#99 How Our Minds Heal Our Bodies: Jo Marchant

Have you ever felt a surge of adrenaline after almost getting into an accident? Salivated at the sight of a sour lemon?  Felt turned on by your partner’s voice?  If so, says scientific journalist Jo Marchant, you’ve experienced how the workings of the mind can affect your body.

In this episode we look at the mind's potential to ease pain, reduce anxiety and even cut the risk of infection, heart disease and other serious medical ailments. Jo discusses how the latest findings in mind-body research: How hypnotherapy, mindfulness techniques, Virtual Reality and social connections can play important roles in healing and prevention.

More than one in three Americans have turned to alternative medicine.  But do homeopathy, acupuncture and other therapies actually work? What does science say about the use of placebos in medicine?

"I believe very strongly in an evidence- based approach that we have to investigate things in a scientific way," Jo tells us in this episode.  "On the other hand I also started to feel that science has a bit of blind spot when it comes to the role of the mind in health."

Jo Marchant discusses the findings of her New York Times best-selling book "Cure: A Journey Into The Science of Mind Over Body.

Check out the New York Times book review.

#94 A Vital Fix for the Media: David Bornstein

The news media is under fierce attack from President Trump; White House Strategist, Steve Bannon; and many other critics.While many claims against the press are overblown, now is a good time to look at arguments for constructive change. 
 

We decided to re-air our interview with New York Times journalist David Bornstein, co-founder of SolutionsJournalismNetwork.org

David says that solutions journalism focuses on what works now as potential solutions. Using the best available evidence, solutions journalism delves deep into the how-to’s of problem solving, often structuring stories as puzzles or mysteries that investigate problems. 

One recent example: Initiatives that show  success in reducing the dropout rate in public schools. Reporters looked at how these programs work. What are successful school systems doing differently that result in better outcomes?

#8 Fix It Shorts. Immigrants: Great for the Economy!

When did the arguments for free trade and the benefits of immigration go out of fashion?

Why is the case for scaling back the power of the financial industry under attack by the Trump administration?

Richard and Jim spoke to three experts for this episode of “Fix It Shorts.” 

Rana Foroohar, explains why the power of Wall Street distorts the economy. “The key lessons of the crisis of 2008 still remain unlearned,” she says. “Our financial system is just as vulnerable as ever.” Rana is the author of "Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business," She is also the Associated Editor and the Global Business Columnist for the Financial Times.

"One of the prizes, one of the treasures of democracy is freedom of thought, freedom of action, freedom of movement," says Peter Coy, Economics Editor of Bloomberg Businessweek. He argues that immigration, especially legal immigration of skilled workers, is a plus for the economy.

Economist Ruchir Sharma, author of the book “The Rise and Fall of Nations - Forces of Change in the Post-Crisis World,” tells us that expanding the workforce is a vital part of growth. Reducing immigration, he says, would slam the brakes on the economy.
 

#91 Geoffrey Colon: Pay-to-Play: A Menace to Society?

Do you know where your information is coming from? Shadowy forces are at work to influence what we think, how we behave, and where we spend our money.

They're part of the explosion in pay-to-play. From bots and branded content to political-influence peddlers’, advertisers and even sports programs in public schools, pay-to-play is a growing influence in our lives.  

Critics of pay-to-play say that instead of "We the people,” the online world is controlled by "We the wealthiest people.” 


Geoffrey Colon, an expert on marketing, tech and how to get people's attention, is our guest. A communications designer at Microsoft, Geoffrey is the author of "Disruptive Marketing - What Growth Hackers, Data Punks and Other Hybrid Thinkers Can Teach Us About Navigating the New Normal." He's the co-host with Cheryl Metzger of the popular podcast, "Disruptive FM." We learn more about the threat from fake news and hate sites alt-right bots to our democracy. Geoffrey guides through some of the recent dizzying changes in the online landscape.

Solutions:

  • Education is first. Improvements to the school curriculum are urgently needed. They should fully take into account dramatic online changes. A recent Stanford University study found that most American students couldn’t tell the difference between carefully sourced news and flat-out lies. The authors described the results as "dismaying" and a "threat to democracy."
  • Tech companies should give non-profits the ability to use their platform free of cost; in fact, Google already does this. Google gives non-profits AdWords for free or through a Google “Ad Grant.”
  • A new look at public service announcements - PSA's. Until the 1980's and Reagan-era broadcasters were required to run PSAs in exchange for using the airwaves, which are a public resource. Policy makers and major information providers should consider a new system for the 21st century.
  • A code of conduct by major online information platforms, this would distinguish between advertising, opinion and news.

#86 Farai Chideya: Re-think Your Career. Find a New Job

 

Have you spent your life switching careers, changing jobs and titles? So has former NPR host, professor, and journalist Farai Chideya. It’s the new normal, and it’s called the episodic career.

 

 

  • Can you build a career with a non-traditional work history?

  • How do you find a rewarding career in the new world of work?

  • How can you thrive and prosper in a jobs market disrupted by technology and globalism?

These questions are answered in this podcast. Our guest is well-known journalist, professor, author and former NPR host, Farai Chideya, author of “The Episodic Career”.
 
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average job in the U.S. lasts 4.6 years, a far cry from an era when a large percentage of the workforce could expect to stay with their current employer for decades.  
 
Farai tells us why resiliency, lifelong learning, plus understanding how your skills relate to the needs of the employment market are the three pillars of a successful career.  

Solutions

Know yourself and set your own goals. Some people are risk takers, while others are more cautious. Are you an innovator, team player, change agent? Do you want to have a high social impact in your work?  Is money the most important thing as you advance in your career?  Answering these questions is crucial in finding the right type of job for you.

Five to-do's before starting your career: 

  1. Examine your heart and wallet. How much time can you spend without a job or unhappily employed?
  2. Use online tools and networking to find a job.
  3. Find your allies including your "weak ties" - people outside your immediate social and work group.
  4. Check your market value. Know how much you are worth to an employer.
  5. Broadcast your search: tell people you are looking for a job.

Contact several people each day.

When searching for work, master your personal narrative. Explain why you want the job.  Be flexible about the job and salary.

At work, always say "yes, and..." Speak up and add something to the discussion. Make yourself useful.

Useful job-search and career-building websites

Books about careers and job search

#85 Why We Are Fooled by Con Artists: Maria Konnikova

Have you ever been the victim of a con artist? Very often we fall for cons ourselves without being aware of it.

We speak with journalist and psychologist Maria Konnikova, a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine and best-selling author of “The Confidence Game:" Through storytelling and science, she explains the mind of the con artist and what makes the rest of us so susceptible. 

Con artists are everywhere. Since 2008 the number of reported cases of consumer fraud have shot up 60%. Online cases have doubled. Billions of dollars are lost each year in scams. 

"People are very willing to pay for things that will make them feel better about themselves," says Maria, especially when they're feeling lonely, are going through a divorce or have lost a job. "It can also happen during positive life transitions: you're about to have a baby or move to another city."

Con artists, she says, can swoop in when you're vulnerable and give you a sense of emotional purpose or stability.

Skilled scam artists are very good listeners and learn as much about their victims as they can. The internet and social media make their research so much easier.

Solutions: How to make yourself less vulnerable to con artists

  • Never accept a friend request on Facebook from someone you don't personally know, because your Facebook page has too much information that a con artist can use against you. 
  • Don’t post too much personal information online: locations, habits, and schedules. For instance, don’t check-in to locations, like stores or restaurants. Avoid geotags - giving information about your whereabouts. 
  • Don’t sign up for free trial offers, the most common scams involve fake weight loss schemes, prize promotions and buyers clubs. 
  • Be cautious when you use online payment sites and monitor your bills, because another popular scam is unauthorized Internet billing.
  • Don't click on links in an e-mail unless you've requested a password reset. For instance, if Google sends you an email saying that you need to change your password, go through Google. Don't use the email link.
  • Mindfulness. Go for a walk for one hour without a mobile electronic device. Get out of the immediacy of your everyday life and give your brain time to process the information that you have been given.  Be aware that a broader perspective - even a sense of objectivity about yourself - can make you less of a target. 
  • Businesses and institutions:Send a very clear message about ethics and accountability to employees and associates. A corporate culture that stresses the importance of the bottom line over everything else can lead to fraud.
  • In relationships and while investing beware of "sunken cost bias" the cost that has been incurred in an activity and is not recoverable; some victims have trouble admitting to being scammed because they have already lost money, time or pride. It’s never too late to walk away.