As we round up 2016, I figured it’s useful to share what’s in my podcast rotation, and why you might want to add them to yours.
Skeptics Guide to the Universe
This is a weekly science and critical thinking podcast that’s really good at keeping you up on the latest science coming out, as well as building your critical thinking skills. You both get information on latest scientific discoveries, deconstruction of sometimes very poor science reporting, and a weekly Science or Fiction quiz that both is lots of fun, and helps figure out where all your odd biases are.
No particular episode jumps out for the year, this is more about getting a steady diet of facts, critical thinking, and reality every week.
More information: http://www.theskepticsguide.org/
99 Percent Invisible
A weekly podcast about the Built World (architecture and design). I find incredibly useful to understand how the world is shaped (literally). The subject matter goes all over the place, and the production quality is amazing. Who knew that in 1970s Chili there was a cyber command center to help govern the country? Now you do – http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/project-cybersyn/.
More information: http://99percentinvisible.org/
The Long Now
The Long Now foundation is based on the idea that we are in the middle of the arc of Human History, so with 10,000 years behind us, we’ve got another 10,000 years in our run. What kind of thinking, values, and information do we need to promote for the next 10,000 years. Part of this is a monthly lecture series which you can get as a podcast (you can get video if you are a member).
In 2016 the 2 episodes I learned the most from were:
Radical Ag: C4 Rice and Beyond – http://longnow.org/seminars/02016/mar/14/radical-ag-c4-rice-and-beyond/ – which has an incredible primer on the state of food production in the world, and what is needed to feed the planet in 2050. I also learned a ton about how plants actually make sugars, as the team described the grand goal of upgrading Rice’s sugar production to meet world demand.
1177 BC: When Civilization Collapsed – http://longnow.org/seminars/02016/jan/11/1177-bc-when-civilization-collapsed/. Which was part of a book tour about a time in history where we had a very global world, and it collapsed rather quickly. It’s a part of history I knew little about, and also helps remember how long the arc of human history really is.
More information: http://longnow.org/
The Common Wealth Club of California
The common wealth club is now producing over 300 events a year, much of it gets dumped into the podcast. It’s useful in being such a wide spectrum of things ending up in it. Lots of people on book tours, but also there is the Inforum and Climate One programs that specifically look at technology issues and climate issues. Because of the volume I freely skip past things that don’t turn out to be interesting, but I’ve also gotten surprised by some things I didn’t think I would.
The panel discussion on sustainability in the fashion industry was one of those – https://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/2016-05-17/you-are-what-you-wear-fashion-matters.
More information: https://www.commonwealthclub.org/
A quirky podcast about language and the origin of words. It only runs every other week, but it’s always a fun dose of something different.
More information: http://www.theallusionist.org/
A podcast about scifi and fantasy worlds, and why we create them. In 2016 there were some great bits on the economics in fanstasy and scifi universes, how do you pay for that invasion? An exploration of the year without summer in 1816, which gave us Frankenstein. And a look at the role of maps in Fantasy epics.
More information: http://www.imaginaryworldspodcast.org/home.html
Always a favorite, though you have to get used to their editing style. In 2016 Radio Lab also did a spin off about the Supreme Court called More Perfect – http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolabmoreperfect.
The story that stuck with me the most in 2016 was Debatable – http://www.radiolab.org/story/debatable/ – it’s about Debate Club, but it’s meta enough that you just have to listen to understand.
More information: http://www.radiolab.org/
There are a few more that come and go, but this was really the most notable during the year. If you are looking for more quality content, anything from the list above will fit that bill.