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With all the noise created by a 24/7 news cycle, it can be hard to really grasp what's going on in politics today. We provide a fresh perspective on the biggest political stories not through opinion and anecdotes, but rigorous scholarship, massive data sets and a deep knowledge of theory. Understand the political science beyond the headlines with Harris School of Public Policy Professors William Howell, Anthony Fowler and Wioletta Dziuda. Our show is part of the University of Chicago Podcast ...
 
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show series
 
Many of the most important moments in our lives rely on the judgment of others. We expect doctors to diagnose our illnesses correctly, and judges to hand out rulings fairly. But there’s a massive flaw in human judgment that we’re just beginning to understand, and it’s called “noise.” In a new book, former University of Chicago law professor Cass Su…
 
Infrastructure. It’s one of the hottest topics in politics today. But what does the research say about the effects and politics of infrastructure investment? Political scientist, Jon Rogowski, from the University of Chicago has a surprising paper that shows the long-term economic outcomes of post office developments in the United States. But it als…
 
Even if you’ve never eaten an Impossible Burger, you’ve probably heard of them. But you may not know the science and story behind those meatless products. Pat Brown is a University of Chicago alum, the founder and CEO of Impossible Foods, and a scientist at Stanford University. He says the meat industry is the “greatest threat humanity has ever fac…
 
It seems like extremists politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene receive a disproportionate amount of attention and money. This has led many political actors to believe that extremism is good politics. There’s even some scientific research to back up that claim. But a new paper by Professor of Politics at Princeton, Brandice Canes-Wrone, shows the …
 
When was the last time you heard a positive story about climate change, a story about someone with a new idea or innovative solution to help reduce our carbon footprint? This is that story. Michael Greenstone is a Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, Director of the Energy Policy Institute of the University of Chicago (EPIC) and for…
 
The debate about abolishing the filibuster isn’t going anywhere. Proponents say it forces compromise and consensus, while detractors claim it leads to gridlock and minority rule. But is there a third option? Harvard scholar, Kenneth Shepsle, has a radically different proposal that addresses all these concerns without abolishing the filibuster altog…
 
Why does our universe work the way it does? What are its laws? How did it start with the Big Bang‚ and how will it end? Scientists like Prof. Dan Hooper from the University of Chicago use something called the Standard Model of Physics to explain our universe, but there’s one big problem: The model has black hole-sized gaps in it. What is dark matte…
 
A lot of people are unhappy with the ideological make-up of the Supreme Court. They say it doesn’t reflect the majority of the country. President Biden’s commission tasked with reforming the Supreme Court started meeting for the first time in May of this year. One of the proposals they’re going to consider is setting term limits on Justices. But th…
 
When’s the last time you thought about property taxes? We mostly accept them as a part of society, and assume that they’re being calculated fairly. But a leading University of Chicago scholar says that assumption is wrong. A breakthrough study from Prof. Christopher Berry has shown that, on average, homeowners in the bottom 10% of a jurisdiction pa…
 
We’ve been doing this podcast for over a year and we’ve covered a lot of research, but each paper is far from the final word on any topic. On this episode, it’s time to do some updating. We’re going to take three recent papers and show how they change or deepen our understanding of prior papers we’ve covered on this podcast.…
 
The possibility of alien life has captivated the human imagination for decades and has been at the center of some of our most popular fictional stories. But one scientist has made a controversial claim that aliens are no long a fiction but a reality. Avi Loeb is a theoretical physicist and former chair of the astronomy department at Harvard Univers…
 
Does the ability for minority parties to delay and obstruct legislation force the majority party to only pass bills that are more moderate? It’s a question that informs much of our political debate around dilatory tactics like the filibuster. University of Michigan Political Scientist, Christian Fong, has a paper that models this question and argue…
 
The so-called “Big Tech” industry has dramatically improved our daily lives, but at what cost? Few people have gotten a closer look at these companies than Kara Swisher, writer for The New York Times and podcast host—and she says we need to wrestle more with that question. Recently she shared her expertise with University of Chicago students as a f…
 
There’s a lot of debate in our politics about whether we should have stricter voter ID laws. But both sides are having an argument based almost entirely on assumptions because data on the real effect of these laws are scarce. Not anymore. In a brand new paper, Stanford Political Scientist Justin Grimmer gives us a fresh look at whether stricter vot…
 
The solutions to global poverty can appear obvious, even if they’re difficult to implement. But, as University of Chicago economist Michael Kremer has discovered, interventions that may seem like common sense can actually be wrong. In 2019, Kremer won a Nobel Prize for his work studying ways to alleviate global poverty. A pioneer in the use of rand…
 
This year the U.S. will go through its decennial redistricting process, which is resurfacing our national conversation around gerrymandering. But Stanford Professor of Political Science, Jonathan Rodden, says gerrymandering isn't the least of our problems when it comes to the politics of geography. In his book, "Why Cities Lose", Rodden illustrates…
 
For the more than 20 million people with a felony record, incarceration doesn’t end at the prison gate. They enter what University of Chicago scholar Reuben Jonathan Miller calls the “afterlife” of mass incarceration. Miller, an assistant professor at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice, is the author of a new book, Halfway …
 
Are land-use regulations incredibly boring? Not quite. As our guest argues, these seemingly banal policies could be causing modern-day segregation. In a new paper, Jessica Trounstine, chair of the political science department a the University of California Merced, makes a strong case for why land-use policies aren’t as race-neutral as they seem, an…
 
We’re constantly told that we’re trapped in media “echo chambers”, that our media diets mirror our political leanings. But what do the data say? Is it possible that a majority of us have a much more moderate media diet than we assume? A new paper by Andrew Guess, Assistant Professor of Politics at Princeton, provides a completely unique data set th…
 
Anthony Fauci has spent the past year trying to curb the worst health crisis the world has seen in a century. In a recent University of Chicago event, Fauci reflected on how the COVID-19 pandemic has been a “painful learning experience” for he and other health officials. On this episode of the Big Brains podcast, please enjoy Fauci’s conversation w…
 
The coronavirus pandemic has raised countless ethical questions: How do we balance restricting freedoms with protecting others, how do we ethically distribute vaccines, should we force people to get vaccinated—or should we ask healthy people to get infected with COVID-19 in the name of science? There’s no one better to discuss these dilemmas with t…
 
When was the last time you voted split-ticket in an election? It may not be surprising to hear that our elections have become increasingly nationalized in the last few decades. Most people vote for a single party straight down the ballot. The question is, why? Daniel Moskowitz, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Harris School of Public…
 
The Doomsday Clock has been set at 100 seconds to midnight—as close to total destruction as we were in 2020. But after a year of increasingly dangerous weather and wildfires, not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic, why didn’t the clock move? Rachel Bronson is the president and CEO of the Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists, the organization that sets t…
 
Political scandal is a historically defining aspect of American politics. But, there’s been very little scholarship on the political incentives that surround the production and consequences of scandals. In a recent paper, “Political Scandal: A Theory”, our very own Will Howell and Wioletta Dziuda create a new model of political scandal that makes t…
 
What are the biggest questions in science today: Can we cure cancer, solve the climate crisis, make it to Mars? For Nobel laureate Jack Szostak, the biggest question is still much more fundamental: What is the origin of life? A professor of genetics at Harvard University, Szostak has dedicated his lab to piecing together the complex puzzle of life’…
 
One of the defining discussions of the Trump presidency centers on the fate of our democracy. In the aftermath of his populist presidency, and as we transition to the Biden era, we’re wondering whether the future is bright or dim. There’s no better scholar to put this question to than the University of Chicago Professor and co-author of “Why Nation…
 
Our podcast is all about research. Every episode we investigate what scholars have discovered and why it matters. But we’re going to get meta on this episode and look at what makes this research possible—and the dangers of taking it for granted, especially during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Barbara Snyder, JD’80, is president of the Associat…
 
It’s an extraordinarily distressing time for democracy in America. The storming of the Capitol and the votes by some Republican elected officials questioning the results of the 2020 election have many asking what force could act as a check on these increasing anti-democratic tendencies in American political life? A paper from Milan Svolik, Prof. of…
 
It’s been an incredibly divisive year, and we’re constantly told we’re more politically divided than ever. But, as our team takes some time with their families for the holidays, we want to re-share a more hopeful conversation with you that sheds some new light on these seemingly unbridgeable divides in our country. We hope you enjoy it, and we’ll b…
 
Our team is taking some time off to be with their families for the holidays. But, just in case you have a long flight, car ride, or maybe need something to do in-between Zoom calls, we’re re-sharing one of the most enlightening and engaging conversations we've ever had on this show to get you through it. Please enjoy, and we’ll see you with all-new…
 
It’s long been thought in political science that giving people resources through government programs will get them more involved in politics. But this has always been a difficult question to answer in a controlled environment. That is until the 2008 Medicaid expansion in Oregon. There was an extensive research initiative done on the roll out of tha…
 
What is the most popular form of media today: Movies? Music? Books? Nope, it’s video games. With 2.5 billion gamers today, games are set to be the type of media that most defines our world. And two scholars at the University of Chicago are re-thinking how to leverage them in a way to address some of the world’s biggest issues. Prof. Patrick Jagoda …
 
This week, we took some time off for Thanksgiving so we're going to feature another University of Chicago Podcast Network show. It’s called Big Brains. On this episode, they spoke with Professor James Robinson, author of the renowned book Why Nations Fail, about his groundbreaking theories on why certain nations succeed and others fail as well as t…
 
With so many contentious issues in our deeply polarized world, the real or virtual Thanksgiving dinner table may be a hard place to find a lot of empathy this year. As we take a week off to reconnect with our families, we wanted to re-share this enlightening episode with Professor of Neurobiology, Peggy Mason, all about how empathy works and how we…
 
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