Culture, ideas and society.

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

Friday, we're rebroadcasting our conversation about the King James Bible and its 400 year history. Our guide is the British historian, novelist and broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg. Bragg says that while there have been times the Bible was used "in the pursuit of wickedness," it has also transformed the world for the better. He joined Doug last year to talk about the origins of the King James Bible and how it has shaped social movements, politics and literature, even the way we speak. [Rebroadcast]

On Tuesday, Doug is joined once again by Peter Meehan and Chris Ying, editors of the food magazine Lucky Peach. The newest issue of the magazine explores the world of cooks and chefs -- from three-star Michelin restaurants, to street cooks in Thailand, even an elementary school cafeteria and a military dining hall. Ying and Meehan will give us a guided tour to the inner-sanctums of celebrity chefs, explore the intersection of food and fashion, and discuss the influence of molecular gastronomy.

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

Some political observers say the United States is a global superpower on the wane. They see the rise of China and America's increasing failure to get its way in the world as signs of decline. Robert Kagan, a foreign policy commentator, disagrees. He says the size and influence of America's economy, its unparalleled military might and its global political clout position it to remain the world's predominant power. Kagan joins Doug on Wednesday to discuss America's present and future status.

You may think there's nothing more natural than common sense. Well think again. The sociologist and network scientist Duncan Watts says that commonsense reasoning fails us time after time. It often misleads us into thinking we know more about human behavior than we actually do. Only by understanding how and when common sense fails us, Watts says, can we improve how we plan for the future and understand the present. Watts joins Doug on Monday to expose the holes in our common sense thinking.

2/28/12: The Amish

Feb 27, 2012

Director David Belton faced a big challenge when he set out to create a new documentary for the PBS series American Experience. It's about the Amish, the insular religious group that eschews many forms of technology - including photography. Belton respected this limitation while still creating an intimate portrait of the Amish in their own voices. Tuesday, David Belton joins Doug to talk about the people he met and what it means to hold on to a community.

2/23/12: God's Jury

Feb 22, 2012

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. But not everybody really knows what it is, either. In a new book, the writer Cullen Murphy sets the record straight about the Catholic Church's 700-year persecution of its enemies, both real and imagined. And he says the "inquisitorial impulse" lives on - in America's massive surveillance and routine use of torture in the wake of 9/11, for example. Murphy joins Doug on Thursday to remind us the Inquisition isn't something safely relegated to the past.

Resurrect Dead

Feb 20, 2012

Tuesday, director Jon Foy joins us for the latest installment in our Through the Lens documentary film series. Foy created one of the strangest docs at Sundance last year. It's about the mystery of the Toynbee tiles, linoleum tiles that started showing up embedded in roads along the East coast in the 1980s with bizarre messages carved in them. Foy joins us to talk about the film and the mystery. He'll also be on hand when we screen the film Thursday at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center.

It takes a lot of work to stay afloat in today's ultra-connected world. Every day we face a torrent of emails, tweets, texts, tags, alerts, comments, pokes and posts. The writer William Powers believes that all those digital demands increasingly distract us from ourselves, from an inner place where time isn't so fugitive and the mind can slow down. He proposes a new digital philosophy that accounts for our needs to connect and for time apart, and he'll talk with Doug about it. (Rebroadcast)

<i>Warner Bros.</i>

No behavior is more reviled in America than pedophilia. Dr. Fred Berlin, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, believes in the necessity of criminal penalties for pedophiles, but, he argues, thinking of pedophilia solely as a criminal mindset hamstrings our ability to control it. Berlin regards pedophilia as a treatable mental disorder. He'll join Doug on Tuesday to discuss our understanding of pedophilia and how we can manage and treat it before it leads to a pernicious incident.


The popular TV series Downton Abbey takes pains to hew closely to historical fact, and yet there remains much we don’t know about the reality of life in England’s grand country houses. How did aristocrats come to own such vast tracts of land? How was servants’ work regarded? And how did England’s servant system collapse after the Great War? The cultural historian Siân Evans, author of the book Life Below Stairs, joins Doug on Thursday to help us peel back the fictional veneer of Downton Abbey.