Think Again – a Big Think Podcast

Think Again – a Big Think Podcast

United States

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 Salman Rushdie, Saul Williams, Henry Rollins, Bill Nye, George Takei, Maira Kalman, Sam Harris, Junot Diaz, Maria Konnikova, 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.

Episodes

75. David Salle (Artist) – The Enemy of Art  

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. David Salle's paintings are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Galerie Berlin and many others. His book How to See is a collection of essays, mainly on the work of other artists, that delves deep into questions about how art is made and what happens when we experience it.

In this episode, David and Jason wrestle with questions like why there are no bad cave paintings, whether or not Francis Bacon's work is "decorative," and why it's impossible to say anything really prescriptive about how to make art.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Dave Evans on prototyping in design, Alva Noë on art as a "strange tool", and Julian Schnabel on art and the internet

74. Jace Clayton AKA DJ/Rupture - Sonic Veils and Revelations  

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. As DJ /Rupture, Jace Clayton has spun music all over the world in every imaginable kind of venue (including not only big arenas but also, once, a refrigerated truck) and released several critically acclaimed albums. He’s also one of the most gifted writers about musical culture that Jason has ever read. His book Uproot: Travels in 21st Century Music and Digital Culture digs deep into the back-bins of hyper-local musical traditions and zooms out to take in the whole shifting global landscape.

This conversation delves deep into the ways music disseminates and morphs in our digitally connected world, originality in cut-and-paste culture, and the fragility of beauty and culture.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Bill Burnett on Brainstorming Innovative Ideas, Jonathan Harris on Social Networks and Human Connection, Mary Aiken on Trump as an Internet Troll

73. T.C. Boyle (Author) - Lost on Purpose  

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

T.C. Boyle is the author of 26 books of fiction, including The Tortilla Curtain, The Harder They Come, and World’s End (which won the Pen/Faulkner award). His latest is The Terranauts--it’s about an ill-fated, very expensive and highly publicised experiment in which 4 men and 4 women try to live together for two years in a Biodome in the Arizona Desert.

In this conversation, taped a couple weeks before Donald Trump was elected president, Boyle and Jason talk about the apparent implosion of the Republican party, how to grapple with existential despair when you don’t have religion to fall back on, what on Earth (or off it) humans should do when we run out of resources, and why Jason’s 8 year old son shouldn’t be afraid of getting lost in the woods.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Kathleen McAuliffe on Conservatives and Disgust Sensitivity and Sean Wilentz on Why the Two Party System is Good for America

72. Slavoj Žižek (Philosopher) - Against Tolerance  

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

Slavoj Žižek is a Hegelian philosopher,  Lacanian psychoanalist, and political activist. He’s the international director of the Birbeck Institute for the Humanities, and Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University. His newest book is Refugees, Terror, and Other Troubles with the Neighbors: Against the Double Blackmail.

In this spirited, wide-ranging discussion, the voluble Žižek talks about why he hates being called the "Elvis of philosophy," argues against liberal notions of tolerance, and promises to arrange for Jason to get cigarettes and whiskey in the gulag when the revolution comes.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Daniel Bergner on Women and Monogamy and Scott Barry Kaufman on Standardized Testing


71. Jelani Cobb (Historian) - Shiny New Skin, Same Old Snake  

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

Historian and journalist Jelani Cobb is the author of Substance of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress and other books, and one of our most powerful writers on the complexities of race in America. Jelani is a staff writer at the New Yorker, where he’s given readers nuanced insight into gun culture, police brutality, the #blacklivesmatter movement, and much more, and a professor of Journalism at Columbia University. 

Although Jelani was hoping the surprise format might involve watching fun nature videos, the topics that came up included mathematical symmetry as a defining principle of the universe, whether and to what extent liberals should try to empathize with Trump supporters, and the ethics of human-animal and human-robot relations. Sorry, Jelani.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Jim Gaffigan on Political Intolerance, Glenn Cohen on AI Ethics, and Frank Wilczek on Symmetry



70. Margaret Atwood (Author) - The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid  

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

Today's guest is novelist, essayist, poet, and as of late, comic-book writer Margaret Atwood. She’s also got some really funny mini-comics about bad interviews, so Jason tries extra-hard to bring his a-game here. She’s the Booker prize winning author of The Blind Assassin, Oryx & Crake, The Handmaid’s Tale, and around 40 other beloved books. Her latest, Hag-Seed, is a total and delightfully wicked reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

In this episode Margaret talks with Jason about genomes in the cloud, Bob Dylan's Nobel prize, the elusiveness of dead authors, and why technology's a three-edged sword.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Michael Schatz on storing our genomes in the cloud, Alison Gopnik on Narcissism


69. Jodi Picoult (Author) - Popular Fictions/Not Yours to Tell  

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. 

In this episode of Think Again - a Big Think Podcast, author Jodi Picoult and host Jason Gots talk comic books, social justice, and why white Americans need to take the risk (and the consequences) of talking honestly about race and class privilege. 

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: C. Nicole Mason on Poverty and the 2016 Election,A.O. Scott on Anti-Intellectualism

68. William Shatner (Actor, Author) – Yes, I Am Trying to Win This Podcast  

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. 

William Shatner created the role of Captain James T Kirk on the original Star Trek, and won two Emmys and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Denny Crane on “The Practice” and “Boston Legal”. He’s also written nearly 30 bestselling books of fiction and non-fiction and released two albums of music with the artist Ben Folds. His new book Zero-G, coauthored with Jeff Rovin, is a science fiction terrorism thriller set in the year 2050. It begins with an unnaturally powerful Tsunami that destroys most of the coast of Japan, and follows FBI Field Agent Samuel Lord as he attempts to unravel the mystery.

In this extra feisty episode, Shatner and host Jason Gots talk ego, the extinction of the human race, bullying, and whether or not it's a dog-eat-dog world out there. 

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode:Ryan Holiday on egoNikhil Goyal on Bullying

67. James Gleick (Science Writer) - Everything All at Once  

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives.

James Gleick is one of our greatest living science writers,  author of The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. His first book, Chaos, was a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize finalist and a national bestseller. His other books include the best-selling biographies, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, and Isaac Newton, both shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize. James’ new book Time Travel: a History, is an utterly fascinating journey through the history of an idea that has become part of the fabric of philosophy, science, and our daily lives, even though we can’t really do it yet. Not really.

In this episode, James and host Jason Gots talk about why we're so obsessed with something that's evidently impossible. 

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode:Penn Jillette on "atheist prayers" and David Eagleman on our perception of time

66. Alton Brown (Chef, Author) - Easy-Bake Oven/Hard Knock Life  

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. 

Cook, writer, and director Alton Brown is a living legend in food TV. Alton was the creator and host of the show “Good Eats”, which ran for 14 seasons on Food Network and has a 9/10 rating on IMDB which is basically unheard of (Casablanca is 8.6). He’s also known as the host of Iron Chef America, Cutthroat Kitchen, and Feasting on Asphalt, and is the author of many books. Alton’s latest book is “Everdaycook”, in which he shares his favorite personal recipes including the amazing looking Breakfast Carbonara, which makes pasta for breakfast not only ok, but mandatory.

Alton and host Jason Gots talk about fire, their mutual childhood lust for the Betty Crocker Easy-Bake Oven and how everything worth doing might get you killed.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Alison Gopnik on Parenting,Ethan Hawke on goal settingDrew Ramsey on diet and depression




65. Ian McEwan (Novelist) - A King of Infinite Space  

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. 

This week's guest is novelist Ian McEwan. He’s the bestselling author of 16 books, including Atonement, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the WH Smith Literary award and Amsterdam, which won the Booker Prize. His latest book, Nutshell, is a darkly funny, brilliant riff on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, told from the point of view of an extremely articulate, nine month old fetus, viewing an unfolding murder plot from the limited vantage point of his mother’s womb.

In this far-ranging, lively dialogue, McEwan and host Jason Gots discuss Hamlet, moral quandaries, and how to set boundaries in a world that threatens to pull you in every direction.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode:Charles Duhigg on focus and productivityGlenn Cohen on the ethics of abortion


64. Mixtape #4 – The Writers' Room  

In this episode: 

Big Think launched in 2008 as a "YouTube for intellectuals." Since then, it has produced over 10,000 short-form video interviews with many of the most influential and creative thinkers of our time. 

Big Think's videos are bits of "expert wisdom", presented confidently and definitively against a white screen background. With THINK AGAIN, we wanted to revisit these ideas the way the audience encounters them––spontaneously, messily, and often out of context. We wanted to bring the experts to that state some thinkers call "beginner's mind" and see what would happen. 

The format: Jason sits down with artists, scientists, historians––all accomplished experts in their fields. They chat a bit about the guest's work. Then, they watch three surprise Big Think interview clips (chosen by the video producers), emailed to Jason just before the interview, and discuss them. And the conversation goes where it goes.  

Some amazing moments have happened this past year––fun, profound, profoundly painful. This, the fourth of our first year "mixtapes", focuses on the most memorable bits of writerly wit and wisdom from the first year of Think Again - a Big Think Podcast. With playwright and screenwriter Sir David Hare on (not) resting on your laurels, National Book Award Winner James McBride on writing with a roomful of giant talents, rapper and first-time novelist Kate Tempest on writers' block as "fear of writing", and Nobel Laureate Turkish author Orhan Pamuk on why writing programs should teach writers to manage their own psychology. 

Surprise clips in this episode:

Sheila HeenBessel Van Der KolkCharles Duhigg, and Augusten Burroughs

About Think Again - A Big Think Podcast: 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. Each week on Think Again, we surprise smart people you may have heard of with short clips from Big Think's interview archives on every imaginable subject. These conversations could, and do, go anywhere.

63. Eric Kandel (Nobel Laureate neuroscientist) - The Eye of the Beholder  

Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. 

On this week's episode: Professor Eric Kandel of Columbia University and host Jason Gotsdiscuss abstract art, memory, identity, and the nature of evil. When he was 9 years old, Eric Kandel listened on a short-wave radio his brother had made as Hitler marched into Kandel's hometown of Vienna, Austria. The next day, a non-Jewish classmate told him "Kandel, I'm never to speak to you again." In the year 2000, He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for pioneering work on understanding how memory is stored in the brain by studying a particular type of sea snail with a relatively simple nervous system. In his recent books, he’s been pioneering in a different way––trying to bridge the gap between the “two cultures” of the sciences and the humanities. His current book Reductionism in Art and Brain Science continues this essential work by looking at the ways both modern art and science “reduce” complex phenomena down to their component parts to achieve new insights and effects.

Surprise "conversation starter" interview clips in this episode:Janna LevinSusan DavidGeorge Musser


62. Mixtape #3 – a Soupçon of Ornithology  

Big Think launched in 2008 as a "YouTube for intellectuals." Since then, it has produced over 10,000 short-form video interviews with many of the most influential and creative thinkers of our time. 

In 2014, the podcast SERIAL burst on the scene and Apple put a "podcasts" app in the iPhone's OS, and suddenly podcasting, which had existed for over a decade, was widely considered to have entered its Golden Age (wonder how all the veteran podcasters felt about that...). So Big Think decided it might be a good time to start a podcast, too––to find its voice in this newly energized space. Jason Gots (who had been a writer and editor there since 2010), more or less leapt out of his chair at the meeting where this was announced and volunteered to create and host it. Thus THINK AGAIN - A BIG THINK PODCAST was born. 

Big Think's videos are bits of "expert wisdom", presented confidently and definitively against a white screen background. With THINK AGAIN, we wanted to revisit these ideas the way the audience encounters them––spontaneously, messily, and often out of context. We wanted to bring the experts to that state some thinkers call "beginner's mind" and see what would happen. 

The format: Jason sits down with artists, scientists, historians––all accomplished experts in their fields. They chat a bit about the guest's work. Then, they watch three surprise Big Think interview clips (chosen by the video producers), emailed to Jason just before the interview, and discuss them. And the conversation goes where it goes.  

Some amazing moments have happened this past year––fun, profound, profoundly painful––we're stepping back and taking stock. This, the third of our year one mixtapes, features direct, powerful, and hilarious conversations with actor Ethan Hawke, comedians P.F. Tompkins and Chris Gethard, and musician Amanda Palmer

Surprise clips in this episode:

Andrew Keen on the cultural impact of the internet, Bill Nye on infinity, and Baratunde Thurston on information overabundance.  


61. Alison Gopnik (Developmental Psychologist) – Artificial Intelligence/Natural Stupidity  

Alison Gopnik is an internationally recognized expert in children’s learning and development. A professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at UC Berkeley, and the author of many books including the The Philosophical Baby. Her new book The Gardener and the Carpenter is a response to the fact that “parenting” has become a verb, a powerful middle class trend, a lucrative self-help industry, and sometimes a kind of bloodsport. Meanwhile developmental science paints a very different picture of how children grow and learn, and what it means to be a good parent. As Gopnik puts it, “It’s easy to say ‘just chill,’ but the advice is, basically, just chill!”  

On this week's episode of Think Again–a Big Think Podcast, Alison Gopnik and host Jason Gots discuss play, artificial intelligence, and the trouble with "parenting" as a verb. 

Surprise "conversation starter" interview clips in this episode:Ryan HolidaySteven Pinker, and Sonia Arrison

60. Teju Cole – The World is Not a Settled Gift  

Nigerian-born writer, photographer, and art historian Teju Cole is the author of the novel Open City and the novella Every Day is for the Theif. He’s also the photography critic of the New York Times magazine. His new book is a collection of deeply insightful and beautiful essays about things read, seen, and experienced. It’s called Known and Strange Things

On this week's episode of Think Again–a Big Think Podcast, Teju Cole and host Jason Gots discuss first drafts, the complexities of home, and the greatest innovation in human history. 

Surprise "conversation starter" interview clips in this episode:Jacqueline Woodson, and Virginia Heffernan

59. Jacqueline Woodson – Bored Kid Dreaming/Apologies Long Overdue  

Jacqueline Woodson, the Newberry, Caldecott, and National-Book Award winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming, If You Come Softly and many other works of poetry and literature for children and young adults, has just released Another Brooklyn, her first adult novel in twenty years. Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood—the promise and peril of growing up—and exquisitely renders a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that united four young lives.

On this week's episode of Think Again–a Big Think Podcast, Jacqueline and host Jason Gots discuss collective amnesia, organized religion, the power of photographs, and why never being bored is bad for for kids. 

Surprise "conversation starter" interview clips: Lynsey AddarioSebastian Junger,Maria Konnikova




58. Mixtape #2 – Staring at the Sea  

Big Think launched in 2008 as a "YouTube for intellectuals." Since then, it has produced over 10,000 short-form video interviews with many of the most influential and creative thinkers of our time. 

In 2014, the podcast SERIAL burst on the scene and Apple put a "podcasts" app in the iPhone's OS, and suddenly podcasting, which had existed for over a decade, was widely considered to have entered its Golden Age (wonder how all the veteran podcasters felt about that...). So Big Think decided it might be a good time to start a podcast, too––to find its voice in this newly energized space. Jason Gots (who had been a writer and editor there since 2010), more or less leapt out of his chair at the meeting where this was announced and volunteered to create and host it. Thus THINK AGAIN - A BIG THINK PODCAST was born. 

Big Think's videos are bits of "expert wisdom", presented confidently and definitively against a white screen background. With THINK AGAIN, we wanted to revisit these ideas the way the audience encounters them––spontaneously, messily, and often out of context. We wanted to bring the experts to that state some thinkers call "beginner's mind" and see what would happen. 

The format: Jason sits down with artists, scientists, historians––all accomplished experts in their fields. They chat a bit about the guest's work. Then, they watch three surprise Big Think interview clips (chosen by the video producers), emailed to Jason just before the interview, and discuss them. And the conversation goes where it goes.  

Some amazing moments have happened this past year––fun, profound, profoundly painful––so this week and next, we're stepping back and taking stock. This, the second of two "greatest hits mixtapes", features Playwright and Performer Sarah Jones both as herself and as a completely different person, Musician and Artist Henry Rollins on a divided America, Critic A.O. Scott on our complicated relationships with our devices, Actress and Author Mary-Louise Parker being extremely skeptical that Virtual Reality will make us more empathetic, and Rapper and NovelistKate Tempest with a staggeringly powerful, spontaneous monologue on the stories we tell ourselves. 

Surprise clips in this episode: 

Paul EkmanRalph RiveraSherry TurkleParag Khanna


57. Mixtape #1 - Lies/Monsters/Friendship/Religion/Space Aliens  

Big Think launched in 2008 as a "YouTube for intellectuals." Since then, it has produced over 10,000 short-form video interviews with many of the most influential and creative thinkers of our time. 

In 2014, the podcast SERIAL burst on the scene and Apple put a "podcasts" app in the iPhone's OS, and suddenly podcasting, which had existed for over a decade, was widely considered to have entered its Golden Age (wonder how all the veteran podcasters felt about that...). So Big Think decided it might be a good time to start a podcast, too––to find its voice in this newly energized space. Jason Gots (who had been a writer and editor there since 2010), more or less leapt out of his chair at the meeting where this was announced and volunteered to create and host it. Thus THINK AGAIN - A BIG THINK PODCAST was born. 

Big Think's videos are bits of "expert wisdom", presented confidently and definitively against a white screen background. With THINK AGAIN, we wanted to revisit these ideas the way the audience encounters them––spontaneously, messily, and often out of context. We wanted to bring the experts to that state some thinkers call "beginner's mind" and see what would happen. 

The format: Jason sits down with artists, scientists, historians––all accomplished experts in their fields. They chat a bit about the guest's work. Then, they watch three surprise Big Think interview clips (chosen by the video producers), emailed to Jason just before the interview, and discuss them. And the conversation goes where it goes. 

Some amazing moments have happened this past year––fun, profound, profoundly painful––so this week and next, we're stepping back and taking stock. This, the first of two "greatest hits mixtapes", features author Junot Diaz on why he's fascinated by double lives, popular philosopher Sam Harris on monsters in literature, Brain Pickings founder Maria Popova on the complexities of friendship, rapper and poet Saul Williams on the Catholic Church and his preacher father, and former pro wrestler and Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura on space aliens. It also includes an original THINK AGAIN song written for us in less than a week by the amazing, inimitable Matt Farley.

Surprise clips in this episode: 

Joyce Carol OatesDan ArielyWilliam ShatnerCharlene LiBrian Greene




56. Jonathon Keats (Experimental Philosopher) – The Trickster/Castles in the Sky  

"Experimental philosopher" and science writer Jonathon Keats, who famously created pornography for plants and sold real estate in the alternate dimensions proposed by string theory, believes that we "need to ascend to the meta level" to find creative ways of reopening closed conversations. His new book You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future, explores the myth and the relevance of a self-mythologizing sometime genius, sometime crackpot whose vast imagination holds some keys to solving the massive problems we now face as a species. 

On this week's episode of Think Again–a Big Think Podcast, Jonathon and host Jason Gots discuss social taboos, Fuller's legacy, the "mediated" nature of contemporary life, the power of comedy in society, and so much more. 

Surprise discussion clips in this episode: Jim Gaffigan on political correctness in comedyDan Savage on sex education, and Mary Roach on diharrhea in the armed forces

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