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...
Jill Lepore: Why America keeps going to pieces
A nation born in revolution will forever struggle against chaos. Jill Lepore, author of THESE TRUTHS, on the political divide, public shaming, and the future of democracy.
- How the two parties got as ideologically divided as they are now. (Hint: Not the organic will of the people)
- Public shaming: The dangers of using destructive means to constructive ends.
As Alexander Hamilton put it, the American Experiment puts to the test the question " . . . of whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice . . . or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force."
This question surfaces throughout Jill Lepore's brilliant new history of the United States: These Truths. Our conversation took place during the live-streamed, virally-watched Senate Judiciary hearing on allegations that nominee Brett Kavanaugh committed sexual assault while in high school. Jill comments on this historical moment and much more.
As she puts it in the book's epilogue:
A nation born in revolution will forever struggle against chaos. A nation founded on universal rights will wrestle against the forces of particularism. A nation that toppled a hierarchy of birth only to erect a hierarchy of wealth will never know tranquility. A nation of immigrants cannot close its borders. And a nation born in contradiction, liberty in a land of slavery, sovereignty in a land of conquest, will fight, forever, over the meaning of its history.
The catacombs of Paris. Secret graffiti beneath NYC. The hidden cities of Cappadocia. Writer and explorer Will Hunt is your philosophical tour guide to what lies beneath.
- "The surface of the earth is where we're rational . . . Part of us dreads the chaos, and part of us is always attracted to it."
- "There were these things hanging from the ceiling…long strands of bacteria called "snotsicles"… But at our feet was a natural stream that had been running through Brooklyn forever."
- "It's…about death. Undergoing a death. We're going into the other world and then retreating to the surface… changed in some way."
The 8th century AD was a tough time to be a genius from a poor family in China. Poet and novelist Ha Jin on the tortured life of the legendary drunken poet Li Bai. Also: panpsychism, the value of idleness, and humanities education in America today.
- "I knew in the case of Li Bai, I should follow the poems. Every masterpiece by him would be kind of a small crisis…a center for drama in his life."
- "There are people who want a different kind of fulfillment. Society should be open to that. In the long run, you don't know—maybe those idlers can produce more for the society."
Man-Booker prizewinning author Marlon James in a freewheeling game of verbal ping-pong on African mythology, '80's hip hop, heavy metal, tattoos, and billionaire philanthropy.
- "Black Leopard, Red Wolf" has been compared to "Lord of the Rings" and "Game of Thrones", but it's something entirely different.
- Growing up gay in a deeply religious Jamaica and writing his way out of there.
- Trickster narrators, truths you have to sort out for yourself.
Connect with us
How to listen
You can listen to Think Again right here on site, or select your podcast app:
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.