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Innovation Hub

English, News media, 1 season, 679 episodes, 5 days, 11 hours, 33 minutes
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Innovation Hub looks at how to reinvent our world – from medicine to education, relationships to time management. Great thinkers and great ideas, designed to make your life better.
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The People Powering AI Decisions

The 1964 Supreme Court Case Jacobellis v. Ohio presented a highly subjective question to the justices: what is obscenity or pornography? How do you define it? Where do you draw the line? In response, Justice Potter Stewart gave us the iconic line, "I know it when I see it." His ambiguous answer works fine for humans who can make judgement calls on the fly, but the algorithms that rule our lives need rules that are much more concrete. Say you flag something as inappropriate on social media. How is artificial intelligence meant to answer a question that even the Supreme Court could not definitively pin down? That’s where humans come in. Mary Gray, an anthropologist and co-author of the book,“Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley From Building a New Global Underclass,” explores the work and lives of the real people behind online processes that internet users may assume are purely algorithmic. From analyzing medical tests, to flagging questionable social media posts, to identifying your rideshare driver, Gray argues that the human touch of “ghost work” is not only essential, but this hidden workforce will continue to keep growing.
10/8/202150 minutes, 23 seconds
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The Lost Art of Listening

We have become accustomed to politicians shouting at each other, and confrontational TV talk show hosts who do anything but listen to their guests, but how good are any of us at truly focusing on the words of others in our conversations? Listening is a lost art, according to Kate Murphy the author of “You're Not Listening: What You're Missing and Why It Matters,” and the cost to our health, our relationships, and our society is steep, she says. Murphy explains how the modern world has shaken our capacity for deep listening and what we can do about it.
10/1/202131 minutes, 55 seconds
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The Evolution of Play

Childhood today is radically different than it was just a few generations ago. Before the coronavirus pandemic, kids’ busy schedules included school, homework, chores, sports, music lessons and other activities. Those packed schedules often left out one key element that is crucial to growth and learning — play. That’s according to Dorsa Amir, a postdoctoral researcher and evolutionary anthropologist at Boston College. Amir has studied the Shuar people of Ecuador, a non-industrialized society, and observed startling differences in how Shuar children and American children spend their time. She tells us how childhood has changed drastically, and how that affects kids today.
10/1/202117 minutes, 48 seconds
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When Romance Meets Ratios

In 2019, women hit a milestone in gender parity when they became the majority of the college-educated workforce. While it may be easy to see how this ​achievement will impact the economy, earnings, and job opportunities, it is probably a little bit harder to predict how it will shape, of all things, the dating market. Jon Birger, a business journalist and former senior writer at Fortune, has authored two books on the connection between ratios and relationships. Birger acknowledges that not everyone has a desire to engage in a heterosexual relationship or get married. But of those who do, college-educated women may have a particularly hard time finding a partner, he notes. Birger says this is because there are many fewer men enrolled in college - about 60% of college freshmen are now women. Men also drop out of college at higher rates, resulting in a dating market with a shortage of college-educated men. When this gender asymmetry is extended into broader society, Birger explains it can have significant consequences for people’s happiness, fertility rates, and the economy. And Andrew Cherlin, a professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University, talks with us about his - related - new research on changing marriage rates for college and non-college educated Americans.
9/24/202150 minutes, 25 seconds
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Why Exercise?

Exercise is a relatively recent phenomenon. After all, it’s difficult to imagine a caveman on a treadmill. And it’s safe to say that paleolithic humans never pumped iron. But something changed as we moved from the plow to the Peloton. Exercise - physical exertion for the purpose of improving health or fitness - became a huge part of modern life, and a nearly $100 billion global industry. But why do we spend so much time and money at the gym or on the track and does it actually help our well-being? And why is exercise, at least for some of us, such a miserable experience? Daniel Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and author of the book “Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding,” has some fascinating answers.
9/17/202149 minutes, 51 seconds
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How Gay Marriage Won

In the decades since Roe v. Wade, public sentiment about abortion has remained fairly steady. By contrast, in the mid-1990s, only around a quarter of the country supported gay marriage, and then, somehow, just 15 years later, those numbers had nearly doubled. Sasha Issenberg, author of “The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage,” tracks the twists and turns that the fight for same-sex marriage in America took, from a power struggle over a parade in Hawaii, to shifts in elite opinion, which all brought gay marriage from a “quirky,” niche issue in the 90s to being federally accepted by 2015.
9/10/202150 minutes, 23 seconds
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Will The Future of Work Leave Workers Behind?

The U.S. economy has come a long way since the darkest days of the pandemic, but the future remains uncertain for many, especially those hit the hardest: low-wage workers. Last April, David Autor, an MIT economist, predicted that a pandemic-induced recession would be an “automation forcing event,” with executives rapidly deploying non-human labor to replace workers, particularly in the service sector - and he was right. Autor and Betsey Stevenson, who served as chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor and is currently a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, discuss COVID-19’s long-lasting impact on the ways employees will work, consume and manage family dynamics, for years to come.
9/3/202150 minutes, 23 seconds
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How the West Dominated Our Brains

About 1500 years ago, the world was a very different place; Pope Gregory was spreading Catholicism far and wide, a plague was running rampant, and some dominoes were about to start falling. The end of that cascade would end up in a world where a certain group of people started to think quite differently from those who had come before them. Their brains began to change, the societies they built thrived and they grew so influential and culturally dominant that their way of thinking permeated our entire psychology. In other words, it created W.E.I.R.D. people — a Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and Democratic population that grew into a global powerhouse. That’s according to Joseph Henrich, chair of the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University, and author of “The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous.” He writes that people who learn to read, who are educated in a Western way – no matter where they live in the world – have brains that look and think unlike more traditional human brains.
8/27/202150 minutes, 25 seconds
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FIXED: Walter Isaacson on How Gene Editing Will Change Life

Walter Isaacson has made a habit of profiling world-changers: innovators who, through their discoveries, upend the way we live. Recently, he’s been preoccupied with individuals who have unlocked what he calls “fundamental kernels of our existence” - first Albert Einstein and the atom, then Steve Jobs and the bit, and now, in his latest work, Jennifer Doudna and the gene. In The Code Breaker, Isaacson dives into the CRISPR revolution and how the booming field of gene editing is altering how we treat disease and think about what it means to be human. Jennifer Doudna, who shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her role in developing CRISPR, is Isaacson’s centerpiece as he guides readers through this new frontier, and the pressing moral questions that sophisticated, cutting-edge biological tools now pose. ** This episode has been reuploaded with the correct audio.
8/24/202149 minutes, 49 seconds
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Sal Khan on Leveling the Playing Field, In and Out of the Classroom

Educators around the country were plunged into a massive experiment with virtual learning last year, when more than 50 million K-12 students were sent home at the start of the pandemic. Many were soon knocking on the door of the father of online education, Sal Khan, looking for help. The founder and CEO of the nonprofit Khan Academy, which provides free educational resources to anyone who wants them, says he was impressed with the “heroic efforts” of numerous school districts to close the digital divide, by providing device and internet access for all who needed it. Now Khan hopes school leaders “are going to be thinking long-term” and will seize the moment to create what he considers much needed system-wide change.
8/13/202130 minutes
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Pandemic Politics Hit the Classroom

All over the country, school districts are grappling with how to safely reopen classrooms in the midst of a resurgent pandemic. While many have already made decisions about in-person learning, state and local governments are clashing over mask mandates and vaccination requirements. Edward-Isaac Dovere, a staff writer for The Atlantic and author of “Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats' Campaigns to Defeat Trump,” discusses the political and practical implications of such divergent reopening policies.
8/13/202120 minutes, 12 seconds
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Has Cleaning Gone Too Far?

It has been said that cleanliness is next to godliness, but the constant disinfecting and scrubbing of our homes, offices and public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic has taken these seemingly virtuous efforts to a whole new level. COVID-19 is now understood to spread primarily through close contact with infected people, rather than contaminated surfaces, but that hasn’t stopped consumers from snapping up cleaning products that promise to kill 99% of germs. Trying to eliminate all bacteria, including those that are beneficial to us, can lead to autoimmune disorders, warns Rob Dunn. The professor of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University and author of: “Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live,” explains how we can be more intentional about our interactions with the living world (indoors and outdoors) and better understand its influence on our well-being.
8/6/202125 minutes, 39 seconds
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America's Sherlock

Imagine a crime scene, and what it might take to solve the case. Do you think about dusting for fingerprints? DNA collection? According to Kate Winkler Dawson, author of “American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI” and associate professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, the man we can thank for that approach is Edward Oscar Heinrich. In the early 20th century, Heinrich took the world of forensics from guesswork, confession, and coercion to a place of science and nuanced evidence. While some of his experiments have been discredited in recent years as “junk science,” Heinrich’s impact can still be seen in the way many crime scenes are evaluated today.
8/6/202124 minutes, 18 seconds
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Can Capitalism Save Us from Capitalism?

Business won’t save the world, but — according to Harvard economist Rebecca Henderson — it can help fix it. Henderson, author of Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire, became preoccupied with economics after working for the consulting firm McKinsey & Company where her job was “shutting plants” down if they proved unable to adapt to market changes. Since then, Henderson has been animated by the question of how to build a more just and sustainable system.
7/30/202149 minutes, 52 seconds
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How to Beat Burnout

In Japanese, the word “karoshi” translates to “death by overwork.” As reports of workplace burnout have skyrocketed since the pandemic, it’s a phrase that aptly encapsulates a feeling that thousands of workers have experienced over the past year. But the issue is neither temporary nor solely catalyzed by the pandemic; instead, we face a long-term health risk with rippling impacts. This is the argument put forth by Jennifer Moss, a journalist and author of the forthcoming book “The Burnout Epidemic: The Rise of Chronic Stress and How We Can Fix It.” Moss notes that while burnout has been experienced “since building the pyramids,” there is something distinct about the current wave of workplace stress plaguing our offices. Technology, a pandemic, and a productivity-oriented work culture have combined to create the perfect storm, she says. “Crisis exacerbates an existing problem. Then what happens is it explodes,” Moss explains. What’s more, she says, it is not something that can be addressed simply by “downstream” efforts like office yoga sessions or even a paid week off. Rather, Moss argues, it requires fundamental, institutional change that prioritizes stress prevention over management.
7/23/202150 minutes, 2 seconds
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Climate Migration Is Already Here And It's Going To Get Worse

A migration crisis is already underway, and it's caused, at least in large part, by climate change, according to modeling by ProPublica and the New York Times Magazine. Their expert analysis shows that without the proper preparation and political will, it will worsen as soon as 2050. Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University, explains how the increasingly deadly combination of heat and humidity is driving people from their homelands. He predicts greater migratory build-ups along the US-Mexico border, in Southeast Asia, and on North Africa’s Mediterranean coast. Even if we develop a strong response now, a “lack of foresight,” he argues, has brought us to our current reality: a certain level of climate change is already baked into the system for the next 30 years. Oppenheimer says governments must restructure their thinking around climate change to focus not just on emissions, but also extreme weather response. Plus, we hear from three local reporters at our affiliate stations about the environmental challenges facing their cities. Houston Public Media’s Katie Watkins, WJCT’s Brendan Rivers in Jacksonville and KJZZ’s Ron Dungan in Phoenix, join us to discuss droughts, flooding, land use, and more.
7/16/202150 minutes, 6 seconds
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The Amazon Effect

July 2021 is a big month for Amazon’s Founder and former CEO, Jeff Bezos. Not only did he step down as CEO of the company he built into a $1.63 trillion empire, he will also fly into space on the first crewed flight of his New Shepard rocket ship. And yet, the space trip is just the most recent of Bezos’ boundary-breaking endeavors. Bezos and his company have revolutionized American business, extending their reach into nearly every industry— from retail, to media, to healthcare, and cloud computing. Brad Stone—the author, most recently, of Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire—explains that the e-commerce giant has often seemed “unbound from the laws of corporate gravity.” While most companies eventually plateau, Stone says that Amazon has defied these business norms by continuing to grow rapidly. Stone, a Senior Executive Editor at Bloomberg News with years of experience reporting on the company, examines Amazon’s various successes and Bezos’ sweeping influence. Specifically, he traces Bezos’ transformation from a frugal tech nerd to a buff billionaire whose high-profile divorce made headlines. But what exactly accounts for Amazon’s extraordinary rise? If there is one thing that drives Bezos, Stone points out, it’s his deep fear of stasis.
7/9/202150 minutes, 10 seconds
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To Rethink the Constitution

The Constitution, first drafted in 1787, stands as the supreme law of the land in the U.S. But Mary Anne Franks — a law professor at the University of Miami who grew up attending a fundamentalist church in Arkansas — says that often “we read it not as a text but as Scripture,” much in the same way she was taught to read the Bible as a child. Franks, author of The Cult of the Constitution, argues that originalism — the judicial view that the Constitution should only be interpreted as its writers meant it to be when it became law — has been used to justify ahistorically broad interpretations of both the First and Second Amendments. Rather than claiming “transcendental access” to the founders’ legal intentions, she proposes we honor the Constitution communally by extending its rights and values to all, including the most vulnerable members of our society.
7/2/202149 minutes, 57 seconds
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A Learning Revolution for a Post-Pandemic World

School is out for the summer, but many students, educators and parents are still reeling from an earthquake in K-12 education. It will take time to recover from learning loss, fractured relationships, stress and other problems caused or exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, as we emerge from crisis mode, some see a chance to transform American education for the better. Paul Reville, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Pedro Noguera, dean of the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education, and Margaret Spellings, former U.S. Secretary of Education for President George W. Bush, dive into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. While Sal Khan, founder and CEO of the online learning platform Khan Academy, and a handful of parents consider the possibilities that come with an educational landscape no longer bound by time and space.
6/25/202150 minutes, 9 seconds
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The Death Grip of Email

Constantly checking your email might feel like textbook responsible work behavior but, according to Cal Newport — a professor of computer science at Georgetown University and author of A World Without Email — it can actually wreak havoc on productivity. Newport argues that our out-of-control inboxes are keeping us from being the thinkers, workers, and problem solvers we could be if email ran our lives less.
6/18/202149 minutes, 49 seconds
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Inventing Latinos

On the 2020 U.S. census, Americans faced five options: White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. These might have reflected a broad swath of the population, but for citizens from any of the dozens of countries south of the United States, there was a pretty obvious choice missing: Latino. Laura Gómez, a law professor at UCLA and the author of “Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism,” argues that Latinos – both the word and the ethnic category – are pretty recent inventions. The government only officially recognized it in the 1980s, and acknowledging people from Central and South America as a distinct ethnic group was a paradigm shift with real social and political impact. The question of Latinos’ race has affected issues from marriage laws, to access to education, and beyond. Plus, Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, a political strategist and commentator, says that Latinos are not only changing as an identity, but also as a voting bloc. Latino is a term used to describe as many as 60 million people from dozens of places and a multitude of ways of becoming American. Some have been on U.S. soil for generations, some crossed the border, and some had the border cross them. Just as in any other large, diverse group, there is a full spectrum of political identities, so to court the so-called “Latino vote” is a big ask, she says.
6/11/202150 minutes, 4 seconds
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What’s The Point of Exercise?

Exercise is a relatively recent phenomenon. After all, it’s difficult to imagine a caveman on a treadmill. And it’s safe to say that paleolithic humans never pumped iron. But something changed as we moved from the plow to the Peloton. Exercise - physical exertion for the purpose of improving health or fitness - became a huge part of modern life, and a nearly $100 billion global industry. But why do we spend so much time and money at the gym or on the track and does it actually help our well-being? And why is exercise, at least for some of us, such a miserable experience? Daniel Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University and author of the book “Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding,” has some fascinating answers.
6/4/202149 minutes, 51 seconds
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To Crack the Code of Wall Street

Have you ever wanted to be rich? Really rich? Gregory Zuckerman, a special writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of “The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution,” shares the story of the mathematicians who cracked Wall Street’s code. Starting from humble beginnings in a strip mall on Long Island, NY, the hedge fund company that Simons started (where about 300 people work today) now pulls in more money in a year than companies like Hasbro and Hyatt Hotels, which have tens of thousands of employees.
5/28/202129 minutes, 3 seconds
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A Goodbye To Language As You Know It

It seems like every time a dictionary publishes a new update, people flock to social media to talk about it. Whether they’re responding to the addition of the word “fam” or the dad joke, They always return to the question of what consequences these additions will have. Do they really spell disaster for the English language? Turns out, the “updation” (new to the Oxford English Dictionary as of last year) of language isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And it’s been going on for as long as language has existed. Katherine Connor Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries at Oxford University Press, explains why the creation of new words is actually natural, and tells us how the ways we communicate have been speeding up the evolution of language.
5/28/202120 minutes, 21 seconds
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The Man Behind 24-Hour News

It might be difficult to remember now, but there was a time when the news wasn’t 24/7. There were morning and evening editions of the paper; the nightly news was, well, nightly; radio offered updates from time to time. But there’s a whole lot of difference between that world and today’s never-stop cavalcade of heartbreak, tragedy, excitement, and despair. And one of the biggest dividing lines between those two realities was the creation of CNN. Journalist Lisa Napoli is the author of “Up All Night: Ted Turner, CNN, and the Birth of 24-Hour News,” and she argues that CNN didn’t just change television, or cable, or even news… it changed our entire world.
5/21/202137 minutes, 56 seconds
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The Watch Named Arnold

It might be hard to believe, but there was a time when time wasn’t as exact as it is now. When people would come over on “Tuesday” rather than “Tuesday at exactly 2:30.” Ainissa Ramirez is a scientist and author of The Alchemy of Us How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another, and she tells the story of how Materials Science made time so important. Strangely enough, it involves a woman who sold time, using a watch named Arnold.
5/21/202111 minutes, 24 seconds
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Why We Can’t Quit Cities

Many cities fell out of favor during the coronavirus pandemic, as those with means abandoned them for safer pastures – often to the annoyance of both the people left behind and residents of the places they fled to. However, British historian and writer Ben Wilson says our love-hate relationship with cities is an age-old story that has been repeated again and again for over 6,000 years. In his latest book, “Metropolis: A History of the City, Humankind’s Greatest Invention,” Wilson celebrates the good, the bad and the ugly of all things urban. His hope is that cities of the future will become more affordable, sociable and livable and also fun-filled places, brimming with culture. We need cities that, “we really, really want to be in,” he says, “not just for work but for all the good things that life brings us.”
5/14/202133 minutes, 29 seconds
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The Future of Traffic

With the pandemic creating a wave of employees who have decided to work from home part-time, it might be reasonable to assume that traffic will get a lot better. After all, how can there be traffic when a big slice of workers are sitting in their home offices? Not so fast, says Michael Manville, a professor of urban planning at UCLA, who has spent his career studying traffic. Manville argues that our new lifestyles and rhythms won’t fix congested highways, but there is one way to help regulate traffic flow — a solution which will not only reduce our commute times; it will also improve the health of our communities.
5/14/202115 minutes, 54 seconds
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Why It’s Hard to See that Less Is More

When figuring out how to tackle a problem, our instincts are almost always to add: we make to-do, not to-don’t lists after all. But just because humans have a harder time seeing subtraction — which can come in the form of tearing down buildings, dismantling barriers, and pruning old ideas — as a viable solution doesn’t make it any less useful of an approach. Leidy Klotz is a professor of architecture, engineering, and business at the University of Virginia and the author of “Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less.” The idea of studying subtraction crystalized for Klotz when he and his son were trying to level a Lego bridge. By the time Klotz grabbed an extra Lego to even things out, his son had already solved the problem by removing one. Klotz now studies why we overlook subtracting as a way to improve things, including the various biological and cultural forces that push us towards more even when less would serve us better.
5/7/202127 minutes, 17 seconds
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How COVID Has Crushed Working Women

In 2019, women were doing exceptionally well in the workplace — hitting record-setting workforce participation numbers, holding more non-farm payroll jobs than men for only the second time in history (in 2009, they had also briefly outpaced men, as men lost jobs more quickly during the Great Recession). Then came COVID-19, which disproportionately affected women and particularly women with children. Over many months, the issue of child care has “slowly come to a boil” as working parents, and especially working mothers, have found themselves forced to simultaneously manage their careers and care for children stuck at home due to pandemic-driven school closures. Betsey Stevenson, the chief economist in the Labor Department under President Obama and a professor at the University of Michigan, has spent the past year monitoring how the pandemic has pulled the progress of women in the workforce back decades. Stevenson argues that the “insanity” of the U.S.’s lack of infrastructure, to support working parents, has forced women out of the labor force and will require bold political solutions post-pandemic.
5/7/202122 minutes, 31 seconds
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An Invisible Future for American Jobs

Over the last several decades, manufacturing jobs in the U.S. have withered. Meanwhile, health care has become the fastest growing job sector in the country, and it’s been on top for years. According to Gabriel Winant, a historian at the University of Chicago, and author of “The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America,” not only are those two opposing trends related, but there are also some serious consequences to the connection.
4/30/202134 minutes, 49 seconds
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Take a Look at This Photograph

From Mathew Brady’s Civil War photographs, to some of the first images of Earth in space, photography has shaped the way we see ourselves. Which means that when photographic technology changes and progresses, it can really shift our self-image. Ainissa Ramirez is a scientist and the author of The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another, and she was previously on Innovation Hub to talk about how materials science altered the way we think about time. Now, she tells the fascinating story of how people shaped photographs and how those photographs then shaped us. And that story begins with an incredibly rich man betting on horses.
4/30/202114 minutes, 27 seconds
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The Made Up World of Money

Money is “a social agreement,” according to Frederick Kaufman, a journalism professor at the City University of New York. You and the cashier both agree that a $20 bill — a green piece of paper that any baby or dog wouldn’t hesitate to tear to shreds — is worth something, and this consensus imbues the bill with value. Eventually, babies get on board, as they’re taught the value humans have long ascribed to different types of currency; a value that’s socially constructed, but so deeply ingrained in our society that it feels silly to question. This consensus has led Kaufman to crown money “the most powerful metaphor.” In his new book, The Money Plot, Kaufman unravels the myth-making that has underpinned financial transactions from bartering to bitcoin.
4/23/202149 minutes, 50 seconds
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The Internet Never Forgets

Do you have memories from adolescence you’d rather forget? Previously, that choice — whether to open up that embarrassing high school yearbook or keep it firmly closed — generally rested in your hands. But for kids growing up in today’s social media landscape, the digital footprint they (or their parents) create can immortalize childhood and its growing pains forever. Kate Eichhorn, a professor of culture and media at The New School and author of The End of Forgetting, has researched how the permanence of social media chips away at our “agency over traces of the past.” What happens when a digital record won’t allow you to forget? Or when the digital breadcrumbs we create as minors are interpreted as an unshakable portrait of who we are in adulthood? According to Eichhorn, there can sometimes be painful consequences when young people grow up.
4/16/202127 minutes, 34 seconds
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International Espionage With a Side of Corn

When you have a really good idea, copycats may try to steal it for themselves — and that’s what investigators assumed was happening when an unfamiliar man was spotted in a cornfield in Iowa in 2011. They knew that companies like Monsanto were using those fields to grow new types of corn seeds, and that the company was notoriously tight-lipped about the trade secrets behind its crops; farmers didn’t even necessarily know what was being grown on their land. That secretiveness was not without good reason, though. The man in the cornfield, Robert Mo, was indeed trying to smuggle corn seed to China, as a form of intellectual property theft. Mara Hvistendahl, investigative reporter for The Intercept, and author of The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage unpacks the story and explores the wide world of international idea-pilfering: from corn seeds to look-alike cars. According to Hvistendahl, in this war of confidential information, countries like China are notorious for creating knockoffs and bootlegs, while countries like the United States are deeply invested in keeping the secrets behind the originals just that — secret.
4/16/202121 minutes, 54 seconds
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Should We Dial Back Democracy?

How much democracy is too much? Societies have been toying with different democratic models — from how often to hold elections, to who gets to vote and what the public can vote on — for centuries. Garett Jones, an economist and former Senate staffer, argues the current setup in the U.S. desperately needs some tinkering. Jones says the ancient Greeks, who granted brief political mandates and gave some citizens direct input on law, would be shocked by our modern American politics: “you’re letting people have power for six years?” But he believes our retreat from direct democracy has been positive, and that there’s still further to go. In his latest book, 10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites A Little More and The Masses a Little Less, Jones argues that embracing expertise and lengthening congressional terms would make for better politics and more “courageous” politicians.
4/9/202129 minutes, 25 seconds
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Designing a More Just City

Last year, many American cities were shut down for long periods during the coronavirus pandemic. They were also the backdrop for widespread demonstrations against racial injustice, in response to the death of George Floyd. As the Biden administration now plots out a road to recovery, with a massive infrastructure plan, Toni Griffin’s work designing cities and spaces focused on equity and inclusion could be more relevant than ever. Griffin, the founder of Urban American City, professor in Practice of Urban Planning and the director of the Just City Lab at Harvard Graduate School of Design, explains the long and painful legacy of discrimination in urban planning and architecture in America and what it will take to overcome it.
4/9/202120 minutes, 44 seconds
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Secret Life of the Supermarket

There was a moment in early 2020 when life narrowed and the grocery store became a lifeline — in more ways than one. It was the source of breakfast, lunch and dinner, of course. But those lines emerging from sliding glass doors and wrapping around the block? For a while, they were as close to a social life as we could get, one of our last connections to the outside world. And, when certain items were in short supply in the early days of the pandemic, we were forced to think a lot more about where our food comes from. The importance of the supermarket is no mystery to Benjamin Lorr, author of “The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket,” and John Mackey, CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods and author of "Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business." From their general store origins in the 19th century to the vast supply chains we see today, grocery stores have played a hugely influential role in our society — becoming “as American as jazz or the t-shirt,” Lorr says. But, as he explains, there is also a dark side to our brightly-lit food aisles and a cost to our endless options and two-for-one deals.
4/2/202149 minutes, 15 seconds
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Can You Rethink How You Think?

Our brains are incredibly nimble pieces of machinery, and are actively being rewired and rewritten in response to experience. According to David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Stanford University, the physical impact of this rewiring is so drastic that imaging is capable of distinguishing the motor cortex of a violinist from that of a pianist. Eagleman is the author of the book Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain, and he walks us through how our daily habits – and forces including social feedback, shifting relevance, and curiosity – can reshape our phenomenally flexible and hardy brains.
3/26/202126 minutes, 23 seconds
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Your State’s Politics Might Be The Death of You

Policymakers have a thumb on the scale when it comes to how long we live. Jennifer Karas Montez, a sociologist and demographer at Syracuse University, has spent her career studying the social causes of death and disease in the United States - how differing state policies have contributed to a 7 year gap between the state with the highest (Hawaii) and the lowest (West Virginia) life expectancy in the U.S. Though COVID-19 has shined a light on how different state approaches to health affect day-to-day life, even in non-pandemic times, longevity and health are deeply impacted by what’s going on at the state level. From how generous paid leave is where you live, to how easy marijuiana is to access, the patchwork of policies across the U.S affect health outcomes.
3/26/202123 minutes, 19 seconds
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Can Capitalism Save Us?

Business won’t save the world, but — according to Harvard economist Rebecca Henderson — it can help fix it. Henderson, author of Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire, became preoccupied with economics after working for the consulting firm McKinsey & Company where her job was “shutting plants” down if they proved unable to adapt to market changes. Since then, Henderson has been animated by the question of how to build a more just and sustainable system.
3/19/202149 minutes, 47 seconds
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Walter Isaacson On How Gene Editing Will Change Your Life

Walter Isaacson has made a habit of profiling world-changers: innovators who, through their discoveries, upend the way we live. Recently, he’s been preoccupied with individuals who have unlocked what he calls “fundamental kernels of our existence” - first Albert Einstein and the atom, then Steve Jobs and the bit, and now, in his latest work, Jennifer Doudna and the gene. In The Code Breaker, Isaacson dives into the CRISPR revolution and how the booming field of gene editing is altering how we treat disease and think about what it means to be human. Jennifer Doudna, who shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her role in developing CRISPR, is Isaacson’s centerpiece as he guides readers through this new frontier, and the pressing moral questions that sophisticated, cutting-edge biological tools now pose.
3/12/202149 minutes, 28 seconds
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Email’s Death Grip

Constantly checking your email might feel like textbook responsible work behavior but, according to Cal Newport — a professor of computer science at Georgetown University and author of A World Without Email — it can actually wreak havoc on productivity. Newport argues that our out-of-control inboxes are keeping us from being the thinkers, workers, and problem solvers we could be if email ran our lives less.
3/5/202149 minutes, 38 seconds
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Has Coronavirus Cleaning Gone Too Far?

It has been said that cleanliness is next to godliness, but the constant disinfecting and scrubbing of our homes, offices and public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic has taken these seemingly virtuous efforts to a whole new level. COVID-19 is now understood to spread primarily through close contact with infected people, rather than contaminated surfaces, but that hasn’t stopped consumers from snapping up cleaning products that promise to kill 99% of germs. Trying to eliminate all bacteria, including those that are beneficial to us, can lead to autoimmune disorders, warns Rob Dunn. The professor of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University and author of: “Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live,” explains how we can be more intentional about our interactions with the living world (indoors and outdoors) and better understand its influence on our well-being.
2/26/202125 minutes, 11 seconds
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America's Sherlock Holmes

Imagine a crime scene, and what it might take to solve the case. Do you think about dusting for fingerprints? DNA collection? According to Kate Winkler Dawson, author of “American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI” and associate professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, the man we can thank for that approach is Edward Oscar Heinrich. In the early 20th century, Heinrich took the world of forensics from guesswork, confession, and coercion to a place of science and nuanced evidence. While some of his experiments have been discredited in recent years as “junk science,” Heinrich’s impact can still be seen in the way many crime scenes are evaluated today.
2/26/202124 minutes, 28 seconds
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Rethinking the Constitution

The Constitution, first drafted in 1787, stands as the supreme law of the land in the U.S. But Mary Anne Franks — a law professor at the University of Miami who grew up attending a fundamentalist church in Arkansas — says that often “we read it not as a text but as Scripture,” much in the same way she was taught to read the Bible as a child. Franks, author of The Cult of the Constitution, argues that originalism — the judicial view that the Constitution should only be interpreted as its writers meant it to be when it became law — has been used to justify ahistorically broad interpretations of both the First and Second Amendments. Rather than claiming “transcendental access” to the founders’ legal intentions, she proposes we honor the Constitution communally by extending its rights and values to all, including the most vulnerable members of our society.
2/19/202150 minutes, 1 second
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From the Plow to Birth Control: How Tech Reshapes Relationships

During this pandemic, we may be acutely aware that our love lives and family lives are entwined with the technology that’s all around us. But in fact, machines have been re-inventing our relationships since the days of the ancient plow, which likely led to the birth of marriage itself. That’s according to Debora Spar, a professor at Harvard Business School and former president of Barnard College. Spar, the author of “Work Mate Marry Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny,” takes us on a journey through the technologies - from the steam engine to the refrigerator - that have affected when, how, and with whom we partner up. And we get a glimpse into a future with no masterplan for how the technologies we have built will further evolve and change us.
2/12/202149 minutes, 44 seconds
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How to End Child Poverty with Social Security

More than 10 million American children lived below the poverty line before the COVID-19 crisis and now, with months of school closures, rising food insecurity and increasing unemployment, the situation has become even more dire for low-income families. Federal spending on children in the U.S. has lagged well behind other wealthy nations for years, and the country has not done nearly enough to fight child poverty, according to Melissa Kearney, a professor of economics at the University of Maryland and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Kearney has a bold idea about how to turn the tide, though. If every needy youngster was given the average Social Security benefit (normally distributed to just those 65 and older), we could eradicate child poverty in America – all it would require is the political will, she says.
2/5/202123 minutes, 29 seconds
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The True Toll of Loneliness

It’s been nearly a year since increased isolation has become the norm: since workplaces and schools shut down, hospitals and nursing homes stopped allowing visitors, and all of our social circles narrowed. The loneliness felt by so many people during the pandemic can affect our moods and our feelings, but it can also have a physical impact on our bodies, according to Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University. Holt-Lunstad and Christina Victor, a professor of Gerontology and Public Health at Brunel University in London, dive into the science behind loneliness’s physiological toll, including its influence on life expectancy and surprising research that challenges some common misconceptions about which groups suffer with loneliness the most.
2/5/202126 minutes, 34 seconds
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Society in the Time of Plague

It may feel as though we are living in unusual times, with all the strange precautions we have been forced to adopt to try and contain COVID-19, but plagues have afflicted humans for thousands of years. The novel coronavirus is a threat “both wholly new and deeply ancient,” according to Nicholas Christakis, professor of social and natural science at Yale University, and the author of “Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live.” Tapping into his experience as a hospice doctor in the early days of his career and his expertise in social networks, Christakis explains what it will take for citizens, leaders, and societies to work together to get through the current crisis and what we might expect when it is finally over.
1/29/202149 minutes, 45 seconds
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The Invisible Future of American Jobs

Over the last several decades, manufacturing jobs in the U.S. have withered. Meanwhile, health care has become the fastest growing job sector in the country, and it’s been on top for years. According to Gabriel Winant, a historian at the University of Chicago, and author of “The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America,” not only are those two opposing trends related, but there are also some serious consequences to the connection.
1/22/202135 minutes, 46 seconds
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Look At This Photograph

From Mathew Brady’s Civil War photographs, to some of the first images of Earth in space, photography has shaped the way we see ourselves. Which means that when photographic technology changes and progresses, it can really shift our self-image. Ainissa Ramirez is a scientist and the author of The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another, and she was previously on Innovation Hub to talk about how materials science altered the way we think about time. Now, she tells the fascinating story of how people shaped photographs and how those photographs then shaped us. And that story begins with an incredibly rich man betting on horses.
1/22/202114 minutes, 8 seconds
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The Man Who Invented 24-Hour News

It might be difficult to remember now, but there was a time when the news wasn’t 24/7. There were morning and evening editions of the paper; the nightly news was, well, nightly; radio offered updates from time to time. But there’s a whole lot of difference between that world and today’s never-stop cavalcade of heartbreak, tragedy, excitement, and despair. And one of the biggest dividing lines between those two realities was the creation of CNN. Journalist Lisa Napoli is the author of “Up All Night: Ted Turner, CNN, and the Birth of 24-Hour News,” and she argues that CNN didn’t just change television, or cable, or even news… it changed our entire world.
1/15/202137 minutes, 56 seconds
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A Watch Named Arnold

It might be hard to believe, but there was a time when time wasn’t as exact as it is now. When people would come over on “Tuesday” rather than “Tuesday at exactly 2:30.” Ainissa Ramirez is a scientist and author of The Alchemy of Us How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another, and she tells the story of how Materials Science made time so important. Strangely enough, it involves a woman who sold time, using a watch named Arnold.
1/15/202111 minutes, 22 seconds
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How the 1% Affect You

Cities and states have lost billions of dollars in combined tax revenues during the economic downturn, caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A change that the Trump administration made to the tax code a few years ago, has also diminished some local coffers, because it has caused a slice of super-wealthy residents in high-tax states such as California and New York to move to places with lower taxes, like Florida and Texas. With rising economic inequality, the exodus of even a fraction of the 1% (and their taxes) can impact everyone who is left behind - especially the most vulnerable, according to Richard Florida. A professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and co-founder of CityLab, Florida explains the long-lasting consequences of wealth flight.
1/8/202135 minutes, 18 seconds
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The Stories that Drive the Stock Market

The way we understand the eras we live through — from world wars, to the rise of the internet in the 2000s, to the pandemic of today — also directly impacts the economy. That’s according to Robert Shiller, a winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in economics, a professor of economics at Yale, and the author of “Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events.” He argues that the big events we experience and our perception of them shape the stock market in serious ways, often priming it for a boom or a bust.
1/8/202114 minutes, 16 seconds
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What You (Don’t) Know About George Washington

He’s on our money, our capital is named after him and he’s even in our extremely weird car ads. But how much do you really know about statesman, general, farmer, slave master, husband, stepfather, and first President of the United States George Washington? According to Alexis Coe, author of You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington, probably not as much as you might think. Coe walks us through the surprising life of the man on the one dollar bill.
1/1/202125 minutes, 29 seconds
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Makings of Modern Conservatism

In the 1930s, America experienced the Great Depression, the New Deal, and leadership from both Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt. California, meanwhile, witnessed a serious shift in the Republican Party - a shift that would impact the entire country for decades to come. Kathryn Olmsted, professor of history at the University of California Davis and author of Right Out of California: The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism, says that all sorts of factors came together to make conservatives see the government “as a force for evil instead of a force for protecting the markets.” From crops to communism, she explains how California paved the way for modern conservatism.
1/1/202124 minutes, 30 seconds
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Public Schools, Education, and The Coronavirus

In the spring, more than 50 million K-12 students were hurriedly sent home as the nation’s public schools shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some of those students have returned to their classrooms now, for full or partial in-person instruction, while others have continued with distance learning or quit public school systems altogether. Paul Reville, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Pedro Noguera, dean of the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education discuss the changes afoot in American education and the consequences for students across the country. Remote learning has placed a heavy burden on many parents, including Courtney Wittenstein, Maria Makarenkova and Jenna Ruiz, who share their experiences and the decisions they have made about their children’s education during the pandemic. And Joseph Connor, the co-founder and chief operating officer of the company, SchoolHouse explains why COVID-19 has led to an increasing interest in microschools and learning pods.
12/25/202049 minutes, 56 seconds
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The Secret Life of the Supermarket

There was a moment in early 2020 when life narrowed and the grocery store became a lifeline — in more ways than one. It was the source of breakfast, lunch and dinner, of course. But those lines emerging from sliding glass doors and wrapping around the block? For a while, they were as close to a social life as we could get, one of our last connections to the outside world. And, when certain items were in short supply in the early days of the pandemic, we were forced to think a lot more about where our food comes from. The importance of the supermarket is no mystery to Benjamin Lorr, author of “The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket,” and John Mackey, CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods and author of "Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business." From their general store origins in the 19th century to the vast supply chains we see today, grocery stores have played a hugely influential role in our society — becoming “as American as jazz or the t-shirt,” Lorr says. But, as he explains, there is also a dark side to our brightly-lit food aisles and a cost to our endless options and two-for-one deals.
12/18/202050 minutes, 9 seconds
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The Case for Rapid Tests

If you have a cough or a fever nowadays, you know exactly what to do: go to the doctor, get a COVID test, and quarantine so you can stop the spread. But we also know that plenty of people contract COVID-19 and transmit it before they know they have it — and some people never even realize that they are contagious at all. So, when it comes to asymptomatic carriers, how do you shut down the line of transmission? According to Dr. Michael Mina, an epidemiologist and immunologist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the answer is wide-scale and frequent rapid testing. The tests are cheap, effective enough to find the superspreaders, and currently exist in large numbers in some countries. However, in the U.S. there is no easy access to at-home, instant-result rapid tests yet.
12/11/202032 minutes, 22 seconds
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The Devastating Overlap of Obesity and COVID-19

When we last spoke with Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, about COVID-19 and obesity back in June, the pandemic was still relatively new. We didn’t know how long it would take to get a vaccine, how many would be affected or who would struggle the most. Mozaffarian was just beginning to sift through some of the early hospitalization data, and he noticed one risk factor that seemed to be particularly risky: obesity. Now, with far more data at our fingertips, it’s clear that America’s slow-moving obesity problem has intensified the coronavirus pandemic. Plus, Mozaffarian says greater attention to our diets could have a huge positive impact on future disease prevention as well as on economic security, racial equity and climate change.
12/11/202017 minutes, 58 seconds
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Come Fly With Me - Reinventing Travel After COVID

The pandemic has been a catastrophe for tourism and travel, upending an almost $9 trillion industry that once accounted for approximately 330 million jobs around the world. And there continues to be great uncertainty about what the future holds. When will everyone feel safe to fly again? When we do, where will we want to go, and will we be able to afford it? The road to recovery for American leisure and business travel will be long and complicated, according to Henry Harteveldt, an industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research Group. Elizabeth Becker, the author of “Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism,” believes the pandemic has a silver lining though. She says it has created an opportunity for U.S. policy makers to tackle tourism’s impact on the environment and its contribution to climate change. The industry can build back in a more sustainable way, she argues.
12/4/202050 minutes
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Strike While the Hand is Hot

You might not think that a simulation meant for kids could change how something plays out in real life, but in the 1990s, the arcade game NBA Jam did exactly that. One feature of the game allowed players to be “on fire.” The more a player scored, the higher chance he or she had of scoring again. Fast forward to today and you can’t escape the concept of a hot streak, or a “hot hand”' as it’s called in basketball. Athletes swear by it, even refusing to touch another player’s “hot” hand. But is a hot streak as real as some people believe it to be? Ben Cohen, a sports writer for The Wall Street Journal and author of “The Hot Hand: The Mystery and Science of Streaks,” argues that the idea of a hot hand is very real — and it isn’t exclusive to basketball either.
11/27/202032 minutes, 36 seconds
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Designing for Humans

From our smartphones to our bicycles, the user experience provided by manufactured products has an enormous impact on our lives. Down to the smallest details, designers often puzzle over how to best align a product with the demands of the customer. But that wasn’t always the approach, and Cliff Kuang, author of User Friendly: How the Hidden Rules of Design Are Changing the Way We Live, Work, and Play, explains how this revolution of design has taken hold and dramatically changed our patterns of consumption and use.
11/27/202017 minutes, 18 seconds
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Does the Office Have a Future?

In offices around the country, mail has piled up. Plants have died. Coffee cups sit unwashed, with a ring of old espresso cemented to the bottom. In some buildings, the lights have been left on since March — and who knows when someone will be back to turn them off. According to Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom, we’re in the middle of “a structural, seismic shift” in the workplace. The majority of employees booted out of the office earlier this year don’t want to come back, says Liz Fosslein, head of content at human resources company Humu. So have we seen the end of the “out of office” email, water cooler talk and cubicle-sharing? When people finally return to the office, what will it look like? And where will it be?
11/20/202029 minutes, 46 seconds
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Fighting a Mental Health Pandemic

In the past few months, a pandemic of mental health has shadowed COVID-19. Across the country, cases of depression, anxiety, alcoholism and domestic violence have been on the rise — intensifying an existing shortage of mental health care providers. With shutdowns and social distancing guidelines, access to therapy has also changed dramatically, with a forced transition to online sessions. This switch to telepsychiatry is a big move but, according to Dr. Peter Yellowlees, a psychiatry professor at the University of California Davis, there might be a silver lining. Yellowlees, the former president of the American Telemedicine Association, began practicing teletherapy nearly 30 years ago to help meet rural psychiatry needs in the Australian outback. Technology advances steadily opened new avenues to online psychiatry, but conventional attitudes and inflexible licensing processes have held the field back for years, Yellowlees says. COVID-19, though, has thrust therapy into a new, virtual world, and Yellowlees believes we are now getting a glimpse of the future.
11/20/202019 minutes, 55 seconds
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How the West Came to Dominate Our Brains

About 1500 years ago, the world was a very different place; Pope Gregory was spreading Catholicism far and wide, a plague was running rampant, and some dominoes were about to start falling. The end of that cascade would end up in a world where a certain group of people started to think quite differently from those who had come before them. Their brains began to change, the societies they built thrived and they grew so influential and culturally dominant that their way of thinking permeated our entire psychology. In other words, it created W.E.I.R.D. people — a Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and Democratic population that grew into a global powerhouse. That’s according to Joseph Henrich, chair of the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University, and author of “The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous.” He writes that people who learn to read, who are educated in a Western way – no matter where they live in the world – have brains that look and think unlike more traditional human brains.
11/13/202050 minutes, 23 seconds
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Public Education in the Age of COVID and Beyond

In the spring, more than 50 million K-12 students were hurriedly sent home as the nation’s public schools shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some of those students have returned to their classrooms now, for full or partial in-person instruction, while others have continued with distance learning or quit public school systems altogether. Paul Reville, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Pedro Noguera, dean of the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education discuss the changes afoot in American education and the consequences for students across the country. Remote learning has placed a heavy burden on many parents, including Courtney Wittenstein, Maria Makarenkova and Jenna Ruiz, who share their experiences and the decisions they have made about their children’s education during the pandemic. And Joseph Connor, the co-founder and chief operating officer of the company, SchoolHouse explains why COVID-19 has led to an increasing interest in microschools and learning pods.
11/6/202050 minutes, 25 seconds
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How Big Tech is Pushing Artists Out of Work

The pandemic has made life as an artist hard — real hard. Museums and studios have closed, live shows have been canceled and concerts have been pushed online. But according to William Deresiewicz, this is just the most recent act in a long, profound shift in the arts. Deresiewicz, a former English professor at Yale University and author of “The Death of the Artist: How Creators Are Struggling to Survive in the Age of Billionaires and Big Tech,” says the digital age has devastated and demonetized the arts — whether that’s music, videos, visual art or the written word. We’re facing the loss of the moderately successful artist and “you can’t have even the stars without an ecosystem that supports them,” he says. So where does that leave us?
10/30/202022 minutes, 51 seconds
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The Crap We Keep Around

Years of good marketing may have convinced us that life isn’t complete without a junk drawer, overflowing closet or unusable garage. Now, according to historian Wendy Woloson, Americans are suffering from the outright “crapification” of their lives. So where do we go from here? And how do we clear out that closet? Woloson, an associate professor of history at Rutgers University Camden and author of “Crap: A History of Cheap Stuff in America,” says our relationship with junk goes way back. We’re naturally drawn to possessions for “our comfort, for our safety, for our sense of identity,” she explains. But Americans’ modern courtship with cheap goods began in the late 19th century as manufacturing geared up and trade networks went global. Enter plastic toys, collectible spoons, old erasers and gift store knickknacks. They’re all souvenirs from a long journey of capitalism and consumption.
10/30/202026 minutes, 38 seconds
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Fareed Zakaria’s Guide to a Post-Pandemic Age

Some scientists and environmentalists believe that the novel coronavirus is nature’s warning to us about the unsustainable ways we have been living. The rate of human development and the encroachment into the natural habitats of wild animals have left us dangerously susceptible to the spread of deadly infectious diseases, they say. CNN host and Washington Post columnist, Fareed Zakaria, also fears the current crisis could be a “dress rehearsal” for an even more deadly threat, because disruptive human behaviors have made future pandemics even more likely. Zakaria, the author of the new book: “Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World,” argues this is a moment when global cooperation and positive change are not just necessary, but achievable.
10/23/202033 minutes, 56 seconds
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Can You Reinvent the Supreme Court?

Over the past month, the Senate has rushed to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court. Both Republicans and Democrats have claimed that the other is inappropriately reshaping, or considering reshaping, the Court. But how did the Supreme Court get so caught up in politics? And is there a way out? David Orentlicher, professor of law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and author of “Two Presidents Are Better Than One: The Case for a Bipartisan Executive Branch,” studies high courts around the world. He says part of the problem is that the U.S. Constitution sets few rules in stone — and that paves the way for partisanship and controversy. But could we do things differently? Absolutely. Indeed, he says there are lots of ideas we could borrow from abroad.
10/23/202016 minutes, 18 seconds
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An Imperfect Toolkit for COVID-19

While some of us may be tempted to put our hopes in the development of a miracle vaccine or magical cure for the new coronavirus, holding out for a perfect solution could be unwise. The rapid and extensive use of a number of imperfect prevention and treatment methods, is the key to turning the tide, according to Dr. Joshua Schiffer. Schiffer, an associate professor in the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, discusses the benefits of some effective, although far from flawless, tools in the battle against COVID-19. It’s an approach that reminds him of swiss cheese, he says, because “each of these strategies has holes but, if you apply all of them, fewer infections break through.”
10/16/202050 minutes, 18 seconds
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Why Social Media Is So Captivating

Last April, states began to sporadically reopen after weeks of being shut down. South Carolina was among the first to begin the process and some others would soon follow, while some states wouldn’t start until June. The uncoordinated reopening caused chaos, according to Sinan Aral, director of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy. As people watched their social feeds fill with images of people heading back outside, they stepped out too — even if their state wasn’t at the same phase. Aral, author of “The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health — and How We Must Adapt,” has used social media as a tool to gain insight into everything from COVID-19 reopenings to protests and politics.
10/9/202029 minutes, 19 seconds
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The Cost of Unemployment

In the past six months, tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs and the federal government has provided more than $400 billion in unemployment benefits. With states pressed to pay for the epic costs of coronavirus, what if there was a more efficient way to get support to those out of work? What if we could save money while guaranteeing jobs? According to Pavlina Tcherneva, associate professor of economics at Bard College and author of “The Case for a Job Guarantee,” there’s a way to do exactly that. It would be cheaper — and better all-around for job seekers — to ensure across-the-board access to employment rather than unemployment checks, she says. But does the math really add up?
10/9/202020 minutes, 49 seconds
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Keeping America Number 1

The pandemic has caused a steep economic decline in the U.S. But many experts worried we were already in trouble before the coronavirus because of the rise of economic powerhouses with huge populations, such as China and India. That has also been a concern of Matthew Yglesias who has a radical solution for our economic woes: take the current U.S. population and triple it in the decades to come. Yglesias, the co-founder of Vox and the author of “One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger,” walks us through his progressive proposals, which he argues are far from fantastical.
10/2/202034 minutes, 5 seconds
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How Covid Could Launch a New Health Era

On Oct. 4, 1957, Russia shocked the U.S. by launching the world’s first artificial satellite into orbit. Sputnik’s launch ignited a 20-year Space Race that would put men on the moon and push science and technology forward leaps and bounds. Now, as COVID-19 shocks the world again, Regina Dugan says we could be entering a new era marked by big breakthroughs in medical science. Dugan, former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and CEO of Wellcome Leap, says this Health Age could lower research costs, speed up clinical trials and improve mental health treatments — and bring us a coronavirus vaccine along the way. The first step in all of this? Capturing the nation’s imagination to go beyond what we think possible.
10/2/202016 minutes, 1 second
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How We'll Live with COVID-19

As COVID-19 began to sweep through the U.S. in early March, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, among others, declared it the “great equalizer” — an experience uniquely universal. But six months and 200,000 deaths later, it’s clear that the pandemic has made an unequal society, well, more unequal. According to political scientist and international risk consultant Ian Bremmer, economic disparity and political polarization are on the rise globally too. When we finally reach a long-sought post-pandemic world, steady access to education, testing and travel will give the wealthy a headstart to recovery, says Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. Plus, according to Megan Scudellari, a health and science journalist, that recovery is still a long way off.
9/25/202050 minutes, 12 seconds
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The Plow to Birth Control: How Tech Reshapes Relationships

During this pandemic, we may be acutely aware that our love lives and family lives are entwined with the technology that’s all around us. But in fact, machines have been re-inventing our relationships since the days of the ancient plow, which likely led to the birth of marriage itself. That’s according to Debora Spar, a professor at Harvard Business School and former president of Barnard College. Spar, the author of “Work Mate Marry Love: How Machines Shape Our Human Destiny,” takes us on a journey through the technologies - from the steam engine to the refrigerator - that have affected when, how, and with whom we partner up. And we get a glimpse into a future with no masterplan for how the technologies we have built will further evolve and change us.
9/18/202050 minutes, 13 seconds
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The Potency of Sleep

People have been reporting all kinds of strange sleep habits during the pandemic, and, according to sleep experts, it makes sense. Dr. Rebecca Spencer, a professor of brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Dr. Amita Sehgal, a molecular biologist at the University of Pennsylvania, know that the sleep we get can be a reflection of the lives we lead. We dive into how the stresses and strains of these unpredictable times - not to mention greatly increased screen use - have disrupted our natural biological rhythms, and find out what it takes to get a good night’s rest.
9/11/202030 minutes, 8 seconds
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Powers of Persuasion

Election season is upon us and everywhere you look someone is trying to coax you to vote for their candidate or issue. As we all know, old habits die hard and getting a person to shift their deeply-held opinions, political or otherwise, isn’t easy. Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and the author of, “The Catalyst - How To Change Anyone’s Mind,” explains why reaching a tipping point isn’t about pushing for more but asking for less -- at least initially.
9/11/202019 minutes, 29 seconds
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Will Corona Change College Forever?

Colleges and universities nationwide were already facing a challenging landscape before the pandemic, but the fall of 2020 is testing them in ways they never could have anticipated. Some are doing remote-only learning, some are hybrid, and some are fully in-person. And this academic year could be the tipping point that potentially upends the entire higher education sector. According to Jeff Selingo, the former editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education and author of “Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions,” institutions may need to rethink the way they serve their students, if they want to survive.
9/4/202030 minutes, 18 seconds
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Reopening Colleges, Reopening Society

Young adults have often been criticized during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, as some colleges and universities open up their campuses for in-person and online classes, complaints and warnings to students are ratcheting up. But Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, doesn’t believe that a punitive approach is the best way to reopen schools. She discusses a holistic public health strategy that she says will support students, instead of shaming them, and enlist their help in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
9/4/202020 minutes, 6 seconds
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The Myth of a Gendered Brain

It’s no secret that men and women are different — it’s the punchline of a hundred jokes. But does our sex really show in our brains, or is there something else at play? Gina Rippon, a neuroscientist at Aston University in the U.K. and author of “Gender and Our Brains,” argues that sex doesn’t play nearly as big a role in influencing our brains as we might think. Rather, she says, social cues likely start to influence children at very, very young ages - and it is those cues that account for many of the differences we see.
8/28/202022 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Story of Leland Stanford: an American Disruptor

When you hear the name “Stanford,” chances are a certain university in Palo Alto, CA will come to mind. But you may be less familiar with the story of Leland Stanford, the university’s founder. As a railway entrepreneur and key player in West Coast politics, Stanford lived a controversial life that changed the history of California, strengthened a divided nation, and planted the seeds for the rise of Silicon Valley.
8/28/202027 minutes, 14 seconds
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The Rise of the Comedians

Humans have always enjoyed a good laugh, but the concept of stand-up comedy is relatively new. Wayne Federman, a comedian who teaches at the University of Southern California, and hosts the podcast The History of Stand Up, talks about the origin of the modern comedian. From the earliest vaudeville circuits, to the rise of the comedy record, to the role of late-night television in break-out comedy moments, we pay tribute to the power of the comedian.
8/21/202030 minutes, 38 seconds
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Fast Fashion Might Need To Slow Down

Americans buy, on average, almost 70 items of clothing a year. And many of those garments are worn just seven to ten times before being thrown away. This breakneck consumption of clothes is only possible because of fast fashion, a system in which clothing is made quickly, sold cheaply, and seen as pretty disposable. Dana Thomas, author of “Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes,” walks us through the origins and effects of fast fashion.
8/21/202018 minutes, 40 seconds
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Hacking our Democracy

As the 2020 presidential election approaches, fears about the security of our democracy are heightening, particularly as COVID-19 forces us to adapt our voting practices. Many states are expanding access to mail-in voting, prompting cries of fraud from the Trump administration. But maybe it’s traditional voting machines that we should really be worried about, instead of mailed-in paper ballots, says J. Alex Halderman. Halderman is a professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan whose research focuses on computer security and privacy, and throughout his career, he’s examined the intersection of politics and technology. That’s included extensive work on the security of voting technology used in the United States, and its susceptibility to cyberattacks.
8/14/202028 minutes, 55 seconds
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Can You Hear Me?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the world has seemed a little quieter. But that doesn’t mean you’re not being inundated with noise. Whether the sound is something you chose, like music or our podcast, or something outside of your control, like traffic outside or planes overhead, it’s likely that you rarely experience true silence. According to David Owen, a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of “Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening World,” all that noise is permanently changing humanity’s ability to hear.
8/14/202020 minutes, 56 seconds
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Is Race Science Coming Back?

With the European intellectual movement, there was a heightened interest to interpret the world around us. Scientists of the 18th century sought a way to categorize and objectively understand the multitude of species inhabiting earth. Unfortunately, humans were not spared in this scientific venture and the idea of superior and inferior human races were born, which went on to influence our social understanding of one another. Angela Saini, a science journalist and the author of “Superior: The Return of Race Science”, looks at how racial prejudice in the past was justified through science, and why she fears this ‘rationality’ is making a comeback with the current, global nationalist rhetoric.
8/7/202027 minutes, 36 seconds
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Is Meritocracy Damaging Our Economy?

Those in the highest paying jobs are working longer hours than ever before. Meanwhile, the middle class is falling behind, as employers demand more qualifications from employees. America is supposed to be a meritocracy, but perhaps meritocracies - which aim for fairness - aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
8/7/202022 minutes, 7 seconds
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To Understand Risk - Play Poker

These days, it feels like everyone is thinking about risk. Is it a good idea to travel by airplane? Is it OK to visit parents? Is it safe to go to a park? But if you want to truly understand risk, it might be a good idea to turn to an unlikely source… poker. That’s according to Maria Konnikova, a journalist and author of the book The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned To Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win. In writing the book, Konnikova set out to discover what poker can teach us about psychology, probability, and, yes, risk. She certainly didn’t set out to win over $300,000 playing professional poker... but sometimes a bet really pays off.
7/31/202026 minutes, 51 seconds
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Tipping the Scales: When America Started Moralizing Food

It was once a virtue to have some excess weight, kids weren’t considered picky eaters, and the term “overweight” didn’t even exist. What changed? Helen Zoe Veit, an associate professor of history at Michigan State University, and author of “Modern Food, Moral Food: Self-Control, Science, and the Rise of Modern American Eating in the Early Twentieth Century,” joined us to talk about how America began to moralize the food that we eat — or don’t eat.
7/31/202022 minutes, 41 seconds
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COVID-19’s Crisis of Care Costs Working Mothers

COVID-19 has dramatically changed the lives of millions of families, with some parents losing their jobs while others struggle to keep them. For working parents, careers are competing now, more than ever, with another pressing responsibility—caring for their children. Betsey Stevenson, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, explains how the burden of childcare during COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on women and why the pandemic could have a lasting effect on gender equality in the workplace for years to come.
7/24/202031 minutes, 57 seconds
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The World Behind Wikipedia

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” The urgency behind this sentiment is stronger than ever at a time when misinformation is everywhere. So how has Wikipedia, famous for allowing anyone to edit, become a paragon for truth? Andrew Lih, author of “The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World’s Greatest Encyclopedia” and the Wikimedia Strategist for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, breaks down where Wikipedia came from, how it works, and where it could be headed.
7/24/202017 minutes, 44 seconds
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The Future of Our Pandemic

The U.S. loosened its lockdown measures far too early, even as cases of COVID-19 were on the rise, and now we are paying the price. That’s the verdict of Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, who back in May called the rush to reopen a “hodgepodge” because several states ignored important health and safety guidelines. As the pandemic rages on, Osterholm discusses the steps that are needed to control the spread of the virus, advances in testing and treatment, and what the future could hold.
7/17/202049 minutes, 55 seconds
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The Culture of COVID-19

The United States’ disjointed and detrimental response to the COVID-19 pandemic stands in stark contrast to the actions we’ve seen in other countries. While some people elsewhere seem more than willing to wear masks and avoid close contact with others, many Americans have balked at measures that they see as encroaching on personal freedoms, even as COVID-19 cases begin to spiral out of control once more. There are several factors at play, including what some have described as a failure of leadership at the national level. But, according to Michele Gelfand, a psychology professor at the University of Maryland and author of “Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World,” we can also look to cultural and social norms.
7/10/202030 minutes, 58 seconds
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A Surprising, Gross, and Utterly Fascinating Look at the Birth of Science

Science in the 1600s wasn’t an especially safe endeavor. People were burned at the stake for saying that the Earth revolved around the Sun. Galileo Galilei narrowly avoided that particular fate, but was placed under house arrest. That’s… pretty different from our modern world, where we’re all relying on scientists to understand the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, and, hopefully, come up with a vaccine. How did we get to this point? Well, part of the reason is that, in 1660, a group of natural philosophers and thinkers came together to found what would become known as The Royal Society. That’s according to Adrian Tinniswood, author of The Royal Society: And the Invention of Modern Science. He walks us through the important legacy of the oldest scientific institution in the world, and how it helped shape evidence-based science.
7/10/202018 minutes, 49 seconds
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A Compulsion to Be Good

There is a famous quote from French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre: “Hell is other people.” While some may agree with that sentiment and crave solitude, there’s a lot of evidence that people are drawn to each other. We form friendships, sports teams, knitting circles and complex societies, unlike any other species on Earth. Nicholas Christakis, a doctor, sociologist, and author of “Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society,” has spent years trying to understand why people often feel compelled to connect to - and help - each other. The answer he arrived at was that, although humans are capable of a lot of bad things, it turns out being good has long been coded into our biology
7/3/202026 minutes, 42 seconds
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Saying Goodbye To Language As You Know It

It seems like every time a dictionary publishes a new update, people flock to social media to talk about it. Whether they’re responding to the addition of the word “fam” or the dad joke, They always return to the question of what consequences these additions will have. Do they really spell disaster for the English language? Turns out, the “updation” (new to the Oxford English Dictionary as of last year) of language isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And it’s been going on for as long as language has existed. Katherine Connor Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries at Oxford University Press, explains why the creation of new words is actually natural, and tells us how the ways we communicate have been speeding up the evolution of language.
7/3/202023 minutes, 2 seconds
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Educating Kids in a Pandemic

Students have lost months and months of learning because of school closures during the COVID-19 crisis. Research shows that remote education efforts haven’t measured up, and the pandemic has only exacerbated economic, racial and rural-urban divides. During the next school year, following the long summer break, many students could find themselves falling even further behind. Dana Goldstein, a national correspondent for The New York Times and the author of The Teacher Wars: A History of America's Most Embattled Profession, discusses the latest data on distance learning for grades K-12 and students and parents share their own experiences.
6/26/202031 minutes, 9 seconds
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Baby Boom or Baby Bust?

These days, we wonder a lot about the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. What will this crisis mean for our jobs? Will schools be open in the fall? When will we be able to return to our favorite activities? One topic that you’re probably not thinking about — but that will have a huge national impact — is birth rates. Melissa Kearney, a professor of economics at the University of Maryland and a senior fellow at Brookings, argues in a recent report (co-authored with Wellesley College professor Phillip Levine) that we are headed for a baby bust.
6/26/202019 minutes, 29 seconds
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The Makings of Modern Conservatism

In the 1930s, America experienced the Great Depression, the New Deal, and leadership from both Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt. California, meanwhile, witnessed a serious shift in the Republican Party - a shift that would impact the entire country for decades to come. Kathryn Olmsted, professor of history at the University of California Davis and author of Right Out of California: The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism, says that all sorts of factors came together to make conservatives see the government “as a force for evil instead of a force for protecting the markets.” From crops to communism, she explains how California paved the way for modern conservatism.
6/19/202029 minutes, 11 seconds
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Designing for You

From our smartphones to our bicycles, the user experience provided by manufactured products has an enormous impact on our lives. Down to the smallest details, designers often puzzle over how to best align a product with the demands of the customer. But that wasn’t always the approach, and Cliff Kuang, author of User Friendly: How the Hidden Rules of Design Are Changing the Way We Live, Work, and Play, explains how this revolution of design has taken hold and dramatically changed our patterns of consumption and use.
6/19/202020 minutes, 15 seconds
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A Tale of Two Pandemics

There are a lot of possible explanations for why Japan has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic better than the United States. It’s possible that the Japanese are more used to wearing masks, that the government used contact tracing more effectively to contain outbreaks, and that handshakes aren’t a widespread cultural practice. But according to Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist, and the dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, one of the main reasons Japan is coping with the coronavirus more successfully than the United States is because of another problem: obesity. America has one of the highest rates of obesity in the developed world, and Japan has one of the lowest. And it’s this major health concern that’s making America’s response to COVID-19, much more difficult. Mozaffarian explains why that is, and the ways we can deal with it.
6/12/202031 minutes, 17 seconds
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The Power of Play

Childhood today is radically different than it was just a few generations ago. Before the coronavirus pandemic, kids’ busy schedules included school, homework, chores, sports, music lessons and other activities. Those packed schedules often left out one key element that is crucial to growth and learning — play. That’s according to Dorsa Amir, a postdoctoral researcher and evolutionary anthropologist at Boston College. Amir has studied the Shuar people of Ecuador, a non-industrialized society, and observed startling differences in how Shuar children and American children spend their time. She tells us how childhood has changed drastically, and how that affects kids today.
6/12/202018 minutes, 27 seconds
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Democracy in Decay

The Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal," but for much of U.S history that has been an aspirational ideal, according to Suzanne Mettler, a professor of government at Cornell University. Now the pillars of American democracy, including the rule of law, the legitimacy of opposition and free and fair elections, are under attack like never before, she explains. Mettler, the co-author of Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy, says that while the challenges aren’t new, their confluence under President Donald Trump has led to the weakening of the very necessary checks and balances built into our political system.
6/5/202034 minutes, 38 seconds
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Climate Change in the Time of Coronavirus

We’re all ready for some good news, so headlines about smog dissipating in China, skies clearing in LA, and jellyfish appearing in canals in Venice were very welcome amidst the pandemic. However, while these paint a rosy picture of a potential silver lining to the global shutdown, the truth is much more complicated. Shannon Osaka, a reporter for Grist focusing on climate change and science, says the way we’ve slowed our lives this year has had a positive impact on our planet but it’s not enough to make a real dent in climate change.
6/5/202013 minutes, 15 seconds
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The Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine

The headlines have been full of the latest “breakthroughs” in efforts to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, and markets have even reacted to all the twists and turns in recent weeks. Although he understands the desire for any positive news in the midst of a deadly pandemic, Michael Kinch, associate vice chancellor and director of the Center for Research Innovation in Biotechnology at Washington University in St. Louis, is keen to temper expectations about a vaccine. He notes that the history of vaccines is filled with arduous trial-and-error, and explains why “layering our defenses” against the new coronavirus may be our best shot.
5/29/202049 minutes, 25 seconds
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Motown: The History Of A Hit Factory

Shortly after Michael Jackson died in 2009, Helen Brown, a music critic for the Daily Telegraph wrote that the Jackson 5’s 1969 single “I Want You Back,” is “certainly the fastest man-made route to pure joy.” And while Michael, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Jackie may have stolen the spotlight, the group - like so many others - emerged from a hit factory created by a man named Berry Gordy Jr. Gordy founded Motown after stints as a boxer and as a worker in a Lincoln-Mercury plant. And he quickly turned the label into a force to be reckoned with, drawing on a formula of quality control he had learned at the auto factory, taking raw talent like Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson, and refining them into international stars. As a result, Motown became one of the most successful black-owned music companies in American history. We talk to music journalist Adam White, author of “Motown: The Sound of Young America,” about Gordy’s meteoric rise and his lasting legacy.
5/22/202023 minutes, 50 seconds
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Fixing Broken Hearts

From updates about the availability of ventilators in our states to watching each other anxiously for even the hint of a cough, we’ve put a lot of focus on the health of our lungs recently. There’s another factor that we might have been overlooking in all this though: your heart is at stake, too. Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and author of Heart: A History, takes a look at some of the unseen ways that we influence our hearts, and our hearts influence us. And, as it turns out, our perception of the heart and its role in our emotions is a lot deeper than we might have thought
5/22/202024 minutes, 17 seconds
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The Great Reopening

In the midst of a pandemic, governors around the country have been reopening local economies and causing concern for many health experts, including members of the White House coronavirus task force who testified before a Senate committee this week. Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota has long warned about the risk of pandemics. He calls the effort to reopen a “hodgepodge,” though he believes remaining locked down while we wait for a vaccine is not an option. First and foremost, he laments a lack of national leadership, frank talk about the tradeoffs ahead, and a clear direction in the fight against COVID-19.
5/15/202049 minutes, 45 seconds
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The Slow Burn of a Long Term Slowdown

Our world is fast, and, while it may feel that it’s always getting faster, we’re actually slowing down in a lot of ways. That’s according to Danny Dorling, a professor of geography at Oxford University and author of Slowdown: The End of the Great Acceleration – and Why It’s Good for the Planet, the Economy, and Our Lives. He says that, even before this pandemic, there was a global slowdown in population, in technological advancement, and in the economy.
5/8/202027 minutes, 56 seconds
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The Value of a Human Life

Governors in some states have taken steps to begin reopening businesses in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Any easing of social distancing measures inevitably leads to uncomfortable conversations about the value of human life versus economic prosperity. Those types of conversations are nothing new, according to Howard Steven Friedman, a statistician and health economist at Columbia University. He says people have long calculated how much human lives are worth, including those working in the courts, the health care industry, and the government.
5/8/202021 minutes, 33 seconds
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Global Risks of a Global Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has been compared to the Great Depression and the Second World War, in terms of the threat it poses to democracy. Geopolitical risk analyst Ian Bremmer doesn’t think the crisis will usher in a new world order, but he believes it will intensify and speed up trends that many have worried about for years. Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media, discusses the impact of COVID-19 on global inequality, segregated societies, global leadership, our dependence on China and much more.
5/1/202048 minutes, 45 seconds
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A Path Out Of A Pandemic

After weeks and weeks of millions of people sheltering-in-place across the country because of COVID-19, there is talk of possibly reopening parts of the economy. Still, many public health experts insist the right conditions need to be created before we can begin to find a path back to life as we once knew it. Yonatan Grad, assistant professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, is one of a growing chorus of voices calling for a dramatic increase in coronavirus testing. He looks at the ways this pandemic could end, and explains why much more data is urgently needed to control the spread of the disease and limit the threat of uncontrolled outbreaks.
4/24/202023 minutes, 41 seconds
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What You Don’t Know About George Washington

He’s on our money, our capital is named after him and he’s even in our extremely weird car ads. But how much do you really know about statesman, general, farmer, slave master, husband, stepfather, and first President of the United States George Washington? According to Alexis Coe, author of You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington, probably not as much as you might think. Coe walks us through the surprising life of the man on the one dollar bill.
4/24/202026 minutes, 7 seconds
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The Economics of a Global Emergency

Everybody, in one way or another, is being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. From our health to our social lives, so much has changed so quickly. However, the crisis is hitting some Americans harder than others. Estimates are that America's unemployment rate is currently in the teens (and potentially headed higher), and there has been a record number of unemployment benefit claims during the past month. According to David Autor, Ford Professor of Economics at MIT and co-chair of the MIT Work of the Future Task Force, what’s happening will be “transformative” for the country’s economy in the long run — both positively and negatively.
4/17/202049 minutes, 20 seconds
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Science for Sale

Undermining science, by sowing seeds of doubt, has become standard operating procedure for corporations that produce products which may be harmful to our health. That’s according to David Michaels, a professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health. He says tobacco companies developed the playbook on how to question science, in order to fight government regulations. But their tactics have been imitated by plenty of other industries, from alcohol to fossil fuel to the NFL. Michaels, author of “The Triumph of Doubt - Dark Money and the Science of Deception,” explains a strategy used to manipulate government leaders, which, he says, has even influenced our response to the coronavirus pandemic.
4/10/202037 minutes, 4 seconds
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A Modern Mayflower: Autonomous Driving Takes to the Water

This year marks four centuries since the Mayflower’s historic voyage from Plymouth, England to Plymouth Rock. To commemorate the journey, amid proposals to build a replica, a different sort of idea rose to the surface: sailing an unmanned ship along the same route that the Mayflower took. Brett Phaneuf, director of the Mayflower Autonomous Ship Project, discusses how the project took off, and what it could mean for the future of the shipping industry and our understanding of the oceans.
4/10/202012 minutes, 10 seconds
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Understanding Why Neighborhoods Matter

Breaking persistent cycles of poverty may seem an impossible task, but the findings of a landmark government social experiment tell a different story. Back in the mid-1990s, a program called “Moving to Opportunity” gave some families, living in troubled public housing projects in five large cities, vouchers and additional assistance to move away to low-poverty neighborhoods. Lawrence Katz, a professor of economics at Harvard University and the principal investigator of the long-term evaluation of the initiative, explains why the initial results were surprising. He also discusses encouraging new research from an experiment in the Seattle area that helps low-income families move to neighborhoods with better opportunities and outcomes for children.
4/3/202028 minutes, 25 seconds
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Using Less and Getting More

It often feels like trash is piling up all around us, and that our consumption habits have put us on the road to environmental disaster. Just take a look at recycling bins stacked high with Amazon boxes and takeout containers. But research shows that we’re actually using fewer resources than we were 25 years ago, a process called “dematerialization.” That’s according to Andrew McAfee, the Co-Director of the Initiative on the Digital Economy at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the author of “More From Less: The Surprising Story of How We Finally Learned to Prosper Using Fewer Resources - and What Happens Next.” He explains why we’re using less, and whether we can expect that trend to extend into the future.
4/3/202020 minutes, 49 seconds
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Tools To Fight A Pandemic

After the devastating Ebola virus outbreak beginning in 2014, several public health experts predicted that a pandemic of some kind lay ahead – it was not a case of if, but when. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and professor of Global Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was one of those people. He even taught a course about what it would take to prevent the next major infectious disease outbreak. Jha says we have the tools at our disposal to confront and eventually combat the novel coronavirus pandemic - we just need to be willing to work together to use them.
3/27/202027 minutes, 54 seconds
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How The Coronavirus Will Shape Our Cities

City life has, mostly, slowed to a standstill. Madison Square Garden isn’t hosting basketball games. You can’t grab a drink at the bar around the corner. Great public spaces - the Spanish Steps, Times Square, Las Ramblas - are empty. This situation won’t go on forever, of course. But the coronavirus pandemic will leave a permanent mark on our cities. That’s according to Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and co-founder of the website CityLab. He explains how cities can adapt to help lessen the impact of the pandemic, and discusses the ways our urban life will change.
3/27/202021 minutes, 10 seconds
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The Advantage Of Being A Generalist

Should you be the best at one skill, or be pretty good at a bunch of different ones? David Epstein, the author of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, says that practicing one skill for 10,000 hours (as some have suggested) might not necessarily set you up to be the next Tiger Woods or the next chess grandmaster. But in a world where we’re constantly encountering new experiences, Epstein believes that the ability to take knowledge from one situation and apply it to another, to generalize, is what really pushes us ahead.
3/20/202037 minutes, 14 seconds
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WiFi-Equipped Plants Need No Green Thumb

By 2050, almost 10 billion people are expected to be living on planet Earth, and most of them will reside in urban areas. Some experts say we will need to take advantage of everything in our agricultural arsenal to feed all those mouths. Could a technology-based method of growing veggies and herbs inside the home be part of the solution? Innovation Hub’s senior producer, Elizabeth Ross, reports on a relatively new approach to growing food which has its roots in outer space.
3/20/202011 minutes, 26 seconds
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Striking While the Hand is Hot

You might not think that a simulation meant for kids could change how something plays out in real life, but in the 1990s, the arcade game NBA Jam did exactly that. One feature of the game allowed players to be “on fire.” The more a player scored, the higher chance he or she had of scoring again. Fast forward to today and you can’t escape the concept of a hot streak, or a “hot hand”' as it’s called in basketball. Athletes swear by it, even refusing to touch another player’s “hot” hand. But is a hot streak as real as some people believe it to be? Ben Cohen, a sports writer for The Wall Street Journal and author of “The Hot Hand: The Mystery and Science of Streaks,” argues that the idea of a hot hand is very real — and it isn’t exclusive to basketball either.
3/13/202034 minutes, 1 second
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The Real Cost of Expensive Housing

Picking up and moving to new opportunities has always been a part of the American dream. But, says Tamim Bayoumi, a deputy director at the International Monetary Fund and a co-author of the paper “Stranded! How Rising Inequality Suppressed US Migration and Hurt Those Left Behind,” that narrative has shifted in modern America. As well-paying jobs are increasingly concentrated in cities with high living costs, some Americans find themselves unable to pursue the careers that could most help them and their families.
3/13/202014 minutes, 38 seconds
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Home DNA Tests Reveal More Than We Bargained For

More than thirty million people have used at-home DNA testing kits, sold by companies such as 23andMe, Ancestry and others, to flesh out their family tree or to help them discover long-lost relatives. However, mail-in genetic tests can sometimes bring unexpected and unsettling results that challenge long-held assumptions about who we think we are. In her book, “The Lost Family,” journalist Libby Copeland investigates the consequences of the commercialization of our genes and considers the implications for our privacy, our health and our relationships with family members and even law enforcement.
3/6/202027 minutes, 7 seconds
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Out of Focus: Concentrating in a Distracting World

Are you looking at this article while you’re supposed to be doing something else? Chris Bailey, author of, “Hyperfocus: How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction,” says you’re not alone. From the hits of dopamine we get when we check social media, to the trick our minds play on us when we’re multitasking that makes us think we’re being more productive than we really are, our world is a really distracting place. It is possible to undo the effects of all that stimulation and reset our attention spans though. Bailey weighs in on what it takes to get through a workday without accidentally ending up on your Twitter, Instagram or any other feed.
3/6/202022 minutes, 16 seconds
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Reinventing Schools For An Era Of Innovation

On this week’s show, we explore efforts to remake public education in North Dakota and beyond with Governor Burgum, Cory Steiner, the superintendent of Northern Cass School District where By next school year, grade levels are expected to be a thing of the past and students will chart their own course to high school graduation, at their own pace, and Ted Dintersmith, a venture capitalist and the author of, “What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers Across America.” Two parents with students at Northern Cass, Kristin Behm and Angie Froehlich also share their experiences of the changes underway at the school. Special thanks to the folks at Prairie Public for their help with this story.
2/28/202036 minutes, 4 seconds
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The Worldwide Web’s Worldwide Reach

Access to the internet is prized across the world. Payal Arora, author of The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond The West, says that young people, in non-Western countries, will make up the bulk of the next billion online users. Western aid groups often make assumptions about what these new users want from technology, but they are frequently mistaken. How exactly are young people in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and South America using technology? One example: in countries where dating is discouraged and arranged marriages are common, teenagers are using the internet to create online dating lives. Arora argues that having technology also allows young people to create new businesses that free them up from unstable agricultural work.
2/28/202012 minutes, 26 seconds
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FDR’s Overhaul: The New Deal and Its Lasting Legacy

In the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt campaigned on a platform that would bring radical change to America: a package of policies he called the New Deal. The New Deal completely reinvented our infrastructure and central government, according to Eric Rauchway, a professor of history at the University of California, Davis, and author of the book Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal. He says that the effects of FDR’s revolutionary plan remain with us today. And indeed, many of the 2020 Democratic candidates are proposing policies that would amount to a new New Deal. But is the country ready?
2/21/202031 minutes, 43 seconds
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Battles Over Barbie: The Question of Intellectual Property

When Carter Bryant invented Bratz dolls, Mattel (the makers of Barbie) took its former employee to court, claiming he had come up with his ideas on the company’s time. Bratz were the first dolls to successfully compete and - in some places - outsell Barbie. Orly Lobel, a law professor at the University of San Diego, has written about the lengthy and costly legal fight Mattel and Bryant engaged in over Bratz in her book: You Don’t Own Me: The Court Battles That Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side. That fight, Lobel explains, was emblematic of a serious issue that American workers now face: heavy restrictions on their talent and creative ideas.
2/21/202017 minutes, 30 seconds
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Political Teamsmanship

Politics in the United States has long been dominated by two main groups – the Republicans and the Democrats – but, in recent decades, we’ve seen increasing divisiveness and conflict. Voters have become less concerned with what government does, and more interested in politicians they believe represent who they are. Lilliana Mason, assistant professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, and Marc Hetherington, professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina, discuss what happens when politics gets personal. And they consider the consequences for our democracy.
2/14/202048 minutes, 41 seconds
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Cracking the Code on Wall Street

Have you ever wanted to be rich? Really rich? Gregory Zuckerman, a special writer at The Wall Street Journal and author of “The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution,” shares the story of the mathematicians who cracked Wall Street’s code. Starting from humble beginnings in a strip mall on Long Island, NY, the hedge fund company that Simons started (where about 300 people work today) now pulls in more money in a year than companies like Hasbro and Hyatt Hotels, which have tens of thousands of employees.
2/7/202028 minutes, 7 seconds
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Can You Hear Me Now?

At this very moment, you’re probably being inundated with noise. Whether the sound is something you chose, like music or our podcast, or something outside of your control, like traffic outside or planes overhead, you are essentially never enjoying true silence. According to David Owen, a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of “Volume Control: Hearing in a Deafening World,” all that noise is doing something to our brains; and it’s not very good news.
2/7/202020 minutes, 46 seconds
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Funding the Cure: But For Whom?

In 1983, Congress passed the Orphan Drug Act which incentivized the development of treatments for rare diseases. Since passing, the legislation has helped to create hundreds of new treatments for rare diseases... but it may have also had some side effects. According to Dr. Peter Bach, a pulmonologist and intensive care physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the push towards finding cures for rare diseases has been so strong that drug companies are paying little attention to more common illnesses, including some of the leading causes of death in the United States, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
1/31/202026 minutes, 4 seconds
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Tipping the Scales: How America Started Moralizing Food

It was once a virtue to have some excess weight, kids weren’t considered picky eaters, and the term “overweight” didn’t even exist. What changed? Helen Zoe Veit, an associate professor of history at Michigan State University, and author of “Modern Food, Moral Food: Self-Control, Science, and the Rise of Modern American Eating in the Early Twentieth Century,” joined us to talk about how America began to moralize the food that we eat — or don’t eat.
1/31/202023 minutes, 11 seconds
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The Race for Nuclear Power

The heroism of D-Day is immortalized in history books, but far less attention is given to the individuals who worked undercover to prevent Germany from developing an atomic bomb during WWII. In his new book, The Bastard Brigade: The True Story of the Renegade Scientists and Spies Who Sabotaged the Nazi Atomic Bomb, science writer Sam Kean tells the stories of the men and women who made up the Alsos Mission, or the “Bastard Brigade.” They worked tirelessly to make sure Germany’s (impressive) scientific discoveries wouldn’t change the course of the war.
1/24/202028 minutes, 24 seconds
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The American Achievement of Advertising Apollo

After Russia sent a man into space, the United States didn’t want to be left behind. But getting a man on the moon wasn’t as easy as just saying we would. David Meerman Scott, a marketing strategist and co-author of the book Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program talks about just what it took — from PR strategies to partnering with Walt Disney — to get enough support for the mission. Without the marketing and media attention, Scott thinks, we couldn’t have landed on the moon.
1/24/202020 minutes, 47 seconds
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The Myth of the Gendered Brain

It’s no secret that men and women are different — it’s the punchline of a hundred jokes. But does our sex really show in our brains, or is there something else at play? Gina Rippon, a neuroscientist at Aston University in the U.K. and author of “Gender and Our Brains,” argues that sex doesn’t play nearly as big a role in influencing our brains as we might think. Rather, she says, social cues likely start to influence children at very, very young ages - and it is those cues that account for many of the differences we see.
1/17/202022 minutes, 13 seconds
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Leland Stanford: an American Disruptor

When you hear the name “Stanford,” chances are a certain university in Palo Alto, CA will come to mind. But you may be less familiar with the story of Leland Stanford, the university’s founder. As a railway entrepreneur and key player in West Coast politics, Stanford lived a controversial life that changed the history of California, strengthened a divided nation, and planted the seeds for the rise of Silicon Valley.
1/17/202026 minutes, 55 seconds
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The Death of the Corporate Welfare State

In 1956, a book was published. It was called The Organization Man, and it was hugely influential. It described a world that was something like a “corporate welfare state.” A world in which, if you were able to land a job at a big industrial company like Ford or GE, you essentially had a stable job for life, with a decent salary, benefits, vacation days, and health care. If you’re under 40, this may seem like science-fiction, but it described the economy as the author saw it. So what drove the change? Nicholas Lemman, dean emeritus at Columbia Journalism School and author of the book Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream, says that workers’ lives shifted because of a new approach to economics.
1/10/202026 minutes, 1 second
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The Story Behind Wikipedia

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” The urgency behind this sentiment is stronger than ever at a time when misinformation is everywhere. So how has Wikipedia, famous for allowing anyone to edit, become a paragon for truth? Andrew Lih, author of “The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World’s Greatest Encyclopedia” and the Wikimedia Strategist for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, breaks down where Wikipedia came from, how it works, and where it could be headed.
1/10/202023 minutes, 23 seconds
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Becoming An Effective Learner

You’ve probably experienced this: it’s high school, the night before an exam, and you’ve got a 500-page textbook in your left hand and highlighters in your right hand. You have highlighted all the important information in the book, and there isn’t a whole lot of white space left. Unfortunately, you’re not sure that you’ve absorbed any of the material in a meaningful way. Turns out, there is little evidence that highlighting and underlining material in books is a good strategy for successful learning, according to Ulrich Boser, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and the author of the book “Learn Better.” Boser talks to us about the science of learning, and how we can absorb information more effectively.
1/3/202017 minutes, 1 second
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When It Comes to Learning Language, Age Isn’t Just A Number

Learning a second language is tough. You have to consider grammar, pronunciation, and, sometimes, words that don’t even exist in your native language. And the conventional wisdom had been: if you want a child to learn a second language, start them as young as possible. But a new study has found that there’s a little more leeway than we originally thought. We talk with Boston College assistant psychology professor Joshua Hartshorne about his and his colleagues’ research and what it means for aspiring hyperpolyglots.
1/3/202012 minutes, 13 seconds
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Do Extracurricular Math Programs Add Up?

The U.S. does not fare well in math when compared with other industrialized nations, as demonstrated by international tests like the PISA. So, for parents who want to help their students get ahead in math and can afford it, after-school programs that focus deeply on the subject have become attractive. There are plenty of extracurricular math programs around, but one run by the Russian School of Mathematics (RSM) for students from kindergarten through 12th grade, is particularly popular, serving over 30,000 students around the country. (Innovation Hub senior producer, Elizabeth Ross, visited the program’s headquarters in Newton, Massachusetts and found a lot of enthusiastic students and parents, as you’ll hear in our report.) Masha Gershman, the director of outreach at the Russian School of Mathematics and the daughter of one of its co-founders, says that the former Soviet Union’s method of math instruction has a lot to teach American kids, particularly when it comes to higher-level and conceptual learning. But Jon Star, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, argues that many American parents - especially those in affluent suburbs where such extracurricular programs are popular - should ask themselves why they’re enrolling their kids in after-school math. It probably shouldn’t just be to get ahead in school - or to keep up with the neighbors. It should have to do with an intrinsic love of the subject.
1/3/202019 minutes, 41 seconds
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From Giving In To Giving Up: A Neuroscientist’s Journey from Addiction to Recovery

From the moment that Judith Grisel started drinking alcohol at age 13, she was hooked. For the next ten years, Grisel suffered from addiction, as she used drugs from marijuana to opiates to psychedelics. As a recovering addict and neuroscientist, Grisel learned that she was especially vulnerable because she was genetically predisposed to addiction. (She is one of many who are susceptible to the disease.) Grisel, a professor of psychology at Bucknell University and the author of “Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction,” explains the effect of illicit drugs on the brain and what makes them so addictive.
12/27/201927 minutes, 14 seconds
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Inventing A United States Of Europe

The European Union is now a vast political and economic union of 28 member countries and, with more than 500 million people, its combined population is the third largest in the world after China and India. But the European Union did not begin as a large political project – rather as a series of small steps in an American effort to promote postwar security, according to Mark Blyth, professor of international economics at Brown University. As politicians in Britain struggle with the details of their country’s divorce from the European Union, Gillian Tett, U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times, and Blyth discuss the forces uniting Europe and the many issues threatening to tear it apart.
12/27/201952 minutes, 2 seconds
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Loons that Shoot for the Moon

Loonshot (n): a neglected project, widely dismissed, its champion written off as unhinged We all know of moonshots, a grand idea we can get behind. But we sat down with Safi Bahcall, a physicist and former biotech entrepreneur, to understand a counter term he came up with: loonshots. Bahcall claims many ideas and innovations, when they are first proposed, are seen as mere fantasies from the minds of slightly (or very) crazy people. From the telephone to the computer, several game-changing ideas were turned down — in fact, microwave radar, which detected German U-boats at sea and helped us gain the upper hand during WWII, also, initially, fell under the radar. Who knows how many countless, similar innovative ideas have been dismissed? In his new book, “Loonshots - How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries”, Bahcall wants to change the structure of how we accept and cultivate these possibly, life-changing ideas.
12/20/201927 minutes, 38 seconds
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Why Aren’t We Happier?

Experiences of mental illness are common in the United States and behind each individual case is a history. In his book, Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry, Randolph Nesse, the director of the Center for Evolution and Medicine at Arizona State University, looks at emotional and mental disorders from an evolutionary perspective, and considers why natural selection left us with fragile minds.
12/20/201921 minutes, 38 seconds
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The Power of Conservative Talk Radio

When Rush Limbaugh’s conservative talk show hit Sacramento in the 1980s, no one could have guessed the power that he - and other right-leaning radio hosts - would eventually wield. Limbaugh’s show was part of an attempt to reinvigorate AM radio, which had been rapidly losing audience to FM, and he quickly gained a die-hard audience. Over the ensuing decades, as conservative talk radio grew in power and popularity, it dramatically reshaped the Republican party. And it may well have played a key role in President Trump’s ascent to the White House. Brian Rosenwald is a scholar-in-residence at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the book, “Talk Radio’s America: How an Industry Took Over a Political Party That Took Over the United States.” He joined us to tell the story of how conservative talk saved AM radio, influenced American politics, and changed our political reality.
12/13/201949 minutes, 5 seconds
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The Rise of the Comedian

Humans have always enjoyed a good laugh, but the concept of stand-up comedy is relatively new. Wayne Federman, a comedian who teaches at the University of Southern California, and hosts the podcast The History of Stand Up, talks about the origin of the modern comedian. From the earliest vaudeville circuits, to the rise of the comedy record, to the role of late-night television in break-out comedy moments, we pay tribute to the power of the comedian.
12/6/201930 minutes, 35 seconds
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Why Fast Fashion Might Need To Slow Down

Americans buy, on average, almost 70 items of clothing a year. And many of those garments are worn just seven to ten times before being thrown away. This breakneck consumption of clothes is only possible because of fast fashion, a system in which clothing is made quickly, sold cheaply, and seen as pretty disposable. Dana Thomas, author of “Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes,” walks us through the origins and effects of fast fashion.
12/6/201918 minutes, 46 seconds
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The Secret Agency that Created Agent Orange, Self-Driving Cars, and the Internet

DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has been developing new military technologies for the United States since shortly after the launch of Sputnik in 1957. But Sharon Weinberger, the Washington Bureau Chief for Yahoo News and the author of The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency that Changed the World, says there’s more to the Agency than new weapons and military strategies. DARPA, Weinberger explains, not only incubated the internet, but it has also worked on self-driving cars and extra-sensory perception, and explored the potential for developing super soldiers.
11/29/201928 minutes, 33 seconds
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Honey, Income Inequality Led Me to Overwork the Kids

How would you describe your childhood? Did your parents have a laissez faire attitude, letting you run wild and free, or did they have more rigid rules, which dictated your life choices? Perhaps you’re now a parent yourself — which parenting approach have you chosen? Matthias Doepke, a professor of economics at Northwestern University, argues that we often assume that parenting is all about culture, and that the reason that those from different countries or backgrounds parent differently is specifically because of those backgrounds (varied religious, political, and geographical traditions). But, Doepke argues, economics is a far more significant driver of parenting. He’s the co-author of “Love, Money and Parenting - How Economics Explains the Way We Raise Our Kids,” and he tells us how income inequality largely shapes how we raise our children.
11/29/201920 minutes, 56 seconds
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The Guitar Makers That Made Modern Music

In 1957, Buddy Holly appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS, strumming his tunes on a Fender Stratocaster, which was casually slung across his body. The instrument had - and would - fundamentally change American culture and music. And, to a lot of people, it was a shock. But behind the technological innovations inherent in the solid-body electric guitar is a story of two friends and rivals, people whose legacies have been inscribed on the guitars they created. Leo Fender and Les Paul, though, had little idea of the new genre of music this invention would instigate: rock ‘n’ roll.
11/22/201927 minutes, 33 seconds
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From Famous To Forgotten

If you have that gnawing feeling that you’re forgetting something, chances are you’re right. And it may not be your keys, but something a little bigger. César Hidalgo, director of MIT’s Collective Learning Group, explains how society experiences generational forgetting. Hidalgo says: even if you have a pristine memory, time greatly impacts the names, books, movies, and historical events that are common knowledge at any given moment. Researching how culture gets passed down (or doesn’t) from generation to generation can tell us more about why some famous people stay relevant, while others seem to fade away.
11/22/201921 minutes, 29 seconds
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Our Compulsion to Be Good

There is a famous quote from French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre: “Hell is other people.” While some may agree with that sentiment and crave solitude, there’s a lot of evidence that people are drawn to each other. We form friendships, sports teams, knitting circles and complex societies, unlike any other species on Earth. Nicholas Christakis, a doctor, sociologist, and author of “Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society,” has spent years trying to understand why people often feel compelled to connect to - and help - each other. The answer he arrived at was that, although humans are capable of a lot of bad things, it turns out being good has long been coded into our biology
11/15/201926 minutes, 29 seconds
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What’s Missing From Childhood Today?

Childhood today is radically different than it was just a few generations ago. These days, kids’ busy schedules include school, homework, chores, sports, music lessons and other activities. But those packed schedules leave out one key element that turns out to be crucial to growth and learning — play. That’s according to Dorsa Amir, a postdoctoral researcher and evolutionary anthropologist at Boston College. Amir has studied the Shuar people of Ecuador, a non-industrialized society, and observed startling differences in how Shuar children and American children spend their time. She tells us how childhood has changed drastically, and how that affects kids today.
11/15/201921 minutes, 57 seconds
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The Great Unraveling of American Health Care

We spend more on medical care than any other developed country in the world - almost twice the average - but the U.S. lags behind many other wealthy nations on outcomes such as infant mortality and life expectancy. How did we get here? Christy Ford Chapin, a historian at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and author of “Ensuring America's Health: The Public Creation of the Corporate Health Care System,” explains how what she calls “the insurance company model” was invented. And although reducing health care costs is a priority for voters, Jonathan Cohn, a senior national correspondent at HuffPost and author of the book “Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis - and the People Who Pay the Price,” says forces that have hindered reform efforts in the past will almost certainly present pitfalls again in the future.
11/8/201949 minutes, 15 seconds
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Understanding Why Neighborhoods Matter

Breaking persistent cycles of poverty may seem an impossible task, but the findings of a landmark government social experiment tell a different story. Back in the mid-1990s, a program called “Moving to Opportunity” gave some families, living in troubled public housing projects in five large cities, vouchers and additional assistance to move away to low-poverty neighborhoods. Lawrence Katz, a professor of economics at Harvard University and the principal investigator of the long-term evaluation of the initiative, explains why the initial results were surprising. He also discusses encouraging new research from an experiment in the Seattle area that helps low-income families move to neighborhoods with better opportunities and outcomes for children.
11/1/201928 minutes, 25 seconds
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Using Less and Getting More

It often feels like trash is piling up all around us, and that our consumption habits have put us on the road to environmental disaster. Just take a look at recycling bins stacked high with Amazon boxes and takeout containers. But research shows that we’re actually using fewer resources than we were 25 years ago, a process called “dematerialization.” That’s according to Andrew McAfee, the Co-Director of the Initiative on the Digital Economy at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the author of “More From Less: The Surprising Story of How We Finally Learned to Prosper Using Fewer Resources - and What Happens Next.” He explains why we’re using less, and whether we can expect that trend to extend into the future.
11/1/201920 minutes, 44 seconds
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Cleanliness, Health...and Microbes

Are you a self-proclaimed germaphobe like President Trump? Well, if you think your home is sparkling clean, try walking around with a microscope. According to Rob Dunn, a professor of Applied Ecology at both North Carolina State University and the Natural History Museum of Denmark, we are surrounded by thousands of tiny species, living on every imaginable surface. And while some bacteria can be harmful, most just humbly co-exist with us... and some are more helpful than we know. In his book, “Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Milipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live,” Dunn takes a safari through our homes, introducing us to these invisible creatures and explaining how, despite our fervent efforts to sanitize the world, we may be negatively affecting our own health.
10/25/201922 minutes, 46 seconds
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Lessons From The World’s Quirkiest Innovators

Obsessed with work, insensitive, socially detached, and neglectful of family and friends. Those may not be the most endearing qualities, but they are just a few of the common characteristics that longtime innovation researcher, Melissa Schilling found when studying some of the world’s most famous and prolific inventors in the fields of science and technology. Schilling, a professor of management and organizations at New York University’s Stern School of Business, explores the ingenuity of eight outstanding innovators, including Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and more. She’s the author of, “Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World.”
10/25/201925 minutes, 45 seconds
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Feeling Lonely? You’ve Got Company

We’ve all got friends — hundreds of them, if you believe what Facebook’s telling you — but many of us are still worried about being lonely. So worried that it might be surprising to learn that hundreds of years ago, being alone was considered a virtue. But according to Susan Matt and Luke Fernandez, both professors at Weber State University, how we view emotions is changing all the time. Matt and Fernandez, authors of “Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid: Changing Feelings about Technology, from the Telegraph to Twitter” explain how technology influences the way we see loneliness, boredom, and a whole host of other emotions.
10/18/201927 minutes, 53 seconds
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What's Our Tech Doing to Our Brains?

Many adults and teens are spending longer and longer hours engaged with digital media, and researchers are only beginning to grasp the impact on mental health and well-being. Doreen Dodgen-Magee, a psychologist and the author of “Deviced! Balancing Life and Technology in a Digital World,” discusses how screens are profoundly altering who we are and how we behave. She points to concerns about increased feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and a reduced ability to tolerate boredom and to concentrate, but Dodgen-Magee says there are methods to help us all use technology in healthier ways.
10/18/201920 minutes, 24 seconds
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What’s So Bad About A Little Ego?

Whether they’re athletes like LeBron James, entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, or entertainers like Kanye West, the richest and most famous among us are often known for having the largest egos. Why shouldn’t we follow their example? Ryan Holiday, author of “Ego is the Enemy,” tells us how ego can be a huge disadvantage - and even end careers. He also explains why he thinks our ego problem is getting worse, and what he believes we can do about it.
10/11/201926 minutes, 32 seconds
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Approaching the Future: How We Think About Tomorrow

When psychologist Walter Mischel published the findings of his famous marshmallow study, showing the impact of delayed gratification on a child’s future success, it changed how people raised their kids. But in the nearly 50 years since the study was published, questions have been asked about our ability to truly look ahead. Is teaching a child delayed gratification really all there is to making sure they succeed? How well can we predict the future? Bina Venkataraman, author of “The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age” looks at the strategies we use, and how good we genuinely are at predicting the future. And although studies like Mischel’s may make us think we have it all figured out, Venkataraman says in reality we’re not as good as we think.
10/11/201922 minutes, 11 seconds
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Is Race Science Making a Comeback?

With the European intellectual movement, there was a heightened interest to interpret the world around us. Scientists of the 18th century sought a way to categorize and objectively understand the multitude of species inhabiting earth. Unfortunately, humans were not spared in this scientific venture and the idea of superior and inferior human races were born, which went on to influence our social understanding of one another. Angela Saini, a science journalist and the author of “Superior: The Return of Race Science”, looks at how racial prejudice in the past was justified through science, and why she fears this ‘rationality’ is making a comeback with the current, global nationalist rhetoric.
10/4/201927 minutes, 28 seconds
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Say Goodbye To Language As You Know It

It seems like every time a dictionary publishes a new update, people flock to social media to talk about it. Whether they’re responding to the addition of the word “fam” or the dad joke, They always return to the question of what consequences these additions will have. Do they really spell disaster for the English language? Turns out, the “updation” (new to the Oxford English Dictionary as of last year) of language isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And it’s been going on for as long as language has existed. Katherine Connor Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries at Oxford University Press, explains why the creation of new words is actually natural, and tells us how the ways we communicate have been speeding up the evolution of language.
10/4/201922 minutes
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Fools for Fossil Fuels: A History of Climate Change Inaction

Just about 40 years ago, a secret group of elite scientists, known as the Jasons, sounded the death knell for climate change. They had consulted a computer model that predicted the destabilizing effects of a warming earth - from droughts, to rising sea levels, to geopolitical conflicts. Their warnings reached the ears of politicians, and, ultimately, during his 1988 presidential campaign, George H. W. Bush pledged to solve the problem. But then the story shifted, and climate change was not addressed. Nathaniel Rich, a writer at large for the New York Times and author of Losing Earth: A Recent History, walks us through what happened, and explains how a non-partisan issue became deeply split along party lines.
9/27/201931 minutes, 50 seconds
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What IS Evil, Really?

If you’ve ever had an evil thought - or even a murder fantasy- you’re not alone. Julia Shaw, the author of “Evil: The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side” explains that most people have devilish notions sometimes. Shaw, a psychologist and research associate at University College London, says we all have the capacity for cruel deeds. She suggests that acknowledging our darker desires may in fact help us deconstruct and better understand the whole concept of evil. This understanding, Shaw believes, can make us think more broadly about criminality, and lead to a rethinking of our justice system.
9/27/201917 minutes, 33 seconds
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How is Meritocracy Damaging Our Economy?

Those in the highest paying jobs are working longer hours than ever before. Meanwhile, the middle class is falling behind, as employers demand more qualifications from employees. America is supposed to be a meritocracy, but perhaps meritocracies - which aim for fairness - aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
9/20/201930 minutes, 45 seconds
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The Real Cost of Expensive Housing

Picking up and moving to new opportunities has always been a part of the American dream. But, says Tamim Bayoumi, a deputy director at the International Monetary Fund and a co-author of the paper, “Stuck! How Rising Inequality Suppressed US Migration and Hurt Those Left Behind,” that narrative has shifted in modern America. As well-paying jobs are increasingly concentrated in cities with high living costs, some Americans find themselves unable to pursue the careers that could most help them and their families.
9/20/201918 minutes, 28 seconds
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Reinventing Schools For An Era Of Innovation

On this week’s show, we explore efforts to remake public education in North Dakota and beyond with Governor Burgum, Cory Steiner, the superintendent of Northern Cass School District where By next school year, grade levels are expected to be a thing of the past and students will chart their own course to high school graduation, at their own pace, and Ted Dintersmith, a venture capitalist and the author of, “What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers Across America.” Two parents with students at Northern Cass, Kristin Behm and Angie Froehlich also share their experiences of the changes underway at the school. Special thanks to the folks at Prairie Public for their help with this story.
9/13/201936 minutes, 39 seconds
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The Worldwide Web’s Worldwide Reach

Access to the internet is prized across the world. Payal Arora, author of The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond The West, says that young people, in non-Western countries, will make up the bulk of the next billion online users. Western aid groups often make assumptions about what these new users want from technology, but they are frequently mistaken. How exactly are young people in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and South America using technology? One example: in countries where dating is discouraged and arranged marriages are common, teenagers are using the internet to create online dating lives. Arora argues that having technology also allows young people to create new businesses that free them up from unstable agricultural work.
9/13/201912 minutes, 16 seconds
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FDR’s Overhaul: The New Deal and Its Lasting Legacy

In the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt campaigned on a platform that would bring radical change to America: a package of policies he called the New Deal. The New Deal completely reinvented our infrastructure and central government, according to Eric Rauchway, a professor of history at the University of California, Davis, and author of the book Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal. He says that the effects of FDR’s revolutionary plan remain with us today. And indeed, many of the 2020 Democratic candidates are proposing policies that would amount to a new New Deal. But is the country ready?
9/6/201931 minutes, 54 seconds
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Battles Over Barbie: The Question of Intellectual Property

When Carter Bryant invented Bratz dolls, Mattel (the makers of Barbie) took its former employee to court, claiming he had come up with his ideas on the company’s time. Bratz were the first dolls to successfully compete and - in some places - outsell Barbie. Orly Lobel, a law professor at the University of San Diego, has written about the lengthy and costly legal fight Mattel and Bryant engaged in over Bratz in her book: You Don’t Own Me: The Court Battles That Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side. That fight, Lobel explains, was emblematic of a serious issue that American workers now face: heavy restrictions on their talent and creative ideas.
9/6/201917 minutes, 22 seconds
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Humans: We May Not Be As Special As We Think

It’s easy to see ourselves as separate from the animal kingdom, but Adam Rutherford, author of “Humanimal: How Homo sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature - A New Evolutionary History,” believes that we aren’t as different as we might think. Fashion design, interacting with fire, and making multi-step plans all seem like qualities that are unique to humans. But according to Rutherford, species across the animal kingdom - from crabs to birds of prey - exhibit many of these complex behaviors too.
8/30/201927 minutes, 45 seconds
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Television Created the Scientist Star

We all know the legacy that Sputnik had on U.S. science education. Washington poured more than a billion dollars into overhauling the U.S. science curriculum. But television was transformed too. According to Ingrid Ockert, a Haas Fellow at the Science History Institute and a NASA History Fellow, the television show “Continental Classroom” was launched as a direct response to the Sputnik challenge. Five days a week, “Continental Classroom” was broadcast into American homes to encourage and inspire budding scientific minds. From “Watch Mr. Wizard” to “Mythbusters,” lots of Americans have grown up watching various science television programs. Ockert walks us through how science has changed television, and how television has influenced science.
8/30/201921 minutes, 29 seconds
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China Deal, or No China Deal?

In a modern-day Mexican standoff, the U.S. and China are confronting each other over trade practices. The United States believes China has been luring away jobs and stealing American technology. But what if the issue isn’t that China is stealing innovations, but that it is out-innovating us? George Yip, a professor of marketing and strategy at Imperial College Business School in London thinks that the Chinese are no longer mere imitators but have become serious innovators in their own right. Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media, believes that the U.S. government has some valid complaints, but that China is nonetheless becoming increasingly competitive in the innovation game. Yip and Bremmer discuss China’s increasing dominance on the global stage, and consider what’s at stake for the U.S.
8/23/201934 minutes, 1 second
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What’s Worth Worrying About?

Spiders and grizzlies and snakes, oh my! Ask someone what they are afraid of, and the answer is likely to be something like a plane crash or shark attack. But the authors of the book “Worried?: Science Investigates Some of Life’s Common Concerns,” Eric Chudler and Lise Johnson explain why they believe we often waste our energy worrying about the wrong things. Chudler, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington and Johnson, an assistant professor of physician assistant studies at Rocky Vista University, say that we feel stressed out about things that are highly unlikely to happen. Instead, we should be more focused on seemingly mundane threats, they explain. Chudler and Johnson talk to us about the risk behind everything from aluminum to red wine, and share ways to take control of the things we fear.
8/23/201915 minutes, 10 seconds
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Why The Value Of Education Is Overblown

We hear all the time about the gap between those with college degrees and those without. In 2015, the gap hit a record high: people who finished college earned 56% more than those who didn’t (other sources have the percentage even higher, including scholar Bryan Caplan). Over the past few years, then-President Barack Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders proposed bills to either increase college attainment or make public colleges tuition-free for all. But Caplan is a contrarian on this topic. He says that “the world might be better off without college for everyone,” and believes it’s time to rethink our current approach to higher education. Caplan is a professor of economics at George Mason University, and author of “The Case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money.” On this week’s show, he talks to us about why so many college graduates struggle to find a job, why employers increasingly require college degrees (or higher) from job applicants, and why he thinks that cutting government funding for education is the best solution.
8/16/201928 minutes, 49 seconds
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The Story Behind The ‘Little House’

For nearly 100 years, the “Little House” books (and the subsequent television series) have been cherished by kids and adults around the world. Millions of children have aspired to be like Laura Ingalls, a pioneer girl who courageously helped her family start new farms across the Midwest - planting, harvesting, hunting, and fighting blizzards. The story of Ingalls’ family was based on the real-life adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but Wilder’s real childhood was much harsher. As a child, Wilder endured “an almost brutal lifestyle,” according to Caroline Fraser, a Pulitzer-Prize winning writer, and author of the book “Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder.” On this week’s show, Fraser talks to us about how Wilder reinvented American history, recast her own life, and what the books - and controversy over them - has to teach us.
8/16/201920 minutes, 10 seconds
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Avoiding Digital Distraction

Think you might need a digital detox? You’re not alone. It’s becoming more and more of a trend to take time away from our online lives. Cal Newport author of “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” shares his approach to avoiding digital distraction and reclaiming time. He discusses how to be more intentional about how you use technology, and more aware about how technology uses you. We’ll discuss everything from the neuroscience of the human brain to how to do your own 30-day digital detox.
8/9/201929 minutes, 50 seconds
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What's Wrong With American Capitalism?

Capitalism is a recurring theme among the ever-growing list of Democratic presidential candidates. But many Americans of all political stripes have concerns about our free market economy and whether it is working for them, according to Steven Pearlstein, a Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post and author of “Can American Capitalism Survive: Why Greed Is Not Good, Opportunity Is Not Equal, and Fairness Won’t Make Us Poor.” We talk with Pearlstein about the importance of fairness in economic growth, and consider some ways to reinvent capitalism.
8/9/201918 minutes, 42 seconds
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All or Nothing: Understanding Risk In Some Very Unusual Places

Economist and journalist Allison Schrager visited a legal brothel, chased celebrities with the paparazzi, attended conferences with surfers, and interviewed high-ranking military generals, all to better understand the nature of risk. In her book, “An Economist Walks Into A Brothel,” Schrager explores how people manage risk outside the world of economics and finance and considers the most interesting lessons that can be learned from people in some of the riskiest professions.
8/2/201925 minutes, 47 seconds
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The Origins of Your Vacation

Tourism is an international industry worth trillions of dollars, which creates hundreds of millions of jobs worldwide — but that wasn’t always the case. In his book, “A History of Modern Tourism,” University of New England history professor Eric Zuelow walks us through the story of how we learned to love travel. From diplomacy, to new technologies like steam power, to a growing need for adventure and self-expression, tourism has become a global phenomenon with a huge impact on the places we love to visit and the environment.
8/2/201923 minutes, 34 seconds
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Eat Smarter, Eat Healthier

When it comes to losing weight or maintaining a healthy diet, many of us have chosen to go either low-calorie or low-fat. But recent research has started to upend nutrition science, reframing our notions of “healthy” eating, according to Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Mozaffarian explains why the science is changing, when a calorie isn’t just a calorie, how fat could be a lot better than we think, and why he believes that government should play a much bigger role in influencing our food choices.
7/26/201919 minutes, 50 seconds
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A Technological Fix For Broken Politics

There has been a continuous problem, dating back to founding of the United States, according to Jill Lepore, a professor of American history at Harvard University. Lepore, the author of “These Truths: A History of the United States,” says Americans have had tremendous faith in the notion that technological innovations could heal our divisions and fix political problems. But that faith has frequently been misplaced or misguided. And ethical conversations around how to keep newspapers, radio, TV and other technologies in check, often come too late.
7/26/201929 minutes, 6 seconds
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The Race for Nuclear Power

The heroism of D-Day is immortalized in history books, but far less attention is given to the individuals who worked undercover to prevent Germany from developing an atomic bomb during WWII. In his new book, The Bastard Brigade: The True Story of the Renegade Scientists and Spies Who Sabotaged the Nazi Atomic Bomb, science writer Sam Kean tells the stories of the men and women who made up the Alsos Mission, or the “Bastard Brigade.” They worked tirelessly to make sure Germany’s (impressive) scientific discoveries wouldn’t change the course of the war.
7/19/201928 minutes, 36 seconds
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The American Achievement of Advertising Apollo

After Russia sent a man into space, the United States didn’t want to be left behind. But getting a man on the moon wasn’t as easy as just saying we would. David Meerman Scott, a marketing strategist and co-author of the book Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program talks about just what it took — from PR strategies to partnering with Walt Disney — to get enough support for the mission. Without the marketing and media attention, Scott thinks, we couldn’t have landed on the moon.
7/19/201920 minutes, 43 seconds
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The Secret Agency that Created Agent Orange, Self-Driving Cars, and the Internet

DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has been developing new military technologies for the United States since shortly after the launch of Sputnik in 1957. But Sharon Weinberger, the Washington Bureau Chief for Yahoo News and the author of The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency that Changed the World, says there’s more to the Agency than new weapons and military strategies. DARPA, Weinberger explains, not only incubated the internet, but it has also worked on self-driving cars and extra-sensory perception, and explored the potential for developing super soldiers.
7/12/201929 minutes, 5 seconds
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Building An Inclusive Innovation Economy

In recent years, some American cities, like Pittsburgh, have been transformed by legions of tech jobs. But even as these one-time industrial cities reinvented themselves, many residents - including those who are part of communities of color - have been excluded from the prosperity and growth that have been ushered in along with the influx of jobs and investment. Andre Perry, a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, and Tawanna Black, founder and CEO of the Center for Economic Inclusion, explain some of the reasons for these sorts of disparities in wealth, wages and opportunity between minority and white communities, and propose a radically different way forward.
7/12/201920 minutes, 17 seconds
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Marinating In Plastics

Plastics are colorful, shiny, and flexible. They can also be sturdy, monochrome, and opaque. They come in different shapes and sizes, too. In fact, we’ve become so good at creating and molding plastics into whatever we want them to be that author Susan Freinkel says: it’s hard to imagine a world without them. In her book, Plastics: A Toxic Love Story, Freinkel chronicles the history of plastics and explores how, for better or worse, the material shapes our lives.
7/5/201919 minutes, 4 seconds
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The Long History Of The Gig Economy

When you hear the term “gig economy,” you probably think of Uber or Lyft or Postmates - companies that have used apps to disrupt industries and create an army of 1099 workers. But according to Louis Hyman, a Cornell University historian and author of Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary, the gig economy is a lot bigger than Silicon Valley. And it has a much longer history than you might think.
7/5/201915 minutes, 56 seconds
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The Rise of the Sea Barons

Back in the mid-19th century, some American entrepreneurs sailed halfway around the world - to China - to make their fortunes. These merchants would later build dynasties back home by investing money in promising American industries, including railroads and coal, as well as new technologies, like the telegraph. It was the invention of the clipper ship that made it all possible. These were ships that were built for speed and profit, a profit that came not just by importing goods like tea to the U.S., but also by smuggling opium to China. We talk with Steven Ujifusa, a historian and author of “Barons of the Sea: And their Race to Build the World's Fastest Clipper Ship,” about these vessels - which once raced across the ocean - and the owners who used them to reshape America.
7/5/201914 minutes, 17 seconds
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The American Family - Older And Smaller

The American family is changing in many different ways. But perhaps one of the most significant is that, on average, American women are giving birth later. And birth rates have hit a 30-year low. In the early 1970s, the average age of first-time moms was 21… it’s now 26. The same trend is impacting fathers - their age has gone from 27 to 31 over the same time period. But why did this change happen? And what does it mean for our society, our economy, and our families? To find out, we talked to Caitlin Knowles Myers, an economist at Middlebury College who’s studied female fertility, and Claire Cain Miller, a correspondent for the New York Times who’s written extensively about the topic.
6/28/201921 minutes, 34 seconds
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The Brains Behind Automation

We constantly hear that technology is killing opportunities in the workplace. But reports by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte have shown that automation is creating — and will continue to create — millions of jobs in fields like sales, IT services, and big data. But to really know how tech is affecting our lives, experts like Daniel Theobald and Melissa Flagg say we need to focus less on the 30,000-foot view of the industry and more on what is going on at the ground level. We talk to Theobald, Vecna Robotics’ co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer as well as Flagg, the Northeast regional lead at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, about how we should be taking a ground-up approach to America’s technological development.
6/28/201916 minutes, 4 seconds
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China: Pharmacy To The World

In the 1990s, most of the world’s medicines were manufactured in the United States, Europe and Japan. Today, almost 80% of them come from China. In her book, “China Rx: Exposing The Risks Of America’s Dependence On China For Medicine,” Rosemary Gibson says that China is becoming the world’s pharmacy, but that development, she argues, comes with many risks.
6/28/201910 minutes, 51 seconds
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Why Aren’t We Happier?

Experiences of mental illness are common in the United States and behind each individual case is a history. In his book, Good Reasons for Bad Feelings: Insights from the Frontier of Evolutionary Psychiatry, Randolph Nesse, the director of the Center for Evolution and Medicine at Arizona State University, looks at emotional and mental disorders from an evolutionary perspective, and considers why natural selection left us with fragile minds.
6/21/201925 minutes, 3 seconds
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How To Get Older, Better

Older, wiser and perhaps healthier? It may sound too good to be true, but Sue Armstrong, author of Borrowed Time: The Science of How and Why We Age, says that growing older doesn’t have to lead to infirmity. Science is finding ways to intervene in the aging process, and to improve the quality of our later years. After all, some organisms on Earth live for centuries, so there may be good models for rethinking and easing the process of getting older. Armstrong says that while there’s no magic elixir for aging, there is a more hopeful future ahead.
6/21/201924 minutes, 17 seconds
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The Advantage Of Being A Generalist

Should you be the best at one skill, or be pretty good at a bunch of different ones? David Epstein, the author of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, says that practicing one skill for 10,000 hours (as some have suggested) might not necessarily set you up to be the next Tiger Woods or the next chess grandmaster. But in a world where we’re constantly encountering new experiences, Epstein believes that the ability to take knowledge from one situation and apply it to another, to generalize, is what really pushes us ahead.
6/14/201949 minutes, 52 seconds
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Honey, Income Inequality Led Me to Overwork the Kids

How would you describe your childhood? Did your parents have a laissez faire attitude, letting you run wild and free, or did they have more rigid rules, which dictated your life choices? Perhaps you’re now a parent yourself — which parenting approach have you chosen? Matthias Doepke, a professor of economics at Northwestern University, argues that we often assume that parenting is all about culture, and that the reason that those from different countries or backgrounds parent differently is specifically because of those backgrounds (varied religious, political, and geographical traditions). But, Doepke argues, economics is a far more significant driver of parenting. He’s the co-author of “Love, Money and Parenting - How Economics Explains the Way We Raise Our Kids,” and he tells us how income inequality largely shapes how we raise our children.
6/7/201922 minutes, 40 seconds
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The Many Hats of Dr. Seuss

When it comes to children’s books I’m certain you’ll find There’s really one name that jumps first to mind That name as I’m sure you’ll deduce Could only belong to one Dr. Seuss And so we take a look At biographer Brian Jay Jones’ new book All about that good doctor’s work and creations, And it’s called “Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel And The Making of An American Imagination”.
6/7/201926 minutes, 34 seconds
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Political Teamsmanship

Politics in the United States has long been dominated by two main groups – the Republicans and the Democrats – but, in recent decades, we’ve seen increasing divisiveness and conflict. Voters have become less concerned with what government does, and more interested in politicians they believe represent who they are. Lilliana Mason, assistant professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, and Marc Hetherington, professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina, discuss what happens when politics gets personal. And they consider the consequences for our democracy.
5/31/201949 minutes, 44 seconds
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The ONLY Way To Reduce Traffic

Traffic is awful. It causes pollution, it makes people stressed, it costs cities and drivers billions of dollars… and if you’ve ever sat in a car, inching along a packed highway, you understand the toll it takes. So, how do we fix it? According to UCLA’s Michael Manville, there are a lot of proposed solutions, but only one - yes, one - really works.
5/24/201925 minutes, 1 second
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Testing Who You Are

If you were asked to describe your personality, you might choose words such as “funny” and “outgoing,” or “shy” and “quiet.” But what if those were not quite the right words? The Myers-Briggs - which many of us have taken - promises to assess your personality, and assign you a specific “type.” In her book, The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the birth of Personality Testing, Merve Emre examines the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (which is its full name), and how it has transformed the way we think about ourselves and those around us.
5/24/201923 minutes, 23 seconds
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From Famous To Forgotten

If you have that gnawing feeling that you’re forgetting something, chances are you’re right. And it may not be your keys, but something a little bigger. César Hidalgo, director of MIT’s Collective Learning Group, explains how society experiences generational forgetting. Hidalgo says: even if you have a pristine memory, time greatly impacts the names, books, movies, and historical events that are common knowledge at any given moment. Researching how culture gets passed down (or doesn’t) from generation to generation can tell us more about why some famous people stay relevant, while others seem to fade away.
5/17/201921 minutes, 35 seconds
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From Giving In To Giving Up: A Neuroscientist’s Journey from Addiction to Recovery

From the moment that Judith Grisel started drinking alcohol at age 13, she was hooked. For the next ten years, Grisel suffered from addiction, as she used drugs from marijuana to opiates to psychedelics. As a recovering addict and neuroscientist, Grisel learned that she was especially vulnerable because she was genetically predisposed to addiction. (She is one of many who are susceptible to the disease.) Grisel, a professor of psychology at Bucknell University and the author of “Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction,” explains the effect of illicit drugs on the brain and what makes them so addictive.
5/17/201928 minutes, 16 seconds
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Motown: The History Of A Hit Factory

Shortly after Michael Jackson died in 2009, Helen Brown, a music critic for the Daily Telegraph wrote that the Jackson 5’s 1969 single “I Want You Back,” is “certainly the fastest man-made route to pure joy.” And while Michael, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Jackie may have stolen the spotlight, the group - like so many others - emerged from a hit factory created by a man named Berry Gordy Jr. Gordy founded Motown after stints as a boxer and as a worker in a Lincoln-Mercury plant. And he quickly turned the label into a force to be reckoned with, drawing on a formula of quality control he had learned at the auto factory, taking raw talent like Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson, and refining them into international stars. As a result, Motown became one of the most successful black-owned music companies in American history. We talk to music journalist Adam White, author of “Motown: The Sound of Young America,” about Gordy’s meteoric rise and his lasting legacy.
5/10/201924 minutes, 16 seconds
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Fixing Broken Hearts

The Grinch’s is two sizes too small. Al Green wants to know how you can mend a broken one. You can destroy them, steal them, break them. They can pine or ache or wander. Suffice it to say, hearts are a big part of our culture. After all, though our kidneys are vital, there aren’t many pop songs about them. Still, as important as they are to our culture, our hearts are even more important to our health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and chances are that you know someone who has been affected by heart issues. Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and author of Heart: A History, takes a look at how we address heart health, and how we could do better.
5/10/201924 minutes, 19 seconds
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The Future of Genetics Is Here, But It’ll Cost You

Generally, patients have to show symptoms of a disease before they’re treated for it. But, increasingly, thanks to advances in precision medicine, some new treatments are focused on the prevention of diseases that people are most at risk for - and that risk is determined by their unique genetic data. While personalized medicine sounds great in principle, there are several challenges, including the cost. Antonio Regalado, senior editor of biomedicine for MIT Technology Review, and Carlos Bustamante, professor of biomedical data science, genetics, and biology at Stanford, talk to us about the past, present, and future of genetic data in health care.
5/3/201931 minutes, 7 seconds
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The Company That Sparked Our Corporate World

How far would you go to make sure your food doesn’t taste bland? Would you cross the seven seas for cinnamon, like the British East India Company did? In the early 1600s, King James I of England needed cash. And he built on a charter that Queen Elizabeth I - his predecessor - had issued. What James did would, in modern times, be considered a breach of power. He allowed the East India Company to establish a virtual monopoly over trade with Asia and, in return, he asked for a share of the company’s profits. Mixing private and public interests may be frowned upon today, but the dividing line in the 17th century was a lot more ambiguous, according to Rupali Mishra, an associate professor of history at Auburn University and author of the book, “A Business of State: Commerce, Politics, and the Birth of the East India Company.”
5/3/201917 minutes, 39 seconds
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Fools for Fossil Fuels: A History of Climate Change Inaction

Just about 40 years ago, a secret group of elite scientists, known as the Jasons, sounded the death knell for climate change. They had consulted a computer model that predicted the destabilizing effects of a warming earth - from droughts, to rising sea levels, to geopolitical conflicts. Their warnings reached the ears of politicians, and, ultimately, during his 1988 presidential campaign, George H. W. Bush pledged to solve the problem. But then the story shifted, and climate change was not addressed. Nathaniel Rich, a writer at large for the New York Times and author of Losing Earth: A Recent History, walks us through what happened, and explains how a non-partisan issue became deeply split along party lines.
4/26/201931 minutes, 55 seconds
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What IS evil, really?

If you’ve ever had an evil thought - or even a murder fantasy - you’re not alone. Julia Shaw, the author of “Evil: The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side” explains that most people have devilish notions sometimes. Shaw, a psychologist and research associate at University College London, says we all have the capacity for cruel deeds. She suggests that acknowledging our darker desires may in fact help us deconstruct and better understand the whole concept of evil. This understanding, Shaw believes, can make us think more broadly about criminality, and lead to a rethinking of our justice system.
4/26/201917 minutes, 37 seconds
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The Evolution of American Privacy

Every day, it seems like there’s a new story about privacy: A Facebook hack that puts the private data of millions at risk. A years-long surveillance program of personal communications by the government. Endless concerns about how much of our lives we share on social media. With all this in the air, it can certainly feel like we have a lot less privacy nowadays. But is that really the case? Well, according to Vanderbilt professor Sarah Igo, author of The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy in Modern America, the answer is actually pretty complicated.
4/19/201919 minutes, 14 seconds
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Selfies And The Self

Twitter. Selfie-sticks. Reality TV. It can seem like our society is becoming more narcissistic and self-involved. (Just read a few of the boatload of articles and think-pieces on this topic) But are we really more self-centered? The answer involves Aristotle, Ayn Rand, and 80s-era California. At least, that’s according to Will Storr, author of the book, Selfie: How We Became Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing To Us. He explains how our conception of self has changed throughout human history, and why we’re so self-involved today.
4/19/201918 minutes, 47 seconds
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Kids These Days...And Yesterday, And Tomorrow

Economist John Quiggin wants to change the way we talk about millennials. That is, he thinks we should stop talking about them altogether. In a recent New York Times editorial, Quiggin argued that the notion of generations is a pop-culture myth. He thinks we should focus on how people are affected by more significant traits like class, gender, and age.
4/19/201910 minutes, 28 seconds
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Loons that Shoot for the Moon

We all know of moonshots, a grand idea we can get behind. But we sat down with Safi Bahcall, a physicist and former biotech entrepreneur, to understand a counter term he came up with: loonshots. Bahcall claims many ideas and innovations, when they are first proposed, are seen as mere fantasies from the minds of slightly (or very) crazy people. From the telephone to the computer, several game-changing ideas were turned down — in fact, microwave radar, which detected German U-boats at sea and helped us gain the upper hand during WWII, also, initially, fell under the radar. Who knows how many countless, similar innovative ideas have been dismissed? In his new book, “Loonshots - How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries”, Bahcall wants to change the structure of how we accept and cultivate these possibly, life-changing ideas.
4/12/201930 minutes, 30 seconds
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When Tech Gets Talkative

Technology has become more hands-free, thanks to voice-activated digital assistants like Alexa and Siri. Have a question? Ask away. But in the future it won’t be just a matter of using this technology to find out facts or to determine the best route home. James Vlahos, author of “Talk to Me - How Voice Computing Will Transform the Way We Live, Work and Think,” explains how companies are trying to make the Alexas and Siris of the world more sociable. Voice tech that can apply background knowledge and understand context will be able to have more complex conversations with users. Vlahos says that these devices will create a more human-like experience, and could be used in customer service, healthcare, counseling and industries which require a robot with a more social side.
4/12/201918 minutes, 15 seconds
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Humans: We May Not Be As Special As We Think

It’s easy to see ourselves as separate from the animal kingdom, but Adam Rutherford, author of “Humanimal: How Homo sapiens Became Nature’s Most Paradoxical Creature - A New Evolutionary History,” believes that we aren’t as different as we might think. Fashion design, interacting with fire, and making multi-step plans all seem like qualities that are unique to humans. But according to Rutherford, species across the animal kingdom - from crabs to birds of prey - exhibit many of these complex behaviors too.
4/5/201928 minutes, 29 seconds
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You Really Push My Buttons

Buttons make the world go round. How else would you tell an elevator to whisk you up to the sixth floor, or get a candy bar out of a vending machine? Buttons are the simple interface for how we interact with more complex technology. They cover up the wires and inner workings of your TV and microwave, and make tech accessible at, you guessed it, the push of a button. Rachel Plotnick, author of “Power Button: A History of Pleasure, Panic, And the Politics of Pushing,” explains the origin of buttons, their role throughout history, and how they continue to evolve in our world today. We also have an update for our segment about WWI from a couple of weeks ago.
4/5/201919 minutes, 23 seconds
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The Guitar Makers That Made Modern Music

In 1957, Buddy Holly appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS, strumming his tunes on a Fender Stratocaster, which was casually slung across his body. The instrument had - and would - fundamentally change American culture and music. And, to a lot of people, it was a shock. But behind the technological innovations inherent in the solid-body electric guitar is a story of two friends and rivals, people whose legacies have been inscribed on the guitars they created. Leo Fender and Les Paul, though, had little idea of the new genre of music this invention would instigate: rock ‘n’ roll.
3/29/201928 minutes, 26 seconds
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A Big, Bloody Business

You might guess that the United States is the world’s biggest exporter of corn, but did you know that it is also one of the biggest exporters of blood? In fact, the U.S. exports more blood than it does corn, soybeans, or gold. More specifically, blood plasma - the yellow liquid that separates out, once your blood is in a tube or a bag - since it is a critical component in many pharmaceutical products and medicines. Rose George, author of “Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood” walks us through the economics, science, and ethics behind the blood industry.
3/29/201920 minutes, 37 seconds
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Crime Is Declining. So Why Don’t We Feel Safer?

Talk to anyone who lived in New York City in the 1970s, and they will probably highlight the city’s widespread crime. Times Square wasn’t yet Disney-fied and Brooklyn hadn’t been taken over by hipsters. Most people agreed that New York was a dangerous place. But then something happened: murders, and violent crime in general, began to drop. And that trend wasn’t unique to New York: It happened in many places across America. So who do we have to thank for the crime decline? To find out, we talk with NYU sociology professor Patrick Sharkey about his book, “Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence.”
3/22/201918 minutes, 18 seconds
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Sand. It’s Slipping Through Our Fingers

Unless we’re relaxing on it at the beach, or kicking it out of our shoes, we probably don’t think too much about sand. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Sand is a vital ingredient in concrete. And glass. And asphalt. It makes our modern, urban life possible. And our hunger for it is causing more and more trouble. Vince Beiser, author of The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization, explains why sand matters, and how the quest to extract more of it is shaping the world.  
3/22/201914 minutes, 34 seconds
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Rationality vs. Intelligence

Have you ever taken an IQ test? Think about the results. Did you do well? You might have gotten a high score, but, often, intelligence doesn’t have anything to do with rationality. There is a marked difference between the two, although we often conflate them. We talk with York University associate professor Maggie Toplak and Boston University professor Carey Morewedge about why even smart people do irrational things.
3/22/201914 minutes, 56 seconds
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Lessons From The World’s Quirkiest Innovators

Obsessed with work, insensitive, socially detached, and neglectful of family and friends. Those may not be the most endearing qualities, but they are just a few of the common characteristics that longtime innovation researcher, Melissa Schilling found when studying some of the world’s most famous and prolific inventors in the fields of science and technology. Schilling, a professor of management and organizations at New York University’s Stern School of Business, explores the ingenuity of eight outstanding innovators, including Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and more. She’s the author of, “Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World.”
3/15/201925 minutes, 20 seconds
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Television Created the Scientist Star

We all know the legacy that Sputnik had on U.S. science education. Washington poured more than a billion dollars into overhauling the U.S. science curriculum. But television was transformed too. According to Ingrid Ockert, a Haas Fellow at the Science History Institute and a NASA History Fellow, the television show “Continental Classroom” was launched as a direct response to the Sputnik challenge. Five days a week, “Continental Classroom” was broadcast into American homes to encourage and inspire budding scientific minds. From “Watch Mr. Wizard” to “Mythbusters,” lots of Americans have grown up watching various science television programs. Ockert walks us through how science has changed television, and how television has influenced science.
3/15/201923 minutes, 31 seconds
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Cleanliness, Health...and Microbes

Are you a self-proclaimed germaphobe like President Trump? Well, if you think your home is sparkling clean, try walking around with a microscope. According to Rob Dunn, a professor of Applied Ecology at both North Carolina State University and the Natural History Museum of Denmark, we are surrounded by thousands of tiny species, living on every imaginable surface. And while some bacteria can be harmful, most just humbly co-exist with us... and some are more helpful than we know. In his book, “Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Milipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live,” Dunn takes a safari through our homes, introducing us to these invisible creatures and explaining how, despite our fervent efforts to sanitize the world, we may be negatively affecting our own health.
3/8/201927 minutes, 18 seconds
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The Fight For Our Rights During WWI

In 21st century America, citizens assert their individual rights loud and clear. Media coverage shows that Americans defend, debate, and demand individual liberties, including freedom of speech and the right to bear arms. Yet just over 100 years ago, Americans valued the greater good of the country more than their personal freedoms, according to Christopher Capozzola, the author of “Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen.” Capozzola explains that the change from prioritizing one’s country to one’s self occurred during World War I. As the federal government gained more power during the First World War, its growing control was countered by a demand to protect individual rights, Capozzola says. The changing relationship between citizen and country would powerfully shape the society we now live in.
3/8/201921 minutes, 5 seconds
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China Deal, or No China Deal?

In a modern-day Mexican standoff, the U.S. and China are confronting each other over trade practices. The United States believes China has been luring away jobs and stealing American technology. But what if the issue isn’t that China is stealing innovations, but that it is out-innovating us? George Yip, a professor of marketing and strategy at Imperial College Business School in London thinks that the Chinese are no longer mere imitators but have become serious innovators in their own right. Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media, believes that the U.S. government has some valid complaints, but that China is nonetheless becoming increasingly competitive in the innovation game. Yip and Bremmer discuss China’s increasing dominance on the global stage, and consider what’s at stake for the U.S.
3/1/201933 minutes, 16 seconds
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What’s Worth Worrying About?

Spiders and grizzlies and snakes, oh my! Ask someone what they are afraid of, and the answer is likely to be something like a plane crash or shark attack. But the authors of the book “Worried?: Science Investigates Some of Life’s Common Concerns,” Eric Chudler and Lise Johnson explain why they believe we often waste our energy worrying about the wrong things. Chudler, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington and Johnson, an assistant professor of physician assistant studies at Rocky Vista University, say that we feel stressed out about things that are highly unlikely to happen. Instead, we should be more focused on seemingly mundane threats, they explain. Chudler and Johnson talk to us about the risk behind everything from aluminum to red wine, and share ways to take control of the things we fear.
3/1/201915 minutes, 30 seconds
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Full Show: More Screens, More Problems

If you’re reading this on your smartphone, it might be time to reevaluate how much time you spend in front of a screen. Author Cal Newport offers a road map toward digital minimalism. Then, how did American capitalism become so unequal? And where is it headed? Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein thinks it’s time for a change.
2/22/201949 minutes, 53 seconds
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Our Digital Dilemma

Think you might need a digital detox? You’re not alone. It’s becoming more and more of a trend to take time away from our online lives. Cal Newport author of “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused life in a Noisy World” shares his approach to avoiding digital distraction and reclaiming time. He discusses how to be more intentional about how you use technology, and more aware about how technology uses you. We’ll discuss everything from the neuroscience of the human brain to how to do your own 30-day digital detox.
2/22/201929 minutes, 56 seconds
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Reinventing American Capitalism

Capitalism is a recurring theme among the ever-growing list of Democratic presidential candidates. But many Americans of all political stripes have concerns about our free market economy and whether it is working for them, according to Steven Pearlstein, a Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post and author of "Can American Capitalism Survive: Why Greed Is Not Good, Opportunity Is Not Equal, and Fairness Won't Make Us Poor." We talk with Pearlstein about the importance of fairness in economic growth, and consider some ways to reinvent capitalism.
2/22/201918 minutes, 21 seconds
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Full Show: Twice Told Tales

First, we revisit a classic debate: nature vs. nurture. One way to settle it? Through the lens of twin studies, which have opened up some curious revelations about how our genes affect us. Next, we turn to the 19th-century Midwest, and look at how Laura Ingalls Wilder reframed American history in the ‘Little House’ house series. Then, you sent us a whole lot of feedback about a recent segment on whether we spend too much money on education in the U.S. - and whether college educations are overvalued. Here’s some of it.
2/15/201950 minutes, 12 seconds
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Tapping Into Twin Studies

Seeing double? It’s not your imagination - birth rates of twins have been rising sharply, and twin studies are now, more than ever, influencing various disciplines. Everyone from economists, to religious scholars, to scientists see the value in studying twins. Nancy Segal, author of “Born Together-Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study,” talks to us about the far-reaching effects of twins. And if you’re not a twin yourself, don’t feel left out, because what we learn from twins can lead to breakthroughs that impact us all. Segal, a professor of psychology at California State University, Fullerton, explains how twins can teach us about nature vs. nurture, parenting styles, and preventative medicine.
2/15/201929 minutes, 20 seconds
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The Story Behind The ‘Little House’

For nearly 100 years, the “Little House” books (and the subsequent television series) have been cherished by kids and adults around the world. Millions of children have aspired to be like Laura Ingalls, a pioneer girl who courageously helped her family start new farms across the Midwest - planting, harvesting, hunting, and fighting blizzards. The story of Ingalls’ family was based on the real-life adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but Wilder’s real childhood was much harsher. As a child, Wilder endured “an almost brutal lifestyle,” according to Caroline Fraser, a Pulitzer-Prize winning writer, and author of the book “Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder.” On this week’s show, Fraser talks to us about how Wilder reinvented American history, recast her own life, and what the books - and controversy over them - has to teach us.
2/15/201919 minutes, 26 seconds
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Full Show: Changing Landscapes (Rerun)

Are college kids becoming more fragile? Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt says yes. And he connects the change to parenting, polarization, and campus politics. How a Coney Island sideshow helped save infants’ lives. Termites! They may be super gross… but we can also learn a lot from them.
2/8/201948 minutes, 54 seconds
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Full Show: Blackboards And Message Boards

First, what does a well-rounded education mean to you? Does it make you smarter? Or are you simply jumping through hoops to try and impress future employers? George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan argues that the way the system is set up, it’s mostly become a hoop-jumping exercise. Then, it’s not that hard to imagine a place where ordinary people - not editors - determine the news. But when the website Reddit first launched in the mid-2000s, the idea was groundbreaking and few could imagine the enormous influence the company would have.
2/1/201949 minutes, 44 seconds
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Why The Value Of Education Is Overblown

We hear all the time about the gap between those with college degrees and those without. In 2015, the gap hit a record high: people who finished college earned 56 percent more than those who didn’t (other sources have the percentage even higher, including scholar Bryan Caplan). Over the past few years, then-President Barack Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders proposed bills to either increase college attainment or make public colleges tuition-free for all. But Caplan is a contrarian on this topic. He says that “the world might be better off without college for everyone,” and believes it’s time to rethink our current approach to higher education. Caplan is a professor of economics at George Mason University, and author of “The Case Against Education: Why The Education System Is A Waste of Time and Money” On this week’s show, he talks to us about why so many college graduates struggle to find a job, why employers increasingly require college degrees (or higher) from job applicants, and why he thinks that cutting government funding for education is the best solution.
2/1/201929 minutes, 58 seconds
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Rethinking Reddit’s Radicalism

Reddit is the fifth most popular website in the U.S. and has become a focal point when discussing the  intersection of technology and free speech. Communities on Reddit host lighter topics, ranging from financial advice to gardening. But it also has a dark side. Reddit has been known as a breeding ground for racist, sexist, and obscene dialogue. On a site where members have free reign to vote on what content is most interesting, Reddit can be viewed as a canary in the coal mine for issues that have roiled the tech world. Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, author of new book “We Are The Nerds: The Birth and Tumultuous Life of Reddit, the Internet’s Culture Laboratory” describes the origin of Reddit and what its successes and shortcomings can teach us.
2/1/201918 minutes, 17 seconds
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Full Show: A Work In Progress

Brexit is just one of many issues threatening to tear the European Union apart. But where did the idea of European integration come from and was the concept doomed from the start? We talk to Gillian Tett from the Financial Times and Brown University’s Mark Blyth about the past, present and future of the EU. Then, ever text your crush and stare anxiously at your phone until he or she responded? As society and technology evolves, our expectations for wait times are changing too. And the result is a whole lot of impatience.
1/25/201949 minutes, 32 seconds
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Inventing A United States Of Europe

The vision of a united Europe was born out of the ashes of the Second World War. Early supporters included former British prime minister Winston Churchill, who was one of the first to champion the idea of a “United States of Europe.” The European Union is now a vast political and economic union of 28 member countries and, with more than 500 million people, its combined population is the third largest in the world after China and India. But the European Union did not begin as a large political project - rather as a series of small steps in an American effort to promote postwar security, according to Mark Blyth, professor of international economics at Brown University. As politicians in Britain struggle with the details of their country’s divorce from the European Union, two and a half years after the Brexit referendum, Gillian Tett, U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times, and Blyth discuss the forces uniting Europe and the many issues threatening to tear it apart.
1/25/201927 minutes, 55 seconds
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Waiting Really Is The Hardest Part

If you’ve ever been in line at the DMV, had your flight delayed, desperately needed an email reply to come NOW, or had a YouTube video buffer for more than a couple seconds, you know that waiting is awful. But what can we learn from it? According to Jason Farman, author of “Delayed Response: The Art of Waiting from the Ancient to the Instant World,” the answer is quite a lot. And it touches on everything from aboriginal message sticks, to pneumatic tubes, to loading icons.
1/25/201920 minutes, 30 seconds
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Full Show: Fact In Fiction

First, whether it’s FDR reassuring the nation through radio or Trump talking about hamburgers on Twitter, new technologies have always impacted American politics. Historian Jill Lepore walks us through the interactions between the machine of government and the tech we think can make that machine run better. Hint: it rarely works out as we anticipate. Then, if you really, absolutely, can’t wait to know who’s going to end up on the Iron Throne… well, there’s a scientific reason you care so much about fictional characters. Scholar William Flesch explains what makes us so involved in shows like The Wire, All In The Family, and yes, Game of Thrones. And finally, we hear from you. We got a lot of responses to our recent segment about the surge in extracurricular math programs for K-12 students. And we’ll hear why math is too often a stumbling block for students hoping to get college degrees.
1/18/201950 minutes, 8 seconds
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A Technological Fix For Broken Politics

There has been a continuous problem, dating back to founding of the United States, according to Jill Lepore, a professor of American history at Harvard University. Lepore, the author of “These Truths: A History of the United States,” says Americans have had tremendous faith in the notion that technological innovations could heal our divisions and fix political problems. But that faith has frequently been misplaced or misguided. And ethical conversations around how to keep newspapers, radio, TV and other technologies in check, often come too late.
1/18/201929 minutes, 7 seconds
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Why We Care About Fictional Characters

Finding out that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father probably didn’t have any practical implications for your life. It didn’t translate into a raise at work or help you lose 15 pounds. So why do we care so much about the fates of fictional characters? William Flesch is the author of the book “Comeuppance: Costly Signaling, Altruistic Punishment, and Other Biological Components of Fiction.” He argues that we root for good guys and gals because we love making bets on people. And, once we make those bets, it’s imperative that we are proven right.
1/18/201919 minutes, 39 seconds
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Full Show: Trying to Keep Up

First, it might be tough to keep up with your New Year’s resolutions - especially if they have to do with dieting. But here’s some good news: some fats may be a lot better for you than you think and calorie counting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We take a look at the latest developments in nutrition science, and explain what it all means for your waistline. Then, we take a trip on the high seas and ask the question: How did America become such a dominant figure in global trade? As author Steven Ujifusa explains, you can thank some daring fortune hunters - and 19th-century clipper ships. Next, if you open up your closet, you might notice your clothes aren’t much different from what your grandparents wore. Shirts? Check. Dresses? Check. Pants? Double check. But what if someone combined technology and clothing, like jackets that adapt to your body temperature? We meet the hackers who are doing just that.
1/11/201949 minutes, 42 seconds
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Eat Smarter, Eat Healthier

When it comes to losing weight or maintaining a healthy diet, many of us have chosen to go either low-calorie or low-fat. But recent research has started to upend nutrition science, reframing our notions of “healthy” eating, according to Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Mozaffarian explains why the science is changing, when a calorie isn’t just a calorie, how fat could be a lot better than we think, and why he believes that government should play a much bigger role in influencing our food choices.
1/11/201921 minutes, 14 seconds
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The Rise of the Sea Barons

Back in the mid-19th century, some American entrepreneurs sailed halfway around the world - to China - to make their fortunes. These merchants would later build dynasties back home by investing money in promising American industries, including railroads and coal, as well as new technologies, like the telegraph. It was the invention of the clipper ship that made it all possible. These were ships that were built for speed and profit, a profit that came not just by importing goods like tea to the U.S., but also by smuggling opium to China. We talk with Steven Ujifusa, a historian and author of “Barons of the Sea: And their Race to Build the World’s Fastest Clipper Ship,” about these vessels - which once raced across the ocean - and the owners who used them to reshape America.
1/11/201914 minutes, 35 seconds
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When Fashion Meets Tech: How One Company Is Transforming Our Closet

Right now, there’s a wearable device for pretty much everything. Fitbits track your footsteps. Virtual reality headsets can transport you anywhere in the world. There’s even jewelry that lets others know when you’re in danger. But there isn’t much tech in the things we’re already wearing: clothes. We visit the Ministry of Supply, a company that’s trying to mix high-tech and apparel, and talk with the company’s founders, Gihan Amarasiriwardena and Aman Advani.
1/11/201912 minutes, 9 seconds
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Full Show: New Year, New Ways Of Learning

The New Year is often seen as a blank slate. It’s a way to start fresh and maybe accomplish those goals you’ve been putting off for the last 365 days. But how you learn is just as important as what you learn. Our show this week will get you ready to tackle whatever is on your agenda. First, if you truly want to learn better, put down the highlighter. Author Ulrich Boser says strategies such as memorization and underlining passages in a book are outdated methods of studying. He proposes a six-step method to learning new skills, so that they truly stick. Next, we take you back to 10th-grade Spanish class. Kind of. A new study pinpoints when language-learning skills start to decline - and what that means for aspiring hyperpolyglots. Then, if you considered math to be a four-letter word when you were a kid... you’re not alone. But there’s now a program that might be able to engage kids in a new way. Innovation Hub Senior Producer Elizabeth Ross reports on the Russian School of Mathematics, an fast-spreading extracurricular offering that’s helping some students master advanced math.
1/4/201949 minutes, 36 seconds
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Becoming An Effective Learner

You’ve probably experienced this: it’s high school, the night before an exam, and you’ve got a 500-page textbook in your left hand and highlighters in your right hand. You have highlighted all the important information in the book, and there isn’t a whole lot of white space left. Unfortunately, you’re not sure that you’ve absorbed any of the material in a meaningful way. Turns out, there is little evidence that highlighting and underlining material in books is a good strategy for successful learning, according to Ulrich Boser, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and the author of the book “Learn Better.” Boser talks to us about the science of learning, and how we can absorb information more effectively.
1/4/201916 minutes, 54 seconds
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When It Comes to Learning Language, Age Isn’t Just A Number

Learning a second language is tough. You have to consider grammar, pronunciation, and, sometimes, words that don’t even exist in your native language. And the conventional wisdom had been: if you want a child to learn a second language, start them as young as possible. But a new study has found that there’s a little more leeway than we originally thought. We talk with Boston College assistant psychology professor Joshua Hartshorne about his and his colleagues’ research and what it means for aspiring hyperpolyglots.
1/4/201912 minutes, 6 seconds
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Do Extracurricular Math Programs Add Up?

The U.S. does not fare well in math when compared with other industrialized nations, as demonstrated by international tests like the PISA. So, for parents who want to help their students get ahead in math and can afford it, after-school programs that focus deeply on the subject have become attractive. There are plenty of extracurricular math programs around, but one run by the Russian School of Mathematics (RSM) for students from kindergarten through 12th grade, is particularly popular, serving over 30,000 students around the country. (Innovation Hub senior producer, Elizabeth Ross, visited the program’s headquarters in Newton, Massachusetts and found a lot of enthusiastic students and parents, as you’ll hear in our report.) Masha Gershman, the director of outreach at the Russian School of Mathematics and the daughter of one of its co-founders, says that the former Soviet Union’s method of math instruction has a lot to teach American kids, particularly when it comes to higher-level and conceptual learning. But Jon Star, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, argues that many American parents - especially those in affluent suburbs where such extracurricular programs are popular - should ask themselves why they’re enrolling their kids in after-school math. It probably shouldn’t just be to get ahead in school - or to keep up with the neighbors. It should have to do with an intrinsic love of the subject.
1/4/201919 minutes, 7 seconds
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Full Show: Starting From Scratch (Rerun)

Today, American voters are likely to describe issues about immigration as a major concern, and much of that concern began with a landmark commission a century ago. Author Katherine Benton-Cohen discusses how America transformed from a country with relaxed immigration policies to one with a massive, new immigration infrastructure. Beer, airlines, retail, and many other industries are increasingly controlled by a few big players. The Brookings Institution’s David Wessel explains how corporate consolidation happens. And why it can lead to less competition, higher prices, lower wages... and less creative thinking. When Amazon was looking for a home for its second headquarters, multiple cities and states offered billions of dollars in tax incentives to woo the company. But Nathan Jensen, a professor of government at the University of Texas, questions whether government incentives to attract big companies are worth it in the end.
12/28/201848 minutes, 51 seconds
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Full Show: Finding Order In Chaos (Rerun)

First: Scurvy. Website design. Store promotions. Turns out, randomized trials affect many parts of our daily lives. Then: The Origin of Species… actually has a pretty interesting - and unexpected - origin. Finally: In news that shouldn’t shock anyone who has ever been to a meeting, they can make you less productive. But how about the toll they take even before they start?
12/21/201849 minutes, 22 seconds
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Full Show: Watch What You Eat (Rerun)

Today, the Food Network is a touchstone of the entertainment industry. But it took a decade for the channel to make money. Chef Sara Moulton and author Allen Salkin tell us about the rise and influence of the cooking channel. Plus: If you use Uber Eats more than you use your stove, you're in good company — 90 percent of Americans either don't like to cook or are on the fence about it. With cooking becoming more hobby than necessity, we look at how the food industry is trying to keep up. Finally: 100 years ago, Schrafft's restaurants transformed dining out — by letting women eat with other women. Yale historian Paul Freedman talks with us about the restaurants that changed the way America eats.
12/14/201849 minutes, 25 seconds
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Full Show: Change In Unexpected Places

First, a look at creative efforts to improve our health care system at the local level. Jon Gruber, an architect of the Affordable Care Act, and Sarah Kliff, a senior policy correspondent at Vox, discuss innovative steps that some states are taking to control health care costs and improve outcomes, including an effort to reduce the rate of premature birth. Hotels have shaped American life from the Civil War to the civil rights movement. A.K. Sandoval-Strausz, author of “Hotel: An American History,” explains why the U.S. invented the modern hotel - and how the industry has influenced our country.
12/7/201849 minutes, 44 seconds
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Reimagining Health Care

A potent issue dominated the midterms this fall: health care. It was a top concern for voters, and it ultimately shaped the outcome of races across the country. Jonathan Gruber, an economics professor at MIT and an architect of the Affordable Care Act, and Sarah Kliff, senior policy correspondent at Vox and host of the podcast The Impact, weigh in on the future of health care. With a divided Congress, Kliff and Gruber suggest that state governments and possibly the  private sector will be the places to watch for reform in the short-term.
12/7/201829 minutes, 19 seconds
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Far More Than A Bed And A Bath

After he was elected, President George Washington traveled through our newly-formed country. And along the way, he stayed at a series of inns and taverns. How did they stack up? Well, let’s just say our first president wasn’t much kinder than a modern-day disgruntled Yelp reviewer about his experiences. Washington wrote in his diary that he found, “No rooms or beds which appeared tolerable.” While places to stay were rudimentary during Washington’s day, hotels eventually came to signify American progress. A.K. Sandoval-Strausz, an associate professor of history at Penn State and the author of “Hotel: An American History,” talks about how entrepreneurs in the early United States invented hotels, the hospitality industry, and how, in turn, hotels influenced American culture and commerce.
12/7/201818 minutes, 30 seconds
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Full Show: What Is It Worth To You?

Whether you like it or not, our life is made of plastic. It’s a material we use for almost everything, from toothbrushes to spacecrafts. But its convenience and low costs might not outweigh the effects it has on our health and environment. Science journalist Susan Freinkel walks us through the history of how we fell in love with plastics and considers the risks they pose. In the past, you might have seen your grandfather sending checks to a big charity every year, but charitable priorities are changing. Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, explains how social, technological, and cultural changes have impacted who is giving and who is receiving... and just how much. You’ve probably seen a “Made in China” label on your T-shirt, your electronics, and in children’s toys. But did you know that when you get your medicine from a local drug store, it may well have traveled all the way from China? Rosemary Gibson, author of “China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine,” talks about how China became the world’s pharmacy, the risks posed by America losing control of its medicine supply, and the case for bringing some drug manufacturing back to the U.S.
11/30/201849 minutes, 55 seconds
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Marinating In Plastics

Plastics are colorful, shiny, and flexible. They can also be sturdy, monochrome, and opaque. They come in different shapes and sizes, too. In fact, we’ve become so good at creating and molding plastics into whatever we want them to be that author Susan Freinkel says: it’s hard to imagine a world without them. In her book, Plastics: A Toxic Love Story, Freinkel chronicles the history of plastics and explores how, for better or worse, the material shapes our lives.
11/30/201820 minutes, 43 seconds
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Tracking Trends in Charitable Giving

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has long kept tabs on charitable giving, but recently the publication unveiled a new ranking, which reveals that how we give and who is giving has been radically upended in America. Stacy Palmer, the editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, discusses the current trends in giving and what they reveal about our country - including the growing economic divide in the wake of the Great Recession. And she offers some advice about how to choose causes that make a real difference.
11/30/201815 minutes, 22 seconds
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China: Pharmacy To The World

In the ‘90s, most of the world’s medicines were manufactured in the United States, Europe and Japan. Today, almost 80% of them come from China. In her book, “China Rx: Exposing The Risks Of America’s Dependence On China For Medicine,” Rosemary Gibson says that China is becoming the world’s pharmacy, but that development, she argues, comes with many risks.
11/30/201812 minutes, 31 seconds
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Full Show: Manufacturing The Mind

First: ‘Tis the season for giving and sharing… and holiday shopping. Whether it’s toys, clothes, books, or electronics, chances are that most of these items were manufactured in factories. Joshua Freeman walks us through the history of factories, and how they continue to shape our modern world. Next: Do you ever find yourself flipping through photo albums and feeling nostalgic for old times? Well, according to Krystine Batcho, longing for the past can shape how we think about the present. And in some case, it can be beneficial. Finally: In the era of fake news and sensationalist media, public trust in local and national news outlets is waning. But libraries are increasingly coming to the rescue and in the process are steadily reshaping the face of journalism.
11/23/201848 minutes, 55 seconds
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Full Show: Heart And Soul

First, in the late 1950s, Berry Gordy Jr. - who had worked for Ford Motor Company, been a boxer, and owned a record store - had a vision. He wanted to introduce the world to a new sound: the sound of Motown. And with every hit he produced, Gordy slowly but surely began to transform American culture. Then, we know that the heart is a symbol of love and emotion. But for doctors, of course, the heart is a sensitive and vital organ that affects the entire body. Cardiologist and author Sandeep Jauhar argues that the health of our hearts depends not just on things like cholesterol and blood pressure but also on psychosocial factors - including friendship, affection, and community.
11/16/201850 minutes, 1 second
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Motown: The History Of A Hit Factory

Shortly after Michael Jackson died in 2009, Helen Brown, a music critic for the Daily Telegraph wrote that the Jackson 5’s 1969 single “I Want You Back,”  is “certainly the fastest man-made route to pure joy.” And while Michael, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Jackie may have stolen the spotlight, the group - like so many others - emerged from a hit factory created by a man named Berry Gordy Jr. Gordy founded Motown after stints as a boxer and as a worker in a Lincoln-Mercury plant. And he quickly turned the label into a force to be reckoned with, drawing on a formula of quality control he had learned at the auto factory, taking raw talent like Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson, and refining them into international stars. As a result, Motown became one of the most successful black-owned music companies in American history. We talk to music journalist Adam White, author of  “Motown: The Sound of Young America,” about Gordy’s meteoric rise and his lasting legacy.
11/16/201824 minutes, 27 seconds
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Fixing A Broken Heart

The Grinch’s is two sizes too small. All Green wants to know how you can mend a broken one. You can destroy them, steal them, break them. They can pine or ache or wander. Suffice it to say, hearts are a big part of our culture. After all, though our kidneys are vital, there aren’t many pop songs about them. Still, as important as they are to our culture, our hearts are even more important to our health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and chances are that you know someone who has been affected by heart issues. Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and author of “Heart: A History,” takes a look at how we address heart health, and how we could do better.
11/16/201823 minutes, 55 seconds
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Full Show: Cultural Shifts

First: in the early 1970s, the average age of first-time moms was 21. Now, the average is 26. We talk with economist Caitlin Knowles Myers and New York Times correspondent Claire Cain Miller about why so many couples are putting off having kids and we also consider how education, politics and geography intersect with that decision. Next, dear listeners, you had some thoughts about our show regarding the future of work. We’ve highlighted some of your workplace experiences with technology. Both the good and the bad.** ** Then: what if a personality test dictated the course of your career? For many, over the past several decades, the Myers-Briggs did just that. And it opened the door for personality testing in corporate America, the military, and even the church.
11/9/201849 minutes, 39 seconds
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The American Family - Older And Smaller / Listener Comments

The American family is changing in many different ways. But one of the most important is that, on average, American women are giving birth later. And birth rates have hit a 30-year low. In the early 1970s, the average age of first-time moms was 21… it’s now 26. The same trend is impacting fathers - their age has gone from 27 to 31 over the same time period. But why did this change happen? And what does it mean for our society, our economy, and our families? To find out, we talked to Caitlin Knowles Myers, an economist at Middlebury College who’s studied female fertility, and Claire Cain Miller, a correspondent for The New York Times who’s written extensively about the topic. Then, dear listeners, you had some thoughts about our show regarding the future of work. We’ve highlighted some of your workplace experiences with technology. Both the good and the bad.
11/9/201824 minutes, 7 seconds
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Testing Who You Are

If you were asked to describe your personality, you might choose words such as “funny” and “outgoing,” or “shy” and “quiet.” But what if those were not quite the right words? The Myers-Briggs - which many of us have taken - promises to assess your personality, and assign you a specific “type.” In her book, “The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the birth of Personality Testing” Merve Emre examines the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (which is its full name), and how it has transformed the way we think about ourselves and those around us.
11/9/201823 minutes, 58 seconds
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Full Show: Cutting It Down To Size (Rebroadcast)

First, small businesses are the backbone of America. Or are they? Economist Robert Atkinson wants you to hold your horses and think again. He says we often favor small businesses and villainize large corporations, despite the fact that being big may enable companies to potentially contribute more to diversity, fair wages, and more generous employee benefits. Next, many of us may have a bit of a precision fetish, according to author Simon Winchester. Consider car commercials or watches that tout precision engineering. But how did we get to a place where precision has become so important? Winchester notes that it goes all the way back to the 18th century. And without precision engineering - without replaceable batteries and reliable mass production - our lives would be very, very different. Then, you and your best friends have more in common than you probably think. In fact, it’s likely your brain and your friend’s brain react in really similar ways to certain prompts. UCLA’s Carolyn Parkinson compared brain activity among friends and acquaintances and found that buddies are bound by more than social surroundings. And heads up, our genes determine our friendships, too.
11/2/201849 minutes, 38 seconds
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Full Show: Votes, Jobs, and Tech

First, swing states have a ton of power in determining control of Congress and many of the people living in those states have experienced the effects of automation in the workplace. Author Brian Alexander explains how technological progress has created fear, uncertainty, and shattered communities in swing states including Ohio. But it isn’t entirely fair to blame technology for *all *of our problems, including the challenges created by the gig economy. Historian Louis Hyman says temp work in America existed long before Uber and TaskRabbit. What do the people making robots or dreaming up new tech policy think of Americans’ conflicted feelings about what technological advances have meant for our economy? It’s complicated, but they say including more workers in conversations about new tech is crucial.
10/26/201849 minutes, 37 seconds
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Robotizing Swing States

With the midterms looming, both Democrats and Republicans are sweating out the home stretch in Congressional races across the country. And as in any election, there’s a lot of focus on swing states such as Ohio. In his 2017 book “Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the of the All-American Town,” Brian Alexander returned home to Lancaster, Ohio to write about how the region has changed both politically and economically over the past few decades. He saw many in the industrial Midwest embrace Donald Trump as a candidate during the 2016 election. Recently, Alexander returned to Ohio to look at how politics, jobs and technology are shaping the Midwest on the eve of the 2018 midterms.
10/26/201813 minutes, 2 seconds
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The Long History Of The Gig Economy

When you hear the term “gig economy,” you probably think of Uber or Lyft or Postmates - companies that have used apps to disrupt industries and create an army of 1099 workers. But according to Louis Hyman, a Cornell University historian and author of “Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary,” the gig economy is a lot bigger than Silicon Valley. And it has a much longer history than you might think.
10/26/201817 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Brains Behind Automation

We constantly hear that technology is killing opportunities in the workplace. But reports by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte have shown that automation is creating —   and will continue to create — millions of jobs in fields like sales, IT services, and big data. But to really know how tech is affecting our lives, experts like Daniel Theobald and Melissa Flagg say we need to focus less on the 30,000-foot view of the industry and more on what is going on at the ground level. We talk to Theobald, Vecna Robotics’ co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer as well as Flagg, the Northeast regional lead at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, about how we should be taking a ground-up approach to America’s technological development.
10/26/201816 minutes, 48 seconds
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Full Show: Private Lives, Public Spaces

The story of privacy in America is long and fascinating. But suffice it to say, there was an uproar over postcards. Yes, postcards.  What separates a successful movement, like the campaign for same-sex marriage, from a struggling movement, like the push for gun control?  Too little water in some places. Too much in others. What Texas tells us about the future of water in America.
10/19/201848 minutes, 48 seconds
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The Evolution of American Privacy

Every day, it seems like there’s a new story about privacy: A Facebook hack that puts the private data of millions at risk. A years-long surveillance program of personal communications by the government. Endless concerns about how much of our lives we share on social media. With all this in the air, it can certainly feel like we have a lot less privacy nowadays. But is that really the case? Well, according to Vanderbilt professor Sarah Igo, author of “The Known Citizen: A History of Privacy in Modern America,” the answer is actually pretty complicated.
10/19/201819 minutes, 9 seconds
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The Blueprint For Social Movements

After Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, activists may have thought that gun control at the federal level was a sure bet. But as the old saying goes, “there’s strength in numbers,” and the size of National Rifle Association’s membership has long outnumbered that of America’s gun reform groups. Leslie Crutchfield, the executive director of Georgetown University’s Global Social Enterprise Initiative, says high membership numbers is a matter of strategy. It doesn’t matter if the message is pro-Second Amendment, pro-gay marriage or anti-smoking. Those who know how to play the game get results. We talk to Crutchfield, who outlines social movement strategy in her new book,  “How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don’t.”
10/19/201815 minutes, 1 second
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Putting A Price On Water

If you try to imagine what a dystopian future would look like, you might conjure up aliens invading Earth, or robots overpowering humans. But according to author Seamus McGraw, the problems of the future are more down-to-earth than some may imagine. In his book, “A Thirsty Land: The Making Of An American Water Crisis,” McGraw writes about how water scarcity in Texas could turn into a crisis that affects all Americans. And it could happen sooner rather than later.
10/19/201813 minutes, 12 seconds
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Full Show: A Sense Of Self

Take credit for that killer PowerPoint presentation, or for running a 4-minute mile if you want. But at the end of the day, Robert Sapolsky says we don’t have a shred of free will. Next, corporations have fought tooth-and-nail to gain their civil rights and having the United States Supreme Court as an ally hasn’t hurt. Then, the Spanish flu of 1918 killed between 50 and 100 million people and, in the process, reshaped the world. Author Laura Spinney says it’s inevitable that we’ll see another epidemic.    
10/12/201849 minutes, 42 seconds
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The Hidden Biology Behind Everything We Do

Humanity is simultaneously incredibly kind and incredibly violent. We commit indescribable atrocities, but also acts of incomprehensible compassion. There is both horror and beauty in our history. Which leads to the question… how do we reconcile this inherent contradiction? It all goes back to our biology, according to Robert Sapolsky, a neurobiologist at Stanford and author of the book “Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst.” In fact, all questions about human behavior are, at their core, about biology. 
10/12/201824 minutes, 25 seconds
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Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Corporate Happiness

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney famously declared that “corporations are people” while on the campaign trail in 2011. The Iowa State Fair crowd jeered him and Romney launched into a stammering defense. But, if you look at Supreme Court cases from the past 200 years, Romney’s assessment wasn’t too far off. Corporations may not be people, but they enjoy many of the same basic rights we do. We talk with UCLA law professor Adam Winkler about his book, “We The Corporations: How American Businesses Won their Civil Rights.”  
10/12/201812 minutes, 20 seconds
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The History Of A Forgotten Plague

The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed between 50 and 100 million people. It infected a third of the world’s population. But it’s likely that, if you’re thinking of the most important events of the 20th century, the Spanish Flu probably doesn’t immediately spring to mind. Why is that? To find out, and to explore exactly how it reshaped society, we talked with Laura Spinney, author of the book “Pale Rader: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World.”
10/12/201811 minutes, 27 seconds
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Full Show: The Devil Is In The Details

There actually IS a solution to traffic. UCLA’s Michael Manville tells us what it is. Blue collar workers are getting the short of the stick. Here’s how we can change that. Turns out, there’s some science behind sin.
10/5/201849 minutes, 56 seconds
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The One Way To Reduce Traffic

Traffic is awful. It causes pollution, it makes people stressed, it costs cities and drivers billions of dollars… and if you’ve ever sat in a car, inching along a packed highway, you understand the toll it takes. So, how do we fix it? According to UCLA’s Michael Manville, there are a lot of proposed solutions, but only one - yes, one - really works.
10/5/201819 minutes, 35 seconds
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Blue-Collar Jobs, Redefined

Blue-collar jobs are changing. In the mid 20th century, many of these jobs were protected by unions and offered financial security. Today, both companies and employees are struggling to adjust to a turbulent economy; wages for lots of workers have barely kept pace with inflation. Economist Dennis Campbell thinks he’s found a solution. We talk to Campbell about a new economic model that could benefit everyone - and that focuses on sharing.
10/5/201812 minutes, 4 seconds
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Science And Sin

Religions have been studying human behavior for thousands of years - long before science got into the game. And for Christians, the seven deadly sins have offered a moral and social framework to get folks on the straight and narrow. Neuroscientist Jack Lewis says: we can use that framework to inform our future decisions. We talk to Lewis, author of the new book “The Science of Sin: Why We Do The Things We Know We Shouldn’t” about the biological side of this religious list.
10/5/201815 minutes, 47 seconds
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Full Show: Bridging The Chasm

There are a lot of chasms in the world, dividing lines between one thing and another. This week on Innovation Hub, we’ll take a look at those chasms, whether they’re in our digital life, our understanding of our own health, or in the complex systems that govern the world. First up, the gap between failure and success can be razor-thin. And the tiniest issues can snowball into huge catastrophes. It happened in the nuclear plant Three Mile Island, with the 2008 financial crisis… even with the 2017 Oscars. Chris Clearfield walks us through the origins of these disasters, and explains why a high level of complexity makes a system vulnerable to meltdown. Then, scarfing down that chocolate bar might give you some momentary pleasure, but it doesn’t make you happy. Yes, there’s a difference. And according to physician Robert Lustig, corporations are more than happy to exploit our confusion about that difference. He says that the chasm between pleasure and happiness is extremely important, and is responsible for many health-related crises in American society. And finally, if you’re reading this, you probably have access to the internet. Which is great, because that means you can do your banking, read the news, and apply for jobs. But across the country, about one in five people don’t have access to those tools. Which means that they’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. Angela Siefer, the executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, talks about efforts to bridge this gap, and get everyone in the U.S. connected.
9/28/201849 minutes, 51 seconds
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How Small Problems Snowball Into Big Disasters

The Three Mile Island disaster forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes. It absolutely dominated the news cycle. It led to a complete rethinking of nuclear energy. And it all stemmed from a plumbing problem, a valve that didn’t shut.  But the Three Mile Island accident isn’t the only meltdown caused by a seemingly small issue that snowballed into a gigantic disaster. To find out exactly how this happens, we talked with Chris Clearfield, co-author of “Meltdown: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It.”
9/28/201815 minutes, 36 seconds
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The Difference Between Pleasure And Happiness

In the last few decades, Americans have become fat, sick, stupid, broke, depressed, addicted, and most decidedly unhappy. At least, that’s according to physician Robert Lustig, author of the book, “The Hacking of the American Mind. The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains. He says that we’re facing four big crises in our country: a health care crisis, a social security crisis, an opioid crisis, and a depression crisis. And he argues that while these crises might seem different, they’re really all about the confusion of pleasure with happiness.  
9/28/201817 minutes, 22 seconds
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Dissecting America’s Digital Divide

If you’re reading this, you almost certainly have access to the internet, which means you can check email anytime, do online banking, or investigate whether your kid’s rash is worthy of a trip to the doctor. But, across the country, about one in five people don’t have access to those tools.  According to Angela Siefer, the executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, there are three main reasons why people don’t have internet connections: it’s unaffordable, it’s physically unavailable, or the household lacks digital literacy. Siefer talks about efforts to bridge this gap, and get everyone across the country connected. 
9/28/201815 minutes, 35 seconds
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Full Show: Out Of The Concrete

Violent crime rates in cities have declined significantly since the mid-1990s. We examine the reasons behind this drop, and the influence it has had on city life. Then, concrete buildings are the foundation of the modern world. But they eat up a resource that’s becoming increasingly difficult to come by: sand. Finally, for centuries, species have mutated to adapt to urban habitats. We investigate the wily ways that they continue to evolve in cities.
9/21/201849 minutes, 22 seconds
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Crime In America Is On The Decline. So Why Don’t We Feel Safer?

Talk to anyone who lived in New York City in the 1970s, and they will probably highlight the city’s widespread crime. Times Square wasn’t yet Disney-fied and Brooklyn hadn’t been taken over by hipsters. Most people agreed that New York was a dangerous place. But then something happened: murders, and violent crime in general, began to drop. And that trend wasn’t unique to New York: It happened in many places across America. So who do we have to thank for the crime decline? To find out, we talk with NYU sociology professor Patrick Sharkey about his book “Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence.”
9/21/201819 minutes, 12 seconds
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Sand. It’s Slipping Through Our Fingers

Unless we’re relaxing on it at the beach, or kicking it out of our shoes, we probably don’t think too much about sand. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Sand is a vital ingredient in concrete. And glass. And asphalt. It makes our modern, urban life possible. And our hunger for it is causing more and more trouble. Vince Beiser, author of “The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization,” explains why sand matters, and how the quest to extract more of it is shaping the world.  
9/21/201815 minutes, 14 seconds
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Evolution In The City

When you think of evolution, you probably imagine a slow process, one that happens in some verdant jungle or plain. For example: Homo Sapiens gradually evolving over millions of years on the savannah. Or the finches of the Galapagos adapting to their unique environment. But Menno Schilthuizen, a biologist and author of “Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution,” says that evolution can hapen a lot faster, and a lot closer to us, than we might think. And humans, along with the cities we build, drive a lot of it.
9/21/201813 minutes, 37 seconds
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Full Show: Life Hacks

What were pregnancy tests like in the 1940s? Well, they involved cutting up rabbits. How the science of hormones changed pregnancy, diabetes, and so much more. If you want to track down the first telecommunications hack, you have to go back in time. All the way to the 1830s. America is aging. And so are the people who control our money. How that’s going to upend our economy.
9/14/201849 minutes, 27 seconds
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How Your Hormones Control Everything

Doctor Randi Hutter Epstein likes to compare human hormones to the internet. And if you think about it, it makes sense. The brain sends messages to the testes in the same way that someone in Paris can send an email to someone in Tokyo. There’s no apparent infrastructure that connects the senders and receivers. Just a message floating out there, knowing what its target is. But it took a very long time before we had this kind of basic understanding of hormones. And, even today, most people doesn’t understand the power of these chemicals. We talk to Epstein, author of, “Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything,” about how we came to understand the endocrine system.
9/14/201822 minutes, 20 seconds
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A 19th Century Hack

What was the world’s first telecommunications hack? Some sort of electronic banking theft in the 80s? Perhaps it was the “phone breaks” of the 1960s, who used tricks to make calls for free? Or the scientific hooligans who hacked Marconi’s wireless? Well, according to Tom Standage, Deputy Editor of The Economist, you have to go back even further than that. To 19th-century France, and a new technology called the mechanical telegraph.
9/14/201811 minutes, 38 seconds
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The Opportunities In An Aging Economy

The United States is about to face a “silver tsunami;” a retirement crisis; a health care dilemma. At least, that’s what it seems like, if you read articles about America’s aging population of baby boomers. And the increased number of older Americans *is *going to transform the country. The US Census bureau says that “older adults will outnumber chil­dren for the first time in U.S. history” in just a few decades. And they will transform the economy to fit their needs and wants. This presents both challenges and opportunities, according to Joseph Coughlin, author of, “The Longevity Economy: Unlocking the World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market.”
9/14/201814 minutes, 15 seconds
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Full Show: Changing Landscapes

Are college kids becoming more fragile? Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt says yes. And he explains why. How a Coney Island sideshow helped save infants lives. Termites! They may be super gross… but we can also learn a lot from them.
9/7/201849 minutes, 11 seconds
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A Coddled Generation?

For the last few years, free speech has been hotly debated on college campuses around the country. There have been protests over controversial speakers. And confrontations around the cultural sensitivity of halloween costumes. Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at NYU and co-author of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, sees deeper issues at play. Issues that he thinks are going to impact an entire generation.
9/7/201819 minutes, 48 seconds
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The Fake Doctor Who Saved Thousands Of Babies

In the early 20th century, a premature baby was considered as good as dead. But Dr. Martin Couney — who wasn’t actually a doctor — made it his mission to save these babies by putting them neonatal incubators. And Couney had a flair for the dramatic. He would put incubated babies on display at Coney Island, and at World’s Fairs, where people could see them — IF they paid a quarter. We talk to Dawn Raffel about her new biography, “The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies.”
9/7/201818 minutes, 4 seconds
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What We Can Learn From Termites. Yes, Termites.

Termites get a bad rap. Ask pretty much anyone on the street, and they’ll likely say that termites are gross, and you definitely don’t want them in your house. And while it may be true that you don’t want them in your house, termites are also so much more than structure-destroyers. At least according to Lisa Margonelli, whose new book Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology explores the surprisingly wild world of the much-maligned bug. Because it turns out, there’s a lot we can learn from termites.
9/7/201810 minutes, 5 seconds
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Full Show: What A Way To Make A Living

Work defines all of our lives, but in a myriad of different ways. On this week’s Innovation Hub we take a step back and think about work’s payoffs, its pitfalls, and its future. First, Stanford’s Jeffrey Pfeffer argues that our jobs are literally hurting us - and that work environments have to be rethought. Then, Liza Mundy tells the incredible story of female WWII vets whose work was absolutely vital… but who never got the credit they deserved. And finally, chess champ Garry Kasparov says: we shouldn’t hate robots; we should work with them.
8/31/201850 minutes
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The Health Risks Of A Terrible Workplace

When you think of dangerous work, you probably conjure up images of crab fishermen braving the frigid Atlantic, lumberjacks operating chainsaws, or truckers navigating icy roads. You probably don’t think of late nights at the office, or working overtime at the cash register. But maybe you should. Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University, argues that seemingly-innocuous workplaces have become increasingly bad for our health over the past few decades. He’s the author of “Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance — and What We Can Do About It.”
8/31/201818 minutes, 51 seconds
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The Women Who Broke World War II Codes

During World War II, a flurry of coded messages were sent by the Axis powers. Data on troop movements, supplies, ship locations... all transmitted via code. But these messages didn't necessarily stay coded for long. The Allies were able to intercept, decode, and learn the vital wartime secrets contained within many of these transmissions. These codebreaking efforts were vital in ending the war. And the people who actually did a lot of this work were women - over ten thousand of them. Liza Mundy is the author of “Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II,” and she tells us about this little-known part of American history. 
8/31/201817 minutes, 14 seconds
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Garry Kasparov And The Game Of Artificial Intelligence

For more than a 30-year span, chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov was nearly unbeatable. But, in 1997, he faced an unlikely competitor: the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. Kasparov lost the final match, which ended up being a turning point both for him and for our understanding of artificial intelligence. We talk with Kasparov about his new book, “Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins.”
8/31/201812 minutes, 40 seconds
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Full Show: Fooling Ourselves (Rebroadcast)

Willpower isn’t the only thing dictating what you eat. Neuroscientist Rachel Herz says the color, shape, and presentation of food has a major impact on our diet. Then, there’s not as much evidence-based decision-making in medicine as you might expect. We take a look at why. Finally, we talk with physics professor Robbert Dijigraaf about why funding basic scientific research can yield powerful results down the road.
8/24/201849 minutes, 9 seconds
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How Your Brain Interacts With Food

We know that our brain plays tricks on us, but did you know the size of your plate can dictate how much you eat? Or that a bowl filled with jelly beans in a variety of colors will induce you to eat more than a series of bowls with the jelly beans separated out by color? Rachel Herz, a neuroscientist at Brown University and the author of “Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship With Food,” describes the psychology that influences our eating habits.
8/24/201817 minutes, 52 seconds
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Are You Getting Evidence-Based Healthcare?

Nearly half of medical procedures may not be based on sound science. That’s according to Eric Patashnik, director of Brown University’s public policy program. And he says it’s not necessarily your doctor’s fault. How did we get to this point? We put that question to Patashnik, who is co-author of the new book, “Unhealthy Politics: The Battle over Evidence-Based Medicine.”
8/24/201814 minutes, 35 seconds
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When 'Useless' Research Has Long-Term Benefits

Back in the 1990s, the Digital Libraries Initiative from the National Science Project supported a small project out of Stanford University. It sounded obscure, and a lot of people thought it wasn’t exciting, and would have little real-world application. But on that team were two graduate students – Larry Page and Sergey Brin – the founders of Google.  The modest grant ended up paying off very well, according to Robbert Dijkgraaf, a physics professor and the director of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton. He recently wrote a companion essay to Abraham Flexner’s 1939 piece, “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge,” explaining why Flexner’s ideas are even more relevant today. We talk with Dijkgraaf about why governments should fund more basic research that doesn’t necessarily have immediate results, like the project at Stanford – and how it can actually reap huge rewards in the long run.
8/24/201815 minutes, 37 seconds
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Full Show: Body Talk

First, if you think about the design of the human body, it’s not actually all that intelligent. We have tailbones, but no tails. We swallow food through the same tube we use to breathe. And don’t get us started on tonsils. Biologist Nathan Lents explains these human errors. Then, P.T. Barnum is probably best known for his outrageous exhibits and larger-than-life personality. But he also shaped our idea of what it means to be an American. Finally, can someone really be guilty of committing a crime if their brain isn’t fully developed? There’s no easy answer to that one. But the emerging field of neurolaw is trying to figure out those types of questions.    
8/17/201849 minutes, 5 seconds
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What’s Wrong With Our Bodies?

Humans have a tailbone for a tail we don’t have, wisdom teeth that don’t fit in our mouths, and tonsils that only seem to cause problems. Each of these “mistakes” can tell us a little bit about how we evolved and why we were so successful in spite of these flaws. We talk about our body’s quirks with biologist Nathan Lents, author of “Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes.”
8/17/201817 minutes, 33 seconds
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The Life of P.T. Barnum

He was a huckster, a showman, and a consummate businessman. P.T. Barnum and his exhibitions presented “freaks” and oddities from abroad, while also shaping the definition of what it means to be an American. We speak with Stephen Mihm, editor of the book, “The Life of P.T. Barnum, Written by Himself," about Barnum’s lasting contribution to American culture.   
8/17/201815 minutes, 12 seconds
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How Neuroscience Is Changing The Law

Francis Shen says that he often calls neurolaw a “new” and “emerging” field, but even he doesn’t completely believe that. Shen is an associate law professor at the University of Minnesota and executive director of education for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law. He says we’ve been using neuroscience in law for decades, but there have been some major developments over the last few years. For example, brain science is increasingly informing how we view criminals —  especially adolescents  —  and how we sentence people. We talk with Shen about the influence neurolaw has on society and how the field has developed over time. 
8/17/201815 minutes, 3 seconds
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Full Show: Taking Care of Business

Taking care of business can mean a lot of different things. From activist CEOs to the science of war to clean energy companies, we’re diving into how business actually gets done. First up, CEOs used to keep their mouths shut. They’d donate to campaigns and spend money lobbying, sure, but for the most part, they wouldn’t comment on politics. That’s *definitely *no longer the case. Patagonia, Starbucks, Apple… corporations and the people in charge of them are commenting on issues ranging from LGBT rights to federal land management. Nordstrom even took a stand on Ivanka Trump. And according to Duke University associate professor Aaron Chatterji, there are a lot of complicated reasons for that. Next, a split-second after a test of the atomic bomb, James Conant thought the world was going to end. It didn’t, of course, but the creation of the bomb was a transformational event. One that James Conant, a scientist and former President of Harvard, played a large role in. His grandaughter, author Jennet Conant, talks about his legacy, his leadership in The Manhattan Project, and what Conant, Robert Oppenheimer and others can teach us about using cutting-edge science to create weapons of war. And finally, the business of sustainable energy isn’t always that, well… sustainable. Jay Whitacre, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, would know. His clean energy startup, Aquion Energy, filed for bankruptcy last year, despite raising $200 million from investors. We talk with him about the challenges facing companies — and researchers — focused on sustainable energy. And he tells us why the future still looks bright, at least outside the U.S.
8/10/201849 minutes, 23 seconds
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When Big Business Wades Into Big Social Issues

In April, a Starbucks employee in Philadelphia called the police on two black men standing in a store. It was a PR nightmare. So a month later, Starbucks employees underwent a mandatory racial bias training that closed thousands of stores across the country and cost the company millions of dollars. It goes to show that today, people want more from companies. They don’t just expect good products, and quality service — they want company leadership to take stances on major social issues. We talk with Duke University associate professor Aaron Chatterji about what's motivating big business to get more political. 
8/10/201814 minutes, 32 seconds
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When Science Goes To War

Growing up, Thanksgivings in Jennet Conant’s house were contentious. The Vietnam War was raging, and in Cambridge, MA, student protests were ubiquitous. But Conant’s family was especially combative. Her grandfather, James B. Conant, a former president of Harvard University, had both supervised the production of poison gas during World War I, and oversaw the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. And Conant’s father argued her grandfather wasn’t a scientist who had served his country, but a mass murderer. Jennet Conant is the author of a new biography of her grandfather, “Man of the Hour: James B. Conant, Warrior Scientist,” as well other books about war, science, and the intersection of the two. She explains what happens when people use science to create weapons - and the fallout for the scientists themselves.
8/10/201821 minutes, 13 seconds
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The Uncertain Business Of Clean Energy

Hybrid cars. Solar energy. Hydropower. In recent years, the federal government and private companies have both paid a lot of attention to clean energy. But, the future of the industry is uncertain —  especially in the U.S. We talk with Carnegie Mellon University professor and Aquion Energy founder, Jay Whitacre, about the advancement of new energy technology.
8/10/201812 minutes, 25 seconds
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Full Show: Bring On The Competition (Rebroadcast)

First, U.S. News releases its college rankings each year to much fanfare. But are they actually hurting higher ed? We ask journalist Scott Jaschik and U.S. News’ Robert Morse.  Then, there will be 10 billion people on the planet by 2050. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Can we do it without destroying Earth’s resources? We talk with science writer Charles Mann about the different approaches to tackling this problem. Finally, you’ve heard the name Martin Shkreli, but there are many other executives responsible for hiking drug prices. We peek into the complex world of Big Pharma.
8/3/201849 minutes, 26 seconds
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Are College Rankings Actually Useful?

In 1983, U.S. News & World Report began to rank America’s colleges. More than 30 years later, they continue to release yearly lists of the “best” schools in the U.S. We talk with Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik and U.S. News’ Robert Morse about how these rankings have shaped how students select colleges in America.
8/3/201813 minutes, 29 seconds
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Feeding A Growing Global Population

The global population is steadily climbing, and by 2050, scientists expect that 10 billion people will call Earth home. This got science writer Charles Mann wondering: How are we going to feed all of those mouths without completely destroying the planet? Mann explores this question in his new book, “The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World.” We talk with him about whether innovation, conservation, or some mixture of the two, that will save humanity.
8/3/201817 minutes, 23 seconds
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Why Americans Pay So Much For Drugs

In 1983, U.S. News & World Report began to rank America’s colleges. More than 30 years later, they continue to release yearly lists of the “best” schools in the U.S. We talk with Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik and U.S. News’ Robert Morse about how these rankings have shaped how students select colleges in America.
8/3/201816 minutes, 51 seconds
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Full Show: Finding Order In Chaos

First: Scurvy. Website design. Store promotions. Turns out, randomized trials affect many parts of our daily lives. Then: “The Origin of Species”… actually has a pretty interesting - and unexpected - origin. Finally: In news that shouldn’t shock anyone who has ever been to a meeting, they can make you less productive. But how about the toll they take even before they start?
7/27/201850 minutes
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From Scurvy to Surgery: The History Of Randomized Trials

Think of the last impulse buy you made at the grocery store. Maybe the item was placed at eye level. Or perhaps it was a Snickers bar you saw in the checkout line. Either way, that product was put there by design, not dumb luck, and most of these placements were decided through randomized trials. We talk to with Andrew Leigh, author of “Randomistas: How Radical Researchers Changed Our World,” about how these tests affect everyday life and impact the decisions we make.
7/27/201820 minutes, 33 seconds
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The Origin Of The Origin Of Species

This summer, 160 years ago, it dawned on Charles Darwin that he might have to go public with the theory of evolution. He had been working on his theory slowly, gradually building it out for decades. And Darwin probably would have kept working on it, if not for a letter he received from English naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, which outlined Wallace’s own ideas about natural selection; ideas that, unfortunately for Darwin, were very similar to his own. Iain McCalman, author of “Darwin’s Armada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution, walks us through the complicated origins (no pun intended) of the theory of evolution, and how that theory changed everything from biology to religion to politics.
7/27/201817 minutes, 14 seconds
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When Your Schedule Sabotages You

Imagine you have a meeting in 30 minutes. Are you more likely to spend that half hour A) catching up on email and the news or B) getting a start on that report you’ve been putting off? If you answered A, you’re not alone. It turns out that people aren’t very productive in the time before a scheduled activity. We talked with Rutgers Business School professor Gabriela Tonietto about why free time feels diminished when we have an upcoming task.
7/27/201810 minutes, 53 seconds
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Full Show: Watch What You Eat

Today, the Food Network is a touchstone of the entertainment industry. But it took a decade for the channel to make money. Chef Sara Moulton and author Allen Salkin tell us about the rise and influence of the cooking channel. Plus: If you use Uber Eats more than you use your stove, you're in good company — 90 percent of Americans either don't like to cook or are on the fence about it. With cooking becoming more hobby than necessity, we look at how the food industry is trying to keep up. Finally: You can thank Howard Johnson's for those roadside plazas you see on interstates. Yale historian Paul Freedman talks with us about the restaurants that changed the way America eats.
7/20/201849 minutes, 33 seconds
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How The Food Network Went From Bust To Big Time

If you knew what was going on behind the scenes at the Food Network during the ‘90s, you might have placed a hefty wager that it would fail. Chefs were cooking in incomplete kitchens, and couldn't stop filming —  even if they got hurt. It was a mess. Even Sara Moulton, one of the Food Network’s earliest stars, didn’t think the channel would survive. But not only did it survive —  it thrived. We talk to Moulton about her early days at the Food Network, and with author Allen Salkin about his book, “From Scratch: The Uncensored History of the Food Network.”
7/20/201818 minutes, 56 seconds
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The Future Of Food Shopping

When we sit down to binge watch a season of Chopped, we rarely do it to learn a new cooking technique. In fact, the Food Network might actually discourage us from trying our hand in the kitchen. We speak with industry analyst Eddie Yoon about the future of grocery stores and food companies, in a world where cooking is no longer considered an indispensable skill.
7/20/201817 minutes, 19 seconds
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From Delmonico’s To Howard Johnson’s

2015 was the first year that Americans spent more money on bars and restaurants than on groceries. And with attention-grabbing chefs and buzzy new places to eat, it feels like restaurants have never been more central to American life. But how did we get there? Paul Freedman, Yale historian and author of the book “Ten Restaurants That Changed America,” charts the course from Delmonico’s to Howard Johnson’s.
7/20/201812 minutes, 11 seconds
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Full Show: Define The Relationship

First: Americans love small businesses, but economist Robert D. Atkinson says that big business is better for workers, consumers, and the world. Then: From standard measurements to interchangeable parts, precision engineering created the modern world. Author Simon Winchester explains how the precision revolution got started in the first place. Finally: We tend to become friends with people who share our interests and passions. But the connections don’t stop there—new research now shows that the brain activity of close friends is similar.
7/13/201849 minutes, 37 seconds
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The Benefits Of Big Business

Ever since Thomas Jefferson championed the “yeoman farmer,” Americans across the political spectrum have romanticized small businesses. Politicians tout Mom-and-Pop companies as the backbone of the economy. But, if you run the numbers, small businesses don’t live up to the hype, according to economist Robert D. Atkinson, co-author of the book “Big is Beautiful: Debunking the Myth of Small Business.” Atkinson says that we should take a size-neutral approach to regulating businesses.
7/13/201820 minutes, 45 seconds
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Precision Makes Perfect

We rely on precision in every part of our lives. We take for granted the fact that if our car breaks down, we can buy a replacement part, instead of a whole new car. But there was a time before standardized car parts, standardized batteries, and standardized shoe sizes. In his new book “The Perfectionists,” author and journalist Simon Winchester set out to learn how the concept of precision came to be, and how it changed the world.
7/13/201820 minutes, 16 seconds
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Friendly Minds Think Alike

Choosing Friday night plans. Deciding what to wear to work. Selecting a new Netflix show to binge-watch. People are influenced by the tastes and opinions of their friends, and vice versa. But that doesn’t mean you’re a carbon copy of your social network— or does it? We talk with Carolyn Parkinson, an assistant professor of social psychology at UCLA, about why our brains might be more similar that we think.
7/13/20187 minutes, 16 seconds
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Timing Is Everything (Rebroadcast)

We’re always so concerned about how to do something, but we don't always consider when we should do it. When should we start a new project? When should we take a nap? We talk to author Daniel Pink about why timing is everything. Even though beards are currently in style, there was a time when being clean shaven was the way to go. We take a look at the man who revolutionized the shaving industry.   Plus, if it seems like food allergies are on the rise, they are. One in every 13 children in America has some sort of food allergy, which marks a huge spike over the last few decades. We look at what could be causing the allergy increase and what’s being done to combat it.  Finally, killing rats may seem like the best way to deal with them. But, in fact, it’s probably not our best option when it comes to pest control. We find out what is.  
7/6/201849 minutes, 43 seconds
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When To Do Everything

Does it matter when you go in for an operation? When a jury hears your case? What year you're born in? The answer in all three of these cases: yes. Dan Pink took a deep dive into the science behind how timing affects our lives. He's author of the new book, "When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing."
7/6/201820 minutes, 11 seconds
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A Closer Look At Shaving History

If you're the type of person who shaves, you've probably used a disposable razor at least once. But where did this seemingly ubiquitous part of American life come from? It all goes back to the late 19th century, and a man with the absolutely incredible name of King Camp Gillette.
7/6/20183 minutes, 44 seconds
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Fighting Food Allergies

Did you ever trade lunches at school when you were a kid? Maybe you gave away your peanut butter sandwich in exchange for some chocolate pudding. With rampant food allergies, a trade like that probably wouldn't happen today. And while schools and other organizations are very aware of the increased number of people who have allergies, we know little about what causes them.   We talk to Dr. Wayne Shreffler, the director of the Food Allergy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. Katie Allen, the Group Leader of Gastro and Food Allergy at Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, about the rise of food allergies, how to prevent them, and treatments that are in the pipeline.
7/6/201818 minutes, 15 seconds
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Is Our Approach To Handling Rats All Wrong?

Rats: The bane of any city-dweller’s existence. We spend millions of dollars each year trying to kill these pests, putting out poison and traps. But new research poses the question: Should we be killing rats at all? Innovation Hub producer Marc Filippino reports on what could be a surprising new solution to rat control.  
7/6/20186 minutes, 18 seconds
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Full Show: Red, White, And New

First, we talk with Kurt Beyer about the Queen of Software, Grace Hopper, and how her new ideas changed the tech world forever. Next, we give you Kisses. And Reese’s. And Kit Kats. We take a look at how Milton Hershey built one of the biggest chocolate empires the world has ever seen. Then, we’re all wondering when we can hop into our self-driving cars and watch Netflix on our way to work. But Rodney Brooks says: don’t expect it to happen tomorrow.
6/29/201849 minutes, 49 seconds
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The Life And Legacy Of Grace Hopper

She’s been called “the first lady of software.” A conference named after her attracted over 18,000 attendees last year. She had her own Google doodle. She was even on Letterman. It’s fair to say that Grace Hopper is one of the most celebrated coders ever. But, behind all the accolades, who was she? And how exactly did she change technology? We talk with Kurt Beyer, author of “Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age.”
6/29/201816 minutes, 40 seconds
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The Birth Of Chocolate In America

Americans absolutely adore chocolate. The average American consumes 11 pounds of the stuff per year. But when did this love affair with chocolate start? Back in the 19th century, sugar was a luxury good, and chocolate was mostly for the rich. Milton Hershey, and his Hershey bar, changed all that. Historian Nancy Koehn, author of “Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times,” has written about Hershey’s life and company. She walks us through who he was, and how he gave America a taste for chocolate.
6/29/201815 minutes, 59 seconds
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Rodney Brooks Predicts The Future (Kinda)

If you could talk to some folks who attended the 1964 World’s Fair, they might be a little disgruntled. After all, they were promised jetpacks, flying cars, and vacations to Mars in the near future. Alas, we have none of those things, and yet we still expect transformative technologies like self-driving cars to be part of our lives soon. This week, we talk with robotics pioneer Rodney Brooks about the art of predicting when new technology will go mainstream.
6/29/201816 minutes, 5 seconds
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Full Show: Crossing Boundaries And Borders

First: We ask UCLA history professor Katherine Benton-Cohen how America transformed from a country with open borders to one - by the 1920s - with a strict quota system. Next: Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains the science behind how childhood trauma permanently impacts children’s mental and physical health. Then: Remember that whole “all men are created equal” thing? We investigate how the end of the 18th century brought about a new discussion of human rights - one that forever changed history.
6/22/201850 minutes
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How Did It Come To This? The Evolution Of Immigration

It might seem like America’s massive immigration system has always been around. But it hasn’t. Indeed, up until the early 20th century, America’s immigration system was so different it would be unrecognizable from a modern perspective. For the backstory of how the U.S. has approached immigration, we talk with Katherine Benton-Cohen, an associate professor at Georgetown and author of “Inventing the Immigration Problem: The Dillingham Commission and Its Legacy.”
6/22/201816 minutes, 58 seconds
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The Lasting Trauma From The Border

In May and June, the United States separated more than 2,000 children from their families at the southern border. Caving to pressure, President Trump signed an executive order stopping the policy. But, experts say the damage has already been done. Nadine Burke Harris is the CEO of San Francisco’s Center for Youth Wellness and the author of the new book “The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity.” She says these experiences can lead to serious mental and physical health problems through the rest of these children’s lives.
6/22/201815 minutes, 9 seconds
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The Invention Of Human Rights

We all know Thomas Jefferson’s famous words immortalized in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” But when did the world start thinking about equality? Lynn Hunt a distinguished research professor at UCLA, and author of the book “Inventing Human Rights,” says we haven’t always recognized basic human rights, and the very concept wasn’t spoken much about until the end of the 1700s. We explore its origins.
6/22/201816 minutes, 39 seconds
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Full Show: History Repeats

First: How do America’s child welfare services respond to a call about a child who could be in trouble? We look at the inner workings of the system and how algorithms might help. Next: People often yearn for a simpler time. That nostalgia isn’t uncommon, and depending on the scenario, it could be healthy. Le Moyne College psychology professor Krystine Batcho explains why. Then: Local news outlets are struggling financially, and national outlets are losing people’s trust. How do we restore journalism? The answer might be at your local library.
6/15/201850 minutes, 8 seconds
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Can An Algorithm Keep Kids Safe?

When a call comes in to a child welfare hotline, how should the call-taker react? Is the complaint significant enough to merit an investigation? Should caseworkers be sent to the child’s home? Or is the call frivolous? And would the stress of an investigation do more harm than good? These are tough questions and ones that counties and states throughout the country are trying their best to answer. One of them, Allegheny County, which surrounds Pittsburgh, has turned to an algorithm for help.
6/15/201820 minutes, 9 seconds
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Why Nostalgia Is Healthy

Playing hide-and-go-seek with your best friend. Opening up fresh supplies on the first day of school. Going on your first date. People get nostalgic about the personal relationships they’ve had, and the experiences they can’t get back. But that doesn’t mean they’re living in the past. Nostalgia can, in fact, be a good thing. We talk with Le Moyne College psychology professor Krystine Batcho about how our perspective on bygone days actually affects our present.
6/15/201819 minutes, 8 seconds
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When Libraries And Journalism Collide

It’s a rough moment for journalism. Newspapers across the country have been closing at an alarming rate. And many of the media outlets that remain are under attack for allegedly peddling fake news. It’s a problem that journalists alone cannot fix. Luckily for them, local libraries are pushing to restore people’s faith in the media —  and sometimes even picking up the slack in places where news coverage is hard to come by. Innovation Hub producer Marc Filippino reports on how libraries are gradually changing the face of journalism.
6/15/20189 minutes, 30 seconds
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Full Show: A Game Of Wits

First: American universities minted hundreds of thousands of savvy professionals in the latter half of the 20th century. We explore how those educated, creative thinkers may have - inadvertently - caused America’s decades-long decline. Next: We talk with Harvard University professor Elizabeth Hinton about whether free education for people in prison makes sense. Then: Do you think you’re smart? Probably. But are you rational? There’s a difference between the two, and it matters more than you think.
6/8/201849 minutes, 6 seconds
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The Unexpected Reason Behind America’s Decline

Our trust in government is at historic lows. Inequality is at historic highs. Americans are more pessimistic about the future. It can seem like the United States is in decline. And Steven Brill, author of “Tailspin: The People And Forces Behind America’s Fifty-Year Fall - And Those Fighting To Reverse It.” says that’s true… though not for the reasons you might think.
6/8/201818 minutes, 2 seconds
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Should Prisoners Have Access To A College Degree?

Despite having less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has nearly 25 percent of the world’s prison population. According to Elizabeth Hinton, an associate history professor at Harvard University, America’s prison system is unlike anything the world has ever seen. She says it’s crucial that we focus on rehabilitating inmates through educational activities inside prisons. We talked with her about the past, and the uncertain future, of prison education in America.
6/8/201815 minutes, 4 seconds
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Rationality vs. Intelligence

Have you ever taken an IQ test? Think about the results. Did you do well? You might have gotten a high score, but, often, intelligence doesn’t have anything to do with rationality. There is a marked difference between the two, although we often conflate them. We talk with York University associate professor Maggie Toplak and Boston University professor Carey Morewedge about why even smart people do irrational things.
6/8/201814 minutes, 44 seconds
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Full Show: A Numbers Game

First: We ask a couple of public opinion experts how technology has made polling more convenient but less consistent - and what they see coming in 2018. Then: Have you ever wondered who really owns that quaint craft beer you love? We investigate why large corporations often buy out their smaller, less-efficient competitors - and how limiting competition is bad news for both consumers and workers. Finally: Economist John Quiggin tells us why he thinks generational labels like baby boomer and millennial are completely meaningless.
6/1/201849 minutes, 45 seconds
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Why Polling Matters

If you ever watch, listen, or read the news, you’ll hear about political polls. There are polls for almost everything: Special congressional races, the popularity of the Iran Nuclear Deal, and, of course, the president’s approval rating. According to polling experts Courtney Kennedy and Fred Yang, the barriers to conducting wide-reaching polls have diminished over the past several years, allowing new pollsters to enter the fray. We look at why not all polls are created equal.
6/1/201818 minutes, 44 seconds
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From Beer To Airlines, Corporate Consolidation Is All Around Us

If you go to your local liquor store or beer cellar, it may seem like you have thousands of options. And there’s certainly a lot of beer on the shelves. Not just Michelob or Miller Lite, but smaller-batch brews with names like Spitting Hobo or Dead Dragon. But though there might be a huge number of beer varieties, the American beer industry is mostly controlled by a handful of breweries that control nearly 90 percent of the American beer market. And this consolidation isn’t only a story of beer. The biggest four U.S. airlines reap 65 percent of the industry’s revenue, compared to ten years ago, when they only took in 41 percent. To find out more about why corporations are getting more powerful, we talked with David Wessel, a senior fellow in economic studies at The Brookings Institution, and author of the recent Harvard Business Review article, “Is Lack of Competition Strangling the U.S. Economy?”
6/1/201815 minutes, 50 seconds
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Kids These Days...And Yesterday, And Tomorrow

Economist John Quiggin wants to change the way we talk about millennials. That is, he thinks we should stop talking about them altogether. In a recent New York Times editorial, Quiggin argued that the notion of generations is a pop-culture myth. He thinks we should focus on how people are affected by more significant traits like class, gender, and age.
6/1/201813 minutes, 38 seconds
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Full Show: Life’s Tangled Web

First up, our family tree; or rather, our family web. According to geneticist Adam Rutherford, investigating the human genome can answer a lot of questions about human history. And the answers aren’t always expected. From mixing our genes with Neanderthals, to genetic lineages that would make Jaime Lannister proud, to the link (or lack thereof) between race health, Rutherford tells us all about the surprising secrets of our species. Then: The modern workplace wasn’t designed for women. And that’s a problem. Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, author of the article “If you Can’t Find a Spouse Who Supports Your Career, Stay Single,” talks about the barriers that prevent women from achieving their full potential. She also walks us through how high-achieving co