Episodes
Published 02/14/24
Is free will a scientific fact? Dr. Kevin Mitchell, neuroscientist and the author of Free Agents: How Evolution Gave Us Free Will, certainly thinks so. While some, like recent guest Robert Sapolsky, argue that biology and physics can explain away free will, Kevin begs to differ. Join Adam and Kevin in this episode as they dive into how evolution paved the way for free will and unravel the common misconceptions surrounding the "I" that makes choices.
Published 02/14/24
Capitalism has changed. A century ago, capitalists amassed untold wealth by manufacturing goods, but today, our economy appears to be dominated by massive tech corporations that don't actually produce anything. Instead, these tech giants offer platforms—such as search engines, AI, or marketplaces—through which they extract profits from users. Adam speaks with Yanis Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece, about his book Technofeudalism: What Killed Capitalism, exploring how this new...
Published 02/07/24
Does free will truly exist, or are we merely sophisticated meat machines running our biochemical programming with sentience as a byproduct? Stanford University neurologist Robert Sapolsky, having extensively studied the topic, asserts that not only is free will a myth but also that our insistence on its reality adversely affects the world we inhabit. In this episode, Adam speaks with Dr. Sapolsky about how choice is an illusion and the impact this has on our society, from workplace...
Published 01/31/24
For as long as there's been comedy, there have been people lamenting that "you can't do comedy anymore". This sentiment feels more prevalent than ever, but is it actual censorship or a shift in our culture? Adam talks with Kliph Nesteroff, a historian of comedy and author of Outrageous: A History of Showbiz and the Culture Wars, about the history of censorship in comedy, and how the idea of audiences being "too sensitive" is propaganda pushed by the very same people who censored comedians in...
Published 01/24/24
Gaza has been decimated by atrocious violence. Since the war erupted in October, 1 in every 100 Palestinians has been killed, and nearly all of those who survive have been displaced. In order to imagine what could possibly happen next, we have to look back at a century of history leading up to this moment. This week, Adam is joined by Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American historian of the Middle East and Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, to discuss what led to the...
Published 01/17/24
Recently, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman was ousted and then reinstated in a matter of days. No explanation has been made public, which is unsettling considering just how quickly OpenAI, ChatGPT, and DALL·E have become household names. What's actually happening behind closed doors at OpenAI? Adam is joined by tech journalist Karen Hao to discuss the history of this massively influential company, how they've struggled with the identity of being a non-profit, and how the future of AI is ultimately at...
Published 01/10/24
While the rise of fentanyl may seem like it emerged out of nowhere, it has a long and complicated history dating back hundred years. The pharmaceutical industry, the illegal drug trade, and government response all have roles in the ongoing epidemic of overdoses. This week, Adam speaks with Dr. Nabarun Dasgupta, an epidemiologist and street drug scientist at the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center, to explore why the opioid crisis is so frequently misunderstood and the multi-faceted approach...
Published 01/03/24
In recent years, the number of young people identifying as trans has doubled. However, a common misinterpretation arises, suggesting that this surge implies a new phenomenon of being trans or gender non-conforming. Modern Western culture has strongly insisted on the conventional belief that the gender binary is natural, fostering the false assumption that human culture and history have always revolved around this binary. In reality, humans worldwide have expressed gender concepts outside that...
Published 12/27/23
Social media is just media now. It has irreversibly changed how we engage with our world, yet it is often disregarded as frivolous. The dismissal of social media can be dangerous, as it minimizes not just the benefits but the dangers of our current media landscape. This week Adam is joined by Taylor Lorenz, an internet expert and author of "Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet," to track the evolution of social media, from the birth of mommy...
Published 12/20/23
Over 34 million disabled Americans, but despite the commonality of having a disability, there's still a social tendency to want to "solve" disability out of view with technology. As useful as robotic limbs or exoskeletons for walking might seem on paper, they don't always consider the practicalities of living with a disability. In this episode, Adam speaks with Ashley Shew, author of "Against Technoableism," about how technology is best suited to make an impact for the disabled and when it's...
Published 12/13/23
When we donate to charity, we aim to have the most significant impact possible, yet it's easy to feel like our giving makes zero difference. The rise of effective altruism, a philosophical model designed to achieve the most substantial potential impact with giving, seemed poised to combat this, but does treating people like data help? Or does it exclude the dimensions of life and what actually makes us human? In this episode, Adam is joined by Amy Schiller, author of "The Price of Humanity:...
Published 12/06/23
What is the appeal of conspiracy theories, and how is it that they entrap our friends, coworkers, or family members? Political polarization and the rise of social media have generated an unprecedented amount of seemingly absurd misinformation, yet many real people fall for it, and a seemingly endless supply of grifters are ready to exploit them. In this episode, Adam speaks with award-winning author Naomi Klein about what led us to this moment and what hope we have of extricating loved ones...
Published 11/29/23
It's easy to caricature those on the political far right as outlandish, cartoonish, and bizarre, and easier still to dismiss their agendas as irrational or uninformed. This, however, can be a tremendous mistake. Assessing political rivals requires not just learning the history of their influences and principles, but also remembering that they are real people. In this episode, Adam speaks with Corey Robin, Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College, to learn the history of where the...
Published 11/22/23
The prospect of human life on Mars, once a science fiction fantasy, now seems increasingly plausible. But does actually warrant being anything other than a fantasy? This week, Adam speaks with Dr. Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, authors of A City on Mars, to discuss the practicalities of becoming a space-faring species, the challenges that lie ahead, and whether it's even a good idea to begin with.
Published 11/15/23
America has been sliding back toward levels of corporate control, consolidation, and inequality not seen since the Gilded Age. This resurgence in monopoly capitalism has sparked a corresponding movement in antitrust reform known as the New Brandeis movement. Lina Khan, appointed chair of the Federal Trade Commission by President Biden, has become the foremost voice of this movement and has engaged in high-profile battles to reshape how America deals with monopolies. In this captivating...
Published 11/08/23
The October 7th attack by Hamas and Israel's subsequent response have left the world in shock. To better understand the context behind this moment, Adam is joined by Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based journalist, former Director of the Arab-Israeli Project at the International Crisis Group, and one of the leading experts on the conflict in Gaza. Nathan and Adam discuss the history of this conflict, and the dehumanizing impact of war on the everyday people caught up in it.
Published 11/01/23
We tend to think of "technology" as screens and apps, but it really means everything from the plumbing in our homes to the nails that hold our walls together. The field of engineering literally builds the world around us, but the fascinating history behind these foundational elements is easy to overlook. In this episode, Roma Agrawal, structural engineer and author of Nuts and Bolts, joins Adam to discuss how engineering shapes not just our buildings, but the way we live our lives.
Published 10/25/23
We often perceive roads as connectors, expanding our world and improving our quality of life. However, roads, from the smallest hiking trails to vast multilane highways, have profound and unseen effects on the fundamental ecology of our environment. They divide us in unforeseen ways, influencing everything from the survival of wildlife to the average human lifespan. In this episode, Adam is joined by Ben Goldfarb, a conservation journalist and the author of Crossings: How Road Ecology Is...
Published 10/18/23
Remember crypto? Only a year ago, it seemed like the future of finance, but now it's a smoldering crater in the ground. Between large corporations and everyday people that got caught up in the grift, trillions of dollars vanished seemingly overnight. But what was it like in the heart of this surreal, million-dollar-monkey-jpeg storm? Zeke Faux, investigative reporter and author of Number Go Up: Inside Crypto's Wild Rise and Staggering Fall, joins Adam to deliver a captivating and hilarious...
Published 10/11/23
American history has been whitewashed, with the accounts of millions of black Americans pushed to the margins, and their narratives stripped of agency and action. In this episode, Adam is joined by Michael Harriot, the author of Black AF History: The Un-Whitewashed Story of America, to step out from behind the white lens through which our country typically views history. Together, they explore why confronting the unvarnished truth about this nation's past is a challenging but essential endeavor.
Published 10/04/23
Free and available parking is a cornerstone of American society, but is it also our undoing? The places where we stow our cars have more of an impact on the fundamental fabric of the urban landscape than the roads we drive on, affecting everything from how our cities are designed to how we socialize. Adam is joined by Henry Grabar, author of Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World, to discuss the seen and unseen ways that parking changes our lives.
Published 09/27/23
While the ongoing WGA and SAG strikes have garnered significant public attention, those unions represent only a tiny fraction of the unionized workers in the country. Throughout the long history of labor in this country, it's not uncommon for important battles to be overlooked, especially when they are the struggles of women and people of color. Adam is joined by Kim Kelly, journalist and author of FIGHT LIKE HELL: The Untold History of American Labor, to look back at some of those struggles...
Published 09/20/23
Every worker deserves a union — including strippers! Recently, strippers at the Star Garden in North Hollywood became the first strippers in decades to unionize. On this week’s Factually, Charlie and Lilith from Equity Strippers Noho join Adam to explain how they banded together to ensure their safety and fair wages, and how you can do the same in your workplace.
Published 09/13/23
The history of the hot dog is the history of America. The humble hot dog bun holds not just a tube of delicious-yet-dubious meats, but a long lineage of entrepreneurial effort, regional expressions, and immigrant stories. Comedian and author Jamie Loftus has written the literal book on hot dogs, and joins Adam to discuss the myths, merits, and hard truths about America's favorite food.
Published 09/06/23