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Are you the type of person who always has thought-provoking ideas about how life really works or why humanity exists?
Perhaps you get hyped up whenever you hear someone talk about innovative ideas, such as ways to get the economy back on its feet after a major recession?
If so, you are probably a deep thinker who enjoys sensible conversations. You enjoy listening to scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and world leaders sharing their thoughts and philosophies on life.
In this article, we share with you a list of the nine best thought-provoking podcasts that can help you expand your thoughts and develop your understanding of how the world and everything in it works. These podcasts will surely spark that light bulb in your head and make you realize things that you’ve never thought of before.
Those listening to these podcasts are never bored. While some speakers struggle to you're your attention, these podcasts are different—they will keep you interested and fascinated until the end.
Let’s check them out!
1. Revisionist History
Malcolm Gladwell is the man behind the Revisionist History podcast. He is a New York Times bestselling author and a TIME Magazine 100 most influential person. Some of his most notable works include The Tipping Point, Blink, and David and Goliath. Gladwell is also included as one of Foreign Policy’s Top Global Thinkers for his innovative and creative mind.
Revisionist History is all about revisiting the “past” and examining how it is affecting the present and future. Gladwell goes back in time, investigating historical figures and events and interpreting everything in between, including the things that our historians might have misunderstood or overlooked. He gives new meaning to what has happened in the past, as well as what could have happened if things occurred differently.
Invisibilia is a Latin word that directly translates to “invisible things,” and this podcast is a narrative of how invisible forces control our attitudes and behavior in life. It includes topics like how indiscernible things and intangible elements affect our thoughts, emotions, and even assumptions.
Hosted and produced by Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin, Invisibilia is currently one of the top podcasts when it comes to sensible conversations. It is broadcasted through National Public Radio (NPR) and presently ranks as one of its finest shows. In 2015, it was even ranked by the Guardian as one of the best new podcasts of the year.
Upstream is a project from Della Duncan and her colleagues that specifically focuses on advocating a “democratic, just, and sustainable future economy.” It features a series of interviews and documentaries that tackle issues related to the economy of the 21st century. According to George Richardson, it is a “beautifully crafted podcast” that is really “informative and motivating.”
The podcast was founded in 2016 and is still listened to millions of people today because of its sensible topics and heartfelt stories. Duncan’s goal is to challenge cultural norms and awaken people to how a democratic, just, and sustainable economy should be structured.
4. Hidden Brain
Hidden Brain is a podcast that “explores the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior and questions that lie at the heart of our complex and changing world.” It helps people understand the human mind and the human world, and reveals how our unconscious, subconscious, and implicit mind works.
Hosted by NPR’s social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, this podcast is one of the fastest-growing shows today. It was launched in 2015, and already has millions and millions of subscribers and supporters. Its popularity led to the creation of Hidden Brain Media in 2019, which allowed the show to connect to more people.
5. Intelligence Squared
Intelligence Squared originally started as a live debate that aimed to inform and inspire people about how certain issues from around the world affect their lives. After some time, its founders expanded their reach and turned the live debates into podcast shows. Its main goal is to “promote a global conversation” among individuals to encourage wise decision-making based on essential facts.
The podcast is currently one of the most prominent of its kind. According to listeners and reviewers, the debates are usually passionate and deep. Some even report that the show forces them to question their own opinions about things. If you are looking for something that is really thought-provoking, we suggest checking this podcast out.
6. People Fixing the World
People Fixing the World is a podcast with “brilliant solutions to the world’s problems.” In each episode, host Dhruv Boruah presents solutions to some of the world’s biggest and most common dilemmas by interviewing people with bright ideas. Some of the topics it covers include resolving the gender pay gap, increasing HIV awareness, and creating affordable housing projects.
This podcast is a product of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service. As you would expect from a BBC production, the quality of this podcast is exceptional—from the research and writing to the delivery. Every episode has around 20 minutes of air time.
7. Reply All
If you’ve ever wondered how the Internet is affecting our lives and behavior today, then we suggest listening to Reply All. In this show, expert podcasters talk about “how people shape the Internet and how the Internet shapes people.” It is all about how technological advances in the online world affect our day-to-day lives as individuals in a modern era.
Reply All is a brainchild of Gimlet Media, an award-winning podcasting company that aims to produce quality podcasts to help people live better and more satisfactory lives. It is created, managed, and hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, two of the most respectable podcasters in America today. Reply All is the second podcast that Gimlet Media developed and remains one of its best shows.
8. The Partially Examined Life
There is nothing more thought-provoking than a podcast that talks about philosophy, philosophers, and philosophical texts—which is exactly what The Partially Examined Life was created to do. Inspired by the idea of bringing back the good old days when you and your friends enjoyed drinks after a long seminar and chatted about things that mattered, this podcast is a roundtable discussion of all things philosophical.
The Partially Examined Life is hosted and produced by Mark Linsenmayer, Seth Paskin, Wes Alwan, and Dylan Casey. It has been running since 2009, and in 2016 the group decided to expand it into a podcast network to add more thought-provoking and awe-inspiring podcast ideas.
We highly recommend Radiolab for those who have philosophical thoughts like, “What is the essence of time?” or “How do we measure people’s morality?” This is one of those deep-thinking podcasts that questions the existence of everything essential, like life itself and the source of all happiness. As its tagline states, the podcast is dedicated to “investigating a strange world.”
Radiolab is devoted to explaining scientific, philosophical, and political topics to its listeners. It is hosted by founder Jad Abumrad, Latif Nasser, and Lulu Miller, and it is currently one of the most notable podcasts of all time because of its respected status in the podcast production industry.
Final Words on These Thought-Provoking Podcasts
Whenever you feel like you want to hear someone speak with sense—or if you ever just want to expand your knowledge about how things in this beautiful yet complicated world work—we hope these podcasts can help point you in the right direction. Try one or two of them and see if they interest you. If so, tune in each week and expand your mind!