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In this episode: 

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.

Novelist and essayist Gish Jen's work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories four times, including The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and her work was featured in a PBS American Masters’ special on the American novel. Her 2017 book, The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap, takes an unflinching, funny, and deeply insightful look at how fundamental East-West differences in the sense of self play out in art, culture, business, education, and more. 

In this episode, Gish and Jason discuss the benefits and downsides of our fundamental assumptions about who we are, and what's to be gained by escaping your cultural bubble, even for a moment. 

Gish Jen Quote: The very dominant narrative we have in America, which is the individual vs. society…is very much a product of the Cold War. We were Jackson Pollock. They were robots. In order to fight our fight with the Soviet Union, not only did [the US government] have to convince other nations of the world that the Soviet Union were these “evil collectivists”, but they had to promote it domestically as well. And we’ve all bought it. 

Surprise conversation starter interview clips:

Nato Thompson on individualism as a corporate product. Paul Root Wolpe on self-enhancement & culture

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.