social sciences

For some time now, agreement has seemed near-universal that there is a growing chasm between those with great wealth in this country and the rest of the population. That recognition has even bridged our otherwise entrenched political divide, with both Republicans and Democrats tackling the problem, especially on the campaign trail. But despite the recent urgency, there are differences.

L: Blake Patterson R: The Verge / |

In the early days of the internet, millions flocked to chat rooms to connect with like minds – and bodies -- the world over. But the group chat was soon replaced by Facebook and Twitter…or was it? On today’s show, the group chat makes a comeback.

Then, western history is dominated by stories of great men and women, but we rarely hear about those who helped them along the way. We’ll unearth history’s secret sidekicks: from the man who encouraged Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. to embrace pacifism, to Julia Warhol, who set her son Andy on a path to the art world.

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Emre Ayaroglu via flickr Creative Commons

While the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs may be most familiar, the earth has experienced five great extinctions, and we may be in the midst of the sixth…right here, right now. On today’s show: a startling account of the planet's biodiversity crisis, and the role humans have played in creating it.

Plus it’s easy to condemn the office gossip – but getting the inside scoop at work might just save your career. We’ll discuss why gossip can be good for you. And, America’s only water sommelier explains why his restaurant features a 44-page water menu.

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gargudojr via Flickr Creative Commons

With more than a quarter of the players born outside the US, professional baseball is the UN of American pro sports. We take a look at a position crucial to a team’s success:  the interpreter…and how the job requires more than mere translation. Plus, France’s government is banning English words like ‘fast-food’ and ‘hashtag’ in the name of cultural preservation…we find out why the words are unlikely to disappear from the vernacular anytime soon. And, Sue Miller speaks about her new book, The Arsonist.

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You’ve seen the studies: wearing seatbelts makes you happier! Facebook users are depressed! The internet harms teenage brains! But how reliable are these studies? Today Word of Mouth puts social science to the test. Then we continue with a look into a curious tradition that has been lost over the years: funeral cookies, “A snack called death.” Plus, venture capitalists in Silicon Valley aren’t just banking on the future of tech, they’re pouring money into the future of food… why one start-up is spending millions on an eggless-egg.

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

(Photo by Elevators Only via Flickr)

A newly-released study by several economists shows significant correlation between the number of big-box stores, specifically Walmart, and the number of hate groups in a region. Dr.

(Photo by <a href="" target="_blank">mars discovery district</a> via Flickr Creative Commons)

Word of Mouth keeps its eye out for stories that are interesting, counterintuitive, many of which come from the world of science. It’s part of our mission to find the under-reported, simmering, surprising ideas that make us go “what?”