- Brad Barket/Getty Images for DJ D-Nice
The average morning commute in the US is just shy of 30 minutes.
That’s no fun if you spend it in rush-hour traffic, but it’s a good time to try out a new podcast, especially one that upends the way you see and think about the world.
From business to history to psychology, here are some of the most mind-expanding podcasts that you can gobble up in a half-hour or less.
In Hidden Brain, host Shankar Vedantam guides listeners through their own cognitive missteps, biases, and blind spots.
He reveals the many hard-to-see ways our decision making and judgment are influenced by various forces, such as our built-in fear of losing money and our tendency to romanticize the past.
There’s a lot we don’t know about the human brain, but Vedantam illuminates the fascinating things we do know – but probably don’t notice.
Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin has written extensively on happiness – both her own and others’ – and distills many of the big concepts in her weekly podcast, which she co-hosts with her sister, Elizabeth Craft.
Many of the episodes center around cultivating happiness through the building of good habits (and the avoidance of bad ones).
Though happiness can seem elusive for many people, the co-hosts present it as something well within reach.
Arming the Donkeys
- Arming the Donkeys
Duke University behavioral economist Dan Ariely is an expert in human irrationality.
In Arming the Donkeys, he sits down with authors, researchers, and fellow social scientists to discuss the many ways humans seem to violate their own self-interest through behavior.
That can mean overpaying for certain goods, feeling bad when you should be feeling good, and generally misunderstanding the world around you.
- 99% Invisible/Facebook
In 99% Invisible, host Roman Mars delves into the elements of design that govern our daily lives, but are rarely noticed or discussed. He explains how pigeons get a bad reputation compared to doves, why garbage trucks should play classical music, and the delicate balance between slam dunks and three-point shots.
The episodes present interesting anecdotes from around the world and across industries, each helping to present a smarter, often counter-intuitive perspective on our culture and the built world.
Finance can be a snooze to most people, but Planet Money takes a sideways look at the world of cash and business.
The podcast explains complex topics in easy-to-understand terms. Past episodes have delved into the complex world of aquarium bartering and free-money programs in Kenya.
Listening regularly might help you get a firmer grasp on 401(k) programs or hedge funds, but that knowledge will probably come through strange, funny stories.
No Such Thing As A Fish
- No Such Thing As A Fish
If you’re a fan of British panel shows, specifically “QI” (Quite Interesting), then No Such Thing As A Fish is the logical next step.
The show combs through piles of historical oddities, scientific discoveries, and inane trivia that make for (quite) interesting conversation.
The title is one such oddity: It refers to biologist Stephen Jay Gould’s claim that there is no such thing as a fish.
Gladwell, best-selling author of “Outliers” and “The Tipping Point,” brings his love of offbeat, under-reported stories to the podcast realm with Revisionist History.
His stories uncover the hidden aspects of well-worn historical events, such as the Brown v. Board of Education ruling.
The series centers around Gladwell’s classic storytelling technique: weaving disparate threads together in a single theme.
Success! How I Did It
- Samantha Lee
Business Insider’s own podcast, Success! How I Did It, is hosted by US Editor-in-Chief Alyson Shontell.
The series is a collection of interviews with high-powered executives who share their (often non-linear) paths to the top. Recent guests include Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti, and LeBron James.
Each brings their unique viewpoint on how to achieve success across industries.
The Food Chain
Put on by the BBC, The Food Chain explores the food industry from all angles, including the science of food production, the business of moving food from farms to supermarkets, and the latest health trends.
The series also examines the cultural significance of certain foods, taking an anthropological approach to the topic.
Recent episodes question whether foods need added doses of micro-nutrients (such as iodine in table salt), and what the diets of people who live to be older than 100 have in common.