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psychology

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Numbers are so fundamental to our understanding of the world around us that we maybe tend to think of them as an intrinsic part of the world around us. But they aren't. Humans invented numbers just as much as we invented all of language.

This hour, we look at the anthropological, psychological, and linguistical ramifications of the concept of numbers.

And we look at one philosophical question too: Are numbers even real in the first place?

OnCall team / Creative Commons

Applications to nursing schools spiked during the pandemic from those who wanted to help. They chose to be nurses at a time when the risk to their own health was never greater. Why are some people willing to run toward the fire when others are running away from it?

Most of us fall somewhere on a spectrum of altruistic behavior. We might adopt a stray pet, donate a liter of blood, or check on an older neighbor. Others pursue a career based on helping others, and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, some choose to donate their kidney to a stranger or rush into traffic to save a stranger's life.

We talk to two nurses, a kidney donor, and a psychologist about nursing and the nature of altruism.

Karin Shedd / Yale University

Yale University psychology professor Laurie Santos says happiness is about having joy in your life and with your life.

“If we’re maximizing you being happy in your life -- that’s lots of positive emotions,” Santos told NEXT.

She says you’re happy with your life when you’re satisfied at a meta level.

Denali National Park and Preserve / Creative Commons

We're not the same people today that we were before covid upended our lives last spring. We found ways to survive a deadly and invisible virus, even as it threatened our survival. We learned to work from home, sew masks, Zoom, and create new words to describe our unique situation. And scientists developed vaccines so we could adapt faster than the virus could mutate. 

Now, we're realizing that we don't want to leave behind all of our new "normal" as we prepare to return to the routines of our pre-pandemic "normal."

We talk about that and play some of your essays. 

CHRISTEL ØVERLAND PRETENI / flickr creative commons

humor = tragedy + time

OK, but then the logical next question is: How much time?

If it's OK, at this point, to joke about, say, The Spanish Inquisition... what about, for instance, the Holocaust? Or AIDS? September 11th? The #MeToo movement?

...Derek Chauvin?

The Allure Of Advice

Apr 1, 2021
Fred Palumbo, World Telegram staff reporter / Library of Congress

John Dunton started the first advice column in 1690. He called it the Athenian Mercury. John, a bookseller, and his four "experts" wanted to answer "all the most Nice and Curious Questions proposed by the Ingenious of Either Sex." One person wondered why they would trouble themselves "and the world with answering so many silly questions." But it was a hit.

People have always been drawn to advice columns. They're a public forum for private thoughts; they're communal, yet anonymous; they reveal human strength, yet vulnerability. Despite their popularity, until recently, most readers in the recent decades have been white women. That's changing.

Erich Ferdinand / flickr creative commons

Did you get enough sleep last night? If you're like most Americans, probably not. You might feel pretty good after six hours of sleep and a strong cup of coffee, but the physical and mental toll of sleep deprivation is high.

We become more impulsive and less mentally agile, and we make more mistakes. Long term, lack of sleep (six hours or less per night) can mess with mood, hormones, and immune systems, and it can increase our risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Marcela McGreal / Wikimedia Commons

Last week's violence at three spas in Georgia, followed a year of escalating violence against Asian Americans, some of it captured on videos that went viral. Despite visual evidence, New Yorker writer Hua Hsu, writes that this current moment stresses the "in-between space Asian Americans inhabit." It's hard to prove bias when we lack a historical understanding of what Asian American racism looks like. 

Tom / Creative Commons

A 2019 YouGov survey says that 20 percent of American adults "definitely" believe in ghosts; another twenty-five percent believe they "probably exist."

And, while no data yet proves it, there's a good chance that quarantining at home during the pandemic has led more people to wonder where those nighttime creaks and groans are coming from.  

Some skeptics say that seeing ghosts is part of the human experience and far too common an occurrence for everyone who thinks they see a ghost to be crazy. But there are a lot of reasons to explain why we sincerely believe we're seeing a ghost. Yet, it's hard to convince people otherwise - even when confronted with evidence to the contrary.

In the end, psychologists can offer explanations but no one can definitively prove ghosts don't exist. 

Photo by M.T ElGassier on Unsplash / Illustration by Chion Wolf

You know how you can, for the most part, remember what happened to you yesterday? Well what if you were able to remember almost EVERY day that clearly? All the way back to when you were very young?

How would your day-to-day choices be affected, knowing that you’ll remember what you did forever? Do we all have our memories stored inside our brains like they do, but we don’t have a way to access them? Or something else?

Meet two of around 60 people in the world who are known to have Highly Superior Autobiographical Memories, or HSAM.

Plus, hear from an expert studying the people with this ultra-rare condition, and what we can learn about our brains, our memories, and ourselves.

Discovery Communications, LLC

Criminal Minds. Mindhunter and Manhunt. Cracker and Profiler. Nearly the whole of the Hannibal Lecter universe: Manhunter, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal (the movie and the TV series), Red Dragon, and now Clarice.

It seems we're fascinated by forensic psychology, by mindhunting, by criminal profiling.

This hour, we look at three different criminal profilers: James Brussel, the psychologist who helped catch the Mad Bomber of New York in 1957; James Fitzgerald, the forensic linguist who caught the Unabomber; and Bill James, the father of sabermetrics, turns his data analysis on a century-old serial killer mystery that no one had even realized was a serial killer mystery before he and his daughter figured it out.

Flatart at Freepik.com / Adaptation by Chion Wolf

Whether you’re superstitious or, as Michael Scott from The Office says, “a little stitious”, on today’s show about superstitions, you’ll learn a lot about humanity.

The author of a book about superstitions from around the world joins us, as well as an expert about anxiety on the difference between superstitious beliefs and OCD or trauma responses.

Olgierd Rudak / Creative Commons

We produced our first show on masks in the spring of 2020. It was when most of us were isolated at home to sidestep the life-threatening illness we've come to call "COVID." The show was about how rapidly masks had become a statement of political identity.

The intensity of the mask battles has begun to calm as we've acclimated to the pervasiveness of masks in our lives. Like them or not, they're here to stay, and they've begun to leave a lasting imprint on our culture.

Stewart Black / Creative Commons

Applications to nursing schools spiked during the pandemic from those who wanted to help. They chose to be nurses at a time when the risk to their own health was never greater. Why are some people willing to run toward the fire when others are running away from it?

Most of us fall somewhere on a spectrum of altruistic behavior. We might adopt a stray pet, donate a liter of blood, or check on an older neighbor. Others pursue a career based on helping others, and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, some choose to donate their kidney to a stranger. 

We talk to two nurses, a kidney donor, and a psychologist about the nature of altruism.

TV: Macrovector at Freepik.com / Illustration: Chion Wolf


With the world the way it is, it’s no wonder we spend so much of our time watching television and movies. From sci-fi flicks like Star Trek, to unscripted reality shows like Queer Eye, to comedy dramas like Schitt’s Creek, we are basking in the very best distractions.

Kate Hartman / Interactive Telecommunications Program, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University

Do you talk to yourself? Is it a silent inter-narrative or do you talk aloud? What form of address to you use to yourself?

When I'm mad at myself I sometimes address myself as Colin. But, I sense that when LeBron speaks to himself as LeBron, it's more affirming. 

I talk aloud quite a bit. A hangover, I think, from growing up as an only child.

It’s finally 2021. But that line in the calendar doesn’t mean that the pandemic is anywhere near over, so I want to start this year off by looking back at people whom I interviewed in the series that we launched before Audacious.


The older I get, the more excited I am to be corrected when I’m wrong.

Sure, it may sting for a second because hearing someone say “actually…” can be kind of annoying, and if I’m wrong about something, then that means that contrary to my sparkling self-image, I don’t know it all.

The Truth About Lies

Nov 10, 2020
Mike Roberts / Creative Commons

Laszlo Ratesic is a nineteen-year veteran of the Speculative Service. He lives in the Golden State, the only place left in what was once America. Laszlo's job is to bring the worst criminals to justice, those who tell lies. In his new novel, Ben Winters creates a world which might sound Eden-esque in our era of misinformation. 

Illustration by Chion Wolf

Veterans Day is November 11th. Unlike Memorial Day, when we remember those who’ve died while serving in the military, and unlike Armed Services day, when we honor those who are currently serving, Veterans Day recognizes all people - living and dead - who have served in the military.

Shudder

It's our annual Halloween special! For this year, the script kind of wrote itself. We look at the way our current, actual horror is likely to affect our future fictional horror through the lens of the genre's past distinct historical eras.

Plus: A new study that seems to say that horror fans were better prepared for the pandemic than the wimpy rest of us were.

And: Every year on this show, for no particular reason, we look specifically at some classic horror movie that's celebrating its 40th anniversary. Two years ago, it was Halloween. Last year, it was Alien. This year, it's Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

Ruth Hartnup / flickr creative commons

We wake up to coffee from a pod, listen to music through our EarPods from our iPods, drive our Smart cars and Fiats and other increasingly pod-shaped vehicles, wash our clothes using Tide pods, and while we wait for the clothes to dry, we listen to our favorite podcast through our AirPods from our HomePod. Sound about right?

Harli Marten / Unsplash

Fill in the blank: Love is… Patient. Kind. Love is Work. Hard to find.

But if you wanna put your finger on what makes up “long-lasting love”, you’re gonna need some wisdom to fill in those blanks.

So today, meet three couples who’ve been together for over 50 years.

Alyssa L. Miller / Creative Commons

Our ancestors viewed sleep as a highly sensual and transcendent experience. Today, about a third of adults have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or feeling rested. We're becoming a nation of insomniacs.

Illustration by Chion Wolf

What does it mean to be a man? What is manliness? What is “toxic masculinity”? And what do - and don’t - specific body parts have to say about what it means to be male?

Hear from two journalists and authors about how the ideas of manhood physically and socially may be far more malleable than you think.

Tom / Creative Commons

A 2019 YouGov survey says that 20 percent of American adults "definitely" believe in ghosts; another twenty-five percent believe they "probably exist."

And, while no data yet proves it, there's a good chance that quarantining at home during the pandemic has led more people to wonder where those nighttime creaks and groans are coming from.  

Some skeptics say that seeing ghosts is part of the human experience and far too common an occurrence for everyone who thinks they see a ghost to be crazy. But there are a lot of reasons to explain why we sincerely believe we're seeing a ghost. Yet, it's hard to convince people otherwise - even when confronted with evidence to the contrary.

In the end, psychologists can offer explanations but no one can definitively prove ghosts don't exist. 

Olgierd Rudak / Creative Commons

We produced our first show on masks in the spring of 2020. It was when most of us were isolated at home to sidestep the life-threatening illness we've come to call "COVID." The show was about how rapidly masks had become a statement of political identity.

The intensity of the mask battles has begun to calm as we've acclimated to the pervasiveness of masks in our lives. Like them or not, they're here to stay, and they've begun to leave a lasting imprint on our culture.

Joe Giron / www.pokerphotoarchive.com

Maria Konnikova, best-selling New York Times author and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, has long been interested in understanding the balance between skill and luck. How much of her life could she take credit for and how much was the luck of her draw? So, she took a year away from work to become a professional poker player. 

Image courtesy of Laina Morris

This hour, we’re talking with people who have become memes. Like, “Hide the Pain Harold”, who is actually András Arató - a stock photo model who  is smiling wide but his eyes, well, there’s a real sadness there.

And “Overly Attached Girlfriend”, who is Laina Morris. She entered a Justin Beiber song parody competition and just a few moments of her wide-eyed face from the video launched her into supermemedom.

And we’ll talk with two Karens - one who is Black and one who’s white - about what it’s like having their name become a meme that means “white woman who calls 911 on Black and brown people who aren’t doing anything illegal.”

Plus, hear from Zach Sweat from KnowYourMeme.com about how memes infiltrate every little corner of our lives - for better and worse.

a hole
Mike Burns / flickr creative commons

In November, 2016, we did a show about all the problems presented by, well, a-holes. And so it seems only logical to expand our scope a bit and do a show about all the problems presented by, well, a hole.

For instance: How many holes are there in a straw? Did you say one? Okay, cool. Then how many holes are there in a sock? (A relatively new sock, I mean.) You said one again, right? But how can both of those things be true at the same time?

Or, put another way: What happens to the hole in the donut as you eat the donut around it? This gets into mereology, the theory of parthood relations -- for our purposes, the parts and wholes of holes and the wholes the holes are parts of.

Your head hurts a little, right?

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