Malcolm Gladwell: What if presidents were chosen by lottery?

Join Radiolab's Latif Nasser at 1pm ET today as he chats with Malcolm Gladwell live on Big Think.

Can voters really predict who will be a good leader? Malcolm Gladwell joins Big Think Live to discuss this how lotteries could, in theory, distribute leadership more effectively, from government elections, college admissions, and grant applications.

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Can reading erotica improve your sex life?

Is indulging in erotic content good or bad for your sex life?

Photo by Jacob Lund on Shutterstock
  • Erotica is defined as any type of art that is meant to cause sexual ideation or arousal. The main difference between erotica and pornography is that the former is seen as "art that has a sexual aspect."
  • While there are many different misconceptions about the consumption of erotic or pornographic content, many studies on this topic prove it may not be as harmful as you think.
  • Erotic literature can allow you to become more comfortable in your sexuality, communicate easier with your partner and may even impact your ability to orgasm.
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Stories from space! 4 astronauts share their adventures

Firsthand accounts of what it's really like to go to and come back from space.

  • Being able to call yourself a former astronaut is a distinction that not many people on Earth have. Studying or reading about space from the ground is one thing, but getting to experience it firsthand is to join the universe's most exclusive club.
  • This video brings together the voices of former astronauts Garrett Reisman, Chris Hadfield, Ron Garan, and Leland Melvin as they each share a personal anecdote about what they saw, felt, and learned during their training and their time in space.
  • From Reisman's memories of seeing Earth's atmosphere from above for the first time, to Hadfield's extensive camera photography training, these space stories offer unique insights into a cool and very complex profession.
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What if Middle-earth was in Pakistan?

Iranian Tolkien scholar finds intriguing parallels between subcontinental geography and famous map of Middle-earth.

Image: Mohammad Reza Kamali, reproduced with kind permission
  • J.R.R. Tolkien hinted that his stories are set in a really ancient version of Europe.
  • But a fantasy realm can be inspired by a variety of places; and perhaps so is Tolkien's world.
  • These intriguing similarities with Asian topography show that it may be time to 'decolonise' Middle-earth.
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Perhaps all atlases should be this subjective

To get a sense of faraway places, these 'atlases' let the locals give you their perspective.

Image: Subjective Atlas, reproduced with kind permission.
  • Most atlases are terrible: nothing more than glorified road maps.
  • These 'Subjective Atlases' offer bottom-up views of places, provided by people who actually live there.
  • Each of the 12 atlases so far is unique, and surprising – but don't expect to drive by them.
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