To create the podcast series "Dolly Parton's America", Jad Abumrad and his producer Shima Oliaee took nine trips into the "Dollyverse"—that complex American multiverse of music and culture that surrounds country singer Dolly Parton. In this episode Jad and host Jason Gots talk about some of the astonishing discoveries he made along the way.
"Body, breath, awareness…that's your life. Every problem you ever have, every joy you ever have, depends on that." In this week's episode of Think Again, host Jason Gots talks with acclaimed poet and zen teacher Norman Fischer about the imagination as a tool for living a good life.
Playwright and novelist Deborah Levy on chaos and order in creative work. Also: marvelous digressions on the caterpillar and the octopus.
Having helped transform how creative work is financed, Yancey Strickler has moved on from Kickstarter, the company he co-founded toward a kind of values reset that moves us away from a narrow, unsustainable, inhumane obsession with profit at all costs.
Following the Booker shortlisting of her novel 10 Minutes, 38 Seconds in This Strange World, British-Turkish author and activist Elif Shafak returns to Think Again to talk about forgotten lives, the nature of evil, and what we mean by progress.
"I think when you come to grips with what happened, it gives you a chance of doing something different. What's really dark is when you're going through something and you have no perspective." By revisiting—through poetry—his 9 years in prison for a teenage carjacking, Reginald Dwayne Betts finds freedoms most of us have never known.
For too long, we've treated racism as a personality trait or a vague systemic menace rather than the result of policies and ideas created deliberately to benefit some groups at the expense of others. As a result, too many anti-racist efforts have collapsed into name-calling sessions, failing to achieve their goals. Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to be an Antiracist, sees a better way.
Though what constitutes "getting old" for women in America has been a moving target throughout US history, it has rarely been a picnic. But our history's also full of women who have raised hell and pushed back in a hundred different ways against the cultural and literal corsets America keeps trying to stuff them into.
A talented young programmer, Christopher Wylie found himself at the center of a complex plot to overturn the cultural order in the United States and Europe—one that most likely tipped the scales on Brexit and the 2016 US presidential election.
Progress for women can only go so far while men still struggle with ideals of masculinity that teach violence and emotional disconnect. Liz Plank is trying to change the conversation.
From atomic theory to evolution to utilitarian pragmatism, the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus was way ahead of his time. In the writings of his school, philosopher Catherine Wilson finds answers to many of our most vexing modern problems.
Fears and discoveries in translating an intimate world to the big screen. How experience helps you deal with people yelling at you. Why 21st century audiences love to be transported to Edwardian England, in spite of all the class hierarchy…
Etgar Keret's stories are as funny, painful, and surreal as life itself. We talk about the craziness of his native Israel, his new collection of short stories FLY ALREADY, marijuana, dementia, and much more.
Taped on the Asian side of Istanbul, Turkey: The ancient art of coffee ground reading. Food as a citizen of geographic, not national borders. Chef and food ethnographer Musa Dağdeviren, author of THE TURKISH COOKBOOK, and his ambitious project to preserve Turkey's rich and diverse cuisine.
Picking up where we left off a year ago, a conversation about the homeostatic imperative as it plays out in everything from bacteria to pharmaceutical companies—and how the marvelous apparatus of the human mind also gets us into all kinds of trouble.
How do you write away the personal hole in your heart when that hole was left by a man half the world idolizes? Steve Jobs' daughter, the writer Lisa Brennan-Jobs, on the process and effects of writing her beautiful memoir SMALL FRY.
Artist, "bird noticer", and concerned citizen of the digital state of the world Jenny Odell looks at many different ways of resisting the attention economy, sinking into the reality of our lives, and finding solidarity and agency with others.
Picking up the thread of a conversation they started two decades ago in Jerusalem, with some help from Lenny Bruce, philosopher Martha Nussbaum, and other influences along the way, host Jason Gots and Williams College professor Jeffrey Israel go deep on private grievances, public life, and where the two overlap.
The first church to marry gay couples in Oklahoma. The merging of a congregation founded by a white supremacist with the members of a black Pentacostal congregation. The film American Heretics explores the complexities of religious life in the Bible Belt as it intersects with politics and race.
"We live in an age in which there is too much excessive information, less knowledge, and very, very little wisdom." Elif Shafak has faced trial and investigation in her native Turkey for giving voice to the voiceless in her novels. We talk about her book THREE DAUGHTERS OF EVE and the fight for nuance in a world of binaries.
"You're all going to die" was one typical comment about the all-woman crew of the sailing ship Maiden, the first of its kind in the Whitbread round-the-world race. 30 years later, its captain Tracy Edwards, MBE reflects on the documentary MAIDEN and an act of will and teamwork that changed the world.
When a subculture like drag goes global, it's easy to forget the courage it took, and still takes, for so many people to live on the outside what they know they are on the inside. The maker of WIG and GAGA FIVE FOOT TWO on bravery, authenticity, and the eternal power of youth.
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.
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.
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.
For all the women in the world who never got the apology they needed, and all the men who haven't found the words, and above all for herself, Eve Ensler (THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES) wrote THE APOLOGY. In this searing, unflinching, often surprisingly funny conversation we talk about trauma, compassion, and what it means to apologize for real.
Convergence 2.0: Engineers are using the "natural genius" of biological systems to produce extraordinary machines—self-assembling batteries, cancer-detecting nanoparticles, super-efficient water filters made from proteins found in blood cells. Neuroscientist and MIT President Emerita Susan Hockfield and host Jason Gots discuss what all this could mean for our future.
Torn between absolutism on the left and the right, classical liberalism—with its core values of compassion and incremental progress whereby the once-radical becomes the mainstream—is in need of a good defense. And Adam Gopnik is its lawyer.
Personal crises and national crises have more than a few things in common. From Brexit to the partisan divide in America to Germany after World War II, Jared Diamond talks with host Jason Gots about how we get through them (or don't).
With 14 Tony nominations, HADESTOWN is redefining what a Broadway musical can be. Its creator, songwriter/singer Anaïs Mitchell sits down with Jason Gots to talk about the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, making old things new, and leaving her songwriting cave (temporarily) for the theater.
Secret Spice Girls dance parties of the wives of anti-western morality police. Book deals for political prisoners still in jail. Iran is a land of contradictions where oppression and freedom uneasily coexist. Born in France, Delphine Minoui lived in Tehran for 10 years to understand her grandparents' country from the inside.
Tragedy in art, from Ancient Greece to Breaking Bad, resists all our efforts to tie reality up in a neat bow, to draw some edifying lesson from it. Instead it confronts us with our own limitations, leaving us scrabbling in the rubble of certainty to figure out what's next.
The film becomes the story of the making of the film. From his Monty Python days to now, Don Quixote is a metaphor for Terry Gilliam's whole career, and for his 30 year project of making a film about a film about the knight of the woeful countenance. We talk about Muppets, time, and basically everything else two humans can talk about.
Love + fear = awe. And awe can inspire the best and the worst in us. From 100,000 wild tigers a century ago, we're down to around 5,000. Oscar winner Ross Kauffman's TIGERLAND tells the story of the lengths some will go to to protect them.
Love, grief, and moral disgust aren't unique to humans. Like chimps, humans sometimes struggle for dominance, but our first impulse is trust and connection. Frans de Waal has spent decades showing that most of what we believe about animals, humans, and the differences between us is wrong.
For Idris Elba's directorial debut YARDIE, actor Aml Ameen (Sense8, Kidulthood) went back to his family's Jamaican roots, learning patois and sound clash chat—using method acting to become "D" - a lost soul on a quest for revenge. The process changed him forever.
Killer robots. Alien invasions. Climate change. Josh Clark of Stuff You Should Know and the new podcast The End of the World thinks a lot these days about existential threats. Believe it or not, he's optimistic.
In the 1980's, Northeast Portland was a black neighborhood hustling to survive. Today, it's full of pilates studios and handlebar moustaches. As a writer, professor, and former inmate, Mitchell S. Jackson has lived in and learned from both worlds. In SURVIVAL MATH, he puts the pieces together.
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 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.
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.
Why does Faulkner use "inchoate" so much? Maybe because Benjamin Dreyer wasn't his copy editor. The author of DREYER'S ENGLISH is here to remind us that there's no absolute authority on the English language. Still, please avoid "onboarding".
Classicist Edith Hall reminds us that Aristotle's "virtue ethics" was a sophisticated, subtle approach to the pursuit of lifelong happiness a couple millennia before Oprah thought of inviting us to live our best life.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
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.
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.
With the help of positive psychology and the happiness industry, many of us seem to be running in the exact opposite direction of happiness.
What do the "seduction movement," the Virginia Tech shooter, and the Asian-American experience have in common? Wesley Yang thinks and writes with devastating clarity about loneliness, invisibility, and the incoherence of American life.
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
For two decades she's traveled the world, photographing humans in crisis. Pulitzer and MacArthur winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario on what it's all taught her.
Notes from the Fog author Ben Marcus on Elon Musk, the weird existential joys of the reality TV show Castaways, and whether we will eat in the future.
The friendly side of North Korea. Men at sea, dancing! Monty Python, of course, and more!
Why would two intelligent women running a hugely successful podcast at one of the most respected studios in the audio world quit to risk everything on a technology almost nobody understands?
Man Booker prize winners Olga Tokarczuk and her translator Jennifer Croft on maps that lead nowhere, plasticized anatomies, and humor across national borders.
How a mother-daughter obsession became a massive and dangerous industry. The weird history of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
A seismic shake-up at a venerable literary gatekeeper. Shallow and not-so-shallow consumerism. The Paris Review's new editor on old ghosts, new voices, and what's worth keeping.
Congo is one of the most culturally diverse, mineral rich, and beautiful places on Earth. But the “heart of darkness" colonizers dreamed into being still bleeds. Daniel McCabe's documentary This is Congo lets this wounded nation speak for itself.
When you’re a Hasidic woman in Borough Park, Brooklyn, starting an ambulance corps is a radical act. Documentary filmmaker Paula Eiselt on the push-pull of identity and cultural change in her film 93Queen.
Maybe everything we do is bad. But it’s not all bad to the same extent. Writer Jonathan Safran Foer on factory farming and free-range parenting in 2018.
Humanity is on the move. Fleeing war, oppression, poverty . . . millions worldwide leave their home countries daily in search of asylum. IT WILL BE CHAOS filmmakers Lorena Luciano and Filippo Piscopo on what this means for Europe and the world.
Ruinophilia. The science of loneliness. Live at UntitledTown Book and Author Festival, Green Bay, Wisconsin
If you've ever heard that there are differences between the "left and right brain", you can blame Michael Gazzaniga. His new work aims at closing the gap between the meat of the brain and the magic of consciousness, and maybe saving us a lot of future headaches.
God, guns, sex, and mutually exclusive concepts of liberty. The Way Brothers' Netflix docuseries Wild, Wild Country tells a story that's about as American as it gets.
Love is like umami. Adulthood is accepting the schmo you are. Wordplay and worldbuilding with novelist Meg Wolitzer.
There's got to be a thousand ways to reclaim the past, but for Tara Westover, story was the only one that could contain all of it.
The myths of an inhospitable land. Imposter Syndrome. That feeling when one of your characters unexpectedly murders another. Literary mage Neil Gaiman on the dark arts of fiction and everyday life.
Think you're "post-tribal"? Think again. Attorney and "tiger mom" Amy Chua on groupthink in America and abroad.
Terraforming Mars. Beaming your consciousness to Alpha Centauri. It's the end of the world as we know it, and Dr. Kaku feels fine.
A bracing splash of cold Laphroaig in the face of some of our biggest misconceptions, from historian Niall Ferguson.
Imaginary Histories, Possible Futures – Jacob Sager Weinstein (Children's Author) – Think Again - a Big Think Podcast #134
Wild boars in the sewers of London. Augmented humans of the future. Jason's high school friend, celebrated children's author Jacob Sager Weinstein, on imaginary histories and possible futures.
The virtual reality that's coming is like nothing we've ever experienced. Now's the time to decide what it's good for.
If your vision is clear, everything is revelatory. The author of "My Struggle" on writing his way into life.
While the unchecked ego might be popular at parties, it can get us into all kinds of trouble. Mark Epstein, MD combines psychotherapy and Buddhism to help people live with the self.
Fatih Akin has first-hand experience of strong cultural cross-winds. Ethnically Turkish and raised in Germany, he has made many films dealing with sudden dislocation and how people respond to it.
100,000 years of human history and young adulthood is still getting weirder. Noël Wells on art, power, and our super dark times.
When was the last time you were well and truly bored? If you can't remember, you're not alone. Manoush Zomorodi on what our brains really need, and what they're getting.
Terrorism. Technological disruption. Globalization. Life in the 1870’s was wild. Harvard historian Maya Jasanoff on Joseph Conrad, his times, and ours.
Jason Gots is a New York-based writer, editor, and podcast producer. For Big Think, he writes (and sometimes illustrates) the blog "Overthinking Everything with Jason Gots" and is the creator and host of the "Think Again" podcast. In previous lives, Jason worked at Random House Children's Books, taught reading and writing to middle schoolers and community college students, co-founded a theatre company (Rorschach, in Washington, D.C.), and wrote roughly two dozen picture books for kids learning English in Seoul, South Korea. He is also the proud father of an incredibly talkative and crafty little kid.