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?

Each week, host Jason Gots surprises some of the world's brightest minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. Join us and special guests Neil Gaiman, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Richard Dawkins, Maria Popova, Mary-Louise Parker, Neil deGrasse Tyson and many more...

Adam Gopnik on the rhinoceros of liberalism vs. the unicorns of everything else

Torn between absolutism on the left and the right, classical liberalism—with its core values of compassion and incremental progress whereby the once-radical becomes the mainstream—is in need of a good defense. And Adam Gopnik is its lawyer.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Liberalism as "radical pragmatism"
  • Intersectionality and civic discourse
  • How "a thousand small sanities" tackled drunk driving, normalized gay marriage, and could control gun violence

If I had to choose one word to capture this moment in American (and maybe world) history, "patience" wouldn't be it.

From every direction, everything demands our urgent attention. Everything is a ticking time bomb, or one that's just exploded, and we're all the poorly-trained volunteer ambulance squad. I don't mean to dismiss the challenges we face: climate change, families being ripped apart while seeking asylum, a school shooting every other week, just to name a few. These are very real. Very urgent indeed. But in fight-or-flight mode, we make drastic, either/or decisions. We forget, as my guest today would have it, how to count to two.

He's New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik, and he's the author of the new book A THOUSAND SMALL SANITIES: the Moral Adventure of Liberalism. It's a surprising and surprisingly necessary book at this cultural moment. And it's willing to look awkward and uncool in the eyes of Gopnik's teenaged daughter and her generation by defending good old fashioned, pluralistic, humanistic Liberalism. Liberalism, as Gopnik puts it, is more of a rhinoceros than a unicorn—a creature of evolutionary compromise that's not always pretty to look at. But put a saddle on it, he argues, and it gets you more or less where you need to go.

Surprise conversation starters in this episode:

Kurt Andersen on the gun control debate

How Big Think can better support you and how you can support Big Think

Here's a letter from our co-founders on the ways to help the world get smarter, faster, through engaging actionable content.

Mind & Brain

Dear readers,

We're the co-founders of Big Think. First and foremost, we want to thank you for your viewership. Over the last 12 years, you have helped us take Big Think from a vision scrawled in notes on lined paper to a reality that has reached over 1 billion people with the mission of helping the world get "smarter faster".

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Following the Booker shortlisting of her novel 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World, British-Turkish author and activist Elif Shafak returns to Think Again to talk about forgotten lives, the nature of evil, and what we mean by progress.

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Reginald Dwayne Betts - Nothing to resurrect after prison

"I think when you come to grips with what happened, it gives you a chance of doing something different. What's really dark is when you're going through something and you have no perspective." By revisiting—through poetry—his 9 years in prison for a teenage carjacking, Reginald Dwayne Betts finds freedoms most of us have never known.

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Some experiences change you so completely that you're left with a choice: either spend your life running from them or spend your life turning them over in memory, trying to find new ways in, through, and out the other side. The power of the impulse to explain or somehow articulate these experiences is inversely proportionate to other people's ability to understand them. They're everything all at once. It seems to me that my guest today has made that second choice, the hard choice not to run away. Or maybe it's a choice you have to keep making over and over again. His name is Reginald Dwayne Betts. He's 39 years old—an accomplished poet and essayist and a graduate of Yale Law School. But he spent most of his teenage years and young adulthood in prison and over a year in solitary confinement, experiences neither society, nor memory, nor his fellow feeling for the more than 2 million people behind bars in the United States, the vast majority of them black men and boys, has let him forget. Dwayne's beautiful and necessary new book of poems is called FELON, and I'm honored to have him with me here today to talk about it.



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