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Think Again – a Big Think Podcast

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We surprise some of the world's brightest minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. With host Jason Gots and special guests Neil Gaiman, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie, Mary-Louise Parker, Richard Dawkins, Margaret Atwood, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Saul Williams, Henry Rollins, Bill Nye, George Takei, Maria Popova, and many more . . . 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. So each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you've probably heard of with hand-picked gems from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. The conversation could go anywhere. SINCE 2008, BIG THINK has captured on video the best ideas of the world’s leading thinkers and doers in every field, renowned experts including neurologist Oliver Sacks, physicist Stephen Hawking, behavioral psychologist Daniel Kahneman, authors Margaret Atwood and Marylinne Robinson, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, painter Chuck Close, and philosopher Daniel Dennett.

We surprise some of the world's brightest minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. With host Jason Gots and special guests Neil Gaiman, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie, Mary-Louise Parker, Richard Dawkins, Margaret Atwood, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Saul Williams, Henry Rollins, Bill Nye, George Takei, Maria Popova, and many more . . . 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. So each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you've probably heard of with hand-picked gems from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. The conversation could go anywhere. SINCE 2008, BIG THINK has captured on video the best ideas of the world’s leading thinkers and doers in every field, renowned experts including neurologist Oliver Sacks, physicist Stephen Hawking, behavioral psychologist Daniel Kahneman, authors Margaret Atwood and Marylinne Robinson, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, painter Chuck Close, and philosopher Daniel Dennett.
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Location:

United States

Description:

We surprise some of the world's brightest minds with ideas they're not at all prepared to discuss. With host Jason Gots and special guests Neil Gaiman, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie, Mary-Louise Parker, Richard Dawkins, Margaret Atwood, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Saul Williams, Henry Rollins, Bill Nye, George Takei, Maria Popova, and many more . . . 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. So each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you've probably heard of with hand-picked gems from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. The conversation could go anywhere. SINCE 2008, BIG THINK has captured on video the best ideas of the world’s leading thinkers and doers in every field, renowned experts including neurologist Oliver Sacks, physicist Stephen Hawking, behavioral psychologist Daniel Kahneman, authors Margaret Atwood and Marylinne Robinson, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, painter Chuck Close, and philosopher Daniel Dennett.

Language:

English


Episodes

162. Emily Nemens (Editor, The Paris Review) — The Literary Industrial Complex

9/15/2018
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I have a confession to make: Literary magazines have always kind of intimidated me. Give me an 800 page, impenetrable work of literature any day. Like Captain Ahab, I’ll pursue it relentlessly unto the ends of the earth until it unfolds its briny secrets. But facing a shelf of lit mags at The Strand Bookstore, I always feel either underdressed or overdressed. Like a dream where you’re naked at the Vienna Opera or in head-to-toe Ralph Lauren at a Sonic Youth concert. Maybe all this started...

Duration:00:47:53

161. Congo: This Seemingly Impossible Knot – Daniel McCabe (documentary filmmaker)

8/18/2018
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THIS IS CONGO, a new documentary film, attempts to wrap its mind around the incomprehensible realities of the Democratic Republic of Congo, almost 60 years after it was founded. At one point, commenting on one of the more incomprehensible recent events, a high-ranking military officer remarks: “They will say, “This is Congo” But when will they ask “Why? why is Congo like this?” Where do we begin? Where can we begin? For as long as I can remember, the news out of Congo has been bad. But...

Duration:00:54:37

160. Bassem Youssef (political satirist) – Now I Have to Answer for This?

8/11/2018
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My grandmother used to tell a story about coming to America from Poland. How she sang God Bless America to cheer up all the grownups on the ship. She was 5 or 6 years old, traveling alone with her mom. For her, it must have been a big adventure. I can hardly imagine what it was like for her mom— my great grandmother — how bad things must have been for Jews in their home town of Bialystok for her to pick up and leave like that, without her husband, heading toward some distant cousin in the...

Duration:00:46:05

159. Change is Made by the Ones Who Stay – Paula Eiselt (documentary filmmaker)

8/4/2018
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When I started college at New York University in 1990, nobody lived in Brooklyn. Brooklyn was the dark side of the moon. At least that’s how we NYU students thought about it. Lots of people lived in Brooklyn, of course. Just not us. It’s 2018, and Brooklyn has become an international brand, synonymous with artisanal pickles, gastropubs, and luxury condos. It’s the place even former NYU students can’t afford to live anymore. But in a couple of Brooklyn neighborhoods, people are still...

Duration:00:54:34

158. Parker Posey (actor) – I See a Dachshund In You

7/28/2018
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The impulse to make art is with us from childhood. It’s the desire to play. To say “hey! Look what I made!” It’s the wild fun of making a big mess that’s nobody else’s but your own—and not having to clean it up. Above all else, art is wild. It’s independent. It’s free. And that’s one reason why the art industry is a very weird thing. In order to make money “at scale” as the Silicon Valley kids like to say, movie studios, fancy galleries, and concert promoters have to quantify, systematize,...

Duration:01:08:03

157. The Spiders From Mars – Jason Heller (Hugo Award-winning writer)

7/21/2018
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The other day I was at a kid’s birthday party and a fellow dad was joking that “When we were kids, it was all ‘bang-bang-bang!’ and now it’s all ‘pew-pew-pew!’”He was talking about video games and lasers as opposed to, I’m guessing, cowboys? Actually, as I remember childhood, it was all “wowm…wowm!” The sound of lightsabers. I was 5 years old when Star Wars: A New Hope came out, and like everyone who grew up back then, I had sci-fi seeping into my very pores. Alien civilizations. Cyborg...

Duration:00:55:15

156. While You Live, Shine – Christopher C. King (Grammy-winning music producer)

7/14/2018
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While you live, shine. Have no mourning at all. Life exists a short while And time demands its fee. – From a 2000 year old tombstone in (then) Greek-speaking Asia Minor I’d like to do a little free-association exercise with you. I’m going to say three words and I’d like you to speak or write down all the words that come to mind as a result. No filtering. No judgment. Ready? American Pop Culture. Go! . . . Ok. Here’s what I got: Kanye Trump Gun Meme YouTube That’s pretty sad, I...

Duration:01:02:01

155. Lauren Groff (writer) – We Should Die of That Roar

7/7/2018
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The places we live in shape us. I don’t care who you are how indomitable your will…your spirit is in dialogue with the place you live. For example, I live in New York City, a place I wrapped around me like a second skin when I was 18 years old. Back then New York made me feel strong, cool, infinitely removed from the suburbs I grew up in. I’ve been here for 25 years and at this point what I mostly notice is the claustrophobic public spaces, the smallness of the sky. What do you feel when...

Duration:00:42:47

154. Jonathan Safran Foer (writer) – One Thing We Can All Agree Upon

6/30/2018
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What is food? It’s nourishment. It’s comfort. It’s culture. It’s art. For millions of people, it’s not something you waste much time thinking about. You eat what you’ve always eaten. What everyone around you eats. What you can afford. For others, every bite is a careful, conscious choice motivated by the drive to be thin, to impress your friends, or to do the right thing. In 2018, whatever our motivations, most of us live at a vast remove from the places and the ways our food is produced....

Duration:00:47:33

153. Guns: The Genie and the Bottle – Priya Satia (Historian)

6/23/2018
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When you think of the industrial revolution what comes to mind? Steam engines probably. Lone genius inventors. Factories and coal mines, perhaps. And depending on your professional interests and political leanings, either suffering laborers in sweat shops or the Great Onward March of Civilization. Did anybody think of guns? According to my guest today Stanford historian Priya Satia, guns are inextricably bound up with industrialization and it is our long and ever-changing relationship...

Duration:00:47:56

152. Where You Gonna Run To? Lorena Luciano and Filippo Piscopo (documentary filmmakers)

6/16/2018
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Imagine you’re a father or a mother of three kids. Your city is in the middle of a civil war. At any time a rocket might burst through your wall. Soldiers might round your family up, or kill them in crossfire. What do you do? You leave, of course. You do whatever you have to do to get your kids to safety. There will be many deadly risks along the way. But you know what’s the worst? The not knowing. The constant thoughts inside your head of everything that might go wrong, everything you...

Duration:00:55:15

151. Jessica Abel (cartoonist, creative coach) – Practical Magic

6/9/2018
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On an earlier episode of this show the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk said something that I’ve never forgotten. He said that writing programs shouldn’t teach about plots or characters or how to structure a story. Instead, they should teach writers to manage their own psyches. To be the captains of their own creative ships across the rough daily waters of fluctuating emotions and energies. This kind of self-management, he suggested, is what makes the difference between people who keep...

Duration:01:03:16

150. David Sedaris (humorist) – Sir David of the Spotless Roadways

6/2/2018
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Life is full of horrible things. I dare you to deny it. Things like death, sickness, and alcoholism. And did I mention death, which lies in wait for us all? But if you talk about these things at dinner parties, or at work, or to someone you have just met in line at the grocery store, you risk being branded a negative person. In some circles, such as the state of California, negativity is like leprosy. It can really mess up your social life. This does not seem to trouble my guest today,...

Duration:01:00:35

149. Yanis Varoufakis (former finance minister of Greece) – Happiness, Inc.

5/26/2018
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As the Wu-Tang Clan once put it: “Cash moves everything around me... Get the money. Dollar dollar bill, y’all.” I grew up not wanting to believe this. All the stuff that seemed worth having was hard to put a price tag on. but in a global capitalist world, there’s a lot of hard, sad truth to it. As an American child of the 1980s, I absorbed the message “find yourself!” “Follow your passions!” But there are powerful economic forces at work, shaping our lives and opportunities. My guest...

Duration:00:56:09

148. Jonathan Lethem (writer) – Batman's Greatest Enemy

5/19/2018
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There’s a famous line from a Bob Dylan song that goes “she’s got everything she needs...she’s an artist...she don’t look back.” As a person who loves art—music and literature especially—I’ve always been haunted by that line. Does an artist really not look back? Is looking back somehow a threat to creativity? What about Proust? Did he ever look anywhere but back? My guest today is Jonathan Lethem, one of my very favorite writers since I read his early novel Fortress of Solitude. He’s also...

Duration:00:56:23

147. Ronan Farrow (investigative journalist) — A Failure to Communicate

5/12/2018
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In Hollywood movies diplomats always get a bad rap. I’m picturing Claude Rains as “Mr. Dryden” in Lawrence of Arabia looking, as Clyde Rains always does, somewhat reptilian as he hunches over a map of the Middle East with General Allenby, smirking secretively. Hollywood diplomats are slippery. Untrustworthy. More often than not, they turn out to be double agents. On screen, definitive action plays better than careful talk or compromise. This is true of America in general and of our politics...

Duration:00:41:06

146. Think Again LIVE with Kristen Radtke (graphic novelist) – The Fascination of What's Difficult

5/5/2018
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This episode is really something different. It’s a live show we did on April 21st in Green Bay Wisconsin, as part of Untitled Town Book and Author Festival, now in its second year. I’d never been to Green Bay before. Nice town! You may know about the cheese and the football, but did you know that the Red Hot Chili Peppers once fled from the police due to an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction at a concert and spent the night hanging out at a local fan’s house? I learned this and much, much more...

Duration:00:56:26

145. Michael Gazzaniga (neuroscientist) – The Impossible Problem

4/28/2018
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Je pense donc je suis. (I think, therefore I am.) Huh? Who is this I? How do I know that it is thinking? What does it even mean to say that I am—that I exist, if it's this mysterious, untrustworthy Ithat says so? To be fair, René Descartes didn't invent these problems. but In the centuries after his death, his thought experiments sent philosophers, psychologists and later on, neuroscientists reeling and spiraling down a seemingly bottomless chasm In search of Consciousness. What is it?...

Duration:00:46:22

144. Antonio Damasio (neuroscientist & philosopher) – Where is My Mind?

4/21/2018
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Why can’t we all just get along? And conversely, why do we sometimes get along so well, building cathedrals, inventing Democracy, symphonies, and stuff that that? According to my guest today, the answer is as old as life itself. In the behaviors of the most ancient forms of bacteria, single-celled organisms without a nucleus, we can see the seeds of civilization as we know it, for better and for worse. They form collectives. They go to war. The key is homeostasis—the imperative of all life...

Duration:01:01:30

143. The Way Brothers (documentary filmmakers) – City On a Hill

4/14/2018
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In New York City, where we all live in little boxes on top of one another, “Ignore thy neighbor” is a reasonable coping strategy. Live and let live, right? To each her own. But what’s the tipping point at which thy neighbor becomes simply too numerous, too loud, too different to ignore? I’d submit that whoever you are. Wherever you locate yourself on that spectrum of tolerance. You too, have your limits. In the mid 1980s, a group of people in Oregon discovered their tipping point when a...

Duration:01:04:06