Subscribe on Google PlayStitcher, or iTunes

Come talk to us on Twitter@bigthinkagain

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

Today's guest is actor, writer, director, and science-curious artist Alan Alda. Jason says: "I grew up watching him in reruns of MASH, where his character Hawkeye Pierce was so specific and relatable that he feels in my memory like a not-too-distant relative. And in Horace and Pete, Louis CK’s 2016 brilliant web-tv dramedy, Alan underwent a miraculous metamorphosis into a bitter, racist barman who is also a fully-fleshed human being.  But wait - there’s more! For decades, Alan has been helping to heal the ancient rift between highly technical science and ordinary curiosity. Alan’s new book If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? Shares what he (and science) have learned about how we can communicate better. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is a matter of life or death." 

Inspired by a passage in Alan's book, Jason puts away his interview notes. What follows is a funny, honest, connected conversation unlike anything else in the show's two-year history. 

Alan Alda: “I’ve always had a little social anxiety. And I found that once I improvised, I learned that there really aren’t any mistakes. A mistake is just the thing that gets you to the next thing. I knew I could get by just by staying in the present moment.”

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode:

James Gleick - Humans are Information-Seeking Creatures 

About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: You've got 10 minutes with Einstein. What do you talk about? Black holes? Time travel? Why not gambling? The Art of War? Contemporary parenting? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere.