Slate Fare

Decoder Ring Is Back For a Fall Season

Slate’s culture podcast returns with a whole new set of mysteries to untangle.

The words "Decoder Ring" against a background of pink, clementine, white, and blue squares.
Illustration by Slate. 

On Decoder Ring, host Willa Paskin digs into the story behind a cultural question, object, or habit, and tries to figure out what it means, and why it matters.

As Sam Sanders told Vulture, “Paskin does this wonderful thing where she’ll spin these yarns about whatever—method acting, this, that—and then she gets to the end and you realize she’s giving you the thesis of her dissertation. She’ll nail this thing that makes you reconsider the world.”


A new season of Decoder Ring begins Tuesday, and over the course of the new episodes, you’ll hear about the history of the bustle, how a pair of famed personal injury attorneys launched an advertising trend, and how the musician Yanni (yes, that Yanni) became a thing in the 1990s. The first episode, out today, is about #TheDress and the internet phenomenon that exploded from one simple question: blue and black, or gold and white? It’s been seven years since The Dress, and beyond the debate and curiosity, at least one scientist thinks it’s a key to explaining why and how we see things differently.

You can listen to today’s episode and the rest of the season on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Be sure to follow Decoder Ring so you never miss an episode. And join Slate Plus to get ad-free listening. Members also get a bonus episode going behind the scenes of the show.