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...
Alan Alda – The Spirit of the Staircase – Think Again - a Big Think Podcast #106
Spontaneous talk on surprise topics. Actor and author Alan Alda on the art of communication (for good and evil), social anxiety, the mind of a billionaire, and more.
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Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. Since 2015, the Think Again podcast has been taking us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.
Today's guest is actor, writer, director, and science-curious artist Alan Alda. Jason says: "I grew up watching him in reruns of MASH, where his character Hawkeye Pierce was so specific and relatable that he feels in my memory like a not-too-distant relative. And in Horace and Pete, Louis CK’s 2016 brilliant web-tv dramedy, Alan underwent a miraculous metamorphosis into a bitter, racist barman who is also a fully-fleshed human being. But wait - there’s more! For decades, Alan has been helping to heal the ancient rift between highly technical science and ordinary curiosity. Alan’s new book If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? Shares what he (and science) have learned about how we can communicate better. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is a matter of life or death."
Inspired by a passage in Alan's book, Jason puts away his interview notes. What follows is a funny, honest, connected conversation unlike anything else in the show's two-year history.
Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode:
About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: 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? Some of the best conversations happen when we're pushed outside of our comfort zones. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere.
One of the most influential Buddhist teachers and writers of the past half-century, Joseph Goldstein helped bring Vipassana (insight) practice to the West. We talk about love, pop-mindfulness, and how even a philosopher can learn to quiet the mind.
- Neuroscience's romance with meditation
- Puppy videos as a deep spiritual practice
- How the "retreat" was born
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
Empathy makes us human. Humans make structures that rob us of empathy when we need it most. Helen Riess is trying to reverse that trend.
- Heart – mind = emotional quicksand. Mind – heart = greeting card sympathy
- The doctor burnout epidemic and how to fix it
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