Relatively Interesting Podcasts


If there’s one good thing about a long commute, it’s that you have a lot of free time to listen to podcasts (and audiobooks).  Each of the following podcasts have been carefully selected because we think you’ll find them, well,  relatively interesting.  We’ve listened to all of them – and many episodes of each – so we’re confident that you’ll enjoy them.

They are listed in no particular order and we’re very much aware that there are many, many great podcasts out there so the list is by no means final.  Once we discover and like new ones, we’ll add them.  If you’ve got a suggestion, please share it with us!

skeptics guide to the universescience, skepticismThe Skeptics' Guide to the Universe is a weekly Podcast talk show discussing the latest news and topics from the world of the paranormal, fringe science, and controversial claims from a scientific point of view. It is produced by the New England Skeptical Society in association with the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF).
radiolabscience, storytelling, cultureOn Radiolab, science meets culture and information sounds like music. Each episode of Radiolab® is an investigation -- a patchwork of people, sounds, stories and experiences centered around One Big Idea. Hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, Radiolab is produced by WNYC public radio.
skeptics with a kskepticismSkeptics with a K is the podcast for science, reason and critical thinking from the Merseyside Skeptics Society. A word to the young skeptics out there - there's some swearing, often, but it only servers to make their storytelling all the more hilarious.
infinite monkey cagescience, comedy, physicsAward winning science/comedy chat with Brian Cox, Robin Ince and guests. The Infinite Monkey Cage discusses important things like "When is a strawberry dead?" and tries to define what an actual infinite monkey cage is... they also talk about biology, philosophy and its intersection with science, physics, chemistry, cosmology, and so much more. It is a highly entertaining 28 minutes per episode.
intelligence squareddebateIntelligence Squared U.S. Debates bring Oxford-style debate to America - one motion, one moderator, two panelists for the motion and two against. From clean energy and the financial crisis, to the Middle East and the death of mainstream media, Intelligence Squared U.S. brings together the world's leading authorities on the day's most important issues.
hardcore historyhistory, warIn "Hardcore History" the very unconventional Dan Carlin takes his "Martian", outside-the-box way of thinking and applies it to the past. Was Alexander the Great as bad a person as Adolf Hitler? What would Apaches with modern weapons be like? Will our modern civilization ever fall like civilizations from past eras? This is a difficult-to-classify show that has a rather sharp edge. It's not for everyone. But the innovative style and approach has made "Dan Carlin's Hardcore History" a New Media hit.
Freakonomicseconomics, behavioral economicsSteven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explore "the hidden side of everything," telling stories about cheating schoolteachers and eating champions while teaching us all to think a bit more creatively, rationally, and productively. The Freakonomics Radio podcast, hosted by Dubner, carries on that tradition with weekly episodes. Prepare to be enlightened, engaged, perhaps enraged, and definitely surprised.
Quackcastskepticism, quackery, medicine, alternative medicine, scamsA review of Quacks, Frauds and Charlatans. Oops. Thats not right. That should be Supplements, Complementary and Alternative Medicine i.e. SCAM's. Winner in 2009, 2010, and 2011 of The People's Choice Podcast Awards for Best Health Podcast. A side project of Pusware LLC, home of the Infectious DIsease Compendium: A Persiflagers Guide, your uber hyperlinked guide to Infectious Disease, the Persiflagers Infectious Disease Puscast and a Gobbet o' Pus.
99% Invisibledesign, historyDesign is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible (99 Percent Invisible) is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars, KALW in San Francisco, and Radiotopia from PRX.
SkeptoidskepticismSkeptoid is a weekly science podcast dedicated to furthering knowledge by blasting away the widespread pseudosciences that infect popular culture, and replacing them with way cooler reality. Each weekly episode focuses on a single phenomenon — an urban legend, a paranormal claim, alternative therapy, or something just plain stupid — that you've heard of, and that you probably believe in. Skeptoid attempts to expose the folly of belief in non-evidence based phenomena, and more importantly, explains the factual scientific reality.
Planet MoneyeconomicsMoney makes the world go around, faster and faster every day. On NPR's Planet Money, you'll meet high rollers, brainy economists and regular folks — all trying to make sense of our rapidly changing global economy.
Common Sense with Dan Carlinpolitics, history, sociology, critical thinkingCommon Sense with Dan Carlin is an independent look at politics and current events from popular New Media personality Dan Carlin. Carlin's self-described "Martian" viewpoints infuse each episode with a political alien's take on the world around us and the problems it faces. It's a smart, unique (and admittedly U.S.-centric) program that doesn't dumb down the information or analysis for the slowest person in the room. For those craving a deeper intellectual analysis, a less partisan approach and unpredictable outside-the-box revelations, Common Sense with Dan Carlin is a feast for the mind.
TED Radio Hourcreativity, design, innovationThe TED Radio Hour is a journey through fascinating ideas: astonishing inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, new ways to think and create. Based on Talks given by riveting speakers on the world-renowned TED stage, each show is centered on a common theme – such as the source of happiness, crowd-sourcing innovation, power shifts, or inexplicable connections.
Startalk Radiocosmos, science, astronomy, physicsScience meets comedy and pop culture on StarTalk Radio! Astrophysicist and Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson, his comic co-hosts, guest celebrities and scientists discuss astronomy, physics, and everything else about life in the universe.
Serialstorytelling, investigative journalismSerial unfolds one story - a true story - over the course of a whole season. The show follows the plot and characters wherever they lead, through many surprising twists and turns. Sarah won't know what happens at the end of the story until she gets there, not long before you get there with her. Each week she'll bring you the latest chapter, so it's important to listen in, starting with Episode 1.
The Reality Checkscience, skepticismCanada's weekly podcast that explores a wide range of controversies and curiosities using science and critical thinking.
Snap Judgmentstorytelling, cultureSnap Judgment is the smoking-hot new show from NPR. Winner of the Public Radio Talent Quest, Glynn Washington delivers a raw, musical brand of storytelling, daring listeners to see the world through the eyes of another.
This American Lifestorytelling, journalism, cultureThis American Life is a weekly public radio show, heard by 2.2 million people on more than 500 stations. Another 1.5 million people download the weekly podcast. It is hosted by Ira Glass, produced by Chicago Public Media, delivered to stations by PRX The Public Radio Exchange, and has won all of the major broadcasting awards. Literally all of them.
Startupentrepreneurship, economics, technology A series about what happens when someone who knows nothing about business starts one. With Alex Blumberg from This American Life & Planet Money. It is a must-listen for any budding entrepreneur.
Criminalcriminology, storytellingCriminal is a podcast about crime. Not so much the "if it bleeds, it leads," kind of crime. Something a little more complex. Stories of people who've done wrong, been wronged, and/or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.
The Allusionistlanguage, words, etymologyLinguistic adventures with Helen Zaltzman for Radiotopia from PRX
Waking Upreligion, philosophy, atheismJoin Sam Harris as he explores important and controversial questions about the human mind, society, and current events.
Hidden Brainpsychology, sociologyThe Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain's host Shankar Vedantam reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.
Invisibiliapsychology, behavioral psychology, sociologyInvisibilia (Latin for invisible things) is about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Co-hosted by Lulu Miller, Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel, Invisibilia interweaves narrative storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life differently.
Science VSscience, skepticism, pseudoscience, quackery, critical thinkingThere are a lot of fads, blogs and strong opinions, but then there’s SCIENCE. Science Vs is from Gimlet Media and finds out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between. They do the hard work of sifting through all the science so you (we) don't have to.
Lorelore, mythology, myths, legendsLore is a show about the dark historical tales that fuel our modern superstitions. Each episode explores the world of mysterious creatures, tragic events, and unusual places. Because sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction.
Question of the Daysociology, economicsQuestion of the Day is the show for listeners who are short on time and long on curiosity. It is a fast-paced conversation between author and entrepreneur James Altucher and Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner: two smart and unconventional thinkers.
Revisionist HistoryhistoryFrom Malcolm Gladwell and Panoply Media, Revisionist History will go back and reinterpret something from the past. An event. A person. An idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood. Because sometimes the past deserves a second chance.
Reply Allinternet, sociologyA show about the internet, hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. From Gimlet Media.
Song ExplodermusicA podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.