Simply Happy

Can we learn more about happiness through science? Or are there simpler ways to achieve it? We hear from five TED speakers who contemplate different paths to finding happiness. Researcher Matt Killingsworth says we’re often happiest when we’re lost in the moment. Journalist Carl Honore believes our society’s emphasis on speed erodes our ability to feel happy. Writer Graham Hill makes the case for simplicity as a way out of the confusion. Psychologist Dan Gilbert challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we lose what we want. Brother David Steindl-Rast reflects on looking where you’re going and being grateful.
Illustration: DINONABI

TED Radio Hour | 30th December 2016

Corruption in America

Donald Trump will be committing an impeachable offense by not relinquishing an ownership stake in his multiple companies before Jan 20. “[N]o person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” These words, from Article I of the U.S. Constitution, are unambiguously clear. Legal scholar Zephyr Teachout explains why corruption in the presidency was such anathema to the nation’s founders.
In the remainder of the episode are few highlights from a recent symposium about the current state of free speech on campus. The event was organized by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.
Hosted by Dahlia Lithwick

Slate’s Amicus | 24th December 2016

The Science of Whiskey

Whether in a hot toddy or on the rocks, there’s a good chance whiskey will be poured during this month’s holiday parties. Firestone and Robertson Distilling Company head distiller Rob Arnold and TCU chemistry professor Eric Simanek join us to talk about how grain and water combine to make bourbon, rye and scotch. They explain the process in “Shots of Knowledge: The Science of Whiskey”

KERA’s Think | 20th December 2016

The Scientific Process

There is a replication “crisis” in psychology: many findings simply do not replicate. Some critics take this as an indictment of the entire field — perhaps the best journals are only interested in publishing the “sexiest” findings, or universities are pressuring their faculty to publish more. But take a closer look at the so-called crisis. While there certainly have been cases of bad science, and even fraudulent data, there are also lots of other reasons why perfectly good studies might not replicate. We’ll look at a seminal study about stereotypes, Asian women, and math tests.

Hidden Brain | 20th December 2016

Inside Italy’s Ultras: the Dangerous Fans Who Control the Game

A key figure in a powerful ‘ultra’ group killed himself in July. Police suspected the mafia was using the ultras to get into the game.

Every major club in Italy has its own ultra group and most have dozens. The firms have spent years splintering, regrouping, renaming and reinventing themselves – all in order to take possession of the centre of the curva. This area, behind the goal, has traditionally been the place where a club’s poorest, but most devoted, fans assemble. The curva is every bit as territorial as a drug dealer’s corner, and ultras stake out their turf in similar ways: fights, stabbings, shootings and, sometimes, by making alliances and business deals. There are 382 ultra groups in Italy today, of which some are still explicitly political – 40 far-right and 20 far-left.

Written by Tobias Jones, read by Andrew McGregor and produced by Simon Barnard

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 16th December 2016

Tim Harford on the Importance of Being Messy

Harford, is asking in this Intelligence Squared event. In his recently published Messy: How to Be Creative and Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World Harford argues that we need to be tidy up to a point. But in some areas of life, too much order makes things rigid, fragile and sterile. Take the office, where research shows that people are more productive and creative if they are allowed to surround themselves with a bit of clutter.
Or take Donald Trump. He deployed a strategy of chaos and improvisation, confounding his enemies with his late-night tweets and moving on before they had even had time to react. This messy strategy, Harford will argue, is one that has worked in many different contexts, from countless against-the-odds military victories, to Jeff Bezos’s phenomenal success with Amazon.
And then there’s automation. Computers may be ‘tidying up’ our lives in all sorts of ways, Harford will argue, but the world still remains an unpredictable place. And the qualities we are going to value more than ever in our automated world – creativity, resilience and responsiveness – simply cannot be disentangled from the messy soil that produces them.

Intelligence Squared | 16th December 2016

Death by Diagnosis

Medical error is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer, accounting for 10 percent of deaths annually, in a recently published study argues Marty Makary and a co-author, Michael Daniel.

How can this be? Are doctors and nurses showing up for work stoned out of their skulls? Are they sneaking into hospital rooms at night and smothering their most annoying patients? Are they surreptitiously removing healthy organs to sell them on the black market? If only! That would make the problem so much easier to solve. Why are so many deaths the result of medical error?

This is the third, final and the best episode in Bad Medicine series.

Narrated by Stephen J. Dubner; produced by Stephanie Tam.

Freakonomics Radio | 14th December 2016

What the Cuck?

“Cuck” has recently caught on. It’s a slur being used by white nationalists and white supremacists, the so-called “alt-right,” people like Richard Spencer, the president of the National Policy Institute. He made headlines by using the phrase “Hail Trump” in his speech and also used the “cuck.” The word, which has roots in the ancient insult “cuckold” took some turns in its modern usage. What does it mean? Who uses it? And how did it become the slur of choice for white nationalists? We’ll hear from linguist Michael Adams, sex columnist Dan Savage, and white nationalist Richard Spencer.

The World in Words | 14th December 2016