Inquiring Minds is a podcast delivering an in-depth exploration of the place where science, politics, and society collide. They're committed to the idea that making an effort to understand the world around you through science and critical thinking can benefit everyone—and lead to better decisions. We talked with one of the shows hosts Indre Viskontas, with a PhD in neuroscience and a Masters in Music, she explains both her passion for science communication and how Inquiring Minds goes about delivering interesting and important scientific knowledge on a weekly basis. With an audience of 30,000 listeners we're excited to show you some of the inner workings of the podcast and the people behind it.
This week we're trying something new, you can read the interview or listen to the full recorded interview with Matt and Indre above.
Tell us a little bit about how you got started with the Inquiring Minds podcast?
Sure. A few years ago I did a television show for the Oprah Winfrey network, in which I investigated people’s claims of the miraculous using the scientific lens. As a result of promoting that show I was invited to be on podcast called Point of Inquiry. It was the podcast for a foundation called the Centre for Inquiry. They’re a skeptics organization and their goal is to disseminate skepticism across many different topics. While I was on the podcast as a guest, the producer of the podcast Adam Isaak liked me and asked if I would consider co-hosting that podcast. I said yes. I started co-hosting Point of Inquiry with Chris Moody maybe 4 years ago. About a year and a half into that project the CEO of the Centre of Inquiry made some unfortunate comments at a women-in-skepticism conference. That wouldn't have been so bad except when he was called out on it there was a huge kerfuffle. He reacted badly on Twitter, and he wrote a blog post that people found really offensive. This kind of snowballed and it divided the skeptical community into people who found this really offensive and people who were supportive of keeping things status quo. We felt that as a podcast, one of our goals was to make women welcome in science. Not only having women as guests on the podcast but also encouraging women to listen to the podcast and we felt that our affiliation with the Centre for Inquiry was going to be hard fall in meeting that goal. So we expressed our displeasure and nothing happened, so we quit.
When we left the podcast it was a scary thing to do because we loved podcasting. We had a good subscriber base and good listenership but we felt we needed to have our own integrity. At the time Chris Moody was the co-host with me and he was also working at Mother Jones here in San Francisco. He had told Mother Jones what was happening and they expressed interest in having us as part of their network. Even though they hadn’t had a podcast before and weren’t known for their coverage of science, they had an audience that we felt would be interested in our topics and we thought bringing more science to Mother Jones would be a good thing for everyone concerned. So we started a partnership with Mother Jones and we relaunched three months later as Inquiring Minds. A year ago Chris got a job at the Washington Post where he is now and it’s an all-consuming job so he didn’t have time to keep doing the podcast. We were on the hunt for a new co-host and a few months after Chris left we found Kishore Hari. He's the director of the Bay Area Science Festival and he’s now my current co-host and that’s Inquiring Minds.