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...

Land of paradoxes: the inner and outer Iran – with Delphine Minoui

Secret Spice Girls dance parties of the wives of anti-western morality police. Book deals for political prisoners still in jail. Iran is a land of contradictions where oppression and freedom uneasily coexist. Born in France, Delphine Minoui lived in Tehran for 10 years to understand her grandparents' country from the inside.

Think Again Podcasts
  • Why even liberal Iranians think the revolution was worth it
  • What the west gets right and wrong about Iran


I remember visiting New York when I was 18 and thinking about coming here for college. How badly I wanted to be "from" New York. How cool, how real, how substantial that would be.

What does it mean to be "from" any place? At what point do you own the culture like you own your native language? Your very own little shard of the broken mirror that adds up to New York. Or Irkutsk. Or Tehran?

Actually, you can't own a culture: it owns you. And you can't immerse yourself in a different culture without turning into a different person.

My guest today, investigative reporter Delphine Minoui, grew up in a relatively orderly, secular France. She wanted to know what it meant to be from Iran, her grandfather's country, under the veil of the Islamic Republic. Over a decade living there, she found out. Her book I'M WRITING YOU FROM TEHRAN is the story of that investigation and how it changed her.

Surprise conversation starters in this episode:

Robert Sapolsky on religious faith in the brain

A brief history of human dignity

What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.

Credit: Benjavisa Ruangvaree / AdobeStock
Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
  • That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
  • We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
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