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Vox Conversations

Vox Media

Vox Conversations brings you weekly discussions between the brightest minds and the deepest thinkers; conversations that will cause you to question old assumptions and think about the world and our role in it in a new light, including five years' worth of episodes hosted by Vox co-founder Ezra Klein.

Vox Conversations brings you weekly discussions between the brightest minds and the deepest thinkers; conversations that will cause you to question old assumptions and think about the world and our role in it in a new light, including five years' worth of episodes hosted by Vox co-founder Ezra Klein.


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Vox Media


Vox Conversations brings you weekly discussions between the brightest minds and the deepest thinkers; conversations that will cause you to question old assumptions and think about the world and our role in it in a new light, including five years' worth of episodes hosted by Vox co-founder Ezra Klein.




Sam Sanders and Olivia Nuzzi on President Trump’s last days

New York magazine's Washington correspondent Olivia Nuzzi spent the past four years covering the Trump White House. In this inaugural episode of Vox Conversations, Nuzzi talks to guest host Sam Sanders, host of NPR's It’s Been a Minute, about the perils of anonymous sourcing, some unexpected job hazards (self-loathing), and why Trump didn’t ultimately create, but instead activated, the crowd of insurgents that breached the Capitol last week. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit...


Best of: We don’t just feel emotions. We make them.

How do you feel right now? Excited to listen to your favorite podcast? Anxious about the state of American politics? Annoyed by my use of rhetorical questions? These questions seem pretty straightforward. But as my guest today, psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett, points out there is a lot more to emotion than meets the mind. Barrett is a superstar in her field. She’s a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, holds appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General...


Best of: Ending the age of animal cruelty, with Bruce Friedrich

You often hear that eating animals is natural. And it is. But not the way we do it. The industrial animal agriculture system is a technological marvel. It relies on engineering broiler chickens that grow almost seven times as quickly as they would naturally, and that could never survive in the wild. It relies on pumping a majority of all the antibiotics used in the United States into farm animals to stop the die-offs that overcrowding would otherwise cause. A list like this could go on...


Best of: The moral philosophy of The Good Place

After creating and running Parks and Recreation and writing for The Office, Michael Schur decided he wanted to create a sitcom about one of the most fundamental questions of human existence: What does it mean to be a good person? That’s how NBC's The Good Place was born. Soon into the show’s writing, Schur realized he was in way over his head. The question of human morality is one of the most complicated and hotly contested subjects of all time. He needed someone to help him out. So, he...


Best of: Michael Lewis reads my mind

Michael Lewis needs little introduction. He’s the author of Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Big Short, The Blind Side, The Fifth Risk. He’s the host of the new podcast “Against the Rules.” He’s a master at making seemingly boring topics — baseball statistics, government bureaucrats, collateralized debt obligations — riveting. So how does he do it? What I wanted to do in this conversation was understand Lewis’s process. How does he choose his topics? How does he find his characters? How does he...


Best of: Tracy K. Smith changed how I read poetry

It’s the rare podcast conversation where, as it’s happening, I’m making notes to go back and listen again so I can fully absorb what I heard. But this conversation with Tracy K. Smith was that kind of episode. Smith is the chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, a Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, and a two-time poet laureate of the United States (2017-19). But I’ll be honest: She was an intimidating interview for me. I often find myself frustrated by poetry, yearning for...


What I’ve learned, and what comes next.

As strange as it is to write, this is my last podcast here at Vox. In January, I'll be starting at the New York Times as a columnist on the opinion page, doing a reported column on policy and launching an interview podcast. Meanwhile, Vox will be building something new and better atop this show's DNA in this feed. In this episode, I wanted to reflect on the almost five years I’ve spent doing this show. This project has changed my work, and my life, in unexpected ways. So here are the four...


Best of: An inspiring conversation about democracy with Danielle Allen

This conversation with Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen in fall 2019 is one of my all-time favorites. Allen directs Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. She’s a political theorist, a philosopher, the principal investigator of the Democratic Knowledge Project, and the co-chair of a two-year bipartisan commission of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, which just this year released “Our Common Purpose,” a report with more than 30 recommendations on how to reform American...


Michael Pollan on the psychedelic society

On November 3, as the country fixated on the incoming presidential election results, voters in Oregon approved a seemingly innocuous ballot measure with revolutionary potential. Proposition 109, which passed with 56 percent of the vote (the same margin by which Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the state), legalizes the use of psilocybin, the main psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms, in supervised therapeutic settings. Multiple studies have found that use of psilocybin in a...


Best of: Robert Sapolsky on the toxic intersection of poverty and stress

Robert Sapolsky is a Stanford neuroscientist and primatologist. He’s the author of a slew of important books on human biology and behavior, including most recently Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. But it’s an older book he wrote that forms the basis for this conversation. In Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Sapolsky works through how a stress response that evolved for fast, fight-or-flight situations on the savannah continuously wears on our bodies and brains in modern life....


Joe Biden and "the new progressivism"

It’s often said that Joe Biden has an instinct for finding the political center — that of his party, and that of the country. To understand how Biden has changed, and how he might govern, we need to understand how the ideological context of American politics is changing, and why. Felicia Wong is the President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think tank that has done some of the best work on the way the ideological firmament of politics is shifting. Wong believes that the set...


Best of: Frances Lee on why bipartisanship is irrational

There are few conversations I’ve had on this show that are quite as relevant to our current political moment as this one with Princeton political scientist Frances Lee. Joe Biden will occupy the White House come January, but pending the results of two runoff Senate elections in Georgia, Democrats either won’t control the Senate at all or will face a 50-50 split. In either case, an important question looms large over the incoming administration: Will Republican senators negotiate with Biden...


The most important book I've read this year

If I could get policymakers, and citizens, everywhere to read just one book this year, it would be Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future. Best known for the Mars trilogy, Robinson is one of the greatest living science fiction writers. And in recent years, he's become the greatest writers of what people now call cli-fi — climate fiction. The name is a bit of a misnomer: Climate fiction is less fictitious speculation than an attempt to envision a near future that we are likely to...


Best of: Alison Gopnik changed how I think about love

Happy Thanksgiving! We will be back next week with brand new episodes, but on a day when so many of us are thinking about love and relationships I wanted to share an episode that has changed the way I think about those topics in a profound way. Alison Gopnik is a professor of psychology and philosophy at the University of California Berkeley. She’s published more than 100 journal articles and half a dozen books, including most recently The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of...


Best of: Vivek Murthy on America’s loneliness epidemic

At the holidays, I wanted to share some of my favorite episodes of the show with you (we’ll be back next week with brand new episodes). My conversation with Vivek Murthy tops that list, and it has particular force this Thanksgiving, when so many are alone on a day when connection means so much. As US surgeon general from 2014 to 2017, Murthy visited communities across the United States to talk about issues like addiction, obesity, and mental illness. But he found that what Americans wanted...


What Democrats got wrong about Hispanic voters

Donald Trump has built his presidency on top of racial dog whistles, xenophobic rhetoric, and anti-immigrant policies. A core belief among liberals was that this strategy would help Trump with whites but almost certainly hurt him with Latinos, and people of color more broadly. Then the opposite happened: In 2020, Trump gained considerable support among voters of color, particularly Latinos, relative to the 2016 election. What happened? Ian Haney López is a legal scholar at UC Berkeley and...


Antitrust, censorship, misinformation, and the 2020 election

I’ve been fascinated by the sharp change in how the tech platforms — particularly the big social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, and to some degree, YouTube — are acting since the 2020 election. It’s become routine to see President Donald Trump’s posts tagged as misinformation or worse. Facebook is limiting the reach of hyper-viral stories it can’t verify, Twitter is trying to guard against becoming a dumping ground for foreign actors trying to launder stolen secrets, and...


The crisis isn’t Trump. It’s the Republican Party.

If the past week — and past four years — have proven anything, it’s that we are not as different as we believed. No longer is the question, "Can it happen here?" It’s happening already. As this podcast goes to air, the current president of the United States is attempting what — if it occurred in any other country — we would call an anti-democratic coup. This coup attempt will probably not work. But the fact that it is being carried out farcically, erratically, ineffectively does not mean it...


The Joe Biden experience

Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States. And — counting the votes of people, not just land — it won’t be close. If current trends hold, Biden will see a larger popular vote margin than Hillary Clinton in 2016, Barack Obama in 2012, or George W. Bush in 2004. Commentary over the past few days has focused on the man he beat, and the incompetent coup being attempted in plain sight. But I want to focus on Biden, who is one of the more misunderstood figures in American politics...


Chris Hayes and I process this wild election

This is not the post-election breakdown I expected to have today, but it's definitely the one that I needed. Chris Hayes is the host of the MSNBC primetime show, “All In," and the podcast "Why is this Happening? With Chris Hayes." He's also one of the most insightful political analysts I know. We discuss the purpose of polling, the problems of polling-driven coverage, the epistemic fog of the results, the strategy behind Trump's inroads with Latino voters, how Democrats might have won the...