The Why Factor
The Walk - 25 July 201407/25/14
Why do we go on long walks? From the German tradition of the wandern to urban street walking, it seems we’ve always gone on long walks for reasons other than necessity. Why?
The Moon - 18 July 2014
Mike Williams explores the moon in culture, how it affects life on Earth and he asks Alan Bean – one of the handful of people who have walked on it – what the moon is really like.
The Apology - 11 July 2014
Why do we say sorry – and what do we really mean by it? Mike Williams explores the apology, from Ancient Greece to today’s wayward politicians.
Coincidence - 04 July 2014
What is coincidence and why do we attach meaning to it? Jo Fidgen hears World Service listeners’ gripping coincidence stories.
World War One: Patriotism - 27 June 2014
Mike Williams investigates the power of patriotism, from World War One to the present day. How can this loyalty be fostered, manufactured and manipulated?
Accents - 20 June 2014
As soon as we speak we are judged on our accents. But what do they really reveal about who we are? Jo Fidgen explores why English sounds different across the globe and traces the American accent back to the Elizabethans. She also meets a woman whose...
Eyes - 13 June 2014
Mike Williams explores why eye contact is an essential part of a baby’s development, how we can manipulate eye contact to flirt, and what our eyes reveal about us.
The Fool - 6 June 2014
Mike Williams explores the role of the fool, their place in culture and politics, and asks whether there is still a need for a funnyman who can speak truth to power.
Diplomacy - 30 May 2014
Diplomacy. What’s it for and how is it done? This week we present a user’s guide to the “great game”. With Mike Williams.
Competition - 23 May 2014
Why are we competitive? Is it a natural instinct we should nurture in our children so they learn that victory is the ultimate goal and where only the fittest survive? Or do we over emphasise the importance of competition at the expense of all else?
Symmetry - 16 May 2014
Symmetry is everywhere once you become aware of its presence, in art, architecture and science. Why does symmetry exist and why do we see such beauty in it?
Sticky Songs - 9 May 2014
What makes snippets of popular songs go round and round in our heads? Which songs are likely to be “sticky songs” and what sort of person is most susceptible to them? If one’s driving you mad, how do you get rid of it! And what might the wider mental...
The Kiss - 02 May 2014
Is kissing universal to all cultures? It might be today, but one 19th century African chief’s daughter got a fright when a British explorer tried to kiss her. Do prostitutes kiss? Julia Robert’s character in the 1990 film ‘Pretty Woman’ said no to...
Luck - 25 April 2014
Most people believe in some aspects of luck. Is believing in luck something which can empower us or does it mean we give up whatever control we feel we have over our lives?
Horoscopes - 18 Apr 2014
Around the world millions of people believe their lives are governed by the position of the sun, moon and planets but why do we read horoscopes?
Racism - 11 April 2014
Jo Fidgeon explores the experience of racism around the world and in different societies and discover the genetics behind race.
Boredom - 4 April 2014
Boredom is experienced by everyone from production workers to philosophers and is increasingly an area of study for psychologists. But is it only a negative emotion or is it necessary to motivating human behaviour?
Envy - 28 Mar 2014
What is envy? Why do we feel it and what does it do to us? This week Mike Williams explores an emotion than can be dangerously destructive but can also make us strive for success.
Dance - 21 March 2014
It’s thought that dance predates language. But why do we have an innate desire to move, and what are we trying to communicate?
Family Names - 14 March 2014
Some last names grow longer and longer as they carry a family story from generation to generation. It could decide how easily you move through society. So what’s in a last name? Mike Williams explains
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More informationWhy do we do the things we do?
Mike Williams searches for the extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions to inform us about the way we live in the 21st century. Broadcast and podcast every Friday from September 2012.