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Preview: PRI: To the Best of Our Knowledge Podcast

To the Best of Our Knowledge

To the Best of Our Knowledge cracks open the world and the ideas that fuel it through interviews with the world's luminaries, from experts to cultural icons. Each show revolves around a theme where we explore these ideas and the people who consider them.

Last Build Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2016 00:05:58 -0500

Copyright: Copyright 2016 by Wisconsin Public Radio

Locked Up

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Most of us will never know what really happens behind bars. Prisons are generally off limits to the public and press, but a national prisoner strike on the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison riot is drawing new attention to the conditions in many of our nation's jails. This hour, what should a prison be? How The Attica Prison Riot Fueled Mass Incarceration in America; Working Undercover As A Private Prison Guard; In Defense of Flogging; Norway's Unusual Approach to Imprisonment; How To Reduce Mass Incarceration; Exploring the Emotional Roots of Justice.

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Colson Whitehead's "Underground Railroad"

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0500

One of this year's big novels is Colson Whitehead's sweeping historical novel, "The Underground Railroad." It's an unflinching look at the experience of slavery, inspired by the classic slave narratives. And being a sci-fi geek, Whitehead also weaves in bits of fantasy, creating an alternative history that features an actual underground railroad and other historical oddities. In this extended podcast interview, Whitehead tells Steve Paulson that he wasn't going to stick to the facts, but he did stick to the truth.

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Being Broke and White

Sun, 18 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0500

There’s a powerful new voting bloc in America. They’re white, working class, and they live in places that have been left behind. We'll talk with "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance, and country music star Brandy Clark joins us in the studio to play some music and talk about her hometown. Hillbilly Elegy; Big Day in a Small Town; In the Century of Rust; Smart Decline; The Future of Whiteness.

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Automate It

Sun, 18 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Automated machines are taking over our lives. They're not the scary robots you see in movies, but more and more of today's technology - from smart phones to airplanes - is automated. And some of the world's biggest companies are racing to come up with a "master algorithm" - a formula that will let machines learn anything. This could lead to self-driving cars and even a cure for cancer. But do we want to give machines so much control? The Quest for the Master Algorithm; App Intelligence; Is Automation Ruining Our Lives?; They Had Androids in the Enlightenment?; Stephen Wolfram on Computer Creativity; Garth Hallberg's "City on Fire".

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Lithium And Lies: A True Story About Sex, Drugs and Mania

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Public radio producer Charles Monroe-Kane confronts the truth about the years he spent self-treating his mental illness with a dangerous mix of hard drugs and alcohol

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The Whole Truth

Sun, 11 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Three journalists join us to talk about an assignment in which they tried to tell the story of someone who was, in some crucial way, unknowable. Getting to Know Your Father As a Woman; Getting Inside the Mind of Patty Hearst; Rodney Ascher Recommends "Patty Hearst"; Did Joe Gould Really Write "The Oral History of Our Time"?.

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God Talk

Sun, 04 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Some people talk to God and some think God talks to them. But what one person calls mysticism, another might call mental illness. We examine a range of spiritual experiences - from hearing voices to prayer and conversations with God. Also, David Steindl-Rast reflects on life as a Benedictine monk. Did God Talk to Me?; "Let Us Pretend"; The Strange But True Story of Margery Kempe; David Steindl-Rast Reflects on a Life as a Benedictine Monk; "The Nightmare".

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Knowing Animals

Sun, 04 Sep 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Can we ever get inside the mind of an animal? Can we really know how a chimp or a parrot thinks and experiences the world? We'll talk with some naturalists and scientists who're trying, including Helen Macdonald and Frans de Waal. And the fascinating story of Charles Foster's attempt to live like a badger, when he lived in a hole in the ground and ate worms. Living Like A Beast; Helen Macdonald and "Birdle" the Parrot; Inside Animal Minds; Douglas Adams' Survival Guilt; Searching for the Last Unicorn.

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Sun, 28 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Disgust is such a powerful emotion, and so easily evoked. A single disgusting word or image can make most anyone feel queasy, but it also turns out to be a powerful driver of human behavior, influencing everything from who you love to who you'll vote for. This hour, we're delving into the new science of revulsion. Digging Into The New Science of Revulsion; The Morality of Disgust; Fierce Food From Around the World; The Buzz Behind Edible Insects; The Case For Embracing Horror; Adventures With a Bat Biologist.

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Chuck Klosterman Thinks About the Present As If It Were the Past

Fri, 26 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0500

This is our extended conversation with Chuck Klosterman re. his book, "But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About The Present As If It Were the Past."

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Flammable Fiction

Sun, 21 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0500

This hour, we explore flammable fiction as we ask the question, How does fire inspire a writer's imagination? Death by Spontaneous Combustion; Fighting Wildland Fires; The Politics of Arson; Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past.

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The History of Ballooning

Thu, 18 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0500

  Before the airplane was invented, ballooning was all the rage, and many people thought this was the future of air travel. Cultural historian Richard Holmes describes the remarkable history of the hot air balloon.

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The Edge of the Run

Sun, 14 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0500

We run for all sorts of reasons -- to lose 10 pounds, to win an Olympic medal, or simply because it’s fun. Some even run as a spiritual practice. Today, why we run - and how far and how fast can humans go? Faster, Higher, Stronger; Let Them Dope!; The Fist and the '68 Olympics; Running and Spirituality ; Tennis in China.

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Illuminating Us

Sun, 07 Aug 2016 00:00:00 -0500

This hour, a look at the natural, artificial, and symbolic light that colors our history -- and our future.  The Heaviness of Light; Let There Be Light…On Your Brain; How the 18th Century Conquered Darkness; The New Physics of Photons; Nicholas Carr on the Art of Navigation; Art and Music in Rothko Chapel.

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The Mississippi

Sun, 31 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0500

The Mississippi River is an American icon. It's a body of water that’s been shaped as much by cultural processes as by environmental ones. From the state lines it draws to its role in literature and the arts, it’s a river that flows deep in the American psyche. This episode is about the boundaries and horizons of the Mississippi — its deep geologic past, its history as a route to freedom, and its meaning today.  A Hawk and a Warbler; When The Mississippi Met the Atlantic; Life on Mark Twain's Mississippi; The Music and Meaning of Sounding 'Mark Twain'; Boundary and Horizon: The Mississippi River in African-American History.

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Critical Intimacy: An Interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Fri, 29 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Jacques Derrida and the philosophical movement known as deconstruction were once the rage on college campuses. Those days have passed, but deconstruction's influence is everywhere. We talk with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, who first translated Derrida's landmark book "Of Grammatology" into English 40 years ago. Today, Spivak herself is an academic superstar - a pioneering feminist Marxist scholar and one of the founders of post-colonial studies

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Hillary's First Speech: Historic 1969 Audio Reveals "Blueprint For Her Future"

Thu, 28 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0500

As Hillary Rodham Clinton prepares to give the most important speech of her life, listen back to the speech that marked her entrance into public political life, now available for the first time in its entirety. On May 31st, 1969, Hillary Rodham became the first student to give a commencement address to her graduating class at Wellesley College. She was 21 years old. Journalist Rebecca Traister hears "the blueprint for Hillary Rodham Clinton's future" in that speech. In this episode, Traister takes us back to that tumultuous period in American history and to the origins of Clinton's political values. We also hear the previously unreleased complete speech, and journalist Michelle Goldberg takes on "The Hillary Haters."

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Parks and Recreation

Sun, 24 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0500

"We live by wild mercy," Terry Tempest Williams writes. In this hour, she takes us to some of her favorite national parks, from Big Bend to Arches. We also explore the desert wilderness of Utah's Escalante area, and hear about a father and daughter's remarkable adventure into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Lauret Savoy says the American landscape also has a complicated history that can't be separated from the country's racism. And Robert Moor talks about the wisdom of trails. A Father and Daughter Venture Into the Alaskan Wild; Terry Tempest Williams on National Parks; Desert Mind; Land, Race, Memory; The Wisdom of Trails.

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Across the Universe (Update)

Sun, 17 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Where do you find crazy ideas and some of the world's smartest people? In theoretical physics - the world of parallel universes, super strings and black holes.  We go on a whirlwind tour of the universe - from the multiverse to an imaginary walk on Mars. Mathematical Universe - Max Tegmark; Copernicus - Dava Sobel; Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Cosmic Wonder; Walking on Mars - Craig Childs; Steven Weinberg's Dangerous Idea; Sean Carroll's Very Big Picture.

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The Mind of a Terrorist

Sun, 17 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0500

When suicide bombers blow up crowded marketplaces, or a lone shooter attacks a nightclub, one question we’re always left with is why. What ideology or belief or loyalty would compel someone to do something so horrific? This hour, a look at the underlying psychology of political violence. The Reformed Radical; The Psychology of Terrorism; What Can Americans Learn from a Norwegian Massacre?; Let's Change the Way We Think About Thinking; The Buddhist Master Who Went On A Four Year Wandering Retreat.

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Kip Winger Goes Classical: Studio Session

Thu, 14 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0500

In the mid-80's the metal band Winger topped the charts with hits like "Seventeen." Then Grunge came along and left bands like Winger in the dust.  Now, Kip Winger is back on top with a new CD that debuted at #1 on the music charts.  Only this time, he's rocking the classical charts. His new album is "Conversations with Nijinsky"-- orchestral compositions performed by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.  Hear the full range of Kip Winger's musical sensibility in this podcast, which takes us from "Seventeen" to classical compositions inspired by Stravinsky and Honegger.  Listen to a candid in-depth interview and eavesdrop as Kip rehearses and performs a haunting acoustic version of "Blue Suede Shoes" with a 17-year old high school cellist, and gives us a solo "Down Incognito" backed by jazz djembe.   It's a portrait of a musician who has come into his own as a mature and wide-ranging performer and composer.

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Evangelical in America

Sun, 10 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Prominent Evangelicals are divided on the subject of Donald Trump and whether he deserves the Evangelical vote. Some have gone so far as to say the soul of their movement is at stake. This week, we talk about the perennial tension between faith and politics, and the evolution of the Religious Right.   The Mark of Trump; Why I am an Atheist Who Believes in GOD; Transgression: Where Queer and Evangelical Meet; Speaking in Tongues; Kip Winger Goes Classical.

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Sun, 03 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0500

This hour, we explore the bullying epidemic, including cyberbullying and a novelist's forty-year search for his childhood bully. Finding a Bully After Forty Years; The Power of Empathy; Once a Bully, Now a Friend; Bullying: Made in America?; Julian Barnes on The Noise of Time.

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Do Protests Still Matter?

Sun, 26 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0500

When you don't have a voice, when you feel like lawmakers just won't listen to you, protest is one way of capturing the world's attention. From Selma to Ferguson, Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park, political demonstrations have made history. But have they worked? This hour we explore the effectiveness of political protest. Why Protest Is Broken; Barney Frank On Why Protests Don't Work; Taking It To the Streets; A Lifelong Activist; The Craft Of Protesting; Overcoming Fear Through Protest.

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What's In A Name?

Sun, 19 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0500

What's your name and what does it say about you? Me, Myself and My Name; What Not To Name Your Baby; The Man Who Wasn't Charles Lindbergh; The Power of Names; Writing With Apples: A Visit To Novelist Jane Hamilton's Family Orchard.

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The Mass Murderers Among Us (TTBOOK Extra)

Thu, 16 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0500

The shooting rampage in Orlando has led to a lot of speculation about Omar Mateen’s politics and state of mind. There's still so much we don't know, but maybe we can learn from another mass murder. Consider the case of Anders Breivik, the gunman who killed 77 people, mostly teenagers, in 2011. It was one of the biggest mass murders in modern history and a national trauma for Norway. Breivik was a white supremacist, so his politics were different from Mateen's. But the two mass muderers were both alienated, self-radicalized loners. And as we struggle to find out what we can from Orlando, maybe there are lessons from the story of another terrorist and another country’s response. So here’s Steve Paulson’s extended conversation with journalist Asne Sierestad, an award-winning Norwegian journalist and war correspondent who covered the Breivik case and wrote the book “One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway.”

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The Outsider (Updated)

Sun, 12 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0500

In this hour, we explore the cultural shift in outsiders. They used to be the outcasts, misfits, and underemployed. Today, outsiders are indie, alternative and ahead of their time. How Outsiders Are Redefining Normal; Colin Wilson's "The Outsider"; How to Unleash Your Inner Misfit; Joseph Mitchell's Literary Journalism; Existentialism is Still Relevant Today.

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Sun, 12 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0500

When disaster strikes, photojournalists run toward it instead of away. Usually, with a camera in hand. Their job is to get up close to tragedy and danger, to document things we need to see, in the hopes of somehow making a difference.  This hour we’re talking with some of the world’s great photojournalists.  And, remembering NPR war photographer David Gilkey – killed with his translator this week while on assignment in Afghanistan. Is the Risk of Photojournalism Worth It?; James Nachtwey on Covering Conflicts on the Ground; The Aesthetic Beauty of War Photography; Capturing Manufactured Landscapes; Photography Beyond Tragedy; Revisiting Susan Sontag On the Pain of Others.

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Survival (Updated)

Sun, 05 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0500

What does it take to survive?  We'll meet the oldest living things on the planet and get a list of everything you’ll need to know after the apocalypse. But there’s one thing no one can survive. And that’s death. Or maybe not... Plus, the great Norwegian jazz pianist Tord Gustavsen on groove and sacred music. Erasing Death - Dr. Sam Parnia; The Oldest Living Things in the World - Rachel Sussman; Sonic Sidebar: Patchwork Flight (radio drama); The Knowledge - Lewis Dartnell; Tord Gustavsen's Sacred Music.

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How to Forget

Sun, 29 May 2016 00:00:00 -0500

Sometimes it's better to forget than to remember. Maybe it's an embarrassing photo on Facebook. Or perhaps a collective memory that's been used by certain ethnic groups to stir up hatred of their enemies. We explore the science, history and philosophy of memory. Plus, filmmaker Whit Stillman on his film adaptation of a forgotten Jane Austen novel. How Embarrassing!; Meg Leta Jones on the Right to be Forgotten; War, Peace and Historical Memory; The Woman Who Never Forgets; The Science of Remembering; Simon Critchley on Memory Palaces; Whit Stillman on Jane Austen.

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