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Robert Austin

Podcast: All In the Mind

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I confess to feeling a bit partial to BBC podcasts, but my favorite source of wide-ranging psychological discussion comes from down under... Australia, to be precise. Actually I would do this series a disservice by limiting its range to psychology, as it really does treat just about everything which has to do with how and what we think.

Natasha Mitchell's ?All In the Mind? has been running since 2002 on Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National, and has covered a remarkable range of of topics and subtopics. She's an engaging and well-informed host, and has carved out a World-class niche and body of work with this series.

An early episode (15 December 2002) featured interviews at an international conference on 'artificial life' related to that perennial question from the worlds of computer science and cognitive science: can, and/or when, will computers become conscious? Not in the sense that the famed Deep Blue grandmaster-beating, gigaflop-clocking class chess computers are?that is, not at all?but in the sense that you are, right now. This topic can unpack itself into an entire range of current academic controversies ? just Google ?hard problem? and ?consciousness? to get my drift.

Another episode from 2002 (10 November) features Howard Bloom discussing his book ?The Global Brain,? echoing an earlier book by Peter Russell; in his view, not only humans and the internet are beginning to form a global consciousness, but even microbes?which form complex and interconnected ecologies and patterns of communication so complex that we can only grasp the bare outlines of what is being communicated (thought?) by this uber-system (don't forget that there are more bacteria in your body than cells, forming complex communities... and guess what gets to eat you when you die?).

More recently, a two-part podcast from 3/27 and 4/3/10 on Religion and Science, philosopher A C Grayling suggests that efforts to reconcile the two are misguided, and fellow philosopher Peter Singer and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins hold forth on this topic. These episodes also help illustrate how broad is the cast of this program?not just about psychology at all, but everything about the Mind.

It's not my goal to capsulize the hundreds of episodes available, but simply to draw your attention to this series, and where to download your favorites. But just a few more topics: dreams, autism, stem cells, a three part dialogue with the Dalai Lama, drugs, schizophrenia, the musical mind, a three part series on famed Anti-Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz (two of them in the form of an extended interview), Steven Pinker... well, you get my drift. Hundreds of episodes, represented at least by transcripts for early episodes, but most available for download Here's the URL:


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Tags: mind, psychology


  1. synaesthesia's Avatar
    A great post , Robert. Being an aussie I have listened to that show on and off for years but had forgotten about it in the last couple. I will avail myself of some of the episode MP3's now that I have a good Ipod.
  2. Marisa's Avatar
    I bought one of the books that was discussed on one of the podcasts, "Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about our Everyday Deceptions" by Stephen Macknik, Susana Martinez-Conde, Sandra Blakeslee. It's a pretty good book - very much about visual illusions and the mind.