I'm not a fan of talk radio or audio books. When driving, I like to listen to loud, energizing music. This helps me to get motivated to run my errands or simply keeps me from zoning out to the monotony of overly familiar, repetitive traffic choreography. And when in the comforts of my home, the recorded spoken words of authors and talk jocks have never been welcome. I prefer the written word above all else. Then I like video format.
But, just recently, I've had a slight change of heart when it comes to the spoken world streaming into my personal space. You see, as of late, I've embraced four podcasts. I find them all to be entertaining, easily digestible, and educational as well. Each has its charms and its pitfalls, or rather, annoying idiosyncrasies.
The first podcast that I am recommending is called Slate's Cultural Gabfest. This show is hosted weekly by editor Stephen Metcalf, television critic Julia Turner, and movie critic Dana Stevens. Occasionally they will have a guest on the show or have someone stand in for one of the regulars.
This podcast is relevant, current, and informative. All three of the hosts are intelligent, articulate, and engaging. The weakness of the show can be realized in Metcalf's somewhat pretentious tone and irritating gurgling sounds he sometimes emits when closing his sentences. Also, the content may come across as somewhat insular—overtly catering to the interests of hipsters living in Brooklyn. Other than that, I really enjoy this podcast. I give it 3.5 out of 4 stars.
The second podcast I recommend is also by the Slate folks. It is titled DoubleX Gabfest, hosted biweekly by feminist writers Hanna Rosin, Noreen Malone, and Allison Benedikt. This show aims to shed light on current issues that are important to women—upper-middle class, educated women living in Brooklyn, that is. Herein lies its pitfalls. Like the aforementioned podcast, this one can also feel insular and pretentious at times. But the most annoying feature of the show comes from Hanna Rosin's overbearing, loud, and warp speed vocal delivery. Honestly, I have had to turn down the volume when she speaks, only to return it to a comfortable level when the discussion resumes with the other writers. I give this podcast 3 out of 4 stars.
The third podcast is called Slate's Movie Spoilers with critic Dana Stevens. Interesting discussions with Dana and a different guest for each podcast. Spoilers galore. Watch after seeing films. 3.5 out of 4 stars.
The last podcast I recommend is called Skeptoid, hosted weekly by Brian Dunning. The show tackles issues that concern skeptics and scientists alike. It aims to expose the risks to critical thinking, the dangers of pseudoscience and crackpot conspiracy theories, and related topics. The host is informed and entertaining.
The pitfalls are that the podcast seems to be preaching to the choir. Most of its listeners are probably already dyed-in-the-wool skeptics. And because of its short time length—on average twelve minutes—it cannot adequately provide enough information to convince ignorant minds to adopt reasonable beliefs. Other than that, it is a valuable transmitter of scientific facts and reason-based ideas. I give it 3 out of four stars.
Well, I hope you check out these podcasts. All of them are free and available in text format. Happy listening everyone!
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