t win fights, Michelle Thaler on how success and failure coexist in everyone Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
07/04/18·59m 30s

141. Tara Westover (writer, historian) – Nothing Final Can Be Known

What does your education mean to you? What would you be willing to sacrifice for it? For me and my sister, growing up, it was a given that you’d get “well-educated.” You’d get good grades, go to a good college, and most likely graduate, medical, law, or business school.  School was just what you did…ritualized and rote the way religion is in other families. For my guest today, Tara Westover, the framework was completely different. In her mountain home in Idaho, school was seen as a threat. It was a government tool for brainwashing people out of faith in God’s teachings and into worldly decadence. She went on to become very well-educated by anybody’s standards–—studying history at Cambridge University in England and at Harvard. But it came at very high price. Her first book, EDUCATED, is a powerful and beautifully written memoir about family, loyalty to oneself, and the difficult, even impossible choices we sometimes have to make. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Chris Hadfield on an astronaut’s global perspective Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
31/03/18·1h 2m

140. Martin Amis (writer) – The Spooky Art

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24/03/18·49m 58s

139. Neil Gaiman (writer) – And Then it Gets Darker

Adult life, with all its schedules and responsibilities, can turn into a kind of library of locked boxes. The ones we open every day sit on a shelf at eye level, their keys clipped to a carabiner at our waist: Set the alarm. Pack a gym bag. Pick up milk for the kids. But on the lower shelves and in the dusty back rooms there’s an ominous jumble of odd-shaped containers. They hold the stories that don’t fit so neatly into the skin we’ve decided to live in. Maybe we’ve misplaced the keys, or maybe we’ve deliberately lost them. My guest today keeps all the keys close at hand. In his stories and graphic novels worlds collide and, as the fairy Ariel puts it in Shakespeare’s Tempest, they “suffer a sea change, into something rich and strange”. The walls of reality are permeable, and dangerous magic is always seeping through. Neil Gaiman is the author of the Sandman graphic novels, The Graveyard Book, Coraline, American Gods, and many other wonderful things. His latest is a marvelous retelling of Norse Mythology, with most of the nasty bits left in. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Barbara Oakley on learning speeds and styles Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
17/03/18·58m 43s

138. Steven Pinker (Cognitive Scientist) – The Defeat of Defeatism

I admit it. I confess. I’ve got a touch of what my guest today calls “progressophobia”. Ever since Charles Dickens got hold of me back in middle school, and William Blake after that, I’ve been a little suspicious of the Great Onward March of science and technology. Gene therapy, healthier crops, safer, more efficient forms of nuclear energy? Very nice, very nice. But what about eugenics, climate change, and Fukushima?  For every problem human ingenuity solves, doesn’t human nature create a new one, on a bigger scale? Dammit, Spock, can your cold, calculating reason fathom the mysteries of the human heart? But you know what? After devouring all 453 pages and 75 graphs of psychologist Steven Pinker’s new book ENLIGHTENMENT NOW, I admit defeat. The defeat of defeatism. This man has done the math. Since the 18th century things have been getting better in pretty much every dimension of human well-being. Health, safety, education, happiness, you name it… And we’ve done it with the most reliable tools we have: reason, science, and Enlightenment humanism. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Vivek Wadhwa on "your life in 2027" (note: we watched from 25:42 to 27:40)  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
10/03/18·37m 45s

137. Amy Chua (author, attorney) – U.S. & Them

I don’t know about you, but for me, middle school was horrible. I arrived at an all-male school in a still very homophobic era as a small, nervous, Michael Jackson fanatic. Don’t worry - I’m going somewhere with this. For three years, life was hell. Then I found my tribe—the drama nerds. Maybe we couldn’t beat you up, but you had to respect the artistry. In high school, Tribalism was power. My guest today is Yale Law professor Amy Chua, who shook the Internet up a few years back with her book BATTLE HYMN OF THE TIGER MOTHER. What upset some progressive American parents most, it seems, was the suggestion that they were members of a parenting tribe. A cultural bubble with its own fallible set of assumptions.  In her powerful new book POLITICAL TRIBES: GROUP INSTINCT AND THE FATE OF NATIONS, Amy points out that long past high school, group instinct is much stronger than Americans generally like to admit. And that this cognitive blind spot has led to our repeatedly shooting ourselves in the foot, at home and abroad.  Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Michael Norton on the link between money and happiness, Derek Thompson on “coolness” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
03/03/18·47m 13s

136. Michio Kaku (physicist) – Timid Monkeys on Mars

Back in the old days, if your species was faced with an existential threat, you were stuck hoping for some advantageous mutation. Maybe an extra fin or a slightly more sophisticated eyeball. Outwitting fate was pretty much out of the question.  And as much as we might prefer to just go binge-watch something and forget about it, there are several plausible scenarios whereby humanity could face extinction in the too-close-for-comfort future.  Happily, thanks to our very large brains and thinkers like my guest today, theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku, we have options. Dr. Kaku’s latest book is The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth.  Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:  Brett Weinstein on the Social Brain (we watched only a portion of the clip), Daniel Bergner on Female Desire  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
24/02/18·51m 16s

135. Niall Ferguson (historian) – The Ghost of Future Past

Every time he sees a triangle these days, my 10-year-old son points and says “Gasp! the illuminati!” This is a meme he and all his friends absorbed from YouTube.    It’s interesting that several centuries after the Illuminati first appeared, as basically a idealistic secret boys’ club, followed by the Freemasons, these kinds of shadowy organizations still exert so much power on our imaginations. That’s because power doesn’t always come in the shape of Queens, Presidents, CEOs or Members of Parliament. Often it exists in the more or less invisible relationships between people. My guest today is renowned historian Niall Ferguson. His new book The Square and the Tower: Networks and Hierarchies, from the Freemasons to Facebook looks at the two ancient power structures that continue to move the world today. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Derek Thompson on why successful people don’t try appealing to everyone’s tastes Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
17/02/18·45m 44s

134. Jacob Sager Weinstein (children's author) – Imaginary Histories, Possible Futures

Once upon a time, there was a rabbit. No...Not a rabbit. Lewis Carroll already did that… How about an Amazonian river dolphin. Ok. once upon a time there was an Amazonian river dolphin who wondered about his cousins in the wide, open ocean, free from mud and muck and strangling roots. Hey - It’s not much, but it’s a start. Think back to any story you really loved as a child. Chances are, it starts with a tiny thread like this one. After that, it's up to the courage, imagination, and perseverance of the storyteller to write it, rewrite it, and get it out into the world, with all the perspiration that entails. My guest today, Jacob Sager Weinstein, has pulled this trick off brilliantly. He's the author of a smart, funny, utterly charming adventure trilogy for kids, the first book of which is called HYACINTH AND THE SECRETS BENEATH. It weaves together a semi-mythical history of London with details like a giant boar who communicates by handing out elegantly printed cards appropriate to any occasion, including if the Queen of England happens to spill peanut butter on your pet electric eel. Andre C. Willis on the real meaning of hope, Michelle Thaler on the next stage in human evolution Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
10/02/18·56m 10s

133. Jeremy Bailenson (VR expert) – Through the Looking Glass

How do you know that you’re really where you are right now? I mean, where are you getting this sense of place from? A bunch of data from at least some of your five senses enters your brain where it’s cross-referenced with categories from memory. You’re making a probabilistic calculation: This sure looks, feels, and smells like my office. Jeremy Bailenson, my guest today, has been experimenting with cutting edge virtual reality for over a decade now. His Virtual Human Interaction Lab studies the ways VR’s unique sense of presence—of putting you into a different place (and maybe time) from the one you’re in can be used for education, healing, and—yes—generally making the world a better place. His new book is called: EXPERIENCE ON DEMAND: What Virtual Reality Is, How It Works, and What It Can Do. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Michael Schrage on Apple, the FBI, and data privacy, Beau Lotto on technology and empathy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
03/02/18·49m 11s

132. Karl Ove Knausgaard (writer) – The Way I Should Be in the World

Wherever you are right now, take a look around you. Let your eyes rest on the first thing that catches your attention. For me, while writing this, it’s a bowl in Big Think’s offices. Highly polished, assembled, it seems, from curved, stained strips of wood. If I kept going, I might get to a particular wooden coffee table of my childhood. Its reassuring warmth and sturdiness. How I turned it into a fort and camped out under there, watching Saturday Night Live. All the abuse it took over the years from me and my sister, without complaint. And how unaware and ungrateful we were for its patient suffering. My guest today, Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, has taken this kind of unflinching observation, association, and  insight to a level few of us can imagine doing, writing a six-volume series about his life and world called MY STRUGGLE. He followed this 2500 page, addictively readable masterpiece with a seasonal series of vignettes. The newest book, WINTER, has short meditations on everything from toothbrushes to Owls to alcoholism, and it’s one of the wisest, saddest, and most beautiful things I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Eric Kandel on “The Beholder’s Response”, Steven Kotler on Mind Uploading Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
27/01/18·42m 56s

131. Daniel Alarcón (writer) – There's No Such Thing as Glamor, Really

A listener commented the other day on Twitter that on two completely different recent episodes of this show – one about technology and the other one about jellyfish, the same idea came up: that stories play a powerful role in shaping our real lives. This idea comes up so often, in so many different forms and contexts, that I’ve begun to think of it as maybe the crucial truth for understanding why people do the things we do. The stories we wrap around ourselves, our neighbors. our children. The invisible stories we struggle against. Nobody I know of understands this better, nor writes more cleanly and poetically about these struggles than my guest today Daniel Alarcón. He’s the co-founder of Radio Ambulante, a Spanish-language podcast now on NPR, and he’s the celebrated author of novels and short stories including his newly published collection The King is Always Above the People. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: André Dubus III on violence, Ariel Levy on surviving grief Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
20/01/18·58m 24s

130. Mark Epstein, MD (Buddhist psychiatrist) – I, Me, Mine

All through the day… I, me mine, I me mine, I me mine… That George Harrison song on the Beatles’ last album pretty much sums it up. They recorded it in 1970, and 47 years later, our egos seem to be running just as rampant as ever. While the unchecked ego might be popular at parties, it can get us into all kinds of trouble. This is not breaking news. Over 2000 years ago an Indian prince sat under a tree and thought about the problem of self. His insights and solutions became what we now call Buddhism. And a century ago in Vienna, Sigmund Freud came at the same issue from a somewhat different angle, giving us psychotherapy. Our guest today, Mark Epstein, MD, is a psychotherapist and author who combines both approaches to help his patients and readers live with their demanding egos. His new book is Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Drew Ramsey on diet and depression, Manoush Zomorodi on the wandering mind Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
13/01/18·57m 31s

129. Fatih Akin (film director) – This Blood-Drenched Earth

All of us—you, me, everybody—we’re living our lives subject to often invisible forces beyond our control. Culture, politics, economics, history, even the weather. They all have the power to shape our lives or tear them suddenly to pieces. My guest today, Fatih Akin, has first-hand experience of strong cultural cross-winds. Ethnically Turkish and raised in Germany, he has made many films dealing with sudden dislocation and how people respond to it. Akin won Best Screenplay at Cannes for THE EDGE OF HEAVEN, and he’s also justly celebrated for the intense drama HEAD-ON and for CROSSING THE BRIDGE – a documentary about the Istanbul music scene. His latest, IN THE FADE will be released in the US on December 27th, 2017. it was nominated for a Palme D’Or and its star, Diane Kruger, won Best Actress at Cannes for her gripping performance in it.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
16/12/17·46m 30s

128. Noël Wells (actor/director) – Out of Context

100,000 or so years of human history and young adulthood is still getting weirder.  Jason Gots: My guest today is actor and filmmaker Noël Wells. She’s been a cast member of Saturday Night Live. She played Rachel on the Netflix series Master of None. And she’s making her directorial debut with Mr. Roosevelt, a sweet, moving indie comedy that’s ostensibly about a dead cat, but that’s really about that very awkward and for some of us very protracted moment of coming to terms with life as a grown up. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Reza Aslan on what religion is for, David Eagleman on creativity Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
09/12/17·1h

127. Manoush Zomorodi (journalist) – The Upside of Downtime

When was the last time you were bored? I mean really, well and truly, staring at the patterns in the wallpaper bored?  Statistics suggest that you’re probably listening to this show on a smartphone. Which means you own a smartphone. Which means it’s probably always close at hand, full of apps and podcasts to distract you the instant that uncomfortable feeling of boredom creeps in. Which means your brain almost never gets the chance to sit with that restlessness and come up with creative alternatives, from daydreaming to doing something brilliant (or at least less boring) in real life. If that’s not you, awesome. But it’s a lot of us these days.  My guest today, Manoush Zomorodi, is the host of Note to Self - a popular radio show and podcast on how we live with technology. An experiment she did on the show with the eager help of 20,000 fans became the subject of her new book Bored and Brilliant: how spacing out can unlock your most productive and creative self. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:  Tim Ferriss on mastering any skill quickly and efficiently, starting with cooking, Bryan Cranston on working together across generations  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
02/12/17·1h 1m

126. Maya Jasanoff (Historian) – Civilization and Its Discontents

Jason Gots: I want to read you a quote: “For reasons which can certainly use close psychological inquiry the West seems to suffer deep anxieties about the precariousness of its civilization and to have a need for constant reassurance by comparison with Africa.” That’s Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe writing about Joseph Conrad and his famous book Heart of Darkness. We’ll come back to that. Born in Poland in 1857, Conrad, like us, lived at a time of rapid globalization, of technological disruption, and of all the wonders and horrors that unleashes. My guest today, Harvard historian Maya Jasanoff, has written all about it in her beautifully written, fascinating new book The Dawn Watch. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Molly Crockett on social media outrage, Robert Steven Kaplan on globalization Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
25/11/17·1h 3m

125. Reza Aslan (author) – Deus Ex Hominem

Jason Gots: As far back as we’re able to peer into human history, way past the written or pictoral record, into the gravesites of our most ancient ancestors, there’s evidence of what you might call spiritual or religious belief. From the idea of a separate soul to animal spirits, to the anthropomorphization of trees and natural elements, pantheons of superhuman gods, and ultimately the inscrutable, sometimes indivisible gods of Monotheism, we’re Homo Credulous…creatures hardwired to believe in a reality that transcends the evidence of our senses.  In his new book God, a Human History, my guest Reza Aslan looks at this history of belief, asking not so much why but how we’ve made and remade God in our own image since our very beginnings. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Max Tegmark on AI and Human Intelligence Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
18/11/17·55m 9s

124. Juli Berwald (writer) – Our Jellyfish Overlords

Jason Gots: What happens  in your brain when I say the word “Jellyfish”? If you’re not a marine biologist, and if going to the beach almost anywhere in the world is a part of your life, the word probably makes you wince. Maybe you remember getting stung. Maybe you remember someone putting meat tenderizer on it (is it good for anything else?) But as my guest today, Juli Berwald, knows, Jellyfish are neither a fish, nor the cartoon villains we make them out to be. They’re a fascinating, complex, diverse lifeform whose tentacles are tangled up in all of our lives in ways we’re only dimly aware of. Juli Berwald is a science writer with a PHD in Ocean Science. Her new book is Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Joscha Bach on free will, Richard Dawkins on animal cruelty  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
11/11/17·50m 48s

123. (Henry) Rollins, Redux: Monogamy+Genius+Violence

Jason Gots: Let’s cast our minds back to June 2015, before Donald Trump as president seemed even a remote possibility. We had just launched Think Again, and for our second episode (and not much more than my second interview) ever I was talking with the musician and spoken word artist Henry Rollins, who I’d admired since high school. This was over the phone, New York to LA, on a Friday or Saturday night, and it was EPIC. Henry is a man of many thoughts and words, and noob interviewer that I was I could barely get a word in edgewise, which was just fine. He had plenty to say. So lengthy was this episode in fact that we originally split it into two. Today, for your listening pleasure, with our old theme song intact, along with our old way of having the producers introduce the surprise clips they picked for us to discuss, I give you Henry Rollins Redux – two classic episodes of Think Again, reunited at last. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Dan Savage on monogamy, James Gleick on genius, Paul Ekman on police violence Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
04/11/17·45m 1s

122. David Eagleman (neuroscientist) – Your Creative Brain

Jason Gots: It’s 150,000 years ago. You’re a Homo sapiens, hanging out in a really cozy clearing protected from behind by a cliff wall. It’s a great spot. Temperate, isolated, pretty safe. Lots of good fruits and tubers nearby. Should you just hang out here forever? Well…you could…but something’s nagging at that medial frontal cortex of yours. There’s a hill in the distance. What’s beyond it? Something different, maybe! Something new and shiny! Maybe today you’ll just take a quick look.  My guest today is neuroscientist David Eagleman. In The Runaway Species, How Human Creativity Remakes the World, David and his co-author Anthony Brandt explore that ancient tension between mastery and curiosity - the known and the unknown. And how the human imagination exploits it to make new things.  Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:  Isaac Lidsky on how going blind showed one man the light, Michael Slaby on a 30-hour work week.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
28/10/17·46m 48s

121. Van Jones (social entrepreneur) – Blind Spots & Sore Spots

Jason Gots: I want to tell you a story. It’s November 5, 2016, a few days before Election Day. I’m staring at Facebook, promising myself I’m going to delete the app once and for all from my phone, today. Enough of the political echo chamber. Enough of the ranting. Then I’m sucked into a video, because that’s what happens. It’s CNN’s Van Jones sitting in the living room of a family in Pennsylvania. Unlike me and most every other liberal coastal elite I know, he’s talking to people who support Donald Trump for President. Listening. Trying to understand. And pulling no punches in expressing his own anger and anxiety over where our country might be headed. In the year leading up to this moment, I had seen nothing like it. And it gave me hope. I’m so happy to welcome CNN Contributor and former Obama Administration adviser Van Jones to Think Again. His new book is Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart, How We Come Together. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Cass Sunstein on libertarian paternalism -- About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
21/10/17·47m 49s

120. Nancy Koehn (Historian) – Holdin' on for a Hero

What do Rachel Carson, Frederick Douglass, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ernest Shackleton, and Abraham Lincoln have in common, aside from being historical figures you’ve probably heard of? That’s the question my guest today tries to answer in her new book Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times. At a time when trustworthy leadership seems in short supply, it examines what real leadership is and how it comes about. Nancy Koehn is a historian at the Harvard Business School whose research focuses on how leaders, past and present, craft lives of purpose, worth, and impact. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Liv Boeree on lessons learned from professional poker for clear thinking Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
14/10/17·49m 33s

119. Aaron Mahnke (of 'Lore') – The Hunger for Mystery

For thousands of years, all over the world, tales of monsters and the undead have populated the "whitespace" beyond the borders of our understanding. As the enormous popularity of the podcast 'Lore" demonstrates, we're still hungry for those stories today. Why?  Today's guest Aaron Mahnke and host Jason Gots talk about the hunger for mystery, a human need almost as powerful as our thirst for knowledge. We also get into the meaning of work in people's lives, and how Aaron started the podcast as a "last ditch effort" at turning his passions into a sustainable career.  Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:  Andrew Taggart on the cultural obsession with work, Stephen Greenblatt on the power of the Adam and Eve story About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
07/10/17·51m 5s

118. Stephen Greenblatt (humanities scholar) – Irresistible Fictions

An ancient, one-and-a-half-page-story that just won't let us go. Humanities scholar Stephen Greenblatt and host Jason Gots discuss how Adam and Eve have shaped and been shaped by Western art, culture, and science, in this, Big Think's latest brain-fertilizing podcast. Greenblatt is the Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and the author of thirteen books, including the Pulitzer prize-winning The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. His latest, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, traces the cultural history of that most primal of stories about a man, a woman, God, and a snake. It’s a couple thousand years old and only about two pages long, but it’s still exerting a powerful cultural influence today. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Salman Rushdie on recent white supremacist clashes in America and Virginia Heffernan: The Internet is not a neurotoxin -- About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
30/09/17·58m 16s

117. Kurt Andersen (writer) – The Sleep of Reason

Orthodox kookiness: the true American exceptionalism? Writer Kurt Andersen and host Jason Gots discuss America's 500 year old tendency toward passionate belief in the preposterous in this, Big Think's latest brain-fertilizing podcast. Writer and media polymath Kurt Andersen is the NY-times bestselling author of the novels Heyday, Turn of the Century, and True Believers, and he’s the host and co-creator of the Peabody-award winning public radio show Studio 360. Kurt’s latest book Fantasyland – How America Went Haywire – is a 500 year history of a different kind of American exceptionalism. Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode: Neuroscientist Beau Lotto on diversity, Neil DeGrasse Tyson on science education About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
23/09/17·56m 1s

116. Claire Messud (writer) – All These Falls From Grace

Author Claire Messud and host Jason Gots talk about childhood, growing up, and how cultures contain the things that scare them most. Also, how to give and receive good criticism on creative writing in this, Big Think's latest brain-fertilizing podcast. Claire Messud is the author of seven novels, including The Woman Upstairs and The Emperor’s Children. Messud has been awarded an Addison Metcalf award and the Straus Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among many other literary honors. The New Yorker calls her “adept at evoking complex psychological territory”, which is most definitely the case in her latest novel, The Burning Girl, about the tortuous course of a childhood friendship. About Think Again: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Surprise clips from our video interview archives in this episode: Russell Simmons on the (then) presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, Alan Alda on communication and connection Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
16/09/17·56m 19s

115. Salman Rushdie (writer) – A Permeable Frontier

In this episode, the first one with a repeat guest since the show was launched (Henry Rollins was one taping split into two episodes) author Salman Rushdie and host Jason Gots discuss New York City, the surrealism of everyday life, comic books, and much, much, more in this, Big Think's latest brain-fertilizing podcast. Salman Rushdie is the author of twelve previous novels and four books of nonfiction, including Joseph Anton, Midnight’s Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the Best of the Booker), Shame, The Satanic Verses, and Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights which we discussed two years ago on this show.  He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. His kaleidoscopic, funny, philosophical new novel The Golden House has been called a “return to realism” but maybe only because the present-day American realities it draws upon and reimagines are so indistinguishable from fantasy. About Think Again: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Richard Dawkins on religion and anti-science, Ariel Levy on "having it all" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
09/09/17·59m 47s

114. 2017 Mixtape #2 – Words, Values, Self, Other

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. In the second year of what’s becoming a tradition here on Think Again, this is a mixtape of some of Jason's favorite moments from the past year’s shows. Things that stuck with him because they were funny, or especially wise, or because of something extraordinary about the conversation that he can't quite put his finger on. This episode — 2017 Mixtape #2 — features lexicographer Kory Stamper, novelist and essayist Teju Cole, fiction writer George Saunders, philosopher Slavoj Zizek, geneticist Jennifer Doudna, and actor Timothy Spall. Among the many ideas that come up: language pet peeves, human rights, neighbors, cyborgs, the ethics of gene editing, stillness.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
02/09/17·1h

113. 2017 Mixtape #1 – Mind, Body, Authenticity, Artifice

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. In the second year of what’s becoming a tradition here on Think Again, this is a mixtape of some of Jason's favorite moments from the past year’s shows. Things that stuck with him because they were funny, or especially wise, or because of something extraordinary about the conversation that he can't quite put his finger on. This episode — 2017 Mixtape #1 — features philosopher of mind Daniel Dennett, architecture critic Sarah Goldhagen, novelist Ian McEwan, child psychologist Alison Gopnik, neuroscientist Erik Kandel, and actor Alan Alda. Among the many ideas that come up: minds, buildings, Hamlet, A.I., the nature of evil, communication.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
26/08/17·53m 4s

112. Richard Dawkins (biologist) – Red in Tooth and Claw

In this episode, which Dawkins described as “one of the best interviews I have ever had,” the eminent ethologist and host Jason Gots talk about whether pescatarianism makes any sense, where morality should come from (since, as Hume says, "you can't get an 'ought' from an 'is'), the greatness of Christopher Hitchens, and the evils of nationalism. About the guest: Today’s guest is internationally best-selling author, speaker, and passionate advocate for reason and science as against superstition Richard Dawkins. From 1995 to 2008 Richard Dawkins was the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.  Among his many books are The Selfish Gene, the God Delusion, and his two-part autobiography: An Appetite for Wonder and A Brief Candle in the Dark. His latest is a collection of essays, stories, and speeches called Science in the Soul, spanning many decades and the major themes of Richard’s work. About Think Again: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
19/08/17·57m 10s

111. Ari Shaffir (Comic) – The Golden Age of Trolling

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Today's guest Ari Shaffir is a stand-up comic and the host of Skeptic Tank – a super popular weekly podcast that’s on its 299th episode (at this writing). Ari grew up orthodox Jewish, spent two years in a yeshiva in Israel, and then turned into an atheist comedian who did an outrageous web video series called “The Amazing Racist” and runs a yearly “Shroomfest” where he’s like a benevolent Dionysus, presiding over a worldwide three-day celebration of psilocybin mushrooms. He co-created and hosts Comedy Central’s storytelling series “this is not happening”. And he got a two part comedy special on Netflix called “Double Negative”. Ari and Jason talk about outrageousness in comedy, bipartisan e-rage on social media, growing up and growing out of bad habits, the transgender bathroom debate, and much, much, much more. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Barbara Oakley on the rigidity of geniuses’ thinking and Elijah Nealy on the transgender bathroom debate Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
12/08/17·1h

110. Peter Frankopan (historian) – You Can't Stop the Clock

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Today's guest Peter Frankopan is a historian at Oxford University, where he is Director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research. He works on the history of the Mediterranean, Russia, the Middle East, Persia, Central Asia and beyond, and on relations between Christianity and Islam. Peter's new book The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, is an international bestseller, described by William Dalrymple as a 'historical epic of dazzling range, ambition and achievement'. At an anxious moment in Western history, Frankopan encourages us to take a historical perspective, understanding how change happens in societies and how people typically react to it. This conversation unpacks the fascinating and dense history of the Silk Road countries and digs deep into the economic and social forces that shape our lives. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Michael Slaby on the 30 hour work week and Geneticist Jennifer Doudna on designer babies   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
05/08/17·1h 15m

109. Sheelah Kolhatkar (Writer, Former Hedge Fund Analyst) – The Most Dangerous Game

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Sheelah Kolhatkar is a staff writer at the New Yorker  and a former “risk arbitrage analyst” for two hedge funds in New York City. For the New Yorker, Sheelah writes about Wall Street, Silicon Valley, economics and national politics, among other things. Her latest book is the New York Times bestseller Black Edge, about the largest insider trading investigation in history and the transformation of Wall Street and the U.S. economy. This week’s episode is a departure for us – a deep dive into the personalities, culture, and ideas driving the big banks and the hedge funds of Wall Street. Jason and Sheelah talk about what it was like for her as a woman in that male-dominated industry, how hedge funds have reshaped the whole Wall Street landscape and with it, the global economy, and why billionaire investors are almost required to collect Picassos. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Neuroscientist Tristan Harris on how companies exploit our brains’ vulnerabilities. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
29/07/17·47m 58s

108. Jeff Garlin (Comedian) – K.I.S.S.

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Today, one of our wildest episodes ever, with comedian Jeff Garlin, who cuts one of our surprise clips short to call B.S. on neuroscience and complexity. Wikipedia succinctly describes Jeff Garlin as a comedian, actor, producer, voice artist, director, writer, podcast host and author. You might know him best from Curb Your Enthusiasm, which he produced and acted in as Larry David’s friend and manager Jeff Greene, whose relationship with his wife was one of the most harrowing things I’ve ever seen on television. Jeff co-wrote, directed, and stars in the 2017 film Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie as the befuddled yet capable Detective Handsome. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Neuroscientist Beau Lotto on Perception, Documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux on Scientology Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
22/07/17·41m 5s

107. Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland (Authors) – The Garden of Forking Paths

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Today, for the first time, we welcome TWO guests to Think Again – writers Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland – and talk to them from New York to a Los Angeles hotel room over a horrible wi-fi connection. And it all works out beautifully. Nicole’s typically a writer of historical fiction including The Fool’s Tale and Iago, and Neil’s known for complex, speculative science fiction  including Seveneaves, Snow Crash, and many other novels. Together, they’ve written a new novel: The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. – a massive and massively entertaining epic involving magic, time travel,  quantum physics, secret government organizations, and an ancient banking family called the Fuggers — with all of the jokes that implies. In this episode, we delve into Schroedinger's Cat, why humans make such terrible decisions, and how linear a story has to be to be a story at all. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Salman Rushdie on video games and the future of storytelling, Robert Sapolsky on brain regions and impulse control Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
15/07/17·39m 22s

106. Alan Alda (Actor) – The Spirit of the Staircase

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Today's guest is actor, writer, director, and science-curious artist Alan Alda. Jason says: "I grew up watching him in reruns of MASH, where his character Hawkeye Pierce was so specific and relatable that he feels in my memory like a not-too-distant relative. And in Horace and Pete, Louis CK’s 2016 brilliant web-tv dramedy, Alan underwent a miraculous metamorphosis into a bitter, racist barman who is also a fully-fleshed human being.  But wait - there’s more! For decades, Alan has been helping to heal the ancient rift between highly technical science and ordinary curiosity. Alan’s new book If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? Shares what he (and science) have learned about how we can communicate better. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is a matter of life or death." Inspired by a passage in Alan's book, Jason puts away his interview notes. What follows is a funny, honest, connected conversation unlike anything else in the show's two-year history. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: James Gleick - Humans are Information-Seeking Creatures Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
08/07/17·42m 53s

105. Jennifer Doudna (Geneticist) - Intelligent Redesign?

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Jennifer Doudna is a Professor of Chemistry and of Molecular and Cell Biology at the UC Berkeley, and until around 2012 she was quietly and contentedly studying the three dimensional structure of RNA molecules. Then she and her colleagues started looking into a thing called CRISPR-Cas9. It’s a kind of bacterial immune system, and it led to an invention that will change everything for all of humanity, forever. In this episode Jennifer and Jason discuss the implications of the gene editing tool her lab created, and how humanity should (and likely will) yield the power to rewrite our own evolutionary destiny. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Richard A Clarke on averting global catastrophes, Deepak Chopra on secular spirituality (clip not available online) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
01/07/17·56m 19s

104. Timothy Spall (Actor) – That Double Want

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Timothy Spall is an extraordinary actor, best known perhaps for the many films he’s done with director Mike Leigh, including Secrets & Lies and Mr. Turner, for which he won best actor at Cannes. You may know him from a number of Hollywood films, too, including the Harry Potter series and The Last Samurai, with Tom Cruise. His latest is THE JOURNEY. It’s based on a real road trip that happened in 2006, when two arch-enemies — the heads of Ireland’s warring factions, spent about an hour together in the backseat of a car. This was the prelude to a historic peace deal, cementing the end of Ireland’s long Civil war. In this episode we dig deep into questions like what people really want from their political leaders, whether it's possible (or even advisable) to overcome desire, and whether and when just sitting on a park bench, enjoying a tree, is enough. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Scott Barry Kaufman on Solitude Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
24/06/17·1h 1m

103. Liza Jessie Peterson (Playwright, Arts-Educator) – The Sleeping Giant

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Liza Jessie Peterson is an actress, poet, playwright, and arts-educator who’s been working with adolescent boys and girls incarcerated on Rikers Island for the past 18 years. Her fierce, funny, powerfully written new book is All Day: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids At Rikers Island. The loving and specific portraits she paints of her students highlight the cruelty of the systems (economic, school, police, prison) that fail so many young black men, landing them and keeping them in prison. In this episode we talk about cultural icons and the realities behind them, hip-hop, the trauma of poverty and the tragedy of the American prison system, and how to make impossible situations better.  Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Marie Gottschalk on solitary confinement Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
17/06/17·53m 1s

102. Paul Theroux (Writer) – Saintly & Scowling

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. 100 episodes in, like the universe itself, the show continues to expand and accelerate at speeds that boggle the imagination. One of seven siblings, Paul Theroux is the author of over 50 works of fiction and non-fiction, including The Great Railway Bazaar and The Mosquito Coast. His latest novel Mother Land is a scathing, semi-autobiographical, often painfully funny portrait of a mother’s long and insidious reign over her seven children. In this episode, Paul talks about the claustrophobia of big families, the mass migrations of peoples, colonizing Mars, and an important difference between humans and cockroaches. Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Anders Fogh Rasmussen on the geopolitical challenges of climate change, Stephen Petranek on colonizing Mars Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
10/06/17·1h 4m

101. Ariel Levy (Writer) – Big Things That Are Not Talked About

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. 100 episodes in, like the universe itself, the show continues to expand and accelerate at speeds that boggle the imagination. After 12 years at New York Magazine, Ariel Levy became a staff writer at The New Yorker, where she’s written about remarkable women, sex, Ayahuasca, madness and Silvio Berlusconi. Her new book The Rules Do Not Apply is a memoir that grew out of the loss of her son soon after his birth and the subsequent collapse of her marriage. Here she talks with Jason about assertiveness and doubt, the silence around the animal facts of women's physical lives, her comically awkward experience with the shamanic hallucinogen Ayahuasca, and much more. Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Lexicographer Kory Stamper on the word 'bitch", Gish Jen on imitation in China vs. the West Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
03/06/17·46m 21s

100. Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysicist) – The Only "-ist" I Am

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. 100 episodes in, like the universe itself, the show continues to expand and accelerate at speeds that boggle the imagination. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist and the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the spiritual heir to Carl Sagan in getting us all worked up about the Cosmos. He’s been appointed to special NASA commissions, hosted multiple TV specials and podcasts, and written many excellent books, the latest of which is Astrophysics for People in A Hurry – a succinct, wryly funny book that’s surprisingly informative for its size - it has the informational density of a black hole. In This, Our 100th Episode: Can Neil tell the entire history of the universe in 30 seconds? When is it possible to move faster than the speed of light? Why is "dark matter" a terrible name for dark matter? And what does Neil's esteemed colleague Lawrence Krauss have in common with a pit bull? Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Lawrence Krauss on Optimism, Dean Buonomano on "Presentism" and "Eternalism" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
27/05/17·47m 31s

99. Mary Gaitskill (Writer) – Their Animal Being

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.“How strange it is to be anything at all.” – from the song In the Aeroplane Over the Seaby Neutral Milk Hotel Mary Gaitskill is the author of three short story collections including Bad Behavior and Don’t Cry, and three novels, including Veronica and Two Girls, Fat and Thin. Her latest book is a collection of essays and reviews called Somebody With a Little Hammer. The topics are diverse, from the Hollywood version of Mary’s story Secretary, to date rape, to Celine Dion, to Mary’s experience losing her cat, Gattino. In every case Mary writes with startling, otherworldly clarity, peeling back the surface of things we might think we understand to peer into the slippery psychological realities underneath. In this episode: Threaded through with personal anecdotes, relevant moments from Gaitskill’s novels and essays, and striking observations about human nature, this intimate, starkly honest conversation goes wide and deep. So deep, in fact, that there’s barely time to get to the surprise clips!  Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Google's Tristan Harris on the attention economy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
20/05/17·49m 49s

98. Lawrence Krauss (Physicist) – Lux Ex Machina

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Physicist Lawrence Krauss directs the Origins Project at Arizona State University, which fosters scientific research and collaborations on origins – of life, the universe, and everything. His own research focuses on the interface between elementary particle physics and cosmology, including investigations into dark matter and the origin of all mass in the universe. His latest book The Greatest Story Ever Told - So Far is a deeply entertaining and informative account of the progress of knowledge in modern physics. In this episode: To what extent and in what sense does science represent "reality"? You don't have to paint like Picasso to enjoy a Picasso...so why are non-scientists often reluctant to engage with complex scientific concepts? Is tribalism an essential part of human nature? A passionate, witty back-and-forth with a leading physicist who is also one of our most poetic defenders and explainers of science. Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Sebastian Junger on tribalism and democracy, Kevin Kelly on “cognification”, David Bodanis on Einstein’s rejection of a random universe Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
13/05/17·1h 2m

97. Dean Buonomano (Neuroscientist) – This is Your Brain on Time

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Dean Buonomano is a professor of neurobiology and psychology at UCLA and a leading theorist on (and researcher into) the neuroscience of time. His latest book, Your Brain is a Time Machine, the Neuroscience and Physics of Time convinced Jason that time is far weirder than he knew it to be (and he already knew it was mind-bogglingly weird). In this episode: Does time exist at all, or is it an illusion of consciousness? If the latter, what's the evolutionary advantage of seeing time as linear and one-directional? Which is right: the Einsteinian view that the universe is a four dimensional box in which all time is already present, or the "common-sense" view that time is uni-directional? How does comic timing work? What's the evolutionary advantage of comedy? And oh so much more.  Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Scott Aukerman on comedy as a survival skill, Kevin Kelly on optimism as an engine of progress Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
06/05/17·51m 51s

96. Sarah W. Goldhagen (Architecture Critic) – Souls & Spaces

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Sarah W. Goldhagen taught for ten years at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and spent many years as the Architecture Critic for the New Republic. She’s written about buildings, cities, and landscapes for publications all over the world. Sarah’s new book Welcome To Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives is a thoroughly entertaining, eye-opening manifesto arguing that the buildings we live and work in deeply affect us, physically and psychologically, and that we can’t afford the soul-crushing architecture we mostly subject ourselves to. In this episode: why we tolerate design that’s bad for us, startling parallels between a passage from a Chekhov short story and Sarah's book, the many ways concrete can be beautiful, and why schools shouldn’t look like prisons (maybe prisons shouldn’t, either?). "Surprise idea" clips in this show: Jeffrey Sachs on optimism in America and Alison Gopnik on School and the Developing Mind Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
29/04/17·51m 19s

95. Kory Stamper (Lexicographer) – Lair of the Level 10 Word Mage

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Kory Stamper is a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, often seen on their “Ask the Editor” video series. Her funny and fascinating book Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries is about the how the sausage of dictionaries is made, and about the slipperiness of words themselves. This is not a “prescriptivist” manifesto, fussily criticizing people’s misuse of apostrophes or words like “irregardless.” On the contrary, like any lexicographer worth her salt (and salt, as Kory will tell you, was once so valuable it was used as money, which is where we get the word “salary” from…) Kory’s a professional “descriptivist”, painstakingly trying to pin down how words are actually used even as they try to wriggle away from her. Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Adam Mansbach on the term "political correctness" and Rob Bell on the word "Hell" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
23/04/17·57m 26s

94. Joyce Carol Oates (Writer) – Oh, That's Socialism

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. The writer Joyce Carol Oates grew up on a farm, tending chickens in what she describes as a very desolate part of upstate New York, and grew up to write around 90 (and counting) novels and collections of essays and short stories, many of them while teaching at Princeton University. She’s won many, many awards, including the National Book Award, the Pen/Malamud Award and the National Humanities Medal. Her powerful new novel, A Book of American Martyrs, begins with a terrible act of violence – and then deals with its complex aftermath. Today's conversation starts there, weaving through the political and religious landscape of America, past and present. We also talk about whether writing, for Joyce, is as "effortless" as critics have described the experience of reading her. Trump comes, up, inevitably but briefly. Stick around for a fascinating discussion of the challenges early success can pose for young writers, including Oates' former student, Jonathan Safran Foer. Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Gish Jen on Identity and Choice in the West, Nicole Mason on Poverty in America Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
15/04/17·55m 43s

93. Adam Alter (Social Psychologist) – Ping!

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Adam Alter is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave, and has written for the New York Times, New Yorker, Atlantic, WIRED, Slate, Washington Post, and Popular Science, among other publications. He’s an associate professor of marketing at New York University and also teaches in the psychology department. His fascinating and chilling new book, Irresistible: the Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping us Hooked has, among other things, convinced Jason to stop charging his cellphone in his bedroom. Surprise conversation starter interview clips: James Fallon on Voting for an Actual Psychopath and Margaret Atwood on Anti-Science Sentiment Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
08/04/17·51m 11s

92. Elif Batuman (Writer) – The Worst Appetizer in America

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Elif Batuman has written articles for the New Yorker on everything from the horrible-smelling "corpse flower" to the complex politics of present day Turkey, her parents' native country. Her first book, The Possessed, was a series of "comic, interconnected essays about Russian Literature." Her latest, "The Idiot", is a lucid, disarmingly funny coming of age novel set in 1995. Jason calls it "one of the most delightful books" he's read in years. Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode: Maria Popova on an Unsung Hero of Children's Literature and Salman Rushdie on the Left's Taboo Against Criticizing Islam Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
01/04/17·51m 6s

91. Daniel Dennett (Philosopher) – Thinking About Thinking About Thinking

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Daniel Dennett is one of the foremost philosophers of mind working today to unravel the puzzle of what minds are and what they’re for, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. His latest book of many is called From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, and it’s a sweeping (but detailed) attempt to demystify how we get from inanimate matter to cathedrals, symphonies, and of course, podcasts. In this fun and meaty episode of Think Again, Dennett waxes wicked and wise on consciousness, Dolphins, Artificial Intelligence, and much, much more. Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Andrew Keen on the Internet and social isolation and Ben Goertzel on Artificial General Intelligence Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
25/03/17·50m 52s

90. Scott Aukerman (Comedy Writer) – The Buttons You Push

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Scott Aukerman is a comedy writer, director, and producer who started out on HBO’s Mr. Show with Bob and David. He’s the creator of Comedy Bang Bang - the podcast and the long running IFC show, and he co-created and directs Between Two Ferns with Zach Galafanakis, for which he’s won two Emmys. In this episode, Scott and Jason talk Michael Bolton, transgression in comedy, and a United States in cultural turmoil. Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Jelani Cobb on military vs. moral power and Chris Gethard on comedy and political correctness Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
18/03/17·59m 8s

89. George Saunders (Author) – Self-Googling In Hell

“If I died right now, I’d still be self-Googling in hell.” – George Saunders, in this episode. George Saunders' new book - his first novel, after many acclaimed collections of short stories including the NY Times bestselling 10th of December – is called Lincoln in the Bardo. A kind of play for voices about the death and afterlife of Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie, who died at age 10. It's a strange, wise, funny and beautiful book about impermanence and the tenacity of the self. In this episode, George and Jason talk writing, death, and how much easier it is to talk about kindness than to live it. Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
11/03/17·55m 7s

88. Gish Jen (Author) – The Self in the World

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Novelist and essayist Gish Jen's work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories four times, including The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and her work was featured in a PBS American Masters’ special on the American novel. Her 2017 book, The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap, takes an unflinching, funny, and deeply insightful look at how fundamental East-West differences in the sense of self play out in art, culture, business, education, and more. In this episode, Gish and Jason discuss the benefits and downsides of our fundamental assumptions about who we are, and what's to be gained by escaping your cultural bubble, even for a moment. Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Nato Thompson on individualism as a corporate product. Paul Root Wolpe on self-enhancement & culture.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
04/03/17·52m 27s

87. Yuval Noah Harari (Historian) – Time's Up

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Yuval Noah Harari holds a PhD in History from the University of Oxford and now lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specializing in World History. His 2014 New York Times bestselling book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, is published in nearly 40 languages worldwide. His new book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, uses historical and current trends to look at where we might we headed as a species. In this conversation, Harari and Jason discuss giving credit where it's due to genuine signs of human progress, and the dizzying ethical questions that surround what's coming next –– from superhuman cyborgs to algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves. Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Lawrence Levy on Pixar, mindfulness, and the Middle Way. Daniel Dennett on the evolution of cultural memes.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
25/02/17·50m 58s

86. Ayelet Waldman (Author) – Yourself, Only Better

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Ayelet Waldman is a novelist and essayist, a former federal public defender who taught at Loyola and UC Berkeley schools of Law. Her latest book, A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life is an honest, funny, informative account of her month-long experience “microdosing” on LSD – after a ton of research into the practice and potential psychological benefits of taking subperceptual doses of the chemical. Spoiler: overall it helped her. The book also digs into the history and ramifications of the criminalization of psychoactive drugs, and the philosophy of "harm reduction" in parenting. In a funny, free-ranging, rapid-fire dialogue, Ayelet and Jason dive into topics as diverse as the split between art and science, how not to mess up your kids too badly, and the benefits of neuroplasticity. Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Bill Nye on Art vs. Science, Andrew Solomon on Parenting and Empathy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
18/02/17·53m 7s

85. Ben Goertzel (A.I. Inventor) – The State of the Art of Artificial General Intelligence

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Ben Goertzel is a hugely influential computer scientist and author in the area of artificial general intelligence, among others. Just a few of the many hats Ben wears or has worn: Chief Scientist of Hanson Robotics which makes some of the most advanced robots in the world, Co-founder of AIDYA – artificial intelligence for financial trading, and Chairman of the OpenCog Foundation, an open source project to build a radically new form of artificial intelligence. What's real and what's hype in all the talk about artificial intelligence these days? Will teaching AI to solve humanity's biggest problems keep robots from harming us if and when they become autonomous? Is the human brain, with all its limitations, a good model for AI at all? In this episode, Ben explains to Jason some of the theory behind various existing and potential AI systems, weighs in on the idea of the Singularity, and touches on his "panpsychist" belief that consciousness is an omnipresent force of nature, suggesting that they drop LSD together at some point to discuss it in depth.  Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Alva Noë: “You are Not Your Brain” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
11/02/17·42m 12s

84. Nato Thompson (Artistic Director) – The Friendly Face

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Nato Thompson is the Artistic Director of Creative Time, which commissions and presents ambitious public art projects with thousands of artists throughout New York City, across the country, around the world—and now even in outer space. They did Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, a free public performance in hard-hit New Orleans neighborhoods after the flood that Jason talked about with actor Wendell Pierce on this show (episode 22). Nato’s new book is called Culture as Weapon: The Art of Influence in Everyday Life.  In this episode he and Jason talk about the ways the tools of art now permeate every aspect of our culture, from advertising to politics to always-on digital entertainment. They also discuss uploading human consciousness onto computer chips, the DIY, anti-"selling out" discourse of punk and hardcore music, and the weird relationship between art and commerce.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
03/02/17·51m 59s

83. Matt Taibbi (Journalist) – Bread and Circus

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Hard-hitting, darkly funny journalist Matt Taibbi has reported on on politics, media, finance, and sports, winning the National Magazine Award for Commentary in 2008 and is the author of three NYTimes bestsellers on politics and culture. For Rolling Stone, continuing in the tradition the magazine started with Hunter S. Thompson’s coverage of Nixon’s 1972 presidential campaign, Taibbi has covered the last four election cycles. His dispatches from the 2016 election circus are the basis of his new book Insane Clown President.In this week's Think Again, Jason and Matt talk about Hunter S. Thompson, family, career, media, and, inevitably, President Donald Trump. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Susan David on our unhealthy obsession with happiness, and Tim Wu on celebrities as modern-day gods. About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
28/01/17·46m 51s

82. Bernard-Henri Lévy (Philosopher) – The Mirror of Our Better Selves

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. The Washington Post has this to say about today's guest: "There is no American equivalent of Bernard-Henri Lévy. Known as “BHL,” he is among the last of a quintessentially French breed, the 20th century intellectuel engagé. As a “nouveau philosophe” disenchanted with Marxism, communism and the excesses of 1968, when civil unrest roiled France, Levy has enjoyed a long and theatrical career since the 1970s, embracing journalism, philosophy, film and an outspoken advocacy for human rights." BHL's films include the documentaries Bosna! And A Day in the Death of Sarajevo. Lévy is co-founder of the antiracist group SOS Racisme and has served on diplomatic missions for the French government. His newest book The Genius of Judaism explores what he sees as the crucial metaphysical role of Jewish thought and the Jewish people in the life of nations. Today's episode addresses torture, the question of evil, and the tipping point at which democracy becomes something else.  Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Paul Bloom on Torture, and Ian Bremmer on America as a Superpower. About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
21/01/17·45m 51s

81. Isy Suttie (Comedian) – There's Something a Bit Smug about the Sea

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Isy Suttie is a comedian, actress, and writer who played the character Dobby in the British TV comedy Peep Show, of which Jason has watched all 54 episodes. Isy has written for the Guardian, the Observer, and Glamour, and is a regular writer and performer on BBC Radio 4. Her book The Actual One: How I Tried and Failed to Avoid Adulthood Forever will be released on January 31st, 2017 in the United States, but thousands of British people will have already read and enjoyed it, three days earlier. So there. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Maysoon Zayid on the media representation of people with disabilities, Slavoj Žižek on love, and Paul Bloom on empathy and politics About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
14/01/17·1h 11m

80. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh (founder: MuslimGirl) – Who Tells Your Story?

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Amani Al -Khatatbeh is the founder and editor of Muslimgirl.com, the number one Muslim women’s blog in the United States. She regularly provides commentary on social, cultural, and political issues through outlets such as CNN, Al Jazeera, and the BBC, and has been featured in the New York Times, the Guardian, and made Forbes’ 30 under 30 list. Her new book is called Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age. In this episode, Amani and Jason wrestle with tough questions about identity, power, and Islamic feminism. Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Oliver Luckett on the 2016 election and a "divided America" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
07/01/17·39m 30s

79. Paul Bloom (Psychologist) – Cold-Blooded Kindness

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Paul Bloom is an internationally recognized expert on the the psychology of child development, social reasoning, and morality, and the author of numerous books including Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil. His newest book is Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion. Is managing a hedge-fund a better way to do good in the world than joining the Peace Corps? Does donating for disaster-relief (without really thinking it through) often make matters worse? At the risk of being mistaken for a Scrooge-like figure, Paul Bloom advances a smart, nuanced argument that empathy, in the sense of feeling others' suffering, is a terrible guide to moral decision-making. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Juanita Rilling on the psychology and the realities of disaster relief, David Eagleman on mass shootings, Wesley Lowery on freedom of the press.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
31/12/16·51m 22s

78. Peter Godfrey-Smith (Philosopher) – Alien Intelligence

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Peter Godfrey-Smith is a distinguished professor of philosophy at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and a professor of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Sydney in Australia. He has also spent a lot of time floating around in an octopus colony in Australia, studying smart cephalopods and taking photos and videos that have been used by National Geographic. His fascinating new book is Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness.In today's episode, Peter and Jason discuss free will, what it might be like to be an octopus, and which prehistoric animal would be the most interesting to resurrect. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Bill Nye on extinct animal cloning, Michio Kaku on free will and physics.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
24/12/16·42m 41s

77. Anne Rice (Author) – In the Blood

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Anne Rice is the author of over 30 novels. Her first, Interview with the Vampire, was published in 1976 and has gone on to become one of the best-selling novels of all time. Her latest book, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, continues the story of Lestat while also reaching back millennia to a mysterious, vanished empire -- the lost realms of Atlantis. A past that is inextricably linked to the fate of Lestat and the Vampire kingdom he rules. In today's episode, Anne shares many thoughts on superstition, science, and why, in spite of everything, she believes humanity's going to figure things out. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Alison Gopnik on the Science of Ghosts, Kathleen McAuliffe on the Biological Origins of Vampire Stories, Wesley Lowery on Facebook's responsibility for fake news.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
17/12/16·47m 7s

76. Tim Ferriss (Author, Podcaster) – Productively Frivolous

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Above all else,  Author, Podcaster, and "Human Guinea Pig" Tim Ferriss is focused on learning how to learn, then applying those lessons to everyday life -- aiming at increased productivity, efficiency, and success, however you may define it. His books The Four Hour Workweek, the Four-Hour Body, and the Four-Hour Chef shared his learning experiments in the culinary, physical, and business realms. His latest book “Tools of Titans” distills lessons learned from guests like Maria Popova, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rick Rubin in conversation on his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Tim Wu on "the attention merchants" of social media, Simon Sinek on the idea of having "a vision"  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
10/12/16·46m 14s

75. David Salle (Artist) – The Enemy of Art

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. David Salle's paintings are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Galerie Berlin and many others. His book How to See is a collection of essays, mainly on the work of other artists, that delves deep into questions about how art is made and what happens when we experience it. In this episode, David and Jason wrestle with questions like why there are no bad cave paintings, whether or not Francis Bacon's work is "decorative," and why it's impossible to say anything really prescriptive about how to make art. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Dave Evans on prototyping in design, Alva Noë on art as a "strange tool", and Julian Schnabel on art and the internet.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
03/12/16·43m 27s

74. Jace Clayton AKA DJ/Rupture - Sonic Veils and Revelations

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. As DJ /Rupture, Jace Clayton has spun music all over the world in every imaginable kind of venue (including not only big arenas but also, once, a refrigerated truck) and released several critically acclaimed albums. He’s also one of the most gifted writers about musical culture that Jason has ever read. His book Uproot: Travels in 21st Century Music and Digital Culture digs deep into the back-bins of hyper-local musical traditions and zooms out to take in the whole shifting global landscape. This conversation delves deep into the ways music disseminates and morphs in our digitally connected world, originality in cut-and-paste culture, and the fragility of beauty and culture. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Bill Burnett on Brainstorming Innovative Ideas, Jonathan Harris on Social Networks and Human Connection, Mary Aiken on Trump as an Internet Troll Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
26/11/16·50m 8s

73. T.C. Boyle (Author) - Lost on Purpose

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. T.C. Boyle is the author of 26 books of fiction, including The Tortilla Curtain, The Harder They Come, and World’s End (which won the Pen/Faulkner award). His latest is The Terranauts--it’s about an ill-fated, very expensive and highly publicised experiment in which 4 men and 4 women try to live together for two years in a Biodome in the Arizona Desert. In this conversation, taped a couple weeks before Donald Trump was elected president, Boyle and Jason talk about the apparent implosion of the Republican party, how to grapple with existential despair when you don’t have religion to fall back on, what on Earth (or off it) humans should do when we run out of resources, and why Jason’s 8 year old son shouldn’t be afraid of getting lost in the woods. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Kathleen McAuliffe on Conservatives and Disgust Sensitivity and Sean Wilentz on Why the Two Party System is Good for America Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
19/11/16·44m 27s

72. Slavoj Žižek (Philosopher) - Against Tolerance

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Slavoj Žižek is a Hegelian philosopher,  Lacanian psychoanalist, and political activist. He’s the international director of the Birbeck Institute for the Humanities, and Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University. His newest book is Refugees, Terror, and Other Troubles with the Neighbors: Against the Double Blackmail. In this spirited, wide-ranging discussion, the voluble Žižek talks about why he hates being called the "Elvis of philosophy," argues against liberal notions of tolerance, and promises to arrange for Jason to get cigarettes and whiskey in the gulag when the revolution comes. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Daniel Bergner on Women and Monogamy and Scott Barry Kaufman on Standardized Testing Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
12/11/16·53m 43s

71. Jelani Cobb (Historian) - Shiny New Skin, Same Old Snake

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Historian and journalist Jelani Cobb is the author of Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress and other books, and one of our most powerful writers on the complexities of race in America. Jelani is a staff writer at the New Yorker, where he’s given readers nuanced insight into gun culture, police brutality, the #blacklivesmatter movement, and much more, and a professor of Journalism at Columbia University.  Although Jelani was hoping the surprise format might involve watching fun nature videos, the topics that came up included mathematical symmetry as a defining principle of the universe, whether and to what extent liberals should try to empathize with Trump supporters, and the ethics of human-animal and human-robot relations. Sorry, Jelani. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Jim Gaffigan on Political Intolerance, Glenn Cohen on AI Ethics, and Frank Wilczek on Symmetry Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
05/11/16·54m 27s

70. Margaret Atwood (Author) - The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Today's guest is novelist, essayist, poet, and as of late, comic-book writer Margaret Atwood. She’s also got some really funny mini-comics about bad interviews, so Jason tries extra-hard to bring his a-game here. She’s the Booker prize winning author of The Blind Assassin, Oryx & Crake, The Handmaid’s Tale, and around 40 other beloved books. Her latest, Hag-Seed, is a total and delightfully wicked reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. In this episode Margaret talks with Jason about genomes in the cloud, Bob Dylan's Nobel prize, the elusiveness of dead authors, and why technology's a three-edged sword. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Michael Schatz on storing our genomes in the cloud, Alison Gopnik on Narcissism Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
29/10/16·44m 16s

69. Jodi Picoult (Author) - Popular Fictions/Not Yours to Tell

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.  In this episode of Think Again - a Big Think Podcast, author Jodi Picoult and host Jason Gots talk comic books, social justice, and why white Americans need to take the risk (and the consequences) of talking honestly about race and class privilege.  Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: C. Nicole Mason on Poverty and the 2016 Election,A.O. Scott on Anti-Intellectualism Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
22/10/16·45m 42s

68. William Shatner (Actor, Author) – Yes, I Am Trying to Win This Podcast

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.  William Shatner created the role of Captain James T Kirk on the original Star Trek, and won two Emmys and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Denny Crane on “The Practice” and “Boston Legal”. He’s also written nearly 30 bestselling books of fiction and non-fiction and released two albums of music with the artist Ben Folds. His new book Zero-G, coauthored with Jeff Rovin, is a science fiction terrorism thriller set in the year 2050. It begins with an unnaturally powerful Tsunami that destroys most of the coast of Japan, and follows FBI Field Agent Samuel Lord as he attempts to unravel the mystery. In this extra feisty episode, Shatner and host Jason Gots talk ego, the extinction of the human race, bullying, and whether or not it's a dog-eat-dog world out there.  Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode:Ryan Holiday on ego, Nikhil Goyal on Bullying Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
15/10/16·40m 22s

67. James Gleick (Science Writer) - Everything All at Once

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. James Gleick is one of our greatest living science writers,  author of The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. His first book, Chaos, was a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist and a national bestseller. His other books include the best-selling biographies, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, and Isaac Newton, both shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. James’ new book Time Travel: a History, is an utterly fascinating journey through the history of an idea that has become part of the fabric of philosophy, science, and our daily lives, even though we can’t really do it yet. Not really. In this episode, James and host Jason Gots talk about why we're so obsessed with something that's evidently impossible.  Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode:Penn Jillette on "atheist prayers" and David Eagleman on our perception of time.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
08/10/16·39m 26s

66. Alton Brown (Chef, Author) - Easy-Bake Oven/Hard Knock Life

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.  Cook, writer, and director Alton Brown is a living legend in food TV. Alton was the creator and host of the show “Good Eats”, which ran for 14 seasons on Food Network and has a 9/10 rating on IMDB which is basically unheard of (Casablanca is 8.6). He’s also known as the host of Iron Chef America, Cutthroat Kitchen, and Feasting on Asphalt, and is the author of many books. Alton’s latest book is “Everdaycook”, in which he shares his favorite personal recipes including the amazing looking Breakfast Carbonara, which makes pasta for breakfast not only ok, but mandatory. Alton and host Jason Gots talk about fire, their mutual childhood lust for the Betty Crocker Easy-Bake Oven and how everything worth doing might get you killed. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Alison Gopnik on Parenting,Ethan Hawke on goal setting, Drew Ramsey on diet and depression Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
01/10/16·50m 11s

65. Ian McEwan (Novelist) - A King of Infinite Space

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.  This week's guest is novelist Ian McEwan. He’s the bestselling author of 16 books, including Atonement, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the WH Smith Literary award and Amsterdam, which won the Booker Prize. His latest book, Nutshell, is a darkly funny, brilliant riff on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, told from the point of view of an extremely articulate, nine month old fetus, viewing an unfolding murder plot from the limited vantage point of his mother’s womb. In this far-ranging, lively dialogue, McEwan and host Jason Gots discuss Hamlet, moral quandaries, and how to set boundaries in a world that threatens to pull you in every direction. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode:Charles Duhigg on focus and productivity, Glenn Cohen on the ethics of abortion Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
24/09/16·42m 50s

64. Mixtape #4 – The Writers' Room

In this episode:  Big Think launched in 2008 as a "YouTube for intellectuals." Since then, it has produced over 10,000 short-form video interviews with many of the most influential and creative thinkers of our time.  Big Think's videos are bits of "expert wisdom", presented confidently and definitively against a white screen background. With THINK AGAIN, we wanted to revisit these ideas the way the audience encounters them––spontaneously, messily, and often out of context. We wanted to bring the experts to that state some thinkers call "beginner's mind" and see what would happen.  The format: Jason sits down with artists, scientists, historians––all accomplished experts in their fields. They chat a bit about the guest's work. Then, they watch three surprise Big Think interview clips (chosen by the video producers), emailed to Jason just before the interview, and discuss them. And the conversation goes where it goes.   Some amazing moments have happened this past year––fun, profound, profoundly painful. This, the fourth of our first year "mixtapes", focuses on the most memorable bits of writerly wit and wisdom from the first year of Think Again - a Big Think Podcast. With playwright and screenwriter Sir David Hare on (not) resting on your laurels, National Book Award Winner James McBride on writing with a roomful of giant talents, rapper and first-time novelist Kate Tempest on writers' block as "fear of writing", and Nobel Laureate Turkish author Orhan Pamuk on why writing programs should teach writers to manage their own psychology.  Surprise clips in this episode: Sheila Heen, Bessel Van Der Kolk, Charles Duhigg, and Augusten Burroughs About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
17/09/16·43m 25s

63. Eric Kandel (Nobel Laureate neuroscientist) - The Eye of the Beholder

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.  On this week's episode: Professor Eric Kandel of Columbia University and host Jason Gotsdiscuss abstract art, memory, identity, and the nature of evil. When he was 9 years old, Eric Kandel listened on a short-wave radio his brother had made as Hitler marched into Kandel's hometown of Vienna, Austria. The next day, a non-Jewish classmate told him "Kandel, I'm never to speak to you again." In the year 2000, He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for pioneering work on understanding how memory is stored in the brain by studying a particular type of sea snail with a relatively simple nervous system. In his recent books, he’s been pioneering in a different way––trying to bridge the gap between the “two cultures” of the sciences and the humanities. His current book Reductionism in Art and Brain Science continues this essential work by looking at the ways both modern art and science “reduce” complex phenomena down to their component parts to achieve new insights and effects. Surprise "conversation starter" interview clips in this episode:Janna Levin, Susan David, George Musser Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
10/09/16·41m 30s

62. Mixtape #3 – a Soupçon of Ornithology

Big Think launched in 2008 as a "YouTube for intellectuals." Since then, it has produced over 10,000 short-form video interviews with many of the most influential and creative thinkers of our time.  In 2014, the podcast SERIAL burst on the scene and Apple put a "podcasts" app in the iPhone's OS, and suddenly podcasting, which had existed for over a decade, was widely considered to have entered its Golden Age (wonder how all the veteran podcasters felt about that...). So Big Think decided it might be a good time to start a podcast, too––to find its voice in this newly energized space. Jason Gots (who had been a writer and editor there since 2010), more or less leapt out of his chair at the meeting where this was announced and volunteered to create and host it. Thus THINK AGAIN - A BIG THINK PODCAST was born.  Big Think's videos are bits of "expert wisdom", presented confidently and definitively against a white screen background. With THINK AGAIN, we wanted to revisit these ideas the way the audience encounters them––spontaneously, messily, and often out of context. We wanted to bring the experts to that state some thinkers call "beginner's mind" and see what would happen.  The format: Jason sits down with artists, scientists, historians––all accomplished experts in their fields. They chat a bit about the guest's work. Then, they watch three surprise Big Think interview clips (chosen by the video producers), emailed to Jason just before the interview, and discuss them. And the conversation goes where it goes.   Some amazing moments have happened this past year––fun, profound, profoundly painful––we're stepping back and taking stock. This, the third of our year one mixtapes, features direct, powerful, and hilarious conversations with actor Ethan Hawke, comedians P.F. Tompkins and Chris Gethard, and musician Amanda Palmer.  Surprise clips in this episode: Andrew Keen on the cultural impact of the internet, Bill Nye on infinity, and Baratunde Thurston on information overabundance.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
03/09/16·52m 40s

61. Alison Gopnik (Developmental Psychologist) – Artificial Intelligence/Natural Stupidity

Alison Gopnik is an internationally recognized expert in children’s learning and development. A professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at UC Berkeley, and the author of many books including the The Philosophical Baby. Her new book The Gardener and the Carpenter is a response to the fact that “parenting” has become a verb, a powerful middle class trend, a lucrative self-help industry, and sometimes a kind of bloodsport. Meanwhile developmental science paints a very different picture of how children grow and learn, and what it means to be a good parent. As Gopnik puts it, “It’s easy to say ‘just chill,’ but the advice is, basically, just chill!”   On this week's episode of Think Again–a Big Think Podcast, Alison Gopnik and host Jason Gots discuss play, artificial intelligence, and the trouble with "parenting" as a verb.  Surprise "conversation starter" interview clips in this episode:Ryan Holiday, Steven Pinker, and Sonia Arrison.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
27/08/16·46m 48s

60. Teju Cole (Writer) – The World is Not a Settled Gift

Nigerian-born writer, photographer, and art historian Teju Cole is the author of the novel Open City and the novella Every Day is for the Theif. He’s also the photography critic of the New York Times magazine. His new book is a collection of deeply insightful and beautiful essays about things read, seen, and experienced. It’s called Known and Strange Things.  On this week's episode of Think Again–a Big Think Podcast, Teju Cole and host Jason Gots discuss first drafts, the complexities of home, and the greatest innovation in human history.  Surprise "conversation starter" interview clips in this episode:Jacqueline Woodson, and Virginia Heffernan Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
20/08/16·45m 5s

59. Jacqueline Woodson (Writer) – Bored Kid Dreaming/Apologies Long Overdue

Jacqueline Woodson, the Newberry, Caldecott, and National-Book Award winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming, If You Come Softly and many other works of poetry and literature for children and young adults, has just released Another Brooklyn, her first adult novel in twenty years. Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood—the promise and peril of growing up—and exquisitely renders a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that united four young lives. On this week's episode of Think Again–a Big Think Podcast, Jacqueline and host Jason Gots discuss collective amnesia, organized religion, the power of photographs, and why never being bored is bad for for kids.  Surprise "conversation starter" interview clips: Lynsey Addario, Sebastian Junger,Maria Konnikova Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
13/08/16·38m 52s

58. Mixtape #2 – Staring at the Sea

Big Think launched in 2008 as a "YouTube for intellectuals." Since then, it has produced over 10,000 short-form video interviews with many of the most influential and creative thinkers of our time.  In 2014, the podcast SERIAL burst on the scene and Apple put a "podcasts" app in the iPhone's OS, and suddenly podcasting, which had existed for over a decade, was widely considered to have entered its Golden Age (wonder how all the veteran podcasters felt about that...). So Big Think decided it might be a good time to start a podcast, too––to find its voice in this newly energized space. Jason Gots (who had been a writer and editor there since 2010), more or less leapt out of his chair at the meeting where this was announced and volunteered to create and host it. Thus THINK AGAIN - A BIG THINK PODCAST was born.  Big Think's videos are bits of "expert wisdom", presented confidently and definitively against a white screen background. With THINK AGAIN, we wanted to revisit these ideas the way the audience encounters them––spontaneously, messily, and often out of context. We wanted to bring the experts to that state some thinkers call "beginner's mind" and see what would happen.  The format: Jason sits down with artists, scientists, historians––all accomplished experts in their fields. They chat a bit about the guest's work. Then, they watch three surprise Big Think interview clips (chosen by the video producers), emailed to Jason just before the interview, and discuss them. And the conversation goes where it goes.   Some amazing moments have happened this past year––fun, profound, profoundly painful––so this week and next, we're stepping back and taking stock. This, the second of two "greatest hits mixtapes", features Playwright and Performer Sarah Jones both as herself and as a completely different person, Musician and Artist Henry Rollins on a divided America, Critic A.O. Scott on our complicated relationships with our devices, Actress and Author Mary-Louise Parker being extremely skeptical that Virtual Reality will make us more empathetic, and Rapper and NovelistKate Tempest with a staggeringly powerful, spontaneous monologue on the stories we tell ourselves.  Surprise clips in this episode:  Paul Ekman, Ralph Rivera, Sherry Turkle, Parag Khanna Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
06/08/16·49m 20s

57. Mixtape #1 - Lies/Monsters/Friendship/Religion/Space Aliens

Big Think launched in 2008 as a "YouTube for intellectuals." Since then, it has produced over 10,000 short-form video interviews with many of the most influential and creative thinkers of our time.  In 2014, the podcast SERIAL burst on the scene and Apple put a "podcasts" app in the iPhone's OS, and suddenly podcasting, which had existed for over a decade, was widely considered to have entered its Golden Age (wonder how all the veteran podcasters felt about that...). So Big Think decided it might be a good time to start a podcast, too––to find its voice in this newly energized space. Jason Gots (who had been a writer and editor there since 2010), more or less leapt out of his chair at the meeting where this was announced and volunteered to create and host it. Thus THINK AGAIN - A BIG THINK PODCAST was born.  Big Think's videos are bits of "expert wisdom", presented confidently and definitively against a white screen background. With THINK AGAIN, we wanted to revisit these ideas the way the audience encounters them––spontaneously, messily, and often out of context. We wanted to bring the experts to that state some thinkers call "beginner's mind" and see what would happen.  The format: Jason sits down with artists, scientists, historians––all accomplished experts in their fields. They chat a bit about the guest's work. Then, they watch three surprise Big Think interview clips (chosen by the video producers), emailed to Jason just before the interview, and discuss them. And the conversation goes where it goes.  Some amazing moments have happened this past year––fun, profound, profoundly painful––so this week and next, we're stepping back and taking stock. This, the first of two "greatest hits mixtapes", features author Junot Diaz on why he's fascinated by double lives, popular philosopher Sam Harris on monsters in literature, Brain Pickings founder Maria Popova on the complexities of friendship, rapper and poet Saul Williams on the Catholic Church and his preacher father, and former pro wrestler and Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura on space aliens. It also includes an original THINK AGAIN song written for us in less than a week by the amazing, inimitable Matt Farley. Surprise clips in this episode:  Joyce Carol Oates, Dan Ariely, William Shatner, Charlene Li, Brian Greene Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
30/07/16·50m 34s

56. Jonathon Keats (Experimental Philosopher) – The Trickster/Castles in the Sky

"Experimental philosopher" and science writer Jonathon Keats, who famously created pornography for plants and sold real estate in the alternate dimensions proposed by string theory, believes that we "need to ascend to the meta level" to find creative ways of reopening closed conversations. His new book You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future, explores the myth and the relevance of a self-mythologizing sometime genius, sometime crackpot whose vast imagination holds some keys to solving the massive problems we now face as a species.  On this week's episode of Think Again–a Big Think Podcast, Jonathon and host Jason Gots discuss social taboos, Fuller's legacy, the "mediated" nature of contemporary life, the power of comedy in society, and so much more.  Surprise discussion clips in this episode: Jim Gaffigan on political correctness in comedy, Dan Savage on sex education, and Mary Roach on diharrhea in the armed forces.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
23/07/16·51m 42s

55. Mary Roach (Science Writer) – To Nietszche His Own

Sex toy book parties! Penis transplants! Decomposition labs! These are just a few of the places the intrepid, New York Times bestselling author Mary Roach takes us in hilarious, curiosity-driven books like Bonk:: The Curious Science of Sex and her latest, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. It's some of the best, most engaging science writing out there.  On this week's episode of Think Again–a Big Think Podcast, Mary and host Jason Gots discuss some of the above, then enter more the more abstract territory of dark matter, Nietzche's atheism, and emotional connection with artificial intelligence. It's a weird and wonderful talk adventure.  Surprise discussion clips in this episode: Philosopher Simon Critchley on Nietzsche, Physicist Lisa Randall on Dark Matter, Sherry Turkle on Emotions and AI Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
16/07/16·36m 50s

54. LIVE! Sarah Jones (actor/playwright) –

Sarah Jones is a Tony and Obie award-winning playwright and performer. She's unlike any other artist in her uncanny ability to create, become,  and instantly switch between characters, convincingly inhabiting their physicality and their consciousness. Sarah's 2004 one woman show BRIDGE & TUNNEL channeled the symphony of voices that make up New York City's five boroughs. She returns this fall to the Manhattan Theatre Club with SELL/BUY/DATE, in which she plays all characters in a sex-ed class from the future that doubles as a brilliant, satirical commentary on life in 2016.  On May 20th, 2016, almost exactly a year after we launched, Think Again did an episode live with Sarah Jones as part of NYC Podfest, at CakeShop NYC. Host Jason Gots knew in advance that Sarah might be slipping into and out of character, but not which characters, or when. Over the course of the hour, Sarah became and responded to the surprise discussion clips as Rashid, an out-of-work rapper, Lorraine, a Jewish grandmother, Bella, a millennial, and many more. Far from stereotypes, these were fully-fleshed people with brilliant insights grounded in their radically different life experiences.  Above all, it was a hell of a lot of fun for the 100+ people present, and we're delighted to share it now with you.  Surprise clips in this episode: Douglas Rushkoff on collaboration in the digital economy, Angie MacArthur on types of attention, Parag Khanna on World War III Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
09/07/16·41m 32s

53. Sean Wilentz (Historian) – The Culture Strikes Back

The stakes are extraordinarily high in this election. We’re at a crossroads. I think the current politics are a continuation of the fight we’ve been having since the ‘60s.The expansion of an African-American middle class, the changes in family norms, in gender and sexual norms . . .Lots of people felt threatened by that. Lots of people resisted that.  But the war is only going to be settled now.  – Sean Wilentz Sean Wilentz is a Princeton professor and the Bancroft-Prize-Winning Author of The Rise of American Democracy. He’s also a major music historian and the author of Bob Dylan in America, and the official historian of Bob Dylan’s website. His new book The Politicians and the Egalitarians: The Hidden History of American Politics argues that there are two keys to understanding American politics––the theme of party politics and outsider resistance to it, and the theme of economic and social egalitarianism. He argues that all positive change in American political history has happened within the system of party politics.  On this week's episode of Think Again - a Big Think Podcast, Wilentz and host Jason Gots discuss identity politics, human life on Mars, and the culture war that began when the counterculture "won" the battle in the late '60s, and which Wilentz argues is reaching a final cataclysm with the election of 2016.  Surprise discussion clips in this episode: Comedian Lewis Black on political correctness, Bill Nye on colonizing Mars.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
02/07/16·38m 5s

52. Jim Gaffigan (Comedian) – You're Attacking My Grandpa?

“It’s funny or it’s not funny. In the end, people are not coming  to my show because I’m not cursing” – Jim Gaffigan Jim Gaffigan is a Grammy nominated stand-up comedian and the New York Times best-selling author of “Dad is Fat” and other books, and he’s about to launch the second season of  his semi-fictitious TV show, The Jim Gaffigan Show.  On this week's episode of Think Again - a Big Think Podcast, Jim and host Jason Gots talk about the gift of loving what you do for a living, "othering" people we disagree with, and how bigotry is a bipartisan phenomenon. Trump comes up, as do The Simpsons, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, New Yorkers' weird ideas about the Midwest and vice versa, and Jim's Grandpa (sort of).   Surprise discussion clips in this episode: Princeton historian Sean Wilentz on the Trump phenomenon, Dan Pontefract on working with purpose.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
25/06/16·41m 9s

51. Krista Tippett (Author, Host, "On Being") – We Are Made by What Would Break Us

"That is one of the most mysterious things about human existence: that we are made by what would break us, repeatedly. That life is hard, and the only guarantee we have is that even at our moments of greatest accomplishment, something will happen that we didn’t expect." – Krista Tippett Krista Tippett is the Peabody award-winning host of the radio program and podcast On Being, in which she and her guests discuss the deeper mysteries of the universe and human existence, which can be difficult things to talk about. Her new book is called Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living. It distills and organizes some of the insights she’s gained over 12 years of talking to spiritual, scientific, artistic and social pioneers about many, many things, but maybe fundamentally about how to live a good life.  On this week's episode of Think Again - a Big Think Podcast, Krista and host Jason Gots discuss the things that are most difficult and most necessary to talk about––the divides across which our words and our courage fail.  Surprise discussion clips in this episode: Amy Cuddy on body language, Russell Simmons on the ethics of veganism, and Max Bazerman on cognitive blind spots.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
18/06/16·45m 35s

50. Ethan Hawke (Actor, Author) – The High, Hard Road/Ghosts of the Apache Wars

“Whenever we start seeing people as other, we just get lost. There were so many decent cowboys trying to do the right thing. And so many decent First Nation people trying to do the right thing. And there were so many liars, and cheaters, and people trying to get ahead. So many people with short term goals screwing everything up.”  After his breakout roles in Dead Poets Society and Reality Bites, actor, director, and author Ethan Hawke has followed his own path as an artist, starting a theater company, writing two novels, acting in decade-spanning film productions directed by Richard Linklater including, most recently the amazing Boyhood. He’s just published his first graphic novel, which he wrote with artist Greg Ruth. It’s called  INDEH: A Story of the Apache Wars, and its tells a complex and very human story of relations between the Apaches and the white Americans who ultimately took over their lands.  On this week's episode of Think Again - a Big Think Podcast, Ethan Hawke and host Jason Gots discuss fatherhood, perpetual warfare, and the daily struggle between light and dark within every person. It's a raw, intense, sometimes laugh-out-loud conversation that spans continents and decades in under an hour.  Surprise discussion clips in this episode: Sam Harris on spirituality, Steven Kotler on Steroids (not literally ON them), and Jerry Kaplan on robot wars.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
11/06/16·50m 37s

49. Geoff Dyer (Author) – Ordinary Epiphanies

Novelist and essayist Geoff Dyer is one of the English language's most mordant and poetic observers of art, travel, and human behavior. He's the winner of the National Book Critics Circle  Award for Criticism and the Windham Campbell Prize for Nonfiction. In his most recent book White Sands, weaving stories about places to which he has recently traveled with images and memories that have persisted since childhood, Dyer tries “to work out what a certain place—a certain way of marking the landscape—means; what it’s trying to tell us; what we go to it for.” On this week's episode of Think Again - a Big Think Podcast, Dyer talks revenge, hallucinogens, the criminal brain, Geoff's disappointing trip to see the Northern Lights and more, and there is a spontaneous William Blake smackdown, much to the chagrin of host Jason Gots.  Surprise discussion clips in this episode: Michael Gazzaniga, Lawrence Krauss, and Maia Szalavitz Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
04/06/16·40m 21s

48. Mary-Louise Parker (Actress, Author): Virtual Empathy?/Lessons Relearned

Death, Bob Marley, parenthood, gratitude, and what to do in the face of incalculable suffering. These are just a few of the topics raised in this episode's vulnerable, searching discussion with Tony, Emmy, Obie, and two-time Golden Globe award-winning actress and author Mary-Louise Parker. She’s won many awards -- Tony, Obie, Golden Globe, Emmy -- for her roles in the Showtime series Weeds, the TV miniseries of Angels in America, and the play Proof, among other things. Unbeknownst to many people until now, she’s also a seriously talented writer. Her first book,  Dear Mr. You, is a series of letters to men, real and hypothetical, living and dead, who have had a meaningful impact on her life.  Surprise interview clips from Henry Rollins and Ralph Rivera set Mary-Louise and host Jason Gots off on a conversation about the limits of empathy, the power of music, and the fact that likability is way overrated.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
28/05/16·35m 40s

47. Kate Tempest (rapper/poet/novelist): Lost and Found in South London

"When you’re writing a novel, it’s agony. It’s complete agony. It’s a horrible thing to put yourself through. All of the instinctive kind of rushes of creativity, the energized outpourings, anybody can do that. That’s not what makes you a writer. The bit of this job that makes you a writer is when you don’t feel like that. When you feel like you never deserved to even imagine that you could have been a writer. When you hate every word that you’ve made. When you doubt every single part of your brain. To sit down in that space and work because you’ve got a deadline to meet, because you’ve got a novel to write. You know to ignore your brain in that moment, because your brain is defeating you. You have to be able to trust your hand." – Kate Tempest, in this episode  Kate Tempest is a force of nature. She won the coveted Ted Hughes award for her epic poem Brand New Ancients, which she toured internationally as a stage show to massive critical acclaim. Her novelistic 2014 rap album Everybody Down takes hip-hop in entirely new directions. And with 2016's The Bricks That Built the Houses, she has reworked these ideas into a deeply moving and powerful novel (her first) about four friends in her native South London.  Our conversation starts here, with the challenges and discipline of novel-writing and travels through deep and personal territory, as Kate talks passionately about art and the human heart in our "tragic and troubling times".  NOT TO BE MISSED: Kate's breathtaking, spontaneous poetic monologue at the very end of the show.  On this week's episode of Think Again - A Big Think Podcast, Kate and host Jason Gots go deep into these topics and more.  Surprise discussion clips in this episode: Augusten Burroughs on writer's block and William Shatner on science and imagination.  Kate Tempest song sampled in the show: Europe is Lost Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
21/05/16·38m 20s

46. Chris Gethard (Comedian) – a Blessing in Disguise

I’m starting to feel that what people in the future will actually want is something that feels small. That feels like not everyone has access to it. You’ll see more people making a modest living and less people making these massive superstar livings.   – Chris Gethard, in this episode.  Why was having his "big break" sitcom bomb a blessing in disguise for Chris Gethard, creator of the beloved Chris Gethard Show  "the most bizarre and often saddest talk show in New York City"? What do comedians and con artists have in common? When your authenticity and approachability make you famous, how do you maintain them?  On this week's episode of Think Again - A Big Think Podcast, Chris and host Jason Gots go deep into these topics and more.  Surprise discussion clips in this episode: Maria Konnikova and Baratunde Thurston.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
14/05/16·39m 58s

45. James McBride (Author) – Fear Sells Many a Car/James Brown is a Noun

“Fear is just a monster motivator. It sells many a car and harnesses many a vote.”  – James McBride, in this episode.  Fear, says National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author James McBride, was the most powerful force in the life of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. It drove him to become "the hardest working man in show business", to hoard massive stashes of cash beneath hotel room carpets, and to seek temporary refuge in drugs. It also drove him to leave one of the most astonishing musical legacies in American history, redefining R&B, Soul, and Funk music in the process.  This, along with surprise interview clips from Charles Duhigg, Steven Pinker, and A.O. Scott, is the spark that sets James McBride and host Jason Gots off on a conversational journey with many twists and turns that touches on violence, virtual reality, and what it's like to be in a writer's room with Ta-Nahesi Coates, James McBride, David Simon (creator of The Wire) and Pulitzer Prize winning historian Taylor Branch.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
07/05/16·35m 10s

44. Douglas Rushkoff (Media Theorist) – Hack the $ystem

"The problem with our time is that we look at people for their utility value.", says Douglas Rushkoff, author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus.  Since the late Middle Ages, Rushkoff argues, money and businesses have been programmed to extract more and more value from humans and the earth. The priority of endless growth has led to scorched-earth policies that put humans out of work and destroy the planet,  But we programmed the system in the first place, says Rushkoff, and we can reprogram it. Join him and Think Again host Jason Gots for a searching discussion of our many, many alternatives to a robot dystopian future.  Surprise conversation-starters in this episode from novelist Joshua Cohen, communication expert Nancy Duarte, and personal growth expert Tara-Sophia Mohr. And here's Jason Gots' article on Rushkoff's new book, which Jason really, really liked.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
30/04/16·36m 0s

43. Michael Puett (Harvard Chinese Philosophy Scholar) – Freedom Through Ritual

Michael Puett teaches one of three most popular undergraduate courses at Harvard, on ancient Chinese philosophy and ethics: Daoism, Confucianism, Legalism, Moism, and more. What keeps students coming back year after year to this seemingly esoteric subject? Puett promises that if you take the ideas in his course seriously, they will change your life. He captures these ideas in his new book The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life, co-authored with Christine Gross-Loh.  On this week's episode of Think Again, Puett and host Jason Gots discuss free will, Western individualism, and more, with surprise prompts from interview clips with Jesse Ventura and Nobel Laureate physicist Frank Wilczek.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
23/04/16·34m 9s

42. Joshua Cohen (Novelist) – Scrupulously Messy, by Which I Mean Human

In this week's episode Joshua Cohen, author of the "great American internet novel" Book of Numbers, says that if a cliché sticks around long enough it can become a prayer. In conversation with host Jason Gots and prompted by video interview clips featuring Henry Rollins and Nikhil Goyal, Cohen delves into secret languages, the horrors of childhood, and the dangers of overexplaining. It's a punchy and penetrating dialogue with one of our most original living authors.  “Just don’t unpack shit. Let’s make the world more opaque.”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
16/04/16·34m 58s

41. Sarah Kay (Poet) – Kids See Right Through That

"Authenticity is something that cannot be fabricated." – Sarah Kay  On this week's episode, poet Sarah Kay, whose 2011 TED talk "If I Should Have a Daughter" has been viewed over 9 million times, shares her thoughts on who gets (and who doesn't get) to have a voice, on the power of authenticity and vulnerability, and on what she'd do if the world were in imminent danger of destruction by an asteroid.  And stay tuned for a shatteringly beautiful song/poem at the end.  Surprise Big Think interview clips from Josh Ritter, Lewis Black, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson spark a thoughtful, playful, far-ranging conversation between Sarah and host Jason Gots. It's deep fun.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
09/04/16·34m 53s

40. Nikhil Goyal (Education Activist) – Mind in a Box

Put 8 year old Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders together in a progressive 2nd grade classroom. What would happen?  Since the dawn of compulsory schooling America has been experimenting on young minds with pedagogies and systems of control that arguably do more to prepare kids for a life of servitude than of independent thought and civic engagement.  20 year old Nikhil Goyal, author of Schools on Trial, argues that mainstream US public schools do more harm to children than good, and that we need to rethink them from the bottom up.  Clips from comedian Paul F. Tompkins, Jesse Itzler, and Helen Fisher launch Goyal and host Jason Gots on a passionate & intense discussion that keeps coming back to our messed up education system and what we ought to do about it.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
02/04/16·35m 6s

39. Maria Popova (Writer, Editor of Brain Pickings) – The Absurdity of Not Writing Poems

"I’m always pulled toward anything that helps me figure out how to live a meaningful and substantive life." – Maria Popova What does real friendship look like? How can something written a thousand years ago help us to navigate our lives in the 21st century?  On this week's Think Again, host Jason Gots speaks with Maria Popova, the creator, writer, and editor of Brain Pickings, a labor of love that  has grown into a massive web media presence -- a blog, newsletter, twitter feed and more that shares timeless wisdom from authors past and present about how to live a meaningful life.  Maria reads the poem Possibilities by Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska, which, along with three surprise interview clips with William Shatner, Howard Gardner, and Jon Kabat-Zinn sparks a far-ranging and revealing conversation on friendship, modern anxiety, and so much more.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
26/03/16·39m 29s

38. Amanda Palmer (Musician, Author) – Privacy Is Weird

"As human beings we all have this flaw, which is to think that there’s a right way of doing things. And it’s just bullshit." – Amanda Palmer on Think Again  Artist Amanda Palmer is a practitioner of radical trust –– On tour, she couch surfs with fans from all over the world. She's allowed fans to sign her naked body after shows. Through the online crowdfunding platform Patreon, she empowers her fans to support her work one "thing" at a time.  On this week's Think Again, Amanda and host Jason Gots have a lively, free ranging discussion on the spectrum from unfiltered expression to highly polished art, #blacklivesmatter , Apple's privacy fight with the FBI, and whether or not and to what extent the internet is turning us all into a bunch of narcissistic idiots.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
19/03/16·34m 33s

37. Cory Booker (US Senator) – Cynicism: a Refuge for Cowards

“We all have so much power that we don’t use. And I think it’s because of cynicism,  which is a toxic spiritual state. Cynicism is a refuge for cowards.” –– Cory Booker Why do so many of us choose to remain in a state of "sedentary agitation" about America's problems when there are so many things we could do to help? This is the core question of UNITED, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker's powerful new political biography.  And it surfaces again and again on this week's THINK AGAIN as Senator Booker and host Jason Gots talk race, poverty, hope, and apathy in America, 2016.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
12/03/16·25m 49s

36. Yann Martel (Author) – The Vacuum of Space Leaves Me Cold

Yann Martel, author of the Man Booker award-winning novel Life of Pi and The High Mountains of Portugal, is not a big fan of outer space. Nor of science in general.  “Science," he says on this week's episode, ". . . is a truth that exists whether I’m there or not. And that’s what I like about religion and art: To art and religion, I DO matter.”  Sparked by surprise video clips on quantum entanglement, linguistic diversity, and whether or not the internet is turning us all into narcissists, Martel and host Jason Gots discuss selfies, chimpanzees, faith, and more.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
05/03/16·33m 33s

35. A.O. Scott (Film Critic) – The Right to Be Wrong

A.O. Scott: The fantasy that I would use to comfort myself [as a child, about death] was…that I’d become other people. I would still be me, but I would inhabit different bodies…and eventually I would just get to see what it was like to be everybody. Jason Gots: That’s a critic’s fantasy. A.O. Scott: Yeah! And you discover shortcuts to do that...through works of art. A.O. Scott's new book Better Living Through Criticism playfully and artfully examines what critics do and why. On this week's episode, he and host Jason Gots dig into these ideas, then react to surprise clips from Jesse Ventura, MIT professor Sherry Turkle, and philosopher John Grey. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
27/02/16·29m 0s

34. Paul F. Tompkins (Comedian) – A Tiny, Cosmic Threat

Shockingly well-dressed comedian Paul F. Tompkins, host of Spontaneanation and the television show No, You Shut Up! joins host Jason Gots for improvised singing and conversation on subjects ranging from supervillains to presidential debates. Also! We debut our amazing new theme song from the mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
20/02/16·29m 52s

33. Marc Goodman (Cybersecurity Expert) – Dark Web/Nigerian Princes

All technology is in effect “dual use.” You can use it for good, or you can use it for ill. – Marc Goodman At what point does government's incompetence at policing sex predators and other internet criminals constitute breach of contract with the general public? Has anyone on Earth actually read the "terms of service"? Marc Goodman, a cybersecurity expert and author of the New York Times bestseller FUTURE CRIMES talks with Big Think'sJason Gots about these questions and more, prompted by surprise videos from Physician David Agus, Guardian Angel Curtis Sliwa, and former Muslim extremist Maajid Nawaz. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
13/02/16·38m 19s

32. James Doty, MD (Neurosurgeon) – Compassion and The Prison State

“Justice without the opportunity for redemption is torture.” -- James Doty In this week's episode neurosurgeon James Doty, founder of the Stanford University Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and author of Into the Magic Shop , and Think Again host Jason Gots wrestle with questions spiritual, political, and neurobiological. It's a lively good time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
06/02/16·31m 14s

31. Michael Shermer (Author, Friendly Skeptic) – A Dirty Job/We Want to Believe

“We skeptics need evidence. And then, we’ll believe!” -- Michael Shermer In this week's episode, Michael Shermer, author of Skeptic and The Moral Arc, and Think Again host Jason Gots discuss (among other things) compelling evidence that humanity's getting less evil overall. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
23/01/16·26m 30s

30. Howard Gardner (Psychologist) – Porn/Art/Good Work

At the risk of alienating your southern listeners, the American South is by far the most religious, and on every measure of turpitude it gets very good scores. -- Howard Gardner In this week's episode, Howard Gardner, creator of the theory of Multiple Intelligences and host Jason Gots discuss (among other things) whether or not pornography can be art. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
16/01/16·25m 10s

29. Sir David Hare (Playwright/Screenwriter) – Kleptocracy/A Thin Skin

I’ve written hit plays. I know what a hit feels like. It doesn’t significantly change your life. You still have to start again and try and write the next one. – David Hare In this week's episode, celebrated playwright Sir David Hare opines along with host Jason Gots, on art, nuclear weapons, and whether it makes sense to bring kids into this messed up world. Sir David's latest book is The Blue Touch Paper, a poignant, searching memoir about his childhood and his life's work on stage and screen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
09/01/16·31m 4s

28. Daniel Levitin (Musician & Neuroscientist) – Rats/Risks/Rewards

"Now newness is coming at us continuously. And the brain hasn’t evolved to deal with that onslaught of newness. There has to be some sculpting of the input. Otherwise it just becomes random noise." – Daniel Levitin Do you see yourself as in control of your destiny, or do you see things the other way around? Join Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of The Organized Mind, and Think Again host Jason Gots for a fascinating, high-energy exploration of human agency in the age of digital overload. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
26/12/15·30m 12s

27. Alva Noë (Philosopher) – The Upside of Boredom

"Art, by letting us get bored, reveals something to us about what we’ve been doing to avoid boredom.” – Alva Noë Why are we so afraid to slow down and think? Is it possible, in any sense, to separate reason and emotion? Is there such a thing as "too far out" in physics? On this week's episode, philosopher Alva Noë, author of "Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature" and host Jason Gots hear surprise clips from a physicist, a Wall Street "quant", and magician Penn Jillette. The far-ranging conversation that ensues digs deep into the nature of art, religion, and thought itself. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
19/12/15·31m 22s

26. Ian Edwards (Comedian) – Sex/Guns/Honesty is Honesty

“How would you control yourself if you knew you were one of the only five people to have guns? You would be an asshole!” –– Ian Edwards Are you "man enough" for non-monogamy? Could citizen gun ownership deter crazy cops? Can brutal honesty launch your comedy career?  This week, comedian [Ian Edwards][1], fresh off the release of his album 100% Half-Assed (on Conan O’Brian’s Team Coco Records) talks guns, sex, and laughs with host [Jason Gots][2], and stuns him into silence for a full three seconds (which was heretofore believed to be impossible).  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
12/12/15·29m 56s

25. Sam Harris (Neuroscientist) – Uncomfortable Conversations

What are the limits of tolerance? Can people with fundamentally different world views coexist peacefully? Is faith incompatible with reason? In the wake of the recent Paris attacks, these questions are more pressing than ever. In this week's episode philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris delves deep into all of the above with host Jason Gots, through the lenses of Islamic extremism, the telepathic powers of fiction, and what would happen to your identity if you could be replicated down to the atom. Sam's latest book, Islam and the Future of Tolerance, is a dialogue with Maajid Nawaz, a former Islamic extremist now working for tolerance within and for the Muslim world. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
05/12/15·43m 0s

24. Maira Kalman (Artist) – Scared of Math/Psycho Killer

"My goal is always to be laughing. Do you lose the laughter once you become too good at something?” - Maira Kalman Think Again is a spontaneous, brainy variety show – The world's brightest minds grapple with surprise topics. Artist and author Maira Kalman, best known perhaps for her startlingly original New Yorker covers, has a unique way of looking at and living in the world. On this week's episode of "Think Again," she and host Jason Gots try to sort out why they're both so terrified of math, and whether militarized sociopaths are a necessary part of our world. Maira's new book "Beloved Dog" is a poignant, hilarious look at a creature the artist once considered a deadly monster, and now can't live without. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
28/11/15·25m 36s

23. Orhan Pamuk (Nobel Novelist) – Write to Live/No Logic In War

"There is no central logic in war. Victor Hugo wrote about street fights in Paris. In one street people are killing each other. In the next street people are enjoying their coffee. They’re not even aware of what’s happening." – Orhan Pamuk Think Again is a spontaneous intellectual variety show–The world's brightest minds grapple with surprise topics. On the heels of the publication of A Strangeness in My Mind, his extraordinary epic novel of life in Istanbul over four decades through the eyes of a street vendor, Nobel Laureate Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk joins host Jason Gots for a soulful, far-ranging discussion of immigration, war, love, and the art of the novel. And he teaches Jason something he'll never forget about how to live the writing life. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
21/11/15·29m 58s

22. Wendell Pierce (Actor, 'The Wire') – Godot Ain't Coming

Smart people. Surprise topics. Deep fun. This week, actor and New Orleans native son Wendell Pierce ('The Wire', 'Treme'), author of the new book "The Wind in the Reeds," about his work at the local and national level rebuilding New Orleans over the past decade since Hurricane Katrina. Surprise clips from Big Think's interview archives launch a deep discussion between Wendell and host Jason Gots about sexuality, generosity, and the power of art across time and culture. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
14/11/15·26m 17s

21. Saul Williams (Poet, Musician, Actor) – An Army of Poets/the 10,000 Things

Send in the poets. Send in the seducers. Vulnerable people, not invulnerable drones who can mistake a wedding party for a terrorist cell. When those mistakes are made, that is how ISIS is born. – Saul Williams Saul Williams is a fiercely original, multitalented artist who burst on the scene as an actor and a slam poet in the 1998 film Slam, which won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance, and as a rapper/musician with the 2001 album Amethyst Rock Star, produced by Rick Rubin. He has since released four additional albums, five books of poetry, and starred in the Broadway musical Holler if You Hear Me, based on the life and poetry of rapper Tupac Shakur. His latest book of poetry, U.S.(a.) captures some of his thoughts on this country and this moment in history after four years of living abroad in Paris. This week on Big Think's podcast Think Again, Saul and host Jason Gots respond to three surprise clips from the interview archives and go deep into everything from war to religion to whether Saul's art is "unpackageable". It's one of our most intense and engaging conversations yet. Listen to the end for a special bonus –– "Horn of the Clock Bike", a track from Saul's upcoming 2016 album Martyr Loser King Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
07/11/15·40m 31s

20. Jesse Ventura (Wrestler, Governor) – Off the Grid/Life on Mars

How to tell conspiracy and crazy apart. How six months a year "off the grid" in Mexico changes your perspective on everything. The "water bear", a possible alien life form among us. This week on Big Think's podcast, host Jason Gots talks with legendary professional wrestler, author, actor, and Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura, who has just published his latest book, American Conspiracies. Three surprise clips from Big Think's interview archives launch a thoughtful, searching, sometimes personal discussion of our accelerating culture and how to live the life you want. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
30/10/15·23m 1s

19. Ruth Reichl (Food Critic) – Identity Crisis/The Cooking Cure

When you lose everything, what do you reach for first? This week on Big Think's podcast, food critic Ruth Reichl, author of My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life talks with host Jason Gots about cooking, identity, and her year-long journey back to herself. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
24/10/15·20m 4s

18. Junot Díaz (Pulitzer-Winning Novelist) – Double Lives/Hidden Culture

Is everybody leading a double life? Why are great comic books STILL NOT part of the "literary canon"? Would having a gay president actually change anything in America? This week on Big Think's podcast, Junot Díaz, Dominican-American, Pulitzer prize winning author of The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao talks with host Jason Gots about deception, culture, and techno-optimism. Three surprise clips selected from Big Think's interview archives spark intense, funny, fascinating observations on who we are, what we know (and don't know about ourselves), and where we're headed. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
17/10/15·27m 13s

17. Norman Lear (TV Legend) – An Authentic Horse's Ass/The Capacity to Choose

We surprise the world's sharpest minds with unexpected topics. This week, legendary TV producer Norman Lear, author ofEven THIS I Get to Experience joins host Jason Gots to discuss Mars colonies, immigration, and the upside of stress. “If I learned anything writing the book, it was that it’s hard to be a human being. I don’t care what the circumstances of one’s birth: if there is nothing in life that makes trouble, or mischief, we’ll make it up. It’s a hard game. But the kick is in knowing that, and beating the odds.” –– Norman Lear Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
10/10/15·25m 10s

16. Jane McGonigal (Game Designer) – Game On!/Death to "Gamification"

Fantasy can save your life but how much is too much? This week on Big Think's podcast we discuss three surprise ideas with game developer and researcher Jane McGonigal, author of the new book SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient--Powered by the Science of Games. Archival Big Think interview clips from President Grimsson of Iceland, last week's guest Salman Rushdie, and business guru Jerry Kaplan launch three in-depth discussions that may change the way you think about games and gaming forever. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
03/10/15·21m 31s

15. Salman Rushdie (Novelist) – Happiness/Monsters

“For most of the time, writing any book, it's not going well."–– Salman Rushdie on Think Again This week on Big Think's popular podcast, we're joined by the brilliant and occasionally notorious Salman Rushdie, author of the new book Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty Eight Nights. Surprise video clips from Big Think's archives launch a fascinating conversation about reason, imagination, bad grammar on Twitter, theoretical physics, literary hoaxes and the late Oliver Sacks. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
26/09/15·21m 48s

14. Freakonomics' Stephen Dubner – Free $#!+/Hidden Costs

Are Pirate Bay (illegal, free) and Spotify (legit, really cheap) undermining artists' incentive to create? This week on Big Think's podcast, we're joined by Freakonomics' Stephen Dubner. An interview clip from film producer Jonathan Taplin launches an in-depth discussion of the way we consume and pay (or don't pay) for media in the post-Napster age. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
19/09/15·20m 46s

13. "Reply All" Hosts PJ & Alex – Future Crime/Personal Yoda/Bonus Track

Can we escape our own irrationality? Is weaponized DNA something we should be worrying about? Does the future look like "Mad Max"? This week on Big Think's podcast, we're joined by the astounding Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt, creators and hosts of "Reply All," (one of our very favorite podcasts, EVER) and the astonishing Matt Farley writes us a theme song in under an hour. Interview clips from futurist Steven Kotler, psychologist Dan Ariely and actor/activist George Takei get us talking (and laughing) about all kinds of unexpected things, and result in the aforementioned song. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
12/09/15·27m 54s

12. George Takei (Actor + Activist) – Ego/Focus/Xenophobia

Is attention an endangered species? How do you collaborate with someone who hates you? Is xenophobia a natural side effect of religion? In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by actor, activist, and internet superhero George Takei. Interview clips from Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Parr, and Daniel Kahneman launch a lively conversation about religion,human rights, and the three types of attention. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
05/09/15·29m 36s

11. Tina Roth Eisenberg (AKA @swissmiss) – Culture Theory/Color Theory

How do colors affect us psychologically? Will a less hierarchical, more collaborative society lead inevitably to robot wars? In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by Tina Roth Eisenberg (AKA Swissmiss), Swiss-born designer and entrepreneur who runs the popular SwissMiss blog and the Creative Mornings lecture series. Interview clips from Adam Alter and Chris Fussell launch a lively discussion of design, entrepreneurship, and the purpose-driven life Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
29/08/15·23m 25s

10. Mark Epstein (Buddhist Psychotherapist) – Nature/Nurture/Neither

Will nanobots someday deposit Shakespeare directly into our brains? If we paid politicians tons of money would they do a better job? Does epigenetics solve the nature/nurture debate? In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by Mark Epstein, Buddhist-influenced psychiatrist and author of Thoughts Without a Thinker and The Trauma of Everyday Life. Interview clips from Stephen Dubner, Kayt Sukel, and Nicholas Negroponte launch a probing discussion of education, free will, and a contemporary twist in the "nature/nurture" debate. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
22/08/15·31m 2s

9. Henry Rollins (Artist), pt. II – American Trauma/The Word "Genius"

Can anything cure what ails America? What's a "genius", exactly? In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, we air part two of our conversation with legendary hardcore musician and spoken word artist Henry Rollins. Interview clips from Paul Ekman and James Gleick launch a discussion of a nation divided and the character traits of "geniuses". Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
15/08/15·24m 54s

8. Maria Konnikova (Author) – Mindset/Creativity/Suburban B-Boyz

Can "positive thinking" keep you physically and mentally young? Do schools kill creativity? Should white boys ever rap or breakdance? In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game and Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes. Interview clips from Kelly McGonigal, Lawrence Krauss, and Tavis Smiley launch a discussion of 21st century education, racial identity, and the powers and limits of positive thinking. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
08/08/15·22m 55s

7. Baratunde Thurston (Comedian, Cultural Critic) – Stupidity Scaled/Robot Rights/Brand You

At what point do sex robots become sex slaves? How are bandwidth and storage capacity changing our lives? Can you have a "personal brand" and "be yourself" at the same time? In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by author and tech pundit Baratunde Thurston, "a philosopher comedian fighting for the future." Interview clips from Rick Smolan, Lawrence Krauss, and Guy Kawasaki launch a discussion of human potential, social status, identity, and how Kim Kardashian's butt didn't actually "break the internet". Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
01/08/15·26m 23s

6. Brian Greene (Theoretical Physicist) – Student for Sale

Can anyone afford college anymore? Would it help if we sold stock in students? Would Young Einstein have been a popular commodity? In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots and sometime co-host Eric Sanders are joined byBrian Greene, theoretical physicist, director of the World Science Festival, and author of The Elegant Universe. An interview clip from economist Daniel Altman launches a discussion of why we bother to learn anything in the first place. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
24/07/15·15m 37s

5. Clint Smith (Poet, Educator) – Genetics/Racism/Harvard

Will our brainpower soon be exponentially enhanced by technology? Or will the world turn into a Terminator movie? Can genetics overcome its early history of racism? In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by poet and educator Clint Smith. Two interview clips from Ray Kurzweil and Alain de Botton launch a discussion of human potential, social status, and identity. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
18/07/15·21m 48s

4. Bill Nye (Science Guy) – Geek Chic/TMI/Future Money

Was Einstein a fashion genius? Why is Malcolm Gladwell unimpressed by search engines? What will money look like in 500 years? In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by beloved actor/educator Bill Nye, host of the "Tuesdays With Bill" series on Big Think. Big Think interview clips from Simon Doonan, Malcolm Gladwell, and Kabir Sehgal launch Bill and host Jason Gots on a spirited discussion that spans continents and centuries. And Bill Nye commits, on record, to wearing a matching bow tie and kilt. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
11/07/15·32m 54s

3. Wendy Suzuki (Neuroscientist) – Brain Health/Consumerism/Women In Science

Is the modern world designed to kill you? Do Fitbit and meditation apps make us healthier and happier? Are women changing science for the better? In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki, author of the book Healthy Brain, Happy Life. Two interview clips from Dan Ariely and Arianna Huffington spark lively conversation about healthy living in the modern world and the changing face of science. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
04/07/15·23m 14s

2. Henry Rollins (Artist) – Monogamy/Sexual Opportunism

Is monogamy ridiculous? Does this change with age? What do we really want out of love and sex? In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, we're joined by legendary hardcore musician and spoken word artist Henry Rollins. This clip from columnist Dan Savage launches Henry and host Jason Gots on an intense, personal conversation about love, big cities, and whether the two are incompatible. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
27/06/15·19m 51s

1. Jason Silva (Futurist) – Awe/Information Overload

"Dealing with the everyday requires us to close ourself off. . . But when you see art you want the opposite of shutdown.. . . .How do you adjust the treble and the bass of experience as it’s coming in?" With everything competing for your attention, how do you decide what to pay attention to? Can a movie, a song, or a novel transform your life? Your society? This week, on the first ever full episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, we're joined by psychedelic pop philosopher and futurist Jason Silva. The surprise topic of the day is . . . art and awe in the age of information overload. "To enrich ourselves we’ve got to curate ourselves." This video idea from Big Think's archives launches a far-ranging discussion that touches on Banksy, the movie Ex Machina, and the complicated relationship between the creators and the consumers of art in every medium. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
20/06/15·18m 22s

Episode Zero – Think Again - Curiouser and Curiouser . . .

You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we find ourselves outside of our comfort zones, thrust into unfamiliar, unexpected territory. So each week on Think Again, we surprise some of the world's brightest and most energetic minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. We listen together to a short interview clip from Big Think's archives and let the conversation take us where it will. Join Host Jason Gots and special guests including Bill Nye, Henry Rollins, Jason Silva, and many more each week for a spontaneous journey of intellectual surprise, discovery, and occasional bewilderment, as we go boldly where no talk show has gone before. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
04/06/15·4m 43s
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