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To the Best of Our Knowledge


TTBOOK began as an audio magazine of ideas – two hours of smart, entertaining radio for people with curious minds. It’s sort of journalistic, but it’s never about the President’s speech to the U.N., weapons inspections in Iraq, or yesterday’s stock market disaster. It’s the kind of show that would spend an hour on the future of capitalism, or on the roots of Islamic fundamentalism. It might also spend an hour on hair. Or salt. Or pirates, road trips, psychic phenomena, house cleaning, animal intelligence, high energy physics, or how to say you’re sorry. It’s the kind of show where someone might mention Charlotte Bronte or Anthony Trollope in one segment, U2 or They Might Be Giants in another.

Death: The Last Moment

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Resuscitation science is making it ever-easier to revive people who are clinically dead. In this hour, we explore the medical, spiritual and psychological mysteries of death, and talk about planning for that final moment. Being with Death; "Death Doesn't Bother Me, Anyway" Pt. 3; Blurring the Line Between Life and Death [Video]; Can Science Explain Near-Death Experiences? [Video]; Can Hallucinogens Help with End-of-Life Anxiety?; Mindful Dying; Christian Wiman Reads "For D.".

Science Fiction: Thinking the Unthinkable

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Reality is catching up to science fiction.  But there are still new science-fiction writers who are thinking the unthinkable and daring to go beyond the limits of our imaginations. The Book of Strange New Things - Michel Faber; Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang; Questionable Practices - Eileen Gunn; BookMark: Edmund White; On Our Minds: Kurt Godel.

Death: Exit Plan

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We live much longer than we used to, thanks to medical advances, but what are the emotional and financial costs of extending life?  Some doctors don't know how to talk with their patients about preparing for death, so there's now a push to have frank conversations about end-of-life care. Also,one family's story of working within Oregon's "Death with Dignity" law. Katy Butler on Heaven's Door; Atul Gawande Advocates Compassionate Medical Care [Video]; One City Talks about Death; A Photographer's Days with His Father; "Death Doesn't Bother Me, Anyway" Pt. 2; Choosing Death With Dignity; "When Death Comes," Read by Mary Oliver.

Our Digital Lives

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The average American spends more time on Facebook than with their pets or exercising -- and that's not counting Twitter, Instagram, or Vine. We're more connected than ever these days, but at what cost? Reclaiming the Internet; Sonic Sidebar: Alone Together; When Everything Happens Now; Who Owns the Future?; Dangerous Idea: Save the Habitat for All Creatures; On Our Minds: Rethinking Our Approach to Climate Change.

The first episode in a five-part series about death and dying

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From death cafes and death dinners, to innovative schools that now talk openly about death with their students, there's a movement afoot to change how we talk about the end of life. In this hour, how do we reckon with our own death and the deaths of our loved ones? If you'd like more information about how to start a conversation about the end of life, check out this resource page. Let's Talk About Death; We Don't Have to Be Alone with Dying and Grief; Living with your Coffin [Slideshow]; The Museum of Death [Slideshow]; "Death Doesn't Bother Me, Anyway" Pt. 1; Muhammad the Mortician Confronts Black-on-Black Violence; Nikki Giovanni Reads a Poem of Remembrance.

Does Fiction Make Us Good?

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Who doesn’t love a good book? We all know a great novel can change the way we see the world, but what about the way we treat each other? Today, we discuss whether reading great literature makes us more moral. And, we celebrate William Shakespeare's 450th birthday. And if you're wondering if movies can make us more caring, we did some digging on that too. Read all about it, here. The Psychology of Fiction - Keith Oatley; Sonic Sidebar: Literature Behind Bars; In Defense of the Sentimental - Leslie Jamison; Fiction and Morality - Joshua Landy; Watch This! "Salinger" & "Shakespeare Uncovered"; On Our Minds: Shakespeare's Influence.

Cinephilia

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In this hour, we explore people's obsessions with movies and talk with legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog. Room 237 - Manohla Dargis; Werner Herzog Strives for the 'Ecstatic Truth'; Frank - Jon Ronson; Found Film: John Waters; On Our Minds: National Novel Writing Month.

Ecotopia (Repeat)

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How we think about the environment will have real-world consequences for our children and grandchildren.  Today, we talk about new environmental paradigms for life after climate change.  And, we remember the great environmentalist Rachel Carson on the 50th anniversary of her death. New Environmental Paradigm - Bill McKibben; Remembering Rachel Carson - Rob Nixon; Living the Ecotopia Dream - Charles Monroe-Kane; Colors of Nature - Lauret Savoy; Dangerous Idea: We Are More Significant Than We Think; On Our Minds: Michael Lewis & Flash Boys.

From philosophy to neuroscience, looking for the truth about beauty.

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Is there anything science won’t tackle? The latest question neuroscientists are taking on is, “What makes something beautiful?” We're checking in with scientists, philosophers and artists in this hour. Beauty & Brains; Sonic Sidebar: Umberto Eco on Beauty; Beauty & Justice - Elaine Scarry; Folksy Beauty; BookMark: Ruth Ozeki; On Our Minds: Russell Brand on Revolutionary Politics.

Do Nations Need States?

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Do nations need states? Do Nations Need States?; Sonic Sidebar: Scotland Votes "No"; Lands in Limbo; The Islamic State; BookMark: Lauren Beukes on “The Three” by Sara Lotz; On Our Minds: Abortion.

Zzz (Sleep) Repeat

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We explore the secret life of sleep in this hour. The Secret Life of Sleep - Kat Duff; The Politics of Sleep - Matthew J. Wolf-Meyer; Sleep Donation - Karen Russell; Sonic Sidebar: Is Sleep Going Extinct?; Dangerous Idea: Life Roller Coaster; On Our Minds: Josh Ruxin.

Political Engagement

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With the elections approaching, candidates and campaigns are working hard to get out the vote. But what would it take to get people politically involved all year round? Making Democracy Fun; Voices From The Internet Underground; Against Voting; Dangerous Idea: Differential Technological Development; On Our Minds: Dataclysm.

Imagining Possible Worlds (Repeat)

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Science fiction offers us visions of histories we don't know -- histories of the future and the past.  Today, legendary science fiction writers talk about science, utopia, and the imagination.  Plus, the winners of our 3 Minute Futures fiction contest! CLICK HERE to read the winning entries and a selection of our favorites. 3 Minute Futures Winner: "Social Scene Alert"; Politics of Science Fiction - Kim Stanley Robinson; 3 Minute Future Fiction: "Food Production"; Star Trek Legacy - Gates McFadden; Science and the Imagination - Ed Finn; 3 Minute Future: "Dogs in the Snow"; BookMark: Junot Diaz; Race and Sex in Sci Fi - Samuel R. Delany.

The Cook and the Book

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Chefs and writers explore the language of food on the plate and on the page. We meet novelists who cook, chefs who write, and a poet of pies.  It's an hour of deliciousness in words and food. Writing Restaurants with Michelle Wildgen; Sweetness #9 with Stephan Eirik Clark; Pie Poetry with Kate Lebo; The Novelist and the Cook - Alice Waters and Michelle Wildgen; Thug Kitchen and the Politics of Food Writing; Dangerous Idea: Capitalism Creates Psychopaths; On Our Minds: Computers are Making Us Smarter! (Really).

Creative Writing (Repeat)

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We explore Creative Writing in this hour with Gary Shteyngart, author of "Little Failure." Little Failure - Gary Shteyngart; Writers and Drinking - Olivia Laing; Sonic Sidebar: John Cheever's "The Swimmer"; The Trickster's Hat - Nick Bantock; Dangerous Ideas: Peace Is Now; On Our Minds - Charlie Parker.

Living Like a Caveman (Updated)

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Cavemen.   Not Cro-Magnons or Neanderthals, but modern cavemen and women. They eat raw meat, run barefoot and practice throwing heavy stones. Arthur De Vany on Modern Cavemen; Paleofantasy - John Hawks; Cavedigger; Michelle Paver on "Chronicles of Ancient Darkness"; Dangerous Idea: Don't Recycle!; On Our Minds: David Mitchell.

Pranks and Hoaxes (Updated)

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Everyone loves a good joke, right? Well, at least when it's not at your expense. We explore hoaxes throughout history, get in the mind of a prolific prankster, and hear from writer Walter Kirn about getting duped by a dangerous con man. Famous pranksters - Kembrew McLeod; Art of the Hoax - Joey Skaggs; The Con - Walter Kirn; Sonic Sidebar: The Showman and the Slave; BookMark: Cheryl Strayed; On Our Minds: Life With Harper Lee.

Super Senses

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From cyborgs and synesthesia, to ASMR and using sensation to heal from trauma, we're exploring the edges of our senses this hour. Synesthesia, Then & Now; The Mystery of Tingles - ASMR; Cyborg Senses - Neil Harbisson; Feeling Through Trauma - Bessel van der Kolk; Dangerous Idea: Hacking Laughter; On Our Minds: Responding to Ebola.

Narcissism

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Are we living in a Golden Age of Narcissism? The Narcissist Next Door - Jeffrey Kluger; Sonic Sidebar: Tusk; The Americanization of Narcissism - Elizabeth Lunbeck; Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself - Anneli Rufus; Dangerous Idea: We Matter; On Our Minds: Sam Harris.

Making It In America (Repeat)

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With minimum wage on many ballots this election season, TTBOOK looks at just what it takes to "make it" in America these days Living Poor; So Rich, So Poor - Peter Edelman; Bootstrapping; Sonic Sidebar: American Dreams; American Promises; BookMark: Eileen Gunn on “Filter House” ; On Our Minds: Easy Money.