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Society & Culture
Science
Social Sciences

Inquiring Minds

Updated 5 days ago

Society & Culture
Science
Social Sciences
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Each week Inquiring Minds brings you a new, in-depth exploration of the space where science, politics, and society collide.We’re committed to the idea that making an effort to understand the world around you though science and critical thinking can benefit everyone—and lead to better decisions. We endeavor to find out what’s true, what’s left to discover, and why it all matters with weekly coverage of the latest headlines and probing discussions with leading scientists and thinkers.

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Each week Inquiring Minds brings you a new, in-depth exploration of the space where science, politics, and society collide.We’re committed to the idea that making an effort to understand the world around you though science and critical thinking can benefit everyone—and lead to better decisions. We endeavor to find out what’s true, what’s left to discover, and why it all matters with weekly coverage of the latest headlines and probing discussions with leading scientists and thinkers.

iTunes Ratings

754 Ratings
Average Ratings
394
309
14
19
18

Highly recommended

By DellingDog - Mar 17 2018
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Great hosts and guests, interesting and insightful interviews. Highly recommended.

Great!

By clint wolf - Jun 20 2017
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A terrific, very interesting podcast.

iTunes Ratings

754 Ratings
Average Ratings
394
309
14
19
18

Highly recommended

By DellingDog - Mar 17 2018
Read more
Great hosts and guests, interesting and insightful interviews. Highly recommended.

Great!

By clint wolf - Jun 20 2017
Read more
A terrific, very interesting podcast.
Cover image of Inquiring Minds

Inquiring Minds

Latest release on Dec 31, 2019

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 5 days ago

Rank #1: 34 John Oliver - This World Will Be a Ball of Fire Before It Stops Being Funny

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In late April, former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver kicked off his HBO news-satire program, Last Week Tonight. Oliver, who spent nearly eight years at The Daily Show and has a solid background in political satire, is off to a good start. His weekly series—which offers biting commentary on the past week's biggest news stories, both national and international—is barely into its inaugural season, and it seems to be hitting the right notes. The premiere episode, for example, featured an exclusive televised interview with Gen. Keith Alexander (Ret.), his first since stepping down as director of the National Security Agency.
In another recent episode, Oliver expressed his frustration with the so-called climate "debate" in America by staging a more representative debate between a few climate skeptics and nearly a hundred scientists. One of the guys on the correct side of the "debate" was Bill Nye, who was booked for the show basically at the last minute.
"We just wanted to really play with that idea that the very fact that the climate debate is framed as a debate at all is problematic," Oliver says. On Inquiring Minds this week, guest host Asawin Suebsaeng talked to John Oliver about Last Week Tonight, politics, climate change, and how he went about finding a, um, very specific kind of model for the show.
This episode also features a discussion of surprising new scientific findings about why we don't remember much from our childhoods—because we were so busy growing new brain cells.
iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943
RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds
Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds

May 15 2014

46mins

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Rank #2: 134 Anders Ericsson - How to Do Everything Better

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Does it take 10,000 hours to become an expert at something? Probably not, says our guest this week—who happens to be the author of the paper which was the basis for Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule in the first place.

We talk to psychologist Anders Ericsson about his new book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.

May 20 2016

55mins

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Rank #3: Why Buddhism is True

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We talk to journalist, scholar, and prize-winning author Robert Wright about his latest book Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment.

Sep 18 2017

45mins

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Rank #4: 17 Michael Pollan - The Science of Eating Well (And Not Falling For Diet Fads)

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The Paleo diet is hot. Those who follow it are attempting, they say, to mimic our ancient ancestors—minus the animal-skin fashions and the total lack of technology, of course. The adherents eschew what they believe comes from modern agriculture (wheat, dairy, legumes, for instance) and rely instead on meals full of meat, nuts, and vegetables—foods they claim are closer to what hunter-gatherers ate.
The trouble with that view, however, is that what they’re eating is probably nothing like the diet of hunter-gatherers, says Michael Pollan, author of a number of best-selling books on food and agriculture, including Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. "I don't think we really understand well the proportions in the ancient diet," argues Pollan on this week’s episode. "Most people who tell you with great confidence that this is what our ancestors ate—I think they're kind of blowing smoke."
This week on the show, guest host Cynthia Graber has a wide-ranging conversation with Pollan that covers the science and history of cooking, the importance of microbes—tiny organisms such as bacteria—in our diet, and surprising new research on the intelligence of plants.
This episode also features a discussion of the new popular physics book Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn, by Amanda Gefter, and new research suggesting that the purpose of sleep is to clean cellular waste substances out of your brain.
Subscribe:
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Jan 16 2014

57mins

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Rank #5: How We Evolved to Have Free Will

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We talk to biologist Kenneth R. Miller about his new book The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will.

Apr 23 2018

44mins

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Rank #6: The Rise of Deep Brain Stimulation and Its Forgotten Inventor

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We talk to science writer and neurobiologist Lone Frank about her latest book The Pleasure Shock: The Rise of Deep Brain Stimulation and Its Forgotten Inventor.

May 07 2018

48mins

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Rank #7: 55 Daniel Levitin - The Organized Mind

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On the show this week we talk to cognitive psychologist, neuroscientist, musician, and writer Daniel Levitin about his new book The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.
We also talk to microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles about the Ebola virus—what the risks really are, and why many people might be overreacting.
Also, Chris has a huge announcement.
iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943
RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds
Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds

Oct 10 2014

1hr 9mins

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Rank #8: How Language Shapes Thought

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We talk to cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsk about how language can influence the way we think.

Nov 12 2019

47mins

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Rank #9: 113 Robert Sapolsky - Being Human

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Robert Sapolsky is a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, and a research associate with the Institute of Primate Research at the National Museum of Kenya.

We talked to Sapolsky about what it means to be human, what we humans can learn from other species, and why he—despite being a self-described pessimist—feels optimistic about our prospects as a species.

This week’s episode was recorded live in San Francisco for the 2015 Bay Area Science Festival and was produced in collaboration with The Leakey Foundation and their podcast Origin Stories.

http://leakeyfoundation.org/
http://leakeyfoundation.org/originstories

http://patreon.com/inquiringminds

Dec 04 2015

1hr 7mins

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Rank #10: 6 Jonathan Haidt - This is Why Your Political Opponents Hate You

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Why is America so polarized? Why are our politicians so dysfunctional? Why do they sometimes even seem to downright hate each other?
In this episode of Inquiring Minds, moral psychologist and bestselling The Righteous Mind author Jonathan Haidt explains that our differences are, at root, the result of sharply contrasting moral systems and the emotions that underlie them. These emotions differ from left to right. And in politics, we feel first and think later.
As a result, even though political partisans today tend to think their adversaries are wrong and immoral, the truth is actually that they are too moral, albeit in a far more visceral than intellectual sense.
This episode also contains a discussion of Glenn Beck's recent flubbing of basic statistics, and of why a primate species—the marmoset—may in some ways be better at communicating than today's Democrats and Republicans.
Subscribe:
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Oct 25 2013

39mins

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Rank #11: 131 Josh Willis - Greenland Is Melting!

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Evidence is mounting that Greenland is melting at a faster and faster rate. We talked to Josh Willis—senior scientist at NASA JPL’s Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project—about how changing water temperatures in our oceans are affecting the Greenland ice sheet.

Apr 29 2016

33mins

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Rank #12: Steven Pinker: Enlightenment Now

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We talk with cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker about his recent book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.

Sep 27 2018

1hr 10mins

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Rank #13: 133 Ben Beard - How Global Warming Is Making Some Diseases Even Scarier

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We talk to Ben Beard, associate director for climate change and chief of the bacterial diseases branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

May 13 2016

47mins

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Rank #14: Up To Date | Attention Is an Illusion; Ant Highways

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This week: A new study shows we only focus on something a few milliseconds at a time, but we don’t notice because we’re pulsing that focus; and research on how ants avoid traffic jams so perfectly. 

Thanks to guest co-host Trace Dominguez!

Aug 26 2018

15mins

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Rank #15: The Neuroscience of How We Think

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We have a big announcement! After 220 episodes, we are striking out on our own. Thanks to Mother Jones for being our home for the past 5 years. Look for new segments and episodes as we expand creatively, while still bringing you in depth conversations with scientists.

This week, we talk to neuroscientist Daniel Krawczyk about his book Reasoning: The Neuroscience of How We Think.

Dan also studies traumatic brain injury in veterans, using virtual reality as a part of cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Apr 02 2018

47mins

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Rank #16: 80 Norman Doidge - How Plastic Is Your Brain?

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Norman Doidge, M.D., is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, researcher, author, essayist and poet. He is on faculty at the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychiatry, and Research Faculty at Columbia University’s Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, in New York.
On the show this week we talk to Doidge about neuroplasticity—once you reach adulthood, is your brain in a kind of fixed state, or does it keep changing? And can you do things to make it change?
iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943
RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds
Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds
Tumblr: inquiringshow.tumblr.com

Apr 03 2015

57mins

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Rank #17: 124 Joanne Ruthsatz & Kimberly Stephens - Is There a Link Between Prodigy and Autism?

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We talk to Joanne Ruthsatz and Kimberly Stephens, authors of The Prodigy's Cousin: The Family Link Between Autism and Extraordinary Talent.

Mar 04 2016

58mins

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Rank #18: 43 Naomi Oreskes - The Collapse of Western Civilization

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You don't know it yet. There's no way that you could. But 400 years from now, a historian will write that the time in which you're now living is the "Penumbral Age" of human history—meaning, the period when a dark shadow began to fall over us all. You're living at the start of a new dark age, a new counter-Enlightenment. Why? Because too many of us living today, in the years just after the turn of the millennium, deny the science of climate change.
Such is the premise of a thought-provoking new work of "science-based fiction" by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, two historians of science best known for their classic 2010 book, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. In a surprising move, they have now followed up that expose of the roots of modern science denialism with a work of "cli-fi," or climate science fiction, entitled The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. In it, Oreskes and Conway write from the perspective of a historian, living in China (the country that fared the best in facing the ravages of climate change) in the year 2393. The historian seeks to analyze the biggest paradox imaginable: Why humans who saw the climate disaster coming, who were thoroughly and repeatedly warned, did nothing about it.
So why did two historians turn to sci-fi? On the show this week we talked to one of them—Naomi Orekes—to find out exactly that.
This episode also features a discussion of questionable claims about "drinkable" sunscreen, and a new study finding that less than 1 percent of scientists are responsible for a huge bulk of the most influential research.
iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943
RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds
Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds

Jul 18 2014

54mins

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Rank #19: 28 John Hibbing - The Biology of Ideology

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Thomas Jefferson was a smart dude. And in one of his letters to John Adams, dated June 27, 1813, Jefferson made an observation about the nature of politics that science is only now, two centuries later, beginning to confirm. "The same political parties which now agitate the United States, have existed through all time," wrote Jefferson. "The terms of Whig and Tory belong to natural, as well as to civil history," he later added. "They denote the temper and constitution of mind of different individuals."
Tories were the British conservatives of Jefferson's day, and Whigs were the British liberals. What Jefferson was saying, then, was that whether you call yourself a Whig or a Tory has as much to do with your psychology or disposition as it has to do with your ideas. At the same time, Jefferson was also suggesting that there's something pretty fundamental and basic about Whigs (liberals) and Tories (conservatives), such that the two basic political factions seem to appear again and again in the world, and have for "all time."
Jefferson didn't have access to today's scientific machinery—eye tracker devices, skin conductance sensors, and so on. Yet these very technologies are now being used to reaffirm his insight. At the center of the research are many scholars working at the intersection of psychology, biology, and politics, but one leader in the field is John Hibbing, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln whose "Political Physiology Laboratory" has been producing some pretty stunning results.
This week, we talk to Hibbing about his research and what he says we actually do now know about these important differences between liberals and conservatives.
This episode also features a discussion of whether we are finally on the verge of curing AIDS, and new research suggesting that great landscape painters, like JMW Turner, were actually able to capture the trace of volcanic eruptions, and other forms of air pollution, in the color of their sunsets.
iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943
RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds
Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds

Apr 04 2014

45mins

Play

Rank #20: 172 Dan Ariely - The Surprising Science of What Motivates Us

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We talk to Dan Ariely, the James B Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University about what actually motivates us to get things done—to finish that novel, to stick to a diet, or even to want to get up and go to work every day.

Mar 27 2017

34mins

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