Monday, we’re examining Utah’s evolving legal case against gay marriage and the focus on child welfare in the State's latest brief to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Observers note that Utah has dropped the argument that marriage is about creating children and is now focusing on the idea that children fare best in families with a mother and a father. Doug talks to guests about the State's strategy and what research is telling us about the outcomes of children in same-sex families.
You may have the impression that people who believe conspiracy theories are crackpots, but consider this: a recent Gallup poll shows 61% of Americans don't think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot President Kennedy. Journalist and author Jesse Walker says conspiracy theories aren't a feature of the fringe and they're nothing new. He's written a book that starts in the 17th century to chronicle our recurring love affair with cabals, plots and intrigue. Walker joins Doug to talk about The United States of Paranoia. (Rebroadcast)
The Winter Olympics open Friday, but they're garnering attention beyond the games. In Russia, a government crackdown and an alarming rate of violence are putting the LGBT community at serious risk of jail, beatings and even death. Journalist Jeff Sharlet went to Russia in November and has written an article for this month's GQ Magazine. Thursday, he joins Doug to talk about the crusade to purge Russia of gays and lesbians and about how the underground LGBT community is responding.
The journalist Scott Stossel suffers from anxiety so intense it can render him nauseous—which is a problem given his extreme fear of vomiting. Between acute anxiety attacks, Stossel’s mind constantly buzzes with worry about his health, about finances, work, the dripping sound in his basement, about everything and nothing. In a new book, Stossel serves as an expert guide to the culture and history of anxiety disorder. He joins us Wednesday to explain what anxiety is, where it comes from and how choice and freedom rewire our brains to make us increasingly anxious.
Tuesday we're telling the story of a bankrupt and dying Ulysses S. Grant and the colorful Mark Twain. In 1884, Grant lost all his money in a Ponzi scheme and was suffering from excruciating throat cancer. Twain was an unlikely partner to the taciturn general, but he convinced Grant to pen his memoirs in his final days. Doug is joined by playwright Elizabeth Diggs and historian Geoffrey Ward to talk about Grant and Twain, and about the lure of wealth and celebrity in the Gilded Age.
Everybody eats, and we more or less know what that’s about. What happens after we eat – the transformation of food as it passes through our bodies – that’s more of a mystery, and a gross one at that. In her latest book, the science writer Mary Roach explores the interesting and kind of disgusting science and stories of our digestive tracts. Roach joins us to answer some age old alimentary questions: Why is crunchy food so appealing? How much food can you eat before your stomach bursts? And of course, did constipation kill Elvis? (Rebroadcast)
Every high school has its star athletes who are so good it seems like they were born to throw a football, run the 100-meter dash or swing a baseball bat. The sports writer David Epstein has spent a lot of time around exceptional athletes, and he started to wonder if their skills were the result of freak genetic programming or just lots and lots of practice. Epstein has written a book that examines the science of extraordinary athletic performance and he joins Doug to talk about it. (Rebroadcast)
Eight thousand years ago, human beings invented skiing. Since then, it’s evolved into a $12-billion global industry. But as the journalist Porter Fox notes in a new book, with global warming accelerating, there’s a very real chance that skiing won’t even exist by the end of the century. Fox says that while skiers may be bummed by the possibility of a world with less snow, the impacts for the rest of the world will likely be far worse. Fox joins us Thursday to explore the history of skiing and the future of snow on a warming planet.
Last week, the LDS Church posted a video supporting current Utah alcohol laws to their web site. But political observers say there's a relative dearth of bills aimed at reforming the regulations this legislative session, which left them wondering why the church is taking such a public stance on the issue. Wednesday, we’ll talk to representatives from the church about it. We’ll also hear from a state legislator, and talk with a panel of guests about the LDS Church’s influence in local and national politics.
Tuesday, our guest is the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, whose latest book sets out to explain the root causes of the divisions in our society. At the heart of his argument is the idea that the human mind is designed to "do" morality. But when we separate into tribes – say political affiliations or religious denominations – we focus on different moral foundations. Haidt joins us to explain why he says we need the insights of liberals and conservatives to flourish as a nation. [Rebroadcast]