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Sociology

The Leonard Lopate Show

How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tina Rosenberg explains the positive force of peer pressure. Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World shows how peer pressure has reduced teen smoking in the United States, made villages in India healthier and more prosperous, helped minority students get top grades in college calculus, and even led to the fall of Slobodan Milosevic.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Cities Rock

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Edward Glaeser, professor of economics at Harvard University, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and the author of Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier, looks at cities around the world and throughout history to show that they are the pinnacle of human achievement.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

African Americans Today

Friday, November 26, 2010

Eugene Robinson, politics and culture columnist and associate editor at The Washington Post, and author of Disintegration: The Splintering of Black Americaexplains how he sees African Americans split into distinct sociological groups.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Talking to the Enemy

Friday, November 05, 2010

Social scientist Scott Atran traces terrorism's root causes in human evolution and history. In Talking to the Enemy: Faith, Brotherhood, and the (Un)Making of Terrorists he touches on the nature of faith, the origins of society, the limits of reason, and the power of moral values. He interviews and investigates Al Qaeda associates and acolytes, and other non-Qaeda groups, such as Hamas and the Taliban, and the communities they live in: from the jungles of Southeast Asia to New York, London, and Madrid.

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The Takeaway

Rethinking The Roots of Poverty

Monday, October 18, 2010

Forty five years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan introduced the idea of a “culture of poverty.” The idea has since been derided for describing the urban black family as caught in a “tangle of pathology.” But it never lost its appeal to conservative thinkers.

And with one in seven Americans living in poverty today, scholars are revisiting the idea.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

African Americans Today

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Eugene Robinson, author of Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America and politics and culture columnist and associate editor at The Washington Post, explains how he sees African Americans split into distinct sociological groups.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Patchwork Nation: Culture Beyond Red and Blue

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Dante Chinni, project director of Patchwork Nation and author of Our Patchwork Nation: The Surprising Truth About the "Real" America uses statistical information to break the country into 12 categories, such as "Boom Towns," "Tractor Communities," and "Monied Burbs". He joins us each Thursday this month.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Why the World Looks Different through Other Languages

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Acclaimed linguist Guy Deutscher looks at the thorny question of how—and if—culture and language shape each other. His new book Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different through Other Languages re-examines the long discredited belief that our native tongues influence the way we see the world. He argues that the words we have and expressions we use can profoundly shape our understanding of everything: from color, to gender to morals.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

True Prep

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Lisa Birnbach, the author of the best-selling phenomenon The Official Preppy Handbook which debuted thirty years ago, is back with an update. True Prep: It’s a Whole New Old World, designed by Chip Kidd, is a contemporary look at how the old guard preppies are adapting to the new order of things.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Garret Keizer takes a look at noise—all the unwanted sounds we’re bombarded by every day, from barking dogs to wailing sirens to thumping music coming from next door. He explores the class issues and political ramifications of noise, from Tanzania to New York, and the environmental sustainability of a quieter world. In The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want, he shows that noise is as much about what we want as about what we’re trying to avoid.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Art of Choosing

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sheena Iyengar looks at how and why we make the choices we make. In The Art of Choosing she asks: Is the desire for choice innate or bound by culture? Why do we sometimes choose against our best interests? How much control do we really have over what we choose? She points out how that our decisions have far-reaching consequences.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

How Stereotypes Affect Us

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Acclaimed social psychologist Claude Steele describes studies that show that exposing subjects to stereotypes—reminding female math majors about to take a test that women are considered inferior to men at math—impairs their performance. In Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us he sheds new light on a number of American social phenomena, from the racial and gender gaps in standardized test scores to the belief in the superior athletic prowess of black men.

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The Takeaway

Finding Emotional Sanity After Years of Captivity

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

After 18 years of being held captive, how will Jaycee Dugard break from the emotional and mental stresses that built up during that time?  We talk to Benedict Carey, science reporter for The New York Times, to look at if and how a person begins to return to normalcy after years of torment.

Read Ben's piece on the psychology of recovery on the front page of today's New York Times: "For Longtime Captives, a Complex Road Home."

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The Takeaway

The D Word: Can Divorce Damage Your Health?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A new study hints that losing a significant other has effects that last well after the Kleenex box has been emptied and thrown away. Linda Waite co-authored a new study on health and marriage and she joins The Takeaway with the details.

"The people who are in the worst health are the people who got divorced and stayed divorced. What we're saying here is that getting divorced increases the risks of some major health problems many years later, compared to people who never got divorced."
—Linda Waite on the health concerns associated with divorce

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The Takeaway

Hackers vs. Your Social Security Number

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Your social security number is now a part of almost every form, including health insurance paperwork and the application for your library card. In fact, researchers reporting in this week's issue of the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences used public data (hello, Facebook) to predict the first five digits of a person's social security number. And they got it right, on the first try, 44 percent of the time. With more on the dangers of our less-than-private individual identification system, The Takeaway is joined by privacy expert Peter Swire.

You can read more about the PNAS study by heading to the web site of our partners, The New York Times, and checking out today's article, Social Security Numbering System Vulnerable to Fraud, Experts Say.

"We have a known system that's leading to a lot of identity theft and will lead to a lot more identity theft. We probably have to suck it up as a society and get to a new system."
—Ohio State University professor Peter Swire

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The Takeaway

The Lowdown on High Self-Esteem

Friday, July 03, 2009

Stuart Smalley’s famous words of self love: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me" could be hazardous to your mental health. A new study out of the University of Waterloo suggests that people with low-self esteem actually sink into a darker state of mind when they articulate self-affirmations. This is just the latest from a new batch of self-esteem studies. Joining us for a look at how the self-esteem movement has morphed since it burst onto the scene nearly 30 years ago is Takeaway science contributor Jonah Lehrer. Jonah is author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist.

"American kids feel better about themselves than kids all across the world, but achievement hasn't gone up. So now we have this nagging disconnect where our kids feel great about themselves— they think they're doing great in math and reading, but they're actually not."
—Science contributor Jonah Lehrer on the negative side effects of positive affirmations

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The Takeaway

South Africa: HIV Infections May Be Declining At Last

Friday, June 12, 2009

The news out of South Africa this week indicates there's something for the HIV-stricken country to celebrate. A new report says that HIV infections among young teens are down. In addition, the Western Cape is seeing fewer transmissions because more males are using condoms, and in the last three years the number of HIV infections has stabilized. Is the march of HIV slowing down?

The Takeaway is joined by Dr. Ernest Darkoh, a global health expert known for revolutionizing Botswana's HIV treatment program, to deconstruct the data. Click through for the full transcript of the interview.

Also, check out some intriguing data visualizations of HIV infection rates plotted against life expectancy, from gapminder.org.

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The Takeaway

Teenage Wasteland? How Teen Texting Affects Behavior

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Teenagers send thousands upon thousands of text messages each month (some as many as 24,000!). So researchers are beginning to wonder: what’s the effect of the furious finger work? Reporter Katie Hafner joins The Takeaway with answers.

For more, read Katie's piece on texting and teens in the Science Times section of today's New York Times, Texting may be taking a toll.

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The Takeaway

The absurd satisfaction of playing Foursquare

Friday, April 03, 2009

When I try to explain to people that I'm really into four square these days, I get a lot of blank looks. That's the natural reaction, given that most people's first association is of course to think of the schoolyard game. And sure, that's good fun, but I haven't played it in probably 15 years. The Foursquare I'm referring to is a kind of game, and a kind of social networking service -- and yes, you can score points, but that's only part of the fun.

Foursquare, from the same programmers who created the much loved and now closed service Dodgeball (they have a thing for games), is a mobile social networking game -- you "check in" from wherever you are, either using their iPhone app or via text message, and it lets your friends know where you are and what you're doing. This is useful enough as it is, and joins the growing ranks of location services like Loopt and Google Latitude that are all about broadcasting where you are and keeping track of your movements. Instead of connecting people through friends of friends, these networks connect people through what they do and where they go. Rather than learning about you by reading your list of favorite movies, I can find out what your favorite bars are, and how you spend a Saturday afternoon. Foursquare adds another element to this interaction, though: You get points for your check ins, and badges for reaching certain achievements; for instance, the Bender Badge is awarded if you check in more than four times in a row in any given week.

The points don't get you anything, except for the respect and admiration of other Foursquare users. There's a leaderboard you can check out from your iPhone, which ranks you against your friends and other people in your city (so far, the service is available in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, LA, Minneapolis, NYC, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC). Since each check in means points, there's an incentive to check in with every little thing you do -- it gets addictive quickly. At the deli? Better check in! Waiting at the bus stop? Let the world know about it! Like the absurd mundanity of Twitter, Foursquare encourages broadcasting the small stuff, letting people know where you went for lunch. And that's exactly the appeal -- get to know what I do, and you'll get to know who I am. And there's an undeniable joy at finding yourself near the top of the week's leaderboard. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go check in -- I'm trying to earn some points here.

You can check in, too -- The Takeaway's playing a game with your morning routine, and you can revel in the glory of winning points by calling in to 1-877-8-MY-TAKE, by emailing us at mytake@thetakeaway.org or by leaving a comment. Let us know the insane and incredibly mundane things you're up to. Instructions are here.

Scott Lamb is a senior editor at BuzzFeed. Related:
Where you at? Foursquare maps it out
Playing with radio: Behind the scenes of The Takeaway's "Where are you?" game
What are you doing right now?
The thrill of checking in with our listeners
Read More

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The Takeaway

America's #1 Prescription: PLAY!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ants do it. (says E.O. Wilson)
Octopuses do it.
Humans...mmmm, not so much.

There's talk going around about the science of P-L-A-Y, and specifically, about what play means, how it lights up our brains, and why we feel like automatrons when we don't play. Today's prescription is written by Dr Stuart Brown, co-author of the new book, "Play," and founder of the National Institute for Play. He joins The Takeaway for a break from the real world.

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