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Think Again – a Big Think Podcast

Updated 6 days ago

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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.

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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.

iTunes Ratings

543 Ratings
Average Ratings
369
133
16
11
14

Profoundly beautiful show.

By peter dodo - Nov 13 2019
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A treat every time, deep interviews with some incredible guests Thank you !!

Fantastic

By clint wolf - Jun 10 2019
Read more
A terrific podcast. Very interesting guests and topics. Thanks.

iTunes Ratings

543 Ratings
Average Ratings
369
133
16
11
14

Profoundly beautiful show.

By peter dodo - Nov 13 2019
Read more
A treat every time, deep interviews with some incredible guests Thank you !!

Fantastic

By clint wolf - Jun 10 2019
Read more
A terrific podcast. Very interesting guests and topics. Thanks.
Cover image of Think Again – a Big Think Podcast

Think Again – a Big Think Podcast

Latest release on Feb 22, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 6 days ago

Rank #1: 2. Henry Rollins (Artist) – Monogamy/Sexual Opportunism

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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.

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Jun 27 2015

19mins

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Rank #2: 25. Sam Harris (Neuroscientist) – Uncomfortable Conversations

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What are the limits of tolerance? Can people with fundamentally different world views coexist peacefully? Is faith incompatible with reason? In the wake of the recent Paris attacks, these questions are more pressing than ever.

In this week's episode philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris delves deep into all of the above with host Jason Gots, through the lenses of Islamic extremism, the telepathic powers of fiction, and what would happen to your identity if you could be replicated down to the atom.

Sam's latest book, Islam and the Future of Tolerance, is a dialogue with Maajid Nawaz, a former Islamic extremist now working for tolerance within and for the Muslim world.

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Dec 05 2015

43mins

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Rank #3: 52. Jim Gaffigan (Comedian) – You're Attacking My Grandpa?

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“It’s funny or it’s not funny. In the end, people are not coming 

to my show because I’m not cursing” – Jim Gaffigan

Jim Gaffigan is a Grammy nominated stand-up comedian and the New York Times best-selling author of “Dad is Fat” and other books, and he’s about to launch the second season of  his semi-fictitious TV show, The Jim Gaffigan Show

On this week's episode of Think Again - a Big Think Podcast, Jim and host Jason Gots talk about the gift of loving what you do for a living, "othering" people we disagree with, and how bigotry is a bipartisan phenomenon. Trump comes up, as do The Simpsons, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, New Yorkers' weird ideas about the Midwest and vice versa, and Jim's Grandpa (sort of).  

Surprise discussion clips in this episode: Princeton historian Sean Wilentz on the Trump phenomenonDan Pontefract on working with purpose

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Jun 25 2016

41mins

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Rank #4: 177. Joseph Goldstein (Buddhist teacher) – Lighten Up: mindfulness, enlightenment, and everyday life

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Love, money, health, great sex, peace of mind—however you define it, happiness in this world is impermanent and unreliable. But we’re all invested in the illusion that we’re just one career move or one Amazon purchase away from permanent bliss.

To quote Darth Vader: Search your feelings—you know it to be true. Life is sometimes exhilarating and sometimes devastating, but it’s always, always in flux.

This is the first noble truth of Buddhism. That everything in this life is unreliable and unsatisfactory. Maybe it doesn’t sound to you like the beginning of a message of hope, but that’s exactly what it is. A couple millennia ago the Indian prince Siddhartha Gautama, better known as Buddha, offered anyone who would listen a system of training the mind to free it from the suffering that comes from clinging to impermanent things, like how many followers you have on Instagram.

My guest today is Joseph Goldstein. He’s one of the most influential Buddhist teachers and writers of the past half-century. In 1975, Along with Sharon Salzberg and Jack Kornfield, he co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Barre Massachusetts. Since then, he has done immeasurable good worldwide with his books, dharma talks, and meditation retreats.  Four decades ago he started a journey he’s still on today, helping westerners—very much including myself—benefit from the Buddha’s ancient insights and techniques.

Joseph’s latest book, MINDFULNESS: a practical guide to awakening, is his magnum opus: the distilled wisdom of four decades of teaching and practice. 

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Jan 12 2019

1hr 13mins

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Rank #5: 4. Bill Nye (Science Guy) – Geek Chic/TMI/Future Money

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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 DoonanMalcolm Gladwell, and Kabir Sehgal launch Bill and host Jason Gots on a spirited discussion that spans continents and centuries.

And Bill Nye commits, on record, to wearing a matching bow tie and kilt.

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Jul 11 2015

32mins

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Rank #6: 72. Slavoj Žižek (Philosopher) - Against Tolerance

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Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

Slavoj Žižek is a Hegelian philosopher,  Lacanian psychoanalist, and political activist. He’s the international director of the Birbeck Institute for the Humanities, and Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University. His newest book is Refugees, Terror, and Other Troubles with the Neighbors: Against the Double Blackmail.

In this spirited, wide-ranging discussion, the voluble Žižek talks about why he hates being called the "Elvis of philosophy," argues against liberal notions of tolerance, and promises to arrange for Jason to get cigarettes and whiskey in the gulag when the revolution comes.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Daniel Bergner on Women and Monogamy and Scott Barry Kaufman on Standardized Testing

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Nov 12 2016

53mins

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Rank #7: 15. Salman Rushdie (Novelist) – Happiness/Monsters

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“For most of the time, writing any book, it's not going well."–– Salman Rushdie on Think Again

This week on Big Think's popular podcast, we're joined by the brilliant and occasionally notorious Salman Rushdie, author of the new book Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty Eight Nights.

Surprise video clips from Big Think's archives launch a fascinating conversation about reason, imagination, bad grammar on Twitter, theoretical physics, literary hoaxes and the late Oliver Sacks.

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Sep 26 2015

21mins

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Rank #8: 10. Mark Epstein (Buddhist Psychotherapist) – Nature/Nurture/Neither

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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 DubnerKayt Sukel, and Nicholas Negroponte launch a probing discussion of education, free will, and a contemporary twist in the "nature/nurture" debate.

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Aug 22 2015

31mins

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Rank #9: 87. Yuval Noah Harari (Historian) – Time's Up

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Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

Yuval Noah Harari holds a PhD in History from the University of Oxford and now lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specializing in World History. His 2014 New York Times bestselling book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, is published in nearly 40 languages worldwide. His new book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, uses historical and current trends to look at where we might we headed as a species.

In this conversation, Harari and Jason discuss giving credit where it's due to genuine signs of human progress, and the dizzying ethical questions that surround what's coming next –– from superhuman cyborgs to algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips:

Lawrence Levy on Pixar, mindfulness, and the Middle Way. Daniel Dennett on the evolution of cultural memes

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Feb 25 2017

50mins

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Rank #10: 18. Junot Díaz (Pulitzer-Winning Novelist) – Double Lives/Hidden Culture

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Is everybody leading a double life? Why are great comic books STILL NOT part of the "literary canon"? Would having a gay president actually change anything in America?

This week on Big Think's podcast, Junot Díaz, Dominican-American, Pulitzer prize winning author of The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao talks with host Jason Gots about deception, culture, and techno-optimism.

Three surprise clips selected from Big Think's interview archives spark intense, funny, fascinating observations on who we are, what we know (and don't know about ourselves), and where we're headed.

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Oct 17 2015

27mins

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Rank #11: 185. Martin Hägglund (philosopher) – What happens to freedom when time is money

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What gets a wolf or a pigeon up in the morning? No offense to wolves or to pigeons, but it’s probably not the desire to make the world a better place. As far as we know, humans are unique in the freedom to decide what’s worth doing with our finite time on Earth.

But as my guest today argues, we often steal that freedom from one another or sell it off without even realizing it—our finite  lifetime, the one thing we have of real value, is devalued by capitalism and for those who have it, by religious faith in eternal life, or eternal everythingness, or eternal nothingness. . . .

It’s a long story. These ideas are better expressed in a 400 page book than in a 60 second intro. Happily, philosopher Martin Hägglund has given us that much-needed book in This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom. Martin is a professor of Comparative Literature and Humanities at Yale and a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient. And I’m delighted to have him here with me today. 

Surprise conversation starters in this episode:

Rob Bell on whether Jesus would have wanted Christianity

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Mar 09 2019

52mins

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Rank #12: 112. Richard Dawkins (biologist) – Red in Tooth and Claw

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In this episode, which Dawkins described as “one of the best interviews I have ever had,” the eminent ethologist and host Jason Gots talk about whether pescatarianism makes any sense, where morality should come from (since, as Hume says, "you can't get an 'ought' from an 'is'), the greatness of Christopher Hitchens, and the evils of nationalism.

About the guest: Today’s guest is internationally best-selling author, speaker, and passionate advocate for reason and science as against superstition Richard Dawkins. From 1995 to 2008 Richard Dawkins was the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.  Among his many books are The Selfish Gene, the God Delusion, and his two-part autobiography: An Appetite for Wonder and A Brief Candle in the Dark. His latest is a collection of essays, stories, and speeches called Science in the Soul, spanning many decades and the major themes of Richard’s work.

About Think Again: Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

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Aug 19 2017

57mins

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Rank #13: 144. Antonio Damasio (neuroscientist & philosopher) – Where is My Mind?

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Why can’t we all just get along? 

And conversely, why do we sometimes get along so well, building cathedrals, inventing Democracy, symphonies, and stuff that that? 

According to my guest today, the answer is as old as life itself. In the behaviors of the most ancient forms of bacteria, single-celled organisms without a nucleus, we can see the seeds of civilization as we know it, for better and for worse. They form collectives. They go to war. The key is homeostasis—the imperative of all life to avoid harm and seek to flourish.

I’m delighted to be speaking today with neuroscientist and philosopher Antonio Damasio. He heads the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California and is the author of DESCARTES’ ERROR and the new book THE STRANGE ORDER OF THINGS: Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures.

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode

Max Tegmark on consciousness

Maya Szalavitz on addiction

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Apr 21 2018

1hr 3mins

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Rank #14: 198. Barbara Tversky (cognitive psychologist) – World makes mind

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You’re a body in the world. From the moment you’re born, from that very first gasp of air, you’re taking in sensations, trying to get a handle on things and the relationships between them. There’s a lot of things to get a handle on. Too many. So your brain needs to simplify. It makes boxes for objects, maps them onto grids to track their motion. Through this process, the physical world enters your mind. It makes your mind. And that’s where things start to get really interesting.

My guest today is cognitive psychologist Barbara Tversky. Her new book MIND IN MOTION: How Action Shapes Thought, upends everything most of us think we know about thinking. Tversky’s first law of cognition is that there are no benefits without costs. We simplify the physical world—reduce it to lines and boxes. We build abstract thought—everything from Shakespeare to string theory to how to design a pair of sneakers—on top of that same flawed foundation. And that explains all of our superpowers and all of our blind spots.

Surprise conversation starters in this episode:

Philosopher Alva Noe on the puzzle of perception

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Jun 08 2019

1hr 3mins

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Rank #15: 37. Cory Booker (US Senator) – Cynicism: a Refuge for Cowards

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“We all have so much power that we don’t use. And I think it’s because of cynicism,  which is a toxic spiritual state. Cynicism is a refuge for cowards.” –– Cory Booker

Why do so many of us choose to remain in a state of "sedentary agitation" about America's problems when there are so many things we could do to help? This is the core question of UNITED, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker's powerful new political biography. 

And it surfaces again and again on this week's THINK AGAIN as Senator Booker and host Jason Gots talk race, poverty, hope, and apathy in America, 2016. 

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Mar 12 2016

25mins

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Rank #16: 3. Wendy Suzuki (Neuroscientist) – Brain Health/Consumerism/Women In Science

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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.

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Jul 04 2015

23mins

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Rank #17: 76. Tim Ferriss (Author, Podcaster) – Productively Frivolous

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Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

Above all else,  Author, Podcaster, and "Human Guinea Pig" Tim Ferriss is focused on learning how to learn, then applying those lessons to everyday life -- aiming at increased productivity, efficiency, and success, however you may define it. His books The Four Hour Workweek, the Four-Hour Body, and the Four-Hour Chef shared his learning experiments in the culinary, physical, and business realms. His latest book “Tools of Titans” distills lessons learned from guests like Maria Popova, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rick Rubin in conversation on his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Tim Wu on "the attention merchants" of social media, Simon Sinek on the idea of having "a vision"

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Dec 10 2016

46mins

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Rank #18: 158. Parker Posey (actor) – I See a Dachshund In You

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The impulse to make art is with us from childhood. It’s the desire to play.  To say “hey! Look what I made!” It’s the wild fun of making a big mess that’s nobody else’s but your own—and not having to clean it up. Above all else, art is wild. It’s independent. It’s free. And that’s one reason why the art industry is a very weird thing. In order to make money “at scale” as the Silicon Valley kids like to say, movie studios, fancy galleries, and concert promoters have to quantify, systematize, and package that sense of freedom. If it sounds like a paradox, that’s because it is. I’m just gonna say it: the more money at stake, the less breathing space for everything that draws us to art in the first place.

I’m here today with an actor whose name is basically synonymous with creative freedom. Parker Posey has created unforgettable characters in indie films like Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, Hal Hartley’s Fay Grim, and Christopher Guest’s Best in Show, and in big studio productions like You’ve Got Mail and Netflix’s Lost in Space. Wherever she  shows up, Parker fills the screen with an energy teetering between hilarious and deeply uncomfortable. A sense of chaos barely contained. Her new memoir – her first book – captures that same wonderfully unpredictable honesty and humor. It’s called You’re On An Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir.

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:

Danny Sjursen on how Americans value the lives of non-Americans

Nick Offerman on staying balanced in an insane industry

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Jul 28 2018

1hr 8mins

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Rank #19: 218. Bill Bryson (writer) – the most extraordinary machine

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Do you have a body? I do, but I was mostly unaware of this fact until somewhere in my mid-30s, when my life strategy of living like a bourbon-loving brain-in-a-vat became increasingly untenable. Since then, I’ve come to understand something that might have been obvious to you all along. The body’s not just a convenient support system for coming up with clever things to say—it’s how we experience the world. It’s most of what we mean by living.

And for all its marvelous autonomy, it’s also wonderfully, bafflingly complex. My guest today is the author Bill Bryson. In his new book THE BODY: A GUIDE FOR OCCUPANTS, he has been kind enough to demystify it for us to the extent that that’s possible, and to help us revel in its mystery everywhere else. Bill is the beloved author of A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING and A WALK IN THE WOODS, and I’m delighted to have him on the show. 

Surprise conversation starters in this episode: 

Excerpted from Think Again episode #215 with Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie. 

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Nov 02 2019

52mins

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Rank #20: 130. Mark Epstein, MD (Buddhist psychiatrist) – I, Me, Mine

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All through the day… I, me mine, I me mine, I me mine…

That George Harrison song on the Beatles’ last album pretty much sums it up. They recorded it in 1970, and 47 years later, our egos seem to be running just as rampant as ever. While the unchecked ego might be popular at parties, it can get us into all kinds of trouble. This is not breaking news. Over 2000 years ago an Indian prince sat under a tree and thought about the problem of self. His insights and solutions became what we now call Buddhism. And a century ago in Vienna, Sigmund Freud came at the same issue from a somewhat different angle, giving us psychotherapy.

Our guest today, Mark Epstein, MD, is a psychotherapist and author who combines both approaches to help his patients and readers live with their demanding egos. His new book is Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself.

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:

Drew Ramsey on diet and depression, Manoush Zomorodi on the wandering mind

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Jan 13 2018

57mins

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