3.01.16: The Art of Moderating & the Confidence Game

Mar 1, 2016

Last week's debate among republican presidential candidates was so raucous that at one point, the closed captions couldn't keep up and simply read "unintelligible yelling". Today, a seasoned debate moderator sheds light on the tough task of keeping onstage arguments civil, and what makes for a great debate.

Then, are human beings wired to be swindled? Later in the show we'll explore the psychology of con artists and why it's so easy to fall for them.

Listen to the full show. 

The Art of Moderating

During last week’s GOP debate, the candidate exchanges were so raucous that, at one point, the closed captions simply read  "unintelligible yelling".  Reviews of moderator Wolf Blitzer were less than kind...New York Times Dave Itzkoff tweeted “very intrigued by Wolf Blitzer’s moderating strategy of ‘do absolutely nothing at any time’.” But what does it take to be an effective moderator?

Here with a firsthand account is John Donvan, host and moderator of the debate series Intelligence Squared US


Urban Debate Reborn

Since ancient Greece, scholastic debate has been used to develop a student’s critical thinking, communication, and problem solving skills.  Today, debate club remains an extracurricular offering  in schools across the country. But in New York City, this wasn't always the case. In fact, in 2011 only 10 schools in the entire city had debate clubs...Julia Szabo brings us the story.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

The Confidence Game

Human beings are wired to be swindled. We are instinctively trusting, love a good story, and feel like we are a little smarter and more deserving than others. So, we're easy marks for the frauds, grifters, clairvoyants, imposters, data embellishers, and spinners of elegant or sad tales that persuade us to trust con artists - the "aristocrats of crime". 

Maria Konnikova is a writer and blogger on issues related to popular psychology. Her book, The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It...Every Time explores the psychology of con artist and the people who fall for them.  

Related: Conspiracies, Cults, and Cons 

Putting Harry in the Hall

Singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson is, and always was, a musician's musician. In Los Angeles, a chorus of Harry-philes hope to use the power of music to sing their hero into the rock and roll hall of fame. Musician Anny Celsi brings us the story.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

Update: The campaign to induct Harry into the Hall of Fame class of 2016 was not a success, but that hasn’t dampened the spirits of devotees. This year Nilsson would have been 75, and the campaign to put “Harry in the Hall” kicks off on his birthday, June 15th.