11.16.16: Demographics and Damages, Little Lies, & The Bookshelf

Nov 16, 2016

People tell little white lies all day long, to be polite, avoid confrontation...or just because they seem so harmless. Today, how wearing down our truth telling muscles affects the brain.

Then, a reporter looks at the established legal practice of using race, class and gender to to calculate damages in wrongful death and injury cases - the result? Women and minorities lives are worth less.

Plus, New Hampshire author Jacquelyn Benson talks about feminism, Indiana Jones, and the unconventional romance in her debut novel, The Smoke Hunter.

Listen to the full show.

Demographics and Damages

Philosophically, the value of a life is immeasurable. But in courtrooms across the country, a person's projected worth is regularly calculated to assess awards in personal injury cases. The variance in those measures by race and gender is being called into question.

Kim Soffen  is a reporter for the Washington Post who looked into the disparities between white males, women and minorities when it comes to awarding damages.

Little White Lies

A 2002 study from the University of Massachusetts found that 60% of adults will lie at least once during a ten minute conversation. If that number seems high, participants in a later, self-reporting study agreed. They admitted telling 1.65 lies a day. Traditionally, it's difficult to get hard numbers about how often people lie, because, well, they lie about it. Research from University College London circumvents that problem by going straight to the source: our brains. They discovered a kind of snowball effect for lies: if you get comfortable telling small lies, you become desensitized - and tell bigger and bigger lies over time.

Tali Sharot is principal investigator  and director of the Effective Brain Lab and a neuroscientist at University College London. She's an author of the new study examining the effect of telling little lies on our brains.

Photosynthesis in Polka Dots

Molly Bang is a children's book author and illustrator from woods hole, massachusetts. Her celebrated books include the grey lady and the strawberry snatcher.  Over the past few years, she's been working on something quite different: a series of children's picture books about the basic science of our planet. This piece was produced by Devika Bakshi.   

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

The Shipping Industry's Carbon Footprint

At any given moment, while you move through your day, millions of tons of products - from laptops to bananas - are moving across the world's oceans. Today, more than 50,000 merchant ships carry 90% of the world's trade. That's four times the number of ships operating 25 years ago.  Shipping is the most environmentally friendly way to move cargo long-distances in bulk - but that doesn't make it green. Kate Wheeling looked into what the surge in shipping means for carbon emissions. Kate is staff writer for Pacific Standard, and was at the COP22 meeting in Marrakech when we spoke with her.

Related: "A COP22 Guide to the Mysterious World of Shipping" 

The Bookshelf: Novelist Jacquelyn Benson

It's time for The Bookshelf - where NHPR's All Things Considered host Peter Biello speaks with authors who are from or are writing about the region. Today, local author Jacquelyn Benson on her debut novel The Smoke Hunter

You can listen to this full episode again here: The Bookshelf: Novelist Jacquelyn Benson