Why listen to podcasts? Because they are the perfect form of entertainment to consume while doing something else. It doesn’t matter if you’re washing dishes, folding laundry, or rocking the baby–you can escape the boredom with thought-provoking material that is both free and “hands-free.”
If this sounds compelling, I have a quick list of 3 podcasts you should listen to in 2016, along with a brief description.
It’s hard to neatly explain Hello Internet. It is conversations between CGP Grey and Brady Haran, two guys who make interesting YouTube videos. The strength of the show is their knack for zeroing in on engaging topics and having fun conversations about them. Example topics they discuss include flag design, self-driving cars, free will versus determinism, Apple products, reviews of Star Wars and the Martian, the merits of “hotstoppers” (Starbucks splash sticks), plane crashes, and subvocalization (the internal speech you hear in your head when you read silently).
Grey is a former high school physics teacher who is into brain and productivity hacks. He has some unusual opinions. For example, he thinks that learning foreign languages and keeping up with current events are not great uses of time. Much of the show is spent arguing the merits of such ideas. Agree or disagree with him, Grey has thought through his positions thoroughly.
Brady is a likeable science-loving guy who used to be a journalist. As such he’s very good at asking insightful questions. He does an excellent job playing devil’s advocate to Grey. The two have excellent chemistry and clearly enjoy their conversations. We are lucky to be allowed to eavesdrop.
This podcast is my favorite and it makes my day when a new episode comes out. I put anything else I am listening to on hold and switch over to HI immediately. Episodes usually last between 1.5–2 hours and can easily be broken into smaller chunks for your commute.
This podcast gives the fascinating backstory of the designs of all kinds of things. The host, Roman Mars, has the chillest voice imaginable. Each episode he takes us on a 15 minute story about such topics as the effect of sound effects on our emotions, the design of the suburban mall, or the carpet at the Portland airport. You will learn something new from every episode.
This podcast by journalist David McRaney is all about cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies. It’s tag line is “A Celebration of Self Delusion.” Basically it covers all the systematic ways in which humans make terrible decisions. He typically interviews leading psychologists about their work. For example, when explaining the Dunning-Krueger Effect (in which the untalented overestimate their skill) McCraney interviews David Dunning himself.
Some of my favorite episodes include: the Post Hoc Fallacy, Survivorship Bias, the Placebo Effect, and the Illusion of Knowledge.
There are some other excellent podcasts that didn’t quite make the cut for my Top 3. They are: Accidental Tech Podcast, Serial, Hidden Brain, What’s the Point, Question of the Day, Freakanomics Radio, Connected, and Cortex.
I believe there is a great podcast out there for just about everyone. Here’s to a 2016 full of high quality audio entertainment!