Think Again – a Big Think Podcast

Think Again – a Big Think Podcast Podcast

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

190. Terry Gilliam (filmmaker) - The impossible dream
Faith in anything is its own special form of madness. It’s a challenge to entropy, and entropy takes no challenge lightly. If there’s any better metaphor for this struggle than trying to make a big budget movie with even a shred of integrity, I haven’t found it. On the one hand, you’ve got this impossible dream. This faith in the beautiful thing that’s supposed to emerge at at the end of the process. On the other hand, the process is a hellish sausage-making machine of studio bosses, financing, and acts of ...

189. Ross Kauffman (Oscar-winning filmmaker) – Tigers and the humans who love them
I was thinking this morning that It’s funny how “humane” is the only word we have for that idea, since so much that’s inhumane has been created by us humans. When we talk about the humane treatment of animals, considering the ways we’ve treated animals for most of our history, what can we possibly mean? Anyway...It’s a fair guess that prehistoric humans spent most of their time in awe of something or other. Mountains, oceans, the Earth, the Sun. And also of big cats with the power to hunt and kill us: lions...

188. Frans de Waal (primatologist) – You're such a social animal
When I was a kid, there used to be a TV commercial for this series of animal videos you could order that were basically nothing but killing and sex. The tagline was “Find out why we call them . . . ANIMALS”! “Wait a minute . . .“ I used to think: “That’s not why we call them animals. Also, we’re animals too, aren’t we? What exactly are you trying to say?” That video series was a cynical cash grab, but it’s not too far removed from how science has approached animal research, with some very recent exceptions....


187. Aml Ameen (actor) - how the world teaches you who you are
They say Confucius said “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” I did the research. Confucius probably didn’t say that. But whoever said it was right—revenge bites back.Victor Headley’s 1992 book YARDIE launched a genre of Jamaican pulp fiction. It’s the story of a life driven and destroyed by revenge, from the Kingston gang wars of the 70’s to the international drug trade of the 80’s. And it’s the basis for Idris Elba’s directorial debut—a movie of the same name staring my guest today,...

186. Josh Clark (podcaster) - It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine
I like to think. If I didn’t, this would be the wrong job for me. But I realize that as open-minded as I like to consider myself, I’ve taken a thick, black sharpie to certain areas of the philosophical map, scrawling “here there be monsters” and leaving them be. We’re all like this to some extent—it’s the flip side of interest—even if you’re super-curious, the things that interest you most become safe spaces. Comfort zones. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want to keep learning, it’s necessar...

185. Martin Hägglund (philosopher) – What happens to freedom when time is money
What gets a wolf or a pigeon up in the morning? No offense to wolves or to pigeons, but it’s probably not the desire to make the world a better place. As far as we know, humans are unique in the freedom to decide what’s worth doing with our finite time on Earth. But as my guest today argues, we often steal that freedom from one another or sell it off without even realizing it—our finite  lifetime, the one thing we have of real value, is devalued by capitalism and for those who have it, by religious faith in...


184. Mitchell S. Jackson (writer) – Notes from the other America
We’re all living inside concentric circles of private and public, inner and outer. From the time we’re small we start to understand that these circles aren’t always friendly to one another. There’s friction at their borders. The stuffed bunny that keeps your heart whole gets you tormented at school. The people you love most don’t look or sound like the cool people on TV. And neither do you. This is true to some extent for all of us, but if you’re growing up black in the other America—the one where everyday ...

183. Will Hunt (explorer) – into the Earth: the mysteries and meanings of underground spaces
The first time I attempted to play Minecraft with my then-seven-year-old son, we immediately dug ourselves into a pit deep in the Earth and could not get out. In spite of the crappy 8-bit graphics, all of our primal, H.P. Lovecraftian terrors of the underground were activated. We were trapped! We were lost! We might die down here! Will Hunt, on the other hand, has been climbing eagerly since childhood into dank and disorienting tunnels, caves, sewers, and other underground spaces, from abandoned New York Ci...

182. Ha Jin (writer) – the wild and tragic life of China's greatest poet, Li Bai
Let’s start with a very old poem : On the bank of Caishi River is Li Bai’s grave Surrounded by wild grass that stretches to clouds. How sad that the bones buried deep in hereUsed to have writings that startled heaven and moved earth. Of course poets are born unlucky soulsBut no one has been as desolate as you. When you think of an an ancient poet, what do you picture? Wandering? Drinking? A lot of ups and downs? That certainly describes the life of Li Bai, one of the most brilliant and beloved poets in Chin...


181. Marlon James (writer) – don’t get too comfortable
At this point, it’s very rare to read something and find myself thinking: This is something new. This is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It doesn’t have to be written in hieroglyphs or be some kind of three-dimensional interactive reading experience with pull-out tabs and half the pages upside down. That kind of formal experimentation, in my experience as a reader, more often ends up being gimmicky and annoying than exhilarating. In fact, paradoxically, the “wow this is something new” experience ofte...

180. Benjamin Dreyer (copy chief of Random House) – Really actually truly great English
There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who don’t give a damn about grammar, style, or  syntax, and those who write aggrieved letters to publishing houses about split infinitives. My guest today, Benjamin Dreyer, is neither. As the Copy Chief of Random House, it is his unenviable task to steer the middle way between linguistic pedantry and letting these writers get away with bloody murder. Scratch “bloody”—redundancy. Before reading his hilarious and practical new book DREYER’S ENGLISH,  I think ...

179. Edith Hall (classicist) – from Aristotle to Oprah and back again: how to live your best life
We’ve been talking a lot lately on this show about happiness. What it is, where we can get more of it, why it does not yet seem to be available on the Internet. Author Ruth Whippman presented some compelling evidence that the way most Americans are pursuing happiness is making us unhappier. Buddhist master teacher Joseph Goldstein talked about a way of training yourself to be more generous, and the happiness this has brought to his life. In her new book ARISTOTLE’S WAY, classicist Edith Hall reminds us that...


178. Douglas Rushkoff (freelance intellectual) – It's not the technology's fault
For me, the very best Onion article of 2018 was this one about Jeff Bezos revealing Amazon’s new headquarters to be the entire Earth, as an Amazon-branded glass sphere clicked into place, encasing forever the horrified inhabitants of our planet. More than a grain of truth in that one, eh? At this point, with all that’s happened over the past few years, I think you either have to be delusionally optimistic by nature or have strong vested interests in the tech industry to think that all is well in our digital...

177. Joseph Goldstein (Buddhist teacher) – Lighten Up: mindfulness, enlightenment, and everyday life
Love, money, health, great sex, peace of mind—however you define it, happiness in this world is impermanent and unreliable. But we’re all invested in the illusion that we’re just one career move or one Amazon purchase away from permanent bliss. To quote Darth Vader: Search your feelings—you know it to be true. Life is sometimes exhilarating and sometimes devastating, but it’s always, always in flux. This is the first noble truth of Buddhism. That everything in this life is unreliable and unsatisfactory. May...

176. Area 51 and the epistemology of the unexplained - Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell (filmmaker)
Between subjective experience and the things most people can accept as objective facts, there yawns a cavernous gulf. Imagine you’re on a stage in front of 50,000 strangers trying to explain what it felt like to fall in love for the first time. There are ways of going about it, but it sure ain’t easy. The facts most of us agree upon—things like gravity, our own mortality, global warming—they rest on reason, evidence, science. Clunky and fussy though they sometimes are, these are the best tools we have to te...


175. Helen Riess (psychiatrist) – Empathy in the brain and the world
Empathy is the basic stuff of human connection. It’s how we hear and are heard by one another. It’s how we deal with one another as people rather than objects. But with massive, relentless trouble in the world, the 24 hour news cycle, the pressure to choose political and social sides, and the struggles of our everyday lives, empathy is sometimes in short supply. My guest today is the psychiatrist and research scientist Helen Riess. She’s an associate clinical professor at Harvard and runs the relational sci...

174. Ruth Whippman (writer) – A mindful, productive, super-positive nation of nervous wrecks
In the years before the election of the impossible president rent forever the very fabric of being, the band Radiohead was busy channeling something many of us were feeling but nobody was really talking about. A kind of ambient, multivalent state of anxiety that seemed to characterize life in the mid-to-late ’90s. Listening to Radiohead was therapeutic. Your own awkward, unpresentable panic somehow dissolved into their sonic ocean, where it was transformed into sexy, transcendent beauty. It felt, uh…empower...

173. Wesley Yang (writer) - The Souls of Yellow Folk
Such and such “doesn’t suffer fools gladly”. That phrase has always bugged me a bit. It’s like someone has just squeezed a pillow infused with an admiration-scented vapor that then hangs in the air for just a second, leaving you to wonder: Who is this remarkable personage? And who are these fools, so unworthy of his regard that he doesn’t even have to suffer them? Well maybe he suffers them. But not gladly. And yeah, it’s usually a “he”. I don’t suffer that phrase gladly. But it’s trying to get at something...


172. A trans family in the holy land
Everybody is always in a state of transition. All the time, your cells are dying and replacing themselves. Your mind, your emotions, your goals, your sense of self—all of these are shifting from year to year as you age. In families where there are children, the changes are even more visible and dramatic. Bodies change, voices change, identity is always in flux. But we also have an instinct to mask these changes. To find ways of minimizing them to fit in.My guests today have a story to tell about what happen...

171. Michelle Thaller (NASA astronomer) on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality
This morning on the way to the school bus, my almost 11 year old son was explaining to me that if you shrunk an elephant down to the size of a mouse, it would shiver, then die, because of its slow mitochondria, due to something called the Rule of Squared Threes, which he also proceeded to explain. Then he explained something about neutron stars, claiming that they are essentially a giant atom, which I don't think is actually true. Then he started on another topic and I explained that this was all very wonde...

170. Lynsey Addario (photojournalist) – on art, love, and war
Think about all the images you see in a day. The advertisements. The photos and videos as you search the web or scroll through social media, if you do that. Now think back a century and a half or so to when photography was new. Imagine the first time a British monarch saw a picture of an Inuit family, or vice versa. What did they make of each other? What did it remake in themselves?My guest today, photographer Lynsey Addario, has spent over two decades traveling the world taking intimate and dramatic portra...


169. Ben Marcus' reality is only slightly askew from our own
A "grow light" for humans that cooks a guy's face. A pharmaceutical mist that puts you in the right mood for mourning the victims of terrorism. The year of All Hell Breaks Loose. The Year of the Sensor. Mudslides. Hurricanes. People who flee and people who stubbornly stay put. A terrible structure. A grand experiment. Creams and lotions that induce false prophecies. People who tumble into other people's marriages after they're dead. Every inch of the earth as a graveyard. More pharmaceuticals. Lives curated...

168. Michael Palin (writer and comic) – So long as there was laughter, I was safe
I recently spent several hours on a transatlantic flight zooming in and out of the interactive map of the Earth on my seat's personal entertainment unit. Exploring tiny islands in the polar North…impossible inland seas in the middle of Central Asian deserts…Places so remote and strange that they fire the imagination.In 2018, It's not easy to wrap your mind around the fact that not all that long ago no human and no satellite had ever set eye on many of these places. For all anybody knew, much of the Earth wa...

167. Gary Shteyngart (writer) - Reality catches up to dystopian fiction
Gary Shteyngart's new novel Lake Success is the evil doppelgänger of the Simon and Garfunkel song 'America'. In what is surely destined to become one of those legendary novel openings, right up there with "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times," we meet Barry Cohen, "a man with 2.4 billion dollars of assets under management . . ." in a Greyhound Bus Terminal at 3:20 am, bleeding from his face and drunk on $20,000 of Japanese whiskey.Shteyngart is one of my favorite writers ever. In the three b...


166. Manoush Zomorodi (journalist) — How blockchain might save journalism. Maybe.
Why would two intelligent women running a hugely successful podcast at one of the most respected studios in the audio world, quit to start a small journalism company built on blockchain, a technology very few people have ever heard of?To quote someone on Twitter yesterday paraphrasing Bill Clinton sounding pretty harsh, actually: "It's the business model, stupid."As we keep learning the hard way, as long as we get our journalism from Facebook and 24 hour cable news, we're suckers for infotainment, propagand...

165. Man Booker prize winners Olga Tokarczuk (author) and Jennifer Croft (translator) — As fact and fiction blur, America’s finally ready for Olga Tokarczuk
Does it ever strike you as odd that we manage to inhabit two completely different realities at once? On one level, we have common sense and reason that orient us in the world. We make narrative sense of our own life and self and we go about our day with a provisional yet perfectly satisfactory sense of what the hell we're doing. And on another level, we know basically nothing. Forget about dark matter and multiple universes. Just glance into the eyes of that stranger on the train—there's a whole world in th...

164. Jill Lepore (Historian) – Why America keeps going to pieces
As Alexander Hamilton put it, the American Experiment puts to the test the question “of whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice…or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” This question surfaces throughout Jill Lepore’s brilliant new history of the United States: These Truths. Our conversation took place during the live-streamed, virally-watched Senate Judiciary hearing on alleg...


163. Four Letter You – Merve Emre (scholar and critic)
Did you ever see the 1951 Disney version of Alice in Wonderland? Where the caterpillar, voiced by actor Richard Haydn, sits laconically on his giant toadstool, wreathed in hookah smoke, peers at Alice under his drooping eyelids and says:Who….Aaaaaaah…..you….?Even as kid, I felt the existential impact of that question. Not, "hey kid, what's your name?" But who, fundamentally, are you as a person? What are you like? Were you born that way? How much of that can you change? All those chilling, thrilling, bottom...

162. Emily Nemens (Editor, The Paris Review) — The Literary Industrial Complex
I have a confession to make: Literary magazines have always kind of intimidated me. Give me an 800 page, impenetrable work of literature any day. Like Captain Ahab, I’ll pursue it relentlessly unto the ends of the earth until it unfolds its briny secrets. But facing a shelf of lit mags at The Strand Bookstore, I always feel either underdressed or overdressed. Like a dream where you’re naked at the Vienna Opera or in head-to-toe Ralph Lauren at a Sonic Youth concert. Maybe all this started when I wrote a poe...

161. Congo: This Seemingly Impossible Knot – Daniel McCabe (documentary filmmaker)
THIS IS CONGO, a new documentary film, attempts to wrap its mind around the incomprehensible realities of the Democratic Republic of Congo, almost 60 years after it was founded. At one point, commenting on one of the more incomprehensible recent events, a high-ranking military officer remarks: “They will say, “This is Congo”But when will they ask “Why? why is Congo like this?”Where do we begin? Where can we begin? For as long as I can remember, the news out of Congo has been bad. But my memory of the news o...


160. Bassem Youssef (political satirist) – Now I Have to Answer for This?
My grandmother used to tell a story about coming to America from Poland. How she sang God Bless America to cheer up all the grownups on the ship. She was 5 or 6 years old, traveling alone with her mom. For her, it must have been a big adventure. I can hardly imagine what it was like for her mom— my great grandmother — how bad things must have been for Jews in their home town of Bialystok for her to pick up and leave like that, without her husband, heading toward some distant cousin in the undiscovered count...

159. Change is Made by the Ones Who Stay – Paula Eiselt (documentary filmmaker)
When I started college at New York University in 1990, nobody lived in Brooklyn. Brooklyn was the dark side of the moon. At least that’s how we NYU students thought about it. Lots of people lived in Brooklyn, of course. Just not us. It’s 2018, and Brooklyn has become an international brand, synonymous with artisanal pickles, gastropubs, and luxury condos. It’s the place even former NYU students can’t afford to live anymore. But in a couple of Brooklyn neighborhoods, people are still dressing and living in m...

158. Parker Posey (actor) – I See a Dachshund In You
The impulse to make art is with us from childhood. It’s the desire to play.  To say “hey! Look what I made!” It’s the wild fun of making a big mess that’s nobody else’s but your own—and not having to clean it up. Above all else, art is wild. It’s independent. It’s free. And that’s one reason why the art industry is a very weird thing. In order to make money “at scale” as the Silicon Valley kids like to say, movie studios, fancy galleries, and concert promoters have to quantify, systematize, and package that...


157. The Spiders From Mars – Jason Heller (Hugo Award-winning writer)
The other day I was at a kid’s birthday party and a fellow dad was joking that “When we were kids, it was all ‘bang-bang-bang!’ and now it’s all ‘pew-pew-pew!’”He was talking about video games and lasers as opposed to, I’m guessing, cowboys? Actually, as I remember childhood, it was all “wowm…wowm!” The sound of lightsabers. I was 5 years old when Star Wars: A New Hope came out, and like everyone who grew up back then, I had sci-fi seeping into my very pores. Alien civilizations. Cyborg killers. The dark, u...

156. While You Live, Shine – Christopher C. King (Grammy-winning music producer)
While you live, shine. Have no mourning at all. Life exists a short whileAnd time demands its fee. – From a 2000 year old tombstone in (then) Greek-speaking Asia MinorI’d like to do a little free-association exercise with you. I’m going to say three words and I’d like you to speak or write down all the words that come to mind as a result. No filtering. No judgment. Ready?American Pop Culture. Go!  . . . Ok. Here’s what I got: Kanye Trump Gun Meme YouTubeThat’s pretty sad, I suppose. And maybe it anecdotally...

155. Lauren Groff (writer) – We Should Die of That Roar
The places we live in shape us. I don’t care who you are how indomitable your will…your spirit is in dialogue with the place you live. For example, I live in New York City, a place I wrapped around me like a second skin when I was 18 years old. Back then New York made me feel strong, cool, infinitely removed from the suburbs I grew up in. I’ve been here for 25 years and at this point what I mostly notice is the claustrophobic public spaces, the smallness of the sky. What do you feel when you hear the word ‘...


154. Jonathan Safran Foer (writer) – One Thing We Can All Agree Upon
What is food? It’s nourishment. It’s comfort. It’s culture. It’s art. For millions of people, it’s not something you waste much time thinking about. You eat what you’ve always eaten. What everyone around you eats. What you can afford. For others, every bite is a careful, conscious choice motivated by the drive to be thin, to impress your friends, or to do the right thing. In 2018, whatever our motivations, most of us live at a vast remove from the places and the ways our food is produced. We meet it gleamin...

153. Guns: The Genie and the Bottle – Priya Satia (Historian)
When you think of the industrial revolution what comes to mind? Steam engines probably. Lone genius inventors. Factories and coal mines, perhaps. And depending on your professional interests and political leanings, either suffering laborers in sweat shops or the Great Onward March of Civilization. Did anybody think of guns? According to my guest today Stanford historian Priya Satia, guns are inextricably bound up with industrialization and it is our long and ever-changing relationship with these  tools, toy...

152. Where You Gonna Run To? Lorena Luciano and Filippo Piscopo (documentary filmmakers)
Imagine you’re a father or a mother of three kids. Your city is in the middle of a civil war. At any time a rocket might burst through your wall. Soldiers might round your family up, or kill them in crossfire. What do you do?You leave, of course. You do whatever you have to do to get your kids to safety. There will be many deadly risks along the way. But you know what’s the worst? The not knowing. The constant thoughts inside your head of everything that might go wrong, everything you hope will go right. Th...


151. Jessica Abel (cartoonist, creative coach) – Practical Magic
On an  earlier episode of this show the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk said something that I’ve never forgotten. He said that writing programs shouldn’t teach about plots or characters or how to structure a story. Instead, they should  teach writers to manage their own psyches. To be the captains of their own creative ships across the rough daily waters of fluctuating emotions and energies. This kind of self-management, he suggested, is what makes the difference between people who keep producing art and those...

150. David Sedaris (humorist) – Sir David of the Spotless Roadways
Life is full of horrible things. I dare you to deny it. Things like death, sickness, and alcoholism. And did I mention death, which lies in wait for us all? But if you talk about these things at dinner parties, or at work, or to someone you have just met in line at the grocery store, you risk being branded a negative person. In some circles, such as the state of California,  negativity is like leprosy. It can really mess up your social life. This does not seem to trouble my guest today, who has spent much o...

149. Yanis Varoufakis (former finance minister of Greece) – Happiness, Inc.
As the Wu-Tang Clan once put it: “Cash moves everything around me... Get the money. Dollar dollar bill, y’all.”I grew up not wanting to believe this. All the stuff that seemed worth having was hard to put a price tag on. but in a global capitalist world, there’s a lot of hard, sad truth to it. As an American child of the 1980s, I absorbed the message “find yourself!” “Follow your passions!” But there are powerful economic forces at work, shaping our lives and opportunities. My guest today experienced this i...


148. Jonathan Lethem (writer) – Batman's Greatest Enemy
There’s a famous line from a Bob Dylan song that goes “she’s got everything she needs...she’s an artist...she don’t look back.” As a person who loves art—music and literature especially—I’ve always been haunted by that line. Does an artist really not look back? Is looking back somehow a threat to creativity? What about Proust? Did he ever look anywhere but back? My guest today is Jonathan Lethem, one of my very favorite writers since I read his early novel Fortress of Solitude. He’s also the author of Mothe...

147. Ronan Farrow (investigative journalist) — A Failure to Communicate
In Hollywood movies diplomats always get a bad rap. I’m picturing Claude Rains as “Mr. Dryden” in Lawrence of Arabia looking, as Clyde Rains always does, somewhat reptilian as he hunches over a map of the Middle East with General Allenby, smirking secretively. Hollywood diplomats are slippery. Untrustworthy. More often than not, they turn out to be double agents. On screen, definitive action plays better than careful talk or compromise. This is true of America in general and of our politics in particular—we...

146. Think Again LIVE with Kristen Radtke (graphic novelist) – The Fascination of What's Difficult
This episode is really something different. It’s a live show we did on April 21st in Green Bay Wisconsin, as part of Untitled Town Book and Author Festival, now in its second year. I’d never been to Green Bay before. Nice town! You may know about the cheese and the football, but did you know that the Red Hot Chili Peppers once fled from the police due to an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction at a concert and spent the night hanging out at a local fan’s house? I learned this and much, much more from the wonder...


145. Michael Gazzaniga (neuroscientist) – The Impossible Problem
Je pense donc je suis. (I think, therefore I am.)Huh? Who is this I?How do I know that it is thinking?What does it even mean to say that I am—that I exist, if it's this mysterious,  untrustworthy Ithat says  so? To be fair, René Descartes didn't invent these problems. but In the centuries after his death, his thought experiments sent philosophers, psychologists and later on, neuroscientists reeling and spiraling down a seemingly bottomless chasm In search of Consciousness. What is it? Where is it? How did i...

144. Antonio Damasio (neuroscientist & philosopher) – Where is My Mind?
Why can’t we all just get along? And conversely, why do we sometimes get along so well, building cathedrals, inventing Democracy, symphonies, and stuff that that? According to my guest today, the answer is as old as life itself. In the behaviors of the most ancient forms of bacteria, single-celled organisms without a nucleus, we can see the seeds of civilization as we know it, for better and for worse. They form collectives. They go to war. The key is homeostasis—the imperative of all life to avoid harm and...

143. The Way Brothers (documentary filmmakers) – City On a Hill
In New York City, where we all live in little boxes on top of one another, “Ignore thy neighbor” is a reasonable coping strategy. Live and let live, right? To each her own. But what’s the tipping point at which thy neighbor becomes simply too numerous, too loud, too different to ignore? I’d submit that whoever you are. Wherever you locate yourself on that spectrum of tolerance. You too, have your limits. In the mid 1980s, a group of people in Oregon discovered their tipping point when a massive commune move...


142. Meg Wolitzer (writer) – Messages From Another Planet
Ambition and loyalty. What we want versus what we already have and should be grateful for. When there’s conflict here, in some ways it's a tension between loyalty to others and loyalty to ourselves…or maybe loyalty to who we are now versus another possible future self. Have I overcomplicated my life out of impatience and ingratitude? Have I broken something precious beyond repair? Or on the other hand, am I missing out on the life I’m supposed to have? Sometimes I think a lot of the trouble comes from the m...

141. Tara Westover (writer, historian) – Nothing Final Can Be Known
What does your education mean to you? What would you be willing to sacrifice for it? For me and my sister, growing up, it was a given that you’d get “well-educated.” You’d get good grades, go to a good college, and most likely graduate, medical, law, or business school.  School was just what you did…ritualized and rote the way religion is in other families. For my guest today, Tara Westover, the framework was completely different. In her mountain home in Idaho, school was seen as a threat. It was a governme...


139. Neil Gaiman (writer) – And Then it Gets Darker
Adult life, with all its schedules and responsibilities, can turn into a kind of library of locked boxes. The ones we open every day sit on a shelf at eye level, their keys clipped to a carabiner at our waist: Set the alarm. Pack a gym bag. Pick up milk for the kids. But on the lower shelves and in the dusty back rooms there’s an ominous jumble of odd-shaped containers. They hold the stories that don’t fit so neatly into the skin we’ve decided to live in. Maybe we’ve misplaced the keys, or maybe we’ve delib...

138. Steven Pinker (Cognitive Scientist) – The Defeat of Defeatism
I admit it. I confess. I’ve got a touch of what my guest today calls “progressophobia”. Ever since Charles Dickens got hold of me back in middle school, and William Blake after that, I’ve been a little suspicious of the Great Onward March of science and technology. Gene therapy, healthier crops, safer, more efficient forms of nuclear energy? Very nice, very nice. But what about eugenics, climate change, and Fukushima?  For every problem human ingenuity solves, doesn’t human nature create a new one, on a big...

137. Amy Chua (author, attorney) – U.S. & Them
I don’t know about you, but for me, middle school was horrible. I arrived at an all-male school in a still very homophobic era as a small, nervous, Michael Jackson fanatic. Don’t worry - I’m going somewhere with this. For three years, life was hell. Then I found my tribe—the drama nerds. Maybe we couldn’t beat you up, but you had to respect the artistry. In high school, Tribalism was power. My guest today is Yale Law professor Amy Chua, who shook the Internet up a few years back with her book BATTLE HYMN OF...


136. Michio Kaku (physicist) – Timid Monkeys on Mars
Back in the old days, if your species was faced with an existential threat, you were stuck hoping for some advantageous mutation. Maybe an extra fin or a slightly more sophisticated eyeball. Outwitting fate was pretty much out of the question. And as much as we might prefer to just go binge-watch something and forget about it, there are several plausible scenarios whereby humanity could face extinction in the too-close-for-comfort future. Happily, thanks to our very large brains and thinkers like my guest t...

135. Niall Ferguson (historian) – The Ghost of Future Past
Every time he sees a triangle these days, my 10-year-old son points and says “Gasp! the illuminati!” This is a meme he and all his friends absorbed from YouTube.   It’s interesting that several centuries after the Illuminati first appeared, as basically a idealistic secret boys’ club, followed by the Freemasons, these kinds of shadowy organizations still exert so much power on our imaginations. That’s because power doesn’t always come in the shape of Queens, Presidents, CEOs or Members of Parliament. Often ...

134. Jacob Sager Weinstein (children's author) – Imaginary Histories, Possible Futures
Once upon a time, there was a rabbit. No...Not a rabbit. Lewis Carroll already did that… How about an Amazonian river dolphin. Ok. once upon a time there was an Amazonian river dolphin who wondered about his cousins in the wide, open ocean, free from mud and muck and strangling roots. Hey - It’s not much, but it’s a start. Think back to any story you really loved as a child. Chances are, it starts with a tiny thread like this one. After that, it's up to the courage, imagination, and perseverance of the stor...


133. Jeremy Bailenson (VR expert) – Through the Looking Glass
How do you know that you’re really where you are right now? I mean, where are you getting this sense of place from? A bunch of data from at least some of your five senses enters your brain where it’s cross-referenced with categories from memory. You’re making a probabilistic calculation: This sure looks, feels, and smells like my office. Jeremy Bailenson, my guest today, has been experimenting with cutting edge virtual reality for over a decade now. His Virtual Human Interaction Lab studies the ways VR’s un...

132. Karl Ove Knausgaard (writer) – The Way I Should Be in the World
Wherever you are right now, take a look around you. Let your eyes rest on the first thing that catches your attention. For me, while writing this, it’s a bowl in Big Think’s offices. Highly polished, assembled, it seems, from curved, stained strips of wood. If I kept going, I might get to a particular wooden coffee table of my childhood. Its reassuring warmth and sturdiness. How I turned it into a fort and camped out under there, watching Saturday Night Live. All the abuse it took over the years from me and...

131. Daniel Alarcón (writer) – There's No Such Thing as Glamor, Really
A listener commented the other day on Twitter that on two completely different recent episodes of this show – one about technology and the other one about jellyfish, the same idea came up: that stories play a powerful role in shaping our real lives. This idea comes up so often, in so many different forms and contexts, that I’ve begun to think of it as maybe the crucial truth for understanding why people do the things we do. The stories we wrap around ourselves, our neighbors. our children. The invisible sto...


130. Mark Epstein, MD (Buddhist psychiatrist) – I, Me, Mine
All through the day… I, me mine, I me mine, I me mine… That George Harrison song on the Beatles’ last album pretty much sums it up. They recorded it in 1970, and 47 years later, our egos seem to be running just as rampant as ever. While the unchecked ego might be popular at parties, it can get us into all kinds of trouble. This is not breaking news. Over 2000 years ago an Indian prince sat under a tree and thought about the problem of self. His insights and solutions became what we now call Buddhism. And a ...

129. Fatih Akin (film director) – This Blood-Drenched Earth
All of us—you, me, everybody—we’re living our lives subject to often invisible forces beyond our control. Culture, politics, economics, history, even the weather. They all have the power to shape our lives or tear them suddenly to pieces. My guest today, Fatih Akin, has first-hand experience of strong cultural cross-winds. Ethnically Turkish and raised in Germany, he has made many films dealing with sudden dislocation and how people respond to it. Akin won Best Screenplay at Cannes for THE EDGE OF HEAVEN, a...

128. Noël Wells (actor/director) – Out of Context
100,000 or so years of human history and young adulthood is still getting weirder.  Jason Gots: My guest today is actor and filmmaker Noël Wells. She’s been a cast member of Saturday Night Live. She played Rachel on the Netflix series Master of None. And she’s making her directorial debut with Mr. Roosevelt, a sweet, moving indie comedy that’s ostensibly about a dead cat, but that’s really about that very awkward and for some of us very protracted moment of coming to terms with life as a grown up. Surprise ...


127. Manoush Zomorodi (journalist) – The Upside of Downtime
When was the last time you were bored? I mean really, well and truly, staring at the patterns in the wallpaper bored? Statistics suggest that you’re probably listening to this show on a smartphone. Which means you own a smartphone. Which means it’s probably always close at hand, full of apps and podcasts to distract you the instant that uncomfortable feeling of boredom creeps in. Which means your brain almost never gets the chance to sit with that restlessness and come up with creative alternatives, from da...

126. Maya Jasanoff (Historian) – Civilization and Its Discontents
Jason Gots: I want to read you a quote: “For reasons which can certainly use close psychological inquiry the West seems to suffer deep anxieties about the precariousness of its civilization and to have a need for constant reassurance by comparison with Africa.” That’s Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe writing about Joseph Conrad and his famous book Heart of Darkness. We’ll come back to that. Born in Poland in 1857, Conrad, like us, lived at a time of rapid globalization, of technological disruption, and of al...

125. Reza Aslan (author) – Deus Ex Hominem
Jason Gots: As far back as we’re able to peer into human history, way past the written or pictoral record, into the gravesites of our most ancient ancestors, there’s evidence of what you might call spiritual or religious belief. From the idea of a separate soul to animal spirits, to the anthropomorphization of trees and natural elements, pantheons of superhuman gods, and ultimately the inscrutable, sometimes indivisible gods of Monotheism, we’re Homo Credulous…creatures hardwired to believe in a reality tha...


124. Juli Berwald (writer) – Our Jellyfish Overlords
Jason Gots: What happens  in your brain when I say the word “Jellyfish”? If you’re not a marine biologist, and if going to the beach almost anywhere in the world is a part of your life, the word probably makes you wince. Maybe you remember getting stung. Maybe you remember someone putting meat tenderizer on it (is it good for anything else?) But as my guest today, Juli Berwald, knows, Jellyfish are neither a fish, nor the cartoon villains we make them out to be. They’re a fascinating, complex, diverse lifef...

123. (Henry) Rollins, Redux: Monogamy+Genius+Violence
Jason Gots: Let’s cast our minds back to June 2015, before Donald Trump as president seemed even a remote possibility. We had just launched Think Again, and for our second episode (and not much more than my second interview) ever I was talking with the musician and spoken word artist Henry Rollins, who I’d admired since high school. This was over the phone, New York to LA, on a Friday or Saturday night, and it was EPIC. Henry is a man of many thoughts and words, and noob interviewer that I was I could barel...

122. David Eagleman (neuroscientist) – Your Creative Brain
Jason Gots: It’s 150,000 years ago. You’re a Homo sapiens, hanging out in a really cozy clearing protected from behind by a cliff wall. It’s a great spot. Temperate, isolated, pretty safe. Lots of good fruits and tubers nearby. Should you just hang out here forever? Well…you could…but something’s nagging at that medial frontal cortex of yours. There’s a hill in the distance. What’s beyond it? Something different, maybe! Something new and shiny! Maybe today you’ll just take a quick look. My guest today is ne...


121. Van Jones (social entrepreneur) – Blind Spots & Sore Spots
Jason Gots: I want to tell you a story. It’s November 5, 2016, a few days before Election Day. I’m staring at Facebook, promising myself I’m going to delete the app once and for all from my phone, today. Enough of the political echo chamber. Enough of the ranting. Then I’m sucked into a video, because that’s what happens. It’s CNN’s Van Jones sitting in the living room of a family in Pennsylvania. Unlike me and most every other liberal coastal elite I know, he’s talking to people who support Donald Trump fo...

120. Nancy Koehn (Historian) – Holdin' on for a Hero
What do Rachel Carson, Frederick Douglass, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ernest Shackleton, and Abraham Lincoln have in common, aside from being historical figures you’ve probably heard of? That’s the question my guest today tries to answer in her new book Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times. At a time when trustworthy leadership seems in short supply, it examines what real leadership is and how it comes about. Nancy Koehn is a historian at the Harvard Business School whose resear...

119. Aaron Mahnke (of 'Lore') – The Hunger for Mystery
For thousands of years, all over the world, tales of monsters and the undead have populated the "whitespace" beyond the borders of our understanding. As the enormous popularity of the podcast 'Lore" demonstrates, we're still hungry for those stories today.Why? Today's guest Aaron Mahnke and host Jason Gots talk about the hunger for mystery, a human need almost as powerful as our thirst for knowledge. We also get into the meaning of work in people's lives, and how Aaron started the podcast as a "last ditch e...


118. Stephen Greenblatt (humanities scholar) – Irresistible Fictions
An ancient, one-and-a-half-page-story that just won't let us go. Humanities scholar Stephen Greenblatt and host Jason Gots discuss how Adam and Eve have shaped and been shaped by Western art, culture, and science, in this, Big Think's latest brain-fertilizing podcast. Greenblatt is the Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and the author of thirteen books, including the Pulitzer prize-winning The Swerve: How the World...

117. Kurt Andersen (writer) – The Sleep of Reason
Orthodox kookiness: the true American exceptionalism? Writer Kurt Andersen and host Jason Gots discuss America's 500 year old tendency toward passionate belief in the preposterous in this, Big Think's latest brain-fertilizing podcast. Writer and media polymath Kurt Andersen is the NY-times bestselling author of the novels Heyday, Turn of the Century, and True Believers, and he’s the host and co-creator of the Peabody-award winning public radio show Studio 360. Kurt’s latest book Fantasyland – How America We...

116. Claire Messud (writer) – All These Falls From Grace
Author Claire Messud and host Jason Gots talk about childhood, growing up, and how cultures contain the things that scare them most. Also, how to give and receive good criticism on creative writing in this, Big Think's latest brain-fertilizing podcast. Claire Messud is the author of seven novels, including The Woman Upstairs and The Emperor’s Children. Messud has been awarded an Addison Metcalf award and the Straus Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, among many other literary honors....


115. Salman Rushdie (writer) – A Permeable Frontier
In this episode, the first one with a repeat guest since the show was launched (Henry Rollins was one taping split into two episodes) author Salman Rushdie and host Jason Gots discuss New York City, the surrealism of everyday life, comic books, and much, much, more in this, Big Think's latest brain-fertilizing podcast. Salman Rushdie is the author of twelve previous novels and four books of nonfiction, including Joseph Anton, Midnight’s Children (for which he won the Booker Prize and the Best of the Booker)...

114. 2017 Mixtape #2 – Words, Values, Self, Other
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.In the second year of what’s becoming a tradition here on Think Again, this is a mixtape of some of Jason's favorite moments from the past year’s shows. Things that stuck with him because they were funny, or especially wise, or...

113. 2017 Mixtape #1 – Mind, Body, Authenticity, Artifice
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.In the second year of what’s becoming a tradition here on Think Again, this is a mixtape of some of Jason's favorite moments from the past year’s shows. Things that stuck with him because they were funny, or especially wise, or...


112. Richard Dawkins (biologist) – Red in Tooth and Claw
In this episode, which Dawkins described as “one of the best interviews I have ever had,” the eminent ethologist and host Jason Gots talk about whether pescatarianism makes any sense, where morality should come from (since, as Hume says, "you can't get an 'ought' from an 'is'), the greatness of Christopher Hitchens, and the evils of nationalism.About the guest: Today’s guest is internationally best-selling author, speaker, and passionate advocate for reason and science as against superstition Richard Dawkin...

111. Ari Shaffir (Comic) – The Golden Age of Trolling
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Today's guest Ari Shaffir is a stand-up comic and the host of Skeptic Tank – a super popular weekly podcast that’s on its 299th episode (at this writing). Ari grew up orthodox Jewish, spent two years in a yeshiva in Israel, and...

110. Peter Frankopan (historian) – You Can't Stop the Clock
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Today's guest Peter Frankopan is a historian at Oxford University, where he is Director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research. He works on the history of the Mediterranean, Russia, the Middle East, Persia, Central Asia an...


109. Sheelah Kolhatkar (Writer, Former Hedge Fund Analyst) – The Most Dangerous Game
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Sheelah Kolhatkar is a staff writer at the New Yorker  and a former “risk arbitrage analyst” for two hedge funds in New York City. For the New Yorker, Sheelah writes about Wall Street, Silicon Valley, economics and national pol...

108. Jeff Garlin (Comedian) – K.I.S.S.
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Today, one of our wildest episodes ever, with comedian Jeff Garlin, who cuts one of our surprise clips short to call B.S. on neuroscience and complexity. Wikipedia succinctly describes Jeff Garlin as a comedian, actor, producer...

107. Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland (Authors) – The Garden of Forking Paths
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Today, for the first time, we welcome TWO guests to Think Again – writers Neal Stephenson & Nicole Galland – and talk to them from New York to a Los Angeles hotel room over a horrible wi-fi connection. And it all works out beau...


106. Alan Alda (Actor) – The Spirit of the Staircase
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Today's guest is actor, writer, director, and science-curious artist Alan Alda. Jason says: "I grew up watching him in reruns of MASH, where his character Hawkeye Pierce was so specific and relatable that he feels in my memory ...

105. Jennifer Doudna (Geneticist) - Intelligent Redesign?
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Jennifer Doudna is a Professor of Chemistry and of Molecular and Cell Biology at the UC Berkeley, and until around 2012 she was quietly and contentedly studying the three dimensional structure of RNA molecules. Then she and her...

104. Timothy Spall (Actor) – That Double Want
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Timothy Spall is an extraordinary actor, best known perhaps for the many films he’s done with director Mike Leigh, including Secrets & Lies and Mr. Turner, for which he won best actor at Cannes. You may know him from a number o...


103. Liza Jessie Peterson (Playwright, Arts-Educator) – The Sleeping Giant
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Liza Jessie Peterson is an actress, poet, playwright, and arts-educator who’s been working with adolescent boys and girls incarcerated on Rikers Island for the past 18 years. Her fierce, funny, powerfully written new book is Al...

102. Paul Theroux (Writer) – Saintly & Scowling
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. 100 episodes in, like the universe itself, the show continues to expand and accelerate at speeds that boggle the imagination. One of seven siblings, Paul Theroux is the author of over 50 works of fiction and non-fiction, inclu...

101. Ariel Levy (Writer) – Big Things That Are Not Talked About
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. 100 episodes in, like the universe itself, the show continues to expand and accelerate at speeds that boggle the imagination. After 12 years at New York Magazine, Ariel Levy became a staff writer at The New Yorker, where she’s...


100. Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysicist) – The Only "-ist" I Am
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. 100 episodes in, like the universe itself, the show continues to expand and accelerate at speeds that boggle the imagination. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist and the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American ...

99. Mary Gaitskill (Writer) – Their Animal Being
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.“How strange it is to be anything at all.” – from the song In the Aeroplane Over the Seaby Neutral Milk Hotel Mary Gaitskill is the author of three short story collections including Bad Behavior and Don’t Cry, and three novels, including Veronica an...

98. Lawrence Krauss (Physicist) – Lux Ex Machina
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Physicist Lawrence Krauss directs the Origins Project at Arizona State University, which fosters scientific research and collaborations on origins – of life, the universe, and everything. His own research focuses on the interface between elementary ...


97. Dean Buonomano (Neuroscientist) – This is Your Brain on Time
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Dean Buonomano is a professor of neurobiology and psychology at UCLA and a leading theorist on (and researcher into) the neuroscience of time. His latest book, Your Brain is a Time Machine, the Neuroscience and Physics of Time convinced Jason that t...

96. Sarah W. Goldhagen (Architecture Critic) – Souls & Spaces
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Sarah W. Goldhagen taught for ten years at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and spent many years as the Architecture Critic for the New Republic. She’s written about buildings, cities, and landscapes for publications all over the world. Sarah’s n...

95. Kory Stamper (Lexicographer) – Lair of the Level 10 Word Mage
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Kory Stamper is a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, often seen on their “Ask the Editor” video series. Her funny and fascinating book Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries is about the how the sausage of dictionaries is made, and about the s...


94. Joyce Carol Oates (Writer) – Oh, That's Socialism
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.The writer Joyce Carol Oates grew up on a farm, tending chickens in what she describes as a very desolate part of upstate New York, and grew up to write around 90 (and counting) novels and collections of essays and short stories, many of them while ...

93. Adam Alter (Social Psychologist) – Ping!
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Adam Alter is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave, and has written for the New York Times, New Yorker, Atlantic, WIRED, Slate, Washington Post, and Popul...

92. Elif Batuman (Writer) – The Worst Appetizer in America
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Elif Batuman has written articles for the New Yorker on everything from the horrible-smelling "corpse flower" to the complex politics of present day Turkey, her parents' native country. Her first book, The Possessed, was a series of "comic, intercon...


91. Daniel Dennett (Philosopher) – Thinking About Thinking About Thinking
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Daniel Dennett is one of the foremost philosophers of mind working today to unravel the puzzle of what minds are and what they’re for, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. His latest book of many is called From Ba...

90. Scott Aukerman (Comedy Writer) – The Buttons You Push
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Scott Aukerman is a comedy writer, director, and producer who started out on HBO’s Mr. Show with Bob and David. He’s the creator of Comedy Bang Bang - the podcast and the long running IFC show, and he co-created and directs Between Two Ferns with Za...

89. George Saunders (Author) – Self-Googling In Hell
“If I died right now, I’d still be self-Googling in hell.” – George Saunders, in this episode. George Saunders' new book - his first novel, after many acclaimed collections of short stories including the NY Times bestselling 10th of December – is called Lincoln in the Bardo. A kind of play for voices about the death and afterlife of Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie, who died at age 10. It's a strange, wise, funny and beautiful book about impermanence and the tenacity of the self.In this episode, George and Jaso...


88. Gish Jen (Author) – The Self in the World
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Novelist and essayist Gish Jen's work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories four times, including The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and her w...

87. Yuval Noah Harari (Historian) – Time's Up
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Yuval Noah Harari holds a PhD in History from the University of Oxford and now lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specializing in World History. His 2014 New York Times bestselling book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, is publishe...

86. Ayelet Waldman (Author) – Yourself, Only Better
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Ayelet Waldman is a novelist and essayist, a former federal public defender who taught at Loyola and UC Berkeley schools of Law. Her latest book, A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life is an ho...


85. Ben Goertzel (A.I. Inventor) – The State of the Art of Artificial General Intelligence
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Ben Goertzel is a hugely influential computer scientist and author in the area of artificial general intelligence, among others. Just a few of the many hats Ben wears or has worn: Chief Scientist of Hanson Robotics which makes some of the most advan...

84. Nato Thompson (Artistic Director) – The Friendly Face
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Nato Thompson is the Artistic Director of Creative Time, which commissions and presents ambitious public art projects with thousands of artists throughout New York City, across the country, around the world—and now even in outer space. They did Wait...

83. Matt Taibbi (Journalist) – Bread and Circus
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Hard-hitting, darkly funny journalist Matt Taibbi has reported on on politics, media, finance, and sports, winning the National Magazine Award for Commentary in 2008 and is the author of three NYTimes bestsellers on politics and culture. For Rolling...


82. Bernard-Henri Lévy (Philosopher) – The Mirror of Our Better Selves
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.The Washington Post has this to say about today's guest: "There is no American equivalent of Bernard-Henri Lévy. Known as “BHL,” he is among the last of a quintessentially French breed, the 20th century intellectuel engagé. As a “nouveau philosophe”...

81. Isy Suttie (Comedian) – There's Something a Bit Smug about the Sea
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Isy Suttie is a comedian, actress, and writer who played the character Dobby in the British TV comedy Peep Show, of which Jason has watched all 54 episodes. Isy has written for the Guardian, the Observer, and Glamour, and is a regular writer and per...

80. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh (founder: MuslimGirl) – Who Tells Your Story?
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Amani Al -Khatatbeh is the founder and editor of Muslimgirl.com, the number one Muslim women’s blog in the United States. She regularly provides commentary on social, cultural, and political issues through outlets such as CNN, Al Jazeera, and the BB...


79. Paul Bloom (Psychologist) – Cold-Blooded Kindness
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Paul Bloom is an internationally recognized expert on the the psychology of child development, social reasoning, and morality, and the author of numerous books including Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil. His newest book is Against Empathy: ...

78. Peter Godfrey-Smith (Philosopher) – Alien Intelligence
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Peter Godfrey-Smith is a distinguished professor of philosophy at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and a professor of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Sydney in Australia. He has also spent a lot of time fl...

77. Anne Rice (Author) – In the Blood
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Anne Rice is the author of over 30 novels. Her first, Interview with the Vampire, was published in 1976 and has gone on to become one of the best-selling novels of all time. Her latest book, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, continues the st...


76. Tim Ferriss (Author, Podcaster) – Productively Frivolous
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.Above all else,  Author, Podcaster, and "Human Guinea Pig" Tim Ferriss is focused on learning how to learn, then applying those lessons to everyday life -- aiming at increased productivity, efficiency, and success, however you may define it. His boo...

75. David Salle (Artist) – The Enemy of Art
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. David Salle's paintings are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Galerie Berlin and many others. His book How to See is a c...

74. Jace Clayton AKA DJ/Rupture - Sonic Veils and Revelations
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. As DJ /Rupture, Jace Clayton has spun music all over the world in every imaginable kind of venue (including not only big arenas but also, once, a refrigerated truck) and released several critically acclaimed albums. He’s also one of the most gifted...


73. T.C. Boyle (Author) - Lost on Purpose
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. T.C. Boyle is the author of 26 books of fiction, including The Tortilla Curtain, The Harder They Come, and World’s End (which won the Pen/Faulkner award). His latest is The Terranauts--it’s about an ill-fated, very expensive and highly publicised e...

72. Slavoj Žižek (Philosopher) - Against Tolerance
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Slavoj Žižek is a Hegelian philosopher,  Lacanian psychoanalist, and political activist. He’s the international director of the Birbeck Institute for the Humanities, and Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University. His newest bo...

71. Jelani Cobb (Historian) - Shiny New Skin, Same Old Snake
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Historian and journalist Jelani Cobb is the author of Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress and other books, and one of our most powerful writers on the complexities of race in America. Jelani is a staff writer at the New York...


70. Margaret Atwood (Author) - The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Today's guest is novelist, essayist, poet, and as of late, comic-book writer Margaret Atwood. She’s also got some really funny mini-comics about bad interviews, so Jason tries extra-hard to bring his a-game here. She’s the Booker prize winning auth...

69. Jodi Picoult (Author) - Popular Fictions/Not Yours to Tell
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. In this episode of Think Again - a Big Think Podcast, author Jodi Picoult and host Jason Gots talk comic books, social justice, and why white Americans need to take the risk (and the consequences) of talking honestly about race and class privilege....

68. William Shatner (Actor, Author) – Yes, I Am Trying to Win This Podcast
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. William Shatner created the role of Captain James T Kirk on the original Star Trek, and won two Emmys and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Denny Crane on “The Practice” and “Boston Legal”. He’s also written nearly 30 bestselling books of fiction...


67. James Gleick (Science Writer) - Everything All at Once
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.James Gleick is one of our greatest living science writers,  author of The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. His first book, Chaos, was a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist and a national bestseller. His other books include the...

66. Alton Brown (Chef, Author) - Easy-Bake Oven/Hard Knock Life
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Cook, writer, and director Alton Brown is a living legend in food TV. Alton was the creator and host of the show “Good Eats”, which ran for 14 seasons on Food Network and has a 9/10 rating on IMDB which is basically unheard of (Casablanca is 8.6). ...

65. Ian McEwan (Novelist) - A King of Infinite Space
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. This week's guest is novelist Ian McEwan. He’s the bestselling author of 16 books, including Atonement, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the WH Smith Literary award and Amsterdam, which won the Booker Prize. His latest book, Nut...


64. Mixtape #4 – The Writers' Room
In this episode: Big Think launched in 2008 as a "YouTube for intellectuals." Since then, it has produced over 10,000 short-form video interviews with many of the most influential and creative thinkers of our time. Big Think's videos are bits of "expert wisdom", presented confidently and definitively against a white screen background. With THINK AGAIN, we wanted to revisit these ideas the way the audience encounters them––spontaneously, messily, and often out of context. We wanted to bring the experts to th...

63. Eric Kandel (Nobel Laureate neuroscientist) - The Eye of the Beholder
Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. On this week's episode: Professor Eric Kandel of Columbia University and host Jason Gotsdiscuss abstract art, memory, identity, and the nature of evil. When he was 9 years old, Eric Kandel listened on a short-wave radio his brother had made as Hitl...

62. Mixtape #3 – a Soupçon of Ornithology
Big Think launched in 2008 as a "YouTube for intellectuals." Since then, it has produced over 10,000 short-form video interviews with many of the most influential and creative thinkers of our time. In 2014, the podcast SERIAL burst on the scene and Apple put a "podcasts" app in the iPhone's OS, and suddenly podcasting, which had existed for over a decade, was widely considered to have entered its Golden Age (wonder how all the veteran podcasters felt about that...). So Big Think decided it might be a good t...


61. Alison Gopnik (Developmental Psychologist) – Artificial Intelligence/Natural Stupidity
Alison Gopnik is an internationally recognized expert in children’s learning and development. A professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at UC Berkeley, and the author of many books including the The Philosophical Baby. Her new book The Gardener and the Carpenter is a response to the fact that “parenting” has become a verb, a powerful middle class trend, a lucrative self-help industry, and sometimes a kind of bloodsport. Meanwhile developmental science paints a very different picture of...

60. Teju Cole (Writer) – The World is Not a Settled Gift
Nigerian-born writer, photographer, and art historian Teju Cole is the author of the novel Open City and the novella Every Day is for the Theif. He’s also the photography critic of the New York Times magazine. His new book is a collection of deeply insightful and beautiful essays about things read, seen, and experienced. It’s called Known and Strange Things. On this week's episode of Think Again–a Big Think Podcast, Teju Cole and host Jason Gots discuss first drafts, the complexities of home, and the greate...

59. Jacqueline Woodson (Writer) – Bored Kid Dreaming/Apologies Long Overdue
Jacqueline Woodson, the Newberry, Caldecott, and National-Book Award winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming, If You Come Softly and many other works of poetry and literature for children and young adults, has just released Another Brooklyn, her first adult novel in twenty years. Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood—the promise and peril of growing up—and exquisitely renders a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that united four young l...


58. Mixtape #2 – Staring at the Sea
Big Think launched in 2008 as a "YouTube for intellectuals." Since then, it has produced over 10,000 short-form video interviews with many of the most influential and creative thinkers of our time. In 2014, the podcast SERIAL burst on the scene and Apple put a "podcasts" app in the iPhone's OS, and suddenly podcasting, which had existed for over a decade, was widely considered to have entered its Golden Age (wonder how all the veteran podcasters felt about that...). So Big Think decided it might be a good t...

57. Mixtape #1 - Lies/Monsters/Friendship/Religion/Space Aliens
Big Think launched in 2008 as a "YouTube for intellectuals." Since then, it has produced over 10,000 short-form video interviews with many of the most influential and creative thinkers of our time. In 2014, the podcast SERIAL burst on the scene and Apple put a "podcasts" app in the iPhone's OS, and suddenly podcasting, which had existed for over a decade, was widely considered to have entered its Golden Age (wonder how all the veteran podcasters felt about that...). So Big Think decided it might be a good t...

56. Jonathon Keats (Experimental Philosopher) – The Trickster/Castles in the Sky
"Experimental philosopher" and science writer Jonathon Keats, who famously created pornography for plants and sold real estate in the alternate dimensions proposed by string theory, believes that we "need to ascend to the meta level" to find creative ways of reopening closed conversations. His new book You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future, explores the myth and the relevance of a self-mythologizing sometime genius, sometime crackpot whose vast imagination holds some keys to solving ...


55. Mary Roach (Science Writer) – To Nietszche His Own
Sex toy book parties! Penis transplants! Decomposition labs! These are just a few of the places the intrepid, New York Times bestselling author Mary Roach takes us in hilarious, curiosity-driven books like Bonk:: The Curious Science of Sex and her latest, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. It's some of the best, most engaging science writing out there. On this week's episode of Think Again–a Big Think Podcast, Mary and host Jason Gots discuss some of the above, then enter more the more abstract te...

54. LIVE! Sarah Jones (actor/playwright) –
Sarah Jones is a Tony and Obie award-winning playwright and performer. She's unlike any other artist in her uncanny ability to create, become,  and instantly switch between characters, convincingly inhabiting their physicality and their consciousness. Sarah's 2004 one woman show BRIDGE & TUNNEL channeled the symphony of voices that make up New York City's five boroughs. She returns this fall to the Manhattan Theatre Club with SELL/BUY/DATE, in which she plays all characters in a sex-ed class from the future...

53. Sean Wilentz (Historian) – The Culture Strikes Back
The stakes are extraordinarily high in this election. We’re at a crossroads. I think the current politics are a continuation of the fight we’ve been having since the ‘60s.The expansion of an African-American middle class, the changes in family norms, in gender and sexual norms . . .Lots of people felt threatened by that. Lots of people resisted that. But the war is only going to be settled now.  – Sean WilentzSean Wilentz is a Princeton professor and the Bancroft-Prize-Winning Author of The Rise of American...


52. Jim Gaffigan (Comedian) – You're Attacking My Grandpa?
“It’s funny or it’s not funny. In the end, people are not coming to my show because I’m not cursing” – Jim GaffiganJim Gaffigan is a Grammy nominated stand-up comedian and the New York Times best-selling author of “Dad is Fat” and other books, and he’s about to launch the second season of  his semi-fictitious TV show, The Jim Gaffigan Show. On this week's episode of Think Again - a Big Think Podcast, Jim and host Jason Gots talk about the gift of loving what you do for a living, "othering" people we disagre...

51. Krista Tippett (Author, Host, "On Being") – We Are Made by What Would Break Us
"That is one of the most mysterious things about human existence: that we are made by what would break us, repeatedly. That life is hard, and the only guarantee we have is that even at our moments of greatest accomplishment, something will happen that we didn’t expect." – Krista TippettKrista Tippett is the Peabody award-winning host of the radio program and podcast On Being, in which she and her guests discuss the deeper mysteries of the universe and human existence, which can be difficult things to talk a...

50. Ethan Hawke (Actor, Author) – The High, Hard Road/Ghosts of the Apache Wars
“Whenever we start seeing people as other, we just get lost. There were so many decent cowboys trying to do the right thing. And so many decent First Nation people trying to do the right thing. And there were so many liars, and cheaters, and people trying to get ahead. So many people with short term goals screwing everything up.” After his breakout roles in Dead Poets Society and Reality Bites, actor, director, and author Ethan Hawke has followed his own path as an artist, starting a theater company, writin...


49. Geoff Dyer (Author) – Ordinary Epiphanies
Novelist and essayist Geoff Dyer is one of the English language's most mordant and poetic observers of art, travel, and human behavior. He's the winner of the National Book Critics Circle  Award for Criticism and the Windham Campbell Prize for Nonfiction. In his most recent book White Sands, weaving stories about places to which he has recently traveled with images and memories that have persisted since childhood, Dyer tries “to work out what a certain place—a certain way of marking the landscape—means; wha...

48. Mary-Louise Parker (Actress, Author): Virtual Empathy?/Lessons Relearned
Death, Bob Marley, parenthood, gratitude, and what to do in the face of incalculable suffering. These are just a few of the topics raised in this episode's vulnerable, searching discussion with Tony, Emmy, Obie, and two-time Golden Globe award-winning actress and author Mary-Louise Parker.She’s won many awards -- Tony, Obie, Golden Globe, Emmy -- for her roles in the Showtime series Weeds, the TV miniseries of Angels in America, and the play Proof, among other things. Unbeknownst to many people until now, s...

47. Kate Tempest (rapper/poet/novelist): Lost and Found in South London
"When you’re writing a novel, it’s agony. It’s complete agony. It’s a horrible thing to put yourself through. All of the instinctive kind of rushes of creativity, the energized outpourings, anybody can do that. That’s not what makes you a writer. The bit of this job that makes you a writer is when you don’t feel like that. When you feel like you never deserved to even imagine that you could have been a writer. When you hate every word that you’ve made. When you doubt every single part of your brain. To sit ...


46. Chris Gethard (Comedian) – a Blessing in Disguise
I’m starting to feel that what people in the future will actually want is something that feels small. That feels like not everyone has access to it. You’ll see more people making a modest living and less people making these massive superstar livings.   – Chris Gethard, in this episode. Why was having his "big break" sitcom bomb a blessing in disguise for Chris Gethard, creator of the beloved Chris Gethard Show  "the most bizarre and often saddest talk show in New York City"? What do comedians and con artist...

45. James McBride (Author) – Fear Sells Many a Car/James Brown is a Noun
“Fear is just a monster motivator. It sells many a car and harnesses many a vote.”  – James McBride, in this episode. Fear, says National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author James McBride, was the most powerful force in the life of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. It drove him to become "the hardest working man in show business", to hoard massive stashes of cash beneath hotel room carpets, and to seek temporary refuge in drugs. It also drove him to leave one of the most astonishing mu...

44. Douglas Rushkoff (Media Theorist) – Hack the $ystem
"The problem with our time is that we look at people for their utility value.", says Douglas Rushkoff, author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus. Since the late Middle Ages, Rushkoff argues, money and businesses have been programmed to extract more and more value from humans and the earth. The priority of endless growth has led to scorched-earth policies that put humans out of work and destroy the planet, But we programmed the system in the first place, says Rushkoff, and we can reprogram it. Join him and ...


43. Michael Puett (Harvard Chinese Philosophy Scholar) – Freedom Through Ritual
Michael Puett teaches one of three most popular undergraduate courses at Harvard, on ancient Chinese philosophy and ethics: Daoism, Confucianism, Legalism, Moism, and more. What keeps students coming back year after year to this seemingly esoteric subject? Puett promises that if you take the ideas in his course seriously, they will change your life. He captures these ideas in his new book The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life, co-authored with Christine Gross-Loh. On this week...

42. Joshua Cohen (Novelist) – Scrupulously Messy, by Which I Mean Human
In this week's episode Joshua Cohen, author of the "great American internet novel" Book of Numbers, says that if a cliché sticks around long enough it can become a prayer.In conversation with host Jason Gots and prompted by video interview clips featuring Henry Rollins and Nikhil Goyal, Cohen delves into secret languages, the horrors of childhood, and the dangers of overexplaining. It's a punchy and penetrating dialogue with one of our most original living authors. “Just don’t unpack shit. Let’s make the wo...

41. Sarah Kay (Poet) – Kids See Right Through That
"Authenticity is something that cannot be fabricated." – Sarah Kay On this week's episode, poet Sarah Kay, whose 2011 TED talk "If I Should Have a Daughter" has been viewed over 9 million times, shares her thoughts on who gets (and who doesn't get) to have a voice, on the power of authenticity and vulnerability, and on what she'd do if the world were in imminent danger of destruction by an asteroid.  And stay tuned for a shatteringly beautiful song/poem at the end. Surprise Big Think interview clips from Jo...


40. Nikhil Goyal (Education Activist) – Mind in a Box
Put 8 year old Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders together in a progressive 2nd grade classroom. What would happen? Since the dawn of compulsory schooling America has been experimenting on young minds with pedagogies and systems of control that arguably do more to prepare kids for a life of servitude than of independent thought and civic engagement. 20 year old Nikhil Goyal, author of Schools on Trial, argues that mainstream US public schools do more harm to children than good, and that we ne...

39. Maria Popova (Writer, Editor of Brain Pickings) – The Absurdity of Not Writing Poems
"I’m always pulled toward anything that helps me figure out how to live a meaningful and substantive life." – Maria PopovaWhat does real friendship look like? How can something written a thousand years ago help us to navigate our lives in the 21st century? On this week's Think Again, host Jason Gots speaks with Maria Popova, the creator, writer, and editor of Brain Pickings, a labor of love that  has grown into a massive web media presence -- a blog, newsletter, twitter feed and more that shares timeless wi...

38. Amanda Palmer (Musician, Author) – Privacy Is Weird
"As human beings we all have this flaw, which is to think that there’s a right way of doing things. And it’s just bullshit." – Amanda Palmer on Think Again Artist Amanda Palmer is a practitioner of radical trust –– On tour, she couch surfs with fans from all over the world. She's allowed fans to sign her naked body after shows. Through the online crowdfunding platform Patreon, she empowers her fans to support her work one "thing" at a time. On this week's Think Again, Amanda and host Jason Gots have a livel...


37. Cory Booker (US Senator) – Cynicism: a Refuge for Cowards
“We all have so much power that we don’t use. And I think it’s because of cynicism,  which is a toxic spiritual state. Cynicism is a refuge for cowards.” –– Cory BookerWhy do so many of us choose to remain in a state of "sedentary agitation" about America's problems when there are so many things we could do to help? This is the core question of UNITED, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker's powerful new political biography. And it surfaces again and again on this week's THINK AGAIN as Senator Booker and host Jaso...

36. Yann Martel (Author) – The Vacuum of Space Leaves Me Cold
Yann Martel, author of the Man Booker award-winning novel Life of Pi and The High Mountains of Portugal, is not a big fan of outer space. Nor of science in general. “Science," he says on this week's episode, ". . . is a truth that exists whether I’m there or not. And that’s what I like about religion and art: To art and religion, I DO matter.” Sparked by surprise video clips on quantum entanglement, linguistic diversity, and whether or not the internet is turning us all into narcissists, Martel and host Jas...

35. A.O. Scott (Film Critic) – The Right to Be Wrong
A.O. Scott: The fantasy that I would use to comfort myself [as a child, about death] was…that I’d become other people. I would still be me, but I would inhabit different bodies…and eventually I would just get to see what it was like to be everybody.Jason Gots: That’s a critic’s fantasy.A.O. Scott: Yeah! And you discover shortcuts to do that...through works of art.A.O. Scott's new book Better Living Through Criticism playfully and artfully examines what critics do and why. On this week's episode, he and host...


34. Paul F. Tompkins (Comedian) – A Tiny, Cosmic Threat
Shockingly well-dressed comedian Paul F. Tompkins, host of Spontaneanation and the television show No, You Shut Up! joins host Jason Gots for improvised singing and conversation on subjects ranging from supervillains to presidential debates.Also! We debut our amazing new theme song from the mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

33. Marc Goodman (Cybersecurity Expert) – Dark Web/Nigerian Princes
All technology is in effect “dual use.” You can use it for good, or you can use it for ill. – Marc GoodmanAt what point does government's incompetence at policing sex predators and other internet criminals constitute breach of contract with the general public? Has anyone on Earth actually read the "terms of service"?Marc Goodman, a cybersecurity expert and author of the New York Times bestseller FUTURE CRIMES talks with Big Think'sJason Gots about these questions and more, prompted by surprise videos from P...

32. James Doty, MD (Neurosurgeon) – Compassion and The Prison State
“Justice without the opportunity for redemption is torture.” -- James DotyIn this week's episode neurosurgeon James Doty, founder of the Stanford University Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and author of Into the Magic Shop , and Think Again host Jason Gots wrestle with questions spiritual, political, and neurobiological. It's a lively good time.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...


31. Michael Shermer (Author, Friendly Skeptic) – A Dirty Job/We Want to Believe
“We skeptics need evidence. And then, we’ll believe!” -- Michael ShermerIn this week's episode, Michael Shermer, author of Skeptic and The Moral Arc, and Think Again host Jason Gots discuss (among other things) compelling evidence that humanity's getting less evil overall.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

30. Howard Gardner (Psychologist) – Porn/Art/Good Work
At the risk of alienating your southern listeners, the American South is by far the most religious, and on every measure of turpitude it gets very good scores. -- Howard GardnerIn this week's episode, Howard Gardner, creator of the theory of Multiple Intelligences and host Jason Gots discuss (among other things) whether or not pornography can be art.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

29. Sir David Hare (Playwright/Screenwriter) – Kleptocracy/A Thin Skin
I’ve written hit plays. I know what a hit feels like. It doesn’t significantly change your life. You still have to start again and try and write the next one. – David HareIn this week's episode, celebrated playwright Sir David Hare opines along with host Jason Gots, on art, nuclear weapons, and whether it makes sense to bring kids into this messed up world.Sir David's latest book is The Blue Touch Paper, a poignant, searching memoir about his childhood and his life's work on stage and screen.Learn more abou...


28. Daniel Levitin (Musician & Neuroscientist) – Rats/Risks/Rewards
"Now newness is coming at us continuously. And the brain hasn’t evolved to deal with that onslaught of newness. There has to be some sculpting of the input. Otherwise it just becomes random noise." – Daniel LevitinDo you see yourself as in control of your destiny, or do you see things the other way around? Join Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of The Organized Mind, and Think Again host Jason Gots for a fascinating, high-energy exploration of human agency in the age of digital overload.Learn more about...

27. Alva Noë (Philosopher) – The Upside of Boredom
"Art, by letting us get bored, reveals something to us about what we’ve been doing to avoid boredom.” – Alva NoëWhy are we so afraid to slow down and think? Is it possible, in any sense, to separate reason and emotion? Is there such a thing as "too far out" in physics?On this week's episode, philosopher Alva Noë, author of "Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature" and host Jason Gots hear surprise clips from a physicist, a Wall Street "quant", and magician Penn Jillette. The far-ranging conversation that ensues...

26. Ian Edwards (Comedian) – Sex/Guns/Honesty is Honesty
“How would you control yourself if you knew you were one of the only five people to have guns? You would be an asshole!” –– Ian EdwardsAre you "man enough" for non-monogamy? Could citizen gun ownership deter crazy cops? Can brutal honesty launch your comedy career? This week, comedian [Ian Edwards][1], fresh off the release of his album 100% Half-Assed (on Conan O’Brian’s Team Coco Records) talks guns, sex, and laughs with host [Jason Gots][2], and stuns him into silence for a full three seconds (which was ...


25. Sam Harris (Neuroscientist) – Uncomfortable Conversations
What are the limits of tolerance? Can people with fundamentally different world views coexist peacefully? Is faith incompatible with reason? In the wake of the recent Paris attacks, these questions are more pressing than ever.In this week's episode philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris delves deep into all of the above with host Jason Gots, through the lenses of Islamic extremism, the telepathic powers of fiction, and what would happen to your identity if you could be replicated down to the atom.Sam's l...

24. Maira Kalman (Artist) – Scared of Math/Psycho Killer
"My goal is always to be laughing. Do you lose the laughter once you become too good at something?” - Maira KalmanThink Again is a spontaneous, brainy variety show – The world's brightest minds grapple with surprise topics.Artist and author Maira Kalman, best known perhaps for her startlingly original New Yorker covers, has a unique way of looking at and living in the world. On this week's episode of "Think Again," she and host Jason Gots try to sort out why they're both so terrified of math, and whether mi...

23. Orhan Pamuk (Nobel Novelist) – Write to Live/No Logic In War
"There is no central logic in war. Victor Hugo wrote about street fights in Paris. In one street people are killing each other. In the next street people are enjoying their coffee. They’re not even aware of what’s happening." – Orhan PamukThink Again is a spontaneous intellectual variety show–The world's brightest minds grapple with surprise topics.On the heels of the publication of A Strangeness in My Mind, his extraordinary epic novel of life in Istanbul over four decades through the eyes of a street vend...


22. Wendell Pierce (Actor, 'The Wire') – Godot Ain't Coming
Smart people. Surprise topics. Deep fun. This week, actor and New Orleans native son Wendell Pierce ('The Wire', 'Treme'), author of the new book "The Wind in the Reeds," about his work at the local and national level rebuilding New Orleans over the past decade since Hurricane Katrina.Surprise clips from Big Think's interview archives launch a deep discussion between Wendell and host Jason Gots about sexuality, generosity, and the power of art across time and culture.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit ...

21. Saul Williams (Poet, Musician, Actor) – An Army of Poets/the 10,000 Things
Send in the poets. Send in the seducers. Vulnerable people, not invulnerable drones who can mistake a wedding party for a terrorist cell. When those mistakes are made, that is how ISIS is born. – Saul WilliamsSaul Williams is a fiercely original, multitalented artist who burst on the scene as an actor and a slam poet in the 1998 film Slam, which won the Grand Jury prize at Sundance, and as a rapper/musician with the 2001 album Amethyst Rock Star, produced by Rick Rubin. He has since released four additional...

20. Jesse Ventura (Wrestler, Governor) – Off the Grid/Life on Mars
How to tell conspiracy and crazy apart. How six months a year "off the grid" in Mexico changes your perspective on everything. The "water bear", a possible alien life form among us.This week on Big Think's podcast, host Jason Gots talks with legendary professional wrestler, author, actor, and Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura, who has just published his latest book, American Conspiracies.Three surprise clips from Big Think's interview archives launch a thoughtful, searching, sometimes personal discussion ...


19. Ruth Reichl (Food Critic) – Identity Crisis/The Cooking Cure
When you lose everything, what do you reach for first?This week on Big Think's podcast, food critic Ruth Reichl, author of My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life talks with host Jason Gots about cooking, identity, and her year-long journey back to herself.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

18. Junot Díaz (Pulitzer-Winning Novelist) – Double Lives/Hidden Culture
Is everybody leading a double life? Why are great comic books STILL NOT part of the "literary canon"? Would having a gay president actually change anything in America?This week on Big Think's podcast, Junot Díaz, Dominican-American, Pulitzer prize winning author of The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao talks with host Jason Gots about deception, culture, and techno-optimism.Three surprise clips selected from Big Think's interview archives spark intense, funny, fascinating observations on who we are, what we...

17. Norman Lear (TV Legend) – An Authentic Horse's Ass/The Capacity to Choose
We surprise the world's sharpest minds with unexpected topics. This week, legendary TV producer Norman Lear, author ofEven THIS I Get to Experience joins host Jason Gots to discuss Mars colonies, immigration, and the upside of stress.“If I learned anything writing the book, it was that it’s hard to be a human being. I don’t care what the circumstances of one’s birth: if there is nothing in life that makes trouble, or mischief, we’ll make it up. It’s a hard game. But the kick is in knowing that, and beating ...


16. Jane McGonigal (Game Designer) – Game On!/Death to "Gamification"
Fantasy can save your life but how much is too much? This week on Big Think's podcast we discuss three surprise ideas with game developer and researcher Jane McGonigal, author of the new book SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient--Powered by the Science of Games.Archival Big Think interview clips from President Grimsson of Iceland, last week's guest Salman Rushdie, and business guru Jerry Kaplan launch three in-depth discussions that may change the way...

15. Salman Rushdie (Novelist) – Happiness/Monsters
“For most of the time, writing any book, it's not going well."–– Salman Rushdie on Think AgainThis week on Big Think's popular podcast, we're joined by the brilliant and occasionally notorious Salman Rushdie, author of the new book Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty Eight Nights.Surprise video clips from Big Think's archives launch a fascinating conversation about reason, imagination, bad grammar on Twitter, theoretical physics, literary hoaxes and the late Oliver Sacks.Learn more about your ad choices. Vi...

14. Freakonomics' Stephen Dubner – Free $#!+/Hidden Costs
Are Pirate Bay (illegal, free) and Spotify (legit, really cheap) undermining artists' incentive to create?This week on Big Think's podcast, we're joined by Freakonomics' Stephen Dubner.An interview clip from film producer Jonathan Taplin launches an in-depth discussion of the way we consume and pay (or don't pay) for media in the post-Napster age.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...


13. "Reply All" Hosts PJ & Alex – Future Crime/Personal Yoda/Bonus Track
Can we escape our own irrationality? Is weaponized DNA something we should be worrying about? Does the future look like "Mad Max"?This week on Big Think's podcast, we're joined by the astounding Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt, creators and hosts of "Reply All," (one of our very favorite podcasts, EVER) and the astonishing Matt Farley writes us a theme song in under an hour.Interview clips from futurist Steven Kotler, psychologist Dan Ariely and actor/activist George Takei get us talking (and laughing) about all k...

12. George Takei (Actor + Activist) – Ego/Focus/Xenophobia
Is attention an endangered species? How do you collaborate with someone who hates you? Is xenophobia a natural side effect of religion?In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by actor, activist, and internet superhero George Takei.Interview clips from Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Parr, and Daniel Kahneman launch a lively conversation about religion,human rights, and the three types of attention.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

11. Tina Roth Eisenberg (AKA @swissmiss) – Culture Theory/Color Theory
How do colors affect us psychologically? Will a less hierarchical, more collaborative society lead inevitably to robot wars?In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by Tina Roth Eisenberg (AKA Swissmiss), Swiss-born designer and entrepreneur who runs the popular SwissMiss blog and the Creative Mornings lecture series. Interview clips from Adam Alter and Chris Fussell launch a lively discussion of design, entrepreneurship, and the purpose-driven lifeLearn more abou...


10. Mark Epstein (Buddhist Psychotherapist) – Nature/Nurture/Neither
Will nanobots someday deposit Shakespeare directly into our brains? If we paid politicians tons of money would they do a better job? Does epigenetics solve the nature/nurture debate?In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by Mark Epstein, Buddhist-influenced psychiatrist and author of Thoughts Without a Thinker and The Trauma of Everyday Life. Interview clips from Stephen Dubner, Kayt Sukel, and Nicholas Negroponte launch a probing discussion of education, free w...

9. Henry Rollins (Artist), pt. II – American Trauma/The Word "Genius"
Can anything cure what ails America? What's a "genius", exactly?In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, we air part two of our conversation with legendary hardcore musician and spoken word artist Henry Rollins. Interview clips from Paul Ekman and James Gleick launch a discussion of a nation divided and the character traits of "geniuses".Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...

8. Maria Konnikova (Author) – Mindset/Creativity/Suburban B-Boyz
Can "positive thinking" keep you physically and mentally young? Do schools kill creativity? Should white boys ever rap or breakdance?In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game and Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes. Interview clips from Kelly McGonigal, Lawrence Krauss, and Tavis Smiley launch a discussion of 21st century education, racial identity, and the powers and limits of positive thinking.Learn more...


7. Baratunde Thurston (Comedian, Cultural Critic) – Stupidity Scaled/Robot Rights/Brand You
At what point do sex robots become sex slaves? How are bandwidth and storage capacity changing our lives? Can you have a "personal brand" and "be yourself" at the same time?In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by author and tech pundit Baratunde Thurston, "a philosopher comedian fighting for the future." Interview clips from Rick Smolan, Lawrence Krauss, and Guy Kawasaki launch a discussion of human potential, social status, identity, and how Kim Kardashian's ...

6. Brian Greene (Theoretical Physicist) – Student for Sale
Can anyone afford college anymore? Would it help if we sold stock in students? Would Young Einstein have been a popular commodity?In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots and sometime co-host Eric Sanders are joined byBrian Greene, theoretical physicist, director of the World Science Festival, and author of The Elegant Universe. An interview clip from economist Daniel Altman launches a discussion of why we bother to learn anything in the first place.Learn more about your ad...

5. Clint Smith (Poet, Educator) – Genetics/Racism/Harvard
Will our brainpower soon be exponentially enhanced by technology? Or will the world turn into a Terminator movie? Can genetics overcome its early history of racism?In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by poet and educator Clint Smith. Two interview clips from Ray Kurzweil and Alain de Botton launch a discussion of human potential, social status, and identity.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...


4. Bill Nye (Science Guy) – Geek Chic/TMI/Future Money
Was Einstein a fashion genius? Why is Malcolm Gladwell unimpressed by search engines? What will money look like in 500 years?In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by beloved actor/educator Bill Nye, host of the "Tuesdays With Bill" series on Big Think.Big Think interview clips from Simon Doonan, Malcolm Gladwell, and Kabir Sehgal launch Bill and host Jason Gots on a spirited discussion that spans continents and centuries.And Bill Nye commits, on record, to wear...

3. Wendy Suzuki (Neuroscientist) – Brain Health/Consumerism/Women In Science
Is the modern world designed to kill you? Do Fitbit and meditation apps make us healthier and happier? Are women changing science for the better?In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, host Jason Gots is joined by neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki, author of the book Healthy Brain, Happy Life. Two interview clips from Dan Ariely and Arianna Huffington spark lively conversation about healthy living in the modern world and the changing face of science.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megap...

2. Henry Rollins (Artist) – Monogamy/Sexual Opportunism
Is monogamy ridiculous? Does this change with age? What do we really want out of love and sex?In this week's episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, we're joined by legendary hardcore musician and spoken word artist Henry Rollins.This clip from columnist Dan Savage launches Henry and host Jason Gots on an intense, personal conversation about love, big cities, and whether the two are incompatible.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices...


1. Jason Silva (Futurist) – Awe/Information Overload
"Dealing with the everyday requires us to close ourself off. . . But when you see art you want the opposite of shutdown.. . . .How do you adjust the treble and the bass of experience as it’s coming in?"With everything competing for your attention, how do you decide what to pay attention to?Can a movie, a song, or a novel transform your life? Your society?This week, on the first ever full episode of Big Think's Think Again podcast, we're joined by psychedelic pop philosopher and futurist Jason Silva.The surp...

Episode Zero – Think Again - Curiouser and Curiouser . . .
You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel?Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting?Some of the best conversations happen when we find ourselves outside of our comfort zones, thrust into unfamiliar, unexpected territory.So each week on Think Again, we surprise some of the world's brightest and most energetic minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. We listen together to a short interview clip from Big Think's archives and let the con...