Five Podcasts that will make you Smarter
I love podcasts. I listen to them while I commute to work, cook, eat, clean, shower, you name it. If I’ve got headphones on, you can pretty much guarantee some person is droning on about true crime to me from them. While true crime is one of the most popular podcast genres, I also really enjoy learning while listening to podcasts.
So if you like podcasts, and you like being the person at a party who has an encyclopedia of random, sometimes useless facts in their head, keep reading for my podcast recommendations!
One of my all time favourite podcasts, This Podcast Will Kill You is about diseases, and each episode the hosts cover a different disease. Each episode the hosts, both graduate students studying disease ecology at the time they founded the podcast, delve into the history, biology, discovery, treatment, social impacts, and current status of the disease.
Even if you’re not a medical or biology student, you will find this podcast fascinating. Each episode I come away knowing so much about a topic I had zero knowledge of before, and then proceed to hound my friends and family with all the new facts I’ve learned.
My favourite episode is the one about rabies. Start off with that one, and you’ll be hooked. How rabies evolved into the mastermind of a disease it is today is completely bewildering and I highly recommend you listen to the episode to find out why it gives you a fear of water!
The Unladylike podcast investigates the answers to a question posed at the beginning of the episode, through research and interviews with women who ‘go against the grain.’ This feminist podcast examines pieces of the patriarchy that you wouldn’t even think existed, and showcases the women who have broken through the mold in both their lives and careers. Some episodes include: How to Dive into Fear featuring an underwater cave diver; How to Kick off your Heels at Work; and why swearing feels so good and is so good for you.
I enjoy this podcast because I simultaneously learn from and get motivated and inspired by each guest they have on the show. Not only do I come away with knowledge about how I can do better, but I learn neat facts about many of the professions of the guests; for example, like how an undersea cave diver was able to scuba inside an ice berg in Antarctica to map it out.
This podcast takes a bit of a lighter, more fun tone. Each episode debunks and explains common beliefs or misconceptions, and it’s a Canadian podcast, which for me is always a bonus. The Reality Check mainly covers trivial or funny topics, but sometimes delves deeper into more serious issues. Recent topics covered include: citations and science reporting; how IKEA names stuff; astrology and Mercury retrograde; and if hippos can swim.
I always learn more fun facts after listening to this podcast, and it’s a good one to listen to if you want to learn, but don’t want to listen too hard.
Finally, two podcasts that are different but have similar concepts.
The Daily is by the New York Times, and largely covers global and American current events through an investigative journalism lens. Some topics covered include: coverage on the Hong Kong protests; China and the NBA; a dive into the lives of two strong women’s rights advocates turned Harvey Weinstein defense lawyers; and coverage of the Boeing 737 Max crisis.
Frontburner is a CBC Radio podcast, and is similar to The Daily except it covers international and Canadian stories through a Canadian lens.
This was my go-to podcast for coverage of the Canadian election campaigns in October, as they covered many topics, such as strategic voting and a profile of each of the party leaders.
More of my favourite episodes of Frontburner include: an interview with the ‘Berlin Patient’ Timothy Ray Brown, the first person to be cured of HIV/AIDS; coverage on the opioid crisis; and how political parties build their advertising campaigns.
Listening to these podcasts weekly helps me stay on top of current events, learn new things about Canada and the world, and become generally informed on a lot of issues that I otherwise wouldn’t know about.