234 episodes

Longtime Atlantic tech, culture and political writer Derek Thompson cuts through all the noise surrounding the big questions and headlines that matter to you in his new podcast Plain English. Hear Derek and guests engage the news with clear viewpoints and memorable takeaways. New episodes drop every Tuesday and Friday, and if you've got a topic you want discussed, shoot us an email at plainenglish@spotify.com! You can also find us on tiktok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_

Plain English with Derek Thompson The Ringer

    • News
    • 4.8 • 1.6K Ratings

Longtime Atlantic tech, culture and political writer Derek Thompson cuts through all the noise surrounding the big questions and headlines that matter to you in his new podcast Plain English. Hear Derek and guests engage the news with clear viewpoints and memorable takeaways. New episodes drop every Tuesday and Friday, and if you've got a topic you want discussed, shoot us an email at plainenglish@spotify.com! You can also find us on tiktok at www.tiktok.com/@plainenglish_

    "The Weirdest Housing Market in Recent History"

    "The Weirdest Housing Market in Recent History"

    Skyrocketing rates, shrinking affordability: The U.S. housing market is a mess. It's also a bit of a mystery. Why are prices still sky-high, even though many measures of demand are weak? If the supply of new homes is nearing a historic high, how come the inventory for existing homes is close to a historic low? Today's guests agree that this is one of the weirdest housing markets in recent history. Mike Simonsen, president founder of Altos Research, and Lance Lambert, cofounder and editor-in-chief of Residential Club, join to talk about the state of the U.S. housing market—what makes it ugly, what makes it weird, and what would have to happen to make it better.
    If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com.
    Host: Derek Thompson
    Guests: Mike Simonsen & Lance Lambert
    Producer: Devon Baroldi
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    • 55 min
    "People Feel Lied To": The White House, the Media, and the Joe Biden Blame Game

    "People Feel Lied To": The White House, the Media, and the Joe Biden Blame Game

    Joe Biden's disastrous debate performance has created a crisis for the Democratic Party and a set of interlocking debates about whether the White House—or the White House media—covered up his cognitive decline. The Atlantic’s Mark Leibovich, who first wrote that Biden should drop out of the race two years ago, joins to discuss Biden campaign strategy and the hypocrisy of many Democrats who refused to state publicly what they knew privately: that Biden's age-related blunders were getting more serious. Then we are joined by the busiest man in media, Alex Thompson, political correspondent of Axios, who has absolutely dominated this story in the past week. As a group, we talk about Biden’s age, the Democratic campaign strategy—Project "Bubble Wrap"—that is blowing up in their faces, the failures of the political press and Democratic operatives to see what’s in front of their noses, and the chances that Kamala Harris will imminently replace Joe Biden as the Democratic presidential nominee.
    If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com.
    Host: Derek Thompson
    Guests: Mark Leibovich & Alex Thompson
    Producer: Devon Baroldi
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    • 58 min
    Whatever Happened to Serial Killers?

    Whatever Happened to Serial Killers?

    In the first five decades of the 20th century, the number of serial killers in the U.S. remained at a very low level. But between the 1950s and 1960s, the number of serial killers tripled. Between the 1960s and 1970s, they tripled again. In the 1980s and 1990s, they kept rising. And then, just as suddenly as the serial killer emerged as an American phenomenon, he (and it really is mostly a he) nearly disappeared. What happened to the American serial killers? And what does this phenomenon say about American society, criminology, and technology?
    Today's guest is James Alan Fox, the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy at Northeastern University. The author of 18 books, he has been publishing on this subject since before 1974, the year that the FBI coined the term "serial killer."
    If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com.
    Host: Derek Thompson
    Guest: James Alan Fox
    Producer: Devon Baroldi
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    • 44 min
    The Radical Cultural Shift Behind America's Declining Birth Rate

    The Radical Cultural Shift Behind America's Declining Birth Rate

    We've done several podcasts on America's declining fertility rate, and why South Korea has the lowest birthrate in the world. But we've never done an episode on the subject quite like this one.
    Today we go deep on the psychology of having children and not having children, and the cultural revolution behind the decline in birthrates in America and the rest of the world. The way we think about dating, marriage, kids, and family is changing radically in a very short period of time. And we are just beginning to reckon with the causes and consequences of that shift. In the new book, 'What Are Children For,' Anastasia Berg and Rachel Wiseman say a new "parenthood ambivalence" is sweeping the world. In today's show, they persuade Derek that this issue is about more than the economic trends he tends to focus on when he discusses this issue.
    If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com.
    Host: Derek Thompson
    Guests: Anastasia Berg & Rachel Wiseman
    Producer: Devon Baroldi
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    • 53 min
    Breathing Is Easy. But We’re Doing It Wrong.

    Breathing Is Easy. But We’re Doing It Wrong.

    Today’s episode is about the science of breathing—from the evolution of our sinuses and palate, to the downsides of mouth breathing and the upsides of nasal breathing, to specific breath techniques that you can use to reduce stress and fall asleep fast. Our guest is James Nestor, the author of the bestselling book 'Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art.'
    If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com.
    Host: Derek Thompson
    Guest: James Nestor
    Producer: Devon Baroldi
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    • 54 min
    The News Media’s Dangerous Addiction to ‘Fake Facts’

    The News Media’s Dangerous Addiction to ‘Fake Facts’

    What do most people not understand about the news media? I would say two things. First: The most important bias in news media is not left or right. It’s a bias toward negativity and catastrophe. Second: That while it would be convenient to blame the news media exclusively for this bad-news bias, the truth is that the audience is just about equally to blame. The news has never had better tools for understanding exactly what gets people to click on stories. That means what people see in the news is more responsive than ever to aggregate audience behavior. If you hate the news, what you are hating is in part a collective reflection in the mirror. If you put these two facts together, you get something like this: The most important bias in the news media is the bias that news makers and news audiences share toward negativity and catastrophe. Jerusalem Demsas, a staff writer at The Atlantic and the host of the podcast Good on Paper, joins to discuss a prominent fake fact in the news — and the psychological and media forces that promote fake facts and catastrophic negativity in the press.
    If you have questions, observations, or ideas for future episodes, email us at PlainEnglish@Spotify.com.
    Host: Derek Thompson
    Guest: Jerusalem Demsas
    Producer: Devon Baroldi
    Links:
    "The Maternal-Mortality Crisis That Didn’t Happen" by Jerusalem Demsas https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2024/05/no-more-women-arent-dying-in-childbirth/678486/
    The 2001 paper "Bad Is Stronger Than Good" https://assets.csom.umn.edu/assets/71516.pdf
    Derek on the complex science of masks and mask mandates https://www.theatlantic.com/newsletters/archive/2023/03/covid-lab-leak-mask-mandates-science-media-information/673263/
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    • 47 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
1.6K Ratings

1.6K Ratings

GopherGolfer609 ,

Not gonna be president

You’re not gonna be president. You have my vote

Mike's Bike ,

Francis

Hard pass. Mean.

Omar Fan ,

Thanks for the Biden show

This isn’t a political podcast. It’s just smart. I appreciate the way you covered the topic. Thanks.

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