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Walt Odets: Reimagining Gay Men’s Lives

It goes without saying that even today, it’s not easy to be gay in America. While young gay men often come out more readily, even those from the most progressive of backgrounds still struggle with the legacy of early-life stigma and a deficit of self-acceptance, which can fuel doubt, regret, and self-loathing. Clinical psychologist Walt Odets joined us with insight from his book Out Of The Shadows: Reimagining Gay Men’s Lives, reflecting on what it means for these individuals to survive and...


Louise Aronson: Elderhood—Redefining Aging

Since the beginning of the 20th century, worldwide life expectancy has steadily increased to the highest point in history. Yet popular culture often treats old age like a disease—a condition to be dreaded, disparaged, neglected, and denied. Renowned geriatrician Louise Aronson took the stage at Town Hall for a conversation on rethinking what it means to be “old.” Dr. Aronson drew from her book Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life, sharing human stories from...


Drew Harvell: Confronting the Threat of Ocean Outbreaks

Rates of infectious disease outbreaks are on the rise in our oceans. Fueled by sewage dumping, unregulated aquaculture, and drifting plastic in warming seas, ocean outbreaks are heralds of impending global environmental disaster. Renowned scientist Drew Harvell took the stage with a daunting and urgent report of the rising risks of marine epidemics in Ocean Outbreak: Confronting the Rising Tide of Marine Disease. She underscored these diseases’ destructive potential to cause a mass die-off...


Robert Macfarlane: Underland—A Deep Time Journey

How do we reconcile our own perception of time with the massive geological scale of the earth? To offer us an intersection between the human and the natural world, nature author Robert Macfarlane took Town Hall’s stage with a dive into his new book Underland: A Deep Time Journey. Macfarlane invited us on an epic exploration of Earth’s vast subterranean landscape in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself, into “deep time” to calculate the dizzying expanses of geologic time that stretch...


Lee McIntyre: Defending Science from Denial and Fraud

According to Lee McIntyre, attacks on science have become commonplace. Claims that climate change isn’t settled science, that evolution is “only a theory,” and that scientists are conspiring to keep the truth about vaccines from the public are staples of some politicians’ rhetorical repertoire. McIntyre joined us to present The Scientific Attitude, a treatise in defense of science’s processes, claims, and discoveries. McIntyre argued that what makes science distinctive is its emphasis on...


David Sloan Wilson with Nick Hanauer: Completing the Darwinian Revolution

It is widely understood that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution completely revolutionized the study of biology. Yet, according to David Sloan Wilson, the Darwinian revolution won’t be truly complete until it is applied more broadly—to everything associated with the words “human,” “culture,” and “policy.” Wilson took Town Hall’s stage for a conversation with political activist Nick Hanauer. Together they explored the ways an evolutionary worldview can provide a practical toolkit for...


Liz Carlisle and Bob Quinn: Reviving Ancient Wheat, Rural Jobs, and Healthy Food

When Bob Quinn was a kid, a stranger at a county fair gave him a few kernels of an unusual grain. Little did he know, that grain would change his life. Over the years, he began experimenting with organic wheat and he began to discover that through time-tested practices like cover cropping and crop rotation, he could produce successful yields—without pesticides. Quinn joined us on Town Hall’s stage along with co-author Liz Carlisle for a look into their latest book Grain by Grain. Quinn and...


Mary Gray and Siddharth Suri with Molly Brown: Ghost Work—Silicon Valley’s New Global Underclass

Hidden beneath the surface of the web, there is an unseen workforce of proofreaders, designers, and content watchdogs who make the internet seem smart. Co-authors Mary Gray and Siddharth Suri took the stage, joined by GeekWire’s Molly Brown, to shine a light on these laborers in Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass. They asserted that companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Uber depend on the judgment and experience of this vast, invisible human...


Sandro Galea: How We Talk About Health

Americans spend more money on health than people anywhere else in the world. Yet, according to physician Sandro Galea, Americans live statistically shorter, less healthy lives than citizens of other rich countries—and these trends show no signs of letting up. Galea joined us at Town Hall with healthcare insight from his book Well for an examination on what Americans miss when they fixate on healthcare: health. The problem, Galea argued, is that Americans focus on the wrong things when they...


Nathaniel Rich with Zoya Teirstein: Losing Earth—A Recent History

By 1979, we knew nearly everything we understand today about climate change—including how to stop it. The New York Times Magazine devoted an entire issue to Nathaniel Rich’s groundbreaking chronicle of a handful of scientists who embarked on a decade-long scientific struggle to convince the world to act before it was too late. Rich joined us with Losing Earth, a book-length expansion on that explosive article. He took the stage and met with Grist writer Zoya Teirstein to share a chronicle of...


Michio Kaku: Our Future Beyond Earth

Formerly the domain of fiction, moving human civilization to the stars is increasingly becoming a scientific possibility. And according to theoretical physics professor Michio Kaku, this departure of planet Earth may soon become a necessity. He called us together to explore the process by which humanity may gradually move away from the planet and develop a sustainable civilization in outer space. Kaku highlighted climate change, depletion of finite resources, and other factors that pose a...


Salmon People: Northwest Native Opposition to Genetically Engineered Fish

What are the risks from genetically engineered fish to the people and environments of the Pacific Northwest? New Canoe Media tackles this question head-on with their new short film Salmon People. Town Hall joined forces with CAGJ to screen this powerful new film and call together a panel of indigenous and advocacy perspectives—all key activists working on Northwest Native food security and justice in the Pacific Northwest. Sit in to hear from the voices across the Pacific Northwest who are...


Clive Thompson with Mónica Guzmán: The Culture of Coders

Facebook’s algorithms shaping the news, self-driving cars roaming the streets, revolution on Twitter, and romance on Tinder. We live in a world constructed of code—and coders are the ones who built it for us. Acclaimed tech writer Clive Thompson joined us for a Town Hall conversation on Coders, an anthropological reckoning with the most powerful tribe in the world today. Thompson was joined onstage by Evergrey co-founder Mónica Guzmán, and together they explored the psychology of the...


Institute for Systems Biology: The Future of Health

Seattle’s Institute for Systems Biology is revolutionizing science with a powerful approach to predicting and preventing disease. Listen in to a panel of experts as they examine the cross-disciplinary field of systems biology—and explore the ways this collaborative approach can be applied on new frontiers in biology and medicine. Join us for a discussion on the cutting edge of new concepts and watch innovative ideas become translated into real-world clinical applications. Panelists: Dr....


Dahr Jamail

After nearly a decade overseas, acclaimed journalist Dahr Jamail returned to America to renew his passion for mountaineering—only to find that the slopes he once climbed have been irrevocably changed by climate disruption. He embarked on a worldwide journey to see for himself the consequences of climate change across the globe—from Alaska to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to the Amazon rainforest. Now his travels have taken him to our stage, where he presented his findings in The End of Ice:...


Frans de Waal

The viral video of the chimpanzee Mama embracing her friend—biologist Jan van Hooff—one final time before her death touched the hearts of millions. Renowned biologist Frans de Waal captured the essence of that story in Mama’s Last Hug, asserting that humans are not the only species with the capacity for love, hate, fear, shame, guilt, joy, disgust, and empathy. De Waal made his way to Town Hall’s stage for a fascinating exploration of the rich emotional lives of animals. He offered the...


Adrienne Mayor

The first robot to walk the earth was a bronze giant called Talos. This wondrous machine was created not by MIT Robotics Lab, but by Hephaestus, the Greek god of invention. For a history on these ancient mythological AIs and more, folklorist and historian of science Adrienne Mayor arrived at Town Hall to present Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology. She brought us a richly illustrated exploration of mythology and the history of humanity’s timeless impulse to...


Alex Rosenblat

Silicon Valley technology is transforming the way we work, and Uber is among the startup companies leading the charge. Technology ethnographer Alex Rosenblat lent us a wealth of firsthand perspective on the subject to share insight from her book Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work. She spotlighted Uber’s remarkable new template for employment using algorithms and internet platforms, upending our understanding of work in the digital age. Rosenblat chronicled the stories...


Chris Impey

Black holes continue to astound scientists who have spent their careers studying them. These dark giants are the most extreme objects in the universe—ubiquitous, frighteningly enigmatic, and central to the makeup of our galaxy. To explore the scope of our current understanding of black holes, astronomer Chris Impey made his way to Town Hall with insight from his book Einstein’s Monsters—The Life and Times of Black Holes. He explored central questions at the cutting edge of astrophysics: what...


Jamie Susskind

As our technological capabilities expand, humanity finds ourselves confronting one of the most important questions of our time: how will digital technology transform our society? Author and speaker Jamie Susskind steps up to Town Hall’s stage to address this pressing question with perspectives from his book Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech. Susskind argued that rapid and relentless innovation in a range of technologies—from artificial intelligence to virtual...