8 Podcasts That Will Make You Contemplate Life’s Big Questions

It’s no secret that podcast listeners are intelligent, creative people; most listeners are not simply searching for entertaining podcasts, but for podcasts that will educate them and enable them to think deeply. One of the chief draws of podcasts is that you can listen to them while simultaneously working on something else--whether that be cleaning, exercising, or commuting home from work. Rather than get lost in one’s own thoughts or mindlessly listen to music while doing such activities, podcasts feed one’s knowledge and inspire.

The hardest part about listening to podcasts, though, is finding the ones that appeal most to you. No one wants to waste precious time listening to uninspiring or brainless podcasts.

As podcast creators, producers, and addicts ourselves, we get it. So we decided to help out those of you who are searching for new podcasts by giving you some great ones to choose from that are not only interesting, but that allow you to think big.

The following podcasts are our absolute favorite podcasts for increasing mindfulness and knowledge about the world, improving wellbeing, and encouraging oneself to think deeply.

1. Inquiring Minds

This weekly podcast explores “the space where science, politics, and society collide.” Hosted by a neuroscientist/musician and a scientist/educator, this show is committed to using critical thinking and science to help listeners better understand the world around them. They have discussions with some really fascinating and intelligent people, and once you listen to one episode, you’ll be left craving more.

Recommended episode: Ep. 227: Peter Rubin - Virtual Reality Is Changing Human Connection

2. Bulletproof Radio

High tech entrepreneur Dave Asprey is the man behind Bulletproof Radio, a podcast all about looking at your life and figuring out the simplest ways you can become better at everything, thereby becoming the best version of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. Driven by an obsession for discovery, Dave brings you the knowledge of doctors, biochemists, nutritionists, meditation experts, and personal self-experiments to help you discover this "Bulletproof" state of high performance within yourself.

Recommended episode: Eat to Live: Your Relationship with Food, Money, and Love. Geneen Roth #505

3. On Being

Krista Tippett explores life's most meaningful questions about science, social healing, spirituality, and the arts through interviews with a variety of scientists, theologians, artists and teachers. With a new hour-long episode every Thursday, you’re bound to learn something new about your existence as an individual in this world.

Recommended episode: Elizabeth Gilbert: Choosing Curiosity Over Fear

4. Stuff to Blow Your Mind

From the makers of popular podcast How Stuff Works comes Stuff To Blow Your Mind. This conversational show about the sciences is aimed at those people who don’t know much about them now but are curious to learn more. Co-hosts Robert and Julie talk about some of the most interesting topics each week, such as alien abductions, neuroplasticity, black holes, and real-life monsters!

Recommended episode: Black Holes, Part 1: Phantom

5. Big Audacious Idea

New to the scene and just wrapping up its first season, Big Audacious Idea is a podcast packed with deep conversation that provides ample food for thought for listeners who like to think boldly. Host Craig James interviews some of today’s most provocative thinkers every week in about 35 minutes, and together they explore what it means to be human, whether time moves backwards, whether cryptocurrency has value, and much more.

Recommended episode: Money with Seth Godin

6. BrainStuff Audio

This fun podcast explores all kinds of interesting questions, from “Where did middle names come from?” to “Could you outrun a volcano?” to “Can beaches be saved by adding sand?” It explores the world’s everyday mysteries and fascinating stuff you may have missed in school, and it’s perfect for all kinds of listeners.

Recommended episode: Do dogs use facial expressions to communicate with us?

7. Hidden Brain

Hidden Brain is a podcast by NPR about “life’s unseen patterns.” By helping listeners better understand the world around them, they are able to better understand themselves. It unites science with storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that shape our choices, relationships, and overall human behavior.

Recommended episode: Summer melt: Why aren’t students showing up for college?

8. The Partially Examined Life

The Partially Examined Life is a philosophy podcast that does not require a philosophy degree--only the ability to think deeply. It explores a new question or concept each week by focusing on a short text and talking about it with both “insight and flippancy.” In this way, even amateurs can jump right into the conversation, and they are guaranteed to gain a lot of knowledge in a short amount of time.

Recommended episode: Ep. 191: Conceptual schemes: Donald Davidson & Rudolf Carnap (part one)

We hope you find a new podcast or two that entertains you and, most importantly, enables you to think deeper.

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