David DeSteno, Northeastern Univ. Social Emotions Group & Author, “Out of Character”

This conversation is for the most rational among us. You know who you are: You collect the data. You even assign probabilities. Guess what — all that thinking, science and math can come undone in an instant through your emotions. But the impact of emotions on our decision making can be awfully hard to measure. From the simple choice to tell a harmless white lie to larger transgressions of love or money that play out on the front pages, connections among emotions and social behavior — in short, our character — often feel like an unsolvable mystery. Mystery solving exactly the mission of Dr. David DeSteno, Director of Northeastern University’s Social Emotions Group and co-Author, “Out of Character: The Surprising Truths About the Liar, Cheat, Sinner (and Saint) Lurking in All of Us.” (Originally broadcast 1-27-13 on The John Batchelor Show)


Paul Tough, Author, “How Children Succeed”

The question “how children succeed” is as complex and controversial as it is direct. It’s a question that antagonizes on the micro level — what parent doesn’t worry endlessly about what skills and advantages Johnny or Susie needs? — just as it confounds on the macro level — how should our country educate the young in a hyper-connected world where competition is global, intense and increasing? For many of us it’s been called the “Rug Rat Race,” the answer has seemed to be: Push your child more. Provide more and more information. Learn and test. Learn and test. But what if that answer is wrong? What if instead of learning “what”, our kids should be learning much more “how.” How to connect. How to adapt. How to persevere? Based on a whole lot of research and stories to fill out the science, that’s the conclusion of Paul Tough, author of the appropriately named and influential new book “How Children Succeed.” (Originally broadcast 9-8-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Lori Greiner, Shark Tank & QVC

My next conversation is with a shark. That’s right – and I’ll call her that to her face. That’s because she is Lori Greiner, inventor, entrepreneur, star on one of the hottest shows on TV – ABC’s Shark Tank – and, as if you didn’t know, the Queen of QVC. The numbers are staggering: Lori has created more than 300 consumer products; she holds over 100 patents; she has sold half a billion dollars of products on two continents, through television and the Internet. She has hosted her show on QVC for 10 years, and “Shark Tank” is the highest-rated show on Fridays, bringing in more than 7MM viewers. (Originally broadcast 10-27-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Daniel Coyle, co-Author “The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France”

You don’t have to follow professional cycling — heck, you don’t have to know how to ride a bike — to know that Lance Armstrong‘s downfall is is an epic, a Greek tragedy played out in the mountains of France. Armstrong, of course, announced last month he would no longer fight the overwhelming evidence that he systematically used and his the use of performance-enhancing drugs to become the greatest cyclist in the sport’s history. He has since been stripped of his record 7 Tour de France titles, dropped by sponsors like Nike and Oakley, even kicked out of his world-renowned charity Livestrong. So what drives an intense, even obsessed competitor to the point where they’ll do anything to win — and more. Almost no one has looked closer at this issue than Daniel Coyle. Most recently Dan co-wrote “The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France“. Before that, he wrote “Lance Armstrong’s War”, which provided “a hugely insightful look into the often inspiring, always surprising core of a remarkable athlete and the world that shapes him.” Dan is also the author of “The Talent Code”, the New York Times Bestseller that explains new tools with which we can unlock our own talents. (Originally broadcast 10-27-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Leon Neyfakh, Boston Globe Ideas Reporter

If you want to really feel panic, I’ve got some news for you: Only 8 shopping days left until Christmas. And if you’re still trying to figure out what to get for that special someone, you may want to listen up. You know the expression “give from the heart?” Turns out, that could be the worst gift-giving advice around. Instead, what you might need to understand more is not the emotion, but the science of giving. That’s right, the science. Strip away the warm feeling and sentiment, and what you get to is the science — and it just might be what you need to understand why you give and what people really want for Christmas. Leon Neyfakh is the Boston Globe’s Ideas reporter. He writes about new research and thought coming out of academia and his latest piece is for all you late shoppers out there. (Originally broadcast 12-16-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Robert Wright, Writer & Editor of Bloggingheads.tv

It seems there are no small issues in Robert Wright’s world. From the “Evolution of God” and the role of religion in social order to the philosophical connections between science and how we behave, Wright has taken on some of the biggest questions of our time. Robert Wright is editor of Bloggingheads.TV, author of several best-sellers, contributor to The Atlantic and, in 2009, was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. Tonight, we start between the big and the small, with the upcoming elections. (Originally broadcast 10-27-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Sandra Bloodworth, Director, MTA Arts

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Carnegie Hall. MOMA. We all know the world-class list of places to appreciate art or music in New York. But what if you learned that some of the city’s greatest works weren’t hanging on walls in front of your eyes, but instead were some 1,000 yards under your feet in the 1 line. That’s right, the subway. And the trains. And buses. They’re all run not by the Met, but by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the MTA. It displays an art and music collection so impressive, that when it released its app in March — that’s right, the MTA has an app where you can view all the works right on your phone — the NY Times Art Critic called it the most underrated art museum in NY. Sandra Bloodworth oversees it all as Director, MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design — the master curator of the MTA. And she joins us now. (Originally broadcast 6-30-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Dr. Brian Wansink, Cornell University

You may be going through life thinking you are what you eat. But, it turns out, you may be more WHERE you eat. Even with a fast food, your calorie intake — and enjoyment — may result less from choosing chicken nuggets over burgers than Mozart over Metallica. A fascinating new Cornell study has show that ambience — lighting, music and color choice — instead of making you more relaxed and willing to kick back and eat more, may make you more relaxed and willing to eat less! why does this happen — and what might it mean for our super-size calorie debates? Dr. Brian Wansink is a Professor of Consumer Behavior at Cornell University, where he directs the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. He studies food psychology and behavior change, and he co-authored the study: “Fast Food Restaurant Lighting and Music can Reduce your Calorie Intake and Increase Satisfaction.” (Originally broadcast 9-8-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Elizabeth Cline, Author, “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion”

If you’re like most of us, you have more shirts, pants, dresses, suits, shoes, ties, belts than you could possibly wear — and than you do wear. And while you don’t want — and won’t get — fashion advice from me, you may want to know that the fact you own all those clothes is not exactly your own fault. From cheap labor to cheap materials, from outlets to TJ Max, the result of the evolution in how clothes are made and sold sits in your closet. Another result comes from Elizabeth Cline, author of “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion.” (Originally broadcast 9-8-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Cynthia McFadden, ABC News Nightline

We all lost someone incredibly close to us this week. Nora Ephron, writer, director, filmmaker, author, journalist and so much more, died Tuesday at 71. At least one of her productions is surely in your top 10 list: When Harry Met Sally; Julie & Julia; You’ve Got Mail; Sleepless in Seattle. The list goes on. And so did her lines. Yes, she wrote the famous reaction line to Meg Ryan’s famous scene in Katz’s Deli — “I’ll have what she’s having.” She began her career as a mail girl at Newsweek, but her talent took her to the top. Helping us remember Nora Ephron, one of her real friends, a friend for 25 years, Cynthia McFadden, ABC News Nightline anchor. Cynthia, thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your friend. (Originally broadcast 6-30-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Roberta Shaffer, US Library of Congress

If you haven’t filled out your summer reading list yet, you may want to grab a pen and paper right now. And if you have, get ready to cross some of your current choices off the list. The US Library of Congress — our oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world — has compiled its list of “Books that Shaped America.” In fact, this is more than a list — it’s a full Exhibition that opened just this week, and as we head into the 4th of July, it’s a perfect subject for the time. Here to tell us about it: Roberta Shaffer the Library of Congress’ Associate Librarian for Library Services. Roberta, thanks for joining us. (Originally broadcast 6-30-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Chris Dufresne, LA Times Sports Columnist

Both off and on the field, college sports has again hit the front pages. This time it’s football. The week began with the fast and clear guilty verdict in the case of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn St, coach charged with sexually abusing several boys over some 10 or more years. It called into question the integrity of — allegedly — one of America’s great programs. Then on Tuesday, another decision, this one will affect play on the field. For the first time, after seemingly annual controversies over who’s No. 1, the college presidents voted to institute a playoff system in 2014. Will this end the controversy? After Sandusky, will anyone care? College football, a multi-billion dollar business is at a crossroads. To help us with directions, we’re joined by Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times columnist. (Originally broadcast 6-30-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Harriet Worsley, Author, “100 Ideas That Changed Fashion”

Of the many topics I’m where I’m better off asking the questions rather than answering them, fashion has to top the list. No one is coming to me for fashion advice — or, in a serious way, an understanding of fashion’s role is shaping and reflecting society’s evolving values. But Harriet Worsley is. She is the author of “100 Ideas That Changed Fashion.” (Originally broadcast 6-2-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Joel Stein, Time Magazine, Author “Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity”

Many of us have children with a very clear goal for our offspring: We want to raise a mini-me someone who reminds us our childhood selves, participating in and engaging in the activities that made us who we are. Not Joel Stein. He is the proud father of a three-year-old boy who he’s hoping will be nothing like he was. Joel is the Time Magazine columnist, writer for hire, and author of “Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity.” (Originally broadcast 12-16-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Laura Stoll, New Economics Foundation

What causes well-being? What enables some people and societies and countries to prosper and others to fail? What does it mean to prosper — is it the same as being happy? Starting about 30 years ago — and picking up exponentially in the last decade — academics really began to research the question in new ways. Looking at the data and trying to draw conclusions. But while each set of conclusions may be interesting on their own, how can we — as societies — put them into action. How can they collectively influence our social policies — and should they? A research team from the New Economics Foundation in London has attacked this question. They have looked at research covering the last 30 years and beyond to begin, as they put it, “transferring the large and growing body of academic literature to policymakers” in a range of countries. The piece is called “Well-being evidence for policy: A review,” and joining us now from London, co-author Laura Stoll. (Originally broadcast 6-2-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Dr. Paul Piff, UC Berkeley, Social Psychologist

From Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” to Eddie Murphy’s “Trading Places” to today’s hidden camera TV shows that put unsuspecting people in morally-challenging situations and ask: “What would you do?”, questions about ethical behavior among the social classes has always been the stuff of literature, movies and TV. Now, it’s the stuff of science. A group of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley [and the University of Toronto] have pulled together data from seven separate studies to look at which social class has a higher probability of ethical behavior. And the results may surprise you. Dr. Paul Piff, Social Psychologist at UC Berkeley, and co-author of “Higher Social Class Predicts Increased Unethical Behavior” joins us now. (Originally broadcast 6-2-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Steven Heller, School of Visual Arts

You know how you’ve been told don’t just a book by its cover? Our next guest will tell you the exact opposite. In fact you can tell a lot by the design of a book’s cover, as well as the design of a web site, even the existence and placement of the universal pricing code, the lines and numbers that serve as the fingerprint on the packaging of nearly everything we buy. The art of graphic design signals for us, consciously and unconsciously, a message. And it’s fascinating and important to understand — in simple ways — how design impacts. How it impacts our understanding of and connection with ideas and experiences. Here to help us understand is Steven Heller. He writes the Visuals column of the NY Times Magazine, he serves at the School of Visual Arts, and he is the author of “100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design.” (Originally broadcast 5-12-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Pamela Druckerman, Author, “Bringing up Bébé”

For anyone unfortunate enough to need the heads up, in a matter of minutes or hours depending on where you are, it is Mothers Day. Let’s be clear, if you haven’t written your card, turn off the radio and start writing immediately. But if you have, you may want to listen to our next guest. Because while there is not — and this has been proven imperically — a better mother than whichever one you’re about to wish a Happy Mothers Day to, according to Pamela Druckerman there is a place with the greatest skills on how to raise a child. And that place is France. The book is “Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting,” and Pamela is with us now. (Originally broadcast 12-16-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Andrew Heyward, Media Executive

Of all the areas and rules that technology seems to be rewriting, it seems no changes come faster or with more impact to our daily lives than media. From how we watch it to how we’re marketed to, to how content is created in the first place, the rules are changing almost as we speak. What does the convergence of technology and media mean for consumers? What does it mean for media companies? And who actually wins? As the convergence first began, Andrew Heyward was President of CBS News and he has spent much of the last 15 years thinking about this challenge. Andrew now helps individuals and corporations make sense of the changing media landscape, and he joins us now. (Originally broadcast 5-12-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Eric Klinenberg, NYU Sociologist & Author of “Going Solo”

You know how you’ve often thought — and, admit it, sometimes said — that you need some time alone? Turns out, you’re not alone. And a lot of people are acting on that notion — and they’re pretty happy about it. It has been called the biggest demographic shift since the Baby Boom, and the numbers tell the story: More than 50 percent of American adults are single, and 31 million—roughly one out of every seven adults—live alone. People who live alone make up 28 percent of all U.S. households, which makes them more common than any other domestic unit, including the nuclear family. Why might this lifestyle lead to personal happiness? Helping us understand is Eric Klinenberg, New York University Sociologist and author of “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone.”  (Originally broadcast 4-14-12 on The John Batchelor Show)