Enlightenment Now

Book coverYou may be among many who wistfully harken back to the “golden days” of the past. For some people the past does look rosier, or perhaps the present looks grim, but, according to Steven Pinker, a Harvard University cognitive psychologist, that “golden age” of the past is a reflection of faulty memory.

We — most people in the world, anyway — are actually far better off than we were decades and surely centuries ago. That’s based on many metrics of progress, including literacy, safety, gender equality, lower poverty, and many more. Pinker presents in his new book an abundance of data as evidence of such progress. This progress, he argues, is rooted in the ideals of the Enlightenment some 250 years ago.

Pinker’s book is called “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.” Last week we played a couple of segments of an interview that How On Earth host Susan Moran and KGNU journalist Joel Edelstein conducted with Dr. Pinker. In today’s feature, we play that interview in full.

Hosts: Joel Parker
Producer: Shelley Schlender
Engineer: Joel Parker
Contributors: Tom Yulsman, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

Listen to the show here:


Enlightenment Now // Pledge Drive Teaser

Book coverToday’s pledge-drive show features parts of our recent interview with Steven Pinker.
Enlightenment Now: If you think the world, including the U.S., is falling apart, that the ideal of progress is as quaint as riding to work on a horse and carriage, you’re hardly alone. But you’re wrong, argues  Harvard University cognitive scientist Steven Pinker in his new book. It’s called Enlightenment Now: A Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. As he shows in many copious charts and graphs from studies and national statistics, most people are living longer, healthier, safer, freer, and happier lives. And while our problems are formidable, the solutions, Pinker claims, lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science. Provocative? Yes. Pollyannaish? No, says Pinker. Today’s show features two sections of a recent interview that How On Earth host Susan Moran and KGNU host Joel Edelstein conducted with Pinker.

We will play the full interview on our March 20th science show. Meanwhile, Pinker will discuss and sign his book at two events on the Front Range on Saturday, March 17. He will be at Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver (2526 Colfax Ave.) at 4:00 p.m. Then he’ll speak at 7:00 p.m. at Unity of Boulder Church (2855 Folsom St.) Check with Boulder Book Store about tickets.

Hosts: Joel Edelstein, Susan Moran
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Edelstein
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

Listen to the show here:


Hacking Happiness

Hacking HappinessYou drive to Starbucks with your cell phone in your pocket, go online, read your favorite newspaper, share an interesting book review on Facebook and then go and order the bestseller from Amazon. It’s only 9:00am, but you’ve already left a data trail—a big one—on your whereabouts, your taste, your friends, and your financial habits.

In his new book, Hacking Happiness: Why Your Personal Data Counts and How Tracking It Can Change the World, John C. Havens talks about how megacorporations hoard these details and use them for their own monetary gain. But, Havens argues it doesn’t have to be like that. Using emerging technologies, we can reclaim control over our information and use it, not to boost company sales, but to improve our own happiness.

Hosts: Ted Burnham and Jane Palmer
Producers: Jane Palmer and Beth Bartel
Engineer: Ted Burnham
Executive Producer: Joel Parker

Listen to the show:


Extended interview with Anjali Bhatara

Here’s a longer version of my interview with Anjali Bhatara, which aired on today’s program. Dr. Bhatara is with the Laboratory of the Psychology of Perception at the University of Paris, where she studies the interactions between music and the brain, the mind and the emotions. She has published several papers on music perception in people with autism—especially their ability to pick up on the emotional cues in a song, and how it might be related to their ability to detect emotional cues in speech. I began by asking her which aspects of sound are relevant to musical perception.

Listen to the interview:


Theme Song Contest // Science of Music

Image courtesy of Flickr user davdenic

Today we announce a contest to find new theme music for How On Earth! Our current theme has served us well for more than 20 years, but we feel it’s time to change our tune. We’re looking to local musicians for that new “How On Earth” sound. Check out our Contest Page for more information, and to listen to and comment on submitted music.

Joining us in the studio today is Tom Wasinger, the Grammy-winning producer of our long-standing theme. We talk with him about the history and creation of that theme, and about his hopes for this new theme music contest. We also hear from Anjali Bhatara, of the Laboratory of the Psychology of Perception in Paris. She studies the way music affects the brain, the mind, and the emotions (hear an extended version of this interview). And we’ll get some advice on selecting a memorable new theme from music expert Don Campbell, author of The Mozart Effect and founder of the Institute for Music, Health, and Education here in Boulder.

Hosts: Ted Burnham and Tom Yulsman

Engineer: Shelley Schlender

Producer: Ted Burnham

Listen to the show: