227 episodes

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?

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.

Think Again – a Big Think Podcast Big Think

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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?

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.

    226. Joseph Goldstein (dharma teacher) – doubt comes masquerading as wisdom

    226. Joseph Goldstein (dharma teacher) – doubt comes masquerading as wisdom

    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 consciousness into the cloud and downloading it into a robot avatar on Alpha Centauri make you more free? How about falling in love again? How about three margaritas with friends? Or six? How about falling in love again? A better government? Less government? No government at all? 
    I’m here today with Joseph Goldstein, a beloved teacher of Buddhist ideas and practice in the West and a personal inspiration to me, to talk about freedom of the mind and spirit—and the kinds of effort and insight that can lead there. Joseph is the co-founder of Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts and the author, most recently, of Mindfulness: a Practical Guide to Awakening. 
    - Jason Gots
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    • 57 min
    225. Jad Abumrad (Radiolab, Dolly Parton's America) – American Multiverse

    225. Jad Abumrad (Radiolab, Dolly Parton's America) – American Multiverse

    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 City. Nashville. We paint with big, broad brushes. And if we’re not careful, we miss a lot of the details. 
    My guest today is audio storytelling wizard Jad Abumrad. He’s the creator and a host of Radiolab, More Perfect, and now, of Dolly Parton’s America – a nine part podcast series that achieves all those aforementioned implausible things. Jad’s trips into the Dollyverse with his co-producer Shima Oliaee reveal the country singer as something between a bodhisattva and one of those fairytale mirrors that tell you the truth about yourself. 
    – Jason Gots
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    • 47 min
    224. Norman Fischer (zen priest, poet) – the only way out of the catastrophe we’re in

    224. Norman Fischer (zen priest, poet) – the only way out of the catastrophe we’re in

    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, there’s this hunger for people and things worth believing in. 
    I’ve also got Bodhisattvas on the brain lately. In Mahayana Buddhism, Bodhisattvas are the embodiment of compassion. Absolute compassion for all living things, even those that really piss us off. 
    THE WORLD COULD BE OTHERWISE: the Imagination and the Bodhisattva Path is a wonderful new book by my guest today, poet, Zen priest, and translator Norman Fischer. It’s a collection of thoughts and practices for becoming Bodhisattvas ourselves, warts and all.
    A Bodhisattva commits to the impossible for the benefit of everyone. “beings are numberless: I vow to save them all.” According to Norman and a couple thousand years of Buddhist tradition, we can do this too. 
    Boddhisattvas or saints, Dolly and Fred Rogers possibly included, are needed at all times and places. But right now, when trust and kindness are in short supply, we maybe need them—and need to embody them—more than ever. 
    – Jason Gots
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    • 1 hr 1 min
    223. Karen Armstrong (theologian) – the art of getting outside of yourself

    223. Karen Armstrong (theologian) – the art of getting outside of yourself

    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 adulthood, the need for spiritual meaning gripped me tight and wouldn’t let go. It led first into Judaism and Jerusalem, and then, for the past couple decades, mostly to Buddhist study and practice.
    But I’m as troubled as all the Enlightenment thinkers I know by scripture-thumping orthodoxy and intolerance of any kind. Troubled watching my wife Demet’s country, Turkey, split between retrograde, homophobic and misogynistic Islamism on the one hand and intractable secular nationalism on the other. Moses and I don’t have much in common, but like him, I get tongue-tied talking about these things. Religious, or spiritual, or scriptural ideas and practices can be so essential and become so problematic at the same time. 
    My guest today is Karen Armstrong. On these subjects, she doesn’t get tongue-tied. She’s one of the clearest and most nuanced thinkers I know of on god, religion, and scripture. Author of THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE and THE CASE FOR GOD, recipient of the TED Prize, and a co-creator of the interfaith Charter for Compassion. Her new book is called THE LOST ART OF SCRIPTURE and I’m so happy it brings her to Think Again. 
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    • 51 min
    222. Deborah Levy (writer) – it's those thoughts that are slightly awkward that need an airing

    222. Deborah Levy (writer) – it's those thoughts that are slightly awkward that need an airing

    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. To have it happen to me. 
    Levy started her career writing plays that have been staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company and broadcast by the BBC. She is the author of multiple novels, several of which have been Man Booker Prize finalists, the short story collection Black Vodka, and two of the aforementioned “working autobiographies”. 
    The two books of hers I’ve read are packed with ideas, but like great theater, they treat ideas as verbs. They’re thought in action. In a sense they defy you to talk about them. But let's try to, anyway.
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    • 44 min
    221. Yancey Strickler (Kickstarter co-founder) – you, me, us: now and in the future

    221. Yancey Strickler (Kickstarter co-founder) – you, me, us: now and in the future

    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 this sentence with a positive conclusion? Common sense, in fact, is just what it sounds like: the commonly agreed upon sense of how things are at any given time. But as social primates, we too easily mistake consensus for truth. 
    My guest today is Yancey Strickler, cofounder of Kickstarter—the company that made “crowdfunding” a common sense idea. That’s a very big deal when you consider that when Kickstarter was getting, uh, kickstarted, that idea made very little sense to anybody at all. Having people chip in to launch something they’ll never own? Ludicrous! Contrary to human nature as explained by Adam Smith! 
    Having helped transform how creative work is financed, Yancey’s moved on from Kickstarter. His new book: This Could Be Our Future: a Manifesto for a More Generous World is after bigger game—a kind of values reset that moves us away from a narrow, unsustainable, inhumane obsession with profit at all costs. He calls it “bento values” because it’s a box with four compartments: Me and us, now and in the future. Maybe it’s not common sense today, but surely it could be. 
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    • 1 hr 1 min

Customer Reviews

Curious and Interested ,

Great Podcast

Think Again delivers smart, engaging, often funny interviews with people I’d mostly never heard of before, but am now glad I have. I’ve found some of my favorite books, movies, and podcasts by listening to Jason Gots’s interviews and then following up with the interviewees’ original works. If you are looking for something that will both spark your intellectual curiosity and engage you emotionally, look no further. It’s clear that Jason reads, watches, and listens to his subjects’ material closely in order to generate exceedingly smart, dynamic conversations. Awesome.

My personal favorites (in no particular order, and keep in mind I’ve missed many of Think Again’s first year of interviews):

Karen Armstrong (theologian)
Reginal Dwayne Betts (poet)
Etgar Keret (author)
Marlon James (author)
Christopher Wylie (Cambridge Analytica whistleblower)
Jill Lepore (Historian)
Jeffery Israel (political philosopher)
Eve Ensler (author of The Apology)
Wesley Yang (author of The Souls of Yellow Folk)
Jonathan Safran Foer (on factory farming)

VoidinPR ,

Great conversations with people

I’ve been listening to this show for many years and has truly been a wonderful experience. This show has kept me up to date with the world and how to think about issues we face today.

It has inspired me to keep reading and writing. I hope to continue to listen to this show for many years to come

peter dodo ,

Profoundly beautiful show.

A treat every time, deep interviews with some incredible guests

Thank you !!

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