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Bite-sized interviews with top social scientists

Bite-sized interviews with top social scientists
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United States

Description:

Bite-sized interviews with top social scientists

Language:

English


Episodes

James Robinson on Why Nations Fail

12/3/2018
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Metrics on the average living standards from the best-off countries in the world (say, Norway) to the worst-off (perhaps the Central African Republic) vary by a factor of 40 to 50. So notes James Robinson, the Reverend Dr. Richard L. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict at the University of Chicago and author, with Daron Acemoglu, of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. What explains the living-standards gap? In this Social Science Bites podcast, interviewer...

Duration:00:18:18

Nick Adams on Textual Analysis

11/1/2018
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Fake news, whether truly phony or merely unpalatable, has become an inescapable trope for modern media consumers. But apart from its propagandist provenance, misinformation and disinformation in our media diets is a genuine threat. Sociologist Nick Adams, in this Social Science Bites podcast, offers hope that a tool he’s developed can improve the media literacy of the populace. That tool, known as Public Editor, allows trained volunteers to do one of seven assessment tasks within 15 minutes...

Duration:00:16:23

Andrew Leigh on Randomistas

10/1/2018
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Andrew Leigh would take a daily a multivitamin, he says, until he learned that a randomized controlled trial, or RCT, found no increase in lifespan linked to taking them. So he stopped. Leigh isn’t a nutritionist, he’s an economist. But more to the point, Leigh is also an unrepentant ‘randomista,’ which is what he calls researchers who use RCT’s to tackle thorny issues of public concern. (Leigh is also a politician, 2010 sitting since as the member of Australia’s Parliament for the Division...

Duration:00:18:46

Diane Reay on Education and Class

9/4/2018
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Diane Reay grew up in a council estate in a coal mining part of Derbyshire in England’s East Midlands. Those working-class roots dogged her from the start of her formal schooling. “I had to fight not to be in the bottom set; I was told that girls like me don’t go to university,” Reay, now a renowned Cambridge University education professor, tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast. “I think that spurred a strong interest in class inequalities and I became, like...

Duration:00:18:24

Mahzarin Banaji on Implicit Bias

8/2/2018
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Explicit statements of prejudice are less common than in the past (even if they are still easily found). “I see that as a mark of progress,” says social psychologist Mahzarin R. Banaji, the Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University. But peer a little below the surface, she adds, “even though you might reject an explicit bias, you actually have the implicit version of it.” “The brain is an association-seeking machine,” she tells interviewer David Edmonds in this...

Duration:00:26:54

Richard Wilkinson on How Inequality is Bad

7/3/2018
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While generally accepted that inequality is a bad thing, how exactly is that so? Beyond philosophical arguments, what is it about inequality that makes it bad? That’s a question that Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett examined at a societal scale in their 2009 book The Spirit Level and have continued at an individual level with their newest book, The Inner Level. The volume’s subtitles help explain the evolution; Spirit’s is “Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger” while Inner’s is...

Duration:00:17:17

Celia Heyes on Cognitive Gadgets

6/1/2018
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How did humans diverge so markedly from animals? Apart from physical things like our “physical peculiarities,” as experimental psychologist Celia Heyes puts it, or our fine motor control, there’s something even more fundamentally – and cognitively -- different. “I suppose at the broadest level,” Heyes tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, “we differ from animals because we are so ultra-social, so intensely cooperative. And as a result, we’ve transformed our...

Duration:00:19:16

Alison Liebling on Successful Prisons

5/1/2018
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In determining what makes a successful prison, where would you place ‘trust’? Alison Liebling, a criminologist at the University of Cambridge and the director of the Institute of Criminology’s Prisons Research Centre, would place it at the top spot. As she tells interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast, she believes what makes a prison good is the existence and the practice of trust. As this recording makes clear, these aren’t starry-eyed recommendations from a novice...

Duration:00:27:04

David Spiegelhalter on Communicating Statistics

4/2/2018
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While they aren’t as unpopular as politicians or journalists, people who work with statistics come in for their share of abuse. “Figures lie and liars figure,” goes one maxim. And don’t forget, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." But some people are the good guys, doing their best to combat the flawed or dishonest use of numbers. One of those good guys is David Spiegelhalter, professor of the public understanding of risk in the Statistical Laboratory in the...

Duration:00:19:04

Sander van der Linden on Viral Altruism

3/1/2018
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Use social media for any amount of time and eventually you will come across something that’s designed to both appeal to the angels of your better nature and asking to make a (small) effort to support or propagate this appeal. The prime example of recent years is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. When these charitable appeals take off, that’s when social psychologist Sander van der Linden perks up. He studies ‘viral altruism,’ and in this Social Science Bites podcast he details to host David...

Duration:00:20:27

Melinda Mills on Sociogenomics

2/1/2018
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The Western feud over “nature vs. nurture” dates back at least to an essay by John Locke in 1690. The idea that it’s an absolute binary – that our actions are determined solely by one or the other – is thankfully passé. And yet, in an academic setting, with scholars safe in their silos, the tension continues in practice if not in conversation. For a bit of anecdotal evidence, look at Melinda Mills, the head of department and Nuffield Professor of Sociology at Oxford University. She studied...

Duration:00:16:39

Jo Boaler on Fear of Mathematics

1/2/2018
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That some people are just naturally gifted at mathematics is pretty well accepted as conventional wisdom. With enlightened teaching we can all become adequate at math, or maths, and should set expectations accordingly. That, says Jo Boaler, who is a professor of mathematics education at Stanford University, is hogwash. Although she uses the more refined terminology of calling such thinking “a myth.” “The neuroscience is showing us petty clearly that there’s no such thing as a maths brain,...

Duration:00:18:20

Bev Skeggs on Social Media Siloing

12/1/2017
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“Most people,” says Goldsmiths sociologist Bev Skeggs, “think they’re using Facebook to communicate with friends. Basically they’re using it to reveal how much they can be sold for, now and in the future, and how much their friends can be sold for.” That was an almost accidental lesson she learned during research on how social networks were structuring, or restructuring, friendships, she explains to interviewer David Edmonds in this Social Science Bites podcast. After receiving a monstrous...

Duration:00:17:31

Sabina Alkire on Measuring Poverty

11/1/2017
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Is it just a low wage that conjures up the term when we talk about “crushing poverty”? Or is it really a host of other issues that likely accompany that lack of money? Economist Sabina Alkire has spent her career crafting the measures that demonstrate that latter proposition, work that with fellow economist James Foster resulted in what is known as the Alkire-Foster Method for determining level of poverty. In this Social Science Bites podcast, Alkire – director of the Oxford Poverty and...

Duration:00:19:51

Tom Chatfield on Critical Thinking and Bias

10/2/2017
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Philosopher Tom Chatfield’s media presence – which is substantial – is often directly linked to his writings on technology. But his new book is on critical thinking, and while that involves humanity’s oldest computer, the brain, Chatfield explains in this Social Science Bites podcast that new digital realities interact with old human biases. As Chatfield tells interviewer Dave Edmonds, while he defines bias as “an inaccurate account of the way things actually are,” this like confirmation,...

Duration:00:31:09

Ioanna Palaiologou on Play

8/31/2017
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Amid all the handwringing about kids and the damage smartphones are doing them, child psychologist Ioanna Palaiologou is upbeat. “I don’t think,” she says, “we should worry as much as the media is making it. ... If the elements are there, it’s another toy for them.” Palaiologou, an associate at the Institute of Education, University College London’s Centre for Leadership in Learning, has the background to make a judgment in that regard. Among other things, she’s an expert on children and...

Duration:00:16:37

Al Roth on Matching Markets

8/1/2017
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Al Roth on Matching Markets The system that runs the ride-sharing company Uber doesn’t just link up passengers and drivers based on price. It also has to connect the two based largely on where they are geographically. It is, says Nobel laureate Stanford economist Alvin E. “Al” Al Roth, a matching market. In this Social Science Bites podcast, Roth explains to interview David Edmonds some of the ins and outs of market matching, starting with a quick and surprisingly simple definition. “A...

Duration:00:25:12

Theresa Marteau on Healthy Environments

7/7/2017
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Under normal circumstances, if something was hurting you, you’d likely stop doing it. Except, well, as Theresa Marteau of Cambridge University’s Department of Public Health and Primary Care has explored deeply, in some key areas, you’re likely not stopping. In a conversation with Social Science Bites host David Edmonds, she notes that the majority of premature deaths are due to four non-communicable diseases – diabetes, cancer, cardio-vascular disease, and lung disease. In turn, there are...

Duration:00:24:13

Mary Bosworth on Border Criminology

6/1/2017
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“Borders,” says Mary Bosworth, “are the key issue of our time.” And so, says the criminologist, “in response to the mass migration that’s happening, the criminal justice system is shifting. This shouldn’t surprise us – all other aspects of our society are changing.” One of those changes is the creation of a new subfield of criminology, one explicitly evolved to understand immigration control and criminal justice. In this Social Science Bites podcast interview with Dave Edmonds, Bosworth...

Duration:00:25:34

Whose Work Most Influenced You? A Social Science Bites Retrospective, Part 3

5/16/2017
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Ask a number of influential social scientists who in turn influenced them, and you’d likely get a blue-ribbon primer on the classics in social science. Wright Mills’ The Sociological Imagination. Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death. Irving Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Emile Durkheim’s Suicide. Michel Foucault’s The Archaeology of Knowledge. During the recording of every Social Science Bites podcast, the guest has been asked the following: Which piece of social...

Duration:00:11:46