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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. 

One of seven siblings, Paul Theroux is the author of over 50 works of fiction and non-fiction, including The Great Railway Bazaar and The Mosquito Coast. His latest novel Mother Land is a scathing, semi-autobiographical, often painfully funny portrait of a mother’s long and insidious reign over her seven children.

In this episode, Paul talks about the claustrophobia of big families, the mass migrations of peoples, colonizing Mars, and an important difference between humans and cockroaches.

Paul Theroux Quote:  After, say, 95 [years old], a person is beyond criticism,  and they become like permanent fixtures of the household.  Like a little yellow goddess in the corner of the room with a halo.  They become skeletal, with an aura.  There’s a tribe…the Lobi tribe in Burkina Faso.  They have a little figure in the house. And it scares the hell out of people.  It’s there just scowling, frowning. And my mother was like that.  Kind of saintly and scowling, and also beyond reproach. 

Surprise conversation starter interview clips:

Anders Fogh Rasmussen on the geopolitical challenges of climate changeStephen Petranek on colonizing Mars

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.