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To The Best Of Our Knowledge

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. For more from the TTBOOK team, visit us at


Madison, WI


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. For more from the TTBOOK team, visit us at








Worshipping Waterfalls: The Evolution of Belief

Jane Goodall has seen wild chimpanzees dance and bristle with excitement around roaring waterfalls — and she thinks it’s an experience of awe and wonder — and possibly a precursor to animistic religion. But can we ever know why our ancient human ancestors developed spiritual beliefs? Can evolutionary science uncover the roots of religion? At some point our ancestors went from admiring waterfalls to worshipping them - and all kinds of spirits and gods. They developed sacred rituals and...


Rewriting the Romance Script

We take a look at the romantic tropes of modern love and how they’re changing. Do the old dreams of true love and happiness ever after fit our new lives and new identities? Original Air Date: February 13, 2021 Guests: Logan Ury — Angelo Bautista — Jane Ward — Angela Chen — Bara Jichova Tyson Interviews In This Hour: The New Coffee Date: COVID-19 Pushes The Dating World To Zoom — Are Straight People Okay? — Love Without Touch, Desire Without Sex — Learning To Believe In Monogamy Never...


To All The Dogs We've Loved

The bond we share with dogs runs deep. The satisfaction of gentle head scratches or a round of playing fetch is simple and pure, but in other ways, the connection we have is truly unknowable. How do dogs make our lives better? How do they think? And how do we give them the lives they deserve? Original Air Date: February 05, 2022 Guests: Blair Braverman — Quince Mountain — Donna Haraway — Sarah Miller Interviews In This Hour: Adventure, goofiness and trail snacks: Stories from the dog...


Our Time of Mourning

Is there a better way to talk about death? And to grieve? So many people have died during the pandemic — 4.8 million and counting — that we're living through a period of global mourning. And some people — and certain cultures — seem to be better prepared to handle it than others. Original Air Date: June 19, 2021 Guests: Heather Swan — Gillian O'Brien — Charles Monroe-Kane — Gabe Joyner — Rafael Campo Interviews In This Hour: The Barred Owl Who Came To Visit — How The Irish Talk About...


Searching for Order in the Universe

When things don't go the way they're supposed to — viruses, star systems, presidents, even fish — we're often desperate to explain the chaos. In this episode, we search for order in the universe. Original Air Date: August 08, 2020 Guests: Patrik Svensson — Lulu Miller — Alexander Boxer — Margaret Wertheim — S. James Gates Jr. Interviews In This Hour: The Weird World Of Eels — We Call Them Fish. Evolution Says They're Something Else. — The Original Algorithm Was Written In The Stars —...


Journeys Through Gender

Sharing of personal pronouns has become standard practice on resumes, business cards, email signatures and more. And that’s just one sign of an increasingly widespread shift in how we think about gender. So what’s next? And what would it take to actually celebrate gender freedom? To have trans joy? Original Air Date: January 15, 2022 Guests: Jules Gill-Peterson — Big Freedia — Torrey Peters — Akwaeke Emezi Interviews In This Hour: The Long History of the Trans Child — A Diva's Oasis?...


A Parenting Revolution

The pandemic has made it clear that parents are walking a tightrope with no safety net. We talk to parents about how they want to change the system, what it's like to raise black boys in a time of racial injustice, and how we might learn from ancient cultures to improve our parenting skills. Original Air Date: May 22, 2021 Guests: Alissa Quart — Brittany Powell — Michaeleen Doucleff — Amaud Jamaul Johnson — Cherene Sherrard Interviews In This Hour: A Parenting Movement Emerges From the...


Time Beyond The Clock

Clocks and calendars chop time into increments – minutes, hours, days, years. It’s efficient, and it helps us get to meetings on time. But when we invented artificial time, we gave up natural time, and a deep sense of connection to the larger universe. What does time feel like when you stop counting it? Original Air Date: January 04, 2020 Guests: Alexander Rose — Douglas Rushkoff — Wade Davis — Brian Swimme — Laura Williams — Rachel Sussman Interviews In This Hour: Alexander Rose on The...


The Power of Pleasure and Joy

What if the most unselfish thing you could do was to pursue pleasure? To look for delight? To feel joy? We make the case for the transformative power of joy, pleasure and delight. Original Air Date: October 12, 2019 Guests: Ross Gay — Kathryn Bond Stockton — Laurie Santos — Lynne Segal Interviews In This Hour: 365 Days Of Delight: A Poet's Guide To Finding Joy — A Queer Theorist On Ecstatic Kissing — Laboratory of Joy: A Psychologist On The Science of Feeling Good — The Revolution Will...


Whose Land Is It?

Ever want to quit your job, leave the rat race behind, and head back to the land? Buy an old farmhouse or build a solar-powered home and live self-sufficiently on a few acres of your very own? Generations before you have shared that dream. The reality is more complicated. Even owning your own land is an ethical minefield. Original Air Date: December 18, 2021 Guests: Makenna Goodman — Simon Winchester — Hayden King Interviews In This Hour: Can you live off the land and still live...


Reading While Young

Remember when reading still felt magical? When a book could sweep you off your feet into another world? It might be that the best way to find your way back the magic is through a kid’s book. We talk to authors about Wonderland, magic wands, unicorns and other children's stories that inspire. Original Air Date: May 01, 2021 Guests: Katherine Rundell — Quan Barry — Enrique Salmon — Ebony Thomas — LL McKinney — Lulu Miller Interviews In This Hour: Why A Pandemic Is The Perfect Time To Read...


If Your Clothes Could Talk

Whether you know it or not, your closets are filled with personal information. About your identity, your values, your personality. And every day, you wear it all right out the door for the whole world to see. Do you think about what are you saying with your clothes? Original Air Date: March 16, 2019 Guests: Angelo Bautista — Avery Trufelman — Carolyn Smith — agnès b. — Jo Paoletti Interviews In This Hour: Finding Yourself By Finding Your Style — From High Fashion to Heather Gray...


Rethinking the Holidays

We’re in the holiday season of the worst pandemic of our lives. Canceling our gatherings is the safe thing to do. But, how can we still — creatively and safely — connect with the people we love? Maybe there are some opportunities for us this year, too. Original Air Date: November 28, 2020 Guests: Priya Parker — Stanley Weintraub — Peter Reinhart — Helen Macdonald — Gregg Krech Interviews In This Hour: A Pandemic Holiday Season Offers Opportunities For Community, Too — Stanley Weintraub...



There are old folktales and legends of people who can become animals. Animals who can become people. And there’s a lesson for our own time in those shapeshifting stories — a recognition that the membrane between what's human and more-than-human is razor thin. Original Air Date: November 20, 2021 Guests: Sharon Blackie — David Abram — Chris Gosden — Stephen Graham Jones Interviews In This Hour: Reclaiming the fierce women who are shapeshifters — How a man turned into a raven —...


Living With Loneliness

After a pandemic year of social isolation, we knew loneliness would be a problem. But public health officials have been warning for years that in countries all over the world, rates of loneliness are skyrocketing. How did loneliness become a condition of modern life? Original Air Date: April 10, 2021 Guests: Jason Rohrer — Samantha Rose Hill — Claudia Rankine Interviews In This Hour: My Friend Samantha (The A.I.) — How Loneliness Can Lead to Totalitarianism — Being Black and Alone in...


Decolonizing the Mind

Colonization in Africa was much more than a land grab. It was a project to replace — and even erase — local cultures. To label them inferior. Music, arts, literature and of course language. In other words, it permeated everything. So how do you undo that? How do you unlearn what you’ve been forced to learn? In this hour, produced in partnership with the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) and Africa is a Country — we learn what it means to decolonize the mind. Original...


Generation Witch

As a culture we’ve long been fascinated by witchcraft, with witches through the ages practicing magic and making spells. Even through the spread of misinformation, and when they’ve been hunted and silenced. We take you from the 17th century to the online witch communities of today. Original Air Date: October 30, 2021 Guests: Honey Rose — Rivka Galchen — Chris Gosden — Quan Barry Interviews In This Hour: WitchTok, the super-connected coven — Are you now, or have you ever been, a witch?...


Solace of Nature

Rustling of leaves, sploshing of water, birds calling, bees buzzing. Wherever you live — city or country, East coast, West coast, or in between — we share common, contemplative experiences on our walks outside. In this hour, we assemble a sonic guide to finding solace in nature. Original Air Date: May 09, 2020 Guests: William Helmreich — David Rothenberg — Laura Dassow Walls — Robert Moor — Nate Staniforth — Andreas Weber Interviews In This Hour: The Great Urban Nature Explorer — Why...


Mysteries of Migration

If you had to travel 500 miles across country, on foot, with no map, no GPS, without talking to anyone — to a destination you've never seen, could you do it? It sounds impossible, but millions of creatures spend their lives on the move, migrating from one part of the Earth to another with navigation skills we can only dream of. How do they do it — and what can we learn from them? Original Air Date: July 25, 2020 Guests: Moses Augustino Kumburu — David Wilcove — Stan Temple — David Barrie...


Jazz Migrations

Music crosses boundaries between traditional and modern, local and global, personal and political. Take jazz — a musical form born out of forced migration and enslavement. We typically think it originated in New Orleans and then spread around the world. But today, we examine an alternate history of jazz — one that starts in Africa, then crisscrosses the planet, following the movements of people and empires -- from colonial powers to grassroots revolutionaries to contemporary artists...