“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” -Eric Hoffer
How do you maintain an attitude of life-long learning in a world of non-stop news, the siren cry of social media, and more work than you have time for? Being mindful of the need to keep myself sharp and my perspective fresh, I use my workout time for exercising my brain as well. The podcasts I’m currently finding thought-provoking (and that can keep me engaged for an hour at a time) include:
Invisibilia When I heard that the 2017 SLA conference keynote speaker was Lulu Miller, the co-founder of Invisibilia along with Alix Spiegel, I went into full fangurl mode. Got a seat up front. Sat transfixed. Tried to tweet highlights while not taking my eyes off her. (See a great write-up of Miller’s talk at librarianhats.net/tag/invisibilia/) What’s Invisibilia about? Unseeable forces control human behavior and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. Invisibilia—Latin for invisible things—fuses narrative storytelling with science that will make you see your own life differently.
Hidden Brain, like Invisibilia, looks at the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, and the biases that shape our choices. See, for example, the recent episode “Facts Aren’t Enough: The Psychology Of False Beliefs“. Host Shankar Vedantam tends to spend too much time for my taste repeating an interviewee’s key points, but the topics are thought-provoking.
Code Switch offers me a weekly reality check to see the world outside the white, well-off bubble of Boulder, Colorado. Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji provide thoughtful episodes looking at the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting.
Radiolab hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich take an aspect of science and investigate it deeply. Right now, they’re going through a series on “general intelligence” and how it’s been measured and understood. And one I still reflect on is “Mr. Bliss“, a man who believed that war was often caused by the misuse of language and believed it could be overcome if we could create a way to communicate the truth without the trickery of words.
Endless Thread lets me stay at least somewhat familiar with some of the zeitgeist of Reddit without having to get sucked down a rabbit hole. Hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson delve into Reddit’s boundless communities with the help of Reddit and Redditors, exploring some of the most compelling stories the internet has to offer. This is a show for Reddit connoisseurs, skeptics, and the rest of us.
What podcasts get you thinking in new ways?