Vox Conversations
Vox Conversations
Vox
Vox Conversations brings you weekly discussions between the brightest minds and the deepest thinkers; conversations that will cause you to question old assumptions and think about the world and our role in it in a new light, including five years' worth of episodes hosted by Vox co-founder Ezra Klein.
Peter Kafka and Kevin Roose on big tech's power and responsibility
Recode’s Peter Kafka speaks with New York Times’s Tech columnist Kevin Roose about big tech’s power and responsibility - and whether it is going to have accountability. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 18
30 min
Sam Sanders and Olivia Nuzzi on President Trump’s last days
New York magazine's Washington correspondent Olivia Nuzzi spent the past four years covering the Trump White House. In this inaugural episode of Vox Conversations, Nuzzi talks to guest host Sam Sanders, host of NPR's It’s Been a Minute, about the perils of anonymous sourcing, some unexpected job hazards (self-loathing), and why Trump didn’t ultimately create, but instead activated, the crowd of insurgents that breached the Capitol last week. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 14
46 min
Best of: We don’t just feel emotions. We make them.
How do you feel right now? Excited to listen to your favorite podcast? Anxious about the state of American politics? Annoyed by my use of rhetorical questions? These questions seem pretty straightforward. But as my guest today, psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett, points out there is a lot more to emotion than meets the mind. Barrett is a superstar in her field. She’s a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, holds appointments at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, and has received various prestigious awards for her pioneering research on emotion. Her most recent book How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain argues that emotions are not biologically hardwired into our brains but constructed by our minds. In other words, we don’t merely feel emotions — we actively create them. Barrett’s work has potentially radical implications. If we take her theory seriously, it follows that the ways we think about our daily emotional states, diagnose illnesses, interact with friends, raise our children, and experience reality all need some serious adjusting, if not complete rethinking. If you enjoyed this episode, you should check out: A mind-expanding conversation with Michael Pollan The cognitive cost of poverty (with Sendhil Mullainathan) Will Storr on why you are not yourself  A mind-bending, reality-warping conversation with John Higgs Book recommendations:  Naming the Mind by Kurt Danzinger  The Island of Knowledge by Marcelo Gleiser  The Accidental Species by Henry Gee Sense and Nonsense by Kevin L. Laland Credits: Producer and Editor - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Recording engineer - Cynthia Gil Field engineer - Joseph Fridman The Ezra Klein Show is a production of the Vox Media Podcast Network Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 6
1 hr 35 min
Best of: Ending the age of animal cruelty, with Bruce Friedrich
You often hear that eating animals is natural. And it is. But not the way we do it. The industrial animal agriculture system is a technological marvel. It relies on engineering broiler chickens that grow almost seven times as quickly as they would naturally, and that could never survive in the wild. It relies on pumping a majority of all the antibiotics used in the United States into farm animals to stop the die-offs that overcrowding would otherwise cause. A list like this could go on endlessly, but the point is simple: Industrial animal agriculture is not a natural food system. It is a triumph of engineering. But though we live in a moment when technology has made animal cruelty possible on a scale never imagined in human history, we also live in a moment when technology may be about to make animal cruelty unnecessary. And nothing changes a society’s values as quickly as innovations that make a new moral system easy and cheap to adopt. And that’s what this podcast is about. Bruce Friedrich is the head of the Good Food Institute, which invests, connects, advises, and advocates for the plant and cell-based meat industries. That work puts him at the hot center of one of the most exciting and important technological stories of our age: the possible replacement of a cruel, environmentally unsustainable form of food production with a system that’s better for the planet, better for animals, and better for our health. I talk a lot about animal suffering issues on this podcast, and I do so because they’re important. We’re causing a lot of suffering right now. But I don’t believe that it’ll be a change in morality or ideology that transforms our system. I think it’ll be a change in technology, and Friedrich knows better than just about anyone else alive how fast that technology is becoming a reality. In a rare change of pace for the Ezra Klein Show, this conversation will leave you, dare I say it, optimistic. Book Recommendations: Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism by Melanie Joy Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World by Paul Shapiro Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 3
1 hr 21 min
Best of: The moral philosophy of The Good Place
After creating and running Parks and Recreation and writing for The Office, Michael Schur decided he wanted to create a sitcom about one of the most fundamental questions of human existence: What does it mean to be a good person? That’s how NBC's The Good Place was born. Soon into the show’s writing, Schur realized he was in way over his head. The question of human morality is one of the most complicated and hotly contested subjects of all time. He needed someone to help him out. So, he recruited Pamela Hieronymi, a professor at UCLA specializing in the subjects of moral responsibility, psychology, and free will, to join the show as a “consulting philosopher” — surely a first in sitcom history. I wanted to bring Shur and Hieronymi onto the show because The Good Place should not exist. Moral philosophy is traditionally the stuff of obscure academic journals and undergraduate seminars, not popular television. Yet, three-and-a-half seasons on, The Good Place is not only one of the funniest sitcoms on TV, it has popularized academic philosophy in an unprecedented fashion and put forward its own highly sophisticated moral vision. This is a conversation about how and why The Good Place exists and what it reflects about The Odd Place in which we actually live. Unlike a lot of conversations about moral philosophy, this one is a lot of fun.   References: Dylan Matthews' brilliant profile on The Good Place Dylan Matthews on why he donated his kidney Book recommendations: Michael Schur: Ordinary Vices by Judith N. Shklar The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré  Beloved by Toni Morrison Pamela Hieronymi: What We Owe to Each Other by T.M. Scanlon Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre Mortal Questions by Thomas Nagel Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 30, 2020
1 hr 44 min
Best of: Michael Lewis reads my mind
Michael Lewis needs little introduction. He’s the author of Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Big Short, The Blind Side, The Fifth Risk. He’s the host of the new podcast “Against the Rules.” He’s a master at making seemingly boring topics — baseball statistics, government bureaucrats, collateralized debt obligations — riveting. So how does he do it? What I wanted to do in this conversation was understand Lewis’s process. How does he choose his topics? How does he find his characters? How does he get them to trust him? What is he looking for when he’s with them? What allows him to see the gleam in subjects that would strike others, on their face, as dull? Lewis more than delivered. There’s a master class in reporting — or just in getting to know people — tucked inside this conversation. As in the NK Jemisin episode, Lewis shows how he does his work in real time, using me and something I revealed as the example. Sometimes the conversations on this show are a delight. Sometimes they’re actually useful. This one is both. Book recommendations: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain A Collection of Essays by George Orwell The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 27, 2020
1 hr 46 min
Best of: Tracy K. Smith changed how I read poetry
It’s the rare podcast conversation where, as it’s happening, I’m making notes to go back and listen again so I can fully absorb what I heard. But this conversation with Tracy K. Smith was that kind of episode. Smith is the chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, a Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, and a two-time poet laureate of the United States (2017-19). But I’ll be honest: She was an intimidating interview for me. I often find myself frustrated by poetry, yearning for it to simply tell me what it wants to say and feeling aggravated that I can’t seem to crack its code. Preparing for this conversation and (even more so) talking to Smith was a revelation. Poetry, she argues, is about expressing “the feelings that defy language.” The struggle is part of the point: You’re going where language stumbles, where literalism fails. Developing a comfort and ease in those spaces isn’t something we’re taught to do, but it’s something we need to do. And so, on one level, this conversation is simply about poetry: what it is, what it does, how to read it. But on another level, this conversation is also about the ideas and tensions that Smith uses poetry to capture: what it means to be a descendent of slaves, a human in love, a nation divided. Laced throughout our conversation are readings of poems from her most recent book, Wade in the Water, and discussions of some of the hardest questions in the American, and even human, canon. Hearing Smith read her erasure poem, “Declaration,” is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful moments I’ve had on the podcast. There is more to this conversation than I can capture here, but simply put: This isn’t one to miss. And that’s particularly true if, like me, you’re intimidated by poetry. References:  Smith’s lecture before the Library of Congress  Smith’s commencement speech at Wellesley College  Book recommendations:  Notes from the Field by Anna Deavere Smith  Quilting by Lucille Clifton  Bodega by Su Hwang  Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 23, 2020
1 hr 30 min
What I’ve learned, and what comes next.
As strange as it is to write, this is my last podcast here at Vox. In January, I'll be starting at the New York Times as a columnist on the opinion page, doing a reported column on policy and launching an interview podcast. Meanwhile, Vox will be building something new and better atop this show's DNA in this feed. In this episode, I wanted to reflect on the almost five years I’ve spent doing this show. This project has changed my work, and my life, in unexpected ways. So here are the four lessons this show has taught me and, of course, the three books that have influenced me, and that I'd recommend to the audience.  Thank you for everything, and you can reach me at ezrakleinshow@gmail.com. See you on the other side.  Book recommendations: Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin Working by Studs Terkel Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 20, 2020
41 min
Best of: An inspiring conversation about democracy with Danielle Allen
This conversation with Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen in fall 2019 is one of my all-time favorites.    Allen directs Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. She’s a political theorist, a philosopher, the principal investigator of the Democratic Knowledge Project, and the co-chair of a two-year bipartisan commission of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, which just this year released “Our Common Purpose,” a report with more than 30 recommendations on how to reform American democracy. Her 2006 book Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education, which forms the basis for this conversation, is the most important exploration of what democracy demands from its citizens that I've ever read. I talk about democracy a lot on this show, but it’s her life’s work   I tried a bunch of different descriptions the first time this episode was released and they all failed the conversation. I had no better luck this time. I loved this one, and, at a moment when the future of democracy looks even darker than it did a year ago, I think you will too. Don’t make me cheapen it by describing it. Just download it. References: "Building a Good Jobs Economy" by Dani Rodrik and Charles Sabel Book recommendations: "Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell "What America Would Be Like Without Blacks" by Ralph Ellison Men in Dark Times by Hannah Arendt Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 16, 2020
1 hr 12 min
Michael Pollan on the psychedelic society
On November 3, as the country fixated on the incoming presidential election results, voters in Oregon approved a seemingly innocuous ballot measure with revolutionary potential. Proposition 109, which passed with 56 percent of the vote (the same margin by which Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the state), legalizes the use of psilocybin, the main psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms, in supervised therapeutic settings.    Multiple studies have found that use of psilocybin in a medical context has the power to cure depression, addiction, and anxiety at rates that no existing drug or therapy can boast (although these results still need to be replicated with larger sample sizes before drawing definitive conclusions). Scores of renowned scholars, artists, and entrepreneurs talk about their use of psychedelic drugs as one of the most important experiences of their entire lives. The details of how the Oregon initiative will be implemented still need to be worked out, but the prospect of making these drugs widely available in a therapeutic context could have transformative impacts on American mental health care and, perhaps, on our culture writ large.    There isn’t anyone I’d rather discuss this new law and its implications with than Michael Pollan. Pollan is the author of dozens of landmark books, but his most recent, How To Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, is the best exploration of the transformative therapeutic potential of psychedelics to date.   My first conversation with Pollan in 2018 was one of my favorites of all time on the show, and this one didn’t disappoint either. We discuss how Pollan’s work inspired the Oregon ballot initiative, what Proposition 109 actually does and the challenges it will face, the lost history of psychedelics being used as a therapeutic tool in the 1950s, why the mental health profession in America is so excited about the revolutionary possibilities of psychedelic treatment, why the “noetic experience” induced by psychedelics has such incredible healing potential, whether widespread psychedelic use would create massive population-level changes in society, and much more. References: My first conversation with Pollan Recent Johns Hopkins study on psychedelics and depression "What the psychedelic drug ayahuasca showed me about my life" by Sean Illing Book recommendations: The Overstory by Richard Powers  The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake Credits: Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 13, 2020
1 hr 16 min
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