Dan Ariely

Photo by Yael Zur for Tel Aviv University Alumni Organization

How many times a day do you lie, cheat, or steal?

If you’re like most people, you might say, with some pride, you never lie, cheat or steal.

That’s a lie.

Psychology and behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely says we all do it. Thing is, we almost all do it just a little, not enough to ruin our self-image of being a good, honest person.

In his 2012 book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty Ariely explained the science behind our misbehaviors.

So here now, from 2012, Dan Ariely.

Dan Ariely, who is 56 now, has taught at Duke University since 2008.

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Temple Grandin

Why do animals think and behave and react in the ways they do?

Animal behaviorist Temple Grandin has spent a lifetime finding answers. And for her, the journey has been a personal one, as well.

Grandin is autistic, and has found that animal behavior is not unlike that of some people with autism.

I first met her in 2005, when she published her book Animals in Translation.

So here now, from 2005, Temple Grandin.

Temple Grandin is 75 now, and still active in the field of animal behaviorism.

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J. Craig Venter

Can the guy who just barely graduated from high school become one of the world’s 100 most influential people?

Well, it doesn’t very often, to be sure. But that is the short version of the story of Dr. J. Craig Venter, who led the first draft sequence of the human genome some 20 years ago,

Venter founded the company Celera Genomics, which found itself in a very publicized race with the international Human Genome Project to produce that map.

And by summer 2000, Venter was a VIP guest at a White House announcement featuring President Clinton, British prime minister Tony Blair, and a host of other high-level dignitaries.

Venter was widely hailed around the world as a leading figure in the scientific community .

In 2007, Venter wrote his autobiography, a book called A Life Decoded. And that’s what I met him.

So here now, from 2007, Dr. J. Craig venter.

J. Craig Venter is 75 now. He lives in California.

Oh, and if he was curious as to why he was always such a poor student, Venter later discovered that he had a genetic marker for ADHD.

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Sy Montgomery

Photo: Larry D. Moore

We all know what dolphins look like, right?

Well maybe we don’t know what all dolphins look like. Have you ever heard of Pink dolphins? Shape-shifting, human-like pink dolphins?

Renowned naturalist Sy Montgomery had heard of pink dolphins, deep in the Amazon River basin in Brazil. So she went to check them out.

What resulted was her 2000 book The Journey of the Pink Dolphins. That’s when she and I had one of our many conversations over the years.

So here now, from 2000, Sy Montgomery

Sy Montgomery is 64. She lives in New Hampshire.

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Shere Hite

Human sexuality has been widely studied, researched, and written about over the years, most notably, perhaps, by Alfred Kinsey and Masters and Johnson .

In the 1970s and ’80s, there was a trilogy of books about sexuality by another researcher that drew widespread praise and criticism. It was called The Hite Report, by researcher Shere Hite.

Much of the controversy centered on the fact that Hite was a feminist who drew upon political and philosophical viewpoints into her work.

In 1988 she completed her trilogy with a volume called Women And Love. And that’s when I first met her, during a whirlwind book tour that included some controversial stops, including TV’s Phil Donahue show.

So here now, from 1988, Shere Hite.

Shere Hite died in 2020. She was 77.

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Oliver Sacks

Photo: Maria Popova

A young British boys fascination with science, and with metals and chemistry in particular, led to him becoming one of the world’s foremost neurologists.

And the author of best-selling books about science.

His name was Oliver Sacks. He’s the author of books such as The Man Who mistook His Wife For a Hat, and The Island of The Color Blind. But he is perhaps best known for his 1973 book Awakenings, which became a major movie in 1990 starring Robert de Niro and Robin Williams.

In 2001, his book Uncle Tungsten told of how, as a youngster, he first became interested in science.

So here now, from 2001, Oliver Sacks.

Oliver Sacks died in 2015. He was 82.

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Richard Leakey

Photo: Rob Bogaerts / Anefo

Where did modern humankind come from?

Scientists,, scholars, and experts have been trying to find the answer for generations.

One of the most prominent among them was Kenyan-born Richard Leakey.

His parents, Louis and Mary Leakey, we’re also renowned paleoanthropologists whose work centered on finding the origins of modern humans.

In 1977, Richard Leakey co-authored at groundbreaking book called Origins. But by 1992, he had Unearthed new material the prompted him to write a sequel, called Origins Reconsidered.

And that’s what I met him.

So here now, from 1992, Richard Leakey.

Richard Leakey died earlier this month. He was 77.

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Carl Sagan

You know we sometimes get so caught up in the minutiae of everyday life. Trying to protect our own little turf on this little planet that we lose sight of the big picture. I mean the really big picture.

In the 1970s and ’80s astronomer. Carl Sagan led the way in showing us the big picture with his book and TV show. Cosmos and then in 1994 his follow-up book called pale Blue.

The interview you’re about to hear was actually the second interview I had with Carl Sagan in the early ’90s and I found it hard to be in the same room with him and and not be swept up in his enthusiastic and voracious quest for more knowledge.

And as I was preparing the interview for use on this podcast, I thought how absolutely thrilled Carl Sagan would be today to learn about the James Webb telescope.

So here now from 1994 Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan died in 1996. He was 62.


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James Watson

Nobel laureate Dr. James D. Watson, Chancellor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

In 1953, an earnest and ambitious 25-year-old scientist nmaed James Watson made a groundbreaking discovery that helped revolutionize science, medicine, even the law.

Working alongside Francis Crick, Watson identified the double-helix structure of DNA.

That breakthrough earned Watson and Crick the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1962. Watson wrote a book explaining the double helix.

I met him in 2002, when he published another book, which he called “Genes, Girls, and Gamow.” That was a reference to George Gamow, a pioneering theoretical physicist who contributed to, and built on, Watson and crick’s work.
From the moment I met him, Watson won me over with his warmth, humanity, and roll sense of humor.

So here now, from 2002, James Watson.

James Watson celebrated his 93rd birthday last week. We’re not sure if you ever got an email account.

Raymond Kurzweil

It can be fun, informative, and educational to go back and revisit the things that futurists said years ago. Just, you know, to check and see if they were right.

Kurzweil has been honored by three U.S. presidents, he has 21 honorary doctorates, and has been called the rightful heir to Thomas Edison.

In 1990, I met and interviewed legendary inventor and futurist Raymond Kurzweil. He had written a book called The Age of Tnte Intelligent Machine.

You be the judge — was he right?

So here now, from 1990, Raymond Kurzweil.

Raymond Kurzweil is now 73. Since 2012 he’s been Director of Engineering at Google.