Retro Report’s Jill Rosenbaum: “The Long War on Cancer”

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 6.23.44 PMVirtually all of us have dreams for a cure to cancer. But in December, 1971, the hope for a cure couldn’t have been higher. President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act, launching America’s War on Cancer. With some reports predicting a cure by the bicentennial, the full power of the U.S. Government would go behind fighting this destructive disease.

Needless to say, more than 40 years later, cancer continues to ravage our society. Some 13 million people currently live with cancer in the U.S. About 1.6 million new cases are diagnosed yearly; and more than half a million Americans die of cancer each year.  And while, thankfully, great progress has been made – more people not just surviving, but beating cancer – we all know someone who has suffered.

In looking back, were hopes of a quick victory overplayed by politicians and the media? And whatever happened to the promises made in that historic bill signing four decades ago? Can victory ever be declared?

Jill Rosenbaum is a producer at Retro Report, the non-profit news and documentary group that follows important events after the headlines fade. Their new video is “The Long War on Cancer.”


Retro Report’s Matthew Spolar: “Dolly the Sheep”

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 8.34.48 PMIt was a scientific feat for the ages. A result so exciting and scary, that one reporter wondered , “Should we be applauding a mind-boggling scientific breakthrough or be nervous about where it might lead us?”

February 1997. Scientists in Scotland succeeded where no man had gone before. A mammal was cloned. Sheep number 6LL3. Her name was Dolly.

Dolly became an overnight sensation and fears of counting the same sheep over and over again – or, worse, the same cloned human being – took hold. But those concerns – some moral, and some the stuff of science fiction movies – soon got in the way of other promising science. Science that might have saved lives.

How did Dolly spin out of control? And to what extent did our fears at the time come true?

Matthew Spolar is a producer at Retro Report, the non-profit news and documentary group that follows important events after the headlines fade. Their new video is “Dolly the Sheep.”

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)

Dr. Gabrielle Walker, Scientist & Author of “Antarctica”

It’s got no trees. No grass. No culture has ever lived there. It was the site to the greatest race among explorers in our time. It’s about 1.5 times the size of the US and for half the year, it sits in darkness. Of course, I’m talking about Antarctica. And if you’re at all like me and you spend too much time watching nature shows that take you to the furthest reaches of the Earth, you’re fascinated by the idea of this ice continent. It’s also a place that has drawn — some five times — scientist Gabrielle Walker. Dr. Walker has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Cambridge. She has taught there and at Princeton and she recently pulled together her views on what she calls “the most alien place on the planet.” (Originally broadcast 12-16-12 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)

Dr. Robert Cantu, Professor of Neurosurgery at Boston Univ. on Concussions

From pro football to the pee wees, international soccer to girls youth leagues and beyond, the latest concern in sports has nothing to do with competition,  sportsmanship or even TV money. It’s concussions. As quickly as we realized that seat belts save lives and texting while driving kills, a whole new consciousness exists around what happens when your brain shakes violently. This sociological and medical shift occurred seemingly overnight, faster than cigarettes were snuffed from resataurants or calorie counts appeared on menus. If you’re not aware of the issues around concussions, then you may not have listened to Dr. Robert Cantu, professor of neurosurgery at Boston University, senior consultant to the National Football League and co-author of “Concussion and Our Kids: American’s Leading Expert on How to Protect Young Athletes”. As much as anyone, Dr. Cantru drove the concussion discussion, and he joins us now. (Originally broadcast 10-27-12 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)

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)