To the Best of Our Knowledge

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.


  • Magical Thinking [Rebroadcast]

    Sep 22 2018

    "Magical thinking" gets a bad rap these days. It suggests losing your grip on reality or being so gullible that you'll believe anything - from ghosts to miracles. But what if magic isn't pure fantasy? Maybe it's the gateway to wonder.   Guests: Nate Staniforth Michael Muhammad Knight Haleema Shah Chloe Benjamin Interviews in this hour: From Stage Tricks to Real Magic: A Magician's Search for Wonder Islam's Hidden History of Magic Why Online Quizzes, Personality Tests and Horoscopes Help You ...more

  • The Ways We Are Born — Again and Again

    Sep 15 2018

    If you think of your life as a series of births, what changes? The first birth is when you arrive here, as a wet, wiggling newborn. But there may be other transitions in your life that feel just as difficult and profound. Some people actually call those passages re-birth. But why does the birth metaphor matter? This hour, we examine midwives, trans men, and born again Christians. Birth. Rebirth. And Born Again. Interviews in this hour: The Power of Choice When You're Giving Birth Where Are ...more

  • Rethinking David Foster Wallace

    Sep 08 2018

    On the tenth anniversary of his suicide, David Foster Wallace faces renewed criticism over his treatment of women, in his life and work. Fans and critics are re-reading his work, struggling to reconcile genius with misogyny. Guests: Clare Hayes-Brady Colleen Leahy Makini Allwood David Foster Wallace Amy Wallace-Havens Interviews in this hour: The Genius and The Misogynist David Foster Wallace On "Infinite Jest" A Podcast For Readers Struggling with The 'Virtuosic Masterpiece' of the 'Great A...more

  • What's Wrong With Work?

    Sep 01 2018

    It's not easy in America today to find work that matters, that’s meaningful, and that pays enough to live on. Which is the one thing we don’t talk about. What’s wrong with work — and how do we fix it? Guests: Alissa Quart David Graeber James Livingston Niki Okuk Studs Terkel Interviews in this hour: Even With Jobs, The Middle Class Is Feeling the Squeeze We Joke About Some Jobs Being BS. But Is There An Epidemic Of Pointless Work?  F*** Work Fixing the Workplace By Handing It To The Workers ...more

  • ICYMI: Our Invisible, Treacherous, Cynical, Wise, Miraculous World

    Aug 27 2018

    Haven’t listened in a while? In case you missed it, here's a sampling of what we’ve heard on the show recently. Shows featured: Our Invisible Universe Roadtrippin’ What Is School For?  Against Cynicism Loving Bees 

  • Could Psychedelic Drugs Save Your Life? [Rebroadcast]

    Aug 25 2018

    Guests: Ayelet Waldman Stephen Ross Katherine MacLean Daniel Kasza William Richards Interviews in this hour: Ayelet Waldman Talks about Depression, LSD, and Her Marriage With Michael Chabon How Psychedelic Drugs Will Revolutionize Psychiatry Lessons from a Psychedelic Guide On A Mountain Top, With Ayahuasca And Frog Poison Psychedelics and God Psychedelics: The Next Revolution in Psychiatry?

  • The Einstein You Don't Know [Extra]

    Aug 23 2018

    There are the female scientists you can name, and the ones forgotten by history. Like Mileva Marić-Einstein. She might just have been more brilliant than Albert was — but we'll never know.  Guests: Marie Benedict

  • Striving To See in a Vast, Invisible Universe

    Aug 18 2018

    From our narrow vantage point on Earth, how can we see what's out there, beyond our skies? Guests: Francis Halzen Priya Natarajan Seth Shostak Don Gurnett Neil deGrasse Tyson Interviews in this hour: How To Catch A Neutrino How Do We Investigate The Invisible Parts of the Universe? Search For Life In All The Wrong Places What Can You Hear In Space? The Universe Is Under No Obligation To Make Sense To Us 

  • Being Sincere in a Cynical World

    Aug 11 2018

    Why is the world so damn cynical? Rather than surrendering to corrosive, hopeless snark, we look to some unexpected sources to make the case for sincerity. Guests: Jason Rohrer Christy Wampole Christian Picciolini Ingrid LaFleur Interviews in this hour: "You Are Our Miracle": A Game To Make You Love Your Fellow Player The Toll of Living Awash in Irony Can You Change The Mind Of A White Supremacist? Envisioning a Better Today Through The Tomorrows of Afrofuturism

  • Is Socialism Making a Comeback?

    Aug 04 2018

    It was a dirty word 25 years ago. But now, more and more people are identifying as Socialists…in America and on the ballot. Guests: Kshama Sawant Sean Wilentz Cheryl Blue Andrew Haug Erik Olin Wright Brother Ali Interviews in this hour: How Socialism Won in Seattle In Defense of Liberals Milwaukee's Socialist Experiment Rethinking Socialism for Today Brother Ali on Islam, the Left, and Hip Hop

  • Loving Bees

    Jul 28 2018

    Bees are endangered, but all over the world, people are stepping up to save them — in backyards, science labs, and the abandoned lots of urban Detroit. Guests: Heather Swan Nicole Lindsey Timothy Paule Thor Hanson Christof Koch Tania Munz Stephanie Elkins Peter Sobol Anne Strainchamps Interviews in this hour: Falling In Love With Bees 'Medicine' Why We Ought to Live a 'Pro-Bee Lifestyle'  Rebuilding Detroit, Hive by Hive 'Honeybee' How Do We Wrap Our Minds Around Bee Consciousness? Waggle Da...more

  • Jeff Kripal at the Edge of Belief [Extra]

    Jul 26 2018

    Jeff Kripal is a highly original, even maverick, historian of religion. In this conversation — part of a collaboration with the LA Review of Books — Kripal takes Steve to where all the weird stuff we can’t explain lives ... or hides. Guests: Jeff Kripal

  • Mind of a Terrorist [Rebroadcast]

    Jul 21 2018

    When suicide bombers blow up crowded marketplaces, or a lone shooter attacks a nightclub, one question we’re always left with is why. This hour, a look at the underlying psychology of political violence. Guests: Mubin Shaikh Clark McCauley Åsne Seierstad Tanya Luhrmann Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche Interviews in this hour: 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...more

  • Worshipping Waterfalls: The Evolution of Belief [Rebroadcast]

    Jul 14 2018

    Do chimpanzees have spiritual experiences? A remarkable discovery in West Africa suggests they might. Guests: Jane Goodall Laura Kehoe Frans de Waal Barbara King Ara Norenzayan Jeff Schloss Andrew Newberg Interviews in this hour: Do Chimpanzees Have Spiritual Experiences? How “Big Gods” Transformed Human History An Evolutionary Biologist Searches for God What Bliss Looks Like In Your Brain

  • When Is A Road Trip Something More? [Rebroadcast]

    Jul 07 2018

    We take road trips and endless highways for granted, but there are other countries where people can pay a heavy price just for getting behind a wheel. Guests: Finn Murphy Manal al-Sharif Rebecca Solnit Lawrence Ross David Roberts Simon Parkin Interviews in this hour: Put It In Boogie Gear On the Backslide Driving While Female What If We Forget How to Get Lost? A Guidebook to the 'Blackest Road Trip Ever' The Most Boring Video Game Ever Made

  • In Search of "Real" Food

    Jun 30 2018

    What if the guiding principle we used in cooking, eating and growing food was love? From an Iranian-American kitchen to the chocolate forests of Ecuador, we explore new ways to express deep flavors and personal identity through food and cooking. Guests: Simran Sethi Samin Nosrat Michael Twitty Josh Noel Interviews in this hour: The Frightening Sameness Beneath Hundreds of Flavors Kosher/Soul — Cooking the African-Jewish Diaspora Anyone Can Cook—With the Right Elements  Does "Selling Out" Mak...more

  • Is Guilt A Wasted Emotion?

    Jun 23 2018

    It creeps into everything: guilt that we're not good enough, fit enough, smart enough. As we peruse Instagram, all we see is the perfection of others reflecting our own failures back at us. Why do we spend so much time feeling guilty? Should we? Guests: Devorah Baum Lucas Mann Thomas Curran Stephen Greenblatt Susan Bandes

  • Beyond the Echo Chamber [REBROADCAST]

    Jun 16 2018

    When did we retreat to our Red and Blue Facebook pages? It’s not just that America is politically polarized. We live, work and play in Red and Blue tribal bubbles, filling our social media feeds with news sources that affirm our place in that order, rather than challenging it. That isolation is breeding an ugly, seething hatred of the other side that feels poisonous and dispiriting. So what can we do? In this hour, we hear how conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes lost his faith in the GOP a...more

  • Women Who Rule

    Jun 09 2018

    Where do you go to find models of powerful women? The ancient world was full of them, real and mythic, but 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 Interviews The Hidden Queens of Egypt The Mother of All Witches Romare Bearden’s “Circe,” Black and Powerful What A Feminist Writer Learned From An Ancient, Racist, Sexist Satirist A Female ...more

  • Center of the World [REBROADCAST]

    Jun 02 2018

    Amidst economic devastation, producer Charles Monroe-Kane asks what it takes to survive in the Rust Belt. Guests: Min Jin Lee,Jacqueline Woodson Interviews: Center of the World, Ohio,What It Means To Be A Permanent Outsider,Four Girls Growing Up In 'Another Brooklyn'

  • What is School For? [REBROADCAST]

    May 26 2018

    Why do we have schools? To build a workforce? To create democratic citizens?  Guests: Caryn McKechnie,Tim Storm,Jose Gonzalez,Curtis Acosta,Mark Slouka,Daniel Mendelsohn Interviews: Why America's Teachers Are Burning Out,Is Teaching Mexican-American Studies Un-American?,What Happens When Math And Science Rule The School?,The Crankiest Student In Your Class? That's Your Dad.

  • The Third Act

    May 19 2018

    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? Guests: Sabrina Frey Daniel Pink Maureen "Ma Dukes" Yancey Martin Amis Segments: Prepared To Go, But Still Busy Living When Time Is The Best Motivator Preserving J. Dilla's Legacy With A Beat When Should An Author Call It Quits?

  • Is The Nation State Splintering?

    May 12 2018

    All over the world, nation states are splintering. Separatism is on the rise. What causes nation states to erode? And what happens when they do? Should we fight to hold on to our nation states...or let them go in favor of something new? Guests: John Feffer Haleema Shah Shannon Henry Kleiber Mohsin Hamid Segments: What Would a Free Catalonia Mean For Spain - and the World? If Nation States Rupture, What's Next? Shaping National Identity in Pakistan Love In A Time of Mass Migration

  • Making Waves: Live in Milwaukee

    May 05 2018

    Milwaukee is a city on water, right on the shore of Lake Michigan, split by the historic Milwaukee River. How did it shape the city's history, politics, culture, and people? We find out in this live broadcast from Turner Hall in Milwaukee. Guests: John Gurda Dan Egan Jenny Kehl Chastity Washington Ben Barbera Russ Klisch David Dupee Tarik Moody Siobhan Marks Venice Williams Kim Blaeser Melanie Ariens Interviews: The Life, Death and Rebirth of the Milwaukee River Who Owns the Great Lakes?...more

  • The Secret Language of Trees

    Apr 28 2018

    Trees talk to each other, and even form alliances with other trees or other species. Some are incredibly old — the root mass of aspens might live 100,000 years. In this hour, we explore the science and history of trees. Guests: Mark Hirsch Richard Powers Suzanne Simard Amos Clifford Daegan Miller Interviews: A Year In The Life Of A Tree Listening to the Mother Trees Writing the Inner Life of Trees Bathing in the Beauty of the Trees General Sherman, Karl Marx, and Other Aliases of Earth's ...more

  • Handwork

    Apr 21 2018

    More than 38 million Americans knit or crochet. Not because they crave mittens and afghans, but because they like the way knitting feels. Handwork turns out be a powerful antidote for digital overload.  Guests: Betsan Corkhill, Colin McGinn, Lynda Barry, Richard Polt, Tyler Knott Gregson Interviews: Can Knitting Improve Your Health?, How Hands Have Shaped Humanity, Lynda Barry's Radio Drawing Lessons, The Magical Mechanical Typewriter, The Typewriter Poet

  • Hip Hop Future

    Apr 14 2018

    Hip hop created a sound that changed music, art, fashion, and politics. What's next? Diplomacy? Journalism? Education? Philosophy? Guests: Chris Emdin, Xuman,Toni Blackman, Jeff Chang, Colson Whitehead Segments: For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood, Hip Hop as Diplomacy. Hip Hop as Journalism, Cultural Critic Jeff Chang On Art As A Political Possibility Space, Colson Whitehead's "The Underground Railroad"

  • Thinking with Animals

    Apr 07 2018

    Can we ever get inside the mind of an animal? Can we really know how an octopus or a parrot thinks? Also, the fascinating story of Charles Foster's attempt to act like a badger, when he lived in a hole in the ground and ate worms. Guests: Helen MacDonald,Charles Foster,Peter Godfrey-Smith,Elena Passarello, Interviews: Living Like a Beast,B is for Birdle (the Parrot),The Tentacled Alien From Under The Sea,Why Do We Love to Watch Animals?

  • Healing Trauma

    Mar 31 2018

    As terrible as it sounds, most of us will go through something traumatic at some point in our lives. The experience can be deeply isolating and crushing, but it doesn't have to be.  Guests: David Morris,Mac McClelland,Jim Rendon,Bessel van der Kolk,Juan Thompson Interviews: A Brief History of PTSD,Secondary Violence and PTSD,The Positive Side Of Pain,Feeling Through Trauma,Life With Hunter S. Thompson

  • We've Had 30 Years Of Prozac. Why Are We Still Depressed?

    Mar 24 2018

    Modern anti-depressants have saved a lot of minds. And lives. But what have they done to our bodies? And how do we navigate that trade-off between body and mind? Guests: Lauren Slater, Charles Raison, Anna Fels, Jaime Lowe Interviews: Your Body or Your Mind, A Pill That Saves Your Life But Destroys Your Body, Treating the Body To Treat The Mind, A Little Lithium for All Of Us?, The High Price of Breaking the Manic Cycle, The International Bipolar Foundation Recommends Stacks of Mental H...more