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Think Again: A Big Think Podcast by Jason Gots

Think Again: A Big Think Podcast

by Jason Gots

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Big Think has been serving up bite-sized ideas from a wide variety of thinkers on their website and their popular YouTube channel since 2008. In their podcast (which now has over 50 episodes) they interview leading thinkers and entertainers. But they don't stop there. In this unique podcast they present the interviewee with three short Big Think ideas from their archive and then get their reactions to these ideas. Host Jason Gots carries out these podcasts with an wide-ranging group of guests including musician and spoken word artist Henry Rollins, science guy Bill Nye, physicist Brian Greene, Buddhist psychiatrist Mark Epstein, actor George Takei, Freakonomist Stephen Dubner, author Salman Rushdie, the multitalented Jesse Ventura, philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris, comedian Paul F. Tompkins, NY Times film critic A.O. Scott, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff, On Being host Krista Tippett, and many, many more interesting guests. Each podcast episode typically runs 30 minutes.


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  • 152. Where You Gonna Run To? Lorena Luciano and Filippo Piscopo (documentary filmmakers)
    Sat, Jun 16, 2018


    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.




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  • 151. Jessica Abel (cartoonist, creative coach) – Practical Magic
    Sat, Jun 09, 2018


    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



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  • 150. David Sedaris (humorist) – Sir David of the Spotless Roadways
    Sat, Jun 02, 2018


    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




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  • 149. Yanis Varoufakis (former finance minister of Greece) – Happiness, Inc.
    Sat, May 26, 2018


    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







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  • 148. Jonathan Lethem (writer) – Batman's Greatest Enemy
    Sat, May 19, 2018


    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



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  • 147. Ronan Farrow (investigative journalist) — A Failure to Communicate
    Sat, May 12, 2018


    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





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  • 146. Think Again LIVE with Kristen Radtke (graphic novelist) – The Fascination of What's Difficult
    Sat, May 05, 2018


    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




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  • 145. Michael Gazzaniga (neuroscientist) – The Impossible Problem
    Sat, Apr 28, 2018


    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, Ren? 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







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  • 144. Antonio Damasio (neuroscientist & philosopher) – Where is My Mind?
    Sat, Apr 21, 2018


    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




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  • 143. The Way Brothers (documentary filmmakers) – City On a Hill
    Sat, Apr 14, 2018


    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




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  • 142. Meg Wolitzer (writer) – Messages From Another Planet
    Sat, Apr 07, 2018


    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





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  • 141. Tara Westover (writer, historian) – Nothing Final Can Be Known
    Sat, Mar 31, 2018


    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




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  • 140. Martin Amis (writer) – The Spooky Art
    Sat, Mar 24, 2018




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  • 139. Neil Gaiman (writer) – And Then it Gets Darker
    Sat, Mar 17, 2018


    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




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  • 138. Steven Pinker (Cognitive Scientist) – The Defeat of Defeatism
    Sat, Mar 10, 2018


    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) 






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  • 137. Amy Chua (author, attorney) – U.S. & Them
    Sat, Mar 03, 2018


    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”








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  • 136. Michio Kaku (physicist) – Timid Monkeys on Mars
    Sat, Feb 24, 2018


    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 




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  • 135. Niall Ferguson (historian) – The Ghost of Future Past
    Sat, Feb 17, 2018


    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




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  • 134. Jacob Sager Weinstein (children's author) – Imaginary Histories, Possible Futures
    Sat, Feb 10, 2018


    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

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  • 133. Jeremy Bailenson (VR expert) – Through the Looking Glass
    Sat, Feb 03, 2018


    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




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  • 132. Karl Ove Knausgaard (writer) – The Way I Should Be in the World
    Sat, Jan 27, 2018


    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






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  • 131. Daniel Alarc?n (writer) – There's No Such Thing as Glamor, Really
    Sat, Jan 20, 2018


    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 Alarc?n. 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:

    Andr? Dubus III on violence, Ariel Levy on surviving grief





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  • 130. Mark Epstein, MD (Buddhist psychiatrist) – I, Me, Mine
    Sat, Jan 13, 2018


    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







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  • 129. Fatih Akin (film director) – This Blood-Drenched Earth
    Sat, Dec 16, 2017


    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.  




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  • 128. No?l Wells (actor/director) – Out of Context
    Sat, Dec 09, 2017


    100,000 or so years of human history and young adulthood is still getting weirder. 

    Jason Gots: My guest today is actor and filmmaker No?l 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










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  • 127. Manoush Zomorodi (journalist) – The Upside of Downtime
    Sat, Dec 02, 2017


    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 



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  • 126. Maya Jasanoff (Historian) – Civilization and Its Discontents
    Sat, Nov 25, 2017


    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





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  • 125. Reza Aslan (author) – Deus Ex Hominem
    Sat, Nov 18, 2017


    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




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  • 124. Juli Berwald (writer) – Our Jellyfish Overlords
    Sat, Nov 11, 2017


    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 





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  • 123. (Henry) Rollins, Redux: Monogamy+Genius+Violence
    Sat, Nov 04, 2017


    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





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  • 122. David Eagleman (neuroscientist) – Your Creative Brain
    Sat, Oct 28, 2017


    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



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  • 121. Van Jones (social entrepreneur) – Blind Spots & Sore Spots
    Sat, Oct 21, 2017


    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.





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  • 120. Nancy Koehn (Historian) – Holdin' on for a Hero
    Sat, Oct 14, 2017


    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






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  • 119. Aaron Mahnke (of 'Lore') – The Hunger for Mystery
    Sat, Oct 07, 2017


    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.







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  • 118. Stephen Greenblatt (humanities scholar) – Irresistible Fictions
    Sat, Sep 30, 2017


    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.







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  • 117. Kurt Andersen (writer) – The Sleep of Reason
    Sat, Sep 23, 2017


    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.






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  • 116. Claire Messud (writer) – All These Falls From Grace
    Sat, Sep 16, 2017


    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








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  • 115. Salman Rushdie (writer) – A Permeable Frontier
    Sat, Sep 09, 2017


    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"









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  • 114. 2017 Mixtape #2 – Words, Values, Self, Other
    Sat, Sep 02, 2017


    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. 







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  • 113. 2017 Mixtape #1 – Mind, Body, Authenticity, Artifice
    Sat, Aug 26, 2017


    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. 






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  • 112. Richard Dawkins (biologist) – Red in Tooth and Claw
    Sat, Aug 19, 2017


    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.






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  • 111. Ari Shaffir (Comic) – The Golden Age of Trolling
    Sat, Aug 12, 2017


    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





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  • 110. Peter Frankopan (historian) – You Can't Stop the Clock
    Sat, Aug 05, 2017


    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  





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  • 109. Sheelah Kolhatkar (Writer, Former Hedge Fund Analyst) – The Most Dangerous Game
    Sat, Jul 29, 2017


    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.






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  • 108. Jeff Garlin (Comedian) – K.I.S.S.
    Sat, Jul 22, 2017


    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







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  • 107. Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland (Authors) – The Garden of Forking Paths
    Sat, Jul 15, 2017


    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







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  • 106. Alan Alda (Actor) – The Spirit of the Staircase
    Sat, Jul 08, 2017


    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




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  • 105. Jennifer Doudna (Geneticist) - Intelligent Redesign?
    Sat, Jul 01, 2017


    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)









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  • 104. Timothy Spall (Actor) – That Double Want
    Sat, Jun 24, 2017


    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






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  • 103. Liza Jessie Peterson (Playwright, Arts-Educator) – The Sleeping Giant
    Sat, Jun 17, 2017


    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




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  • 102. Paul Theroux (Writer) – Saintly & Scowling
    Sat, Jun 10, 2017


    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






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  • 101. Ariel Levy (Writer) – Big Things That Are Not Talked About
    Sat, Jun 03, 2017


    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






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  • 100. Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysicist) – The Only "-ist" I Am
    Sat, May 27, 2017


    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"






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  • 99. Mary Gaitskill (Writer) – Their Animal Being
    Sat, May 20, 2017


    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




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  • 98. Lawrence Krauss (Physicist) – Lux Ex Machina
    Sat, May 13, 2017


    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




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  • 97. Dean Buonomano (Neuroscientist) – This is Your Brain on Time
    Sat, May 06, 2017


    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



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  • 96. Sarah W. Goldhagen (Architecture Critic) – Souls & Spaces
    Sat, Apr 29, 2017


    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






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  • 95. Kory Stamper (Lexicographer) – Lair of the Level 10 Word Mage
    Sun, Apr 23, 2017


    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"








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  • 94. Joyce Carol Oates (Writer) – Oh, That's Socialism
    Sat, Apr 15, 2017


    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





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  • 93. Adam Alter (Social Psychologist) – Ping!
    Sat, Apr 08, 2017


    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




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  • 92. Elif Batuman (Writer) – The Worst Appetizer in America
    Sat, Apr 01, 2017


    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




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  • 91. Daniel Dennett (Philosopher) – Thinking About Thinking About Thinking
    Sat, Mar 25, 2017


    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








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  • 90. Scott Aukerman (Comedy Writer) – The Buttons You Push
    Sat, Mar 18, 2017


    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





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  • 89. George Saunders (Author) – Self-Googling In Hell
    Sat, Mar 11, 2017


    “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.

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  • 88. Gish Jen (Author) – The Self in the World
    Sat, Mar 04, 2017


    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




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  • 87. Yuval Noah Harari (Historian) – Time's Up
    Sat, Feb 25, 2017


    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






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  • 86. Ayelet Waldman (Author) – Yourself, Only Better
    Sat, Feb 18, 2017


    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





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  • 85. Ben Goertzel (A.I. Inventor) – The State of the Art of Artificial General Intelligence
    Sat, Feb 11, 2017


    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 No?: “You are Not Your Brain”








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  • 84. Nato Thompson (Artistic Director) – The Friendly Face
    Fri, Feb 03, 2017


    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. 







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  • 83. Matt Taibbi (Journalist) – Bread and Circus
    Sat, Jan 28, 2017


    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.









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  • 82. Bernard-Henri L?vy (Philosopher) – The Mirror of Our Better Selves
    Sat, Jan 21, 2017


    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 L?vy. Known as “BHL,” he is among the last of a quintessentially French breed, the 20th century intellectuel engag?. 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. L?vy 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.






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  • 81. Isy Suttie (Comedian) – There's Something a Bit Smug about the Sea
    Sat, Jan 14, 2017


    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 ?i?ek 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.






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  • 80. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh (founder: MuslimGirl) – Who Tells Your Story?
    Sat, Jan 07, 2017


    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"

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  • 79. Paul Bloom (Psychologist) – Cold-Blooded Kindness
    Sat, Dec 31, 2016


    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




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  • 78. Peter Godfrey-Smith (Philosopher) – Alien Intelligence
    Sat, Dec 24, 2016


    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

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  • 77. Anne Rice (Author) – In the Blood
    Sat, Dec 17, 2016


    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

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  • 76. Tim Ferriss (Author, Podcaster) – Productively Frivolous
    Sat, Dec 10, 2016


    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" 

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  • 75. David Salle (Artist) – The Enemy of Art
    Sat, Dec 03, 2016


    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 No? on art as a "strange tool", and Julian Schnabel on art and the internet

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  • 74. Jace Clayton AKA DJ/Rupture - Sonic Veils and Revelations
    Sat, Nov 26, 2016


    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

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  • 73. T.C. Boyle (Author) - Lost on Purpose
    Sat, Nov 19, 2016


    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



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  • 72. Slavoj ?i?ek (Philosopher) - Against Tolerance
    Sat, Nov 12, 2016


    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 ?i?ek 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 ?i?ek 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




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  • 71. Jelani Cobb (Historian) - Shiny New Skin, Same Old Snake
    Sat, Nov 05, 2016


    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





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  • 70. Margaret Atwood (Author) - The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid
    Sat, Oct 29, 2016


    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




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  • 69. Jodi Picoult (Author) - Popular Fictions/Not Yours to Tell
    Sat, Oct 22, 2016


    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



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  • 68. William Shatner (Actor, Author) – Yes, I Am Trying to Win This Podcast
    Sat, Oct 15, 2016


    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 egoNikhil Goyal on Bullying



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  • 67. James Gleick (Science Writer) - Everything All at Once
    Sat, Oct 08, 2016


    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



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  • 66. Alton Brown (Chef, Author) - Easy-Bake Oven/Hard Knock Life
    Sat, Oct 01, 2016


    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 settingDrew Ramsey on diet and depression






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  • 65. Ian McEwan (Novelist) - A King of Infinite Space
    Sat, Sep 24, 2016


    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 productivityGlenn Cohen on the ethics of abortion




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  • 64. Mixtape #4 – The Writers' Room
    Sat, Sep 17, 2016


    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 HeenBessel Van Der KolkCharles 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.



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  • 63. Eric Kandel (Nobel Laureate neuroscientist) - The Eye of the Beholder
    Sat, Sep 10, 2016


    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 LevinSusan DavidGeorge Musser




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  • 62. Mixtape #3 – a Soup?on of Ornithology
    Sat, Sep 03, 2016


    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.  




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  • 61. Alison Gopnik (Developmental Psychologist) – Artificial Intelligence/Natural Stupidity
    Sat, Aug 27, 2016


    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 HolidaySteven Pinker, and Sonia Arrison



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  • 60. Teju Cole (Writer) – The World is Not a Settled Gift
    Sat, Aug 20, 2016


    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



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  • 59. Jacqueline Woodson (Writer) – Bored Kid Dreaming/Apologies Long Overdue
    Sat, Aug 13, 2016


    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 AddarioSebastian Junger,Maria Konnikova






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  • 58. Mixtape #2 – Staring at the Sea
    Sat, Aug 06, 2016


    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 EkmanRalph RiveraSherry TurkleParag Khanna




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  • 57. Mixtape #1 - Lies/Monsters/Friendship/Religion/Space Aliens
    Sat, Jul 30, 2016


    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 OatesDan ArielyWilliam ShatnerCharlene LiBrian Greene






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  • 56. Jonathon Keats (Experimental Philosopher) – The Trickster/Castles in the Sky
    Sat, Jul 23, 2016


    "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 comedyDan Savage on sex education, and Mary Roach on diharrhea in the armed forces

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  • 55. Mary Roach (Science Writer) – To Nietszche His Own
    Sat, Jul 16, 2016


    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 NietzschePhysicist Lisa Randall on Dark MatterSherry Turkle on Emotions and AI





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  • 54. LIVE! Sarah Jones (actor/playwright) –
    Sat, Jul 09, 2016


    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 economyAngie MacArthur on types of attentionParag Khanna on World War III

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  • 53. Sean Wilentz (Historian) – The Culture Strikes Back
    Sat, Jul 02, 2016


    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 correctnessBill Nye on colonizing Mars








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