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Make Me Smart With Kai and Molly

Where do I start?

Jennie Josephson Nov 23, 2017

One of my favorite parts of producing Make Me Smart is talking with our listeners via email and on Twitter. One question I get a lot is some version of:

“I just found Make Me Smart, should I listen to all of the episodes from the beginning?”

My answer is: If you’re going to a Thanksgiving dinner on, say, Mars, then you might have time to listen to every single Make Me Smart. But for everyone else, you certainly can, but you don’t have to. Since this is the weekend of long drives and even longer dinners, I figured I’d throw a few of my favorite Make Me Smart episodes out there for you to enjoy.

3: Lord of the attention merchants 

Kai and Molly talk about Ajit Pai and net neutrality for the first, but not the last time. They also interview Tim Wu, who coined the phrase “net neutrality.” This is a really relevant interview for the weeks ahead.

4: It’s the economy, Cupid 

I mean, for a show that went live on Valentine’s Day, you can’t beat this title. But you should also listen because this is the first episode that felt like it fully embraced our premise of getting smarter together. Also, it’s never a bad time to hear John Buckley, Marketplace’s foreign editor, read a children’s book.

10: Avocado toast is really a story about NAFTA

This episode was produced by Bridget Bodnar and had lots of great field interviews about avocados, jeans and baseball.

12: This is your brain on Trump

A nice, long interview with George Lakoff about how our brains can actually reject new information and facts based on our worldview, and so much more. Comes with an even longer transcript!

 16: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to challenge your premise

One of my favorite interviews of the year, because where else can you hear the mayor of Chicago call Kai Ryssdal “Mr. Moody’s Doom and Gloom?” Also, this interview features the longest-ever pause before answering our Make Me Smart question.

17: Filter failure 

Zeynep Tufekci, associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explains how one media deal could transform the way you consume media. Also extremely relevant to today’s ongoing conversation about news. 

20: The enforcer

I really enjoyed this interview with Commissioner Terrell McSweeny of the Federal Trade Commission, and I think you’re going to hear her name a lot more as this latest debate over net neutrality goes forward.

21: Tax cuts and partisan brain candy

This episode is all about trickle down economics and how it impacted the state of Kansas, which is pertinent to the current debate about the Republican tax bill.

31: What’s a CEO’s statement worth to this White House?

There’s a great interview in this episode with Tim Leong, who wrote “Star Wars Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away.” Plus, I made a really fun audio super graphic of Luke Skywalker asking a bunch of annoying questions.

32: April Reign, #OscarsSoWhite and the art of influence

This is my favorite interview of the year. It also kicked off a multiepisode reflection on artistic freedom versus artistic responsibility.

35: Facebook is the field democracy plays out on (and that’s not good)  

Not a full episode, but Kai had a great conversation with Max Read of New York magazine, and you all really liked it.

37: Is it time to take capitalism in to the shop for a look under the hood?  

This is the episode where we kicked off our ongoing discussion about whether our brand of capitalism is working for enough people. This episode is like the opening argument, and you can find great interviews in episodes 38, 39 and 41.

42: Breaking bread without conflict

How can you not love an episode about celery and spending conflict-free time with your family?

Well, that ought to do it for the holiday weekend. If by any chance you are headed to a family dinner on Mars, you’re really going to like next week’s guest. 

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