Brain Food

The Best Podcasts to Make You Smarter (2019)

One of the best reasons to listen to podcasts is to learn something new. We've gathered the very best podcasts that will add a little bit of knowledge to every day. Listen on Alexa to "Learn Something Radio" or to the "Brain Food" station in the Scout FM apps to listen to all of these and find your new favorite.

Curated by Cara Meverden

Fan of podcasts, movies, TV, and random pieces of trivia. Dog lover and software maker.

1. Hidden Brain

Shankar Vedantam uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.

Apr 15, 2019
The Sorting Hat
People are constantly trying to figure out where they belong, from Harry Potter houses to Myers-Briggs to Enneagram. But is any of it legit?
2. Freakonomics Radio

Apr 18, 2019
The Most Interesting Fruit in the World
The banana used to be a luxury good. Now it’s the most popular fruit in the U.S.
3. The Science of Happiness

Learn research-tested strategies for a happier, more meaningful life, drawing on the science of compassion, gratitude, mindfulness, and awe.

Apr 11, 2019
What to Do When You Feel Like a Failure
The loss of a job, the pain of a breakup -- it's easy to get down on ourselves when things aren't going well.
4. How I Built This

Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world's best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.

Apr 15, 2019
Men's Wearhouse: George Zimmer
George Zimmer started Men's Warehouse in 1973, and built it into a multi-billion dollar empire. But then he was forced to give it up.
5. Part-Time Genius

Apr 12, 2019
How Did Wine Fraud Become Such a Big Business?
When a billionaire realized his $125,000 bottle of wine might be fake, he hired a crack team to solve the case.
6. Stuff You Should Know

Apr 16, 2019
How the Hoover Dam Works, Part I
It’s one of America’s biggest accomplishments in the 20th century, a slab of concrete holding back one of the country’s most finicky rivers.
7. TED Talks Daily

Apr 19, 2019
How hip-hop helps us understand science
In this unforgettable biology lesson on animal infidelity, a look at how one woman uses hip-hop to teach science.
8. Throughline

The past is never past. Every headline has a history. Join us every week as we go back in time to understand the present. These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world.

Apr 18, 2019
War of the Worlds
How did the conflict between Sunni and Shia muslims begin? 1400 years of history explain this deadly divide.
9. 99% Invisible

Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture.

Apr 16, 2019
The Roman Mars Mazda Virus
A grand podcast crossover event to try to solve a years old bug plaguing 99% Invisible listeners that drive certain models of Mazda.
10. Revisionist History

Revisionist History is Malcolm Gladwell's journey through the overlooked and the misunderstood. Every episode re-examines something from the past—an event, a person, an idea, even a song—and asks whether we got it right the first time.

Dec 18, 2018
The Epistemology of Norwegian Black Metal
How did an email exchange between a legendary metalhead and a metal impresario named Saiitham lead to the darkest metal band ever?
11. Science Vs

There are a lot of fads, blogs and strong opinions, but then there’s SCIENCE. Science Vs is the show from Gimlet Media that finds out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.

Apr 19, 2019
Race: Can We See It In Our DNA?
But with the changing world of genetics, is race science back? For decades, we've heard that race is a social and cultural idea.
12. Constitutional

With the writing of the Constitution in 1787, the framers set out a young nation’s highest ideals. And ever since, we’ve been fighting over it — what is in it and what was left out. At the heart of these arguments is the story of America.

13. Radiolab

A two-time Peabody Award-winner, Radiolab is an investigation told through sounds and stories, and centered around one big idea. In the Radiolab world, information sounds like music and science and culture collide. Hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, the show is designed for listeners who demand skepticism, but appreciate wonder.

Apr 19, 2019
Americanish
In 1903, the Supreme Court ruled that Isabel González was not a citizen of the United States. But, they said she wasn’t an immigrant either.
14. Invisibilia

Unseeable forces control human behavior and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. Invisibilia—Latin for invisible things—fuses narrative storytelling with science that will make you see your own life differently.

Apr 12, 2019
The End of Empathy
Invisibilia is a show that runs on empathy. We believe in it. But are we right?
15. TED Radio Hour

Apr 19, 2019
Failure Is An Option
Failure can be devastating, but it can also make us stronger and smarter.
16. Planet Money

Apr 19, 2019
Two Spring Indicators
Trade wars, peanuts, hurricanes, and happiness.
17. Decoder Ring

Mar 25, 2019
Truck Nutz
Truck Nutz are a brand name for the dangling plastic testicles some people affix to the bumper or hitch of their vehicle. But why?!
18. Fresh Air

Apr 19, 2019
The Remarkable Life Of Frederick Douglass
David Blight's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography describes Frederick Douglass' escape from slavery and his role in the abolitionist movement.
19. Retropod

Apr 19, 2019
Egg Roll
One day a year, the White House grounds are truly turned over to the people, well, the kids.
20. BrainStuff

Apr 18, 2019
What Was the Emu War?
Following World War II, Australia became embroiled in another war, with a population of emu.
21. WSJ’s The Future of Everything

Apr 10, 2019
Instant Message: How Amazon Changed Delivery
This week, it's all about how we buy stuff and how that stuff gets to us.
22. The Indicator from Planet Money

Apr 18, 2019
A Brief History of Income Taxes
Taxes have been around forever. But the income tax? In the U.S., it's relatively recent.
23. Endless Thread

Apr 12, 2019
Bonus: Endless Thrones
Fan theories and predictions for the final season of Game of Thrones.
24. This Podcast Will Kill You

Apr 16, 2019
Zika: Rumors and Rumours
Zika virus doesn't have a long and storied history, but in a short time it has managed to make a big impression.
25. Ologies

Apr 16, 2019
Hagfishology
Hagfish: the floppy hots dogs of the deep sea deserve our undying respect.
26. Thinking Allowed

New research on how society works.

Apr 17, 2019
Detective fiction
How does the changing nature of crime stories illuminate shifts in society?
27. Sidedoor

More than 154 million treasures fill the Smithsonian’s vaults, but where public view ends, Sidedoor begins. With the help of biologists, artists, historians, archaeologists, zookeepers and astrophysicists, hear stories that can’t be found anywhere else.

Apr 10, 2019
Good as Gold
Glittering treasures, gleaming coins, and eye-catching jewelry, gold can be all of these things, but it's also a link to the past.
29. The Impact

Dec 14, 2018
Denmarks paternity leave problem
Denmark gives new parents nearly a year off work after they have a baby. But dads take barely any time at all.
30. Every Little Thing

ELT is here to answer your burning questions. Especially if they are ridiculous. Or stupid. Or inconsequential.

Apr 15, 2019
Cheerleading, Part 1: Why Cheerleaders Rule the School
How did one style of cheerleading come to dominate in so many American schools?
32. Switched On Pop

Apr 16, 2019
Country at the Crossroads
Though the hit song Old Town Road by Lil Nas X is dripping with country twang, it's nowhere to be found on the country charts. Why is that?
33. Reply All

Reply All is a podcast about the internet. But it's also about humanity, culture, relationships, art, and, well, just about everything else.

Apr 11, 2019
The Roman Mars Mazda Virus
Ben loves podcasts, but he has a problem. When he tries to listen to one podcast in particular, his car stereo completely breaks.
35. Drawn: The Story of Animation

Jul 10, 2018
The Villains
What makes the perfect villain in animation, and why do we love them so much?
37. The Allusionist

Linguistic adventures with Helen Zaltzman.

Apr 11, 2019
The Future is Now?
If the future is now, is that a good thing or a bad thing?
38. Grammar Girl

Grammar Girl provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. These grammar, punctuation, style, and business tips will make you a better and more successful writer. Grammar Girl is a Quick and Dirty Tips Podcast.

Apr 18, 2019
Wakandan, Groot, and Other Languages
Wakandan, Groot, and more. The movies in the Marvel universe are filled with interesting real and made-up languages.
39. The Savvy Psychologist

Using a sympathetic ear and evidence-based research, she explains the ‘why’ behind emotions like joy, anger, fear, trust, and anxiety, and helps you better understand the relationships you form with your friends, family, coworkers, and yourself. The Savvy Psychologist is a Quick and Dirty Tips Podcast.

Apr 19, 2019
How to Say No (Without Feeling Guilty)
It’s one of the smallest, shortest words in the English language, but one of the hardest to say.
40. Note to Self

Feb 22, 2019
The Me Too Movement Comes to China
Government censorship in China, #metoo and cryptocurrency.
41. Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen

Apr 18, 2019
‘In the Pines’ and supernumeraries
A look at White Noise with playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and star Daveed Diggs.
42. You Are Not So Smart

Apr 8, 2019
Behind the Curve
Behind the Curve is about motivated reasoning and conspiratorial thinking told through the lives of people who believe the Earth is flat.

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