Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth airs at 2 pm Monday through Thursday, weeknights at 9 pm, and noon on Sunday.

Word of Mouth is the sound of new ideas, hosted by Virginia Prescott, and produced by Taylor Quimby, and Logan Shannon. Our Senior Producer is Maureen McMurray

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes or find us on Stitcher.

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Marc Nozell via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/pSQHxq

While many presume Hillary Clinton has the democratic nomination in the bag, there are parts of the democratic base that she still needs to win over, among them: African Americans. On today’s show, did Clinton’s 2008 campaign alienate the black community?

Plus, the Boston Marathon remains Boston Strong, drawing tens of thousands of runners from around the world. We’ll go beyond the pasta bowl to find out what’s on the menu for international runners.

Scripps National Spelling Bee via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/nMQtsf

Since 2007, every single winner of the Scripps’ National Spelling Bee has been Indian-American – a fact that fuels stereotypes about so-called “model minority” students. 

On today’s show: the perils of labeling.  Then, we turn to a different kind of label: electrohypersensitivity. We’ll take a look at a growing group of individuals who claim to be suffering from the condition, and why they’ve moved to the national radio quiet zone. 

Personal Tragedy, Publicly Shamed

Apr 15, 2015
Courtesy of Maggie Baumer

In 2012 Maggie Baumer’s future looked bright. Fresh out of law school she was living in Manhattan and was practicing as an associate attorney at a prominent immigration law firm in the city. Having started her career as a mental health counselor on a psychiatric ward, she was embracing her new field, and was thriving in the world of law. And like many young professionals, she looked forward to letting loose after a stressful work week. That’s just what she was doing on October 27th, 2012.   

Gage Skidmore via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/e2VkE8

When President Lincoln was assassinated 150 years ago, many in the south publicly celebrated his death, but they weren’t the only ones cheering. On today’s show we’ll explore the myth of a country united in mourning.

Also today, a political scientist argues that fringe candidates are just as likely to win the presidency – if they can get the support of their party. And, if you think Chris Christie is the first candidate for whom weight is a presidential issue, think again.

Dave Crosby via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/cfGUQb

How do we know how many fish there are in the sea? How many birds there are in the trees?

When biologists come to us with the estimated number of bison on the Great Plains, it’s easy to imagine where that estimate comes from, but what about the number of newts in the forest?

enablingthefuture.org

Prosthetic hands for kids are often too heavy and expensive for practical use. On today’s show we’ll hear about a company called e-NABLE that has formed a network of volunteers from across the world to create 3-d printed, low-cost prosthetics with a kid-friendly aesthetic.

Then, for centuries, meditation has been used to quiet the mind and focus attention. Now, modern technology reveals the medical benefits of mindfulness.

Sex Ed By The Dashboard Light

Apr 12, 2015
Ben Miller via flickr Creative Commons

The talk” is a rite of passage for many young Americans. It often happens either too soon, too late and usually leads to hilarious tales of awkwardness between parent and child. But when it comes to the real nitty-gritty of sex education - that’s when the classroom takes over, for better or worse. For Word of Mouth senior producer Maureen McMurray, it was probably for worse.

Listen to what just might be the most awkward talk about the birds and the bees ever told.


Logan Shannon / NHPR

As schools across the country struggle to meet the new national common core standards, one controversial aspect of education is not part of the curriculum: sex education. On today’s show, the evolving debate around sex ed, which is not strictly an American phenomenon.

Then, parental leave has been shown to benefit infant health and early development, but Jennifer Senior argues that if we truly care about our kids’ well-being, the policy should not stop after the first 12 weeks.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Treat Yourself To Our Favorite Surprise Videos

Apr 9, 2015
Michelle Tribe / flic.kr/p/5T7Ws8

During Virginia's interview with surprisologist Tania Luna [Surprise: Embrace The Unpredictable and Engineer The Unexpected], Tania mentioned googling "animals being surprised" as a great way to see the power and humor of the unexpected. We were not disappointed with the results. But we also looked into the other kinds of surprises that humans experience.

Megan Lynnette via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/8UsssG

Today’s classrooms may come outfitted with iPads and gadgets, but the textbook industry has weathered the digital storm surprisingly well. On today’s show we’ll look at an unexpected threat to the textbook industry:  the rollout of the Common Core standards.

Then, between jam packed schedules and lengthy to-do lists, it’s little wonder that so many people claim they hate surprises. But what can we gain from embracing the unexpected?  A self-described 'surprisologist' makes the case for being caught off guard.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Nathan Rupert via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/aEtJLV

As schools across the country struggle to meet the new national common core standards, one controversial aspect of education is not part of the curriculum: sex education. On today’s show: the evolving debate around sex ed, and why it’s not strictly an American phenomenon.

Plus, from false confessions to inadequate defenses, wrongful convictions can happen for many reasons. We’ll look at faulty eyewitness testimonies, the number one contributing cause of wrongful convictions.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Tiffany Quimby / NHPR

A couple of months ago, we talked to Greg Beck – the creator of a counter-intuitive photo app called The White Album, which basically turns your smartphone into a disposable camera. Here's how it works: when you open the app a simple camera interface opens up. 

Mikko Tarvainen via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/8wnEFW

Parental leave has been shown to benefit infant health and early development, but Jennifer Senior argues that if we truly care about our kids’ well-being, the policy should not stop after the first 12 weeks. On today’s show, the case for taking parental leave when kids are teenagers. 

Plus, we wax nostalgic for the days of the one-hour photo and test a new app that turns your smart phone into a disposable camera.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Nic McPhee via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/4zGJzN

Vocal anti-vaxxers like Jenny McCarthy have got some in the science community saying if you don’t have an advanced degree, you have no right to question the experts.  But are they right?

On today’s show, a science journalist makes a bold argument: that free speech trumps good science. Then, we’ll tackle a controversial question for pet owners: whether or not to keep domestic cats indoors in the name of saving birds.

Plus, we’ll find out why more and more Europeans are ditching Darwin’s theory of evolution and embracing creationism.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Human beings spend a lot of time satisfying primal urges, but relatively little talking about or studying them. On today’s show, what we can learn by studying hedonism.

Also, hell can mean a bad day, other people, or a threat to sinners, but it wasn’t always so. We'll talk about how hell has evolved, from a place of flaming torture, to tangible horrors here in the real world.

And, at the height of the Ebola epidemic last fall, the hardest hit areas in West Africa not only struggled with containing the virus, but respectfully burying the dead. We’ll take a look at how funeral rites were handled during history’s worst epidemics.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Eugene Mirman Majored In Comedy

Apr 2, 2015
Photo by Brian Tamborello via eugenemirman.com

Eugene Mirman is a writer, stand-up comedian, the voice of Gene on Fox’s animated series Bob’s Burgers, Neil Degrasse Tyson’s partner in crime on the show Star Talk Radio, creator of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival and proprietor of the post-stru

Aslak Raanes via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/4LD1Y

Today, hell can mean a bad day, other people, or a threat to sinners, but it wasn’t always so. On today’s show: how hell has evolved, from a place of flaming torture, to tangible horrors here in the real world. Then, when Comedy Central announced Trevor Noah as the new host of The Daily Show earlier this week, there was an immediate outpouring of support. But the love-fest quickly soured when screen grabs of a few of his past, offensive, tweets were circulated online. Jon Ronson, author of the new book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed weighs in on the scandal. 

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

LBJ Presidential Libary

From removing the "W" on all White House keyboards at the start of the Bush administration to launching a fake Indian attack on American soldiers, the commander-in-chief has been both the subject and the perpetrator of some serious pranks. In honor of April Fools' day, we map out the best presidential pranks that you may have not heard of .

Listen to Virginia's interview with Brady Carlson about White House pranks below. 

1. Lyndon B. Johnson's Sinking Convertible

wetwebwork via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/prnBg

Abraham Lincoln famously said: you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. On today’s show we celebrate April Fools’ Day with some notable Presidential pranks.

Then, forget the days of the crank call, today’s kids are getting their kicks in a much more dangerous way: by dispatching swat teams on their enemies through phony 9-1-1 calls, and watching as the raids stream live on the internet. 

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Russell Darling via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/7uLMhV

Human beings spend a lot of time satisfying primal urges, but relatively little talking about or studying them. On today’s show, what we can learn by studying hedonism.

Then, at the height of the Ebola epidemic last fall, the hardest hit areas in West Africa not only struggled with containing the virus, but respectfully burying the dead. We’ll take a look at how funeral rites were handled during history’s worst epidemics.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

zoecormier.com

Zoe Cormier is a scientist turned science journalist. Her first book, Sex, Drugs, & Rock ‘n Roll, is a collection of surprising and revealing research into the biology and neurochemistry of hedonism and the human pursuit of pleasure. And while some may wag a finger at those who indulge in sex, drugs, and even rock and roll, Zoe is quick to point out that these indulgences are a vital component in what defines us. 

Nor are these specific aspects of our condition that should be repressed. 

Listen to Virginia's entire interview with Zoe below. 

Elizabeth via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/qNttFS

With a market value up to $2.50 an ounce, and online sales on the rise, it’s been called liquid gold. On today’s show, a look into the breast milk market, and how the biotech industry is getting in on the game.

Then, the question of why Homo sapiens thrived while Neanderthals became extinct has long been debated among scientists. We’ll hear from an anthropologist with a stunning new theory that explains their extinction: humans had dogs.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Logan Shannon/ NHPR

Malaria threatens more that half the world’s people. Yet there is still no way to immunize against it. Today we will explore why a promising vaccine developed by an upstart in the biotech scene is not getting funded.

Then , once relegated to fanzines and the occasional bookstore, fan fiction is quickly becoming more accessible, more mainstream, and in some cases, more of a headache for authors who inspired the fans in the first place. We’ll find out why some authors are bucking against the trend.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

David Coxon via www.flickr.com/photos/davidcoxon

The Southern Poverty Law Center is out with its annual survey on hate groups.  The good news? Active hate groups are on the decline.  The bad news? They've relocated online.  Today on Word of Mouth, a disturbing look at the hidden state of hate in America.  Also, a historian reveals the surprising method many early New Englanders used to pass correspondence from colony to colony: Native American couriers.

Listen to the full show and click read more for individual segments.

blueforce4116 via flickr.com/photos/blueforce4116

On Friday, Scott Kelly embarks on a one-year trip to the International Space Station to study the physiological effects of long-term spaceflight.  Crucial to the mission is his twin brother, former astronaut Mark Kelly, who will be acting as a sort of controlled variable here on Earth.  Today on Word of Mouth, we speak with Mark about being the sibling who stays home.  Later in the show, we celebrate the culture of the Jewish deli, and ask whether restaurants based on thick meaty sandwiches and 'schmaltz' can survive in the age of the kale smoothie.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Astronaut & Children's Book Author Mark Kelly

Mar 25, 2015
Simon & Schuster

Astronaut Scott Kelly will be heading to the International Space Station for a year-long mission aimed at studying the physiological effects of prolonged space-flight. Crucial to the study is Scott’s twin brother Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut who will participate by staying here on earth, as a sort of controlled variable. Virginia spoke with Mark about the mission.

CatWarren.com/press

For most pet-owners, dogs are a symbol of love and loyalty.  Throughout history though, man's bestie has also held darker associations.  Today, we talk about death and the dog, from Greek mythologies three-headed hell-hound named Cerberus, to the modern use of cadaver-detection dogs. Plus, we go on the trail with a blind hiker and his guide dog as they summit 48 of New Hampshire's 4,000-footers in a single winter! And a discussion about redesigning the car dashboard with the makers of the hit video game Monument Valley.

Kevin Dooley via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/5T2AqR

If science is right, you are a liar. Everybody is. In fact, studies show that human beings lie 2-to-3 times per ten minute conversation. On today’s show, a philosopher says lies aren’t all bad – and argues that deception is a part of every good relationship.

Plus, think Celine Dion is the pits? Can’t stand sappy ballads? We’ll hear why love songs are more than something to sing in the shower.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

When you hear about prison work programs, you think license plates or chain gangs – not farm-raised Tilapia, or buffalo milk cheese. On today’s show, artisanal foods and other the under-the-radar products made by prisoners for next to nothing.

Plus, a project aims to solve two global problems by turning sewage into drinkable water, and why revulsion may prevent it from becoming a reality. 

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments. 

Vinoth Chandar via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/7Jcr9c

What happens to our minds when we have too little, and how does that shape our choices and behaviors? On today's show, we'll talk to a pair of Princeton professors who set out to answer those questions. Plus, the inspiration for our Good Gig series was a conversation with a person who has one of the most unique gigs on the planet: sketch artist for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments. 

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