Vox Conversations-logo

Vox Conversations

Vox Media

Vox Conversations brings you 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. Join Sean Illing, Jamil Smith, and their colleagues across the Vox newsroom for new episodes every Monday and Thursday.

Vox Conversations brings you 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. Join Sean Illing, Jamil Smith, and their colleagues across the Vox newsroom for new episodes every Monday and Thursday.


United States


Vox Media


Vox Conversations brings you 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. Join Sean Illing, Jamil Smith, and their colleagues across the Vox newsroom for new episodes every Monday and Thursday.




Novelist Lauren Groff on the other Matrix

Vox's Constance Grady talks with novelist Lauren Groff about her latest book, the National Book Award finalist Matrix, before a virtual audience for the Vox Book Club. They discuss the enigmatic historical figure at the center of the novel, the politics of women-led power structures, and the pros and cons of writing a good sex scene. Host: Constance Grady (@constancegrady), staff writer, Vox Guests: Lauren Groff (@legroff), author References: Matrix by Lauren Groff (2021; Riverhead) "In...


Are we living in a simulation?

Sean Illing talks with philosopher David Chalmers about virtual worlds and the nature of reality, and other topics that stem from Chalmers's new book Reality+. In this far-reaching discussion, Sean and Prof. Chalmers get into the makeup of human consciousness, the question of whether we're living in a computer simulation, and — of course — The Matrix. Are digital worlds genuine realities, or will their proliferation lead to a troublesome turning away from the physical world? Host: Sean...


Rep. Jamie Raskin on living through the unthinkable, twice

Vox's Dylan Matthews talks with Congressman Jamie Raskin about the tragic loss of his son Tommy, who was twenty-five years old when he died at the end of 2020. Rep. Raskin also speaks about the insurrection on January 6th, 2021, and his role as floor manager for Trump's second impeachment trial. They discuss the passions that Tommy cultivated and shared with the world, the experience of being in the Capitol as it was stormed by rioters, and the ongoing work of the House Select Committee on...


Best of: Why fascism in America isn't going away

Vox's Sean Illing talks to Yale professor and author Jason Stanley about why American democracy provides such fertile soil for fascism, how Donald Trump demonstrated how easy it was for our country to flirt with a fascist future and what we can do about it. Correction (2/1/21): Professor Stanley suggested in this conversation that West Virginia declined to expand the Medicaid option in 2013. In fact, the state did expand the program and has gradually added enrollment since 2013. Host: Sean...


Best of: Clint Smith III on confronting the legacy of slavery

Vox's Jamil Smith talks with author Clint Smith III about his book How the Word Is Passed, which documents the writer's personal journey visiting sites that embody the legacy of American slavery. They discuss the power of this re-confrontation, how to bridge the gaps in education and awareness of America's past, and the experience of Black writers in a nation that is "a web of contradictions." Host: Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith), Senior Correspondent, Vox Guest: Clint Smith III (@ClintSmithIII),...


Best of: We need to talk about UFOs. Seriously.

Vox's Sean Illing talks with international politics professor and amateur ufologist Alex Wendt about why it's time to start thinking more seriously about the earth-shattering implications of discovering extraterrestrial life. They discuss the taboos against serious scientific inquiry into extraterrestrial existence, the US military's official UFO report and the inexplicable videos released by the Pentagon, and what the possible explanations might be for what's been seen. Host: Sean Illing...


Chris Bosh on winning (and losing everything)

Vox’s Jamil Smith talks with NBA legend Chris Bosh about his basketball career, his youth, and his legacy. They discuss Bosh’s transition to the NBA, his role on the controversial Miami Heat teams that won two championships (and lost two), and the psychological toll of the injuries that later sidelined him, leading to his retirement. Bosh reflects candidly on his hopes for post-basketball life, and his new book, Letters to a Young Athlete. Host: Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith), Senior...


The cult of toughness

Sean Illing talks with political commentator and author David French about modern conservatism and masculinity. They discuss the divergence between the Right's view of masculinity and what they fear the Left's view is, how Trump and politicians in his image have changed the conception of manliness within the GOP, and what the continued glorification of these revised ideals will mean for our political future in America. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: David...


Is ethical investing a scam?

Vox's Emily Stewart talks with Tariq Fancy about whether or not "socially responsible investment" is a scam. Fancy is a former executive who led sustainable investing at BlackRock, one of the world's largest asset management firms. The two discuss why these investment vehicles were developed and promoted, the failure of corporations to voluntarily self-regulate, and the need for government action to actually address the issues that ESG funds claim to be taking on. Host: Emily Stewart...


The good life is painful

Sean Illing talks with psychologist Paul Bloom about his new book The Sweet Spot, and whether it's necessary to experience suffering in order to live a fulfilling, meaningful life. They discuss the rich philosophical history of the question: what does it mean to be happy? They also talk about why some people are drawn to scary movies, whether or not to plug in to the Matrix, and why a good paradigm for a well-lived life might be found in the example of... a stand-up comedian. Host: Sean...


The father of environmental justice

Vox's Jamil Smith talks with Dr, Robert Bullard, a pioneer in the crusade for environmental justice, about his more than four decades in the fight. They discuss how the movement to recognize environmental civil rights began, overcame some of its early opposition, and the landmark legal case that established a constitutional protection against racist environmental policies and practices. Bullard, a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, also discusses how the Biden...


Jill Lepore on Elon Musk's imaginary world

Sean Illing talks with historian Jill Lepore about her new podcast: The Evening Rocket explores Elon Musk and the new form of extravagant, extreme capitalism — which Lepore dubs "Muskism" — that he has ushered in. They discuss the formative role played by science fiction stories, why the super-wealthy are drawn to space travel, and why, according to Lepore, Elon Musk is not much of a futurist after all. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Jill Lepore, podcast host;...


E.O. Wilson's plan to save the world

Vox's Benji Jones talks with the celebrated entomologist, biologist, and naturalist E.O. Wilson. They talk about Wilson's sixty-plus years as a leading thinker in his field, how his expeditions studying ant species around the world informed his understanding of human beings, and how his discoveries and ideas have mainstreamed the idea of biodiversity and inspired bold new conservation movements. Host: Benji Jones (@BenjiSJones), Environmental reporter, Vox Guest: E.O. Wilson, author;...


Workers of the world, stay home!

Sean Illing talks with Anne Helen Petersen and her partner Charlie Warzel about their new book, Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home. They talk about a new model of remote work, why Americans have a problematic relationship with work, and how to move toward a rational future (as opposed to a national emergency) of working from home. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guests: Anne Helen Petersen (@annehelen) & Charlie Warzel (@cwarzel),...


How progressives get back in the game

Sean Illing talks with Briahna Joy Gray, the former national press secretary for the Bernie Sanders 2020 Presidential campaign, and current host of the Bad Faith podcast. They discuss the practical challenges facing the Left in the Biden era, untangle the ways in which race and class affect electoral outcomes and should influence messaging strategies, and assess the state of the ongoing effort for a platform of robust, material economic changes. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews...


The highs and lows of the "creator economy"

Vox's Rebecca Jennings talks with Taylor Lorenz, tech culture reporter for the New York Times, about the creator economy: what it is, who's in it, and why more people are paying attention to it. They also talk about the hidden toll of running your own individual media company, the elusive term "cheugy," and the perils of reporting on internet culture and becoming (as Taylor occasionally has) part of the story. Host: Rebecca Jennings (@rebexxxxa), senior correspondent, Vox Guest: Taylor...


Why Chris Hayes thinks we're all famous now

Sean Illing talks with Chris Hayes, author, commentator, and host of All In With Chris Hayes on MSNBC. They discuss his recent essay in the New Yorker about fame and the internet, why we seek attention from strangers online, and how some German philosophers might offer guidance for our predicament. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes), host, All In With Chris Hayes on MSNBC References: "On the Internet, We're Always Famous" by Chris Hayes...


The stories soul food tells

Vox's Jamil Smith talks with Caroline Randall Williams, academic, poet, and co-author (with her mother, Alice Randall) of Soul Food Love. They discuss the ways in which the African American culinary tradition is interpreted, how to tell stories through cooking, and why what we cook and eat is inextricably bound up with who we are. Host: Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith), Senior Correspondent, Vox Guest: Caroline Randall Williams (@caroranwill), author; writer-in-residence of Medicine, Health, and...


The paradox of American freedom

Sean Illing talks with Sebastian Junger, journalist, filmmaker, and author of the recent book Freedom. Informed by his experience hiking (and trespassing) along America's rail lines, Junger discusses the paradoxes of a "free" society, his recent near-death experience, and how the definition of freedom can change over the course of a life. Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox Guest: Sebastian Junger (@sebastianjunger), author & filmmaker References: Freedom by Sebastian...


Nonbinary parenthood

Anna North talks with Krys Malcolm Belc, nonbinary transmasculine parent, essayist, and author of the memoir The Natural Mother of the Child. They talk about what it means to be a parent, our gendered assumptions about parenthood, and the dynamics of gender identity in having and raising children. Host: Anna North (@annanorthtweets), Senior Reporter, Vox Guest: Krys Malcolm Belc (@krysmalcolmbelc), author References: The Natural Mother of the Child: A Memoir of Nonbinary Parenthood by Krys...