Podcasts: my answer to boredom

I love podcasts as a wonderful way to learn and engage whilst also doing something else: walking, cleaning up, cooking, eating, travelling and even working (when appropriate). I have likely already bothered you with suggestions and rather than perpetually do so, I thought I would outline the podcasts I listen to with different regularity and for different purposes. This list is broken into thematic sections and each is ordered in rough order of preference. Let me know if enjoy any of them or have things to add!

Entertaining but Learning

  • This American Life – varying topics but beautifully created with a range of information sources from emotional anecdotes to discussions to academic research. Opens one up to new forms of thought but in an entertaining fashion. Try: Five women, Fermi’s Paradox
  • Where Should We Begin – fascinating backdrop as a relationship therapist records her patient discussions and shares her analysis. Very interesting to hear of different approaches to communication, our shared flaws as human beings and the incredible challenge of meaningful relationships. Try: Speak to me in French
  • Desert Island Discs – classic BBC program with listeners ‘cast-away to a Desert Island’ and choosing their eight tracks to have with them. Running since 1942, an incredible array of prominent guests and the setting is conducive to thoughtful and honest reflection. Try: any guest you are interested in
  • Stuff you Should Know – pick a topic of interest. I find they ramble a bit but still good informative overviews. Try: Tsunamis.
  • Freakonomics Radio – fascinating research and studies with interesting economic applications. Try: Glass Cliff, Indra Nooyi
  • Revisionist History – by Malcolm Gladwell, goes through historical overlooked or misunderstood moments.


  • The Ezra Klein Show – from the founder of the VOX news site and youtube channel, Ezra is a thoughtful interviewer who is frank and open with listeners as well as guests. He takes on challenging interviews and opposing ideologies. I sit with him on most issues. Try: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Mehrsa Baradaran
  • Waking up with Sam Harris – I recommend this tentatively. He is a thoughtful person but has some problematic approaches to reason and can be blind to his own ills. At the same time, he can be very convincing. I disagree a lot with him but nonetheless, he has good pieces and guests on topics of atheism, religions, AI, terrorism, free-will, politics…. Try: Mark Lila for liberalism, Maajid Nawaaz for Islam, Dawkins for atheism, Benatar for ‘if life is justified’, Christian Picciolini on white power
  • On Being with Krista Tippet – slower pace but wonderful open poetic discussions on important topics with a longer lens: ‘love, hate, safety, etc’. A very nice setting and Krista is a pensive and calm interviewer, you revel in her skill of creating space for people to talk. Try: True Hard work of Love & Relationships, John O’Donnohue
  • Tim Ferris Show – Life/productivity guru. Enjoyable and entertaining interviews with leading figures in the world with key lessons. Try: an episode with someone you know and/or are interested in, I would strongly recommend the Cory Booker interview
  • The Ben Shapiro Show – I dislike him but respect him. Shapiro has some interesting arguments and it is important to engage with the ‘other’ side to understand how the same species can see things so differently. He points out many of the hypocrisies on the left but there is a lot to disagree with him. Try: March For Life
  • Very Bad Wizards – fun but thoughtful, rambling discussions on psychology/philosophy of human morality. Try: Utilitarianism and Moral Identity. For more detailed philosophy, Philosophize This is great.

News & Politics related

  • The Daily – this is an incredible daily political/news piece from the New York Times. Its short, sharp and insightful with the best speakers to inform it. However, I did find the pure US focus and constant Trump-bashing tiring. Try: any episode
  • Talking Politics – clever Cambridge professors discussing trends and shifts in politics with an academic and historical background. Try: Mental Health, Iran
  • PodSave America – this podcast is about calling Trump what he is, an idiot. Funny and detailed about the relevance of what is happening. A good way to get rid of the anger with that is happening there but still, be aware. Stopped as I got tired of Trump news. Try: Rudy, Rudy, Rudy
  • Center for Global Development – important podcasts on international development issues, some good leaders although sometimes brief and generic

Feminist pieces

  • Guilty Feminist – great humour on important feminist topics, I think the earlier podcasts were better. Try; a topic you are interested in
  • La Poudre – nice french podcast on feminist topics with varied icons, artists and thoughtful humans

Entertainment (and a little learning)

  • No such thing as a Fish – one of my personal favourites, a wonderfully fun podcast with each episode revolving around 4 key interesting facts
  • Caliphate – from the NY Times, this is the incredibly gripping story of a reporter working with ex-ISIS members to understand their story
  • Serial – A journalistic drama based on true stories, the first season is just incredibly gripping as it follows the case of a convicted murder and questions it
  • Friday Night Comedy – best of British news comedy
  • More or Less: Behind the Statistics – interesting discussion of the misuse of statistics of each week

Best Of

  • Caliphate series – this is hair-raising stuff, you get drawn into an incredible true story and investigation and come to be astonished and admire the courage of the reporter as she follows ISIS recruiting & attacks
  • The True Hard work of Love & Relationships on On Being- a really wonderful podcast, open and slow discussion between the philosopher Alain de Botton (who I would strongly recommend) and Krista Tippet about the brave and audacious hope of two fatally flawed individuals to stay together.
  • Christian Picciolini with Sam Harris – Powerful story of someone moving from leading an Alt-Right White Supremacy to becoming a prominent anti-hate activist.
  • Carol Anderson on White Rage with Ezra Klein – A strong explanation of why the fears of white discrimination are overstated and at the same time we continue to ignore the minority voices in public spaces.
  • Five Women on this American Life – the story of five women who were abused by a prominent man, including his wife, and how some defend him, struggle to challenge him and the difficulties of ‘saying no’ with such power dynamics involved. An enlightening listen for me.
  • The Fate of Liberalism with Sam Harris – the first piece of his I listened to and I thought it was very insightful to hear from an academic who is a Professor of Humanities at Columbia on the identity politics and campus politics.
  • Fermi’s Paradox – are we alone? on This American Life – This has little to do with the Fermi paradox, although an incredibly interesting concept you can read more about here. Instead, this podcast goes through the discussion of loneliness from three completely different angles: science, a relationship counselling and a daughter to her father. Really beautiful the way in which they pull together so many different pieces – thoroughly recommend & enjoyed this.
  • The Daily on Linda Brown – this is a nice introduction into the ability of the Daily to concisely educate and discuss the significant problem of race relations in the US.

Enjoy! If you are still interested in reading, and would like to receive yet another (occasional) email to ignore, why not subscribe to this blog (on the left sidebar)?

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A hypocrite who enjoys engaging with ideas, challenging my own and exploring new ones.

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