7 Thought-provoking Podcasts to Widen Your Worldview
There's nothing like unwinding with a relaxing podcast at the end of a long day, or spending some time cleaning the house and laughing along with a great comedy podcast. But sometimes you want more. Sometimes, getting stuck into a meaty podcast about big ideas challenges your entire belief system in a way that feels transformative and—at the risk of sounding overdramatic—revolutionary.
From spirituality and psychology to culture and history, here are seven thought-provoking podcasts that will widen your worldview.
Host Jerico Mandybur wants you to open your mind. In Beyond Belief, she shares the mic with out-there people (dolphin communicators, spirit guides) and explores topics such as satanic feminism, stigmata, and DMT entities. The conversations are free of judgement and don't require much, if any, prior knowledge on the listener's part, wanting ultimately to champion subversive thinking and speak to the inner Agent Scully in all of us. This is a podcast that helps you to be curious and playful in the way you explore and learn, encouraging you to challenge the status quo think critically (but not cynically) about the world around you.
This popular podcast, in its own words, explores "the intangible forces that shape human behaviour". Each episode focuses on a single belief, emotion or assumption that make us do what we do, featuring interviews with people who are at once exceptional and exceptionally ordinary—like the blind man who "sees" the world through echolocation (season one's "How to Become Batman"); and the California surfer experiencing violent, intrusive thoughts about hurting his family (the show's very first episode, "The Secret History of Thoughts"). Invisibilia is a moreish podcast and, with 29 incredible episodes seasons, perfect for binge-listening.
Sometimes called by its full name, Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People, this podcast makes art out of listener questions. Host Chris Gethhard has cult status in the world of indie comedy and he describes it best: "I started a podcast where the premise was I’d tweet out a phone number and talk to whomever called for a full hour straight. I forfeited the ability to hang up. I figured it would be a funny podcast where I’d get prank called by weirdos. Instead, this project has transformed my life by becoming a weekly tribute to empathy, openness, and honesty. People have shared their lives, one by one, in a way that truly makes me feel like the world is a smaller place, and that people are people, and that everyone has a story worth telling."
Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang are comedians and experts in all things culture, specifically pop culture. Some episodes dive deep into significant moments in history, and others produce incredible celebrity interviews that will make you feel alive and give you new appreciation for pop culture and the people who make it. Listen to Maggots or Magic" with Glow's Betty Gilpin, it is deep and delightful, and you'll be hooked.
Author Malcolm Gladwell marries real-world events with the philosophies and beliefs that they reflect and sustain. He's like the best kind of teacher you had at school or university—one who was also invested in learning. Some episodes travel back to moments in history, and some focus on the history-making present.
Probably the best podcast based on a Tumblr account, Yo, Is This Racist is all about race and racism hosted by comedians Andrew Ti and Tawny Newsome. Like its namesake blog, the podcast fields questions from the public that seek to clarify whether or not something is racist, to which the answers are almost always "yes". It's as much about race, racism and human behaviour as it is about pop culture, inspiring you to ask yourself and others the confronting questions that aim to move us towards positive change.
In a way, listening to Reply All is like hanging out with your kind of annoying brother and his annoying friends who spend way too much time online, but at the end of the day aren't we all that annoying friend who spends way too much time online and understands the minutiae of meme culture too well for our own good? And if this isn't you, then Alex Goldman and PJ Vogt are here to explain it all. Episodes range from deep dives and investigative journalism to lighter segments where the hosts explain tweets to their boss. Reply All is all about the people who shape the internet and all the ways the internet shapes the "real" world.