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The University of Liverpool Podcast

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United Kingdom




#021 Is Narcissism on the rise?

It’s easy to see signs that it might be. Research into pop music and contemporary literature offers indirect evidence that narcissism is on the rise in Western culture. More direct evidence comes from the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI): a database of thousands of US college students’ personality test results, collected over several decades. Results from these tests show narcissism has risen. Yet, new research has emerged that challenges this view. University of Liverpool lecturer...

Duration: 00:24:37

#20 A History of Slimming

The weight loss market in the US is estimated to be worth 66 billion dollars. Europe isn’t too far behind that at 44 billion. It is big business and while its expansion has kept pace with our growing waist lines, its origins can be traced oddly enough to a time when food was scarce. Myriam Wilks-Heeg is a Lecturer in Twentieth Century History at the University of Liverpool. She’s researching the history of slimming in the UK and how it became an obsession for women. Did you know that the...

Duration: 00:23:13

Bonus Episode: Colm Tóibín reading from his latest work

Earlier this year Colm Tóibín spoke before an audience at the Victoria Gallery Museum in Liverpool. The author and University of Liverpool Chancellor read excerpts from his latest novel House of Names. The work is a retelling of one part of the classic Greek trilogy The Oresteia and depicts Clytemnestra’s revenge for the murder of her daughter. This special bonus episode features Tóibín’s fascinating and funny insights into the challenges he faced adapting a story that is 2,500 years...

Duration: 00:45:08

#019 Halloween as therapy

At this time of year we flock to horror films and prepare ghoulish costumes - but why do we do this? For children the answer is easy: sweet treats. For adults, the attraction to frightening things is a bit more complicated. One in six people in Great Britain experience anxiety or depression each week. Though many struggle with inner demons, they are also attracted to the macabre and the terrifying. It seems like a paradox but Dr Peter Kinderman says taking part in Halloween traditions can...

Duration: 00:22:43

#018 Are Sugary Drinks The New Tobacco?

Simon Capewell says sugary drinks are killing us. The University of Liverpool Public Health researcher and advocate says sugar, especially the sugar in sugary drinks, is the single biggest cause of obesity. He is fighting for sugary drinks to be treated the same as tobacco which means, higher taxes and stricter limits on advertising but the industry is fighting back with huge advertising campaigns and suspect research. Professor Simon Capewell:...

Duration: 00:27:27

#017 Colm Toibin: Universities in the era of Brexit and Trump

University of Liverpool Chancellor, Colm Tóibín explores the role of education and universities in the current political climate. The Irish short story writer, essayist, playwright, journalist, critic and poet is author of nine novels - three of which have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. In 2009 Brooklyn won the Costa Novel of the Year and was later adapted into an Academy Award nominated and BAFTA winning film. His work has been translated into more than 30 languages and he...

Duration: 00:34:28

#016: Tofu solar panels vs Big Business

Two years ago, physicist Jon Major published research on a new method for producing solar panels in the prestigious journal Nature. His technique has a tenuous connection to tofu but that was enough to push it onto the front pages of news sites around the world. The experience taught him a lot about the value of good communication of scientific ideas. Dr Major’s experience since the research was published has taught him even more about the structure of the modern solar industry. It may not...

Duration: 00:21:19

#015: What if medicine becomes a lot more personal?

It might seem a bit farfetched but someday soon we might all carry in our wallets a little card, something like a credit card except this card will carry our entire genetic code. It’s something you would hand over to your doctor or that doctors would look for if you ended up in hospital. Another possibility is that your doctor might have your genetic profile on file, right there beside your address, your age and your weight. According to Prof Sir Munir Pirmohamed medicine is set to get a...

Duration: 00:20:19

Episode 14: Who stopped the Ebola outbreak?

Dr Calum Semple shares his experience working in Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis. It’s a harrowing story that offers some surprising lessons. The large scale Western medical intervention, the type Dr Semple was involved in, might not have been the crucial factor in conquering the outbreak – and certainly not as key as we may have thought. Rather, when reflecting on his research and his experiences, Calum suggests that public health messages concerning the burial of infected persons...

Duration: 00:22:05

Episode 13: Why do we love mermaids?

Mermaids have fascinated and attracted us for generations. What is it about these mythical creatures that has so captivated humans for thousands of years and across cultures? Sarah Peverley is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool and a Leverhulme Research Fellow working on a project entitled: 'Mermaids of the British Isles, c. 450-1500'. Sarah walks us through our long, complex and profound relationship with these beguiling messengers from the deep. Read more...

Duration: 00:25:31

Episode 12 - Help! Is my dog obese?

Prof Alex German calls obesity the single greatest threat to your dog's health, and yet most pet owners don't even realise their pet is overweight. It's not just the average pet owner who faces this challenge. Prof German’s analysis of dogs at Crufts, the biggest dog show in the UK, found that about a quarter of all show dogs were overweight. The rise in dog obesity parallels the rise in obesity in humans and obese dogs face many of the same health risks as obese humans including arthritis...

Duration: 00:19:02

Episode 11: Interrogations- Why respect gets results

The string of terror attacks in the UK has increased pressure on police to identify and disrupt terrorist plots early. This requires fast and effective interrogations of family, friends and supporters of attackers. You might imagine this means tough questioning that is extremely stressful to the detainee. But according to Laurence Alison, a softer approach tends to achieve hard results. Professor Alison is Director of the Centre for Critical and Major Incident Psychology at the University...

Duration: 00:24:34

Episode 10: The Business Of Football

Kieran Maguire talks to us about the serious business of the beautiful game's Premier League. He is a Senior Teacher in Accountancy at the University of Liverpool, and a football finance expert. He is also a lifelong fan of newly promoted Brighton FC. Kieran discusses the city of Liverpool's plan to underwrite Everton Football Club’s new stadium, the importance of Champions League places, and different approaches to financing and running Premier League football clubs. The discussion has a...

Duration: 00:21:22

Episode 9: Can the DUP push the Conservatives to the left?

When Prime Minister Theresa May announced her intention to negotiate a partnership with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), critics and observers pointed to deeply conservative statements of some DUP members and warned that the Conservatives risked being dragged to the far right of the political spectrum. However, two University of Liverpool experts in Northern Ireland politics argue that the modern DUP is a pragmatic and politically sophisticated party. And, far from dragging the...

Duration: 00:18:58

Episode 8 - Help! Is my child a psychopath?

For parents, the discovery that their child’s difficult behaviour is actually a form of psychopathy is devastating. Psychopathy is widely seen as difficult, if not impossible to treat - and the prognosis for people with psychopathic traits is deeply troubling. Psychopaths make up just 1% of the general population but they are vastly overrepresented in prisons where they are estimated to make up 20% of the population. Dr Luna Centifanti, a Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at the...

Duration: 00:26:52

5 minutes on... birth dates and mental health

Dr Praveetha Patalay walks us through research that shows how children's mental health can be affected by their date of birth. Praveetha Patalay is a Lecturer in Population Mental Health and Child Development at the University of Liverpool. She has numerous awards and distinctions for her research including recently being selected as a Top 30 under 30 in Science and Healthcare for Forbes Magazine. This is our first episode in a new and sporadic series of short episodes called "5 minutes...

Duration: 00:07:43

Episode 7: Is it really mental ‘illness’?

Dr Peter Kinderman argues that mental emotional distress is not a sign of illness but a symptom of social causes and pressure. Depression, anxiety and even schizophrenia can be serious and debilitating experiences for people; but Dr Kinderman says the causes of these symptoms will not be found inside the brain but rather outside the person. Unemployment, bullying, child abuse, these are often the causes of mental distress - and the treatment he prescribes is for all of us to take greater...

Duration: 00:26:49

Episode 6: Who will tell the robots what to do?

In part two of our look at big data and the ethics of autonomous machines, Dr Louise Dennis examines the choices self-driving cars will face as they take over our roads. Sometimes, the question is not what a good driver would do but rather, what a good (i.e. moral) person should do. As autonomous machines spread into more and more facets of modern life, from our highways to our hospitals to our homes, Dr Dennis maintains that moral reasoning will increasingly need to be a critical part of...

Duration: 00:19:36

Episode 5: Big Data and the search for MH370

This is the first episode in a two part series on the ethics of big data and autonomous machines. In this episode we speak with Prof Simon Maskell, Professor of Autonomous Systems at the University of Liverpool. He was involved in the hunt for MH370 which is the Malaysian Airlines plane that went missing less than one hour after take-off from Kuala Lampur on March 8, 2014. It is an interesting case study in the use of big data because it demonstrates the critical role human judgement...

Duration: 00:29:15

Episode 4: Suzi Gage on 'Say Why to Drugs'

Suzi Gage is taking the the Just Say No motto and turning it on its head. Suzi is the co-host of the podcast 'Say Why to Drugs'. The podcast is an evidence driven, deep dive into everything we know, and still don’t know, about specific recreational drugs. Every two weeks she and her co-host, the UK rapper Scroobius Pip focus on a different drug. At the end of last year the podcast won Skeptic Magazine’s Ockham Award for best podcast. And at the beginning of this year Suzi Gage won the...

Duration: 00:25:19

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