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...
Area 51 and the epistemology of the unexplained
30 years later, a new investigative documentary on Bob Lazar's claims about Area 51 raises some ghosts, some hell, and some unsettling questions.
- What if aliens have been visiting us all along?
- "Skeptical optimism" and investigations into the unknown
- Neurodiversity and deficiencies as sources of power
Between subjective experience and the things most people can accept as objective facts, there yawns a cavernous gulf. Imagine you're on a stage in front of 50,000 strangers trying to explain what it felt like to fall in love for the first time. There are ways of going about it, but it sure ain't easy. The facts most of us agree upon—things like gravity, our own mortality, global warming—they rest on reason, evidence, science. Clunky and fussy though they sometimes are, these are the best tools we have to test and replicate knowledge species-wide.
But what happens when someone claims that something's objectively true, but reason, evidence, and/or science are insufficient to test it? Claims of hauntings, cryptozoological wonders, or alien technology under US military lock and key? This is the stuff of endless subreddits and secret societies. Of conspiracies and shadow-wars between skeptics and believers. Where evidence is lacking or disputed, things can get hella heated.
My guest today wants to "weaponize your curiosity" in the realms of these extraordinary beliefs. He's Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell, a mixed-martial artist, a visual artist, and an investigative filmmaker. His new documentary is Bob Lazar: Area 51 and Flying Saucers. It raises some ghosts, some hell, and some unsettling questions.
Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode:
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.
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