397 episodes

Each week we bring you a new, in-depth exploration of the space where science and society collide. We’re committed to the idea that making an effort to understand the world around you though science and critical thinking can benefit everyone—and lead to better decisions. We want to find out what’s true, what’s left to discover, and why it all matters.

Inquiring Minds Indre Viskontas

    • Science
    • 4.4 • 815 Ratings

Each week we bring you a new, in-depth exploration of the space where science and society collide. We’re committed to the idea that making an effort to understand the world around you though science and critical thinking can benefit everyone—and lead to better decisions. We want to find out what’s true, what’s left to discover, and why it all matters.

    A Matter of Life, Death or Maybe Somewhere in Between with John and Lois Crowe

    A Matter of Life, Death or Maybe Somewhere in Between with John and Lois Crowe

    If there’s one thing we can probably all agree on, it’s that water is a necessary component for life, right? Well, here to muddy up that argument is the adorable tardigrade which, it turns out, can survive extreme drying or dehydration, and can be revived by simply adding water. Much of what is known about these remarkable creatures comes courtesy of John and Lois Crowe, two retired UC Davis scientists who devoted much of their lengthy careers to the study of this phenomenon, and Indre’s very special guests on the podcast today.

      

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    • 26 min
    The Sound Mind with Neuroscientist Nina Kraus

    The Sound Mind with Neuroscientist Nina Kraus

    Nina Kraus, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist who has done groundbreaking research on sound and hearing for more than three decades. She's the Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology, Communication Sciences, and Otolaryngology at Northwestern University, and she has been a frequent guest on Indre’s other podcast, Cadence: What Music Tells Us About the Mind. Nina has just released her first trade book called “Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World”. Today she joins Indre to explain just how important sound is, how the hearing brain engages how we think, feel, move, and incorporate information from our other senses, and why the “sound mind” is so integral to how we experience the world.

     

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    “Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World” by Nina Kraus

    Brainvolts Website https://brainvolts.northwestern.edu/

    Inquiring Minds Podcast Homepage

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    Listen to the Cadence Podcast

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    • 34 min
    Managing Our Criminal Nature with Mary Roach

    Managing Our Criminal Nature with Mary Roach

    Who among us hasn’t, at some point, wondered just what exactly a bear manager or a danger tree feller blaster does? Well, Mary Roach, America’s funniest science writer, TED 20 Most Watched list member, and increasingly frequent guest on this podcast has, and now she’s written a book for our collective enlightenment. In today’s episode, Mary discusses her latest offering, FUZZ: When Nature Breaks the Law, taking us on a fascinating journey around the world to explore these and other unique professions dealing with animals and plants whose interactions with humans can be dangerous and even fatal.

      

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    Episode 31 - The Science of Your Guts

    Episode 138 - The Curious Science of Humans at War

    Mary's Homepage 

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    • 37 min
    Unwrapping the Gifts of Good Anxiety with Wendy Suzuki

    Unwrapping the Gifts of Good Anxiety with Wendy Suzuki

    No one would be surprised to hear that anxiety has become a staple of modern life, particularly over the past year and a half, but what may surprise some is that anxiety is a necessary component in our lives that can be managed and kept at a level which actually optimizes our performance. On today’s podcast, Indre is joined by the legendary Dr. Wendy Suzuki, Professor of Neural Science and Psychology at New York University, who is best known for her extensive work studying areas in the brain critical for our ability to form and retain new long-term memories. Wendy discusses the shift in her research to understanding how aerobic exercise can be used to improve learning, memory and higher cognitive abilities in humans, and examines anxiety and the gifts it offers as outlined in her new book, Good Anxiety: Harnessing the Power of the Most Misunderstood Emotion.

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    Good Anxiety

    Healthy Brain, Happy Life

     

     

     

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    • 40 min
    Science and True Crime With Author Sam Kean

    Science and True Crime With Author Sam Kean

    Indre welcomes back Sam Kean, the New York Times bestselling author of The Icepick Surgeon, The Bastard Brigade, Caesar's Last Breath, The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, and more. Sam has won many awards for his writing, and he's been featured on Radiolab, All Things Considered, and of course, Inquiring Minds. His own podcast, The Disappearing Spoon, is also high up on the iTunes science charts. Sam joins the show to discuss his latest book, which features true crime stories about scientists who take things too far. He also talks about his goal to demonstrate that there may be some bad actors within the scientific realm, and what we can learn from the ways in which science steers people wrong. 

     

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    Sam Kean Homepage

     

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    • 34 min
    Investigating The Memory Thief with Lauren Aguirre

    Investigating The Memory Thief with Lauren Aguirre

    Of all the side effects of opioid use that exist, one that is only recently starting to get the attention it deserves is that of becoming amnestic. That doesn’t mean that this effect hasn’t been on the radar of some researchers over the years, though. As far back as 2016, Neurology Specialist, Dr. Jed Barash, brought some case studies to Indre’s attention, and today’s guest, Lauren Aguirre, has built upon Jed’s findings to write The Memory Thief and the Secrets Behind How We Remember. An award-winning science journalist who has produced documentaries, short-form video series, podcasts, interactive games, and blogs for the PBS series NOVA, Lauren combines her personal experience with her extensive amount of research to generate both a book and an interview here today that you will not soon forget.

      

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    The Memory Thief





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    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
815 Ratings

815 Ratings

Flatbushpoppop ,

Offspring of Elevatorgate

“Inquiring Minds” began in 2013 when Chris Mooney and Indre Viscontas quit their jobs as hosts of the Center for Inquiry podcast “Point of Inquiry” in protest over remarks by CFI chief Ron Lindsey that were critical of skeptic personality Rebecca Watson, the central figure of the “Elevatorgate” brouhaha that marked the beginning of the end of the New Atheist movement of the aughts. After leaving PoI at the behest of the show’s producer—who was Watson’s boyfriend—Mooney and Viscontas started this podcast. Mooney didn’t stick around for long, but Viscontas has kept the show going for eight years. The show currently consists primarily of interviews with the authors of popular science books. Viscontas is a decent interviewer. I sort of wish that she and Mooney hadn’t dropped the religious skepticism aspect of the “Point of Inquiry” show when they started this show, but that decision probably helped the show last this long.

Mack019 ,

Light and largely data free

One of my top 3 podcasts several years ago. Then they went full on social justice and it became just another NPR show showing only half the data; so I dropped out for a year or so. Came back recently and was hopeful. Listened to recent shows on food, dating and where AI came from. Just ok. Lots of opinions without backing and very little that's new or not obvious.

One last chance with a favorite topic of mine "future of work". Indres, couldn't you find someone better than Jamie Merisotis? Hard to keep track of all the vague buzzword and platitudes. I got one interesting fact out of it; community college enrollment is dropping off and that's it. What amazes me is Jamie was described as a CEO; that's hard to believe.

I dropped out after 30 minutes so maybe it got better. At least the social justice stuff bias has been dropped, so maybe you're attempting to regain some scientific credibility. I'll try again next year. It's really too bad. Indres is too gifted to be just another NPR talking head.

Theeban Thavanandam ,

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