Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter

June 23, 2017
Alison Rodriguez

Are you looking for a new way to expand your knowledge? Look no further than this list of brain-building podcasts.

According to 2016 data from Edison Research, 21 percent of Americans listened to a podcast last month. That’s 57 million people — the same number of people who use Twitter.

There are podcasts that cover just about every topic under the sun. Here we cover podcasts that will make you smarter. From science to history to professional success, podcasts have the ability to take a typically boring topic and teach you in a new and interesting way.


  • Perspectives on Career Success, Courtesy of TED
  • Take a Break, Listen to a Podcast

Try these podcasts to expand your knowledge and make you smarter with just a listen.

Hidden Brain

Ever wonder why you act a certain way or why you hold a certain belief? Hidden Brain's host, Shankar Vedantam, explores the unconscious mind that influences our behavior and thoughts. This knowledge can help you understand your self-perception as well as your perception of others.

  • Most recent: Is He Muslim? (28 minutes): A look at why Americans spend so much time worrying about “radical Islamic terrorism” when more than half of the terrorist attacks that occur in this country are perpetrated by Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other far right groups.

The Naked Scientists

Find answers to all of your questions about science, medicine and technology. A team of scientists and doctors answer odd and unusual scientific questions in a way that anyone can easily understand.

  • Most recent: Hearts in the Extreme (50:24 minutes): This podcast covers how the heart works and how to keep it healthy, plus how the heart copes with atmospheric extremes.

Can He Do That?

This podcast, hosted by reporters from The Washington Post, explores the powers and limitations of the American presidency by considering Donald Trump’s actions from all angles. From his business empire to his “outsider” status in Washington, each episode explores one aspect of the Trump presidency that defies convention and asks, “Can he do that?”

  • Most recent: How Many of Obama’s Cuba Policies Could Trump Roll Back? (33 minutes): A look at President Trump’s Cuba policies and whether his actions will undermine all that former President Barack Obama did to restore diplomatic relations with the country.

The Tim Ferriss Show

Success can be found in every area of life, but not everyone is able to find the right path to their goals. Tim Ferriss, a bestselling author, deconstructs the lives of top performers, in a multitude of domains, to find the specific skills and tactics that allowed them to reach such a high level of success.

  • Most recent: Cool Tools for Travel (42 minutes): Recorded with Kevin Kelly, cofounder of Wired magazine, this podcast touches on unique gadgets, equipment and apps that make travel uber-easy.

Hardcore History

Was history the most boring subject for you in school? Do you feel like your history books overlooked some important information? Dan Carlin’s podcast, Hardcore History, uses an unorthodox narration to tell the least-told stories of history.

  • Most recent: The Destroyer of Worlds (6 hours): This “blitz edition” episode examines the dangerous early years of the Nuclear Age and humankind’s efforts to avoid self-destruction at the hands of its own creation.