What I Search for in Podcast Visitors – Sean Carroll


Folks usually recommend visitors to look on Mindscape — which I very a lot respect! A number of of my greatest conversations had been with folks I had by no means heard of earlier than they had been successfully recommended by somebody. Ideas could possibly be made right here (in feedback under), or on the subreddit, or on Twitter or anyplace else.

My coverage is to not touch upon particular person options, nevertheless it is perhaps helpful for me to put out what I search for in potential Mindscape visitors. Hopefully this may assist folks make options, and result in the invention of some gems I’d have in any other case ignored.

  • Clearly I’m on the lookout for sensible folks with fascinating concepts. Most episodes are idea-centered, moderately than “let’s discuss to this fascinating particular person,” though there are exceptions.
  • I’m extra taken with folks doing authentic idea-creation, moderately than commentators/journalists/pundits (or fellow podcasters!). Once more, there are at all times exceptions — no person can complain after I discuss to Carl Zimmer about inheritance — however that’s the tendency.
  • Scorching-button topical/political points are an fascinating case. I’m not averse to them, however I wish to give attention to the everlasting big-picture issues on the backside of them, moderately than on momentary ephemera. Relatedly, I’m largely taken with speaking with intellectuals and analysts, not advocates or salespeople or working politicians.
  • I’m blissful to speak with large names everybody has heard of, however am equally taken with lesser-known people who’ve one thing actually fascinating to say.
  • Typically it must be clear that I’m already fairly conscious of the existence of an individual, so suggesting them doesn’t add a lot worth. No one wanted to inform me to ask Roger Penrose or Dan Dennett on the present.
  • I wish to maintain issues numerous alongside many alternative axes, most particularly space of mental inquiry. Clearly there may be extra physics than on most individuals’s podcasts, however there’ll not often if ever be two physics episodes in a row, and even two in the identical month. Likewise, if I do one episode on a less-frequent matter, I’m unlikely to do one other one on the identical matter instantly. (“That episode on the semiotics of opera was effective, however you might want to invite the actual skilled on the semiotics of opera…”) Extra usually, podcast episodes must be of standalone curiosity, not responses to earlier podcast episodes.
  • I’m very blissful to speak with folks I disagree with, however provided that I feel there’s something to be discovered from their perspective. I wish to have interaction with the most effective arguments towards my positions, not simply with any outdated arguments. Zero curiosity in debating or debunking on the podcast. If I invite somebody on, I’ll problem them the place I feel vital, however my foremost objective is to allow them to put ahead their case as clearly as attainable.
  • Corollary: somebody just isn’t value partaking with merely as a result of they make claims that would be extraordinarily necessary in the event that they had been true. There must be some purpose to imagine, within the minds of some variety of cheap folks, that they may truly be true. My objective is to not clear up all of the dangerous concepts on the web.
  • Apparent however often-overlooked consideration: the particular person must be good on podcasts! It is a tough factor. Clearly they need to be articulate and interesting in an audio-only format. But in addition there’s an artwork to giving solutions which might be lengthy sufficient to be substantive, quick sufficient to permit for give-and-take. Dialog is a talent. (Although Fyodor Urnov barely let me get a phrase in edgewise, and he was nice and everybody beloved him, so perhaps I ought to take the trace.)
  • It is a lengthy listing, however essentially the most helpful visitor options embrace not only a particular person’s title, however some indication that they fulfill the above standards. A quick point out of the concepts they’ve and proof that they’d be a very good visitor is extraordinarily useful.
  • None of those guidelines is absolute! I’m at all times blissful to deviate a bit of if I feel there’s a worthwhile particular case.

Thanks once more for listening, and for all of the options. I’m frequently amazed on the prime quality of visitors who’ve joined me, and on the great help from the Mindscape viewers.

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