Mar 29 • 1HR 36M

What History Reveals — and Hides (w/ Jody Avirgan, Kellie Carter Jackson, and Nicole Hemmer)

Out of the ivory tower, into the tweet storms

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Everything is broken. Adaam James Levin-Areddy and Vanessa M. Quirk, two jaded journos, interview people far wiser than themselves and ask: "now what?"
Episode details

After covering the 2016 elections, podcaster and journalist Jody Avirgan (FiveThirtyEight, 30 for 30) was tired. Damn tired. Of the news cycle, the click bait, the politics. He felt pulled to history as a way of making sense of the present in a more complex, thoughtful way — and so he reached out to Nicole Hemmer, a historian who studies right wing media and occasional opinion writer/cable. The two created the podcast “This Esoteric Day in History,” and eventually recruited Kellie Carter Jackson, a historian who studies the abolitionist era and the theme of violence, to round out their trio. We invited all three on the pod (an Uncertain Things record) to dig into the upsides of bringing history into public discourse, the perils of pushing historians onto social media, and the possibility that podcasts could save us all. 

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On the agenda:

-Three journos and two historians walk into a pod [0:00-9:35]

-How the podcast came to be [9:36 -12:05]

-Intellectual first responders [12:06 - 18:56]

-Progress isn’t Inevitable [18:57-22:44]

-How progressives and conservatives use history [22:45-29:59]

-Out of the ivory tower, into the tweet storms [30:00-52:04]

-Media: making the world worse, every day (podcasts exempted) [52:05-1:00:35]

-The CRT Monkey’s paw [1:00:36-1:05:16]

-An honest conversation about violence [1:05:17-1:24:00]

-On democracy and our fundamental values [1:24:01-1:34:47]

By the way… We, Jody, Kellie, Nicole, and a bunch of other podcasters have joined the Pro-Democracy Podcast Coalition, in partnership with a nonpartisan organization called RepresentUs, to raise awareness and preserve, bolster, and protect democracy. Get informed and get active at

Uncertain Things is hosted and produced by Adaam James Levin-Areddy and Vanessa M. Quirk. For more doomsday rumination, subscribe to: