To The Best Of Our Knowledge "To The Best Of Our Knowledge" is a nationally-syndicated, Peabody award-winning public radio show that dives headlong into the deeper end of ideas. We have conversations with novelists and poets, scientists and software engineers, journalists and historians, filmmakers and philosophers, artists and activists — people with big ideas and a passion to share them.
To The Best Of Our Knowledge

To The Best Of Our Knowledge

From Wisconsin Public Radio

"To The Best Of Our Knowledge" is a nationally-syndicated, Peabody award-winning public radio show that dives headlong into the deeper end of ideas. We have conversations with novelists and poets, scientists and software engineers, journalists and historians, filmmakers and philosophers, artists and activists — people with big ideas and a passion to share them.

Most Recent Episodes

How To Be An Ethical Traveler

Before the pandemic upended all world travel, we aired a show about what it means to be an ethical traveler. Between masks and vaccinations, COVID-19 has added even more to the ethical baggage we carry with us when we travel. But part of recovering from the pandemic involves getting back out there and seeing the world. So before you take your next trip abroad, we thought we would revisit some thoughts and advice in that episode. Safe journeys. This show was produced in partnership with AFAR Magazine, whose May/June 2019 issue on ethical traveling inspired this episode. Original Air Date: May 25, 2019 Guests: Elizabeth Becker — Dave Eggers — Kathryn Kellogg — Anu Taranath — Barry Lopez Interviews In This Hour: Trying Not To Ruin The World By Visiting It — A Personal Code of Travel Ethics — How to Lessen Your Environmental Impact When You Travel — Traveling Abroad Without Falling Into Guilt Trips — To Travel Well, Be Willing To Listen, Play, Leave The Notebook Behind Further Reading: Afar Magazine: Making the World Better, One Traveler at a Time—Afar Magazine: 4 Ways to Explore Venice Responsibly—Afar Magazine: Are We Loving Venice to Death?—Afar Magazine: How to Photograph People When You Travel (Without Being Disrespectful) Never want to miss an episode? Subscribe to the podcast. Want to hear more from us, including extended interviews and favorites from the archive? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Writing As A Political Act

In peaceful times, and in moments of violence, writers have used their art as protest, remembrance, and sometimes, political acts. We talk with poets and novelists about how they deeply notice the historical time we live in — through their words and voice. Original Air Date: May 07, 2022 Guests: Ilya Kaminsky — Bernardine Evaristo — Christopher Benfey — Salman Rushdie Interviews In This Hour: Poetry as protest: 'When people are powerless for so many hundreds of years, language becomes a weapon' — 'All writing is political': Author Bernardine Evaristo on tenacity, growing up Black and British, and winning the Booker Prize — Should we still read the 'proud imperialist' Kipling? Never want to miss an episode? Subscribe to the podcast. Want to hear more from us, including extended interviews and favorites from the archive? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Our Virtual Reality

Not everyone has a nice, big yard to stretch out in while sheltering in place from COVID-19. But maybe you don't need one. People are using virtual spaces to live out the real experiences they miss — like coffee shops, road trips, even building your own house on a deserted island, or Walden Pond. In a world where we're mostly confined to our homes and Zoom screens, does the line between virtual and real-life space mean much anymore? Original Air Date: May 16, 2020 Guests: Mark Riechers — Tracy Fullerton — Simon Parkin — Jane McGonigal — Donald D. Hoffman — Suzanne O'Sullivan Interviews In This Hour: There's No Pandemic In Animal Crossing — I Went To The Woods To Level Up Deliberately — The Most Boring Video Game Ever Made — Want to be Happier? Turn Everyday Tasks Into a Game — How We Fool Ourselves With The Concept of 'Reality' Further Reading: NYAS: Reality Is Not As It Seems Never want to miss an episode? Subscribe to the podcast. Want to hear more from us, including extended interviews and favorites from the archive? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Listen to This: Talk Easy featuring Ocean Vuong

We're sharing a special preview of a podcast we've been enjoying, Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso, from Pushkin Industries. Talk Easy is a weekly interview podcast, where writer Sam Fragoso invites actors, writers, activists, and politicians to come to the table and speak from the heart in ways you probably haven't heard from them before. Driven by curiosity, he's had revealing conversations with everyone from George Saunders and Cate Blanchett to Stacey Abrams and Gloria Steinem. In this preview, Sam talks with author Ocean Vuong about his autobiographical novel, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, remaining creative in the face of oppression, and wrestling with the grief of his mother's passing. You can listen to Talk Easy at https://podcasts.pushkin.fm/teknowledge

Poetry in a Troubled Time

Why do people turn to poetry during troubled times? We saw it after 9/11 and we're seeing it now as the coronavirus travels around the world. When the world seems broken, poetry is often the one kind of language that helps. Original Air Date: April 04, 2020 Guests: Kitty O'Meara — Jericho Brown — Edward Hirsch — Alice Walker — Ken Nordine — Li-Young Lee — Jimmy Santiago Baca Interviews In This Hour: A Viral Poem For A Virus Time — Can A Poem Be A Prayer? — Poetry In A Time Of Grief And Loss — Hope Rises. It Always Does. — Li-Young Lee's Love Poetry — Ken Nordine's 'Yellow' — Words Can Change Your Life Never want to miss an episode? Subscribe to the podcast. Want to hear more from us, including extended interviews and favorites from the archive? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Plants As Persons

Over the past decade, plant scientists have quietly transformed the way we think of trees, forests and plants. They discovered that trees communicate through vast underground networks, that plants learn and remember. If plants are intelligent beings, how should we relate to them? Do they have a place in our moral universe? Should they have rights? Human identity cannot be separated from our nonhuman kin. From forest ecology to the human microbiome, emerging research suggests that being human is a complicated journey made possible only by the good graces of our many companions. In partnership with the Center for Humans and Nature and with support from the Kalliopeia Foundation, To The Best Of Our Knowledge is exploring this theme of "kinship" in a special radio series. To learn more about the Kinship series, head to ttbook.org/kinship. Original Air Date: December 19, 2020 Guests: Robin Wall Kimmerer — Matt Hall — Monica Gagliano — Brooke Hecht Interviews In This Hour: We've Forgotten How To Listen To Plants — We Share This World With Plants. What Do We Owe Them? — Guided by Plant Voices — The Botanical Medicine Cabinet Never want to miss an episode? Subscribe to the podcast. Want to hear more from us, including extended interviews and favorites from the archive? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Forged By Hand

In the 21st century, there are a lot of old crafts we think we don't have much use for anymore. Blacksmithing. Wood turning. Spinning and basket-making. But here's the funny thing — as our world gets more and more virtual, traditional skills are starting to look better and better to a lot of people. Original Air Date: April 09, 2022 Guests: Sara Dahmen — Monroe Robinson — Nick Offerman Interviews In This Hour: Could you build your own pots and pans? Coppersmith Sara Dahmen revives a lost art — A craftsman alone in the Alaskan wIlderness — 'He's my Shakespeare': Nick Offerman on the craft and wisdom of Wendell Berry Never want to miss an episode? Subscribe to the podcast. Want to hear more from us, including extended interviews and favorites from the archive? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Writing the Climate Change Story

One of the toughest things about trying to understand climate change – arguably the most important story of our time - is wrapping our minds around it. To even imagine something so enormous, so life-changing, we need a story. Some characters, a metaphor, and even some lessons learned. For that, we turn to the novelists and journalists telling the story of climate change – as we – and our children – live it. Original Air Date: August 14, 2021 Guests: Alice Bell — Lydia Millet — Lidia Yuknavitch — John Lanchester Interviews In This Hour: The Climate Change Stories We Need To Hear — The Climate Crisis Gets Biblical — Lidia Yuknavitch's Dream World: How Dreams Shaped Her Dazzling Speculative Novel — A Climate Dystopia Of Cold, Concrete, Wind and a Wall Never want to miss an episode? Subscribe to the podcast. Want to hear more from us, including extended interviews and favorites from the archive? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Taking Pop Seriously

Pop music is a gazillion-dollar industry that churns out hits and creates celebrities. It seems like the definition of ephemeral – today's chart topper is gone tomorrow. But pop music is a powerful vehicle for bringing people together, and fans - from K-pop to the #FreeBritney movement — have something to teach us about community and hope. Original Air Date: March 26, 2022 Guests: Regina Kim — Kyla Nicole — Kelefa Sanneh — Samantha Stark Interviews In This Hour: When we're disconnected, can we reconnect through K-pop? — From pop to punk: Shaping our musical identities — How a fan movement freed a pop star from her gilded cage Never want to miss an episode? Subscribe to the podcast. Want to hear more from us, including extended interviews and favorites from the archive? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Secrets of Alchemy

Once upon a time, science and magic were two sides of the same coin. Today, we learn science in school and save magic for children's books. What if it were different? What would it be like to see the world as an alchemist? Original Air Date: September 19, 2020 Guests: Sarah Durn — Pamela Smith — William Newman — Charles Monroe-Kane — Jason Pine Interviews In This Hour: Transmutation Of The Spirit — The Historical Lessons Embedded in Alchemical Recipes — Was Sir Isaac Newton 'The Last of the Magicians'? — The Buried Secrets of Czech Alchemy — Drug Store Alchemy in the Ozarks Further Reading: Maier: Atalanta Fugiens Never want to miss an episode? Subscribe to the podcast. Want to hear more from us, including extended interviews and favorites from the archive? Subscribe to our newsletter.