Important, Not Important

Important, Not Important

Science for people who give a sh*t. Want to feel better AND unf*ck the world? The 6-time Webby nominee delivers deep conversations with the world's smartest people (scientists, doctors, CEO's, farmers, and more!), and digestible news updates every single week, loaded with tips and steps you and we can take to fix this place right up. We're talkin' clean energy and coral reefs, COVID vaccines and pediatric cancer research, clean water and carbon capture tech, asteroid deflection and artificial intelligence ethics. "A vital service in an era where important truths, outright fiction and mere trivia all compete for your attention.” - Craig Mazin, creator, writer, and executive producer of HBO's Chernobyl Hosted by Quinn Emmett read less
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Episodes

Chronic Illness: Not Actually Female Hysteria!
6d ago
Chronic Illness: Not Actually Female Hysteria!
How do we take a huge chronic disease burden like Lyme disease or long COVID or even long flu and make it so personal that we simply can't ignore it anymore? That's today's big question and my guest is Dr. Mikki Tal, an immunoengineer and a principal scientist at MIT.Dr. Tal leads the Tal Research Group within the Department of Biological Engineering, and also serves as the Associate Scientific Director of the Center for Gynepathology Research. Mikki is working to identify the connections between infections and chronic diseases.I've written a bit recently about the lessons we finally need to learn about post viral and bacterial health issues, the societal and medicinal and health and economic issues and improving our baseline of wellness and community health, so that we don't suffer from those quite as much.These things are very real, we've known about them for a very long time and the compounding effects of chronic diseases are just going to continue add up the longer we ignore them, and we gaslight people. There has never really been a better time for Mikki's work, or for this wonderfully inspiring and personal conversation.-----------Have feedback or questions? Tweet us, or send a message to questions@importantnotimportant.comNew here? Get started with our fan favorite episodes at podcast.importantnotimportant.com.-----------INI Book Club:Find all of our guest recommendations at the INI Book Club: https://bookshop.org/lists/important-not-important-book-clubLinks:Participate in the MAESTRO StudyExplore more of Dr. Tal's research (including recent papers here and here)Keep up with Dr. Tal's work on X and LinkedinRead more about Dr. Tal's work here and hereFollow us:Subscribe to our newsletter at importantnotimportant.comSupport our work and become a Member at importantnotimportant.com/upgradeGet our merchFollow us on Twitter:
Keeping Long COVID In The News
Apr 29 2024
Keeping Long COVID In The News
Who is still covering Long COVID, and how much is the audience actually growing? That's today's big question, and my guests are Betsy Ladygetz and Miles Griffis, editors and co-founders of The Sick Times, a journalist-founded website chronicling the Long COVID crisis. The Sick Times investigates injustices, challenges powerful institutions, wades through the latest research, assesses COVID-19 data, and offers an essential platform for those most affected by the crisis. Betsy is an independent science, health, and data journalist and writer focused on COVID-19 and the future of public health in general. Prior to The Sick Times, she ran the COVID-19 Data Dispatch. She was recently a journalism fellow at MuckRock, where she contributed to award-winning and impactful COVID-19 investigations, such as the Uncounted Project, investigations into the National Institute of Health's Recover Program, and stories covering public health responses in several states.Miles is an independent journalist and writer who covers Long COVID, science, and LGBTQ plus issues. He developed Long COVID at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and has used his lived experience to report on the disease. So many people are struggling directly or indirectly with Long COVID. Sometimes they don't even know themselves, but with journalism just crumbling around us, new publications like The Sick Times operated by people with very particular essential skills and lived experiences can help make sure that these massive all all-encompassing issues of our lifetimes stay in the news, giving everyone else a way to stay in touch, and of course, to act. -----------Have feedback or questions? Tweet us, or send a message to questions@importantnotimportant.comNew here? Get started with our fan favorite episodes at podcast.importantnotimportant.com.-----------INI Book Club:The Hammer: Power, Inequality, and the Struggle for the Soul of Labor by Hamilton NolanLet the Record Show: A Political History of ACT Up New York, 1987-1993 by Sarah SchulmanFind all of our guest recommendations at the INI Book Club: https://bookshop.org/lists/important-not-important-book-clubLinks:Subscribe and donate to The Sick TimesFind a Mask Bloc near youSupport the COVID-19 Longhauler Advocacy ProjectSupport the Patient-Led Research CollaborativeSupport the Long Covid Action ProjectLearn about diseases related to Long Covid and support
The Social Infrastructure of Water
Apr 8 2024
The Social Infrastructure of Water
What have we learned from millennia of water insecurity, of climate changes and disasters, of building along freshwater ways and the ocean, that we can apply today?That's today's big question, and my guest is Dr. Amber Wutich.Dr. Wutich is an ASU President's Professor, Director of the Center for Global Health, and 2023 MacArthur Fellow. She's an expert on water insecurity, and directs the Global Ethnohydrology Study, a cross cultural study of water knowledge and management in over 20 countries.Dr. Wutich’s two decades of community based field work explore how people respond individually and collectively to extremely water scarce conditions. She leads the NSF Action for Water Equity, a participatory convergence study that develops collaborative water solutions with water insecure U.S. communities. Her teaching has been recognized with many awards, including the Carnegie Case Arizona Professor of the Year.As maybe the most important thing that neither you or I can live without, water is both becoming more scarce in Central America, Northern India, Syria and other places, and more prevalent through sea level rise, flooding and storms where we're not ready for it.-----------Have feedback or questions? Tweet us, or send a message to questions@importantnotimportant.comNew here? Get started with our fan favorite episodes at podcast.importantnotimportant.com.-----------INI Book Club:Find all of our guest recommendations at the INI Book Club: https://bookshop.org/lists/important-not-important-book-clubLinks:Connect with Amber on LinkedIn, Twitter, and BlueSkyDonate or volunteer with Water For PeopleDonate to Dig DeepLearn more about Amber's work with NSF-funded Household Water Insecurity Experiences Research Coordination NetworkLearn more about the National Science FoundationFollow us:Subscribe to our newsletter at importantnotimportant.comSupport our work and become a Member at importantnotimportant.com/upgradeFollow us on Twitter: twitter.com/ImportantNotImpFollow us on Threads: www.threads.net/@importantnotimportantSubscribe to our
The Best Depression Treatment For You
Mar 18 2024
The Best Depression Treatment For You
You know you're stressed. You know you're anxious. Do you have depression? And do you need to know the latest in the biology of how the brain works and depression works or doesn't work and whether the gut is involved in getting meaningful help? That's today's big question. I promise it's kind of one question, even if there are a ton of different answers, and they're going to be different for everybody.This conversation is a follow-up to our last couple of conversations about the brain, the gut, and depression. My returning guest is Srijan Sen. Srijan is still the Francis and Kenneth Eisenberg Professor of Depression and Neurosciences at the University of Michigan and the Director of the Francis and Kenneth Eisenberg and Family Depression Center. His leading research focuses on the interactions between genes and the environment and their effect on stress, anxiety, and depression. Content WarningThis week we're talking about depression, and stress, and anxiety, and mental health, and suicide.This is a very important conversation but if any of this could be triggering to you, please just skip over the next one. Nothing in this conversation, of course, should be taken as medical advice. If a treatment, or some combination of treatments, prescribed or recommended, by your health care provider is working for you, huzzah. That's great. Stay with it. Your personal experience with the treatment is much more relevant than anything in this conversation. If you're using a depression medication or other therapy and not getting relief from your depression symptoms, talk with your health care provider.If you are struggling and feeling distressed, or that you might hurt yourself, text or call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988, right now, to get help. And you can even call and press 3 to speak to a counselor with the Trevor Project, who provide wonderful support for LGBTQ+ folks. -----------Have feedback or questions? Tweet us, or send a message to questions@importantnotimportant.comNew here? Get started with our fan favorite episodes at podcast.importantnotimportant.com.-----------INI Book Club:Find all of our guest recommendations at the INI Book Club: https://bookshop.org/lists/important-not-important-book-clubLinks:Follow along with the work of The Sen LabFollow Srijan on TwitterSuicide Crisis Lifeline (Call 988)The Trevor Project Hotline for LBGTQ+ youthListen to Srijan's first episode Follow us:Subscribe to our newsletter at
Can Capitalism (Justly) Solve the Climate Crisis?
Mar 4 2024
Can Capitalism (Justly) Solve the Climate Crisis?
The climate clock is ticking faster and faster. How can we use capitalism to undo the bad stuff that capitalism did and maybe even make things better? That's today's big (loaded) question, and my returning guest is Akshat Rathi. Akshat is a London-based senior reporter, newsletter writer, and podcaster for Bloomberg News.Akshat has a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Oxford, and a BTech in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai. Akshat was previously a senior reporter at Quartz and a science editor at The Conversation. He is here today to talk about his first book, Climate Capitalism.This wonderful book tells the stories of people building solutions at scale to tackle one of humanity's greatest challenges. Some solutions we've already built, like solar and batteries, and some we're still working on because they take a lot of work, and money, and politics.In a world where journalism is going bye-bye, and the climate clock is ticking, but we've made so much progress, and we can make so much more, Akshat's reporting in this book couldn't be more timely, as we seek to answer the question, where are we on this timeline?-----------Have feedback or questions? Tweet us, or send a message to questions@importantnotimportant.comNew here? Get started with our fan favorite episodes at podcast.importantnotimportant.com.-----------INI Book Club:The Long View by Richard FisherFind all of our guest recommendations at the INI Book Club: https://bookshop.org/lists/important-not-important-book-clubLinks:Order Climate Capitalism in the US/Canada (out March 12) Order Climate Capitalism in the UK (out now)Order Climate Capitalism in India (out now)Order Climate Capitalism in the rest of the worldListen to Akshat on his podcast Zero, and subscribe to his newsletterRead about the Biden Administration's regulations on the social costs of climate change here and hereFollow us:Subscribe to our newsletter at
Saving Democracy From The Bottom Up
Feb 19 2024
Saving Democracy From The Bottom Up
What are reverse coattails, and how might they slow climate change, prevent the next pandemic, and keep Nazis off of school boards? That's today's big question, and my returning guest is Amanda Litman. Amanda is one of my favorite people. She is the co-founder and co-executive director of Run for Something, which recruits and supports young, diverse progressives running for down-ballot office, state, and local, and all those fun levels. Since launching in 2017, a thousand years ago, Run for Something has elected more than 1000 leaders across nearly all 50 states, mostly women and people of color.Politico named Run for Something and Amanda, one of the 50 ideas driving politics in 2018. Bloomberg called her one of the People to Watch in 2019. Fortune named her to their annual 40 under 40 list in 2020. And in 2022, Amanda was one of the Time Next 100, a list of 100 rising stars from around the world.And look, it's yet another election year in America because it's another year in America, so there is never a better time to invite Amanda back onto the show. -----------Have feedback or questions? Tweet us, or send a message to questions@importantnotimportant.comNew here? Get started with our fan favorite episodes at podcast.importantnotimportant.com.-----------INI Book Club:North Woods by Daniel MasonFind all of our guest recommendations at the INI Book Club: https://bookshop.org/lists/important-not-important-book-clubLinks:Run for Office!Volunteer for a progressive, young candidateDonate to help get progressive, young candidates elected Learn more about running for office, support the educational efforts of Run for Something and make a c3 donation at Run For Something CivicsFollow us:Subscribe to our newsletter at importantnotimportant.comSupport our work and become a Member at importantnotimportant.com/upgradeFollow us on Twitter: twitter.com/ImportantNotImpSubscribe to our YouTube channelFollow Quinn: twitter.com/quinnemmettEdited by
Best of: The End of the Universe
Jan 22 2024
Best of: The End of the Universe
How will the universe end? That's today's big question, and my guest is Sarafina El-Badry Nance. Sarafina is an NSF graduate research fellow, astrophysics Ph.D. candidate, and Forbes 30 Under 30 Science 2022 honoree, specializing in supernova and cosmology. She's also the author of the new, honest, and empowering memoir "Starstruck: A Memoir of Astrophysics and Finding Light in the Dark".Sarafina and I recorded this conversation back in 2021, and not only is it an all-time listener favorite, well, the universe at large hasn't ended yet, even though it's felt like it was coming sometimes. We've all been through a lot since then, and this conversation is still and will remain, evergreen.Sarafina's goal is to measure the rate of the expansion of the universe as propelled by dark energy. And, I'm sorry if that isn't exciting enough for you, I don't know what to tell you.-----------Have feedback or questions? Tweet us, or send a message to questions@importantnotimportant.comNew here? Get started with our fan favorite episodes at podcast.importantnotimportant.com.-----------INI Book Club:"Untamed" by Glennon DoyleFind all of our guest recommendations at the INI Book Club: https://bookshop.org/lists/important-not-important-book-clubLinks:starafina.comInstagram: @starstrickensfTwitter: @starstrickenSFLinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/sarafina-nance-7a5888a0Watch: Constellationsgirlswhocode.comthebreasties.orgFollow us:Subscribe to our newsletter at importantnotimportant.comSupport our work and become a Member at importantnotimportant.com/upgradeFollow us on Twitter: twitter.com/ImportantNotImpSubscribe to our YouTube channelFollow Quinn: twitter.com/quinnemmettEdited by Anthony LucianiProduced by
Best of: Episode X: A Far Out Geek Girl Rises
Jan 15 2024
Best of: Episode X: A Far Out Geek Girl Rises
Why does it matter who reviews our video games? That's today's big question, and my guest is Swapna Krishna. Swapna and I recorded this conversation in 2022, and as gaming and the entire media ecosystem changes and evolves and is pulled apart and merged, it's more important than ever to find reputable sources we not only trust, but who we have a connection with, and that's why representation matters so much. Swapna is a writer and journalist covering space, science, tech, and pop culture, and writes some of the most empathetic tech, and pop culture commentary on the web. She writes everywhere from Fast Company to StarWars.com, from StarTrek.com to Business Insider and the LA Times, Bitch Magazine, Bustle, Mental Floss, and more. Swapna has appeared on a bazillion excellent podcasts, she's been at ComicCon, she's the co-host of the Desi Geek Girls Podcast, and the host of PBS's show, Far Out. -----------Have feedback or questions? Tweet us, or send a message to questions@importantnotimportant.comNew here? Get started with our fan favorite episodes at podcast.importantnotimportant.com.-----------INI Book Club:Sword Stone Table by Swapna Krishna and Jenn NorthingtonStay tuned for Roshani Chokshi's new bookFind all of our guest recommendations at the INI Book Club: https://bookshop.org/lists/important-not-important-book-clubLinks:Follow Swapna on Twitter and InstagramFollow Swapna on TikTokWatch PBS Terra's Far Out on YouTube or their websiteListen to and follow Desi Geek GirlsCheck out NASA SocialFollow us:Subscribe to our newsletter at importantnotimportant.comSupport our work and become a Member at importantnotimportant.com/upgradeFollow us on Twitter:
Best of: Why We Can't Focus
Jan 8 2024
Best of: Why We Can't Focus
How do we get our attention back? That's today's big question. I think about it every day, and my guest is Johann Hari. Johann and I recorded this conversation in 2022, and with the Internet in general and social networks of the past fifteen years being straight-up pulled apart, I think it's more relevant than ever. Johann Hari is the author of three New York Times best-selling books, an executive producer of an Oscar-nominated movie, and an eight-part series starring Samuel L. Jackson. His books have been translated into thirty-eight languages, and his TED Talks have been viewed more than eighty million times.Johann is the author of the new book, from last year called Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention and How to Think Deeply Again.No matter what you do, we are each and all being pulled in so many different directions. If we can't pay attention to what's going on with our planet and our communities, we're going to have a hard time fixing any of it. Our attention is spread too thin. And where this all clicks for me, is that we need to dial in more than ever before, and we also need space to let go, to understand, and marinate on big problems consciously, and subconsciously. Right now, we don't have room for any of it, and it really matters. -----------Have feedback or questions? Tweet us, or send a message to questions@importantnotimportant.comNew here? Get started with our fan favorite episodes at podcast.importantnotimportant.com.-----------INI Book Club:The Anatomy of a Moment by Javier CercasThe Apology by Eve EnslerFind all of our guest recommendations at the INI Book Club: https://bookshop.org/lists/important-not-important-book-clubLinks:Read Johann's book, "Stolen Focus"Follow Johann on TwitterDiscover more of Johann's workFollow us:Subscribe to our newsletter at importantnotimportant.comSupport our work and become a Member at importantnotimportant.com/upgradeFollow us on Twitter: twitter.com/ImportantNotImpSubscribe to our YouTube channelFollow Quinn: twitter.com/quinnemmettEdited by Anthony LucianiProduced...
Best of: Internal Activism
Jan 1 2024
Best of: Internal Activism
How's your mental health around climate change? That is today's big question, and my guest is Britt Wray. Britt and I recorded this conversation in 2022. It is an all-time favorite of mine and of our listeners.Britt is the author of the fantastic book, Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis. She has a passionate generational perspective on how to stay sane amid climate disruption. Britt has a PhD in science communication from the University of Copenhagen. She's the author of The Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction. Britt has a PhD in science communication from the University of Copenhagen. She has hosted several podcasts, radio, and TV programs with the BBC and CBC, and is a TED resident. Britt is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where she is researching the mental health impacts of climate change on young people. Britt is also the author of Gen Dread, the first newsletter that shares wide-ranging ideas for supporting emotional health and psychological resilience in the climate and wider ecological crisis. I read it every week.-----------Have feedback or questions? Tweet us, or send a message to questions@importantnotimportant.comNew here? Get started with our fan favorite episodes at podcast.importantnotimportant.com.-----------INI Book Club:Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis by Britt WrayGreek Myths by Gustav SchwabFind all of our guest recommendations at the INI Book Club: https://bookshop.org/lists/important-not-important-book-clubLinks:Follow Britt Wray on TwitterFollow @gen_dread on InstagramGen Dread NewsletterClimate AwakeningClimate CaféGood Grief NetworkWork That ReconnectsClimate Psychology AllianceClimate Psychiatry AllianceFollow us:Subscribe to our newsletter at