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The Gray Area with Sean Illing
The Gray Area with Sean Illing
Vox

The Gray Area with Sean Illing takes a philosophy-minded look at culture, technology, politics, and the world of ideas. Each week, we invite a... more

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Episodes

The world after nuclear war

A mile of pure fire. A flash that melts everything — titanium, steel, lead, people. A blast that mows down... more

17 Jun 2024 · 57 minutes
Gaza, Camus, and the logic of violence

Albert Camus was a Nobel-winning French writer and public intellectual. During Algeria’s bloody war for independence in the 1950s, Camus... more

10 Jun 2024 · 54 minutes
This is your kid on smartphones

Old people have always worried about young people. But psychologist Jonathan Haidt believes something genuinely different and troubling is happening... more

03 Jun 2024 · 53 minutes
Life after death?

Sebastian Junger came as close as you possibly can to dying. While his doctors struggled to revive him, the veteran... more

20 May 2024 · 52 minutes
The world after Ozempic

Ozempic and other new weight loss drugs are being touted as potential miracle cures for diabetes and obesity. Journalist Johann... more

13 May 2024 · 50 minutes
UFOs, God, and the edge of understanding

Religious studies professor Diana Pasulka was a total nonbeliever in alien life, but she began to question this after speaking... more

06 May 2024 · 46 minutes
How to listen

Most of us don’t know how to truly listen, and it’s causing all sorts of problems. Sean Illing is joined... more

29 Apr 2024 · 55 minutes
Everything's a cult now

The internet has fractured our world into a million little subcultures catering to the specific identities and habits of everyone... more

22 Apr 2024 · 53 minutes
Fareed Zakaria on our revolutionary moment

Is it possible that we are living through one of the most revolutionary periods in human history? CNN’s Fareed Zakaria... more

15 Apr 2024 · 45 minutes
Life is hard. Can philosophy help?

Philosophy may seem like a theoretical or abstract discipline in which unanswerable questions are debated to the point of tedium.... more

08 Apr 2024 · 51 minutes
The American dream is a pyramid scheme

Jane Marie is an expert in American bullshit. Her podcast The Dream explores life coaching, wellness, marketing, and other fraudulent... more

01 Apr 2024 · 46 minutes
The chaplain who doesn't believe in God

As a non-believer, Devin Moss never thought he would become a chaplain or a spiritual adviser, much less one who... more

25 Mar 2024 · 48 minutes
Can a friend be our most significant other?

Journalist Rhaina Cohen believes that modern culture undervalues friendships and discusses the ways in which deep friendships are distinct from... more

18 Mar 2024 · 50 minutes
The power of climate fiction

Stephen Markley’s novel, “The Deluge,” is an ambitious and terrifyingly realistic look at our collective future on a warming planet.... more

11 Mar 2024 · 47 minutes
The denial of death

It’s been 50 years since Ernest Becker’s breakthrough book The Denial of Death was first published, and its thesis has... more

04 Mar 2024 · 45 minutes
A brief history of extinction panics

Silicon Valley is in the middle of an AI frenzy, and many of its leaders believe this technology could eventually... more

26 Feb 2024 · 50 minutes
The new(ish) world order

America solidified its dominant posture in the international order following World War II and largely held that position for the... more

19 Feb 2024 · 42 minutes
The free-market century is over

Sean Illing talks with economic historian Brad DeLong about his new book Slouching Towards Utopia. In it, DeLong claims that... more

12 Feb 2024 · 54 minutes
Music and mysticism

Musician Laraaji joins Sean to talk about improvisation as meditation, the transcendent nature of laughter, and lessons from a long... more

05 Feb 2024 · 47 minutes
The case for banning...millionaires?

Political philosopher Ingrid Robeyns believes that there should be a maximum amount of money and resources that one person can... more

29 Jan 2024 · 53 minutes
The joy of uncertainty

For much of her life, author Maggie Jackson disliked uncertainty and thought of it as something to eradicate as quickly as... more

22 Jan 2024 · 48 minutes
A pro-worker work ethic

Americans have absorbed the “Protestant work ethic” — the idea that our value as human beings is determined by how... more

15 Jan 2024 · 41 minutes
How psychedelics can reinvent learning

If you’ve felt that learning new information or developing a new skill seems harder as you get older, you are... more

08 Jan 2024 · 37 minutes
Seeing ourselves through the darkness

When we find ourselves in a dark place, what if we didn't "lighten things up"? Sean Illing talks with philosopher... more

26 Dec 2023 · 55 minutes
Living Mindfully

Jon Kabat-Zinn helped kick off the American mindfulness movement with his bestselling book Wherever You Go, There You Are. On... more

18 Dec 2023 · 41 minutes
Taking anarchism seriously

Most people think anarchists want to live in a lawless society devoid of any structure or order. But anarchism is... more

11 Dec 2023 · 50 minutes
3,000 years of The Iliad

Constance Grady, a culture writer at Vox, is joined by Emily Wilson to discuss her bestselling translations of The Iliad... more

04 Dec 2023 · 36 minutes
Late-stage liberalism

Sean Illing is joined by John Gray, political philosopher and author of the new book, The New Leviathans: Thoughts After... more

27 Nov 2023 · 53 minutes
The case against free will

Sean Illing speaks with Robert Sapolsky, a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University and the author of a... more

20 Nov 2023 · 58 minutes
A Jew and a Muslim get honest about Israel and Gaza

Zack Beauchamp, a Vox senior correspondent who writes about democracy and Israel, speaks with Shadi Hamid, a columnist at The... more

13 Nov 2023 · 1 hour,
How to keep panic from attacking

Sean Illing is joined by Matt Gutman, the chief national correspondent for ABC News, to talk about his new book,... more

06 Nov 2023 · 49 minutes
We Are What We Watch

Guest host Alissa Wilkinson speaks with Walt Hickey about his new book, You Are What You Watch: How Movies and... more

30 Oct 2023 · 56 minutes
Werner Herzog’s ecstatic truth

Sean Illing speaks with one of his heroes: Werner Herzog. Herzog is a filmmaker, poet, and author of the new... more

23 Oct 2023 · 56 minutes
The lessons of Sam Bankman-Fried

Michael Lewis joins Sean Illing to discuss his new book about Sam Bankman-Fried, Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of... more

16 Oct 2023 · 55 minutes
Is America getting meaner?

Sean Illing and David Brooks talk about Brooks’s recent essay, “How America Got Mean.” They discuss the country's moral history,... more

02 Oct 2023 · 54 minutes
Naomi Klein on her doppelganger (and yours)

Every generation thinks they’re living through the strangest times, but is our generation right? Sean Illing speaks with writer and... more

25 Sep 2023 · 57 minutes
Should we press pause on AI?

How worried should we be about AI? Sean Illing is joined by Stuart J. Russell, a professor at the University... more

18 Sep 2023 · 57 minutes
Democracy’s existential crisis

Why is democracy worth saving? Sean Illing is joined by Astra Taylor, the author of the new book The Age... more

11 Sep 2023 · 51 minutes
Conservative socialism?

What will American politics look like after Trump? Sean Illing is joined by Sohrab Ahmari to discuss his new book,... more

28 Aug 2023 · 55 minutes
The benefits of utopian thinking

Why don’t we spend more time imagining a better future? Sean Illing is joined by Kristen R. Ghodsee, the author... more

21 Aug 2023 · 53 minutes
What Clarence Thomas really thinks

In this episode, which was originally published in August 2022, Sean Illing talks with Corey Robin, author of a 2019... more

14 Aug 2023 · 1 hour, 3 minutes
The new crisis of masculinity

What does masculinity mean these days? Sean Illing speaks with Christine Emba, a columnist at The Washington Post who wrote... more

07 Aug 2023 · 1 hour, 1 minute
How we all became a brand

What does it mean to be “authentic” in the digital age? Sean Illing speaks with Tara Isabella Burton about her... more

31 Jul 2023 · 52 minutes
The therapeutic potential of MDMA

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, MDMA (also known as molly or ecstasy) was dismissed as a club drug and became... more

24 Jul 2023 · 47 minutes
Is the journey to self-discovery pointless?

There are many ways people are trying to know themselves these days – from taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test... more

17 Jul 2023 · 52 minutes
Parenting through the climate crisis

Does being a parent today necessarily mean also being a climate activist? Sean Illing speaks with moral philosopher and political... more

10 Jul 2023 · 47 minutes
Seeing ourselves through darkness

When we find ourselves in a dark place, what if we didn't "lighten things up"? Sean Illing talks with philosopher... more

29 Jun 2023 · 56 minutes
Best of: A new philosophy of love

Sean Illing talks with Carrie Jenkins about her new book Sad Love, and her call to rethink the shape and... more

26 Jun 2023 · 59 minutes
The future of tribalism

Sean Illing talks with evolutionary anthropologist David Samson, whose new book Our Tribal Future delves into how tribalism has shaped... more

22 Jun 2023 · 52 minutes
When you can't separate art from artist

What do we do when an artist we love does something monstrous? Constance Grady, a culture writer at Vox, talks... more

15 Jun 2023 · 53 minutes
The case for not killing yourself

Sean Illing talks with Clancy Martin, professor of philosophy at University of Missouri Kansas City, about his powerful new book... more

12 Jun 2023 · 57 minutes
What comes after Black Lives Matter?

What is the future of the racial justice movement in America? Sean Illing talks with Cedric Johnson, professor and author... more

08 Jun 2023 · 57 minutes
Clickbait’s destructive legacy

Have clicks, likes, and shares driven media and democracy to the point of disrepair? Sean Illing is joined by Ben... more

05 Jun 2023 · 52 minutes
Simone Weil’s radical philosophy of love and attention

Sean Illing speaks with history professor Robert Zaretsky about Simone Weil, a 20th-century French writer and activist who dedicated her... more

01 Jun 2023 · 56 minutes
Peter Singer on his ethical legacy

Can we live a good life in a world where animals are factory farmed? Guest host Dylan Matthews talks with... more

25 May 2023 · 1 hour, 5 minutes
Why the poor in America stay poor

Are we responsible for keeping poor people poor? Sean Illing is joined by Matt Desmond, a sociology professor at Princeton... more

22 May 2023 · 54 minutes
The spiritual roots of our strange relationship to work

The pandemic caused many to rethink our relationship to work. But how did that relationship develop in the first place?... more

18 May 2023 · 53 minutes
Mysteries of the mind

What do we know — and what don't we know — about how the human mind works? Sean Illing talks... more

15 May 2023 · 53 minutes
Why we can’t just blame capitalism for everything

There are many debates within the American left, but the fundamental dispute is over the viability of the current system.... more

11 May 2023 · 49 minutes
Being human in the age of AI

Will AI change what it means to be human? Sean Illing talks with essayist Meghan O'Gieblyn, author of God, Human,... more

08 May 2023 · 53 minutes
A philosopher's psychedelic encounter with reality

Why don't more philosophers take psychedelic drugs seriously as a means of examining reality? Sean Illing talks with Justin Smith-Ruiu,... more

04 May 2023 · 51 minutes
The project of Socratic love with Agnes Callard

What happens when you apply the Socratic method to personal relationships? Philosopher Agnes Callard joins Sean Illing to discuss how... more

01 May 2023 · 52 minutes
The chemistry of connection

Could our brains make us less lonely? Sean Illing talks with psychiatrist and author Julie Holland, whose new book Good... more

27 Apr 2023 · 53 minutes
What a slow civil war looks like

Sean Illing is joined by reporter Jeff Sharlet, whose new book The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War takes... more

24 Apr 2023 · 56 minutes
How to listen

Most of us don’t know how to truly listen, and it’s causing all sorts of problems. Sean Illing is joined... more

20 Apr 2023 · 55 minutes
Why we can't give up on persuasion

Sean Illing is joined by Anand Giridharadas, author of The Persuaders: At the Front Lines of the Fight for Hearts,... more

17 Apr 2023 · 53 minutes
Rep. Katie Porter's working-class politics

Rep. Katie Porter became well-known for using a whiteboard and asking tough questions during Congressional hearings. Her frank questions resonated... more

13 Apr 2023 · 47 minutes
The climate apocalypse will be televised

Guest host Alissa Wilkinson talks with Dorothy Fortenberry, a co-showrunner, executive producer, and writer on Extrapolations, the new star-studded anthology... more

10 Apr 2023 · 1 hour,
A philosopher takes on religious life

What would drive someone to renounce all their possessions, relationships, and ambitions to join a religious community? Sean talks with... more

06 Apr 2023 · 53 minutes
Your brain isn't so private anymore

Guest host Sigal Samuel talks with professor of philosophy and law Nita Farahany about her new book The Battle for... more

03 Apr 2023 · 1 hour, 5 minutes
Brian Stelter thinks the news has a reliability problem

Will the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox News be a watershed moment? Is the media industry beyond repair? Sean... more

30 Mar 2023 · 56 minutes
How corporations got all your data

Sean Illing speaks with Matthew Jones, historian of science and technology, and co-author (with data scientist Chris Wiggins) of the... more

27 Mar 2023 · 54 minutes
The case for failure

Is our society's fixation with success hindering our ability to find humility? Sean Illing speaks with Costica Bradatan about his... more

16 Mar 2023 · 48 minutes
Poetry as religion

Sean Illing speaks with poet and historian Jennifer Michael Hecht, whose new book The Wonder Paradox asks: if we don't... more

13 Mar 2023 · 56 minutes
Revisiting the American Dream

In America, there's been an increase of available jobs, and there's also been a series of high-profile layoffs, strikes, and... more

09 Mar 2023 · 43 minutes
The cost of saving pandas

The giant panda is no longer endangered. This, of course, is good news. But the model of conservation that worked... more

06 Mar 2023 · 45 minutes
Breaking our family patterns

Sean Illing speaks with marriage and family therapist Vienna Pharaon, whose new book The Origins of You aims to help... more

02 Mar 2023 · 1 hour, 4 minutes
For Black horror fans, fact is scarier than fiction

Guest host Alissa Wilkinson talks with Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman about her new book, The Black Guy Dies First:... more

27 Feb 2023 · 51 minutes
Taking Nietzsche seriously

Sean Illing talks with political science professor Matt McManus about the political thought of Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th-century German philosopher... more

23 Feb 2023 · 1 hour, 5 minutes
The dark history of Silicon Valley

Sean Illing speaks with Malcolm Harris, a journalist, critic, and author of the new book Palo Alto: A History of... more

16 Feb 2023 · 1 hour,
The value of being a "hater"

Guest host Rebecca Jennings talks with Justin Charity, cultural critic and senior staff writer at The Ringer, about what it... more

13 Feb 2023 · 55 minutes
Behind the blue wall

Sean Illing speaks with Rosa Brooks, a former reserve police officer and current law professor at Georgetown University. Brooks wrote... more

09 Feb 2023 · 1 hour, 2 minutes
Best of: Imagine a future with no police

Guest host Fabiola Cineas talks with author, lawyer, and organizer Derecka Purnell about her recent book Becoming Abolitionists. They discuss... more

06 Feb 2023 · 1 hour, 3 minutes
Is America broken?

Sean Illing speaks with Alana Newhouse, the editor-in-chief of Tablet magazine. They discuss her recent essay on "brokenism," a term... more

02 Feb 2023 · 50 minutes
The creator of Fargo is done with good guys vs. bad guys

Sean Illing talks with Noah Hawley, the creator and showrunner of the anthology drama Fargo on FX, as well as... more

30 Jan 2023 · 55 minutes
Revisiting the "father of capitalism"

Sean Illing talks with Glory Liu, the author of Adam Smith’s America: How a Scottish Philosopher became an Icon of... more

26 Jan 2023 · 53 minutes
Can effective altruism be redeemed?

Guest host Sigal Samuel talks with Holden Karnofsky about effective altruism, a movement flung into public scrutiny with the collapse... more

23 Jan 2023 · 1 hour, 3 minutes
The roots of homelessness

Sean Illing talks with writer and reporter Jerusalem Demsas about the causes of homelessness in America. They discuss our ideas... more

19 Jan 2023 · 53 minutes
Can race be transcended?

Sean Illing talks with author Thomas Chatterton Williams about race and identity in America. Thomas has analyzed racial identity through... more

12 Jan 2023 · 46 minutes
Is ethical AI possible?

Sean Illing talks with Timnit Gebru, the founder of the Distributed AI Research Institute. She studies the ethics of artificial... more

09 Jan 2023 · 47 minutes
What do we owe animals?

Guest host Sigal Samuel talks with philosopher and author Martha Nussbaum about her new book, Justice for Animals. Martha discusses... more

05 Jan 2023 · 48 minutes
Best of: America's philosophy, with Cornel West

Sean Illing talks with Cornel West about the American philosophical tradition known as pragmatism. They talk about what makes pragmatism... more

22 Dec 2022 · 1 hour, 1 minute
Best of: The necessity — and danger — of free speech

Sean Illing talks with Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan about his new book The Paradox of Democracy, which he... more

19 Dec 2022 · 53 minutes
The church of celebrity

Guest host Alissa Wilkinson talks with Katelyn Beaty, author of the new book Celebrities for Jesus, about how the dynamics... more

15 Dec 2022 · 57 minutes
Men and boys are struggling. Should we care?

Sean Illing talks with author, researcher, and Brookings Institution senior fellow Richard V. Reeves about his new book Of Boys... more

12 Dec 2022 · 58 minutes
The power of attention in a world of distraction

Sean Illing talks with Michael Sacasas, an author and teacher exploring the relationship between technology and society in his newsletter,... more

08 Dec 2022 · 46 minutes
A veteran reporter on how to fix the news

Sean Illing talks with James Fallows, veteran reporter and editor at The Atlantic, about the state of political journalism in... more

05 Dec 2022 · 56 minutes
The end of social media

Sean Illing talks with technology writer and philosopher Ian Bogost about the state of social media — especially in the... more

01 Dec 2022 · 50 minutes
If society is making us sick, how can we heal?

Sean Illing talks with Dr. Gabor Maté, a physician, speaker, and bestselling author who has written on subjects like addiction,... more

28 Nov 2022 · 57 minutes
The free-market century is over

Sean Illing talks with economic historian Brad DeLong about his new book Slouching Towards Utopia. In it, DeLong claims that... more

21 Nov 2022 · 57 minutes
Your identity is a story you tell yourself

Sean Illing talks with neuroscientist Gregory Berns, author of The Self Delusion. Berns claims that the idea of a unified,... more

17 Nov 2022 · 45 minutes
James Carville unpacks the midterms

Sean Illing talks with veteran political strategist James Carville about the U.S. midterm elections — and the surprising success for... more

14 Nov 2022 · 49 minutes
Why are billionaires prepping for the apocalypse?

Sean Illing talks with technologist, media theorist, and author Douglas Rushkoff, whose new book Survival of the Richest explains how... more

10 Nov 2022 · 55 minutes
Today's Republicans were made in the 1990s

Sean Illing talks with Nicole Hemmer, history professor and author of the new book Partisans. In it, she gives a... more

07 Nov 2022 · 1 hour, 6 minutes
Yuval Noah Harari thinks humans are unstoppable

Sean Illing talks with Yuval Noah Harari, historian and bestselling author, about how humanity came to be the dominant species... more

03 Nov 2022 · 1 hour, 2 minutes
Dying with dignity

Sean Illing talks with reporter Katie Engelhart, whose book The Inevitable is an up-close look at physician-assisted dying. This is... more

31 Oct 2022 · 59 minutes
Finding hope in a world on the brink

Sean Illing talks with Jonathan Lear, a psychoanalyst and philosopher, about his new book Imagining the End: Mourning and Ethical... more

27 Oct 2022 · 58 minutes
The new American Reconstruction

Sean Illing talks with historian and author Peniel Joseph about his new book The Third Reconstruction, which argues that the... more

24 Oct 2022 · 1 hour, 7 minutes
Is America losing its religion?

Sean Illing talks with Reza Aslan, scholar of religions and author of multiple bestselling nonfiction works, to discuss the state... more

20 Oct 2022 · 54 minutes
How we got to January 6th

Sean Illing talks with war reporter and New Yorker contributing writer Luke Mogelson about his new book The Storm Is... more

17 Oct 2022 · 59 minutes
Neil deGrasse Tyson gets political

On this first episode of The Gray Area, Sean Illing talks with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who takes on many... more

13 Oct 2022 · 58 minutes
Introducing The Gray Area

Resist certainty, embrace ambiguity. The Gray Area is a philosophical take on culture, politics, and everything in between with host... more

11 Oct 2022 · 1 minute
Best of: Why America's obsession with rights is wrong

In this episode originally recorded in July 2021, Vox's Zack Beauchamp talks with Columbia law professor Jamal Greene about his... more

06 Oct 2022 · 59 minutes
A GOP insider on why the party went Trump

Sean Illing talks with former Republican strategist Tim Miller about his new book Why We Did It, which offers an... more

03 Oct 2022 · 1 hour, 1 minute
How do we fix the harm we cause?

Vox’s Marin Cogan talks with Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg about her new book On Repentance And Repair, which is about how... more

29 Sep 2022 · 50 minutes
A new philosophy of love

Sean Illing talks with Carrie Jenkins about her new book Sad Love, and her call to rethink the shape and... more

26 Sep 2022 · 1 hour,
The politics of 'Yellowstone'

Into It is a new podcast from Vulture and New York Magazine hosted by Sam Sanders. Each week, Sam and... more

23 Sep 2022 · 26 minutes
How society sexualizes us

Vox’s Emily St. James talks with the celebrated author and trans activist Julia Serano about her new book, Sexed Up.... more

22 Sep 2022 · 56 minutes
The Parent Trap

Sean Illing talks with Nate Hilger, economist, data scientist, and author of the new book The Parent Trap: How to... more

19 Sep 2022 · 1 hour, 1 minute
40 Acres: Reaching reconciliation

What good are piecemeal reparations? From Georgetown University, where school leadership once sold enslaved people, to Evanston, Illinois, where redlining... more

15 Sep 2022 · 34 minutes
40 Acres: The old Jim Crow

Why slavery? Marxist scholar Adolph Reed argues that Jim Crow — not enslavement — is the defining experience for Black... more

12 Sep 2022 · 48 minutes
40 Acres: $14 trillion and no mules

Paying the price. One of the typical questions asked during conversations about reparations is how to pay for them. Fabiola... more

08 Sep 2022 · 50 minutes
40 Acres: The original promise

Fabiola Cineas talks with Nkechi Taifa, the founder and director of the Reparation Education Project, about the history of the... more

01 Sep 2022 · 55 minutes
What Clarence Thomas really thinks

Sean Illing talks with Corey Robin, author of a recent article — as well as a 2019 book — about... more

29 Aug 2022 · 1 hour, 4 minutes
Even Better: Don't call it a budget

Every Thursday in August, you'll hear Even Better on Vox Conversations, a special series focused on helping people live better... more

25 Aug 2022 · 47 minutes
The quest for authenticity

Sean Illing talks with Skye Cleary, philosopher and author of the new book How to Be Authentic. The book is... more

22 Aug 2022 · 51 minutes
Even Better: Setting your boundaries

Every Thursday in August, you'll hear Even Better on Vox Conversations, a special series focused on helping people live better... more

18 Aug 2022 · 44 minutes
Your gut instinct is usually wrong

Sean Illing talks with former Google data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Don't Trust Your Gut. Seth argues that the... more

15 Aug 2022 · 55 minutes
Even Better: Workplace equality 2.0

Every Thursday in August, you'll hear Even Better on Vox Conversations, a special series focused on helping people live better... more

11 Aug 2022 · 53 minutes
Why we're still postmodern (whatever that means)

Sean Illing talks with Stuart Jeffries, journalist and author of Everything, All the Time, Everywhere, about why postmodernism is so... more

08 Aug 2022 · 58 minutes
Even Better: Activism when you don't know where to start

Every Thursday in August, you'll hear Even Better on Vox Conversations, a special series focused on helping people live better... more

04 Aug 2022 · 48 minutes
The Supreme Court's power grab

Sean Illing talks with Harvard Law professor Nikolas Bowie about the U.S. Supreme Court's recently-concluded term, which produced landmark opinions... more

01 Aug 2022 · 1 hour, 5 minutes
How middlemen took over the economy

Vox's Emily Stewart talks with Kathryn Judge, professor at Columbia Law School and author of the new book Direct: The... more

28 Jul 2022 · 1 hour, 6 minutes
The necessity — and danger — of free speech

Sean Illing talks with Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan about his new book The Paradox of Democracy, which he... more

25 Jul 2022 · 56 minutes
Hacking coral sex to save the reefs

Vox's Benji Jones talks with marine biologist Hanna Koch about her team's efforts to repopulate the planet's coral reefs through... more

21 Jul 2022 · 55 minutes
The price of keeping secrets

Sean Illing talks with professor Michael Slepian, author of The Secret Life of Secrets. This new book explores secret-keeping behavior... more

18 Jul 2022 · 52 minutes
Does China control Hollywood?

Vox's Alissa Wilkinson talks with Wall Street Journal reporter Erich Schwartzel about Red Carpet, his new book detailing the myriad... more

14 Jul 2022 · 1 hour, 4 minutes
Steve Bannon is still at war

Sean Illing talks with Jennifer Senior, the Pulitzer-winning staff writer at the Atlantic, about her recent piece on Steve Bannon... more

11 Jul 2022 · 50 minutes
The Fortress of Solitude saw it all coming

Vox's Constance Grady talks with writer Jonathan Lethem about his 2003 work The Fortress of Solitude in this recording from... more

30 Jun 2022 · 39 minutes
The Philosophers: Stoic revival

Sean Illing talks with author Ryan Holiday about Stoicism — a philosophy with roots in ancient Greece and which flourished... more

27 Jun 2022 · 1 hour, 5 minutes
Station Eleven's creator on the end of the world

Vox’s Alex Abad-Santos sits down with Patrick Somerville, the creator and showrunner of HBO's critically-acclaimed series Station Eleven, adapted from... more

23 Jun 2022 · 52 minutes
The racist origins of fat phobia

Vox’s Anna North talks with Da'Shaun Harrison, the activist, author, and 2022 Lambda Literary Award recipient for their book Belly... more

16 Jun 2022 · 54 minutes
The fight for Ukraine — and democracy

Sean Illing talks with historian and author Timothy Snyder about the war in Ukraine, the stakes for Europe and the... more

13 Jun 2022 · 54 minutes
The war on trans people

Vox’s Emily St. James talks with Chase Strangio of the ACLU about the assault on the rights of trans Americans... more

09 Jun 2022 · 55 minutes
Michael Ian Black on being a better man

Sean Illing talks with comedian and author Michael Ian Black about his book A Better Man, in which Black writes... more

06 Jun 2022 · 56 minutes
Carmen Maria Machado's haunted feminine

Vox's Constance Grady talks with writer Carmen Maria Machado, whose 2017 short story collection Her Body and Other Parties was... more

02 Jun 2022 · 42 minutes
The rise and fall of America's monuments

Jamil Smith talks with Erin Thompson, professor of art crime and author of Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of... more

26 May 2022 · 50 minutes
The Philosophers: America's philosophy, with Cornel West

Sean Illing talks with Cornel West about the American philosophical tradition known as pragmatism. They talk about what makes pragmatism... more

23 May 2022 · 1 hour, 1 minute
Why accidents aren't accidental

Vox’s Marin Cogan talks with author and journalist Jessie Singer, whose book There Are No Accidents asks us to completely... more

19 May 2022 · 53 minutes
Rethinking the "end of history"

Sean Illing talks with political scientist and author Francis Fukuyama, whose ideas about the "end of history" and the ideological... more

16 May 2022 · 1 hour, 2 minutes
Anita Hill finally gets even

Vox's Fabiola Cineas talks with Anita Hill, whose testimony during the 1991 confirmation hearings for now-Justice Clarence Thomas highlighted the... more

12 May 2022 · 1 hour, 1 minute
Elites have captured identity politics

Sean Illing talks with Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò, whose new book Elite Capture is about how the wealthy and powerful co-opt political... more

09 May 2022 · 58 minutes
The moral dangers of dirty work

Vox’s Jamil Smith talks with journalist and author Eyal Press about "dirty work" — the jobs Americans do that, as... more

05 May 2022 · 59 minutes
Did the sexual revolution go wrong?

Sean Illing talks with author and Washington Post columnist Christine Emba about whether or not we need to rethink sex.... more

02 May 2022 · 58 minutes
Who decides how to conserve nature?

Vox's Benji Jones talks with Indigenous leader Kimaren ole Riamit about the role of Indigenous peoples in the conservation movement.... more

28 Apr 2022 · 56 minutes
The Philosophers: Loneliness and totalitarianism

Sean Illing talks with professor Lyndsey Stonebridge about the philosopher Hannah Arendt, author of The Origins of Totalitarianism. Arendt might... more

25 Apr 2022 · 1 hour, 3 minutes
The War in Ukraine, Explained — Part 4: The future of Europe

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is one of the biggest and most confusing political events of our lifetimes. We aim to... more

21 Apr 2022 · 1 hour, 4 minutes
Michael Lewis on why Americans distrust experts

Sean Illing talks with writer Michael Lewis about why it is that Americans are so good at producing knowledge, but... more

18 Apr 2022 · 58 minutes
The War in Ukraine, Explained — Part 3: The nuclear threat

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is one of the biggest and most confusing political events of our lifetimes. We aim to... more

14 Apr 2022 · 56 minutes
The case for regret

Sean Illing talks with writer Daniel Pink about his book The Power of Regret. They discuss why regret can be... more

11 Apr 2022 · 51 minutes
The War in Ukraine, Explained — Part 2: Sanctions

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is one of the biggest and most confusing political events of our lifetimes. We aim to... more

07 Apr 2022 · 1 hour, 1 minute
The spirituality of parenting

Sean Illing talks with the author and self-described mystic David Spangler about parenting as a spiritual enterprise, where the parent... more

04 Apr 2022 · 49 minutes
The War in Ukraine, Explained — Part 1: Why did Putin go to war?

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is one of the biggest and most confusing political events of our lifetimes. We aim to... more

31 Mar 2022 · 1 hour, 1 minute
The Philosophers: Resisting despair

Sean Illing talks with author and professor Robert Zaretsky about the French philosopher, novelist, and journalist Albert Camus (1913–1960). Though... more

28 Mar 2022 · 56 minutes
What happened to American conservatism?

Vox’s Jamil Smith talks with Charlie Sykes — journalist, author, stalwart "never Trumper," and a founder and editor-at-large of The... more

24 Mar 2022 · 1 hour,
The limits of forgiveness

Sean Illing talks with philosopher Lucy Allais about the nature, power, and limits of forgiveness. They talk about the role... more

21 Mar 2022 · 52 minutes
The madness behind The Method

Vox's Alissa Wilkinson talks with cultural critic and author Isaac Butler about his new book, The Method. They discuss the... more

17 Mar 2022 · 1 hour, 8 minutes
David Cross is disappointed in you guys

Sean Illing talks with comedian David Cross, well-known for his decades-long stand-up career, as well as for his role on... more

14 Mar 2022 · 49 minutes
Author Kiley Reid on why we read novels

Vox's Constance Grady talks with Kiley Reid, author of the critically-acclaimed novel Such a Fun Age. In this episode, which... more

10 Mar 2022 · 47 minutes
The conversation about guns we're not having

Sean Illing talks with firearms journalist Stephen Gutowski, founder of TheReload.com. They discuss the major barriers, principles, and blind spots... more

07 Mar 2022 · 1 hour, 4 minutes
Why does middle school suck?

Hillary Frank, the creator of the podcasts The Longest Shortest Time and Here Lies Me, talks with journalist and author... more

03 Mar 2022 · 1 hour, 5 minutes
Russia's war with Ukraine — and reality

Sean Illing talks with journalist, author, and Russian disinformation scholar Peter Pomerantsev about the invasion of Ukraine. Recorded on Friday,... more

28 Feb 2022 · 39 minutes
Robert Glasper on why Black Radio is back

Vox’s Jamil Smith talks with musician Robert Glasper, four-time Grammy-winner, about the release of his new album Black Radio III.... more

24 Feb 2022 · 57 minutes
Could we lose delicious foods forever?

Vox's Benji Jones talks with food journalist and author Dan Saladino, whose new book Eating to Extinction documents rare foods... more

17 Feb 2022 · 1 hour, 6 minutes
What Don't Look Up is really about

Sean Illing talks with David Sirota, the journalist turned Oscar-nominated co-writer (with director Adam McKay) of the film Don't Look... more

14 Feb 2022 · 1 hour, 1 minute
Democracy in crisis, part 2: The two-party problem

Just how worried should we be about the future of American democracy? This is the question at the center of... more

10 Feb 2022 · 58 minutes
Why we can't pay attention anymore

Sean Illing talks with the author Johann Hari about his new book Stolen Focus, which explores what's happening — and... more

07 Feb 2022 · 1 hour, 4 minutes
Democracy in crisis, part 1: Ross Douthat isn't too worried

Just how worried should we be about the future of American democracy? This is the question at the center of... more

03 Feb 2022 · 1 hour, 6 minutes
Pod Save the Democrats

Sean Illing talks with Dan Pfeiffer, former senior advisor to President Obama and co-host of the Pod Save America podcast,... more

31 Jan 2022 · 1 hour,
A Yellowjackets creator spills his guts

Vox's Constance Grady talks with Bart Nickerson, the co-creator of new TV show Yellowjackets, which airs on Showtime. Yellowjackets follows... more

27 Jan 2022 · 44 minutes
A scientist's case for "woo-woo"

Sean Illing talks with David Hamilton, a scientist and former research chemist turned author, about his new book Why Woo-Woo... more

24 Jan 2022 · 1 hour,
Imagine a future with no police

Vox's Fabiola Cineas talks with author, lawyer, and organizer Derecka Purnell about her recent book Becoming Abolitionists. They discuss Derecka's... more

20 Jan 2022 · 1 hour, 5 minutes
Novelist Lauren Groff on the other Matrix

Vox's Constance Grady talks with novelist Lauren Groff about her latest book, the National Book Award finalist Matrix, before a... more

13 Jan 2022 · 47 minutes
Are we living in a simulation?

Sean Illing talks with philosopher David Chalmers about virtual worlds and the nature of reality, and other topics that stem... more

10 Jan 2022 · 1 hour, 8 minutes
Rep. Jamie Raskin on living through the unthinkable, twice

Vox's Dylan Matthews talks with Congressman Jamie Raskin about the tragic loss of his son Tommy, who was twenty-five years... more

06 Jan 2022 · 57 minutes
Best of: Why fascism in America isn't going away

Vox's Sean Illing talks to Yale professor and author Jason Stanley about why American democracy provides such fertile soil for... more

03 Jan 2022 · 49 minutes
Best of: Clint Smith III on confronting the legacy of slavery

Vox's Jamil Smith talks with author Clint Smith III about his book How the Word Is Passed, which documents the... more

30 Dec 2021 · 1 hour, 1 minute
Best of: We need to talk about UFOs. Seriously.

Vox's Sean Illing talks with international politics professor and amateur ufologist Alex Wendt about why it's time to start thinking... more

27 Dec 2021 · 1 hour, 3 minutes
Chris Bosh on winning (and losing everything)

Vox’s Jamil Smith talks with NBA legend Chris Bosh about his basketball career, his youth, and his legacy. They discuss... more

23 Dec 2021 · 58 minutes
The cult of toughness

Sean Illing talks with political commentator and author David French about modern conservatism and masculinity. They discuss the divergence between... more

20 Dec 2021 · 1 hour, 6 minutes
Is ethical investing a scam?

Vox's Emily Stewart talks with Tariq Fancy about whether or not "socially responsible investment" is a scam. Fancy is a... more

16 Dec 2021 · 57 minutes
The good life is painful

Sean Illing talks with psychologist Paul Bloom about his new book The Sweet Spot, and whether it's necessary to experience... more

13 Dec 2021 · 55 minutes
The father of environmental justice

Vox's Jamil Smith talks with Dr, Robert Bullard, a pioneer in the crusade for environmental justice, about his more than... more

09 Dec 2021 · 50 minutes
Jill Lepore on Elon Musk's imaginary world

Sean Illing talks with historian Jill Lepore about her new podcast: The Evening Rocket explores Elon Musk and the new... more

06 Dec 2021 · 1 hour, 3 minutes
E.O. Wilson's plan to save the world

Vox's Benji Jones talks with the celebrated entomologist, biologist, and naturalist E.O. Wilson. They talk about Wilson's sixty-plus years as... more

02 Dec 2021 · 56 minutes
Workers of the world, stay home!

Sean Illing talks with Anne Helen Petersen and her partner Charlie Warzel about their new book, Out of Office: The... more

29 Nov 2021 · 1 hour, 2 minutes
How progressives get back in the game

Sean Illing talks with Briahna Joy Gray, the former national press secretary for the Bernie Sanders 2020 Presidential campaign, and... more

22 Nov 2021 · 1 hour, 3 minutes
The highs and lows of the "creator economy"

Vox's Rebecca Jennings talks with Taylor Lorenz, tech culture reporter for the New York Times, about the creator economy: what... more

18 Nov 2021 · 49 minutes
Why Chris Hayes thinks we're all famous now

Sean Illing talks with Chris Hayes, author, commentator, and host of All In With Chris Hayes on MSNBC. They discuss... more

15 Nov 2021 · 1 hour,
The stories soul food tells

Vox's Jamil Smith talks with Caroline Randall Williams, academic, poet, and co-author (with her mother, Alice Randall) of Soul Food... more

11 Nov 2021 · 51 minutes
The paradox of American freedom

Sean Illing talks with Sebastian Junger, journalist, filmmaker, and author of the recent book Freedom. Informed by his experience hiking... more

08 Nov 2021 · 57 minutes
Nonbinary parenthood

Anna North talks with Krys Malcolm Belc, nonbinary transmasculine parent, essayist, and author of the memoir The Natural Mother of... more

04 Nov 2021 · 1 hour,
John McWhorter, the anti-antiracist

Sean Illing talks with John McWhorter, linguist, New York Times columnist, and author of Woke Racism: How a New Religion... more

01 Nov 2021 · 1 hour, 6 minutes
The overwhelming, invisible work of elder care

Vox culture contributor Anne Helen Petersen talks with Liz O'Donnell, an advocate for working caregivers and the author of Working... more

28 Oct 2021 · 1 hour, 3 minutes
How Big Tech benefits from the disinformation panic

Sean Illing talks with Joe Bernstein of BuzzFeed News about online disinformation and what — if anything — can be... more

25 Oct 2021 · 58 minutes
Fannie Lou Hamer and the meaning of freedom

Vox's Jamil Smith talks with Keisha Blain, associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Until... more

21 Oct 2021 · 59 minutes
What the internet took from us

Sean Illing talks with writer and New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul about her book 100 Things We've... more

18 Oct 2021 · 58 minutes
Trapped inside with Susanna Clarke's Piranesi

Vox's Constance Grady talks with novelist Susanna Clarke about her latest book, Piranesi, before a virtual audience for the Vox... more

14 Oct 2021 · 49 minutes
Bryan Stevenson on the legacy of enslavement

Vox's Jamil Smith talks with attorney, author, and activist Bryan Stevenson about the newly expanded Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama.... more

07 Oct 2021 · 1 hour, 3 minutes
What's your status?

Sean Illing talks with writer Will Storr about his new book The Status Game, and its central idea: all human... more

04 Oct 2021 · 57 minutes
Is there a hack for enlightenment?

Vox's Sigal Samuel talks with scholars and authors Wesley Wildman and Kate Stockly about their book, Spirit Tech: The Brave... more

30 Sep 2021 · 1 hour, 5 minutes
Fighting a world on fire with fire

Sean Illing talks with climate scholar Andreas Malm about his book How to Blow Up A Pipeline. They discuss the... more

27 Sep 2021 · 1 hour, 2 minutes
Revolutionary Love

Vox's Jamil Smith talks with author, activist, and filmmaker Valarie Kaur about her memoir See No Stranger and the Revolutionary... more

23 Sep 2021 · 57 minutes
How to make meaning out of suffering

Vox’s Sean Illing talks with David Wolpe, senior rabbi of the Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, about the role and... more

20 Sep 2021 · 56 minutes
Ken Burns's latest on The Greatest

Vox's Jamil Smith talks with acclaimed documentary filmmakers Ken and Sarah Burns. The father-daughter team discuss their latest documentary about... more

16 Sep 2021 · 1 hour, 7 minutes
The road from 9/11 to Donald Trump

Sean Illing talks with national security reporter Spencer Ackerman, author of the new book Reign of Terror. They discuss the... more

13 Sep 2021 · 1 hour, 8 minutes
Rep. Pramila Jayapal on immigrants and America after 9/11

Aarti Shahani, host of the WBEZ Chicago podcast Art of Power and author of the memoir Here We Are, talks... more

09 Sep 2021 · 51 minutes
Why America's obsession with rights is wrong

Vox's Zack Beauchamp talks with Columbia law professor Jamal Greene about his book How Rights Went Wrong: Why Our Obsession... more

02 Sep 2021 · 58 minutes
The news is by — and for — rich, white liberals

Vox’s Sean Illing talks with professor and media researcher Nikki Usher about her new book News for the Rich, White, and... more

30 Aug 2021 · 1 hour, 2 minutes
Clint Smith III on confronting the legacy of slavery

Vox's Jamil Smith talks with author Clint Smith III about his book How the Word Is Passed, which documents the... more

26 Aug 2021 · 1 hour, 1 minute
Was the cruelty the point?

Vox's Sean Illing talks with Adam Serwer, whose new book The Cruelty Is the Point documents the role of cruelty... more

23 Aug 2021 · 1 hour, 1 minute
How seashells shaped the world — and predict our future

Vox's Benji Jones talks with author and environmental journalist Cynthia Barnett about seashells and her new book, The Sound of... more

19 Aug 2021 · 58 minutes
Bill Maher on free speech, comedy, and his haters

Vox's Sean Illing talks with comedian Bill Maher about the risks and challenges of political comedy today, free speech, and... more

16 Aug 2021 · 50 minutes
Robert Reich wants you to take on the system

Vox's Jamil Smith talks with former labor secretary, author, and social media gadfly Robert Reich about how our elected officials... more

12 Aug 2021 · 53 minutes
Marty Baron on the future of news

Vox's Sean Illing talks with former Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron about the state of journalism. They discuss Baron's... more

09 Aug 2021 · 54 minutes
The death of cool

Vox culture contributor Anne Helen Petersen talks with writer Safy-Hallan Farah about the concept of 'cool.' They discuss different generations'... more

05 Aug 2021 · 48 minutes
We need to talk about UFOs. Seriously.

Vox's Sean Illing talks with international politics professor and amateur ufologist Alex Wendt about why it's time to start thinking... more

02 Aug 2021 · 1 hour, 2 minutes
Philadelphia's progressive prosecutor

Vox's Jamil Smith talks with Larry Krasner, the former civil rights attorney who's been district attorney of Philadelphia since 2018.... more

29 Jul 2021 · 55 minutes
Fareed Zakaria on the fate of democracy

Vox's Sean Illing talks with CNN's Fareed Zakaria about the global trend in democratic decline, and whether we should worry... more

26 Jul 2021 · 1 hour, 11 minutes
Jane Goodall on the power of hope

Vox's Sigal Samuel talks with world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall about what six decades of studying chimpanzees has taught her about... more

22 Jul 2021 · 1 hour, 2 minutes
Why we love drugs

Vox's Sean Illing talks with author Michael Pollan about his new book This Is Your Mind on Plants, why some... more

19 Jul 2021 · 1 hour, 3 minutes
The rugged majesty of revision

Vox's Jamil Smith speaks with novelist and author Kiese Laymon in a far-ranging conversation about Laymon's reacquiring the rights to... more

15 Jul 2021 · 1 hour,
How to forgive

Vox's Sean Illing talks with Elizabeth Bruenig about how hard it is to forgive, how to balance our desire for... more

12 Jul 2021 · 59 minutes
What makes a great conversation?

Here's a look ahead at what's to come for Vox Conversations. Vox's Sean Illing welcomes colleague Jamil Smith to the... more

08 Jul 2021 · 22 minutes
Introducing: Now & Then

Now & Then is a new podcast from CAFE hosted by award-winning historians Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman. Every... more

01 Jul 2021 · 58 minutes
The science of dating

Relationships journalist and podcast host Andrea Silenzi talks with Logan Ury, behavioral scientist-turned-dating coach, and author of How to Not... more

24 Jun 2021 · 54 minutes
Honoring Juneteenth with Ibram X. Kendi

In this special edition of Vox Conversations in honor of the Juneteenth holiday, Vox race reporter Fabiola Cineas spoke with... more

17 Jun 2021 · 53 minutes
Digital dictatorship

The internet was first conceived as a tool to promote free expression, to foster and enliven debate, and to strengthen... more

10 Jun 2021 · 59 minutes
The man who proposed reparations in the 1860s

Vox’s Dylan Matthews talks with historian Bruce Levine about his book Thaddeus Stevens: Civil War Revolutionary and Fighter for Racial... more

03 Jun 2021 · 1 hour, 7 minutes
What pandemic recovery should look like

Vox's Emily Stewart talks with Janelle Jones, chief economist at the Labor Department, about what's actually going on with the... more

27 May 2021 · 56 minutes
The gift of getting old

Vox’s Sean Illing talks with Max Linsky, host of the new podcast 70 Over 70, which features intimate conversations with... more

20 May 2021 · 58 minutes
Freedom, and what it means to have a body

Vox's Anna North talks with author Olivia Laing about her book Everybody: A Book About Freedom. Through the surprisingly connected... more

13 May 2021 · 56 minutes
Why are we so worried about Satan?

Vox's Sean Illing talks with Sarah Marshall, co-host of the You're Wrong About podcast, about the Satanic Panic of the... more

06 May 2021 · 1 hour, 4 minutes
How to be wrong less often

Vox's Dylan Matthews talks with Julia Galef, host of the podcast Rationally Speaking, and author of The Scout Mindset: Why... more

29 Apr 2021 · 54 minutes
The complicated history of wildlife conservation

Vox environmental reporter Benji Jones talks with journalist and author Michelle Nijhuis about her book Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life... more

22 Apr 2021 · 1 hour, 7 minutes
How to replace everything in the industrialized world

Climate writer and Vox contributor David Roberts talks with Jessika Trancik, Associate Professor at the Institute for Data, Systems, and... more

15 Apr 2021 · 1 hour, 3 minutes
Patricia Lockwood's big, beautiful internet brain

Writer and Vox contributor Anne Helen Petersen talks with poet and novelist Patricia Lockwood about the experience of being extremely... more

08 Apr 2021 · 57 minutes
Who is the real George Soros?

Vox's Worldly host Zack Beauchamp talks with author and New Statesman editor Emily Tamkin about the life and legacy of... more

01 Apr 2021 · 58 minutes
Introducing Unexplainable

Unexplainable is a new podcast from Vox about everything we don’t know. Each week, the team look at the most... more

27 Mar 2021 · 28 minutes
The border, explained by someone who knows it intimately

Aarti Shahani, NPR journalist and host of WBEZ podcast Art of Power, talks with investigative journalist and author Alfredo Corchado... more

25 Mar 2021 · 57 minutes
The Gray Area with Sean Illing
Patricia Lockwood's big, beautiful internet brain
The Gray Area with Sean Illing
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Description

Writer and Vox contributor Anne Helen Petersen talks with poet and novelist Patricia Lockwood about the experience of being extremely online. They... more