Her name is Ruth Westheimer, but we all know her as Dr. Ruth, the helpful lady who’s spoken to us for decades about sex. She's always direct, to the point, and bubbling with insight about ourselves and our partners. In this frank conversation with Alan Alda, Dr. Ruth talks about how to achieve a long lasting relationship in a short term world. She also talks candidly about her past experience as a sniper, and shares her thoughts on sex and relationships as we age.
Sheila Nevins has explored the human condition in the thousand or so documentaries she produced for HBO. From more than 30 years of telling us stories about ourselves, to her experience as a woman in the workplace, Sheila has plenty to say about communicating. And she never holds back. In this delightful episode, Alan Alda talks with Sheila about her life, how she feels about aging, the #MeToo movement, sex, divorce, documentaries, storytelling, and just about everything else! This episode is sponsored by Calm. Check out www.calm.com/alda for more details.
She makes an interesting point about humility that people with power (and especially within the entertainment industry) should be aware of and work to improve.
Most shocking was the story she tells about her me too moment and how she viewed it. Definitely a perspective I wouldn’t have expected.
Her perspective about looking at individuals as a way into human problems and making documentaries is similar to a philosophy I remember hearing from Masha Gessen in an interview that Jeffrey Goldberg did with her. The upshot is that, especially for righting wrongs and general atrocities, focusing a story on a particular individual has a lot more power than focusing on the nameless and faceless masses. Sheila’s example of the Holocaust survivor is a particular apt one. (As I think about it Masha would be a great interview for this podcast.)
In fact, I recently watched an immigration related documentary on Frontline and while I didn’t personally find the lead woman very relate-able or sympathetic, I was still pissed off at the process because her individual story was still so powerful.
This general ideal also reminds me of the gut-punch scene at the end of the film A Time To Kill (1996) [spoiler alert] which ends with the command to the jury “Now imagine she’s white.”
Senator Bill Bradley has an amazing life. He was a Gold medal Olympian, a Rhodes Scholar, a legendary star with the Knicks for 10 years, a United Sates Senator for 12 years. He ran for the Democratic party’s Presidential nomination, and to top it off, he’s the host of the long-running SiriusXM Satellite Radio program – “American Voices.” In this episode, Alan Alda speaks with Sen. Bradley about leading a life of curiosity, learning and service. His stories are fun and he has a lot to say about our fellow Americans. This episode is sponsored by Athletic Greens, visit athleticgrrens.com/alda
We love hearing from our listeners! Through social media and email, you've been sending us your own answers to "Alan's 7 Questions" and we've been having a great time reading through all your witty, smart, and often poignant responses. In this episode, we're highlighting all of our favorites! We want to keep hearing from you, so please continue to write us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or get social with us on Twitter @alda, or on Facebook and Instagram at "ClearandVivid." Thanks for listening and enjoy the show -- dedicated to all of you!
Alan Alda wanted to get off the island quickly. Steven Strogatz explains how an 18th century British clergyman could have helped. In this short bonus episode, Steven helps Alan understand something that he’s wondered about for years.
There’s a reasonable basic discussion of Bayesian statistics here.
Stephen Fry loves words. But he does more than love them. He puts them together in ways that so delight readers, that a blog or a tweet by him can get hundreds of thousands of people hanging on his every keystroke. As an actor, he’s brought to life every kind of theatrical writing from sketch comedy to classics. He’s performed in everything from game shows to the British audiobook version of Harry Potter. And always with a rich intelligence and searching eye. In this conversation with Alan Alda, Stephen explores how myths — sometimes very ancient ones — help us understand and, even guide, our modern selves.
How do we get beyond Right versus Left, "Us" versus "Them," and even "Me" versus "You"? Jonathan Haidt has a few theories about this all too-familiar tribalism and the seemingly endless culture wars of our time. As someone who studies morality and emotion, Jonathan has deep insight into the moral foundation of our politics and his research in moral psychology has revealed new ways for us to engage in more civil forms of politics, which can help make us all more cooperative and decent. In this conversation, Alan Alda talks with Jonathan about what makes us happy and how we can overcome our natural tendency toward self-righteousness, in order to respect and learn from those whose morality (and politics) differs from our own.
Steven Strogatz possesses a special ability to see into the unseen. How does he do it? Steve is a world class mathematician, who sees through the window of math. But, lucky for us, he’s also a world class communicator. An award-winning professor, researcher, author, and creative thinker, Steve can help anyone (even Alan Alda) understand some of the unseen world of numbers. In this episode, Alan and Steven start from zero, not the number, but from a place of not knowing anything. He emerges from the darkness for a moment as Steve actually gets Alan to understand something that’s always mystified him. Steven's latest book, "Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe," is now available online and at all major book sellers.
I’ve always thought that Euler and Cauchy have their names on so many theorems simply because they did a lot of simple, basic exploration at a time when there was a lot of low hanging mathematical fruit to be gathered. Too many math books and teachers mythologize these men for what seems like magic, yet when taught to explore the same way even young children can figure out many of these same theorems for themselves.
If we could only teach the “how to do math” while children are young and then only move to the theorem-proof business later on as a means of quickly advancing through a lot of history and background so that students can get to the frontiers of math to begin doing their own explorations on their own again we would be far better off. Though along that path we should always have at least some emphasis on the doing of math and discovery to keep it at the fore.
Rachael Ray knows how to relate over food. When she cooks, she's always thinking about her audience and how to communicate a message through the medium of food. Her energy and talent have led her to create a billion dollar lifestyle empire, built around the concept of fun, healthy, and joyous experiences with food. In this episode of Clear+Vivid, Rachael Ray and Alan Alda cook up some pasta together and enjoy a lively conversation around the dinner table!
I’ve been aware of Alan Alda’s work in the areas of science communication for a while, but his podcast and the subtle questions he’s asking are giving me greater respect for what he’s doing as well. We need several thousand more of him. We also need better curricula to improve these issues among scientists themselves. I remember needing to take at least three credits of writing intensive courses in college (far too few, but at least it was something), but it would be nice if all scientists and engineers were forced to have more basic training in communication at the lower levels.
W. Kamau Bell, the host of CNN's "United Shades of America,” describes his show as giving people a “microphone” and “public square to tell their version of the story.” Putting it plainly, he's said his greatest gift as a communicator is in knowing, “... how to shut the f*ck up and let people talk.” Kamau is a gifted stand up comedian who delivers his comedy through a socio-political lens. In this episode of Clear+Vivid, Alan Alda asks W. Kamau Bell about his approach to comedy and how it's possible to talk with someone who you genuinely disagree with, like a member of the KKK — and still find relatable qualities, even humor. Before they finish, Kamau surprises Alan with a guest of his own!
Hat tip: @sciphi