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Think Again – a Big Think Podcast

Updated 2 days ago

Rank #136 in Arts category

Arts
Society & Culture
Books
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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

525 Ratings
Average Ratings
353
134
14
11
13

Fantastic

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

Perfect

By Stas173739 - Aug 18 2018
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This is so great. Especially love the scientists

iTunes Ratings

525 Ratings
Average Ratings
353
134
14
11
13

Fantastic

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

Perfect

By Stas173739 - Aug 18 2018
Read more
This is so great. Especially love the scientists
Cover image of Think Again – a Big Think Podcast

Think Again – a Big Think Podcast

Updated 2 days ago

Rank #136 in Arts category

Read more

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.

Rank #1: 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
43 mins
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Rank #2: 39. Maria Popova (Writer, Editor of Brain Pickings) – The Absurdity of Not Writing Poems

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"I’m always pulled toward anything that helps me figure out how to live a meaningful and substantive life." – Maria Popova

What does real friendship look like? How can something written a thousand years ago help us to navigate our lives in the 21st century? 

On this week's Think Again, host Jason Gots speaks with Maria Popova, the creator, writer, and editor of Brain Pickings, a labor of love that  has grown into a massive web media presence -- a blog, newsletter, twitter feed and more that shares timeless wisdom from authors past and present about how to live a meaningful life. 

Maria reads the poem Possibilities by Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska, which, along with three surprise interview clips with William ShatnerHoward Gardner, and Jon Kabat-Zinn sparks a far-ranging and revealing conversation on friendship, modern anxiety, and so much more. 
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Mar 26 2016
39 mins
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Rank #3: 100. Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysicist) – The Only "-ist" I Am

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Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. 100 episodes in, like the universe itself, the show continues to expand and accelerate at speeds that boggle the imagination.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist and the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the spiritual heir to Carl Sagan in getting us all worked up about the Cosmos. He’s been appointed to special NASA commissions, hosted multiple TV specials and podcasts, and written many excellent books, the latest of which is Astrophysics for People in A Hurry – a succinct, wryly funny book that’s surprisingly informative for its size - it has the informational density of a black hole.

In This, Our 100th Episode: Can Neil tell the entire history of the universe in 30 seconds? When is it possible to move faster than the speed of light? Why is "dark matter" a terrible name for dark matter? And what does Neil's esteemed colleague Lawrence Krauss have in common with a pit bull?

Surprise conversation starter interview clips:

Lawrence Krauss on Optimism, Dean Buonomano on "Presentism" and "Eternalism"

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May 27 2017
47 mins
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Rank #4: 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
19 mins
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Rank #5: 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
50 mins
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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
53 mins
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Rank #7: 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
57 mins
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Rank #8: 164. Jill Lepore (Historian) – Why America keeps going to pieces

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As Alexander Hamilton put it, the American Experiment puts to the test the question “of whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice…or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”

This question surfaces throughout Jill Lepore’s brilliant new history of the United States: These Truths. Our conversation took place during the live-streamed, virally-watched Senate Judiciary hearing on allegations that nominee Brett Kavanaugh committed sexual assault while in high school. Jill comments on this historical moment and much more.

As she puts it in the book's epilogue:

A nation born in revolution will forever struggle against chaos. A nation founded on universal rights will wrestle against the forces of particularism. A nation that toppled a hierarchy of birth only to erect a hierarchy of wealth will never know tranquility. A nation of immigrants cannot close its borders. And a nation born in contradiction, liberty in a land of slavery, sovereignty in a land of conquest, will fight, forever, over the meaning of its history. 

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Sep 29 2018
49 mins
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Rank #9: 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
1 hour 13 mins
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Rank #10: 91. Daniel Dennett (Philosopher) – Thinking About Thinking About Thinking

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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.

Daniel Dennett is one of the foremost philosophers of mind working today to unravel the puzzle of what minds are and what they’re for, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. His latest book of many is called From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds, and it’s a sweeping (but detailed) attempt to demystify how we get from inanimate matter to cathedrals, symphonies, and of course, podcasts.

In this fun and meaty episode of Think Again, Dennett waxes wicked and wise on consciousness, Dolphins, Artificial Intelligence, and much, much more.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips:

Andrew Keen on the Internet and social isolation and Ben Goertzel on Artificial General Intelligence

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Mar 25 2017
50 mins
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Rank #11: 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
1 hour 3 mins
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Rank #12: 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
1 hour 8 mins
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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
1 hour 3 mins
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Rank #14: 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
57 mins
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Rank #15: 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
32 mins
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Rank #16: 122. David Eagleman (neuroscientist) – Your Creative Brain

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

My guest today is neuroscientist David Eagleman. In The Runaway Species, How Human Creativity Remakes the World, David and his co-author Anthony Brandt explore that ancient tension between mastery and curiosity - the known and the unknown. And how the human imagination exploits it to make new things. 

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode

Isaac Lidsky on how going blind showed one man the light, Michael Slaby on a 30-hour work week
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Oct 28 2017
46 mins
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Rank #17: 97. Dean Buonomano (Neuroscientist) – This is Your Brain on Time

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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.

Dean Buonomano is a professor of neurobiology and psychology at UCLA and a leading theorist on (and researcher into) the neuroscience of time. His latest book, Your Brain is a Time Machine, the Neuroscience and Physics of Time convinced Jason that time is far weirder than he knew it to be (and he already knew it was mind-bogglingly weird).
In this episode: Does time exist at all, or is it an illusion of consciousness? If the latter, what's the evolutionary advantage of seeing time as linear and one-directional? Which is right: the Einsteinian view that the universe is a four dimensional box in which all time is already present, or the "common-sense" view that time is uni-directional? How does comic timing work? What's the evolutionary advantage of comedy? And oh so much more. 

Surprise conversation starter interview clips:

Scott Aukerman on comedy as a survival skill, Kevin Kelly on optimism as an engine of progress

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May 06 2017
51 mins
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Rank #18: 206. Jenny Odell (artist) – attention as an act of resistance

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When I think of my childhood home in Bethesda, Maryland, depending on what kind of mood I’m in, I think either of the mall or of the woods. Although there were some fun moments looking at the inappropriate novelty items like at Spencer Gifts, such as edible underwear, the mall in my memory is a symbol of suburban anomie and alienation. A place, as my guest today would put it, without context.

The woods, on the other hand, were endless and full of surprises. We’d follow the twisting creek, overturn rocks to find crawfish, and eat sassafras leaves. Once we made Molotov cocktails out of my mom’s nail polish and threw them into the creek with pure, anarchic joy. In the woods, I was always, utterly present—connected to every sound and attuned to the slightest movement. In the mall, I was mostly conscious of whether or not my jacket looked cool.

I’m here today with Jenny Odell. She’s an artist and educator who grew up in Silicon Valley and teaches at Stanford, the heart of the attention economy that’s colonizing more and more of the cultural woods. She’s also an avid bird watcher—or “bird noticer”, as she might put it. Her wonderful new book HOW TO DO NOTHING: RESISTING THE ATTENTION ECONOMY is something like a primer for growing the woods inside the mall. It’s about carving out space for ourselves in a world that wants to put our time and our lives to other, more utilitarian uses. 

Surprise conversation starters in this episode:

Edward Slingerland on the Taoist concept of Wu Wei and how it plays out in Chinese business culture

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Aug 03 2019
52 mins
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Rank #19: 150. David Sedaris (humorist) – Sir David of the Spotless Roadways

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Life is full of horrible things. I dare you to deny it. Things like death, sickness, and alcoholism. And did I mention death, which lies in wait for us all? But if you talk about these things at dinner parties, or at work, or to someone you have just met in line at the grocery store, you risk being branded a negative person. In some circles, such as the state of California,  negativity is like leprosy. It can really mess up your social life.

This does not seem to trouble my guest today, who has spent much of his life turning horrible, true stories into festive comedy. like many people, I first heard David Sedaris’ unmistakable voice on public radio in the late 90s. My sister and I took a couple of his audio books on a road trip across America in her red Saturn with a bumper sticker on the back that read “Humanity is Trying”. Having Sedaris along as company somehow made the endless miles of Stuckeys’ and strip malls, and the weeping people at Elvis‘s grave side in Graceland a little less alien and terrifying. In his latest book, Calypso, David is doing his thing better than ever. It’s about what’s on his mind these days, from decluttering the English countryside, to feeding a surgically removed lump of fat to a snapping turtle, to a sister’s suicide.

Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:

Martin Amis on the “etiquette” of good writing

Lucy Cooke on the extraordinary genitalia of female spotted hyenas

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Jun 02 2018
1 hour 1 min
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Rank #20: 105. Jennifer Doudna (Geneticist) - Intelligent Redesign?

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

Jennifer Doudna is a Professor of Chemistry and of Molecular and Cell Biology at the UC Berkeley, and until around 2012 she was quietly and contentedly studying the three dimensional structure of RNA molecules. Then she and her colleagues started looking into a thing called CRISPR-Cas9. It’s a kind of bacterial immune system, and it led to an invention that will change everything for all of humanity, forever.

In this episode Jennifer and Jason discuss the implications of the gene editing tool her lab created, and how humanity should (and likely will) yield the power to rewrite our own evolutionary destiny.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode:

Richard A Clarke on averting global catastrophes, Deepak Chopra on secular spirituality (clip not available online)
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Jul 01 2017
56 mins
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