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13 podcasts that will make you smarter

46 million Americans listen to a podcast every month.

Podcasts are gaining in popularity for a number of reasons: You can listen in the car or on the train to work, you can dig deep into a topic, and you don't have to burn your eyes out on a screen.

By Drake Baer | Business Insider
 

'Radiolab' will help you appreciate how mysterious science is. 

Stephen Lovekin/Getty

Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad, hosts of "Radiolab." 

While it may seem normal, existence is weird. 

WNYC's "Radiolab" — the brainchild of topflight journos Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich — investigates that weirdness with a blend of science, philosophy, and music. 

You probably want to start with the "Colors" episode.

Start listening here > 

'Invisibilia' will lead you on a journey to the frontier of psychology. 

John W. Poole / NPR

Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel, hosts of 'Invisibilia.'

Radiolab spun off 'Invisibilia," whose name is Latin for all the invisible things.

It's a podcast about the unseen, unconscious forces that guide our lives: biases, dreams, quirks of perception.

The first episode tells the story of a boy who couldn't communicate for 12 years. His only company was his thoughts — until, one day, it wasn't. 

Start listening here > 

 

 

'StartUp' chronicles the glorious challenge of founding a company. 

Penn State / flickr

Alex Blumberg, host of 'StartUp.'

NPR veteran Alex Blumberg wanted to make a podcast startup. 

So he made a podcast about it.

The result is StartUp, and it's deliciously entrepreneurial listening.

Start listening here > 

 

 

'Employee of the Month' shows you that famous people have to work, too.

Anya Garrett / flickr

Catie Lazarus, host of 'Employee of the Month.'

On 'Employee of the Month,' the writer-comedian talks to famous people about the most universal of topics: work.

Guests include legendary intellectual Gloria Steinemformer New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, and Broad City stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson.

Notably, Jon Stewart gave Lazarus his first interview since leaving the Daily Show

Start listening here > 

'The Jay And Farhad Show' gives you insight into tech.

Jay Yarow

Farhad Manjoo and Jay Yarow, hosts of 'The Jay and Farhad Show.'

New York Times tech writer Farhad Manjoo and Business Insider's own Jay Yarow host a podcast that digests what's happening in tech, like the mythical Apple car, what Snapchat is doing this week, and what exactly Bitcoin is. 

Start listening here >  

'Startalk Radio' will open your mind to the cosmos.

Will Wei, Business Insider

Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of "Startalk Radio."

Neil deGrasse Tyson is the public face of astronomy right now — and his voice is just as magnetizing. 

Dig into his podcast to learn about space tourism, comets, and the basics of astrophysics, to name a few. 

Start listening here > 

'WTF' offers unexpected revelations about success.

Kevin Winter/Getty

Marc Maron, host of "WTF."

Few things can be more instructive than a life story, and comedian-turned-broadcaster Marc Maron draws the ups and downs of life out of people with a certain raucous grace. 

Some especially intellectual episodes include his interviews with comedian Wanda Sykes, actor Vince Vaughn, and the late Robin Williams. 

Start listening here >

'This American Life' provides a deep look into American society. 

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Ira Glass, host and creator of "This American Life."

"This American Life" has become a byword for oral storytelling.

Beyond being a place for moving and hilarious stories, "This American Life" does staggering levels of reporting; few outlets made the financial crisis as human and understandable as Ira Glass and the gang. 

It lives up to the hype. 

Start listening here >

'99% Invisible' will give you the lowdown on design. 

prx/flickr

Roman Mars, host of "99% Invisible."

"99% Invisible" is probably the coolest design podcast on earth. 

Roman Mars' show uses design as a lens to look at the thought behind the many structures in our lives, from prehistoric hand axes to airport layouts and high heels. After listening you'll have an appreciation for the minds and tastes that these objects sprang from. 

Not only that, but the podcasts are snack-sized, clocking in at about 15 minutes.

Start listening here > 

'Back to Work' offers insights on productivity.

grahamb/flickr

Merlin Mann, cohost of "Back To Work."

If you've ever been tempted to describe yourself as a productivity nerd, then "Back to Work" is right up your hotkey-laden alley. 

The show is hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin, both writers and entrepreneurs. The podcast is brilliant for the way it puts the basics of our working lives — email, motivation, workflows — under the microscope.

Start listening here > 

'The Tim Ferriss Show' will help you understand the mechanics of success.

Getty/Jemal Countess

Tim Ferriss, host of "The Tim Ferriss Show."

Tim Ferriss puts the life into life hacking. His "4-Hour Work Week," "4-Hour Body," and "4-Hour Chef" books have all become bestsellers for the way he combines insight with irreverence. 

His podcast carries that rascally inquisitiveness into long-form interviews, with subjects ranging from billionaire investor Peter Thiel to Pixar cofounder Ed Catmull and neuroscientist Sam Harriss. 

Start listening here >

'Point of Inquiry' will teach you to debate.

Lindsay Beyerstein/flickr

Lindsay Beyerstein, cohost of "Point of Inquiry."

"Point of Inquiry" comes care of the Center for Inquiry, the secular-humanist advocacy group. 

The show is hosted by hard-charging journalists Lindsay Beyerstein and Josh Zepps. The interviews are like the best philosophy class you could imagine with guests such as Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, economist Paul Krugman, and biologist Richard Dawkins. 

Start listening here >

'Freakonomics Radio' will show you surprising connections. 

Vito Palmisano

Steven D. Levitt, "Freakonomics" coauthor.

Journalist Stephen J. Dubner and economist Steven D. Levitt became sensations when their book "Freakonomics" was published in 2005. In 2010, they launched a podcast with the same mission as their bestselling books: ferreting out connections between seemingly unrelated things. 

Unsurprisingly, their shows tend toward the intellectually provocative, with the biggest hits having titles like “Is College Really Worth It?” and “How Much Does the President of the U.S. Really Matter?” 

Start listening here >  


Read more:  http://www.businessinsider.com/podcasts-that-will-make-you-smarter-2015-3?op=1#ixzz3TuaQAHfB
Read more:  http://www.businessinsider.com/podcasts-that-will-make-you-smarter-2015-3?op=1#ixzz3Tua82VaZ

Stephen Ekstrom