154 episodes

We live in a confusing time, bombarded every day with news from around the world that can be hard to follow, or fully understand. Let Worldly be your guide. Every Thursday, senior writer Zack Beauchamp, senior foreign editor Jennifer Williams, and staff defense writer Alex Ward give you the history and context you need to make sense of the moment and navigate the world around you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

Worldly Vox

    • Politics
    • 4.4, 1.4K Ratings

We live in a confusing time, bombarded every day with news from around the world that can be hard to follow, or fully understand. Let Worldly be your guide. Every Thursday, senior writer Zack Beauchamp, senior foreign editor Jennifer Williams, and staff defense writer Alex Ward give you the history and context you need to make sense of the moment and navigate the world around you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    A Very British Scandal

    A Very British Scandal

    Alex and Jenn are joined by returning guest Jen Kirby to discuss the political scandal roiling the UK, in which a top political adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, got caught taking a 260-mile road trip while the rest of the country was on lockdown due to the coronavirus. The Worldly crew discusses why a seemingly trivial violation has become a huge political firestorm, and what it says about the US that something like this wouldn’t even register as a blip on the radar screen of Trump administration scandals.

    References:

    The BBC has a great timeline of the Cummings scandal.

    There’s a smart, short explainer of the whole ordeal at Slate.

    You can watch the whole interview with the Scottish woman here.

    Vox’s Jen Kirby has an excellent profile of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

    Yes, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner really did skirt coronavirus guidelines to drive to New Jersey.

    Vox also has a thorough explainer on Trump accusing Joe Scarborough of murder.

    Hosts:
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    Consider contributing to Vox:
    If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts
     
    More to explore:
    Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.
     
    About Vox:
    Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.
     
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    • 38 min
    Hydroxychloroquine and the dangers of "medical populism"

    Hydroxychloroquine and the dangers of "medical populism"

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about the global spread of the idea that hydroxychloroquine can treat coronavirus. Americans know it as Trump’s favorite drug, but the idea actually started with a famous contrarian doctor in France — and its most fervent acolyte in politics is the Brazilian president, not the American one. They talk about how faith in the drug spread globally, despite a lack of evidence and considerable reason to worry about its side effects, and how it exemplifies a style of politics that academics have termed “medical populism.”

    References:

    The Guardian has a great story on the origins of how hydroxychloroquine became a global phenomenon.

    Here’s that study on “medical populism” we talked about so much.

    Populists around the world are turning to hydroxychloroquine, reports the Washington Post.

    The New York Times has a thorough profile of French doctor Didier Raoult.

    You can find the video of Brazilians singing about the drug to President Bolsonaro here.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    Consider contributing to Vox:
    If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts
     
    More to explore:
    Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.
     
    About Vox:
    Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.
     
    Follow Us:
    Vox.com 
    Newsletter: Vox Sentences
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 35 min
    A new “cold war”?

    A new “cold war”?

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about the idea of a US-China “cold war” — a notion that’s been around for a while, but has become super popular since the coronavirus has turned into a blame game between the world’s two leading powers. They discuss what it would mean for the countries to be in such a conflict, compare it to the actual Cold War, debate whether the term really applies to the US, and wrap up by talking about how or whether tensions between Washington and Beijing could successfully be dialed down. There are references to Blink-182, The Office, and thumb war.

    References:

    Alex wrote about how China is exploiting the coronavirus crisis to achieve its goals faster.

    Here’s Vice President Mike Pence’s China speech at the Hudson Institute.

    There really are a lot of stories — see here, here, and here — on the US-China “cold war.”

    Everything you wanted to know about the Thucydides trap.

    And here’s that Chinese rap video Jenn mentioned.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    Consider contributing to Vox:
    If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts
     
    More to explore:
    Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.
     
    About Vox:
    Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.
     
    Follow Us:
    Vox.com 
    Newsletter: Vox Sentences
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 45 min
    Worst. Invasion. Ever.

    Worst. Invasion. Ever.

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex discuss the bonkers story of a botched invasion attempt of Venezuela, reportedly led by a group of US-based mercenaries. They explain the truly bizarre backstory of the head merc, former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau; discuss how a slapdash plan to topple President Nicolás Maduro reportedly came together in partial coordination with the Venezuelan opposition; and zoom out to look at what this fiasco says about Venezuelan politics and the role of private military contractors in world affairs. There is, of course, a lengthy discussion of Machiavelli.

    References:

    There are a lot of good reports on what happened, but this one by the Washington Post is comprehensive and easy to understand.

    Here’s the video of Jordan Goudreau announcing the raid.

    Now you can dig around Silvercorp USA’s Instagram page just like Jenn.

    This story from the Sun-Sentinel details Goudreau’s Puerto Rico trip to make money.

    Here’s a tweet featuring images of the IDs of the two captured Americans.

    The New York Post has a video of the moment the mercenaries were detained.

    New York magazine details some of the sillier moments.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    Consider contributing to Vox:
    If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts
     
    More to explore:
    Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.
     
    About Vox:
    Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.
     
    Follow Us:
    Vox.com 
    Newsletter: Vox Sentences
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 42 min
    Otherworldly

    Otherworldly

    The Worldly team takes a break from the coronavirus doom and gloom to talk about some other big news: the Pentagon’s confirmation this week that it has, in fact, filmed at least three instances of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). They break down the footage, debate what the videos might actually show, talk about the Cold War history of US government investigations into UFOs, and explore how UFOs play into international relations and deeper concepts about religion and humanity. There’s also a surprise guest appearance at the very end! Oh, and LOTS of X-Files jokes.

    References:

    It’s true: The Pentagon officially released three videos showing three aerial objects it could not explain.

    Alex has two stories on Area 51.

    Popular Mechanics has a smart longread on the Pentagon’s secret UFO program.

    Here’s a video debunking the claim that images in the Pentagon’s release show alien spacecraft.

    Jenn noted all the now-declassified history of the US government’s digging into UFOs. Here’s stuff from the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, and the 1968 Condon Report.   

    Check out renowned international relations theorist Alexander Wendt’s UFO’s paper.

    Zack mentioned an article in the Conversation about why UFOs deserve scientific study.

    Byrd recommends this book about our “alien oceans.”

    Here’s Byrd’s conversation with the Vatican’s chief astronomer.

    Vox’s interview with a religion scholar on UFOs is worth your time.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    Consider contributing to Vox:
    If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts
     
    More to explore:
    Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.
     
    About Vox:
    Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.
     
    Follow Us:
    Vox.com 
    Newsletter: Vox Sentences
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 37 min
    Two continents, one coronavirus time bomb

    Two continents, one coronavirus time bomb

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about the coronavirus situation in sub-Saharan Africa and South America, two regions that have so far been mostly spared the worst of the virus. They explain why experts say there could soon be major outbreaks on both continents, and discuss the structural reasons why the social distancing policies that have helped slow the spread of the disease in Asia, Europe, and the US may not be feasible in Africa and South America.

    References:

    Alex has stories on how the coronavirus will affect sub-Saharan Africa and South America.

    It’s worth understanding the crisis in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

    Richer countries are outbidding poorer ones on resources to combat the coronavirus, the New York Times reports.

    Politico notes that African countries want debt relief so they can focus on public health programs.

    The Guardian has an important story on the tough choices facing poor families in Latin America.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    Consider contributing to Vox:
    Your financial contribution will make vital explanatory journalism possible at a time when clear, concise information is needed more than ever. Thank you for supporting Vox.
     
    More to explore:
    Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.
     
    About Vox:
    Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.
     
    Follow Us:
    Vox.com 
    Newsletter: Vox Sentences
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
1.4K Ratings

1.4K Ratings

theFrederick ,

Sparring smarties having fun!

I really enjoy the cast’s interactions. Each is willing to take a position and hold it as the others argue against. The April 30th episode about UFOs was exceptional though. The link to the Ohio State prof.’s paper sent me down a two-day rabbit hole (I ended up more confused) while the interjections of the producer, backed up by on-point clips from the VATICAN ASTRONOMER blew me away.
This is a delightful show.

deliciousbrie ,

The weaknesses of this podcast

Overall, I enjoy vox media podcasts. But the podcasts have serious flaws.

Specific to The Worldly:

First of all, the hosts agree too much with each other -> groupthink

2nd of all, they talk about subjects they know NOTHING about as if they are experts. It’s actually painful for me to listen to some of their episodes. It’s abundantly clear that the hosts got their info from other pre-digested source materials (with a political agenda) and are just parroting the talking points from other media outlets.

3rd of all, the hosts do not fact check enough. Seeing as they often report on foreign countries and yet do NOT speak the language of the countries they report on, many of their discussions are simply laughable. The hosts are merely repeating what they heard from other US medias. Most vox listeners might be monolingual in english. But those of us not reliant on US mainstream media for all our info just roll our eyes at the ridiculous unthinking consensus among “mainstream” media, Vox included. It’s this kind of non-thinking consensus of the media that got us into trouble in the past. Ex: The iraq war due to the non-existent weapons of mass destruction

This is info-tainment disguised as a thinking man’s media. I think vox can do better because at least they’re trying

irrelevance is taken ,

why?

why are the hosts of this show emulating the voices and beliefs of hosts on other shows? it is almost as if they are doubles or standins...
it confuses me. surely you know what i mean, the similarities in voice and sentence structure are uncanny!

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