Culture, ideas and society.

Inside Scientology

Apr 19, 2012
<i>Image by <a href=" ">Aaron Stroot</a>/<a href="" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

Friday, we're talking about Scientology with the journalist Janet Reitman. To its adherents, Scientology is the "fastest growing religion in the world." Its critics though call it a "cult" and even a "mafia" pointing to the hundreds of thousands of dollars that believers can pay for salvation. Reitman spent five years investigating the group and joins us to discuss her book "Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion." (Rebroadcast)

<i>Image by <a href="">tcg3j</a>/<a href="" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

In the world of Facebook, you've got immediate access to a large circle of people - from your best friend in third grade to your sister-in-law's mother. New research suggests though that we have never been lonelier or more narcissistic. In the May issue of The Atlantic, writer and culture critic Stephen Marche takes on the epidemic of loneliness in the digital age. Tuesday, he joins us for a conversation about the effect it's having on our physical and mental health.

Here's some advice for making it in politics: call in favors, promise everything and exploit your opponent's weaknesses. If you're thinking candidates just aren't what they used to be - we should tell you that these gems were given to Marcus Cicero from his brother Quintus in 64 B.C. The scholar Philip Freeman has translated a letter that lays out Quintus' guide to winning an election and Thursday, he'll join us to explain how these lessons apply to politicians of today.

<i>Image by <a href="">Ted Johnson</a>/<a href="" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

Tuesday, we're talking about the ethical arguments for and against having children. The world's population is expected to reach eight billion by 2025 and The New Yorker's environmental journalist Elizabeth Kolbert says that when we make decisions about how many kids to have we're "determining how the world of the future will look." Kolbert will be our guide through the debate. We'll then be joined by economist Bryan Caplan who says there are a lot of good reasons to be having more kids.

Friday, we're talking about Utah on the silver screen. Our guest is BYU film historian James D'Arc whose book chronicles Utah's part in American cinema from the early days of silent film to today. More than 700 movies and television productions have been made here, and it has meant big business for the small towns that welcomed directors, actors and production crews. As one Moab rancher explained, "They don't take anything but pictures and don't leave anything except money." (Rebroadcast)

Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Mar 27, 2012

When the Splendid Table, "the radio program for people who love to eat," first hit the air in 1994, host Lynne Rossetto Kasper had to define terms like "organic" and "sustainable," so the show has long been at the forefront of food policy. It has also been informing and charming listeners with the key ingredients that, when blended together, put delicious food on our tables. Those ingredients: history, personality, science and stories. Lynne joins us on Wednesday to talk about food on the radio. 

With Mormon personalities on the national stage over the last few years, think Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck, Americans have a lot of questions about the LDS Church. That's where the scholar Joanna Brooks comes in. Brooks writes the candid Ask Mormon Girl blog and she's been a commentator on Mormon life and politics for news outlets like The Washington Post and BBC. Now she's telling her own story in a new memoir and Tuesday, she joins Doug to talk about her complicated relationship with her faith.

3/23/12: Radiolab

Mar 22, 2012
Brett Miller courtesy of Radiolab

Friday, we're rebroadcasting our conversation with Jad Abumrad, co-host of WNYC's Radiolab. The easiest way to explain Radiolab is to say it's a series on science, but that only scratches the surface. The show is highly regarded for its rich layers of sound and music and for making what could be rather dense topics accessible to the average listener. Abumrad joins us to talk about the craft of really good radio and to share some of the stories from the series. (Rebroadcast)

Mike Daisey, <i>Image by <a href="">Broken Window</a>/<a href="" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

In January, This American Life aired an episode about deplorable conditions in Chinese factories where Apple products are made, using the work of monologist Mike Daisey to tell the story. It turns out that some of Daisey's anecdotes weren't true though and This American Life has retracted the program. Daisey stands by his writing, saying it's not a lie, it's art. Wednesday, we're talking about facts, fictionalization and truth and where it is and is not acceptable to blur the boundaries.

Modern American manners leave much to be desired. People answer their cell phones in the middle of meals, they shush loudly in movie theaters and even clip their toenails on the train. Henry Alford wanted to learn a little more about 21st century etiquette, so he went to Japan, AKA the Fort Knox of good manners, interviewed etiquette experts and even played a game called "Touch the Waiter." Doug talks with Alford about how we behave and how we could behave better. (Rebroadcast)