Please Explain (The Leonard Lopate Show)

Please Explain (The Leonard Lopate Show)

From WNYC Radio

Please Explain, where Leonard Lopate and a guest get to the bottom of one complex issue. History, science, politics, pop culture or anything that needs some explanation!More from Please Explain (The Leonard Lopate Show) »

Most Recent Episodes

Collecting Data on Mass Shootings in the U.S.

With many people still trying to come to terms with the news from Orlando, Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas, the conversations around gun control, racial profiling, and police tactics, are front and center. But one element missing from these conversations is concrete data, largely because the federal government does not collect it. For this week's Please Explain, we are going to discuss the data behind the high profile shootings in the news: how it's being collected, and what it reveals. Jamiles Lartey, reporter for Guardian US will talk about their project, The Counted, which is tracking the number of people killed by law enforcement in 2015 and 2016. Ben Casselman, Senior Editor and Chief Economics Writer at 538, will discuss his site's series "Gun Deaths in America" which goes far broader and analyzes all gun deaths in the U.S.

How to Make Arguments... And Win!

Sometimes it's impossible to avoid an argument. That's why on today's Please Explain, we're learning how to make a convincing case with Stanley Fish, law professor and dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His latest book, Winning Arguments: What Works and Doesn't Work in Politics, the Bedroom, the Courtroom, and the Classroom, is a guide to using wit, observation, logic and rhetoric to win the toughest arguments, whether at the workplace or at home. Need to win an argument? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

Diving into the Mysterious World of Dolphins

Dolphins have long been regarded for their remarkable intelligence and social skills. When the dolphin genome was first sequenced in 2011, scientists learned that the beloved aquatic mammals are even more like us than we previously thought. This week's Please Explain is all about dolphins, their remarkable intelligence and their relationship to humans, with journalist Susan Casey, author of Voices in the Ocean: A Journey into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins. She embarked on a two-year global adventure to explore the nature of dolphins. Have questions about dolphins? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

Weaving Together the Science and Social History of Hair

We're untangling the science and cultural history of hair on this week's Please Explain with a leading expert on the fascinating fiber, Kurt Stenn, the author of Hair: A Human History. He served for over 20 years as a Professor of Pathology and Dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine, in addition to working as the Director of Skin Biology at Johnson & Johnson where he helped found a biotech startup on hair follicle regeneration. He'll talk about the evolutionary history of hair, in addition to its role in art, fashion, cultural identity and even the economy. Do you have questions about hair? Ask us in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

The Psychology Behind Violence and Mass Shootings

After the shooting in Orlando, and mass shootings in the past, there is intense focus on mental illness, and questions of whether mental illness can be linked to mass shootings. On this week's Please Explain, David Kessler, former FDA Commissioner of 20 years, will discuss mental illness and emotional anxiety, and explain how certain stimuli can capture our attention, and even control our actions. Dr. Kessler's latest book is "Capture: Unraveling the Mystery of Mental Suffering." He'll reveal how the psychological phenomenon of "capture" influences addiction, abuse, and can even lead to violence, like mass shootings.

Unwrapping the History of Paper

For the past 2000 years, paper has been the essential object that fuels education, art, commerce, dissemination of ideas... and the list goes on and on. In his new book, Paper: Paging Through History, the bestselling author of Cod and Salt, Mark Kurlansky writes, "Studying the history of paper exposes a number of historical misconceptions, the most important of which is this technological fallacy: the idea that technology changes society. It is exactly the reverse. Society develops technology to address the changes that are taking place within it." He joins us to talk about the history of paper on today's Please Explain. We'll also be joined by paper-maker Donna Koretsky, co-founder and owner of Carriage House Paper in Brooklyn, as well as co-curator of the International Paper Museum in Boston. Have questions about paper? Give us a call at 646-829-3985!

Why Bird Brains Are Smarter Than You Think

New research reveals that some birds rival primates in terms of intelligence, according to science writer Jennifer Ackerman. She joins us for today's Please Explain, which is all about birds and their remarkable intelligence! Her new book The Genius of Birds uncovers little-known facts about the powerful bird brain. She traveled the globe for her research — from laboratories in Barbados and New Caledonia, to the mountains of central Virginia. Do you have questions about birds? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! Events: Jennifer Ackerman will be participating in this year's World Science Festival from June 1 through 5. She'll be speaking at the Science Story and Café at the NYU Kimmel Center on June 4th from 12:30 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. She'll also speak at Science and Story on June 4 from 8:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. at the NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium.

A Farm Grows in Brooklyn

Spring is finally here, and we're kicking off the growing season with a Please Explain that's all about urban agriculture and city gardens! Find out the best ways to maximize your green space - whether it's a window box, rooftop plot or a community garden. We'll also look at the city's growing rooftop-farm movement, discuss public garden spaces and find out why rooftop gardens are an ecological necessity in our urban landscape. Joining us is Annie Novak, co-founder and head farmer of the nation's first commercial green roof row farm, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn. She's also the manager of the Edible Academy at New York Botanical Garden, founder and director of Growing Chefs and author of The Rooftop Growing Guide. We'll also be joined by Gerard Lordahl, Director of Open Space Greening Program at GrowNYC, a non-profit which operates local environmental programs, including the city Greenmarkets. Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

From Medieval England to Lingua Franca: The Evolution of English

The English language is spoken by millions of people around the world, and despite that fact, it remains relatively fluid. Because it's so adaptable, who knows what the future will hold in store for English? On today's Please Explain, we'll attempt to find out with Simon Horobin, Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Magdalen College. He's the author of How English Became English: A Short History of a Global Language. We'll also learn how modern English developed and became standardized, in addition to how it has evolved through the centuries and in different global communities. Do you have questions about the history and future of English? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

Have We Lost the Art of Conversation in Our Digital World?

Has technology destroyed our ability to have meaningful face-to-face conversations? What happens when we look up from our phones and try to communicate? On today's Please Explain, media scholar and MIT professor Sherry Turkle reveals how our relationship with technology has harmed our ability to empathize. She's also the author of the bestselling book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age. Do you have questions about technology and modern conversation? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!

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