How Did We Miss That?

You're developing a new, revolutionary product. You have all the science figured out, it works like a charm. Problem is, nobody wants — or needs — your product. How do things like this happen? On this episode, we look into this phenomenon, of missing something that's pretty obvious — the things we didn't see coming. Why do we miss them — and how can we prevent this from happening? We hear stories about doctors making the wrong diagnosis; how grifters get away with cons; and why a sweeping approach to reducing the opioid crisis might do more harm than good. Also heard on this week's episode: Damian Sendler made a name for himself as a wunderkind sex researcher — until a Gizmodo article called Sendler out as a fraud. We talk with reporter Jennings Brown about how he unmasked Sendler — and hear from Sendler about why he says the whole business is just a case of professional assassination. How do people get away with blatant lies, exaggerations and false credentials? Psychologist Maria Konnikova takes us into the mind of a con artist — and points us to some red flags. It seems like simple logic: If it's prescription painkillers that caused the opioid crisis, limiting them should get us out of it. But for some struggling with addiction, that route has done more harm than good. Neurologist Jonathan Howard explains the cognitive blind spots behind medical mistakes of omission — like missed diagnoses and tests not ordered. His book on the topic is "Cognitive Errors and Diagnostic Mistakes: A Case-Based Guide to Critical Thinking in Medicine."

Who Do You Think You Are?

Scientist. Farmer. Feminist. Leader. Alpha male. Veteran. African-American. Hindu. Identity isn't just about who we think we are — it's about how others perceive us, and how we move through the world. It's determined by our families and culture; our race and gender; our jobs, personalities, bodies, and minds. All of those things make up our personal narratives, defining who we are and how we deal with things. But identities aren't always fixed. Sometimes, they can change, and even clash. On this episode, we explore stories of people wrestling with those changes. We hear about tough Australian farmers becoming more in tune with their feelings, how DNA testing is transforming who we think we are, and the challenges of dating while trans. Also heard on this week's episode: When a DNA test revealed that Dani Shapiro wasn't who she thought she was, it sent her on a search for her biological roots. That mission, documented in the memoir "Inheritance," takes Shapiro deep into the strange and tangled world of early fertility medicine. We hear her story, and also chat with historian Margaret Marsh, who, together with OB-GYN Wanda Ronner, has written three books about fertility treatments. Their latest is called "The Pursuit of Parenthood." Dating's tough enough — but transitioning gender can make it even harder. We explore some of those complications with Nava Mau, a trans woman and filmmaker, whose short film "Waking Hour" depicts the minefield trans people might encounter on a night out. Canadian researcher Karen Blair says that the dating pool for trans people appears small, but her data suggests attitudes could shift. Elyn Saks is a law professor, best-selling author, and MacArthur "genius grant" recipient. She's also someone who lives with schizophrenia. She talks about how she manages her symptoms, and why she firmly believes that mental illness need not define a person. We talk with West Chester University professor Anita Foeman, who uses ancestry information to spark conversations in the classroom — and to push the boundaries of how we think about our own racial and ethnic identities.

Opting Out

There's a comfort to the mainstream way of doing things — it offers standard solutions to standard problems. But sometimes existing systems don't work or aren't accessible, and we're forced to carve out our own paths. On this episode, we explore stories of opting out — and finding new solutions. We hear about communities opting out of conventional internet service, universities ditching the GRE test as part of their admissions process, and people saying no to some aspects of medical care. Why we opt out, where it leads, and why, sometimes, it just might be impossible. Also heard on this week's episode: In Detroit, roughly 40 percent of residents have no internet at home. In response, communities there and elsewhere are exploring mesh networks — a kind of shared wireless that's built from the ground up. Steph Yin explains how it works, and the challenges these projects face. Reporter Noam Osband talks with Jessica Zitter, a palliative care physician who wants her patients to know that opting out of aggressive medical treatments doesn't mean they're "giving up." Zitter's book is called "Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life." When Steven Morgan was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he was given several prescriptions to stabilize his moods. The medications helped ease his depression and anxiety, but he also felt that they erased certain aspects of his personality and creativity. The physical side effects were severe, and eventually, Steven decided he wanted to learn to manage his illness on his own, without medication. Ethan Brooks reports this story. Plastic poses a growing threat to the environment, and especially our oceans. We record what it's like attempting to live without plastic for a day, and chat with Rose Eveleth, who imagines a world without plastic on her podcast "Flash Forward." When Tony Martinez scheduled his first colonoscopy, the doctor said he would need someone to drive him home afterwards because of the anesthesia. So Tony decided to opt out — and experience the full procedure without going under.

Cats and Dogs, their Health and Ours

For a lot of Americans, cats and dogs are more than just pets — they're our fur babies. We're willing to do whatever it takes to keep them happy and healthy. But sometimes — whatever it takes — gets complicated and expensive. On this episode of The Pulse, we examine pet health from Prozac to surgery, and the epidemic of fat cats and pudgy pups. Plus, how pets impact human well-being. Also heard on this week's episode: Every year, thousands of Americans end up in the hospital because of dog bites. K-9 behavior therapist Patricia Bentz discusses how to prevent bites. Tourist brochures for Paris don't tend to illuminate the city's dog poop problem. Journalist Marjorie Hache walks us through the City of Light's long struggle to get residents to clean up after their pets. When pet care gets too costly in the U.S., some people resort to "economic euthanasia." How did vet bills become so expensive? And, is universal health insurance for pets an answer? More than half of cats and dogs in the U.S. are obese — and the 'food is love' attitude from pet owners isn't helping. What do you do when the your usually sweet cat becomes angry and aggressive? For some pet owners , Prozac is the prescription. Daryl Whiting has had lots of cats and dogs over her lifetime. For her, the last moments in a pet's life are precious — she's become an unofficial pet chaplain.

Shifting Gears

Cars have played a fundamental role in changing our modern lives — where we live, where we work, the shape of our communities, and how we spend our money and free time. But along with new opportunities, cars have also brought negative impacts — air pollution, traffic deaths, congestion, and road rage, just to name a few. On this episode, we explore how cars have affected our world, and how we might reframe their role going forward. Also, why we often behave so badly while driving. Also heard on this week's episode: When wildlife meets cars, the results can be gruesome — and expensive. Injuries, damages, and clean up can all add up. Ecologist Kevin McLean brings us this story about the cost of roadkill in California. In the 1960s, drivers were more than twice as likely to die in an auto wreck than they are today. That changed thanks to improved design, and especially crash tests involving dummies. But there's a problem with these dummies — most of them are modeled on tall men. We discuss our urge to rage while driving with psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett. Also, Javier Hernandez from MIT's media lab explains how technology and artificial intelligence sense and ease driver stress. Long commutes can be a serious drag. We hop in the car with one driver who commutes 60 miles each way, but manages to find moments of zen on the highway. Jalopnik editors Michael Ballaban and Raphael Orlove share the special relationship they and Americans have with their cars.

The Skinny on Skin

When's the last time you saw a get-well card for psoriasis or eczema? Skin's our biggest organ — and does lots of hard work keeping us healthy — but still, it doesn't get much respect. Skin regulates our temperature, protects us from germs, and generally serves as the final barrier between our bodies and the world. On this episode, we look at what our skin does for us — and what happens when it breaks down. Also heard on this week's episode: Hong Kong beauty editor Francesca Ng works in an industry that idolizes skin perfection, but she's spent a lifetime struggling with eczema. Inadequate training and implicit bias may be keeping doctors from spotting skin problems in people of color. VisualDx says its tech fix could lead to better diagnosis. Dermatologist Anisha Patel explains how skin pigment works. Colorado Public Radio spoke with burn center patient Dave Repsher about his near-fatal helicopter crash and long recovery. How runners protect their skin from sweat, weather — and their greatest nemesis: chafing.

The Ocean and Us

Our planet's surface is 71% water — with five vast oceans that span a range of temperatures and shades of blue. Humans have long loved and feared these oceans. They sustain us and other animals, help regulate our climate, and offer endless opportunities for awe and joy. But our relationship hasn't always been smooth. The ocean can be a threat to us, and we — with our expanding environmental footprint — can be a threat to it. On this episode of The Pulse, we dig into the science of our oceans: Their connection to our survival, the threats they face, and the secrets they hide. We hear about the mystery of the great jellyfish boom, and why seaweed might just be the next hot (and sustainable) food trend. We also explore recent discoveries about the fate of plastic in our oceans — and why the impact goes deeper than we once thought. Also heard on this week's episode: Some scientists are calling it an invasion — across the world, jellyfish are swarming the coasts, leading to beach closures, and even several deaths in Australia and the Philippines. Gisele Regatao reports on what researchers are saying is behind this unprecedented boom. You may know Ellen Horne from her years working at Radiolab. But before that, she had another vocation — marine conservationist. Her passion for the field withered with the arrival of aquaculture, a method of seafood farming that she saw as an insurmountable threat to ocean ecosystems. But now, a lifetime later, Horne takes a second look, and explains why that could be changing. We also talk to Amy Novogratz, one of the founders of Aqua-Spark, a global firm that's trying to reinvent aquaculture in a more sustainable way. Before her death at 25, writer Mallory Smith spent years documenting her life and battle with cystic fibrosis in a series of raw and eloquent journal entries that comprise the newly published memoir, "Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life." We talk with her mother, Diane Shader Smith, who assembled the book, about Mallory and her deep connection with the ocean. Marine biologist Rick Stafford, who's based at Bournemouth University in southwest England, introduces us to underwater soundscapes and explains how our human sounds affect fish.

Marijuana Now

Marijuana is starting to feel like the new normal. In less than 25 years, it's gone from illicit drug to accepted medical treatment in more than half the country — plus cannabis is now legal recreationally in 10 states. It's been a stunning transformation — one that's thrust weed (and us) into a brand new reality. On this episode, we tackle some of the questions that have popped up along the way. How "medical" are those medical dispensaries, really? What are the risks for pregnant women and their babies? And what's weed's power and potential for abuse? Also heard on this week's episode: Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 states — but are we really treating it like other drugs? You've heard of CBD and THC — but what are they, and what do they do? Emergency room physician Avir Mitra gets a refresher course. Doctors say marijuana's a no-no for moms-to-be — but for some, it's a big help for pregnancy-related nausea. We hear from moms in Los Angeles about what it's like using while expecting. We venture inside the kitchen of an edibles chef in Philadelphia, who says weed-infused goodies help her create community. Researcher and pediatrician Karen Wilson from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai says we don't know enough about the potential health risks of second-hand marijuana smoke on kids. The mother of an autistic son says medical marijuana helped ease her son's violent outbursts.

Failing Better

In science — and in life — failure is both a stumbling block and a building block. We regard failure as the enemy of success — but really, it's just part of the process. Mistakes and missteps, blunders and slips are often stepping stones toward places of greater knowledge. But failure can also take us on detours, deflate our ambitions, and lead us down blind alleys. In this episode of The Pulse, we hear stories about failure — what we can learn from it, how we cope with it, and how we can harness its potential by observing the way it affects our thoughts and behavior. Also heard on this week's episode: Progress depends on acknowledging our mistakes. So why does it take us so long to admit when they happen? We investigate the mental block that prevents us from owning our failures in the moment, and what we could learn if we did. Psychologist Katherine Dahlsgaard explains the developmental logic behind a childhood superpower: the ability to fail constantly, and not to care. By day, James Heathers is a researcher at Northeastern University — by night, he's a "data thug," a self-appointed detective who tracks and exposes shoddy and fraudulent science. Ben Gross — vice president for research and scholarship at the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City — tells us the story of the last consumer electronics product RCA ever tried to release, and how the line between success and failure is sometimes blurred. We hear about a new documentary from Frontline and ProPublica called "Right to Fail." It digs into an ambitious effort to give New Yorkers with severe mental illnesses the chance to live independently.

Becoming a Mother

"Motherhood will change your life." It may sound like a greeting card sentiment — but it's also a statement of fact. Pregnancy changes the way bodies function and look. It affects women's hormones and weight — even their brain chemistry. In this episode, The Pulse looks at the impact of new motherhood on women's health. We hear stories about the ongoing debate over breastfeeding, and why so many hospitals are no longer using their nurseries. Plus, why some women of color are reluctant to seek help for postpartum depression. Also heard on this week's episode: Inside a new initiative that's letting incarcerated women pump breast milk as a way to maintain their ties with newborn infants (based on this story published by Generocity) We hear from women about the many ways pregnancy and motherhood have affected their health.

How We Eat

Chow. Nibbles. Grub. Food — we relate to it in a lot of different ways. It can serve as nourishment, as pleasure, as fuel for our bodies, or the glue that holds communities together. But food can also make us sick — or cause us to feel powerless over our cravings and habits. So what determines our relationship with food? In this episode, we explore that question, with stories about the rise of — and backlash against — food allergies, the connection between climate change and eating meat, and how our circadian rhythms can drive appetite. Also heard on this week's episode: A recent study found that only half of people who say they have food allergies, actually do. So what's going on here? Is it all in our heads? We dive into the latest research to find out. You've heard of the Mediterranean diet, the Atkins diet, the Flexitarian diet — now consider the CRON lifestyle (don't call it a diet), in which practitioners use serious calorie restriction to fight the aging process. University of Pennsylvania researcher Kelly Allison explains how our circadian rhythms drive the way we eat — and how timing can determine whether we gain or lose weight. When a bully teased Sandhya Menon's 10-year-old daughter about the Indian food in her lunchbox, Sandhya issued a plea on Twitter: that parents talk with their kids, and correct the idea that foods from other cultures are "weird" or "gross." Your stories: Listeners sent in their favorite food memories.

Sex and Health

At its best, sex isn't just fun — it's good for our health. It can relieve stress, enhance our mood — even offer a bit of a workout! But sex can also be painful, both physically and emotionally; it can open the door to injury and disease; and it can reflect, or even magnify, changes that we're not willing to face. In this episode, we explore sex and our health. We hear stories about PrEP, asexuality, the online world of NoFap, and enjoying sex as you age. Also heard on this week's episode: We venture inside the world of NoFap — an online movement of men dedicated to improving themselves by abstaining from masturbation. We talk to a self pro-claimed "fapstronaught," as well as a urologist and a therapist to find out whether there's any real benefit to abstinence. Sex can be a healthy part of our lives. But what if the sex you want to have is painful — or even impossible? Noa Fleischacker opens up about her years spent dealing with this very question. Audio producer Paulus van Horne chats with a friend about asexuality — what it is, and the perfect metaphor for explaining it to family and friends. Retired sex therapist and columnist Ginger Manley discusses the challenges — both physical and mental — that come with intimacy as we age. Her book is called "Assisted Loving: The Journey through Sexuality and Aging." Writer and black feminist adrienne maree brown explains why it's important for women of color to discuss sexual pleasure, along with learning how to embrace your body. Sexologist Susana Mayer says post menopause —her sex life is the best it's ever been. She is the author of "Does Sex Have an Expiration Date? Rethinking Low Libido: A Guide to Developing an Ageless Sex Life."

Between Life and Death

Often we think of life and death as opposite sides of a coin — categories as final as they are discrete. But in an age when machines can keep hearts pumping and lungs breathing, the line between life and death can sometimes start to blur. Modern medicine pushes us to think differently, ask if perhaps life and death are instead two points on a spectrum of existence. In this episode, The Pulse explores the space between those points. How do we define life and death — medically and culturally? We hear about a court case challenging the legal definition of death; the evolving debate over end-of-life care; and what scientists are saying about near-death experiences. Also heard on this week's episode: In 2017, the family of 27-year-old Taquisha McKitty sued to keep her on life support, after doctors declared her brain dead. The question for the court was — was she actually dead? A look into the study of near-death experiences, and what those moments in the the runup to death are really like — and why. Working with the biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks, artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg is using genetic samples to recreate the scents of extinct flowers. KCRW's Avishay Artsy reports on how shared ideas about the afterlife transcend not only time, but also religion and culture.

When Disaster Strikes

Earthquakes, storms, fires, disease — they sweep into our communities, often unexpectedly. They don't happen often, but when they do, emergencies can destroy lives. On this episode of The Pulse, we explore how the healthcare system — and the rest of us — deal with emergencies when they hit. We hear stories about facing danger, dealing with disaster — both natural and man-made — and ways of prepping for catastrophe before it arrives. Also heard on this week's episode: What turns an outbreak into an epidemic? Adam Kucharski — who studies infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine — explains how mathematical models can track the progress of outbreaks. When the Oklahoma City bombing happened, psychologist Robin Gurwitch was there to help survivors. Since then, she's become a researcher and expert in helping children recover after trauma and disaster — from Sandy Hook to Hurricane Katrina. An ER physician recounts his experience of the Northridge earthquake in 1994. This story is an excerpt from the "The Big One," a podcast from KPCC about what the next major earthquake will mean for Los Angeles and beyond.

Why do we need the wild?

Being in nature is restorative; the wild can feed your soul. But, for hundreds of years, we pushed west across the country, trampling and displacing wildlife along the way. Later, lots of people woke up to the effects of urban sprawl and industrialization. And, in 1964, the Wilderness Act was created to set aside places "where man himself is a visitor." There are now many efforts to protect untouched land, and at the same time we want to enjoy the wild, be out there in it. Balancing those impulses requires a careful dance. Does the wild still exist — and what qualifies as "wilderness" anyway? For answers, listen in as we chase tigers, track majestic elk, and help bears cross the road — safely. Also heard on The Pulse this week: Drew Lanham grew up on his family's farm in South Carolina. He explains how wilderness has always meant happiness and freedom to him — but also makes him remember the painful history that same land holds. We take a trip through Brigantine Wilderness in New Jersey with refuge manager Virginia Rettig Deep sea ecologist Andrew Thaler describes wilderness at the bottom of the ocean Sound artist Dianne Ballon shares some of her recordings from Shenandoah National Park

The Impact of Isolation

Humans are social animals, equipped with brains hard-wired to connect with those around us. We rely on relationships for safety and survival, as well as love and fulfillment. And when we're deprived of those connections, we suffer — both psychologically and physically. On this episode, we explore what happens to our health and our minds when we're faced with isolation. We hear stories about dealing with the isolation of solitary confinement, medical quarantine, and even the lonely journey to another planet. Also heard on this week's episode: A visit to the birthplace of solitary confinement — Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary — to learn about 19th century ideas about the redemptive power of solitude. Nine people describe the psychological toll of their time in solitary, in this excerpt from Claire Schoen's half-hour documentary "Survivors." Kate O'Brien tells us about the lonely months she spent in medical quarantine. History professor Alan Kraut from American University explores how medical quarantine has sometimes been used as a way to discriminate against immigrants. A story about caregiver isolation, told by Pat Davis, who's spent the last decade watching dementia carry her husband further and further away.

Math Attack

Math is a discipline of logic, but for lots of us, it may as well be magic: a force as powerful as it is unattainable. The "math anxious" among us get tripped up by simple calculations — lost in equations and fractions, until math becomes a barrier. But math competence is an everyday essential, from figuring out grocery-store discounts, to giving your kid the right dose of cough syrup, to deciding on a mortgage. Math also propels innovation and discovery. If you're avoiding math, you're probably missing out. On this episode of The Pulse, we explore why math is necessary to our lives and health, how so many of us got alienated by it early on, and how we might improve our skills. Also heard on this week's episode: Lots of little girls don't love math and end up avoiding advanced math classes. But math skills can be key to academic and professional success. Math lover Tanya Ott asks if we're socializing girls in a way that holds them back. Wellesley College math professor Oscar Fernandez — author of "The Calculus of Happiness" — explains how math can help you improve your love life, diet, and sleep. We get a blackjack tutorial from mathematician Adam Kucharski, then head to the casino to try out what we've learned. His new book is "The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling." Alex Stern says her stepdad (and his carpentry work) helped her learn her multiplication tables as a kid. A chat with Nan Morrison, head of the Council for Economic Education, about the roots (and the consequences) of financial illiteracy. Sixth-grade teacher Nicole Wisler says teaching math feels like an urgent calling — and a chance to disrupt the disempowering narratives students tell themselves about their math ability. Psychologist Ellen Peters explains why math skills matter to health.

Live, Play, Learn — What Keeps Kids Healthy

What matters to a child's health? Sure, some things are embedded in our genetics. But from the moment we're born, there are a million different experiences, factors, and choices that contribute — from our neighborhoods and homes, to screen time and family dynamics. There's also air pollution, neighborhood crime, where we're born. Health researchers call that stuff "social determinants." Sometimes, those things can cause stress that lead to sickness. Meanwhile, welcoming and supportive environments can be like winning the "health lottery" for some kids. In this episode, we examine how environments influence kids' health — their minds and bodies, growth and behavior — and their futures. Also heard on this week's episode: When a San Francisco Bay Area family discovered lead paint in their home, they had to move to protect their child from being poisoned. Read the original story from KALW here. For lots of kids, as they grow bigger and stronger, their eyesight gets worse. Researchers say increased exposure to daylight could help. A Michigan mom is teaching her 3-year-old daughter how to say "no" to adults, and hoping to change their family environment for the next generation. Plus, child psychologist Katherine Dahlsgaard weighs in on helping kids create boundaries. Nina Feldman's story from this episode is part of WHYY's series Uneven Play, all about playground inequities.

Separate: Black Health in America

Segregation in housing and education has had reverberations on health care and health outcomes for African-Americans. In this episode, we explore the legacy of that separation. We meet some of the people who helped integrate hospitals as the Civil Rights fight was heating up, and hear from a millennial mom, who says that, yes — even in 2018, finding a black doctor to care for her girls is "a thing." Throughout the episode, we also visit separate, largely black spaces that nourish African-American health and well-being. Also heard on this episode: Pierre Johnson talks about his path to becoming a physician – he's co-authored a book about his experiences called "The Pulse of Perseverance." New York Times Magazine writer Nikole Hannah Jones explores segregation in schools and the long-lasting effects on health and career choices. Rickey Powell and Jeff Drew describe their experiences growing up in "Dynamite Hill," a neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama that was targeted by the Klan.

In Science We Trust

From anti-vaxxers to climate change deniers and even flat-Earthers, there's a lot of mistrust in science. But how did we get here in the first place? How did we lose public trust in science and medicine — and is there a way to rebuild it? In this episode of The Pulse, we explore these questions — and the fallout for health and innovation when trust in science disappears. Also heard on this week's episode: Harvard University public health researcher David Williams talks about the wrongdoings and mistakes that have contributed to distrust of healthcare among minorities. One day in 2015, FBI agents with guns burst into physicist Xiaoxing Xi's house, and arrested him for economic espionage. Did a wider mistrust of Chinese scientists send the government to his door? Historian Audra Wolfe discusses the role scientists played in the arms race — and the impact on people's trust in science. Her new book is "Freedom's Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science." There's a new national initiative working to uncover the things that build trust among doctors and patients. Richard Baron of the ABIM Foundation says that sometimes, it's about little things — like not mispronouncing a patient's name. Drexel University's Mike Yudell — a public health historian and ethicist — digs into the "mad scientist" trope, explaining what it says about public perceptions of science.

The Inner Workings of Hospitals

Hospitals can be bewildering places. They operate according to their own special logic, which can make them feel a bit like a well-oiled machine — and a bit like organized chaos. As patients, we're dropped in and pushed through a maze of activity, mostly clueless about the hidden gears that keep this life-saving machinery chugging along. On this episode of The Pulse, we step through the "staff only" doors to get a better sense of the inner workings of hospitals. Also heard on this week's episode: Talking with microbiologist Jonathan Eisen and healthcare epidemiologist Jennifer Han about healthcare-acquired infections — and the ways proper cleaning mitigates the risk they pose. Violence erupts at hospitals more frequently than it should. Now, a California law is requiring medical centers to develop prevention plans to protect workers. Ballinger architect Erin Nunes Cooper explains the challenges in designing hospitals — and why medical facilities can feel like a maze. Writer-comedian Mimi Hayes found short-term love at the hospital, while recovering from a brain hemorrhage — call it a meet-cute for the ages (or, ahem — "the aged"). Every hospital has an employee whose positive attitude makes everybody's day better. At Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, that guy is George Benson.

What We Call Things and Why It Matters

How we talk about an issue has ramifications that go far beyond the words. Names, descriptions, and terms lay the foundation for how we think about an issue, how we deal with a problem — or whether we see something as a problem at all. Why do we call addiction a "brain disease," and how does that impact treatment and policy? Is stuttering a "disorder," or merely a different way of speaking? Plus, the debate over who gets called "Dr." and the respect that comes with that title. Also heard on this week's episode: Historian Sverker Sörlin explains the origins of "the environment" as a concept, and why it spawned a global movement to protect nature. Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX has called the word nano "100 percent synonymous with bs." But what does the term actually mean? Scientists kvetch about the scientific terms that the public uses incorrectly.

Understanding Violence

On this episode of the The Pulse, we examine violence — what sparks it, how it spreads, and where it can lead. We'll learn about the spectrum of violence, from everyday blowups to terrorist acts. The hour includes stories about the allure of violence — which some people admit can sometimes be a thrill. A public health expert discusses the far-reaching impact of violence on health and well-being, including the reverberations for African Americans affected by police violence. Plus, one researcher says 2-year-olds are the most violent people on the planet. Also heard on this week's episode: For years, psychologists have tried to understand the minds of terrorists so we can figure out why they commit violent acts. But now researchers are learning that might not be the best question to ask. We associate mass shootings with mental illness — but are they really connected? Psychiatrist Amy Barnhorst confronted just this question when an angry 18-year-old walked into her office, threatening to shoot up his school. We've all been there — on the brink of a conniption, ready to snap. Psychology professor Nathan DeWall zooms in on this fragile moment of flux to explain what makes us either control those impulses, or boil over. African Americans are more likely to be the victims of crime and assault, as well as police violence. Harvard public health professor David Williams explains how living under constant threat can take a toll on both physical and mental health. Community organizer Alfred Marshall spent years working to curb violence in New Orleans. His weapon: the gospel of de-escalation. His beliefs were put to the test when the city's violence hit close to home.

Body Politics

Our bodies are ours, but how we feel about them is largely defined by others — by the things people say, the culture we live in, the messages we get about which kinds of bodies are acceptable ... and which kinds aren't. On this episode of The Pulse, we look at how culture and politics shape the way we feel about our bodies. We'll hear stories about bodies transformed by disease, weight, and age, and how those changes affect people's sense of identity. We'll also talk about the struggle to reclaim bodies from other people's narratives about what is strong or beautiful, ugly or dangerous. Also heard on this week's episode: When Earni Young turned 68, arthritis started to slow her down. She talks about her struggle to keep active, and how aging can make you feel invisible. More men than ever are getting cosmetic surgery — we look at what they're getting done, and why. How the criminalization of HIV transforms bodies into weapons in the eyes of the law — and one man who spent nearly a decade in prison as a result. Writer Kiese Laymon talks about what it means to be black, male and overweight, and how his relationship with his body changed along with his size. His new memoir is called "Heavy." We talk to yoga therapist Jennifer Kreatsoulas about recovering from an eating disorder, and how yoga can help people love their bodies. Her new book is "Body Mindful Yoga." Filmmaker Emily MacKenzie shares the stories of two people whose conceptions of their bodies changed after getting double mastectomies. Shane Duquette was always skinny — until he hit the gym, and added 50 pounds of muscle. We talk to him about his transformation from beanpole to buff, and his efforts to help other skinny guys with his muscle-building website Bony To Beastly.