Immersing himself in alternate lifestyles and hilarious experiments (usually with himself as the guinea pig), writer A.J. Jacobs tests the limits of behavior, customs, culture — and reports back on the wisdom and practical knowledge he's gained.

Why you should listen

A.J. Jacobs's writings stand at the intersection of philosophy, Gonzo journalism and performance art. Stubbornly curious and slyly perceptive, he takes immersive learning to its irrational and profoundly amusing extreme -- extracting wisdom and meaning after long stints as a self-styled guinea pig. For his widely circulated Esquire article, "My Outsourced Life," he explored the phenomenon of outsourcing by hiring a team in Bangalore to take care of every part of his life -- from reading his emails to arguing with his wife to reading bedtime stories to his own son. A previous article, "I Think You're Fat," chronicled a brief, cringe-inducing attempt to live his life in Radical Honesty, telling all the truth, all the time.

Jacobs is author of The Know-It-All, which documents the year he spent reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z, uncovering both funny and surprising factoids but also poignant insight into history and human nature. In 2007 he released The Year of Living Biblically, in which he attempted to follow every single rule in the Bible as literally as possible for an entire year. His book The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment is a collection of numerous personal experiments, including living according to George Washington's rules of conduct, outsourcing every single task to India and posing as a woman on an online dating site. Jacobs recently released a new book, Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey, which relates his life-altering journey to thank every single person involved in producing his morning cup of coffee.

More news and ideas from A.J. Jacobs

We humans

Why you should always thank your barista

November 13, 2018

Writer A.J. Jacobs was going through life feeling more grumpy than grateful. To start cultivating a thankful attitude, he decided to show some appreciation to the people behind his daily cup of coffee. Here’s what he discovered when he met his barista.

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My year of living biblically: A.J. Jacobs on

July 17, 2008

Speaking at the most recent EG conference, author, philosopher, prankster and journalist A.J. Jacobs talks about the year he spent living biblically — following the rules in the Bible as literally as possible. (Recorded December 2007 in Los Angeles, California. Duration: 17:40.)   Watch A.J. Jacobs’s 2007 talk from the EG conference on, where […]

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