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...

Monty Python's Michael Palin on laughter, human contact, and adventure on the high seas

The friendly side of North Korea. Men at sea, dancing! Monty Python, of course, and more!

Think Again Podcasts
  • Hear! Michael Palin's Michael Palin impression
  • Consider! His thoughts on John Cleese's thoughts on Political Correctness
  • Learn! Stuff you never knew about North Korea, Polar exploration, and more!


Michael Palin and Jason Gots who, after recording this episode, is as happy as a mad pumpkin that has swallowed the moon

Jason: I recently spent several hours on a transatlantic flight zooming in and out of the interactive map of the Earth on my seat's personal entertainment unit. Exploring tiny islands in the polar North…impossible inland seas in the middle of Central Asian deserts…Places so remote and strange that they fire the imagination.

In 2018, It's not easy to wrap your mind around the fact that not all that long ago no human and no satellite had ever set eye on many of these places. For all anybody knew, much of the Earth was probably populated by Cyclopses and sea monsters. In the mid-1800s, the icy poles, north and south, were the final frontiers. And the brave men—and, even a bit braver perhaps, women disguised as men—who set off to explore them were quite literally heading into the unknown.

My guest today is writer, actor, comedian, and explorer Michael Palin. He studied history at Oxford, then transformed comedy forever as a writer and performer in Monty Python's Flying Circus. Since then he's been traveling the world, writing books and hosting travel documentaries. His latest book, EREBUS, resurrects one of the greatest nautical mysteries of all time, and takes us deep into the icy heart of polar exploration in the mid-19th century.

Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode:

Nadya Tolokonnikova (of Pussy Riot) on women's rights in Russia

John Cleese on political correctness and comedy

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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