In the land of science shows and entertaining podcasts, there are the usual suspects, and then, there’s Wendy Zuckerman.
Wendy Zuckerman, the wonderful, engaging, intelligent host of Gimlet Media’s Science Vs takes her listeners on a journey through facts and scientific research, challenging those who are open minded and curious on a wide spectrum of topics. From GMOs to abortion to gun control to true love, Wendy’s podcast tackles the science behind some of the most interesting and taboo themes in our culture today.
For podcast fans like myself, the options to choose from are endless. I hop between an ever-growing catalog of casts, some of which are produced by Gimlet Media. Gimlet Media is the podcast startup turned award-winning company with millions of downloads from listeners around the world every month. Science Vs is just one of many Gimlet productions worth a listen.
Back to Wendy, a scientific journalist from Australian with a sharp mind and a sharp…ish sense of humor. I mean that last part in the most endearing way possible. While the show is incredibly well-produced and flows at an engaging pace, for as many humorous moments that hit the mark, there are just as many that hit for completely ‘missing’ the mark. Wendy plays up this humor, and her personality causes a sincere laugh every time she lands one of those bad jokes in her own wonderful way. She is perfect for the show, both for her scientific passion and ability to keep her audience front-and-center throughout each subject from beginning to end.
With around 40 episodes available as of this article, from themes that range from health to technology to mapping a better future for ourselves, I have found each one both interesting and informative. Wendy herself has noted that she is testing our comfort levels, as many of the episodes will challenge our ethics, beliefs, desires, faith, and more. But that is what is so wonderful about both science and choice! With each passing year, I consider myself a bit more open-minded, and I can feel how my past self may have argued with Wendy’s conclusions in certain episodes. And just as we are pushed to question our personal faiths, and always ask questions, Wendy’s job is to present the best available scientific facts and conclusions based on all available research.
So, this means that if you personally believe that GMOs are awful products that will harm any human being who consumes them, you need to open your mind as you hear what studies and research can tell us about them. If you personally believe that Bigfoot is real, you need to open your mind as you listen to that episode. If you believe that vaccines are dangerous for children, climate change is a farce, and fracking is destroying the environment, I ask you to do the same…and open your mind to listen to what Wendy and her team’s research has to say. You can still choose what you want to believe, but it is always healthy to listen, learn, challenge your own opinions, and continuously grow with them. Wendy has affected my own beliefs on a few topics, confirmed beliefs I had in others, and failed to change my beliefs in specific topics as well. But again, that is what is so incredible about Science Vs! Instead of mind-numbingly flipping through a social media feed, I can spend 40 minutes to a time expanding my understanding, knowledge and perspective on a wide range of topics by tuning into one of Wendy’s shows. I call that a good deal.
If you are deeply entrenched in your beliefs on certain topics she covers, then depending on how open-minded you truly are, maybe start with a different topic. Themes such as hypnosis, the g-spot, and acne don’t have strong political or cultural implications compared to immigration, gun control, and vaccinations. Whether starting on the lighter side, or jumping right into the thick stuff, I have found value and entertainment in every single episode. For context, I should add that I frequently start, stop, change, and come back to various podcasts, as there are just too many of them competing for the precious hours we have in a day. Science Vs is one of the only podcasts I started and habitually listened to from beginning to end until I ran out of episodes. The good news is, the new season is currently in progress.
In conclusion (as Wendy says), I recommend this podcast to anyone with a curious mind and an appetite for science and well-produced shows. I cannot wait to hear what she tackles in this new season, and I’m looking forward to having my personal beliefs challenged…and picking up a few ‘punny’ jokes along the way.