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Tangentially Speaking with Dr. Christopher Ryan

Ever wanted to hang with a dominatrix, comedian, famous health guru, scientist, author or Italian prince? Here's your chance. Tangentially Speaking is dedicated to the idea that good conversation is spontaneous, organic, revelatory, and free to go down unexpected paths.
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Feb 23, 2015

My pal, Richard has a talent for noticing where the trends of our society are headed, which makes him a very astute businessman and investor—as well as a fascinating and thoughtful observer of larger civilizational trends.

Feb 16, 2015

Go on. Google "total assfucker" and see if you don't see an article about this week's guest. If that's not enough to impress you, Mark is a guy who's spent his life in the trenches of American politics and hasn't lost his sense of humor or optimism. Don't ask me how that's even possible, but there you go. As you'll hear, I really enjoyed shooting the shit with Mark and hope to do it again soon.

Feb 9, 2015

Steve Herman consults with legal professionals to help them think more clearly about an issue that all too often blinds even the most level-headed among us with blind rage: allegations of sexual abuse of children. Precisely because these crimes are so offensive to people in our society, we tend to jump to conclusions, often hurting many innocent people in the process—including children. This isn't an easy thing to talk about, but Steve does it with intelligence, balance, and a deep sense of humanity. 

Feb 2, 2015

Eve and Franklin wrote More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory. You can learn  more about them and their book at their site:

Jan 26, 2015

Dan is a cigar-smoking vegan, animal rights activist, atheist, NRA hating, ex-husband, father, stand-up comedian, painter, former host of FOX TV’s “Utopia,” philosophizing cartoonist who makes his living writing and drawing a new cartoon every day, 365 days a year.

If you have ever seen Dan Piraro’s critically acclaimed comic Bizarro (and you have: it is published daily in over 360 papers), you know that he doesn’t see the world like the rest of us do. His single panel gems are a unique concoction of surrealistic imagery, social commentary, and witty plays on words. Indeed, if Salvador Dali, Garry Trudeau and Oscar Wilde had an illegitimate child, that child would be Dan Piraro.

(Bio from Dan's site.)

Jan 19, 2015

Peter Gray is an American psychologist who currently occupies the position of research professor of psychology at Boston College. He is the author of a widely used introductory psychology textbook, Psychology, now in its sixth edition. The book broke new ground when the first edition was published (in 1991) as the first general introductory psychology textbook that brought a Darwinian perspective to the entire field. He is also author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books, 2013), and he writes a popular blog for Psychology Today magazine entitled "Freedom to Learn."

Gray is a well-known critic of our standard educational system who is frequently invited to speak to groups of parents, educators, and researchers about children’s needs for free play, the psychological damage inflicted on children through our present methods of schooling, and the ways in which children are designed, by natural selection, to control their own education. Along with a group of other concerned citizens, he has created a website,, aimed at helping families find alternative, more natural, routes to education. (From the Wikipedia profile of Peter)

Jan 12, 2015

PHIL ZUCKERMAN is a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. He is an author and blogs for Psychology Today and the Huffington Post. In 2011 Zuckerman founded an interdisciplinary Department of Secular Studies at Pitzer College, the first in the nation.Get Phil's book on Amazon

Jan 5, 2015

Jesse has published books about sexuality and the biological underpinnings of religious belief. He's a research psychologist with broad experience, a wide open mind, and finely honed wit. We talk God, chimps, and why the penis is shaped that way.

Music: and

Dec 29, 2014

Dr. John Gowdy is Rittenhouse Teaching Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Department of Economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. We discuss the social and economic lives of hunter gatherers, among other things.

Dec 22, 2014

Richard has lived in Japan for a dozen years, and knows the culture and language well. Since he's particularly interested in language, food, and sex, our conversation lingers around those topics—though as always, there's plenty of meandering.

Dec 15, 2014

You know Andy. This is his third visit to Tangentially Speaking as the guest. He's also co-hosted several epic episodes. He's a professor of World Religions and World Literature, a fascinating dude, and my pal.

Dec 8, 2014

From Dan's site: DAN PARDI is passionate about food, movement, and sleep. Interested in developing low-cost, high value health solutions. Also interested in anthropology, evolutionary biology, exercise and inactivity physiology, cognition, neuroeconomics, decision making, circadian biology, epistemology, gastronomy, food culture and politics, agriculture, sustainable practices, and dogs. Activities include mountain biking, CrossFit, hiking, dancing, and long walks with my headphones.

More info:

  1. Stanford MedX presentation - 20min (wish I had more time!)
  2. Dan's article for Kresser - How mush sleep do you need?
  3. Academic articles on GHB neurobiology and abuse liability - both real snoozers! 
  4. Twitter: @dansplanhealth
Dec 3, 2014

Doug Fry has written extensively on aggression, conflict, and conflict resolution. He believes that anthropology holds important current-day lessons: “The macroscopic perspective of anthropology, with its expansive time frame and culturally comparative orientation, provides unique insights into the nature of war and holds some concrete lessons for how to develop a more safe and peaceful world.” 

Fry’s most recent edited book is titled War, Peace and Human Nature (Oxford, 2013)and contains 27 chapters by leaders in the fields of biology, primatology, forager studies, peace studies, psychology, and social cultural anthropology. His previous book, Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace, is a fantastic introduction to this material for non-specialist readers.


Nov 25, 2014

Dr. Cacilda Jethá is unlike anyone you've ever met. Guaranteed. My wife, friend, co-author, and partner in crime for the past 15 years, she can't remember how many people have died in front of her, or how many babies she's delivered. She's part Indian, part Persian, part African, part Portuguese, and speaks seven languages. She lives at the nexus of many worlds and moves between them with incredible grace, generosity, and humor.

Nov 17, 2014

Justin grew up splitting his time between a difficult , not particularly open-minded home situation in rural Washington and weekend visits to his dad and dad's long-term, loving (male) partner in Seattle. Now he's a firefighter in Portland, OR.


Nov 10, 2014

In 1972, Rick decided to dedicate his life to bringing psychedelics out of the shadows and into laboratories and clinicians' offices, where they certainly belong. His persistence is paying off—to the benefit of thousands of people whose suffering can be alleviated by these sacred substances. 

Nov 6, 2014

A tribute to Parliament-Funkadelic, with thanks to my friend, Mike, and The Edsel Ford Funk Victory Tape.

Nov 3, 2014

Amber Lyon is a three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist, filmmaker, photographer, and explorer known for her use of submersion journalism, or becoming part of the story, to find the truth. Lyon is the founder of the news site, and the web show and podcast Reset with Amber Lyon. Lyon has traveled the world investigating natural cures, focusing on the ancient use of entheogens to treat and purge trauma.  She ventured deep into the Amazon to study the Shipibo use of the psychoactive brew Ayahuasca, and studied medicinal mushroom use by native curanderas in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, Thailand and Indonesia. 

Oct 27, 2014

Professor John Helliwell studies what makes people happy, and how we can maximize life-satisfaction. Learn more about his work here.

Oct 20, 2014

This is a special episode. I was on stage at the Upright Citizen's Brigade theater in Hollywood with comedians Moshe KasherNicky Glazer, and Nick Kroll. I think the idea was roughly to make fun of me and my wacky theories for an hour. I had a blast, as you'll hear, and gave them plenty of material to work with.

Oct 13, 2014

When Aidan's car broke down four years ago, that was the last straw. He quit his job, threw his stuff into a bag, and hit the road, where he's been ever since. A young man who is clearly on an authentic quest of some sort, he's smart, articulate, and very thoughtful. This episode features his original music (and a cameo by Werner Herzog, just because). Download Aidan's music here.

Oct 6, 2014

Stephen O'Donnell paints exquisite "historicized self-portraits" in which his face appears in some unexpected places. Check out his work here.

Sep 29, 2014

Dr. Tonia Mills is an anthropologist with an additional degree in child development. She lived for years with the Beaver Indians of British Columbia and has studied many aspects of their society—particularly their beliefs around reincarnation. One of the many fascinating people I've met thanks to Stanley Krippner, Tonia shares some fascinating, intimate stories from her life among the Beaver people.

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