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Think Again

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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 Henry Rollins, Bill Nye, Jane McGonigal, Jason Silva, 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.

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 Henry Rollins, Bill Nye, Jane McGonigal, Jason Silva, 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.
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United States

Networks:

Panoply

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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 Henry Rollins, Bill Nye, Jane McGonigal, Jason Silva, 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.

Twitter:

@bigthink

Language:

English


Episodes

182. Ha Jin (writer) – the wild and tragic life of China's greatest poet, Li Bai

2/16/2019
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Let’s start with a very old poem : On the bank of Caishi River is Li Bai’s grave Surrounded by wild grass that stretches to clouds. How sad that the bones buried deep in here Used to have writings that startled heaven and moved earth. Of course poets are born unlucky souls But no one has been as desolate as you. When you think of an an ancient poet, what do you picture? Wandering? Drinking? A lot of ups and downs? That certainly describes the life of Li Bai, one of the most...

Duration:00:47:11

181. Marlon James (writer) – don’t get too comfortable

2/9/2019
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At this point, it’s very rare to read something and find myself thinking: This is something new. This is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It doesn’t have to be written in hieroglyphs or be some kind of three-dimensional interactive reading experience with pull-out tabs and half the pages upside down. That kind of formal experimentation, in my experience as a reader, more often ends up being gimmicky and annoying than exhilarating. In fact, paradoxically, the “wow this is something...

Duration:00:53:13

180. Benjamin Dreyer (copy chief of Random House) – Really actually truly great English

2/2/2019
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There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who don’t give a damn about grammar, style, or syntax, and those who write aggrieved letters to publishing houses about split infinitives. My guest today, Benjamin Dreyer, is neither. As the Copy Chief of Random House, it is his unenviable task to steer the middle way between linguistic pedantry and letting these writers get away with bloody murder. Scratch “bloody”—redundancy. Before reading his hilarious and practical new book DREYER’S...

Duration:00:56:10

179. Edith Hall (classicist) – from Aristotle to Oprah and back again: how to live your best life

1/26/2019
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We’ve been talking a lot lately on this show about happiness. What it is, where we can get more of it, why it does not yet seem to be available on the Internet. Author Ruth Whippman presented some compelling evidence that the way most Americans are pursuing happiness is making us unhappier. Buddhist master teacher Joseph Goldstein talked about a way of training yourself to be more generous, and the happiness this has brought to his life. In her new book ARISTOTLE’S WAY, classicist Edith...

Duration:00:58:15

178. Douglas Rushkoff (freelance intellectual) – It's not the technology's fault

1/19/2019
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For me, the very best Onion article of 2018 was this one about Jeff Bezos revealing Amazon’s new headquarters to be the entire Earth, as an Amazon-branded glass sphere clicked into place, encasing forever the horrified inhabitants of our planet. More than a grain of truth in that one, eh? At this point, with all that’s happened over the past few years, I think you either have to be delusionally optimistic by nature or have strong vested interests in the tech industry to think that all is...

Duration:00:53:38

177. Joseph Goldstein (Buddhist teacher) – Lighten Up: mindfulness, enlightenment, and everyday life

1/12/2019
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Love, money, health, great sex, peace of mind—however you define it, happiness in this world is impermanent and unreliable. But we’re all invested in the illusion that we’re just one career move or one Amazon purchase away from permanent bliss. To quote Darth Vader: Search your feelings—you know it to be true. Life is sometimes exhilarating and sometimes devastating, but it’s always, always in flux. This is the first noble truth of Buddhism. That everything in this life is unreliable and...

Duration:01:12:20

176. Area 51 and the epistemology of the unexplained - Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell (filmmaker)

12/22/2018
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Between subjective experience and the things most people can accept as objective facts, there yawns a cavernous gulf. Imagine you’re on a stage in front of 50,000 strangers trying to explain what it felt like to fall in love for the first time. There are ways of going about it, but it sure ain’t easy. The facts most of us agree upon—things like gravity, our own mortality, global warming—they rest on reason, evidence, science. Clunky and fussy though they sometimes are, these are the best...

Duration:01:01:36

175. Helen Riess (psychiatrist) – Empathy in the brain and the world

12/15/2018
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Empathy is the basic stuff of human connection. It’s how we hear and are heard by one another. It’s how we deal with one another as people rather than objects. But with massive, relentless trouble in the world, the 24 hour news cycle, the pressure to choose political and social sides, and the struggles of our everyday lives, empathy is sometimes in short supply. My guest today is the psychiatrist and research scientist Helen Riess. She’s an associate clinical professor at Harvard and runs...

Duration:00:46:03

174. Ruth Whippman (writer) – A mindful, productive, super-positive nation of nervous wrecks

12/8/2018
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In the years before the election of the impossible president rent forever the very fabric of being, the band Radiohead was busy channeling something many of us were feeling but nobody was really talking about. A kind of ambient, multivalent state of anxiety that seemed to characterize life in the mid-to-late ’90s. Listening to Radiohead was therapeutic. Your own awkward, unpresentable panic somehow dissolved into their sonic ocean, where it was transformed into sexy, transcendent beauty....

Duration:00:47:33

173. Wesley Yang (writer) - The Souls of Yellow Folk

12/1/2018
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Such and such “doesn’t suffer fools gladly”. That phrase has always bugged me a bit. It’s like someone has just squeezed a pillow infused with an admiration-scented vapor that then hangs in the air for just a second, leaving you to wonder: Who is this remarkable personage? And who are these fools, so unworthy of his regard that he doesn’t even have to suffer them? Well maybe he suffers them. But not gladly. And yeah, it’s usually a “he”. I don’t suffer that phrase gladly. But it’s trying...

Duration:00:56:01

172. A trans family in the holy land

11/24/2018
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Everybody is always in a state of transition. All the time, your cells are dying and replacing themselves. Your mind, your emotions, your goals, your sense of self—all of these are shifting from year to year as you age. In families where there are children, the changes are even more visible and dramatic. Bodies change, voices change, identity is always in flux. But we also have an instinct to mask these changes. To find ways of minimizing them to fit in. My guests today have a story to...

Duration:00:42:13

171. Michelle Thaller (NASA astronomer) on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

11/17/2018
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This morning on the way to the school bus, my almost 11 year old son was explaining to me that if you shrunk an elephant down to the size of a mouse, it would shiver, then die, because of its slow mitochondria, due to something called the Rule of Squared Threes, which he also proceeded to explain. Then he explained something about neutron stars, claiming that they are essentially a giant atom, which I don't think is actually true. Then he started on another topic and I explained that this...

Duration:00:59:24

170. Lynsey Addario (photojournalist) – on art, love, and war

11/10/2018
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Think about all the images you see in a day. The advertisements. The photos and videos as you search the web or scroll through social media, if you do that. Now think back a century and a half or so to when photography was new. Imagine the first time a British monarch saw a picture of an Inuit family, or vice versa. What did they make of each other? What did it remake in themselves? My guest today, photographer Lynsey Addario, has spent over two decades traveling the world taking intimate...

Duration:00:58:08

169. Ben Marcus' reality is only slightly askew from our own

11/3/2018
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A "grow light" for humans that cooks a guy's face. A pharmaceutical mist that puts you in the right mood for mourning the victims of terrorism. The year of All Hell Breaks Loose. The Year of the Sensor. Mudslides. Hurricanes. People who flee and people who stubbornly stay put. A terrible structure. A grand experiment. Creams and lotions that induce false prophecies. People who tumble into other people's marriages after they're dead. Every inch of the earth as a graveyard. More...

Duration:01:00:38

168. Michael Palin (writer and comic) – So long as there was laughter, I was safe

10/27/2018
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I recently spent several hours on a transatlantic flight zooming in and out of the interactive map of the Earth on my seat's personal entertainment unit. Exploring tiny islands in the polar North…impossible inland seas in the middle of Central Asian deserts…Places so remote and strange that they fire the imagination. In 2018, It's not easy to wrap your mind around the fact that not all that long ago no human and no satellite had ever set eye on many of these places. For all anybody knew,...

Duration:00:55:31

167. Gary Shteyngart (writer) - Reality catches up to dystopian fiction

10/20/2018
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Gary Shteyngart's new novel Lake Success is the evil doppelgänger of the Simon and Garfunkel song 'America'. In what is surely destined to become one of those legendary novel openings, right up there with "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times," we meet Barry Cohen, "a man with 2.4 billion dollars of assets under management . . ." in a Greyhound Bus Terminal at 3:20 am, bleeding from his face and drunk on $20,000 of Japanese whiskey. Shteyngart is one of my favorite writers...

Duration:00:54:48

166. Manoush Zomorodi (journalist) — How blockchain might save journalism. Maybe.

10/13/2018
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Why would two intelligent women running a hugely successful podcast at one of the most respected studios in the audio world, quit to start a small journalism company built on blockchain, a technology very few people have ever heard of? To quote someone on Twitter yesterday paraphrasing Bill Clinton sounding pretty harsh, actually: "It's the business model, stupid." As we keep learning the hard way, as long as we get our journalism from Facebook and 24 hour cable news, we're suckers for...

Duration:00:50:02

165. Man Booker prize winners Olga Tokarczuk (author) and Jennifer Croft (translator) — As fact and fiction blur, America’s finally ready for Olga Tokarczuk

10/6/2018
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Does it ever strike you as odd that we manage to inhabit two completely different realities at once? On one level, we have common sense and reason that orient us in the world. We make narrative sense of our own life and self and we go about our day with a provisional yet perfectly satisfactory sense of what the hell we're doing. And on another level, we know basically nothing. Forget about dark matter and multiple universes. Just glance into the eyes of that stranger on the train—there's a...

Duration:00:48:01

164. Jill Lepore (Historian) – Why America keeps going to pieces

9/29/2018
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As Alexander Hamilton put it, the American Experiment puts to the test the question “of whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice…or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” This question surfaces throughout Jill Lepore’s brilliant new history of the United States: These Truths. Our conversation took place during the live-streamed, virally-watched Senate Judiciary...

Duration:00:49:24

163. Four Letter You – Merve Emre (scholar and critic)

9/22/2018
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Did you ever see the 1951 Disney version of Alice in Wonderland? Where the caterpillar, voiced by actor Richard Haydn, sits laconically on his giant toadstool, wreathed in hookah smoke, peers at Alice under his drooping eyelids and says: Who….Aaaaaaah…..you….? Even as kid, I felt the existential impact of that question. Not, "hey kid, what's your name?" But who, fundamentally, are you as a person? What are you like? Were you born that way? How much of that can you change? All those...

Duration:00:40:34