7 Thought-Provoking Podcasts


Podcasts can be more than just a way to pass the time on a tedious journey. They can acquaint you with world-changing ideas and issues you might otherwise have missed. Some of them look backwards to find new perspectives on past events. Others look forwards and show you how society – and us individuals who comprise it – might change in the future. The dawn of a new decade feels like exactly the right time to introduce 7 of the best podcasts for widening your horizons…


Author and economist Tim Harford aims for his podcast to be both entertaining and educative. Cautionary Tales brings together panels including the likes of Alan Cummings and Russell Tovey to reflect on fiascos, disasters and look at what we might learn from past mistakes. The result is a winning combination of history, culture, science and economics that turns past blunders into enlightening lessons for the future.

Top Episodes

You Have Reached Your Destination
Bowie, Jazz And The Unplayable Piano
Buried By The Wall Street Crash ​

Listen here


This debate forum invites the smartest minds from an array of fields to discuss issues from mental health and politics to religion and tech. The high-level back and forth clues you in on the biggest global issues and trends. Whatever your pet topic, Intelligence Squared and its fascinating guests are likely to have covered it at some point.

Top Episodes

David Brooks On The Road To Character
China: Friend Or Foe?
Richard Dawkins: The Rational Revolutionary

Listen here


This one drills deeper than most into ground-breaking technologies – from the past, present and future. Each episode, hosts Seth Stevenson and Tom Standage apply the lenses of sociology and historical context to look at the wild differences between the original purpose of a technology and how it has ended up being used. As a result, The Secret History Of The Future is invaluable for understanding the cutting-edge innovations of today.

Top Episodes

Infinite Scroll
The Box That AI Lives In

Mars On Earth

Listen here


Having run three times a week for a long time, Stuff You Should Know has one of the biggest back catalogues in the podcast game. And if it ain’t broke… Each episode, hosts Josh and Chuck take a new subject and look at the whys and hows behind it. Topics can range from the conspiracy theories around the disappearance of aircraft to the common reasons for countries descending into revolution. This one has topped many podcast charts and won numerous industry awards – and deservedly so.
Top Episodes

How The Concorde Worked
Could There Be A Lochness Monster?
What Happened To Neanderthals

Listen here


TED Talks now has a variety of podcast channels. In this one, TED boss Chris Anderson sits down with interesting people to discuss their lives, careers and wider society. The most recent series featured fascinating big names such as Bill Gates, Monica Lewinsky and Yuval Noah Harari. Whether or not you agree with a particular guest, The TED Interview is an excellent starting point for deeper conversations of your own.

Top Episodes

Dan Gilbert And The Surprising Science Of Happiness
Bill Gates Looks To The Future
Yuval Noah Harari Reveals The Real Dangers Ahead

Listen here


Started by Rosie Boycott, Daisy Leitch and Eleanor O’Keeffe, 5x15 brings leading figures to London to share their thoughts with a live audience. Five speakers get 15 minutes each to talk about what they’ve learnt. Presenters can come from wildly different backgrounds across areas from art and science to nutrition and politics. Luminaries such as Michael Morpurgo, Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph and actor Ralph Fiennes have all graced the 5x15 stage.

Top Episodes

A Short History Of London – The Creation Of A World Capital – Simon Jenkins
That Will Never Work – The Birth Of Netflix – Marc Randolph
A Look At Politics And Food – Yotam Ottolenghi

Listen here


If you’ve ever wondered why things were made and how things came to be, 99% Invisible is here for you. It zeroes in on the elements of daily life that most of us take for granted. For example, host Roman Mars will put everyday, age-old designs come under new scrutiny: why is cutlery made from silver? Why did the urban planners of New York city not include any alleyways? The answers are all here – and sure to satisfy inquisitive minds.

Top Episodes

Ways Of Hearing
Hacking IKEA

Listen here

DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image we use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact us at [email protected].

The SLMan Edit: Your Guide To A More Stylish Life.