Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Choosing the Right Detainees to Interview

Topic: Choosing the Right Detainees to Interview

Mahvish Khan: I chose the prisoners that I wrote about based on different characteristics. The ones that I initially met were the ones that had the greatest personal impact on me because I was very sensitive to my surroundings and the prisoners and they had a lasting personal impression. And so I wrote about those individuals but also individuals with varied backgrounds of different countries and people from different occupations with... also with different personalities because yeah, there was the old man and the doctor who were polite and I felt sorry and bad for them but then there was also Taj Mohammad, the goat herder who wanted nothing more than to spend the meeting time learning English cuss words. And so that’s what we would do. He would hand me pieces of paper that the guards would write for him and ask me to translate these words, and the first time I saw it my jaw dropped because word number one was bestiality, two was pedophile, three was intercourse, and four was horny, and I was like “Taj, I don’t know how to say this in Pashto because I learned Pashto from my parents growing up,” but the chapters vary so much between personality. And there were poets and there was one guy who just wanted to talk about having an interfaith dialog with his attorney, and attorneys and their clients often quizzed each other about cultural differences because one of the attorneys couldn’t figure out how his Afghan client had two wives and he was curious about how he juggled two wives and what the sleeping arrangements were. And then the detainee would answer his questions and then quiz him back on why do Americans drink to the point of impaired judgment or you guys do this internet dating thing. How does that work? And so there was a lot of back and forth and understanding and my book transcends the torture and the abuse and it is about culture and people and friendships that are... were formed in the most unlikely of places and also betrayal and forgiveness. And it’s a story of heritage because I grew up as a Pashtun American and with the detainees I often traded ideas of East and West and they always... and we formed these family-like relationships and that’s what the book is about.

 

 

Recorded on: 7/17/08

 

 

 

Mahvish Khan says the best characters have the most vivid stories to tell.

LIVE TOMORROW | Jordan Klepper: Comedians vs. the apocalypse

Join The Daily Show comedian Jordan Klepper and elite improviser Bob Kulhan live at 1 pm ET on Tuesday, July 14!

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

LGBTQ+ community sees spike in first-time depression in wake of coronavirus​

Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Coronavirus
  • Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
  • Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
  • The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Keep reading Show less

The mind-blowing science of black holes

What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.

Videos
  • When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
  • A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
  • Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."

Scientists see 'rarest event ever recorded' in search for dark matter

The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.

Image source: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
  • The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
  • The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
Keep reading Show less

Space travel could create language unintelligible to people on Earth

A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.

Credit: NASA Ames Research Center.
Surprising Science
  • A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
  • Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
  • This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast