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All Things Considered
12:00am - 1:00am

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.

Extinction

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Our planet is facing a mass extinction crisis. By the end of the century, we could lose up to half of all living species. But people are working hard to save endangered species and habitats, and a few scientists are even trying to bring lost species - like passenger pigeons and woolly mammoths - back to life. How To Clone a Mammoth - Beth Shapiro; Are You Ready for the Next Mass Extinction?; Recording America's Rarest Bird; From the Sabertooth to the Grizzly; BookMark - E.O. Wilson's The Meaning of Human Existence; On Our Minds: Hip Hop, Free Speech and Violence in France [Playlist].

Traveling Time (R)

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Planning a winter getaway? Here's some inspiration to adventure... Old Roads to Rome; Sonic Sidebar: Aboard Niagara; The Road to Tantra - Asra Nomani; The Art of Travel - Alain de Botton; BookMark: Karen Russell on "A High Wind in Jamaica"; On Our Minds: The New High Line.

Investigating Belief (Updated)

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You know the earth is round, the sky is up, and your dog loves you. But HOW do you know those things? This week, how we form opinions – the psychology and brain chemistry behind our beliefs. You & Your Brain - Julian Keenan; Sonic Sidebar: The Political Divide; Irrational Beliefs - Will Storr; Charting Religious Traditions - Karen Armstrong; BookMark: Alfred Kubin's "The Other Side"; On Our Minds: Philip Pullman.

The Artist

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This episode explores the artist and new ways to think about the creative process Steal Like an Artist - Austin Kleon; Powers of Two - Joshua Wolf Shenk; Myopia - Mark Mothersbaugh [Slideshow]; BookMark: Charles Duhigg on "The Children"; On Our Minds: The Great Migration.

The Future of Listening

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Smart phones and digital distribution have made it easier to get into the radio game. After the success of Serial, it seems like everyone’s talking about podcasts. But what does it take to make a hit show? And what do a host of new, independent programs mean for good ol’ radio? Alex Blumberg on Our Podcast Future; What About Public Radio?; It's a Gabfest - Emily Bazelon; Sounds, Original at WFMU; BookMark: Samuel Scheffler on "The Children of Men"; On Our Minds: Keeping Speech Free.

Just Dance!

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Want to improve your mood? Just dance. This hour we’re talking with people who’ve found an easy way to keep themselves happy, to build friendships, and make art. We’re checking in with neuroscientists too, to hear just what happens in our brains when we’re dancing. Also, how dancing together has been part of religious life for centuries.  Dancing Away Anxiety; The Dancing Brain; Dancing Together; Sonic Sidebar: Tango; Sally Gross - Finding Her Own Dance; Deep Tracks: Charles R. Cross; On Our Minds: Picturing Migration.

Self Help

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Every new year brings a fresh start, another chance to remake yourself. We all aspire to be better people, but following through on our goals can often be difficult. How Habits Work — and How to Change Them; Scrutinizing Self-Help; Sonic Sidebar: Should I Ask For Advice?; Help Wanted; Dangerous Idea: The Multispecies City; On Our Minds: Nick Bostrom on Computer Superintelligence.

Was Marx Right?

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Was Marx right after all in his critique of capitalism?  Our ongoing economic struggles have spawned a new generation of Marxist activists and intellectuals, and renewed interest in Karl Marx's own life.  "Why Marx Was Right" - Terry Eagleton; Marx in Soho - Brian Jones; "Love and Capital" - Mary Gabriel; "Utopia or Bust" - Benjamin Kunkel; BookMark: Walter Kirn; On Our Minds: Colson Whitehead.

Religion in a Troubled World

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The Bible and the Quran are some of our most sacred and revered texts. They're also full of violent passages. Is religion the source of violence and intolerance around the world?  We look at how sacred texts inspire both violence and liberation. Karen Armstrong Examines the Link Between Religion and Violence ; Abraham and Isaac; Black Sacred Music - Robert Darden [Playlist]; Humanist Manifesto - A.C. Grayling; BookMark: Mario Vargas Llosa's "Conversation in the Cathedral"; Photographing Angola Prison.

Saving Language

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Fifty to ninety percent of the world's languages are predicted to disappear in the next century.  And because language is the DNA of culture, a lost language is a lost culture.  Today, a look at efforts to save endangered languages before they go extinct. Language Warriors - David Harrison; Yung Yiddish - Danna Harman; The Word Exchange - Alena Graedon; PlayList: Karl Ove Knausgaard; On Our Minds: 12,000 Mile Family Road Trip.

Walking

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Walk long enough and far enough, and you will never be the same.  This week, stories of people who transformed their lives by picking up their feet, blazing trails, and going off-road. "Walking Saved My Life" - Cheryl Strayed; What Makes Werner Walk?; Grandma Gatewood's Walk; Walking England's Coast; Found Films - Manohla Dargis on Boyhood; This Year's Funniest Autobiography - John Cleese's New Memoir.

Fearing the Other

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Are Americans afraid of black men? That's one of the issues at the heart of the national debate over the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice. This hour, we take a closer look at negative stereotypes about African American men, how those biases affect our justice system, and what we might be able to do about it. Addressing Bias; Condemning Blackness; What Do You Fear?; Not Calling the Police; Reforming the LAPD; Dangerous Idea: Love Your Enemy; On Our Minds: Hip Hop Prophets.

Writing Funny

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we explore the fine art of comedy writing Spoiled Brats - Simon Rich; Bob Odenkirk on Comedy as an Act of Truth and Destruction; Science...for Her! - Megan Amram; The New Yorker Cartoons - Bob Mankoff; Dangerous Idea: Can Too Much Christmas Drive Kids to Kill?; What Do Your Passwords Say About You?.

The Art of Television (Repeat)

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Television used to be formulaic. Today, it’s the best gig around. We examine the explosion of high quality TV, from The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men, and talk with the creator of HBO’s True Detective. TV Revolution - Alan Sepinwall; True Detective - Nic Pizzolatto; "Husbands" - Brad Bell & Jane Espenson; Dangerous Idea: A Different Draft?; On Our Minds: Iraq War Poetry.

Death: After Life

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Does death gives life meaning? You might think so, looking at the prominence of death and the afterlife in so many religions. For millennia, people have dreamed about immortality, and now transhumanists are trying to extend life by merging our selves with machines. Also, with so much of our lives lived online, how do we plan for our digital afterlives? "The Mysteries of Life are More Present"; "Not Knowing Is Itself Liberation"; Death After Dying; Mourning in the Digital Age; Humanity Beyond the Human; Reset: A Digital Afterlife Radio Drama; If the Earth Was Destined to Die ... A Thought Experiment; "Death Doesn't Bother Me, Anyway" Pt. 5; Note from Anne, On Being Haunted by Death.

Alan Turing (Updated)

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In his short life, British mathematician Alan Turing changed the world. He cracked the code that helped defeat the Nazis, dreamed up artificial intelligence, and laid the foundation for the computer age. Patrick Sammon - Turing's Final Years; Andrew Hodges - The Roots of Turing's Genius; Alan Garner - Running With Turing; Mohan Embar - The Turing Test; Brian Christian - The Most Human Human; BookMark: "My Struggle" by Karl Ove Knausgaard; On Our Minds: P.D. James.

The Secret Language of Plants (Repeat)

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The Secret Language of Plants Thinking Like a Forest - Suzanne Simard; What a Plant Knows - Daniel Chamovitz; Sonic Sidebar: Data Garden Quartet; Plant Intelligence - Jeremy Narby; The Grammar of Animacy; Dangerous Idea: Question Your Beliefs; On Our Minds: Ralph Nader .

Death: The Wake

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How do we mark death and celebrate lost lives around the globe? In this hour, we hear stories from inside the funeral industry, and learn about burial and mourning rituals throughout history. Tending to the Body; Ask a Mortician; Ghanaian Coffins are a Fantasy of Life and Dreams [Slideshow]; Does Caring for the Dead Make Us Human?; Coming of Age in a Funeral Home; "Death Doesn't Bother Me Anyway, Pt. 4"; A Poet's Elegy to His Son; On the Music in This Hour [Playlist].

Death: The Last Moment

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In this hour, we explore the medical, spiritual and psychological mysteries of the moment of death. A Buddhist chaplain talks about preparing - now - to meet our final moments mindfully. And, as resuscitation science makes it ever-more possible for us to bring back people whose hearts have stopped, we take a look at the growing scientific debate over near-death experiences.  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.