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36 minutes | Jan 16, 2017
Ep. 23: Which Media? Whose Bias?
Politicians and other powerful figures routinely lambaste “the media” for treating them in ways they feel are unfair or for perceived biases. Yet there is no such thing as “the media.” In its broadest terms, almost everything and everyone can be described as part of the media. Even the more restricted classification of “news organizations” span a broad spectrum, often competing against one another. Yet there are commonalities among journalists and media outlets that generate certain kinds of biases – just not the ones the politicians accuse them of. Today we ask who “the media” really are and what kinds of biases they really share.
37 minutes | Jan 2, 2017
Ep. 22: War. What Is It Good For? Pt. 3
At the same time as the Western world was developing an ethics to describe the difference between a “good” war and a “bad” war, Asian cultures were coming up with their own philosophies on the subject. Today, we complete our exploration of morality and war by examining some of the strains of thought that evolved in China: how they compared with one another and how they differ from European traditions.
36 minutes | Dec 19, 2016
Ep. 21: War. What Is It Good For? Pt. 2
At the same time as the Roman Empire was falling, a bishop in the Catholic church was devising an argument that could morally justify Christians going to war. St. Augustine’s “just war” theory, further developed by St. Thomas Aquinas, has been used for centuries to make the case for “civilized” conflict. It continues to influence modern tactics and international agreements. Today on Frameshift we continue our quest to discover whether war can be good by exploring some of the strengths and weaknesses of just war theory.
34 minutes | Dec 5, 2016
Ep. 20: War. What Is It Good For? Pt. 1
When the Iraq War began in 2003, a majority of Americans favored the invasion. Within just a few years, that perception had reversed itself. U.S. President Barack Obama won the 2008 election in part on a platform that advocated for pulling out of Iraq. At the same time, another, less controversial, war was underway in Afghanistan. Obama called that war a “good” war. So what made the Iraq War “bad,” and why didn’t most Americans think that from the start? Today on Frameshift we try to untangle the reasons people have used for going to war, in Iraq and beyond.
39 minutes | Nov 21, 2016
Ep. 19: This is What Democracy Sounds Like
The election of businessman Donald J. Trump to the American presidency has frightened and angered many people who worry that his comments about women, immigrants and others could translate into dangerous policies. Some of those people have taken to the streets in the last two weeks, holding rallies around the nation. Today on Frameshift, we spend some time at a protest in New Haven, Conn., and talk to the demonstrators about their worries – and their plans going forward.
38 minutes | Nov 7, 2016
Ep. 18: We Were Here First
Sometimes when we tell stories we leave out important details, giving people false impressions about what happened. Even our stories about science are prone to this type of narrative bias. Everyone knows the dinosaurs dominated the Earth for millions of years. Few people, though, realize that prior to the dinosaurs, another group of animals achieved a similar supremacy. They belonged to a separate group called the synapsids. The synapsids grew to great sizes and filled all the top niches on the planet in their day. Their descendants are the mammals - including us. Today we take a trip back in time to visit our long-lost relatives during their prime.
38 minutes | Oct 25, 2016
Ep. 17: Red Team/Blue Team
When we look back at presidential elections from a generation ago, we can see massive sweeps in presidential elections on a regular basis. Over the last 30 years or so, however, politics seems to have become more polarized, with opposing sides more entrenched and more evenly divided. Journalist and podcast host Joe Weathered thinks this is in part because voters are increasingly treating political parties like sports teams. People support the team regardless of the individuals representing the team at any given moment, regardless of specific policy proposals, and despite any scandals or controversies that may arise. Today on Frameshift: a conversation about the treatment of politics as a team sport and what might be done to change direction.
42 minutes | Oct 11, 2016
Ep. 16: Lashing Out at Phantoms
Donald Trump, the 2016 Republican candidate for president, has traded in conspiracy theories for years. Now they’ve come with him to the main stage. But why are conspiracy theories so popular? How can we tell if they’re false? And what effects could their ascendance have on civil society? In a darkness of false flags and disinformation campaigns, we try to shed some light.
38 minutes | Sep 26, 2016
Ep. 15: The Coming Germpocalypse
Sometimes even when everybody agrees a catastrophe is coming in the future, no one can be bothered to do anything about it until it’s too late. That’s the story of the antibiotics era: different groups, all aware that they were making bacterial resistance worse, have been slow to adopt changes to their habits. Today we examine why we let the bacteria get so strong, and whether we might still be able to avert the looming germpocalypse.
39 minutes | Sep 12, 2016
Ep. 14: Man's Destiny Lies Within Himself
If things seem absurd or meaningless to you, you’re in good company. A group of philosophers known as the existentialists has for centuries been coming up with ways to turn that anxiety into opportunity. Today we examine some of the strategies developed by four prominent existentialists, all of whom took different approaches to bring meaning back to our world and our lives.
34 minutes | Aug 29, 2016
Ep. 13: Nothing Matters
Where do things like morality and value come from? We tend to think of the meanings we imbue the world with as something akin to physical laws, but all the evidence suggests that we made them up as we went along. At the grand scale, nothing we do makes much of a difference outside our myopic interests. Even within human history, little that we do will last. Today on Frameshift we ask why bother, and we don’t come up with any good answers.
37 minutes | Aug 15, 2016
Ep. 12: Herd Immunity
How does a preventable disease, once eradicated from a modern nation, worm its way back into the populace? Answer: undermine the people’s confidence in the cure. Today on Frameshift, we examine the scare in the United Kingdom about the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine – a controversy that lasted over a decade and brought measles back into circulation. We spread the blame for the debacle across three perpetrators: Andrew Wakefield, who started the controversy with a fraudulent research paper; media organizations, who largely misrepresented the facts; and the editors of the Lancet, who published the study and put more effort into saving face than correcting the record.
36 minutes | Aug 1, 2016
Ep 11: You Can't Imagine
The human imagination is seemingly boundless. But there are things we can’t imagine, things we have trouble picturing or lack the necessary biological hardware to process. Today we skirt along the edges of imagination’s limits by looking at the conceptual, historical and experiential veils that refuse to be lifted.
40 minutes | Jul 18, 2016
Ep. 10: Evolving Attitudes - Religious Tolerance Pt. 2
New England today has one of the least religiously-inclined populations in the United States. But Connecticut and Massachusetts started out with establishment churches enshrined in law. How did these colonial theocracies rise, thrive and eventually dissolve? In a two-part series, we explore the church-state dynamic in early Connecticut. Part two explores the inner tensions of the church establishment, from conservative attempts to maintain order in the early 1700s, through the schisms created by the First Great Awakening, and finally to the formal separation of church and state in 1818.
36 minutes | Jul 4, 2016
Ep. 9: Evolving Attitudes - Religious Tolerance Pt. 1
New England today has one of the least religiously-inclined populations in the United States. But Connecticut and Massachusetts started out 400 years ago with establishment churches enshrined in law. How did these colonial theocracies rise, thrive and eventually dissolve? In a two-part series, we explore the church-state dynamic in early Connecticut. Part one encompasses from the founding of the colony in the early 1600s to the first victories for religious pluralism in the early 1700s.
37 minutes | Jun 20, 2016
Ep. 8: Three's a Crowd
Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are the two least popular presidential candidates running for office in decades. But they aren’t the only ones running. There are many parties vying for your vote, from the true-blue Socialist Party USA to the paleoconservative Constitution Party. So why can’t any of them get a fair chance in the U.S. electoral system? Today we look at some of the less-known candidates and the multitude of barriers they face just to get a hearing with the American public.
34 minutes | Jun 6, 2016
Ep. 7: Leaving the Door Open
We’re all familiar with the advice that we should keep an open mind. But when it really comes down to it, it’s uncomfortable to have our cherished beliefs and assumptions altered. In the third and final episode in our series on the elements of frameshifting, we look at why we should foster the willingness to change our minds. We also examine why it can be so difficult and discomforting. (With guest Christian Bisceglia)
33 minutes | May 23, 2016
Ep. 6: Expanding the Circle
If you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, you may start to feel their pain. Empathy is hardwired into most of us, and it’s become a hot topic lately. Some people say it may even be the cornerstone of humanity’s progress. But empathy also has drawbacks and limitations. Today we explore both sides of our inner empathic brains.
32 minutes | May 9, 2016
Ep. 5: The Unspoken Lesson
Most teachers aren’t as concerned with your ability to recall facts and figures as they are with your ability to think independently and deeply about them. Still, the lessons in critical thinking that underpin most education are rarely explicitly acknowledged. Today we acknowledge a few.
36 minutes | Apr 25, 2016
Ep. 4: Terrorism by Any Other Name
Terrorist attacks happen almost every day, and yet only a handful of incidents dominate Western media. Meanwhile, other incidents get covered without the “terrorism” label, thus changing the direction of public discourse. We look into what gets covered, how it gets covered, and what we might be missing.
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