Brandon Royal’s photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Salman Rushdie in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s office at the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural history.
Brandon Royal’s photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson and Salman Rushdie in Neil deGrasse Tyson’s office at the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural history.

The Power of Storytelling, with Salman Rushdie

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Salman Rushdie. Photo Credit: Brandon Royal.

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About This Episode

Gather ‘round everyone, it’s story time! On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson sits down with world-renowned author Salman Rushdie, author of Midnight’s Children, The Satanic Verses, and many other influential novels of our time. In-studio, Neil is joined by comic co-host Eugene Mirman and literary scholar Jonathan Gottschall to discuss the science, history, and power of storytelling. You’ll hear about Salman’s early education and why his path could have easily led him to science instead of art. Find out why we shouldn’t think of science and art as binary categories, but instead, focus on their similar search to capture the truth. Neil tells us why Einstein might be to the science world what Picasso was to the art world. Learn why storytelling was humanity’s first great technology and why storytelling is an ancient form of virtual reality. Ponder whether artists might be better served if they had educational training in the sciences. Explore the limits of a reader’s suspension of disbelief. Eugene takes us through crafting new jokes even when the patterns have been the same since the beginning. Salman helps us understand magical realism and you’ll learn about his process and how he tries to violate the laws of physics in interesting ways. Discover the origins of storytelling and why Jonathan believes we should be called “Homo Fictus” instead of Homo sapiens. Investigate the spiritual side of storytelling as we look at storytelling through the lens of religion, and debate whether there’s a connection between spiritual feeling and the drive to create. Natalie Phillips, literary neuroscientist, stops by to help us understand how our brain functions when we read stories. We answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries about imagination, lying, and augmented reality. You’ll also hear what Salman thinks about the state of, and push back against, rationalism, All that, plus, Neil offers up the strangeness of the universe to serve as inspiration for our future stories. 

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: The Power of Storytelling, with Salman Rushdie.

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