Episodes Archive

Bug Girl's Favorite Insects #126

August 19, 2011

From ants to aphids, mosquitoes to mantises, entomology blogger Bug Girl has covered all kinds of things that creep, crawl and fly. This week, she joins us to talk about her favorite bugs, and why she finds them all so fascinating. And anthropologist and blogger Greg Laden joins us to discuss the cultural taboos surrounding eating insects. Here are links to Bug Girl’s posts about some of the topics from this episode: Shellac: It’s a bug AND a feature! Cochineal: It’s a bug AND a feature! Are there roaches in your coffee and chocolate? Pollinator Week 2009: Food! Hoppers, Hats,... Read More

Listen

Global Population #125

August 12, 2011

The human population of planet Earth is rapidly approaching 7 billion. This week, we’ll look at how fast our numbers are growing, what they mean for things like resources and the environment, and what we can do about it. Maybe. We’re joined by William Ryerson, President and Founder of Population Media Center and President of Population Institute. And on the podcast, we’ll get a lesson in how population projections are created, and how reliable they are, with Dr. Ronald Lee, Director of the Center on the Economics and Demography of Aging, and professor in the Department of Demography at the University... Read More

Listen

The Theory That Would Not Die #124

August 05, 2011

This week, show favorite Sharon Bertsch McGrayne returns to tell us about her new book, The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes’ Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy. We’ll learn how this once overlooked branch of probability theory has played a central role in some of the biggest turning points in human history. And on the podcast, we’re joined by computer network researcher Dr. Boleslaw K. Szymanski, to discuss his new paper, on the conditions under which minority opinions become social consensus. For more information on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of... Read More

Listen

Data Analysis #123

July 29, 2011

This week, data analyst Keith Schon returns to the show. We’ll ask him about his work as an information archaeologist, and how state-of-the-art software can piece together huge datasets of your online interactions, and build a picture of your personality. And on the podcast, science writer Jessica Wapner is back, to explain why pharmaceutical companies are mining prescribing data. Read More

Listen

HIV and AIDS #122

July 22, 2011

This week, we’re joined by graduate student and Scienceblogs writer Abbie Smith, to learn about the latest research on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. How does HIV cause AIDS? What are the latest treatments? How close are we to a cure? What strategies are most effective at stopping the spread of infection? And what are the arguments that denialists make for alternate causes of the disease? And on the podcast, we’ll discuss another viral pathogen, the Human papillomavirus, with Dr. Peter Leone, of the University of North Carolina’s Center for Infectious Diseases. Read More

Listen

The Nature of Human Nature #121

July 15, 2011

This week, we’re joined by Dr. Carin Bondar, biologist and author, to talk about her book The Nature of Human Nature: Reflections On Our Position As “Natural” Entities In The Animal Kingdom. The book takes a critical look at some of the things that we think make human beings unique in the animal kingdom. Does our ability to use contraception, or our tendency to eat junk food just for the pleasure, set us apart from our animal cousins? And we’ll be featuring the music of science rapper Baba Brinkman, including selections from his 2010 album The Rap Guide to Human... Read More

Listen

Tracking the Chupacabra #120

July 08, 2011

This week, Skeptical Inquirer Managing Editor Benjamin Radford returns to the show, to discuss his newest book, Tracking The Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast In Fact, Fiction and Folklore. He’ll explain his investigation of the legendary monster, and his startling conclusion about the real story behind its origins. And writer/producer Kennedy Goodkey joins us to celebrate the DVD release of his film, The Beast of Bottomless Lake, about the Canadian lake monster Ogopogo. Read More

Listen

Mistakes Were Made #119

July 01, 2011

This week, we’re learning about the ways our brains are hard wired to fail at reality. Guest host Rachelle Saunders will speak with Dr. Carol Tavris, co-author of Mistakes Were Made (But Not by ME): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts. The bestselling book investigates cognitive dissonance, and the fascinating ways that it affects not just our memories, but politics, business and society. And for the podcast, we’re joined by University of Toronto statistics professor Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, to discuss why we’re so bad at grasping probability. Read More

Listen

The Reasonableness of Weird Things #118

June 24, 2011

This week, it’s an hour with Daniel Loxton. The editor of Junior Skeptic and author of Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be returns to the show to share “The Reasonableness Of Weird Things,” his keynote address from LogiCON 2011. Join us for the complete presentation, and an exclusive interview about the science communicators who inspired it. Watch the Pale Blue Dot video on YouTube. Read More

Listen

Rural Medicine #117

June 17, 2011

This week, we’ll look at how society and geography affect people’s access to healthcare, and the quality of care they receive. We’re joined by Dr. Sasha Mullally, professor at the University of New Brunswick, to discuss her research into the social history of rural medicine and medical practices. And for the podcast, we’ll speak to Aaron Acharya, Project Manager at HealthRight International, and Dr. Gary Stadtmauer, about their work on healthcare and human rights. Read More

Listen

What is Mental Illness? #116

June 10, 2011

This week, it’s an hour on the brain, and the diseases and conditions unique to this amazing organ. We’re joined by Dr. Richard J. McNally, researcher in the psychology department at Harvard University, and author of What Is Mental Illness? And we’re joined by Maia Szalavitz, author and editor at Time.com’s Healthland blog, to discuss the chemistry and controversy of antidepressant medications. Read More

Listen

Cell Phone Science #115

June 03, 2011

Researcher and Scientopia blogger Scicurious returns to discuss the fact and fiction of mobile phones. What effect do they have on brain cells? What about sperm cells? And do they have anything to do with declining populations of bees? And we’re joined by medical physicist Dr. Marc MacKenzie, to discuss the science of microwave radiation. Read More

Listen

Practical Wisdom #114

May 27, 2011

What exactly is “wisdom,” and how can we apply it in our daily lives? We’re joined by Barry Schwartz,  Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College, and Kenneth Sharpe, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College. They’ll discuss their new book Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do The Right Thing. And we’re joined by Brendan O’Brien, to learn about :60 Second Science, the international science video competition. Read More

Listen

Science-Based Medicine and the Media #113

May 20, 2011

What is science-based medicine, and how does the media (perhaps unwittingly) distort it? Our guest this week is Dr. Steven Novella, academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine, Executive Editor of the website Science-Based Medicine, and a senior fellow and Director of Science-Based Medicine at the James Randi Educational Foundation. And we’re joined by Maria Walters, to talk about the Grassroots Skepticism Workshop at SkepchickCon. Read More

Listen

Strange New Worlds #112

May 13, 2011

We look at the cutting edge science and old-fashioned wonder of the hunt for planets circling other stars. We’ll talk to Ray Jayawardhana, Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics at the University of Toronto, and author of Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond Our Solar System. And we’re joined by Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, to discuss the current progress, and the uncertain future, of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Read More

Listen

Animal Testing #111

May 06, 2011

We’ll look at the practical advantages, and the ethical pitfalls, of using animals in scientific and medical research. We’re joined by Janet Stemwedel, Associate Professor of Philosophy at San Jose State University, and author of the blog Adventures in Ethics and Science. And we’ll talk to Bill Barry, Chief Historian at NASA, about the history of animals and spaceflight. The study mentioned in tonight’s episode is available here: Differences between chimpanzees and bonobos in neural systems supporting social cognition. Read More

Listen

A History of Childbirth #110

April 29, 2011

We explore the changing ways that medicine and culture have treated pregnancy and childbirth. We’ll talk with doctor and medical journalist Randi Hutter Epstein, about her book Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth From the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank. And on another edition of Everything You Know is Sort Of Wrong, Greg Laden looks at common misconceptions about life expectancy. Read More

Listen

A Lifetime of Data #109

April 22, 2011

We'll get the scientific perspective on the causes and effects of aging, and how they change over a lifetime. We'll speak with Dr. Nir Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, about the biology and genetics of aging. And we're joined by Professor Diana Kuh, to discuss her work as the head of the UK's National Survey for Health and Development. Read More

Listen

Magical Thinking #108

April 15, 2011

We ask professional magicians how the study and practice of magic can help teach critical thinking skills. We'll talk to sleight-of-hand master Jamy Ian Swiss, and Scam School creator Brian Brushwood, about the ways that magic can demonstrate - and help us overcome - our cognitive limitations. And we're joined by Michael Goudeau, to talk about his career as a performer, and his work on Penn & Teller's television projects. Read More

Listen

Zombie Attack! #107

April 08, 2011

We dig into the fascinating ways these movie monsters overlap with real-world science. We talk to entomologist David P. Hughes, about his work studying parasites that use mind control to direct the behavior of their hosts. And mathematician Robert Smith? shares the results of his paper that models the best ways to control the spread of a zombie infestation. Read More

Listen