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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 Neil Gaiman, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie, Mary-Louise Parker, Richard Dawkins, Margaret Atwood, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Saul Williams, Henry Rollins, Bill Nye, George Takei, Maria Popova, 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? So ...
 
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NOTE: This is a special guest episode of Jason's new podcast Clever Creature. Please subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts! The Moleskine is open, the page is staring back accusingly/ Like 'come on, Punk, what makes you think you possibly could fill the likes of me? Reflections on a big creative leap of faith: th…
 
[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] Adult life, with all its schedules and responsibilities, can turn into a kind of library of locked boxes. The ones we open every day sit on a shelf at eye…
 
[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] I’m underground as I write this, one day before taping the conversation you’re about to hear, speeding through New York City subway tunnels that aren’t al…
 
[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] -- Faith in anything is its own special form of madness. It’s a challenge to entropy, and entropy takes no challenge lightly. If there’s any better metaph…
 
[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] -- Among other things, music can be medicine. Like a vaccine, it sometimes works by giving your body a little taste of the disease. Other times, of course…
 
[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] -- 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 does…
 
[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] -- Note: I feel I should let listeners know that this episode of Think Again is about surviving and thriving in the face of unspeakable trauma and sexual …
 
[From February through March 22, 2020 (his last day hosting Think Again) Jason will be revisiting favorite past episodes. Jason's new show, starting May 12th, is Clever Creature with Jason Gots.] Life is full of horrible things. I dare you to deny it. Things like death, sickness, and alcoholism. And did I mention death, which lies in wait for us al…
 
Since 1976, Sharon Salzberg has been sharing ancient meditation and mindfulness practices in a voice the contemporary West can understand. Her warm, funny, down-to-earth books, dharma talks, and guided meditations have helped struggling meditators worldwide establish a strong practice and reduce the suffering in their lives. In this episode master …
 
Thelma and Louise, Ponch and John, Pancho and Lefty, Quixote and Sancho Panza, Marx and Engels, Marx and Chast…history and literature are full of magical buddy stories. Every now and then, for reasons no one can explain, Two people come together and produce something greater, or at least very different, from the sum of their parts. I’m here today w…
 
Freedom. Everyone wants it, but knowing where to look for it is another matter. And to make matters worse, the world is full of things that feel like freedom but might just get us more tangled up in everything we’re trying to escape. How much freedom can money buy? How much money? How free are you on a tropical vacation? Would uploading your consci…
 
If you’d told me a couple months ago that a podcast about Dolly Parton could move me deeply and raise all kinds of questions that go straight to the wounded heart of America today, I guess I would have been skeptical to say the least. But that skepticism might be exactly the point. America is an image factory. Country music. Rock and Roll. New York…
 
The other day on social media a friend asked what the heck is up with this Mr. Rogers revival. Why does everyone suddenly love this guy so much? Moments before, I had been listening to a new podcast about Dolly Parton, and her weird, almost saintlike ability to bring people together across cultural divides. In a moment of deep mistrust and cynicism…
 
I’ve spent more of my life than most people I know immersed by choice in what my guest today would call “scripture”. I was never much of a Roman Catholic, in spite of being dragged weekly to church until I was about 13 and could no longer be dragged, and, in my boredom, sometimes believing I saw the statue of Jesus moving on the cross. But in late …
 
While reading Deborah Levy’s novel THE MAN WHO SAW EVERYTHING and her recent “working autobiography” THE COST OF LIVING I often found myself pausing and kind of sinking into a passage I’d just read. Going back and rereading it not because my attention had wandered nor exactly to unpack an idea but because I felt the need to experience it over again…
 
The phrase “common sense” can be misleading. The way we use it in casual conversation, it means something like “that which is obvious to any sensible person, of course”. It’s like what philosopher Daniel Dennett says about the word “surely”. Surely we can all agree that it’s just an innocent word, right? Surely I’m not manipulating you by starting …
 
“Maybe the opposite of goodness is not evil. Maybe the opposite of goodness is, in fact, numbness.” There are so many questions we never ask. So many assumptions we make every second of every day because our minds and our lives are sealed off from one another, accessible only through time, patience, and the slow work of trust—all of which are often…
 
Some experiences change you so completely that you’re left with a choice: either spend your life running from them or spend your life turning them over in memory, trying to find new ways in, through, and out the other side. The power of the impulse to explain or somehow articulate these experiences is inversely proportionate to other people’s abili…
 
Do you have a body? I do, but I was mostly unaware of this fact until somewhere in my mid-30s, when my life strategy of living like a bourbon-loving brain-in-a-vat became increasingly untenable. Since then, I’ve come to understand something that might have been obvious to you all along. The body’s not just a convenient support system for coming up …
 
I grew up in the almost entirely white suburbs of 1980’s Bethesda, Maryland thinking of myself and my world as 100% not racist. It’s hard to notice what’s missing: for example pretty much any black or brown people anywhere I went except on vacation, in spite of the fact that we were right next to Washington DC. At some point in middle school I lear…
 
In 1972, the year I was born, there was apparently a famous TV ad for Geritol. My guest today describes it thus: “…a husband spoke to the camera while his wife draped herself over his shoulder, smiling like something between a model and the brainwashed resident of a creepy commune…”My wife’s incredible. She took care of the baby all day, cooked a g…
 
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. You’ve probably heard of Cambridge Analytica. Maybe you know they’re a company that did some nefarious things involving facebook and the 2016 US presidential elections. If you’re anything like me, you don’t know the half of it. If you get through this episode without wanting to move to a remote hut in…
 
In the past half century or so feminism has had its hands plenty full dealing with the abuse and inequality women suffer at the hands of horribly behaved men and the systems they build. Too full to worry much about what the hell is going on inside those men and why. And there are powerful arguments to be made for the fact that it is not women’s res…
 
If the word ‘epicurean’ brings to mind a porcine man in a toga reclining on a velvet couch and dropping fat juicy grapes into his open mouth, one by one, you are not alone. But this caricature, probably the descendent of some ancient propaganda by rival philosophers, tells us very little in fact about Epicureanism - the worldview of the 4th century…
 
Like too many of us, I hated history classes throughout my school career, and only realized as an adult that there are few things more interesting to ponder than the ways people lived and thought in different times and places than my own. After all, we’re all stuck in our own time, limited by our culture, consciousness, and whatever knowledge we ma…
 
“A conversation is like a tunnel dug under the prison floor that you—patiently and painstakingly—scoop out with a spoon. It has one purpose: to get you away from where you are right now.” That is from the very, very weird tale Car Concentrate from Israeli writer Etgar Keret’s wonderful new collection of short stories called FLY ALREADY. It’s not a …
 
There’s a pattern that happens with any new thing. First it’s scary, then you settle in to a rhythm, then you hit your stride, then you get too attached to things being the way they are. For a while there I thought I could only record an episode of this show sitting in a particular chair facing a particular direction. When that kind of thing happen…
 
When I was a teenager and music was still on cassettes, a mixtape was an act of love. The selection and sequence of songs were a kind of message to the listener that left plenty of space for their own thoughts and feelings. Back in June Think Again hit its fourth year and its 200th show and it feels like the right time to take a step back and revis…
 
Quick question. Answer without thinking too hard. Ready? Where is your mind? What is your mind? Ok, Raise your hand if you thought of your brain. If you did, you’re in good company. For centuries, Western science, culture, and language has been obsessed with the head as the center of thought and the body as the center of feeling. This split can get…
 
The first computer I ever had was the first Apple Macintosh, back in the mid 80’s. I can still remember the sense of friendly reassurance from that smiling little icon that popped up on the screen when you turned it on—a cute, tiny computer smiling back at you. This device, it suggested, knew you. Understood you. Was someone you could trust. Since …
 
When I think of my childhood home in Bethesda, Maryland, depending on what kind of mood I’m in, I think either of the mall or of the woods. Although there were some fun moments looking at the inappropriate novelty items like at Spencer Gifts, such as edible underwear, the mall in my memory is a symbol of suburban anomie and alienation. A place, as …
 
A Rabbi, a Priest, and an Imam walk into a bar. No, wait. Imams don’t drink. Most rabbis don’t drink much either, come to think of it. Priests drink—at least in the movies—but mostly not in bars . . . So maybe nobody walks into a bar? How, when, and where are we all supposed to figure out how to get along? My guest today, who also happens to be an …
 
In spite of all the weird ways the word has been abused since the 2016 elections, I think of myself as a liberal. As a basic value, I try to be open-minded. And like many liberals, I live in a big, liberal city where I rarely meet anyone who doesn’t share my values, religious outlook, and political beliefs. As a result, like it or not, I’m in a bub…
 
After four years and just over 200 conversations for this podcast, I’m feeling the need for a new kind of politics. One that would champion uncertainty, fragility, emotional vulnerability against the tyranny of opinions that push us one way or another. I used to think that art was sufficient for this purpose. After all, it was books like J.D. Salin…
 
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? The thing everyone said was impossible, that you knew you had to do anyway, and that you doubted a thousand times while it was underway that you’d be able to see through to the end? There’s a good chance you can think of at least one example. And an even better chance it doesn’t even come close in monument…
 
When I was in middle school in the suburbs of Maryland, a man—let’s call him Robert—started doing some occasional gardening and housecleaning for my parents. By high school, Robert was our full-time housekeeper and a nanny for me and my sister, a family member, really. And he had become a she—let’s call her Tina. My sister and I learned to use her …
 
I’m underground as I write this, one day before taping the conversation you’re about to hear, speeding through New York City subway tunnels that aren’t all that ancient but whose darkness, and rats, and crumbling, esoteric infrastructure holds fear and fascination enough for anyone who contemplates them. Waking up this morning—notice how you wake u…
 
Like Mick Jagger, the Indian prince we know as The Buddha taught that we can’t get no satisfaction from this world, though we try and we try, and we try, and we try . . . Buddha means “awakened one”. Awake to the fact that the world is impermanent and we suffer and cause suffering to one another because of that. “Woke” is a newer word for something…
 
You’re a body in the world. From the moment you’re born, from that very first gasp of air, you’re taking in sensations, trying to get a handle on things and the relationships between them. There’s a lot of things to get a handle on. Too many. So your brain needs to simplify. It makes boxes for objects, maps them onto grids to track their motion. Th…
 
Note: I feel I should let listeners know that this episode of Think Again is about surviving and thriving in the face of unspeakable trauma and sexual violence. And in order to get to the thriving, we have talk about the trauma, which may be painful for some listeners and inappropriate for kids. But I don’t want to scare anybody off—I think it’s on…
 
“Are we in the best of times? Or the end of times? One of the oddities of the current era is that extreme pessimism about the world coexists with extreme optimism — and both have a plausible case to make.” I’m quoting Gideon Rachman from a recent Financial Times piece about Bill Gates and David Attenborough. Broadly speaking, Gates is a technooptim…
 
If I had to choose one word to capture this moment in American (and maybe world) history, “patience” wouldn’t be it. From every direction, everything demands our urgent attention. Everything is a ticking time bomb, or one that’s just exploded, and we’re all the poorly-trained volunteer ambulance squad. I don’t mean to dismiss the challenges we face…
 
Imagine yourself a German citizen the day after the end of World War II. Much of your city is bombed to ruins. A good part of the population is dead. The Nazi ideology that has dominated your nation for the past decade has been repudiated as definitively as Bambi in “Bambi Meets Godzilla”. Basically, it’s the end of the world. Now consider Berlin t…
 
Among other things, music can be medicine. Like a vaccine, it sometimes works by giving your body a little taste of the disease. Other times, of course, you just wanna dance, and James Brown might be just what you need. But the medicine songs I’m talking about are the ones that break your heart open no matter many times you hear them. And you want …
 
I remember visiting New York when I was 18 and thinking about coming here for college. How badly I wanted to be “from” New York. How cool, how real, how substantial that would be. What does it mean to be “from” any place? At what point do you own the culture like you own your native language? Your very own little shard of the broken mirror that add…
 
Well into her 90’s, my grandma Selma and I had this running conversation about the state of the world. She’d escaped Polish pogroms as a 5 year old, lived through the loss of half her relatives in World War II, and saw the founding of the UN in 1945 and NATO in 1949 as signs of a world sick of chaos and finally ready to be sensible and humane. Well…
 
Faith in anything is its own special form of madness. It’s a challenge to entropy, and entropy takes no challenge lightly. If there’s any better metaphor for this struggle than trying to make a big budget movie with even a shred of integrity, I haven’t found it. On the one hand, you’ve got this impossible dream. This faith in the beautiful thing th…
 
I was thinking this morning that It’s funny how “humane” is the only word we have for that idea, since so much that’s inhumane has been created by us humans. When we talk about the humane treatment of animals, considering the ways we’ve treated animals for most of our history, what can we possibly mean? Anyway... It’s a fair guess that prehistoric …
 
When I was a kid, there used to be a TV commercial for this series of animal videos you could order that were basically nothing but killing and sex. The tagline was “Find out why we call them . . . ANIMALS”! “Wait a minute . . .“ I used to think: “That’s not why we call them animals. Also, we’re animals too, aren’t we? What exactly are you trying t…
 
They say Confucius said “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” I did the research. Confucius probably didn’t say that. But whoever said it was right—revenge bites back. Victor Headley’s 1992 book YARDIE launched a genre of Jamaican pulp fiction. It’s the story of a life driven and destroyed by revenge, from the Kingston gang w…
 
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