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.

Think Again Podcasts
  • 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.

How does academic freedom change society for good?

Even the most controversial research conducted by scholars can impact cultures and drive progress.

Videos
  • Academic freedom is, at the same time, absolutely critical and underappreciated.
  • This protection drives innovation and progress, but do we take it for granted? Scholars' ability to conduct controversial research impacts culture and society in a positive way.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
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In 1972, the year I was born, there was apparently a famous TV ad for Geritol. My guest today describes it thus:

"…a husband spoke to the camera while his wife draped herself over his shoulder, smiling like something between a model and the brainwashed resident of a creepy commune…"My wife's incredible. She took care of the baby all day, cooked a great dinner and even went to a school meeting—and look at her!"

Her potion of eternal youth, of course, is Geritol. It's got all the vitamins and iron she needs. This perfect woman grins silently at the camera as her husband concludes: "My wife: I think I'll keep her."

Though what constitutes "getting old" for women in America has been a moving target throughout US history, it has rarely been a picnic. But our history's also full of women who have raised hell and pushed back in a hundred different ways against the cultural and literal corsets America keeps trying to stuff them into.

My guest today is New York Times columnist and celebrated author Gail Collins. Her new book is No Stopping Us Now: the Adventures of Older Women in American History. It's a bumpy, often exhilarating ride through the lives of older women in America from colonial times up to the present day. And Gail's good company as our wise, wisecracking stagecoach driver. We're headed West, and there's hope on the horizon.

Conversation starters in this episode:

Liz Plank on masculinity from Think Again, episode #214

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