Strangers to Ourselves

Mental Health, Diagnosis & Identity with Rachel Aviv

“The divide between the psychic hinterlands and a setting we might call normal is permeable, a fact that is both haunting and promising. It’s startling to realize how narrowly we avoid, or miss, living radically different lives.” How do we understand ourselves in periods of crisis and distress? Such moments – familiar to any life …...

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Matthew Desmond

Poverty, by America

“Are we—we the secure, the insured, the housed, the college educated, the lucky—connected to all this needless suffering? This is a book about poverty that is not just about the poor. Instead, it’s a book about how some lives are made small so that others may grow.” Pulitzer Prize winning sociologist Matthew Desmond’s work on …...

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Elizabeth Kolbert

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future

If we can just get through the 21st century, humanity might have a chance, says Elizabeth Kolbert. We have already intervened in the earth’s system to the extent that we are now living in the ‘Anthropocene’. Maybe we can buy time by intervening even more, with so-called geo-engineering: turning carbon emissions to stone, for example, …...

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Dr. Anthony Fauci

Challenging Corona

The John Adams Institute is happy to welcome Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President, for a conversation about our response to the corona virus. If we have to learn to live with the virus, as is now often said, what will the ‘new normal’ look like? Is there indeed light at the …...

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Jonathan Safran Foer

We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast

Climate change is the single biggest threat to human survival – and we are dealing with it all wrong, according to bestselling author Jonathan Safran Foer. In his new book We Are the Weather, Foer explores the central dilemma of our time in a creative and urgent new way. We have turned our planet into …...

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David Eicher & André Kuipers

Mission Moon: Reliving the Great Space Race

In 1969 a seemingly impossible goal was achieved as Neil Armstrong uttered his immortal line: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for Mankind.” This year celebrates not only 50 years since Apollo 11 and the first human steps on the Moon, but also the achievements of all the Soviet and American …...

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Saskia Coenen-Snyder

Signs and Sounds in Nazi-Occupied Amsterdam

How did residents of the city of Amsterdam experience the Nazi-occupation in the 1940s through their sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch? People’s senses changed dramatically during these years, and learning more about the history of the senses gives us better insight into how people experienced the war. In a co-operation with the Anne Frank …...

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Michael Pollan

How to Change your Mind

Michael Pollan is returning to the John Adams to discuss his new book How To Change Your Mind with renowned psychiatrist Damiaan Denys. In this new book Pollan has moved on from his research on food to delve into the world of psychedelics and their medical use. In the past decade, there has been renewed …...

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Robbert Dijkgraaf & Pia de Jong

An evening on books, academic & family life

The John Adams Institute is happy to announce our upcoming event ‘An Evening with Robbert Dijkgraaf & Pia de Jong’. During this evening Dijkgraaf and De Jong will speak about their work and about academic and family life in the United States. The audience will be given a unique insight in the life and work …...

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Deborah Tannen

Talking from 9 to 5

On June 15th, 1995, the John Adams Institute presented a lecture by Deborah Tannen, Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Dr. Tannen discussed her book, Talking from 9 to 5. Deborah Tannen looks at the role played by talk ‘from 9 to 5’, focusing in particular on the differing conversational rituals that …...

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Holly Krieger

The Beauty of Symmetry through the eyes of a Mathematician

We are pleased to announce that renowned American mathematician Holly Krieger will visit the John Adams to discuss how mathematics can be used to describe the beauty of symmetry. For centuries, symmetry has fascinated philosophers, astronomers, mathematicians, artists, architects and physicists. It is a prevalent aesthetic theme in the art and architecture of many cultures, …...

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Happiest Kids in the World

Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison

Dutch children are the happiest kids in the world, according to UNICEF studies of child well-being in 2007 and 2013. Why is that? Is the Dutch approach to parenting really that different? In their book The Happiest Kids in the World, American writer Rina Mae Acosta and British writer Michele Hutchison – both married to …...

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Lauren Greenfield

Generation Wealth

We are obsessed by the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The acclaimed American photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield, maker of the award-winning documentary The Queen of Versailles, is a prominent chronicler of consumerism, youth culture and gender issues. In addition to her many films, exhibitions and monographs such as Girl Culture, Fast Forward and THIN, she is most …...

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Joseph Stiglitz

The Euro

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winner and one of the most influential economists in the world today, returned to the John Adams to speak about his new book The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe. As recent events in the U.K. have shown, unity within the EU has been replaced by dissent. Stiglitz …...

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Lera Boroditsky 

How Language Shapes the Way we Think

In cooperation with the DRONGO language festival, the John Adams  presented Lera Boroditsky as a keynote speaker. Lera Boroditsky is an Associate Professor at the department of Cognitive Science of the University of California, San Diego. Her research into language and cognition focusses on the theory of Linguistic Relativity, the idea that the way people experience the …...

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About Edgar A. Poe

Lecture at Boekhandel van Rossum

American writer Edgar A. Poe is famous for his literary qualities, however this lecture sheds a different light on Poe: as a foremost man of science. Even though he is admired all over the world nowadays, Poe’s reputation is still scarred by the attacks of his enemies of long ago: Had other circumstances favored, it …...

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Leslie Jamison

The Empathy Exams

Beginning with her experience as a medical actor, paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison’s visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about one another? How can we feel another’s pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? …...

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Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See

“Masterpiece. Tremendous. Wow. Overwhelming”. Just a few characterizations by readers of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. And the literary critics were also unanimous: Anthony Doerr has an immense talent for storytelling. His masterful and moving novel about two young people during World War II rapidly became a #1 New York Times bestseller and …...

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Naomi Klein in cooperation with IDFA

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

Naomi Klein, author and one of the key figures in the ‘alter-globalization movement’, sees climate change as a catalyst for change and a better world. With her new book This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein opens her readers’ eyes – as she did in her bestsellers No Logo and The Shock Doctrine – with a merciless …...

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Amanda Gefter

Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn

The year was 1995 and Amanda Gefter was having dinner with her father in a Chinese restaurant when he asked her: ‘How would you define nothing?’ That was the beginning of her quest to discover…the meaning of nothing. It led her to physics and cosmology, to neuroscience and philosophy, and to conferences that she gatecrashed …...

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Andrew Solomon

Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

Parents cherish hopes and expectations for their children. But what if your child is “different”? Andrew Solomon draws in Far From the Tree, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award 2012, on ten years of research and interviews with more than three hundred families. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, …...

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Michael Pollan

Cooked: a Natural History of Transformation

Michael Pollan, America’s favorite writer about the business and science of food, is back. Cooked is a personal story, one that most of us enact every day. We cook. We use fire, water, air, plants and animals. But what are we really doing? We are making a primal connection. The cook, Pollan discovers, connects his or …...

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Tracy Metz

Sweet & Salt: Water and the Dutch

Hurricane Sandy reawakened America, and the world, to what we already knew: our coasts are under threat. In Sweet & Salt, Tracy Metz lays out the special relationship that the Dutch have with the sea–how thoroughly water management is rooted in the culture – and she offers potential solutions for places around the world that are …...

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James Gleick

The Information

We live in the “information age” – but what is information, actually? In human terms, one might say information is the food that nourishes the mind. But how is it prepared and consumed? James Gleick has been called one of the greatest science writers of all time. Of his previous books, Chaos introduced a new science …...

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Charles C. Mann

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

What do Italian tomato sauce, Florida oranges and Thai chili peppers have in common? All are products that are not native to those lands. Every American knows that 1492 was when Columbus “discovered” the New World. It was also the moment when, biologically, the world changed. In his previous bestselling book, 1491, Charles C. Mann …...

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Joshua Foer

Moonwalking with Einstein

What did you have for dinner last Tuesday? What was your family’s telephone number when you were eight years old? Human memory has a long history, but, ironically, we have forgotten most of it. We all know that before moveable type people relied on memorization. With the advent of the book – and the internet …...

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Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals

Brilliant, thrilling, genius, breathtaking: such are the adjectives that have routinely been applied to Jonathan Safran Foer’s two award-winning novels.  At 32, a married man with small children, Foer turned his attention to nonfiction, and to the food we eat.  Eating Animals is not an appeal for vegetarianism, but a sustained, at times brutal look at the …...

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Michael Pollan

In Defense of Food

Never has so much attention been paid to what we eat. It’s strange, then, that a lot of what we eat is not actually food but, according to Michael Pollan, “edible food like substances are no longer the products of nature but of food science.” The irony, which Pollan details in his book, In Defense of …...

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Nigella Lawson

Nigella Express

The John Adams Institute proudly presented an evening around the multi-talented author, journalist and TV personality Nigella Lawson. According to Salman Rushdie she is one of the most original and funny literary food writers. Nigella is an interesting personality in her own right. She has written extensively about the loss to cancer of two loved …...

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Ariel Levy

Female Chauvinist Pigs

Author Ariel Levy and staff writer at The New Yorker joined us for a lecture on her book, Female Chauvinist Pigs. A bold, piercing examination of how twenty-first century American society perceives sex and women. The book cleverly leads us to explore the role models women aspire to emulate. Levy argues that rather than pursuing the …...

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Michael Ruse

The Evolution-Creation Struggle

Ruse was called “one of the most stimulating writers on the never-ending cultural debate over evolution” by New York Magazine. As one of the leading participants in the contemporary debate, Ruse gives a new perspective on the historical continuity of thinking about creation, evolution, and the relationship between religion and science. He uncovers surprising similarities …...

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Harold McGee

On Food & Cooking

The John Adams Institute proudly presented an evening with Harold McGee, food author. He spoke about his book On Food & Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, which has just been translated in Dutch by Nieuw Amsterdam Publishers with the title Over Eten en Koken. Harold McGee writes about the science and chemistry behind cooking, …...

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Marisha Pessl

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Fresh new literary voice Marisha Pessl joined us to discuss her debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics, one of the most vibrant and acclaimed books published this fall. Describing the relationship between a daughter and an ‘incredibly narcissistic, amoral, controlling and very charming’ political science professor father, Special Topics in Calamity Physics is a literary …...

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Al Gore

An Inconvenient Truth

United International Pictures (UIP) and The John Adams Institute are proud to present Al Gore at the preview premiere of the film An Inconvenient Truth. Chris Kijne (VPRO broadcaster) presented the evening. Al Gore’s groundbreaking book, An Inconvenient Truth, brings together leading-edge research from top scientists around the world, as well as photographs, charts, and other …...

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Charles C. Mann


The John Adams Institute proudly presented an evening with award-winning American journalist and author Charles C. Mann. Mann has been called both ‘revisionist’ and ‘revolutionary’. His work – 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Nieuw Amsterdam publishers: 1491; De ontdekking van precolumbiaans Amerika) – traces the early history of the continent and dispels long-held …...

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Brian Greene

The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time and Texture of Reality Creation Story

02 November 2005 Brian Greene has been called ‘the closest thing physics has to a pop star’. The university professor and Rhodes scholar is one of the world’s foremost exponents of Superstring Theory. In the U.S., he is a frequent guest on science documentaries, late night talk shows and even a Hollywood film. Greene’s newest …...

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Tom Regan

The Case for Animal Rights

Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Tom Regan has published more than 20 books and is widely regarded as the intellectual leader of the animal rights movement. His seminal work – The Case for Animal Rights – provides the philosophical underpinning for this ongoing debate. Regan is emeritus professor of philosophy at North Carolina State …...

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Martha Nussbaum

Upheavals of Thought - The Intelligence of Emotions

22 March 2005 For everybody who thinks that philosophy is a stuffy dull science, practiced by unworldly absent-minded professors: Martha Nussbaum isn’t an abstract scientist who occupies herself with the universe and metaphysics. She is in touch with daily life. The underlying assumption of her ideas is based on human emotions. According to Nussbaum emotions are …...

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Deirdre Bair

Jung: A Biography

Deirdre Bair meticulously assembled every scrap of information about Jung she could get her hands on, culminating in a big book which strikes Publishers Weekly as “a balance between damage control and deification” and suggests that in bulk and detail there is little more to say. Bair has evoked the man in all his cynical …...

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Atul Gawande

Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science

The John Adams Institute proudly presented an additional lecture to its schedule of events with writer-physician Atul Gawande (1965). His book Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science was recently translated into Dutch under the title Complicaties by Dutch publishing house De Arbeiderspers. Louise Gunning, Dean of the Medical Faculty of the University of Amsterdam …...

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Deborah Tannen

I Only Say This Because I Love You

The John Adams Institute, in cooperation with the Universiteit van Amsterdam, presented a lecture by Deborah Tannen, Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Following her visit to the Institute in 1995, Dr. Tannen returned to discuss her latest book, I only Say This Because I Love You (Ik zeg dit alleen omdat …...

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John Gray

Practical Miracles for Mars and Venus

The John Adams Institute presented a lecture by psychologist and author John Gray, who spoke about his life’s work and his latest book, Practical Miracles for Mars and Venus (Praktische Levenslessen). Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus is the almost proverbial title of the best-seller which launched Mr. Gray’s successful series of books …...

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Redmond O’Hanlon


The John Adams Institute invited renowned British travel writer Redmon O’Hanlon to be its guest and speak about his book No Mercy: A Journey to the Heart of the Congo, which tells the story of O’Hanlon’s most daring jungle jaunt to date: an expedition into the swamp forest of the Congo in search of a …...

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Naomi Wolf

Promiscuities: A Secret Struggle for Womanhood

Controversial American feminist Naomi Wolf came to the John Adams Institute in honor of the Dutch translation of her book, Promiscuities: A Secret Struggle for Womanhood. Wolf caused considerable commotion on both sides of the Atlantic with her first international bestseller, The Beauty Myth, in which she criticized the extent to which women remain enslaved …...

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Stephen Toulmin

The Importance of Dissent

Born in England, Stephen Toulmin studied Mathemathics and Physics at Cambridge University where he obtained a doctorate in philosophy with a dissertation on Ludwig Wittgenstein. His career encompasses an almost boundless range of activities. He has worked in the fields of linguistic philosphy, the philosophy of science and the history of science. He spent many …...

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Stephen Jay Gould

Full House

The John Adams Institute hosted an evening with Stephen Jay Gould, professor of zoology and geology at Harvard University. An outstanding and outspoken paleontologist and evolutionary biologist, Gould succeeded in bridging the gap between science and literature. The long list of Gould’s best-sellers includes The Panda’s Thumb, Wonderful Life, and Bully for Brontosaurus. In his …...

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Jack Miles

God: a Biography

The John Adams Institute hosted an afternoon with Jack Miles, the theologist who caused a sensation by doing what no one had dared to do before: write a biography of God. Miles’ God: A Biography has been awared the 1996 Pulitzer Prize. As Miles himself has said, ‘Religion may be seen as literature that has …...

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Abraham Pais

Einstein Lived Here

The John Adams Institute proudly hosted an evening with Abraham Pais, previously Emeritus Professor of Physics at the Rockefeller University in New York and at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. His featured work was a collection of essays called Einstein Lived Here. In 1983, Abraham Pais, who knew Albert Einstein personally, described the scientific …...

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Peter Matthiessen

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse

On May 30, 1995, author Peter Matthiessen visited the John Adams Institute to speak about his book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. The evening was moderated by Tracy Metz. With a lifelong passion for the natural and the wild, Peter Matthiessen has explored South American rain forests and other wilderness areas, producing twenty-three published …...

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Richard Powers

The Creative Misunderstanding

On January 29th, 1992, the John Adams Institute hosted an evening with novelist Richard Powers. Powers’ books apply the techniques of post-modernist fiction to more traditional narratives of character and idea, creating hybrid forms that explore the nature of consciousness, history and moral obligation. His novels are built of polyphonic, densely textured multiple frame stories …...

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William H. Calvin

The Cerebral Symphony

On October 10th, 1992, the John Adams Institute hosted Professor William H. Calvin. He spoke about his book The Cerebral Symphony, in which he discusses different theories on consciousness and how the conscious and the brain work together. The evening was moderated by astronomer Dr. Frank Israëls. William H. Calvin is a theoretical neurobiologist, Affiliate Professor of …...

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Mary Gordon

Who's Realism Is It Anyway?

On May 22, 1991, American author Mary Gordon visited the John Adams Institute as part of her European tour as American Speaker. She spoke about her then recently translated novel The Other Side (translated in Dutch as De Overkant). The protagonist in The Other Side is ninety-year-old Ellen McNamara, who grimly faces death while in the …...

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