To The Best Of Our Knowledge show

To The Best Of Our Knowledge

Summary: To The Best Of Our Knowledge is a nationally-syndicated, Peabody award-winning public radio show that dives headlong into the deeper end of ideas. We have conversations with novelists and poets, scientists and software engineers, journalists and historians, filmmakers and philosophers, artists and activists — people with big ideas and a passion to share them.For more from the TTBOOK team, visit us at

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  • Artist: Wisconsin Public Radio
  • Copyright: Copyright 2020 by Wisconsin Public Radio


 What Sparks Creativity? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 51:57

Human creativity — whether it’s solving a tough problem or writing a novel — is one of our defining traits. It’s also deeply mysterious. Where does that creative spark come from? Guests: Heather Berlin, Siri Hustvedt, Jim Holt, Mary Sharrat, Nathaniel Mary Quinn

 In Search of "Real" Food [Rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 51:57

What makes food "authentic"? Do we need to feel close to where it's made? Know the complete history of where it comes from? Be able to diagram the chemistry of how it dances along our taste buds? How can we quantify the romance between eaters and the food they love? In this hour, we talk about what it means to truly love what you eat and drink — and we ask why it matters. Guests: Simran Sethi, Samin Nosrat, Michael Twitty, Josh Noel

 Virtually Anywhere [Extra] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 18:23

Remember virtual reality? Back in the 1990’s, it was going to be the technology of the future.  Today, it’s here. But we're still figuring out what to do with it. Storytellers and even journalists have begun experimenting — and at forefront is Will Smith. He recently created a virtual reality talk show called “The Foo Show,” in which he interviews game developers inside the environments from their favorite games. Will thinks that eventually virtual spaces will go way beyond games into theater, science, and beyond.  Guests: Will Smith, Simon Parkin

 New Voices in Native American Writing | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 51:57

Every so often, a new literary movement coalesces. A new generation of writers finds a voice. This time they’re young, gifted, and Native American. Guests: Jennifer Foerster, Tommy Orange, Terese Marie Mailhot, David Treuer, Kevin Goodan, Tall Paul

 Women Who Rule [Rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 50:58

Where do you go to find models of powerful women? Hatshepsut, Circe, Antigone — the ancient world was full of them, real and mythic. For thousands of years, women ruled the world. Today we barely know their names. Why? This week we rediscover the women of ancient myths and legends. Guests: Kara Cooney, Madeline Miller, Natalie Haynes, Emily Wilson, Serenity Young, Romare Bearden

 What Can We Learn From Teenagers? [Rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 50:58

All over the country, a chorus of hope is coming from an unexpected group — teenagers. They are marching, protesting and demanding a better future as we – the adults – watch them with a kind of heartbreaking pride. These teenagers are not waiting for adults to figure things out for them. They have superpowers — innocence, idealism, and Instagram — and they aren't waiting for permission to use them to reshape the conversation around everything from gun control to education to climate change. What can we learn from teenagers today? What do they have that the rest of us don't? Guests: Angie Jiang, Kevin Coval, Luis Carranza, Kee Stein, Frances Jensen, Angie Thomas, Tyler Ruzich

 The Third Act [Rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 50:58

If life is a play, what happens during the last act? What’s it like to live knowing you have a limited amount of time left? This week, we’re talking about how to face, and in some cases, embrace your third act, whenever it arrives. Whether you’re looking at retirement, a late-life job change, an illness or just a lot of birthday candles on the cake — how do you live differently when you reach what’s likely to be your final act? Guests: Sabrina Frey, Daniel Pink, Maureen "Ma Dukes" Yancey, Martin Amis

 Ending With A Flourish [Rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 50:58

New Years celebrations are all parties and hats, songs and champagne. No one ever seems to talk about the fact that something big just ended. An entire year of life, come and gone. Shouldn’t we pause to mourn, or mark its passing with a little reverence? We don’t handle endings well, in general. So this hour, let’s learn about how to make a good ending — whether leaving a lover, quitting a job, or getting ready for the end of life itself. Guests: Steve Almond, Ilana Gershon, Sean Hemingway, Simon Critchley, David Giffels

 Should You Delete Your Facebook Account? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 56:07

Your finger’s hovering over the "delete" button on your Facebook app. Your friends are abandoning Twitter. Every day brings fresh revelations of data breaches, privacy abuses, Russian spies, trolls. Is it time to hit “delete” on all of it? But then again, we joined these platforms for a reason. In a more perfect world, what could these platforms be doing for us? Guests: Jaron Lanier, Ethan Zuckerman, Whitney Phillips, DeRay Mckesson, Yuval Noah Harari

 The Secret Language of Trees [Rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 50:58

Using a complex network of chemical signals, trees talk to each other and form alliances with fellow trees, even other species. In fact, whole forests exist as a kind of superorganism. And some trees are incredibly old. Did you know a single bristlecone pine can live up to 6,000 years? And the root mass of aspens might live 100,000 years? We explore the science and history of trees and talk with Richard Powers about his epic novel "The Overstory." Guests: Mark Hirsch, Richard Powers, Suzanne Simard, Amos Clifford, Daegan Miller

 Giving Is Complicated | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 51:13

Even the most welcome gift can spark guilt, resentment, obligation or vulnerability. We can be inspired by the generosity of others, or unsettled by uncertainty of how to say thank you, or whether an especially generous gift comes with strings attached. This hour, unwrapping the tangled emotions behind giving — and getting. Guests: Megan Costello, Haddyr Copley-Woods, David Graeber, Anand Giridharadas, Elizabeth Dunn

 Is Anger Useful? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 53:34

We’ve been taught to ignore, stifle, or just get over anger for many years — but what if we embraced it? It seems like most of us are feeling angry these days. But what if we took that emotion and instead of letting it eat us up, used it as fuel to do something, to actually help us feel better? Could anger be a useful emotion? Guests: Rebecca Traister, Cristen Conger, Caroline Ervin, Richard Davidson, Alice Walker

 Religion Without Doctrine | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 53:43

What's the essence of religion? God? Scripture? Moral codes? Or is it really about something more mysterious and unexplainable? In this hour, we explore the roots of religion — religion before it's even called "religion." Because if you strip away all the doctrine, the dogma, the rules for how to live — what’s left are primal spiritual experiences. But what do they tell us about ourselves and our world? Guests: Elizabeth Krohn, Jeff Kripal, Elaine Pagels, Jericho Brown

 We've Had 30 Years Of Prozac. Why Are We Still Depressed? [Rebroadcast] | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 50:58

Modern anti-depressants have saved a lot of minds. And lives. But our 30-year experiment with modern anti-depressants is taking a toll. What have they done to our bodies? And how do we navigate that trade-off between body and mind? Is it clear that they even work? There are a lot of us who struggle with mood disorders or mental illness of one sort or another. If you do, we here at TTBOOK want you to know that you’re not alone. If you're looking for more in-depth knowledge on what you might be going through, the National Alliance on Mental Illness is an incredible resource. And if you just need something to elevate your spirit, check out the playlist that Charles made at the bottom of this page. It's packed with the music he listens to when he’s down and needs a lift. Not a fake happy song kind of lift – something honest but also hopeful. **WARNING: The conversation with Lauren Slater in this show features frank discussion of depression and self-harm. The audio doesn't contain a trigger warning, but for listeners who may be sensitive to discussion of suicide, please consider listening to other interviews on the show separately, or skipping this episode. Guests: Lauren Slater, Charles Raison, Anna Fels, Jaime Lowe

 Writing Truth and Lies | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 56:47

We all tell stories about our lives: funny stories, happy stories, sad stories. But are they true stories? In an age of “alternative facts” and “fake news,” we’re all thinking harder about why truth matters – not just in politics, but in our personal lives. A biographer, a poet, a memoirist and a filmmaker describe the moral struggle and personal cost involved in telling not just the truth, but the whole truth. *Guests: *Caroline Fraser, Terese Marie Mailhot, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Errol Morris


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