KERA's Think podcast

How bad ideas spread

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As families gather this holiday season – many for the first time in nearly two years – we may learn that some of our loved ones have developed a few ideas they didn’t have the last time we saw them. Today, host Krys Boyd looks at how disinformation spreads so easily. We’ll be joined by a journalist who writes about the changing media landscape, a linguist who explains how cults use very specific language to recruit new members, and a researcher who says bad ideas are parasites that infect our brains.

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  • KERA's Think podcast

    How trauma is etched onto our brains


    Even the smallest stressors can imprint significant traumas on our bodies and brains. Rutgers University professor Tracey Shors joins guest host Courtney Collins to discuss how the body processes trauma and the therapeutic approaches to help mitigate the negative effects it has on our lives. Her book is called “Everyday Trauma: Remapping the Brain’s Response to Stress, Anxiety, and Painful Memories for a Better Life.”
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    From the archives: Animals sometimes don’t follow the rules


    When bears attack, there’s probably an animal conflict resolution specialist standing by to take on the case. Mary Roach joins guest host Courtney Collins to talk about when humans and wildlife are in conflict – from errant elephants to rule-breaking moose and life-threatening trees. Her book is called “Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law.” This episode originally aired on Sept. 24, 2021.
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  • KERA's Think podcast

    Data can’t replace our brains just yet


    Anyone who’s ever followed a map knows it’s important to look up to understand the landscape. Chris Jones joins guest host Courtney Collins to talk about our ever-increasing dependence on data rather than common sense or personal mastery, and why that could be hampering creativity and good ideas. His book is called “The Eye Test: A Case for Human Creativity in the Age of Analytics.”
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    From the archives: A YA novelist takes on fatphobia


    For the fictional Charlie Vega, coming-of-age means coming to terms with life as a brown girl in a bigger body. Author Crystal Maldonado joins guest host Courtney Collins to discuss her YA novel about a young woman dealing with the typical subjects of boys and friends, but also a deepening understanding of how she’s viewed by the outside world. The book is called “Fat Chance, Charlie Vega.” This episode originally aired July 23, 2021.
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    Pharaohs wrote the playbook for today’s dictators


    Perhaps the global slide into authoritarianism can be better understood by an examination of the ancient past. Kara Cooney, professor of Egyptian art and architecture at UCLA, joins guest host Courtney Collins to discuss her research into the Egyptian pharaohs and why their system of rule and religious beliefs can help us to understand power and privilege in our modern world. Her book is called “The Good Kings: Absolute Power in Ancient Egypt and the Modern World.”
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    From the archives: For racial justice, we have to get past our shame


    To combat implicit bias, researchers are turning their focus to how our brains can be retrained. Shakil Choudhury is a consultant with 25 years of experience in justice, equity, diversity and inclusion training, and he joins host Krys Boyd to talk about addressing racism with the science of psychology, which he says helps mitigate feelings of shame or guilt in order to dig deep and do real work. His book is called “Deep Diversity: A Compassionate, Scientific Approach to Achieving Racial Justice.” This interview originally aired on Aug. 30, 2021
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    The miracle of electricity


    Electricity makes our home appliances go, and it also animates the human body. Timothy J. Jorgensen is professor of radiation medicine and biochemistry and director of the Health Physics and Radiation Protection Graduate Program at Georgetown University. He joins host Krys Boyd to discuss advances in our understanding of the connection between electricity and the nervous system – and how these discoveries are changing how we live. His book is called “Spark: The Life of Electricity and the Electricity of Life.”
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    Pandemic dads are rethinking their roles


    We’ve heard a chorus of women who say the pandemic has pushed moms to their breaking point. What about the dads? Chabeli Carrazana, covers the economy for The 19th, and she joins host Krys Boyd to discuss the men who are charting new waters as they balance raising children, work and the pressures of an ongoing public health emergency. Her article is headlined “Did the pandemic change dads forever?”
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    She kept her baby and lost her future


    In the debate about abortion, the voices of women who feel they didn’t have a choice often aren’t heard. Author Merritt Tierce joins Krys Boyd to discuss her pregnancy at age 19, when she felt adoption and abortion were not options for her, and the dreams she gave up to have her baby. Her article, “The abortion I didn’t have,” appeared in The New York Times magazine.
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    It’s surprisingly expensive to be homeless


    Being unhoused in America not only has emotional costs, but financial ones, too. Lori Teresa Yearwood is a reporter who covers housing for the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and she joins host Krys Boyd to talk about the fines and fees that those who find themselves homeless incur – and the devastating consequences they have on the path to recovery. Her recent essay published in The New York Times is headlined “The Bill for My Homelessness Was $54,000.”

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