September 28, 2016

How to Forecast an Election


How to Forecast an Election
It's about six weeks until the 2016 US presidential election, and everyone wants to know: Who will win? Hillary Clinton? Or Donald Trump? To attempt to answer this question, political scientists like Jacob Montgomery build complex forecasting models. Montgomery shares his own unique approach to forecasting, and describes both the limitations and the value of these efforts to predict the future. 

September 14, 2016

Milk at Altitude: Exploring Health in the Himalayas

Milk at Altitude: Exploring Health in the Himalayas
Scientists agree that breast milk is good for babies, but E.A. Quinn believes there's a lot more to learn. Join Quinn on a recent research trip to a remote valley in Nepal, where she works with community partners to understand the health of mothers and infants under extreme conditions. How is human milk different in the Himalayan highlands than in the United States? What can these differences reveal about what moms and babies everywhere need to be healthy? Hear Quinn describe her fieldwork, what she's found out so far, and why she's so fascinated by this "incredible fluid." 


September 14, 2016

Theater for Health

According to some estimates, just 6 percent of mothers in Peru wash their hands before preparing food. Is it possible that theater could help change this statistic? Art can surely offer personal comfort and emotional healing, but can it influence public health? By helping to develop the Arts for Behavior Change (ABC) program in Lima, Peru, Boston University music professor André de Quadros sought to answer these questions. In his research, teaching, and performances around the world, de Quadros emphasizes using the arts for social change. He spent time with the music department at Washington University in fall 2014 as part of the Distinguished Visiting Scholars Program.

September 7, 2016

Eating Organic in Nazi Germany

Eat plenty of raw vegetables. Avoid preservatives. Breads should be whole grain. These may sounds like words of advice from your local natural foods store, but starting in the 1930s, the same messages were systematically spread throughout Germany by the Nazi party. Historian Corinna Treitel shares the story of the Nazis' obsession with natural foods, and discusses how their ideas about nutrition compare with how we think about food and health today. 

August 31, 2016

Breaking Down Persistent Myths About Eating Disorders

Breaking Down Persistent Myths About Eating Disorders
Treated for her first eating disorder at 11, Rebecca Lester, now in recovery, studies these conditions as an anthropologist and psychotherapist. She breaks down the most persistent eating disorder myths that pervade popular culture and the very system that is supposed to provide care for sufferers. She also shares her hope for the future of eating disorder treatment and advice for those who want to help.

August 24, 2016

The Philosophy of Cancer

In 2009, Anya Plutynski - a historian and philosopher of biology - was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite all of her experience with scientific research, Plutynski struggled to fully understand her disease. How do scientists and doctors define cancer? Why are some screening and treatment options recommended over others? When and how do values enter the picture? In this episode, Plutynski shares her story, her opinions on ongoing debates over breast cancer screening, and ideas from her forthcoming book Explaining Cancer: Philosophical Issues in Cancer Causation, Evidence & Explanation.

August 17, 2016

Pain: A Cultural History

When we think about pain, most of us think of doctors or medicine, but Javier Moscoso has a different perspective. As a professor of history and philosophy of science at the Institute of History at the Spanish National Research Council, he studies the cultural history of pain, and specifically how representations and even the experience of pain have changed over time. Equal parts philosophy and history, Moscoso invites us to see pain as a social experience that comes with moral and ethical dimensions as well.

August 10, 2016

Venus, Deconstructed

As a follow-up to last week's episode with Luis Salas on the ancient history of medicine and anatomy, we're reaching into the archives to share the story of story of one museum, La Specola, and its infamous 18th century exhibit of gruesome wax anatomical models. Our guide is Rebecca Messbarger, a professor of Italian and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and director of the Medical Humanities minor at Washington University in St. Louis. In this episode from 2014, Messbarger explains how La Specola and its wax inhabitants helped set the course for a new Enlightenment era, and how one figure, the Venus, became central to this new regime of the human body.

August 3, 2016

Galen and the Elephant's Heart

What can an ancient debate about an elephant tell us about the history of medicine? To find out, step into the life and times of Galen of Pergamum. Though his name is not commonly recognized today, Galen's writings influenced medical theory and practice for centuries. Luis Salas studies Greek and Roman medicine and philosophy, in particular the works of Galen. Here, Salas shares a fascinating and revealing story about Galen, his rivals, and the heart of an elephant.