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Our Top 6 Podcasts of 2021 – Ears Required

It wasn’t that long ago that podcasts were a niche hobby enjoyed by audiophiles, melophiles, and the Sedate phobic. But now, everyone has a favorite podcast which fills their time with soothing, monologic dialogue in the way only a podcast can. The corresponding explosion of creative podcasting has created an endless collection of pods for every topic, style, and mood; making choosing a podcast as difficult as deciding what to watch on Netflix. To aid you in your search we’ve selected six of our favorite top podcasts in 2021 for easy listening. 

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

Remember daydreaming in your 4th period history class, half-listening to the teacher but wondering if aliens could have made the pyramids? If you’re ready for someone who asks the real questions, then take a voyage through history with Dan Carlin in his rip-rolling review of history. A retired radio host, Carlin took his unique “martian” perspective to historical content that is often glossed over in the dry tones of a highschool history exam.

Overflowing with information, Carlin’s podcasts are focused on humanity’s most dramatic clashes and violent episodes. But his cynical humor and invigorating anecdotes keep history alive – even through three hour retellings of Julius Ceasar’s “Celtic Holocaust”. Unorthodox, deep-dives into history by a devout history buff are the perfect listening for a long drive or workday. 

Our Recommendation:

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History 59 The Destroyer of Worlds

The Lex Fridman Podcast

Rapidly rising in popularity and earning a spot in almost everyone’s top podcasts of 2021 lists is the Lex Fridman Podcast. After growing up in Moscow, Russia, Fridman began a lifelong pursuit for knowledge in the USA where he investigated the different applications of machine learning and computer vision to robotics and human sensing.

Working as a Machine Learning Researcher with Google before joining MIT as a research scientist, Fridman’s research informs his podcast where he often discusses human-centred artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, research, and human behaviour in the context of human-robot interactions. Attracting guests from a plethora of different fields, Fridman has had everyone from Elon Musk and Ethereum Co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, to comedian Tom Dillon on the mic. Individually discussing politics, philosophy, sports, martial arts, history, and psychedelics in his recent episodes, Fridman’s Podcast has something for everyone. 

Our recommendation:

Eric Weinstein: Difficult Conversations, Freedom of Speech, and Physics | Lex Fridman Podcast

Joe Rogan Experience

The comedian, former Fear Factor host, and UFC commentator draws on his rich experience with humor and the extreme to create one of the most popular podcasts to ever hit streaming-services.

Running for over 12 years now, the Joe Rogan Experience brings humor and controversy to discussions of current events, politics, philosophy, comedy, MMA, and everything under the sun. With over 1,686 episodes,  there’s an episode for every topic you’ve ever wanted to explore. Our recommendation is a particularly interesting exploration of business, philosophy, and life with entrepreneur and angel investor, Naval Ravikant. 

Our recommendation: 

Joe Rogan Experience #1309 – Naval Ravikant

Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People

Reminiscent of the timeless radio caller experience, Chris Gethard has brought back the beautiful anonymity of radio shows with a podcast whose episodes are as surprising and different as you are.

Opening the phone line to one caller at a time, the New Jersey born comedian and Smiths fan patiently involves the caller in their own life story as they discuss absolutely anything. With an endearing kindness, Gethard gently invites confessions and personal stories from each caller – creating an intimate encapsulation of one stranger’s life at a time. A practice in empathy, this relaxing podcast helps listeners look beyond themselves as callers discuss personal tragedies and life experiences that only a close friend would normally hear. 

Our Recommendation:

Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People- EP.# 91. Picture A Sunset

Everything Is Alive

Some podcasts inform, others entertain, and still others make us realize why we are even listening in the first place. Leave everything you thought you knew about podcasts at the door and prepare to experience the illusory phenomenon that is Everything is Alive.

Hosted by Ian Chillag, each episode is a thought-provoking interview with none other than – an inanimate object. Acting as an interviewer, Chillag explores the human condition with a creative assortment of guests, each played by a different improvisor. To see the world through the words of a pregnancy test, a grain of sand, or a can of coke, is to be enveloped in the absurdist realness we call life. With wit and humor, this unexpectedly moving addition to your podcast playlist will make you see the world a little differently. 

Our Recommendation:

Louis, Can of Cola

Dollar and Sense 

Ending the list of our top podcasts of 2021, is Dollar & Sense. Rarely can the global issues of our day be explained with a US-centric mindset. But stepping out from the bubble can be a little tricky which is why the Brookings Institute’s political economy podcast is a good starting point for establishing a global perspective.

With a thoughtful, factual approach to each discussion, David Dollar hosts explorations of hot topics such as cryptocurrency, Covid-19, and globalization.  Drawing on dialogues with guest experts, Dollar illustrates how our global trading system functions as well as its effect on our daily lives. While many of the topics are reflecting American current affairs, the explanations take an approach as international as our economics.

Our Recommendation

What’s Behind the Globalization of R&D?

With an ever expanding universe of listening material, we’re sure to have missed out on some of the other top podcasts of 2021. Feel free to correct us – we don’t mind. Till then we’ll be listening to these choice pods and pretending to work.

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