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...

Helen Riess, M.D. – Empathy in the brain and the world

Empathy makes us human. Humans make structures that rob us of empathy when we need it most. Helen Riess is trying to reverse that trend.

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Empathy is the basic stuff of human connection. It's how we hear and are heard by one another. It's how we deal with one another as people rather than objects. But with massive, relentless trouble in the world, the 24 hour news cycle, the pressure to choose political and social sides, and the struggles of our everyday lives, empathy is sometimes in short supply.

My guest today is the psychiatrist and research scientist Helen Riess. She's an associate clinical professor at Harvard and runs the relational science program at Massachusetts General Hospital as well as the company Empathetics, Inc. Her new book, THE EMPATHY EFFECT: 7 Neuroscience-based keys for transforming the way we live, love, work, and connect across differences, is all about empathy: where it comes from, what its effects are, and how we can develop more of it.

That breathtaking song I mention in the intro: "Compassion" by Lucinda Williams

Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode:

Timothy Snyder on how to get past partisan politics

Leland Melvin on hands on learning

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With the help of positive psychology and the happiness industry, many of us seem to be running in the exact opposite direction of happiness.

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A trans family in the holy land

Amit Tzuk and Ofir Trainin, the subject and director of an FAMILY IN TRANSITION, an Israeli documentary about a small town father of four who becomes a woman.

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Everybody is always in a state of transition. All the time, your cells are dying and replacing themselves. Your mind, your emotions, your goals, your sense of self—all of these are shifting from year to year as you age. In families where there are children, the changes are even more visible and dramatic. Bodies change, voices change, identity is always in flux. But we also have an instinct to mask these changes. To find ways of minimizing them to fit in.

My guests today have a story to tell about what happens when the changes are undeniable. When they're at odds with the values of many people in your family and community. It's about the pain and the necessity of breaking the masks you've made for yourself. FAMILY IN TRANSITION is a documentary film about Amit Tzuk, an Israeli father of four who transitions to become a woman, and the changes Amit's wife Galit and their children go through. I'm here today with Amit and with the film's director, Ofir Trainin.

Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode:

Jonathan Haidt on untruths to stop telling our children

Elad Gil on technophobia

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