A podcast about ideas, politics, history, and culture. Hosted by David Sehat.


February 6, 2024 37 mins

Polyamory. If you’ve been paying any attention lately, you’ve probably heard the term. TV shows, books, magazines, and social media are abuzz with what appears to be widescale experimentation in consensual non-monogamy. But what does it mean? Where did the idea come from? How is it different than swinging, friends-with-benefits, having a side piece, or any of the other possible sexual arrangements? Christopher Gleason, author of Am...

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E. coli. Listeria. Salmonella. When you turn on the news, it's hard not to hear about some tragic outbreak caused by lettuce, or beef, or something unknown. Why do outbreaks occur with such regularity? Is a failure of big government? Or is it big business putting profits above its customers? Or is it a regulatory state that is underfunded and overtasked? Timothy Lytton, Distinguished University Professor at Georgia State University...

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March 18, 2018 43 mins

When we think about AI, many of us have in mind HAL 9000 from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.  But AI is here and it is not quite like the movies. So what does AI look like today?  How it reshaping contemporary society and government?  Whose interests does it serve and, for those pessimistic about its influence, is there anything that can be done to ameliorate its negative effects?  Tim Hwang, the Director of the Ethics and Govern...

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December 17, 2017 36 mins

What does it mean to be alone? Is aloneness, as Thoreau said, necessary to live deliberately? Or is it perhaps a curse of modern life made worse by mass media and cultural fragmentation? In this episode, American Studies scholar Ina Bergmann talks about the cultures of solitude in past and present. 

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November 29, 2017 31 mins

How should we understand public debate in the era of social media? Can the internet be salvaged for democracy promotion? Or is it a Trojan horse for a dystopian future? Phil Howard of the Oxford Internet Institute talks about social media and politics.

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November 15, 2017 34 mins

How do we maintain a sense of fact and reality in a post-truth age? Are there any objective and universally accepted arbiters of truth left? How can democratic government, or even democratic argument, work without a mutually accepted body of information? Oxford politics scholar Nadia Hilliard talks about truth and post-truth in American government.

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November 5, 2017 29 mins

What was the impetus behind the American Revolution? Why were the revolutionaries who set up American institutions so concerned to protect property? What political implications does the founding moment have for today? Birmingham political historian Tom Cutterham talks about the conservative impulses in the American Revolution and what radical political change would actually mean.

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October 22, 2017 34 mins

"What can you say about God in light of human suffering in the world?" asks Rice religion scholar Anthony Pinn. "Nothing," he says, "because there is no God." In this conversation, we talk about black humanism and its connection to black activism and empowerment. Does black humanism betray African-American cultural tradition?  Can you motivate people to activism without the church community? Are humanists ready to embrace the cause...

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October 15, 2017 42 mins

Are white NFL team owners like modern slave masters? Do symbolic gestures produce fruitful political conversations? What kind of historical reckoning would be necessary for real social and political change? Williams historian Gretchen Long considers what the NFL protests signify about race in the United States today.

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October 8, 2017 40 mins

How does one recover from catastrophe? Why does politics fail and how does one find courage to continue? What can be done to recover the possibilities of collective action? Intellectual historian Richard King does a deep dive into the thought of Hannah Arendt, looking for some answers.

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October 1, 2017 43 mins

Why do presidents so often mess up disaster relief? Why is Congress so useless when it comes to rational planning and policy? Is any way to create a change in the political dynamic? Oxford political historian Gareth Davies talks disaster politics.

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September 24, 2017 35 mins

Pulitzer prize-winning historian Daniel Walker Howe talks about contemporary politics, the antebellum era, his disagreements with other historians (including his disagreements with MindPop host David Sehat), and why, in spite of Donald Trump, he still believes in progress.

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September 10, 2017 28 mins

David Sehat talks to Tisa Wenger, Associate Professor of Divinity at Yale University, about the meaning of religious freedom and the contemporary invocations of religious freedom by white, conservative Christians.

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September 3, 2017 34 mins

David Sehat talks to Melani McAlister, Associate Professor of American Studies and International Affairs at George Washington University, about evangelicalism, its meaning, and its place in American and global politics.

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August 27, 2017 31 mins

David Sehat talks to Marie Griffith, John C. Danforth Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis, about her work and how she sees this religious and political moment.

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David Sehat talks to Besheer Mohamed, senior researcher at Pew Research Center, about the problem of objective knowledge in this partisan moment.

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David Sehat talks to Peter Manseau, Lilly Endowment Curator of American Religious History at the National Museum of American History, about his own religious past and the way that he seeks to reflect the nation's religious past back to itself in a contested moment.

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August 6, 2017 28 mins

David Sehat takes a road trip with his friend Ben Wise, Associate Professor of History at the University of Florida, where they talk about ambition, midlife, and the puzzles of meaning.

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July 30, 2017 26 mins

David Sehat explains the problems of constitutional originalism as one component of the larger incoherence of the conservative movement.

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David Sehat talks to Martha S. Jones, SOBA Presidential Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University, about whether common ground is possible or desirable in this political moment.

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