Two ladies sitting at a desk and recording a podcast show in front of a phone and ring light

The Top Podcasts That Make You Smarter to Follow in 2022

People listen to podcasts for various personal reasons. Some listen to just relax, some to boost their energy or motivation, and others to learn. With the thousands of podcasts available, finding podcasts that make you smarter in 2022 and align with your goals and preferences can be difficult. You have to work through hundreds of episodes to determine if a podcast is right for you. 

Why You Should Listen to Podcasts That Make You Smarter

Despite there being so much to learn, very little of it is ever explored because formal education focuses on specific subjects. Luckily, there are many alternative avenues that can broaden your knowledge base. One of the most accessible educational options is podcasts. There are various types of podcast genres, ranging from comedy, drama, and sports to true crime, spirituality, hardcore history, and politics.

Each podcast has its purpose, such as making you laugh or developing your knowledge. For those who want to learn on a daily basis while maintaining their responsibilities, podcasts are the way to go. They offer listeners a free and accessible opportunity to learn about subjects that would otherwise cost money and require undivided attention.

What Makes a Great Smarter Podcast?

  • Good Sound Quality. A great podcast should have excellent sound quality. Podcasts thrive on sound and, therefore, need to deliver the best possible audio quality. If the audience has difficulty hearing and understanding the message, the podcast has failed to deliver. 
  • Audience Engagement. Podcasts are pointless without an audience, which is why keeping that audience invested is very important for every podcast. To achieve this, the podcast needs to have high audience engagement where the audience feels like they are a part of a community of like-minded people.
  • Niche Focus. A podcast that makes you smarter should have a niche that it focuses on to increase your knowledge. This niche could be science, law, politics, arts, finance, or any other informative field.  
  • Length. A good podcast should be mindful of its length and the audience’s time commitment. A typical podcast lasts for a maximum of 40 minutes. However, making each episode run for around 20 minutes could make a podcast even easier to listen to and leave its audience wanting more.
  • Content Style. The content style of a podcast could be conversational, interview-style, storytelling, or educational. A podcast’s content style should fit in with its niche to keep its target audience entertained and engaged. A true-crime podcast, for instance, will often have more of a conversational or storytelling style to keep it appealing.

The 10 Best Smartest Podcasts

1. The Habitat

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Available On: Website, Spotify, Chartable

Subjects Covered: Drama, science, true story

The Habitat is a podcast created by NASA to help both NASA and the public understand what life would be like on planet Mars. This podcast documents six volunteers who explored a fake planet resembling Mars for one year. 

The imitation planet was located on a remote mountain in Hawaii, and the volunteers had to work as mock astronauts to help NASA prepare for the real deal. The Habitat is hosted by Lynn Levy and explores the relationships, challenges, and breakthroughs that the Mars exploration team faced.

2. Revisionist History

Available On: Spotify, Audible, iTunes, Podbean, Tunein, Deezer

Subjects Covered: History

This podcast, hosted by Malcolm Gladwell, focuses on the historian’s journey through the overlooked and misunderstood. In each episode, the host goes back in time to question something, whether it be an event, person, or idea, to see if it was done right the first time. The show aims to prove that sometimes the past deserves a second chance. Learn from others’ past mistakes with this fascinating history podcast.

3. Stuff You Should Know

Available On: iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Deezer, Audible

Subjects Covered: True crime, champagne, chaos theory

This unique podcast covers everything you can think of, from true crime, Rosa Parks, and El Nino to champagne, LSD, and the Stonewall Uprising. It is hosted by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant and aims to educate its audience on any and every topic under the sun, including politics. You will learn a lot and enjoy this podcast as it uses pop culture as a reference for comedic value.

4. Hidden Brain

Available On: Website, iTunes, Tunein, Spotify

Subjects Covered: Science, psychology, sociology

Hidden Brain is a podcast hosted by Shankar Vedantam that aims to educate its listeners about the world and themselves. It combines science with storytelling to teach the unconscious patterns that influence human behavior, choices, and relationships. This podcast is ideal for you if you enjoy learning about what drives human behavior and you want to understand how to fight negative thoughts.

5. Philosophize This

Available On: iTunes, Website, YouTube, Spotify, Audible

Subjects Covered: Philosophy

If you’re curious about philosophy but have never gotten around to learning and understanding it, this educational podcast is perfect for you. The host, Stephen West, teaches philosophy in a way that anyone without prior knowledge can understand. The episodes follow a chronological order, so you have to listen to them in the correct order to understand the podcast without getting lost.

6. 99% Invisible

Available On: Website, iTunes, Spotify, Podbean

Subjects Covered: Design, architecture

Understanding architecture and design shouldn’t be limited to professionals only, and this is the philosophy that drives 99% Invisible. This podcast aims to teach those interested in the processes and power of design and architecture. If you are fascinated by architecture and how it shapes our world but you don’t have any prior knowledge, the host, Roman Mars, created this podcast just for you.

7. The Stacking Benjamins

Available On: Website, Spotify, Tunein, iTunes, Podchaser

Subjects Covered: Money, investing, saving, risk management

This money podcast balances education and fun. It is designed to teach people how to manage their finances, reach goals faster, and attain financial security. If you want to be money smart without going to school or taking courses, the Stacking Benjamins podcast is for you. It will make you money-wise and help you create the best financial future for yourself.

8. FoundMyFitness

Available On: iTunes, Website, Spotify, Podcastnotes, YouTube, Listen Notes

Subjects Covered: Diet, health, nutrition, aging, fitness, well-being

Learning about your body is never a pointless endeavor, but sometimes it can be too complex to understand. This podcast hosted by Rhonda Patrick helps you to understand and learn as much as you can about good health, aging, dieting, fasting, depression, fasting, nutrition, and general well-being. You will get as much information as you require about these topics with each highly informative episode of FoundMyFitness.

9. Opening Arguments

Available On: iTunes, Website, Spotify, Podbean

Subjects Covered: Politics, law

If you’re interested in learning about politics and law and want to get easy-to-follow updates on these complex topics, this podcast is for you. The show is hosted by Andrew Torrez and Thomas Smith, who provide legal expertise and comic relief to effortlessly mix politics, law, and fun. You will enjoy each episode because they don’t ramble on about the boring stuff. 

10. Start With This

Available On: iTunes, Website, Spotify, Podbean

Subjects Covered: Arts, creativity, writing

This podcast is for writers. Hosted by Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink, the creators of Welcome to Night Vale, this show is designed to bring out the inner artist in you. It will help you put your ideas in motion as you will get weekly assignments to help you become productive and creative. If you’re confused about where to begin as a writer or artist, this podcast is perfect for you.

The Best Smart Podcast Episodes to Get You Started

Alt-text: Two ladies dressed in white each holding a brown mug with microphones on their sides.
Some smarter podcasts dive into history, while others share inspiring stories of everyday lives.

Getting suggestions on a new podcast is only half the race, as you also have to figure out where to start with so many available episodes. This section will get you started by guiding you toward the best episodes these educational podcasts have to offer. It will also help you decide whether the podcast is a good option for you, saving you from scrolling through scores of episodes only to lose interest halfway through.

How the Electoral College Works | Stuff You Should Know

This episode of Stuff You Should Know includes a deep dive into the electoral system of the United States. The hosts cover the electoral system’s history and why it is set up the way it is. If you have an interest in politics, elections, and history, this episode is the perfect place to start listening to this show. 

Lessons from a Real Estate Rookie | The Stacking Benjamins

This episode is one of the best you can start with to introduce you to the topic. It features Felipa Majia, Paula Pant, and Len Penzo, all finance experts. They come together to teach real estate for newbies, give real estate advice, and offer fascinating stories with general life lessons. It also includes Zoom call etiquette lessons from Suzan Lucas.

Dr. Matthew Walker on Sleep for Enhancing Learning, Creativity, Immunity, and Glymphatic System | FoundMyFitness

This highly educational episode on sleep features guest Dr. Mathew Walker, a medical expert and author. He discusses with host Rhonda Patrick about the effect of sleep on learning, manipulating sleep to enhance learning, REM sleep, sleep deprivation, and many more sleep-related topics. This episode will help you make the most of your sleep to improve your productivity and creativity.

The Ventilator | Hidden Brain

The Ventilator episode of the Hidden Brain podcast focuses on the story of a family’s decades-long conversation about dying. It explores the idea that we can never predict the kind of people we become when at death’s gate. While most people believe that they would be able to choose how they want to die if left up to them, this episode teaches you otherwise. 

The Possibility of Failure | Start With This

Start With This aims to bring out the best in you and enhance your creativity and productivity as a writer. This episode focuses on how failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing and the positives that it could bring. It helps you understand that you should embrace your failures, learn from them, and make the most out of them.

What Is the Best Podcast That Makes You Smarter?

The best podcast that makes you smarter is one that not only increases your knowledge but also entertains you. It is easier to learn when you’re also enjoying the process. There are also other specifics that the best smarter podcasts should have, like good audio quality, audience engagement, length, and content. If none of the podcast options we gave you in this article tickles your fancy, take a look at the best advice podcasts or the best podcast for successful people.

Best Podcasts That Make You Smarter FAQ

Can podcasts make you smarter?

Yes, listening to podcasts can make you smarter. Listening to an informative and educational show opens up your mind and increases your knowledge in the same way that reading does. 

What podcasts make you smarter?

Some podcasts that make you smarter are The Habitat, Hidden Brain, Philosophize This, Radiolab, and Start With This.

What are the 10 best podcasts?

The 10 best podcasts are Rabbit Hole, Suspect, How White Heist, The Joe Rogan Experience, Anything for Selena, The Sporkful, Startup, Still Processing, The Michelle Obama Podcast, and American Radical.

What are the most interesting podcasts?

Some of the most interesting podcasts about personal and professional lives are Radiolab, Stuff You Should Know, Radio Diaries, Reply All, and Spycast.

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