#34 The backlash against science. Alice Dreger: How Do We Fix It?

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We'd like to think that science should exist outside of politics and researchers follow the truth wherever it goes. 

But the ideal of rational non-ideological science is under attack at many colleges and universities, says our guest, Alice Dreger. An historian who studies human sexuality and the ethics of medical research, Alice is the author of the provocative new book, "Galileo's Middle Finger." 

"I'm really looking at how activists go after scientists who have ideas that the activists don't like - usually about human identity," she tells us. 

Alice speaks of her concerns about attacks from conservatives from the outside universities and the "ideological bubble" inside, "where you have this sort of ...knee-jerk liberalism that causes people to shut each other down on the basis of 'you're making me uncomfortable.'  That is tremendously dangerous," she says.

Alice's argument is that facts are sacred.

Colleges, she says, should adopt principles from The University of Chicago. "Our job is to disagree with each other. Our job is to raise uncomfortable questions. That is what we do for democracy."

#32 New Year's Resolutions for 2015

It's easy to make resolutions to improve our lives, but how do we boost our chances of following through?

The first two guests on this New Year's Resolutions special are Dave McRaney of the podcast, "You Are Not So Smart" and Dr. Peter Whybrow, Director of the Semel Institute at U.C.L.A., author of The Well-Tuned Brain: Neuroscience And The Life Well Lived."

Dave dives in to confirmation bias, when we seek out information that confirms our world view, rather than challenging ourselves with the truth. Peter says we often make short-term choices that conflict with our best long-term interests.

Instant gratification is often the enemy of a balanced budget.  Beverly Harzog lived through her own personal crisis of bad debt and now helps people repair their credit.  She explains how she got into credit card debt and how you can get out of it. She has more helpful information at her website, BeverlyHarzog.com.

Farnoosh Torabi, host of the popular podcast, "So Money", gave us creative ideas on how to make more money and preserve your wealth by being your own best financial advocate.

Many people make major mistakes when purchasing home, life, auto or health insurance. While some don't have enough coverage, others buy duplicate insurance.  Laura Adams, host of the "Money Girl" podcast and insurance quotes.com says the cost of term life insurance may be much cheaper than you think.

If you plan to buy or rent a home in 2016, Nela Richardson, Senior Economist with the real estate website, Redfin, has some useful tips.  Jeff Koyen, Editor-in-Chief of VanWinkles.com talks about the importance of getting enough sleep. He gives us some creative ideas on improving our sleeping lives.
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#31: 2015 in Review: Some of Our Best Moments

If you want to get of sense of what we're about, this highlights show may be a good place to start.  We've put together a "best of" podcast that reflects our values and makes the argument for why we're worth listening to.
 

From Episode 4, released in June, reformer Philip K. Howard made the case for better government and simpler, shorter laws, instead of all the red tape and tangled mess that we have today. In his Ted Talk lecture and his latest book, “The Rule of Nobody,” Philip argues passionately for legal and government reform.
 

Not many parents can say their lives were changed by an uneventful subway ride. Lenore Skenazy, our guest in Episode 20, tells us about the uproar that followed her decision to let her 9-year-old son ride the subway on his own.  Her column about it led to the movement, "Free Range Kids."

Other guests on this highlights show include Hara Marano of Psychology Today, who says there's a mental health crisis on American college campuses and Greg Lukianoff spoke to us in September. His groundbreaking article in The Atlantic alerted us to why trigger warnings are part of a threat to free speech at colleges.

Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" and "Somebody's Gotta Do It" fame on CNN made the case for a change in emphasis in education, giving greater pride of place to training and knowledge about skilled trades occupations.  Our best of 2015 also includes an excerpt from Episode 13, a show every parent should listen to.  Elizabeth Green, author of "Building a Better Teacher," argues for teacher training reform and understanding the importance of the craft of teaching. 

University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn Reynolds who runs the popular blog, Instapundit.com, was on Episode 10, talking about his proposal for a revolving door surtax. The aim is reduce influence peddling by current and former government officials in Washington D.C.  

All of our guests came armed with thoughtful, constructive and independent ideas with the aim of making the world a better place.

 

#30 How The Internet Is Messing With Our Brains. Abigail Baird: How Do We Fix It?

We love our smartphones, tablets, laptops and game consoles. But what is the explosion in mobile technology doing to our brains?

Our guest, Professor Abigail Baird, is a developmental psychologist, expert on the teenage brain and mother of two young children. She says technology has great benefits, but also could have a negative impact on our conversations, memory and social life. 

The brain's craving for novelty - for constant stimulation and instant gratification - makes our tech toys seem irresistible. So how do we put balance in our lives?

Abigail's fixes include time-out zones and no-screen places and events. Parents, she says, "should consider what is best for their families.  For instance, I love the idea of 'no phone in the car.'"

Another tip for parents is to beware of tethering - when college students sometimes call home at least several times a day.

"Hard as it is for parents, once kids head off to college, they really need to rely on their interpersonal networks at school, not calling home." 

Another fix: "As adults we have to set good examples to our children and not get too attached to our own screens."