14 Dec 2023

The Best of Afternoons 2023

6:14 pm on 22 December 2023

Host Jesse Mulligan shares his five favourite interviews from RNZ's weekday afternoon show.

Jesse Mulligan

Jesse Mulligan Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

How failing well can lead to important discoveries

"I loved Amy Edmondson talking about failure. She reckons we should treat work (and life) like a science lab, where we plan for failure as part of the discovery process. She's very good on the difference between failures (good) and mistakes (bad) and shared a great anecdote of a breakthrough moment for her - when an experiment she'd designed to demonstrate how better-organised teams make fewer errors showed up the opposite (it turns out better-organised teams are just more honest about reporting their errors)."

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American writer and academic Amy Edmondson

American writer and academic Amy Edmondson Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva


Why society needs to grow up

"If you know something is wrong with the world but have difficulty figuring out what, my interview with Tim Urban might help explain a few things. He dove deep into human history to find answers to our most modern problems (tribalism, polarisation, cancel culture) then turned it into a digital book with amusing illustrations. I've never heard someone speak so clearly about what's gone wrong for humanity and what we might do about it."

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American blogger Tim Urban

American blogger Tim Urban Photo: Supplied


How to really know another person

"On this topic, David Brooks is brilliant, counselling us to return to traditional virtues - the sort of thing they used to teach in schools (and churches, lol) before individualism took over around the middle of the 20th century. Brooks is brilliant on the art of questioning - he says too often he comes home from a party or social encounter having not been asked a single question. If you're not sure where to start when it comes to knowing your fellow humans, he says asking questions is a great place to start (I'm making this sound simple but like all great guests his version is much more profound)."

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Sociologist, writer and New York Times columnist David Brooks

Sociologist, writer and New York Times columnist David Brooks Photo: Supplied

Why today's children are the least free in history

"Peter Gray says "our children have less freedom now than they've had at any time since the seven-day-a-week child labour of the industrial age". Like the great Jonathan Haidt who leads the conversation on phones in schools, Peter believes children are overcoddled - prevented from playing in the way they need to, in order to grow into functional adults (Haidt's version is very memorable: "We have overprotected children in the real world and underprotected them in the virtual world")."

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Academic Peter Gray

Academic Peter Gray Photo: Supplied


How digital technology affects our biology

"A lot of the above talks about the effect the digital world has on our brains but Manoush Zomorodi is great on what it's doing to our bodies. She has a new series that looks at the negative impacts our digital habits have on our anatomy and what we can do about them, though is there any chance I will follow her advice and remember to get up and move for thirty seconds every fifteen minutes for the rest of my life? No, but it's nice to at least understand what perfection might look like."

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Manoush Zamorodi

Manoush Zamorodi Photo: tory williams

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