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New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book, “Under a White Sky,” explores the damage to the planet humans have done (or could do) in trying to fix the damage they’ve done: everything from electrocuting carp and to sprinkling the sky with diamond dust. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices…
 
Intercept senior writer Liliana Segura has been reporting on the death penalty for years, including the Trump administration’s lame-duck killing spree. She comes on to discuss the legacy of putting people to death during a pandemic — and to share stories about the heroes she’s found in the darkness. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastch…
 
CW: Eating disorders, dieting. Aubrey Gordon, of Maintenance Phase and “Your Fat Friend,” joins to take us through the twisty history of Weight Watchers and its founder, Jean Nidtech. Stops on the tour include Heinz ketchup and Maya Angelou! Aubrey’s new book is “What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat.” Learn more about your ad choices. Vi…
 
After the National Guard descended on Minneapolis to enforce an 8PM curfew on the streets, advocates for those living on the streets bought a block of rooms at a shuttered Sheraton to house them. The volunteers decided to impose as little authority as possible, hoping that a radical approach to harm reduction would empower the residents. But their …
 
Robert Martinson was a radical anti-racist activist in the 1960s: He ran for mayor in Berkeley as a socialist. He was arrested in Mississippi for participating in Freedom Summer. And then he authored the academic paper that became the political justification for “tough on crime” policies. He’s forgotten; can he be forgiven? Pulitzer Prize-winning a…
 
We love to love mothers, except when we don’t — like when they’re Black, or queer, or too thin, or too fat, or want to end their pregnancy, or do it alone, or have a glass of wine. Friend of the pod Lyz Lenz joins to discuss her new book, “Belabored: A Vindication of the Rights of Pregnant Women." Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoi…
 
“The only sustainable foundation for a changed world is internal transformation” — that’s the message of Sonya Renee Taylor, author of “The Body Is Not an Apology.” Her mission is to take us out of the realm of mere “body positivity” or “self-acceptance” and into a place of “radical self-love.” That means not just creating a world where all bodies …
 
Derek Black thought he was done with the white nationalist movement when he wrote a public letter renouncing the ideology he grew up in. Then he realized that white nationalism wasn’t just the racists that used to listen to his white nationalist radio show and read his white nationalist website — white supremacy was everywhere, people just weren’t …
 
Santa isn’t the only myth we use to keep children in line! In the 1990s, evangelical churches bought and gave away thousands of copies of the book, “Left Behind,” hoping its overwrought depiction of the End Times would frighten unbelievers into the arms of Christ. That is not what happened. Amy Frykholm, author of “Rapture Culture: Left Behind in E…
 
What, exactly, are parents accomplishing when they encourage their children to believe in the idea of an extravagently-dressed stranger breaking and entering into their homes on Christmas Eve? Is Santa a well-meaning myth or the beginning of the end of filial trust? CW: The truth about Santa. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.c…
 
Welcome to Grafton, New Hampshire, a not-very-picturesque town where the streets are dark, the fires are unregulated, the cats are missing, and the camps are armed. Oh, and there are bears. Smart, dangerous bears. Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling tells us the story of “When a Libertarian Walked Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (an…
 
Julie Rodgers was raised in a conservative evangelical home, so she knew they’d be horrified when she came out as a lesbian in her teens. To please her family and community, she first tried to change who she was, then she tried to deny it. We talk about how she went from being a star on the “ex-gay” speaker circuit to believing that God delights in…
 
Trigger warning: This episode is about suicide and suicide prevention. While the pandemic has made mental health a part of the national conversation, policy makers and the public still tend to think of suicide as a matter of intervention at the point of crisis. Stephanie Wittels is on to explain why that is not the case. The second season of her po…
 
CW: Sexual violence Author Sarah Schulman joins the show to discuss her provocative and influential book, Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair. She argues that both the right and left can needless escalate mere conflicts into accusations of abuse, creating victims where there are none and blaming…
 
Oxford University professor of anthropology Chris Gosden joins us to discuss his book: A History: From Alchemy to Witchcraft, from the Ice Age to the Present. Also: We make politics disappear! Which is to say, there is NO DISCUSSION OF THE 2020 ELECTION IN THIS EPISODE. You’re welcome! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adch…
 
This week, a deep dive into how political enthusiasts’ default background noise is ruining our country. First, we hear from a former MSNBC producer who left the network after feeling like she was part of the problem. Then media critic Jay Rosen warns us about how the habits formed in covering Trump might warp coverage of whatever administration com…
 
QAnon! What a *wild* conspiracy theory! Blood-drinking! Pedophilia! JFK Jr.! Pretty fascinating stuff! I bet you want to listen to this episode! Which is exactly why we need to rethink how the media covers conspiracies and how we think about them. George Mason University disinformation researcher John Cook helps explain how we can keep toxins out o…
 
You might think being obsessed with politics — watching cable news, reading political blogs, and, er, listening to political podcasts — is a good thing! Historian Claire Bond Potter isn’t so sure. She joins us to talk her book, Political Junkies: From Talk Radio to Twitter, How Alternative Media Hooked Us on Politics and Broke Our Democracy Learn m…
 
We begin our “Good Intentions” series exploring the origin of the impulse to help. The good news is that empathy and altruism appear to be instinctive reactions to the pain of others! The bad news is that it’s super-easy to divert or suppress that instinct (hint: the President does it all the time!). USC neuroscientist Leo Christov-Moore explains. …
 
In this final episode of our “Converts” edition, we revisit some past episodes to see exactly what we’ve learned about how people do (and don’t) change their minds. What have we picked up from the a cop-turned-activist, a scientist who embraced mysticism, a conservative climate change advocate, and a onetime white nationalist who marched to say Bla…
 
You may know about the ways that “conversion therapy” has played out when it comes to religion. But what about the once-mainstream, secular professionals who refused to give up on the idea that their work wasn’t just necessary, but also the truly scientific approach to homosexuality? This is their story. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podc…
 
In the 1990s, evangelical churches bought and gave away thousands of copies of the book, “Left Behind,” hoping its overwrought depiction of the End Times would frighten unbelievers into the arms of Christ. That is not what happened. Amy Frykholm, author of “Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America,” explains what did. Learn more about yo…
 
Julie Rehmeyer is a science writer who studied math at MIT. She also lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a disease that many doctors treat with skepticism bordering on derision. So when traditional medicine couldn’t help her, she had to try treatments science couldn’t support. Julie’s book is Through the Shadowlands: A Science Writer’s Odyssey int…
 
Thousands of people crowding public venues to hear the word of the Lord. Men fainting, women claiming to be healed, all rejoicing at being “born again.” When you think of “converts,” this may be what you picture, because it’s a familiar scene — more familiar than you may realize. The quintessentially American revival meeting was born before the cou…
 
Former mayor of Minneapolis Betsy Hodges comes on to talk about how the Rodney King uprisings started her journey to anti-racist activism — and what happened when, in 2015, her anti-racist ideals ran up against the realities of governing a city rocked by the shooting of a black man by white police officers. Her piece on the King uprisings is here. …
 
What would turn a passionate, witty feminist into a xenophobic white nationalist? This week’s episode tells the story of Cordelia Scaife May, the eccentric heiress whose fortune underwrote both the Pittsburg Children’s Museum and the most influential network of immigration restrictionists in American history. Our episode owes much to the New York T…
 
In his 34 years in law enforcement, Norm Stamper participated in — or approved of — the gassing of protesters “hundreds” of times. Yet, he thought of himself as a reformer. He was, he thought, one of the “good guys.” His first book was intended to pull back the curtain and expose those *other* cops. Five years into retirement, he realized he was on…
 
Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) was proud of his Tea Party bona fides, until his son said he couldn’t vote for a climate change denier. Inglis wound up changing his mind, and gained one vote but lost a lot more — he’s now a former congressman, on a mission to recruit more conservatives to the climate cause. You can find out more about Inglis’ organization a…
 
How White Light Moments Change Your Brain, with Andrew Newberg If you’ve listened to the show at all this season, you’ve learned that the brain doesn’t want to change. And when it does change, it’s usually a slow process of erosion or evolution. So... what about the white light moments we’ve all heard of, if not experienced? Throughout history, the…
 
Derek Black thought he was done with the white nationalist movement when he wrote a public letter renouncing the ideology he grew up in. Then he realized that white nationalism wasn’t just the racists that used to listen to his white nationalist radio show and read his white nationalist website — white supremacy was everywhere, people just weren’t …
 
You can’t escape the images of protest and unrest happening in our country this week. But what will be their lasting impact on Americans’ — especially white Americans’ — views? We look back to the 1960s civil rights movement for clues. Princeton political science professor Omar Wasow work focuses on how the two different waves of protest in that er…
 
So far this season of “WFLT: Converts Edition,” we’ve focused on why the brain resists change — but that doesn’t mean that people give up on trying. Previous episodes have taught us that arguing doesn’t work and that people’s beliefs can be impervious to facts. But what about the blunt force approach? What about… brainwashing? We'll talk to science…
 
What happens when someone tells you something that challenges a deeply held belief? On the surface, it may feel annoying or uncomfortable, but according to research from the University of Southern California by Jonas Kaplan and Sarah Gimbel, it’s more than that. When people are presented with information that runs contrary to what they already beli…
 
Welcome to our first themed season, “With Friends Like These: Converts.” We’ve always been interested in why and how people change their minds about what they believe — mostly because it just doesn’t happen that often. Once we we make a choice about who we are or what we want to do, we start ignoring the evidence that might prove us wrong: that’s w…
 
This week friend of the pod Alice Wong (@SFDirewolf) joins Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) to talk about what it means to be a part of the disabled community during a pandemic. Spoiler: the world seems to get a little too cavalier about whether or not you deserve to live anymore. They talk about the grassroots activism being done within the community,…
 
Want to listen to anything NOT about COVID-19? We got the episode for you! Eduardo Porter (@portereduardo) joins Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) to talk about a much lighter subject: the history of racism in class divides and how it still affects us today. They talk about the hopes we’ve had in the past for a racially diverse working class coalition a…
 
This week Dan Drezner joins Ana Marie Cox to talk about the likelihood of Trump handling COVID-19 responsibly (you guessed it, not well). Dan argues in his book, Toddler in Chief, that not only is Trump a toddler, power in American politics has shifted to the executive, making this more dangerous than ever. They discuss the treacherous tales of bad…
 
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