When Zack McDermott was 26, he woke up believing he was the star of a reality show dedicated to him. That was the first of many adventures his bipolar disorder would take him on. He talks about how he ultimately got his life back on track with the help of his mother, which he writes about in “Gorilla and the Bird: A Memoir of Madness and a Mother’s Love”
About one of every 10 people is left-handed. That can be profitable if you’re a pitcher – and a pain if you’re an average Joe living in a right-handed world. Howard Kushner – a historian of medicine and neuroscience – explains why so few people are lefties; and about the many ways cultures worldwide discriminate against them. His new book is called “On the Other Hand: Left Hand, Right Brain, Mental Disorder, and History”.
What moves somebody to drive a car into a crowd of people – or trigger a bomb? Krys Boyd questions Yudhijit Bhattacharjee about the origins of malicious impulses. His story “What Science Tells Us About Good and Evil” appeared on the website of National Geographic.
Spectacular intelligence is the most conspicuous sign of genius. However, recent research indicates that various factors explain true ingeniousness, not just high IQ. They include creativity, perseverance and other traits. Claudia Kalb joins us to talk about what made Einstein, Michelangelo and others become the greatest minds of their times.
One of the things in life we currently can’t change is our DNA. Yet technological progress shows an exciting promise for significant alterations that would eradicate some of the genetic diseases and enhance certain traits in the genome before birth. In addition, modern research indicates that there is no single “cancer”, “IQ” or “infidelity” gene or that DNA would control our destiny contrary to popular beliefs. University of British Columbia psychology professor Steven Heine joins us to discuss his book “DNA is not Destiny: The Remarkable, Completely Misunderstood Relationship Between You and Your Genes” (W.W. Norton and Co.).
How we can regain control of our impulses – whether it’s a compulsion to constantly check social media, binge eating, smoking, excessive drinking, or any other behaviors, we may find ourselves uncontrollably repeating – explained by an associate professor in medicine and psychiatry at UMass Medical School, Dr. Judson Brewer. He has spent more than 20 years researching addiction and recently published “The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love – Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits.”
The First Amendment, though most closely associated with freedom of speech, actually extends to works of visual art, music, poetry and some, but not all, forms of expression. It’s left for courts to draw the line in cases of apparent threat to community’s standarts of propriety. Harvard Law professor Mark Tushnet joins us to talk about the freedoms covered and omitted at the top of the Bill of Rights, which he writes about in “Free Speech Beyond Words: The Surprising Reach of the First Amendment”.
Elusive, uninterrupted eight hours of sleep might be overrated. Emory University professor Benjamin Reiss talks about humanity’s centuries-old ways to rest as the world continues to spin. His new book is called “Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World”
On Hkakabo Razi in Northern Myanmar, at the tail end of the Himalaya, Hilaree O’Neill led a team of explorers in an attempt to determine the highest peak in Southeast Asia. She speaks about making decisions under life and death stress and overcoming extreme adversity, and how depleted supplies, freezing temperatures and internal squabbles fractured the team and nearly cost O’Neill her life.
Photo by Cory Richards, Instagram: On Hkakabo Razi with the Tibetan Plateau blending towards the horizon
Empathy actually leads us to terrible decisions in everything from relationships to medical care to criminal justice, argues Yale researcher Paul Bloom. He writes about his findings in “Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion”. Are you convinced by his reasoning? Check out!
Illustration by Nicole Helton