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

87. Yuval Noah Harari (Historian) – Time's Up  

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.

Yuval Noah Harari holds a PhD in History from the University of Oxford and now lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, specializing in World History. His 2014 New York Times bestselling book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, is published in nearly 40 languages worldwide. His new book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, uses historical and current trends to look at where we might we headed as a species.

In this conversation, Harari and Jason discuss giving credit where it's due to genuine signs of human progress, and the dizzying ethical questions that surround what's coming next –– from superhuman cyborgs to algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves.
Surprise conversation starter interview clips:

Lawrence Levy on Pixar, mindfulness, and the Middle Way. Daniel Dennett on the evolution of cultural memes




86. Ayelet Waldman (Author) – Yourself, Only Better  

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.

Ayelet Waldman is a novelist and essayist, a former federal public defender who taught at Loyola and UC Berkeley schools of Law. Her latest book, A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life is an honest, funny, informative account of her month-long experience “microdosing” on LSD – after a ton of research into the practice and potential psychological benefits of taking subperceptual doses of the chemical. Spoiler: overall it helped her. The book also digs into the history and ramifications of the criminalization of psychoactive drugs, and the philosophy of "harm reduction" in parenting.

In a funny, free-ranging, rapid-fire dialogue, Ayelet and Jason dive into topics as diverse as the split between art and science, how not to mess up your kids too badly, and the benefits of neuroplasticity.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips:

Bill Nye on Art vs. Science, Andrew Solomon on Parenting and Empathy



85. Ben Goertzel (A.I. Inventor) – The State of the Art of Artificial General Intelligence  

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.

Ben Goertzel is a hugely influential computer scientist and author in the area of artificial general intelligence, among others. Just a few of the many hats Ben wears or has worn: Chief Scientist of Hanson Robotics which makes some of the most advanced robots in the world, Co-founder of AIDYA – artificial intelligence for financial trading, and Chairman of the OpenCog Foundation, an open source project to build a radically new form of artificial intelligence.

What's real and what's hype in all the talk about artificial intelligence these days? Will teaching AI to solve humanity's biggest problems keep robots from harming us if and when they become autonomous? Is the human brain, with all its limitations, a good model for AI at all?

In this episode, Ben explains to Jason some of the theory behind various existing and potential AI systems, weighs in on the idea of the Singularity, and touches on his "panpsychist" belief that consciousness is an omnipresent force of nature, suggesting that they drop LSD together at some point to discuss it in depth. 

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode:

Alva Noë: “You are Not Your Brain”




84. Nato Thompson (Artistic Director) The Friendly Face  

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.

Nato Thompson is the Artistic Director of Creative Time, which commissions and presents ambitious public art projects with thousands of artists throughout New York City, across the country, around the world—and now even in outer space. They did Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, a free public performance in hard-hit New Orleans neighborhoods after the flood that Jason talked about with actor Wendell Pierce on this show (episode 22). Nato’s new book is called Culture as Weapon: The Art of Influence in Everyday Life

In this episode he and Jason talk about the ways the tools of art now permeate every aspect of our culture, from advertising to politics to always-on digital entertainment. They also discuss uploading human consciousness onto computer chips, the DIY, anti-"selling out" discourse of punk and hardcore music, and the weird relationship between art and commerce. 




83. Matt Taibbi (Journalist) Bread and Circus  

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.

Hard-hitting, darkly funny journalist Matt Taibbi has reported on on politics, media, finance, and sports, winning the National Magazine Award for Commentary in 2008 and is the author of three NYTimes bestsellers on politics and culture. For Rolling Stone, continuing in the tradition the magazine started with Hunter S. Thompson’s coverage of Nixon’s 1972 presidential campaign, Taibbi has covered the last four election cycles. His dispatches from the 2016 election circus are the basis of his new book Insane Clown President.In this week's Think Again, Jason and Matt talk about Hunter S. Thompson, family, career, media, and, inevitably, President Donald Trump. Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Susan David on our unhealthy obsession with happiness, and Tim Wu on celebrities as modern-day gods.

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.






82. Bernard-Henri Lévy (Philosopher) The Mirror of Our Better Selves  

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.

The Washington Post has this to say about today's guest: "There is no American equivalent of Bernard-Henri Lévy. Known as “BHL,” he is among the last of a quintessentially French breed, the 20th century intellectuel engagé. As a “nouveau philosophe” disenchanted with Marxism, communism and the excesses of 1968, when civil unrest roiled France, Levy has enjoyed a long and theatrical career since the 1970s, embracing journalism, philosophy, film and an outspoken advocacy for human rights."

BHL's films include the documentaries Bosna! And A Day in the Death of Sarajevo. Lévy is co-founder of the antiracist group SOS Racisme and has served on diplomatic missions for the French government. His newest book The Genius of Judaism explores what he sees as the crucial metaphysical role of Jewish thought and the Jewish people in the life of nations.

Today's episode addresses torture, the question of evil, and the tipping point at which democracy becomes something else. 

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Paul Bloom on Torture, and Ian Bremmer on America as a Superpower.

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.



81. Isy Suttie (Comedian) There's Something a Bit Smug about the Sea  

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.

Isy Suttie is a comedian, actress, and writer who played the character Dobby in the British TV comedy Peep Show, of which Jason has watched all 54 episodes. Isy has written for the Guardian, the Observer, and Glamour, and is a regular writer and performer on BBC Radio 4. Her book The Actual One: How I Tried and Failed to Avoid Adulthood Forever will be released on January 31st, 2017 in the United States, but thousands of British people will have already read and enjoyed it, three days earlier. So there.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Maysoon Zayid on the media representation of people with disabilities, Slavoj Žižek on love, and Paul Bloom on empathy and politics

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.



80. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh (founder: MuslimGirl) – Who Tells Your Story?  

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.

Amani Al -Khatatbeh is the founder and editor of Muslimgirl.com, the number one Muslim women’s blog in the United States. She regularly provides commentary on social, cultural, and political issues through outlets such as CNN, Al Jazeera, and the BBC, and has been featured in the New York Times, the Guardian, and made Forbes’ 30 under 30 list. Her new book is called Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age.

In this episode, Amani and Jason wrestle with tough questions about identity, power, and Islamic feminism.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips: Oliver Luckett on the 2016 election and a "divided America"

79. Paul Bloom (Psychologist) – Cold-Blooded Kindness  

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.

Paul Bloom is an internationally recognized expert on the the psychology of child development, social reasoning, and morality, and the author of numerous books including Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil. His newest book is Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion. Is managing a hedge-fund a better way to do good in the world than joining the Peace Corps? Does donating for disaster-relief (without really thinking it through) often make matters worse? At the risk of being mistaken for a Scrooge-like figure, Paul Bloom advances a smart, nuanced argument that empathy, in the sense of feeling others' suffering, is a terrible guide to moral decision-making.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Juanita Rilling on the psychology and the realities of disaster relief, David Eagleman on mass shootings, Wesley Lowery on freedom of the press


78. Peter Godfrey-Smith (Philosopher) – Alien Intelligence  

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.

Peter Godfrey-Smith is a distinguished professor of philosophy at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and a professor of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Sydney in Australia. He has also spent a lot of time floating around in an octopus colony in Australia, studying smart cephalopods and taking photos and videos that have been used by National Geographic. His fascinating new book is Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness.In today's episode, Peter and Jason discuss free will, what it might be like to be an octopus, and which prehistoric animal would be the most interesting to resurrect.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Bill Nye on extinct animal cloning, Michio Kaku on free will and physics

77. Anne Rice (Author) – In the Blood  

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.

Anne Rice is the author of over 30 novels. Her first, Interview with the Vampire, was published in 1976 and has gone on to become one of the best-selling novels of all time. Her latest book, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, continues the story of Lestat while also reaching back millennia to a mysterious, vanished empire -- the lost realms of Atlantis. A past that is inextricably linked to the fate of Lestat and the Vampire kingdom he rules. In today's episode, Anne shares many thoughts on superstition, science, and why, in spite of everything, she believes humanity's going to figure things out.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Alison Gopnik on the Science of Ghosts, Kathleen McAuliffe on the Biological Origins of Vampire Stories, Wesley Lowery on Facebook's responsibility for fake news

76. Tim Ferriss (Author, Podcaster) – Productively Frivolous  

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.

Above all else,  Author, Podcaster, and "Human Guinea Pig" Tim Ferriss is focused on learning how to learn, then applying those lessons to everyday life -- aiming at increased productivity, efficiency, and success, however you may define it. His books The Four Hour Workweek, the Four-Hour Body, and the Four-Hour Chef shared his learning experiments in the culinary, physical, and business realms. His latest book “Tools of Titans” distills lessons learned from guests like Maria Popova, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rick Rubin in conversation on his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show.

Surprise conversation starter interview clips in this episode: Tim Wu on "the attention merchants" of social media, Simon Sinek on the idea of having "a vision" 

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

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