9 Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter
More than 25% of internet users download or listen to podcasts, Pew reports. Apple reached its 1 billionth podcast subscription last year.
Podcasts are gaining in popularity for a number of reasons: You can listen in the car or on the train to work, you can dig deep into a topic, and you don't have to burn your eyes out on a screen.
To that end, here are nine podcasts that are sure to stimulate your brain.
"Startalk Radio" will open your mind to the cosmos.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is the public face of astronomy right now — and his voice is just as magnetizing.
Dig into his podcast to learn about space tourism, comets, and the basics of astrophysics, to name a few.
"WTF" offers unexpected revelations about success.
Few things can be more instructive than a life story, and comedian turned broadcaster Marc Maron draws the ups and downs of life out of people with a certain raucous grace.
Some especially intellectual episodes include his interviews with comedian Wanda Sykes, actor Vince Vaughn, and the late Robin Williams.
"This American Life" provides a deep look into American society.
"This American Life" has become a byword for oral storytelling.
Beyond being a place for moving and hilarious stories, "This American Life" does staggering levels of reporting; few outlets made the financial crisis as human and understandable as Ira Glass and the gang.
It lives up to the hype.
"Radiolab" will help you appreciate how mysterious the world is.
While it may seem normal, existence is weird.
WNYC's "Radiolab" — the brainchild of topflight journos Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich — investigates that weirdness with a blend of science, philosophy, and music.
If you listen to a few episodes and your mind doesn't get expanded, call us.
"Back to Work" offers insights on productivity.
If you've ever been tempted to describe yourself as a productivity nerd, then "Back to Work" is right up your hotkey-laden alley.
The show is hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin, both writers and entrepreneurs. The podcast is brilliant for the way it puts the basics of our working lives — email, motivation, workflows — under the microscope.
"The Tim Ferriss Show" will help you understand the mechanics of success.
His podcast carries that rascally inquisitiveness into long-form interviews, with subjects ranging from billionaire investor Peter Thiel to Pixar cofounder Ed Catmull and neuroscientist Sam Harriss.
"Point of Inquiry" will teach you to debate.
"Point of Inquiry" comes care of the Center for Inquiry, the secular-humanist advocacy group.
The show is hosted by hard-charging journalists Lindsay Beyerstein and Josh Zepps. The interviews are like the best philosophy class you could imagine with guests like Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, economist Paul Krugman, and biologist Richard Dawkins.
"99% Invisible" will give you the lowdown on design.
"99% Invisible" is probably the coolest design podcast on earth.
Roman Mars' show uses design as a lens to look at the thought behind the many structures in our lives, from prehistoric hand axes to airport layouts and high heels. After listening you'll have an appreciation for the minds and tastes that these objects sprang from.
Not only that, but the podcasts are snack-sized, clocking in at about 15 minutes.
"Freakonomics Radio" will show you surprising connections.
Journalist Stephen J. Dubner and economist Steven D. Levitt became sensations when their book "Freakonomics" was published in 2005. In 2010, they launched a podcast with the same mission as their bestselling books: ferreting out connections between seemingly unrelated things.
Unsurprisingly, their shows tend toward the intellectually provocative, with the biggest hits having titles like “Is College Really Worth It?” and “How Much Does the President of the U.S. Really Matter?”
Now that you've got great stuff to listen to, how about something to read?