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...
Merve Emre: Four-letter you (Myers-Briggs personality indicator)
How a mother-daughter obsession became a massive and dangerous industry. The weird history of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
- Find out why Carl Jung turns over in his grave every time someone calls herself an 'introvert' or an 'extravert'!
- Discover how Truman Capote became the subject of psychological experiments on creativity!
Did you ever see the 1951 Disney version of Alice in Wonderland? Where the caterpillar, voiced by actor Richard Haydn, sits laconically on his giant toadstool, wreathed in hookah smoke, peers at Alice under his drooping eyelids and says:
Even as kid, I felt the existential impact of that question. Not, "hey kid, what's your name?" But who, fundamentally, are you as a person? What are you like? Were you born that way? How much of that can you change? All those chilling, thrilling, bottomless, ego-gratifying questions.
But what happens when the murky philosophy and psychology of the self meet good-old American pragmatism and business? Something very weird indeed. I'm here today with Merve Emre—she's an associate professor of English at Oxford University and she's the author of The Personality Brokers. It tells the strange history of The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator—a mother-daughter psychological cottage industry that, 70 years in, still has people calling themselves introverts or extraverts, feelers or thinkers, and pondering what that might mean for their lives and their careers.
Surprise conversation-starter clips in this episode:
The wonder and the ethics of deep time. The "wood-wide-web". The claustrophobia of the Anthropocene. In our 200th episode, UNDERLAND author Robert MacFarlane takes us on a journey deep into the Earth and ourselves.
- "We think of ourselves as this surface species. Of builders. But we are a species of burrowers and borers. And we are leaving warrens behind us that dwarf any ant's nest…"
- "That handprint on the cave wall is testimony to that urge to move into darkness in search of meaning—in search of different orders of time."
An ordained Lama in a Tibetan Buddhist lineage, Lama Rod grew up a queer, black male within the black Christian church in the American south. Navigating all of these intersecting, evolving identities has led him to a life's work based on compassion for self and others.
- "What I'm interested in is deep, systematic change. What I understand now is that real change doesn't happen until change on the inside begins to happen."
- "Masculinity is not inherently toxic. Patriarchy is toxic. We have to let that energy go so we can stop forcing other people to do emotional labor for us."
With MIND IN MOTION, psychologist Barbara Tversky offers a stunning account of movement in the world as the foundation of abstract thought, from logical problem-solving to taking other people's perspectives. We discuss gesture, abstract art, animal intelligence and much more.
- "Our feet take us from place to place. A place is a dot and the path between places is a relation. And if you think about thought, it's the same."
- "There's all this work done now on how you can preserve an aging mind. Crossword puzzles…brain training…none of that works as well as moving in the world. Just keep moving."
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