661 episodes

The Gray Area with Sean Illing takes a philosophy-minded look at culture, technology, politics, and the world of ideas. Each week, we invite a guest to explore a question or topic that matters. From the the state of democracy, to the struggle with depression and anxiety, to the nature of identity in the digital age, each episode looks for nuance and honesty in the most important conversations of our time. New episodes drop every Monday.

The Gray Area with Sean Illing Vox Media Podcast Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.5 • 10.2K Ratings

The Gray Area with Sean Illing takes a philosophy-minded look at culture, technology, politics, and the world of ideas. Each week, we invite a guest to explore a question or topic that matters. From the the state of democracy, to the struggle with depression and anxiety, to the nature of identity in the digital age, each episode looks for nuance and honesty in the most important conversations of our time. New episodes drop every Monday.

    The world after nuclear war

    The world after nuclear war

    A mile of pure fire. A flash that melts everything — titanium, steel, lead, people. A blast that mows down every structure in its path, 3 miles out in every direction. Journalist Annie Jacobsen spent years interviewing scientists, high-ranking military officials, politicians, and other experts to find out how a nuclear attack would be triggered, the devastation it would cause, the ruptures it would create in the social fabric, and how likely it is to happen today. She wrote about all of this in her new book Nuclear War: A Scenario. Jacobsen spends the hour clearly laying out the horrifying yet captivating specifics for Sean, and the prospects for avoiding catastrophe. 

    Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area
    Guest: Annie Jacobsen. Her book is Nuclear War: A Scenario
    Enjoyed this episode? Rate The Gray Area ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Be the first to hear new episodes of The Gray Area by following us in your favorite podcast app. Links here: https://www.vox.com/the-gray-area
    Support The Gray Area by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
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    • 57 min
    Gaza, Camus, and the logic of violence

    Gaza, Camus, and the logic of violence

    Albert Camus was a Nobel-winning French writer and public intellectual. During Algeria’s bloody war for independence in the 1950s, Camus took a measured stance, calling for an end to the atrocities on each side. He was criticized widely for his so-called “moderation.” Philosophy professor Robert Zaretsky joins Sean to discuss Camus’s thoughts on that conflict and the parallels with the present moment.

    Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area
    Guest: Robert Zaretsky
    Enjoyed this episode? Rate The Gray Area ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Be the first to hear new episodes of The Gray Area by following us in your favorite podcast app. Links here: https://www.vox.com/the-gray-area
    Support The Gray Area by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Jon Ehrens 


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


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    • 54 min
    This is your kid on smartphones

    This is your kid on smartphones

    Old people have always worried about young people. But psychologist Jonathan Haidt believes something genuinely different and troubling is happening right now. He argues that smartphones and social media have had disastrous effects on the mental health of young people, and derailed childhood from real world play to touchscreens. He joins Sean to talk about his research and some of the criticisms of it.

    Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area
    Guest: Jonathan Haidt (@jonhaidt). His book is The Anxious Generation.
    Enjoyed this episode? Rate The Gray Area ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Be the first to hear new episodes of The Gray Area by following us in your favorite podcast app. Links here: https://www.vox.com/the-gray-area
    Support The Gray Area by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Jon Ehrens 


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 53 min
    Life after death?

    Life after death?

    Sebastian Junger came as close as you possibly can to dying. While his doctors struggled to revive him, the veteran reporter and avowed rationalist experienced things that shocked and shook him, leaving him with profound questions and unexpected revelations. In his new book, In My Time of Dying, Junger explores the mysteries and commonalities of people’s near death experiences. He joins Sean to talk about what it’s like to die and what quantum physics can tell us about living that countless religions can’t.

    Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area
    Guest: Sebastian Junger. His new book is In My Time of Dying.
    Enjoyed this episode? Rate The Gray Area ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Be the first to hear new episodes of The Gray Area by following us in your favorite podcast app. Links here: https://www.vox.com/the-gray-area
    Support The Gray Area by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Jon Ehrens 


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 52 min
    The world after Ozempic

    The world after Ozempic

    Ozempic and other new weight loss drugs are being touted as potential miracle cures for diabetes and obesity. Journalist Johann Hari experimented with the drug and dropped 40 pounds. In his new book, Magic Pill, Hari discusses his experience with Ozempic and speaks to many of the leading scientists to better understand how the drug works. He joins Sean to talk about what he’s learned and the complicated trade-offs involved in the decision to take these drugs.

    Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area
    Guest: Johann Hari (@johannhari101). His new book is Magic Pill.
    Enjoyed this episode? Rate The Gray Area ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Be the first to hear new episodes of The Gray Area by following us in your favorite podcast app. Links here: https://www.vox.com/the-gray-area
    Support The Gray Area by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Jon Ehrens 


    Engineer: Cristian Ayala


    Please take a second to help us learn more about you! vox.com/podcastsurvey
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 50 min
    UFOs, God, and the edge of understanding

    UFOs, God, and the edge of understanding

    Religious studies professor Diana Pasulka was a total nonbeliever in alien life, but she began to question this after speaking with many people who claim to have had otherworldly encounters. She also noticed how these accounts parallel the foundational texts of many religions. She has since written two books on the topic, the most recent of which is Encounters: Experiences with Nonhuman Intelligences. She joins Sean to talk about extraterrestrial life, God, angels, and the renewed interest in UFOs. 

    Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area
    Guest: Diana Pasulka (@dwpasulka). Her new book is Encounters: Experiences with Nonhuman Intelligences.
    Enjoyed this episode? Rate The Gray Area ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.
    Be the first to hear new episodes of The Gray Area by following us in your favorite podcast app. Links here: https://www.vox.com/the-gray-area
    Support The Gray Area by making a financial contribution to Vox! bit.ly/givepodcasts
    This episode was made by: 


    Producer: Jon Ehrens 


    Engineer: Patrick Boyd


    Please take a second to help us learn more about you! vox.com/podcastsurvey
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 46 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
10.2K Ratings

10.2K Ratings

Shein Suckz ,

Thoughtful, nuanced and always interesting

Take a listen for a nice trip out of the comments section - brilliant guests and excellent host. I learn so much every time I listen

E from A ,

The Gray Area

Overall the topics are excellent and conversations engaging and provocative.

R.A. Wilson ,

You can take the boy out of Vox, but you can’t take Vox out of the boy.

They scoured resumes to find a host with one original thought in their head and this is the best they could come up with.

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