Cover image of Please Explain (The Leonard Lopate Show)

Please Explain (The Leonard Lopate Show)

In Please Explain, we set aside time every Friday afternoon to get to the bottom of one complex issue. Ever wonder how New York City's water system works? Or how the US became so polarized politically? We'll back up and review the basic facts and principles of complicated issues across a broad range of topics — history, politics, science, you name it.

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Why Are Life-Saving Drugs So Expensive?

When Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 to $750 a pill, it brought the issue of drug prices to the spotlight. Today's Please Explain: Drug Prices.


16 Oct 2015

Rank #1

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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!


15 Jul 2016

Rank #2

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Sweet Dreams (and Nightmares) Are Made of This

Dreams are a natural part of life, and throughout human history, people have tried to interpret their dreams. But dreaming, in many ways, still remains mysterious. On this week’s Please Explain, we’ll find out what happens in our brains while we dream, what causes nightmares and lucid dreaming, and why some of us talk and walk in our sleep. We’ll also learn about the many ways psychologists interpret dreams. Joining us is Dr. Michael Breus, a Clinical Psychologist, Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine. He's the author of several books, most recently, The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More and Dr. Kelly Bulkeley, a dream researcher and Visiting Scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, Senior Editor of the APA journal Dreaming and the author of Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion. Have questions about dreaming? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! Events: Kelly Bulkeley will be part of a panel at the New York Academy of Sciences on December 7th, talking about dreams and new research on the unconscious. He'll be giving a talk at the National Arts Club on January 30th about the film "Pan's Labyrinth" and lucid dreaming in Guillermo del Toro's childhood.


23 Sep 2016

Rank #3

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Understanding CRISPR, the Sci-Fi-Esque Gene Editing Tool

Science journalist Jennifer Kahn joins us for this week’s Please Explain, which is all about CRISPR, an incredible tool that makes precise gene editing cheaper and easier than ever before. Researchers have used CRISPR to genetically engineer malaria-resistant mosquitoes and manipulate the genes so that they copy-and-paste themselves, making it more likely that the new generation of mosquitoes will also be resistant. Kahn will discuss CRISPR, how it can be used in humans, the ethical questions it presents, gene drives and the recent CRISPR patent decision.  Have questions about CRISPR and genetic engineering? Leave us a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook.


24 Feb 2017

Rank #4

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The Science Of Success

Eric Barker is the author of Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong. He joins us for our latest Please Explain on the Science of Success. In his book, he details the counterintuitive strategies that can lead to success, and he challenges conventional wisdom about how to achieve success.Got a question about becoming successful? Leave us a comment below!


9 Jun 2017

Rank #5

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Why Fat Is So Misunderstood

Our latest Please Explain is all about fat with Dr. Sylvia Tara, author of The Secret Life of Fat: The Science Behind the Body's Least Understood Organ and What It Means for You. Dr. Tara argues that fat, an endocrine organ that’s critical to our health, is one of the least understood parts of the body. She’ll explain how fat can use stem cells to regenerate; increase our appetite if it feels threatened; and use bacteria, genetics, and viruses to expand itself. Have questions about fat? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! 


6 Jan 2017

Rank #6

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The Unbalanced Power of Expert Witnesses

In our latest Please Explain, we examine expert witnesses to find out their role in courts, their influence in trials, and their impact in both civil and criminal cases.


20 Nov 2015

Rank #7

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The Secret Life of Ballerinas

The best ballerinas make it look effortless, gracefully dancing and leaping across the stage in beautiful costumes. But what do ballet dancers really go through, given the physical demands, in addition to the hours of practice, preparation and dedication? On today's Please Explain, we're looking at the secret life of ballerinas with Ashley Bouder, principal dancer in the New York City Ballet, and Tiekka Tellier, who spent 16 years as a professional ballerina and founded Everyday Ballet.  Have questions about ballet? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! Event: The New York City Ballet Fall Gala opens NYCB’s 2016-17 season on Tuesday, September 20.  Ashley Bouder will give her first performance since giving birth to her daughter, Violet, on Friday, September 23 in Balanchine’s Vienna Waltzes. For ticket's and performance information, visit the NYCB website. 


16 Sep 2016

Rank #8

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How To Succeed Even If You're An Introvert

For our latest Please Explain, we explore what it means to be an introvert and what pressures they face when advancing their careers. We're joined by Morra Aarons-Mele, an internet marketer who has launched online campaigns for President Obama, Malala Yousafzai, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations, and others. She’s also the author of Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert's Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You'd Rather Stay Home), and she shares strategies introverts can use to manage their anxieties while also achieving their goals.  


20 Oct 2017

Rank #9

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How Addiction Works

For this week's Please Explain, we explore how science is giving us a better understanding of how addiction works, and what that means for how we think about and treat it. We're joined by Fran Smith, author of "The Science of Addiction," National Geographic Magazine's September cover story. We're also joined by expert Dr. Rita Goldstein, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who is featured in the article.  Note: Ilya Marritz guest-hosted this segment of "The Leonard Lopate Show."


13 Oct 2017

Rank #10

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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!


10 Jun 2016

Rank #11

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The History of Restaurants Revealed

Centuries before the restaurant became a dining destination, a "restaurant" was actually a medicinal broth that contained ingredients like capon, gold ducats, rubies and other precious gems. So how did restaurants become what they are today? When did eating become an enjoyable, leisurely activity? Rebecca Spang, author of The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture, joins us for today’s Please Explain all about the history of restaurants! Dr. Spang is a Professor of History, Director of the Liberal Arts + Management Program and Director of the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Indiana University Bloomington.  Do you have questions about restaurant history? Give us a call at 212-433-9692, send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!


14 Oct 2016

Rank #12

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All The Light We Cannot See

Our latest Please Explain is about invisible currents that exist all around us with Bob Berman, author of the book Zapped: From Infrared to X-Rays, the Curious History of Invisible Light. Do you have questions about x-rays or microwaves? Wondering about the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21? Write to us in the comments section below, or send us a question on Twitter or Facebook! Jonathan Capehart guest hosted this segment of "The Leonard Lopate Show."


11 Aug 2017

Rank #13

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Understanding Psychosomatic Illness

For this week’s Please Explain, we discuss psychosomatic illnesses and the mind-body connection with Dr. Suzanne O’Sullivan. O'Sullivan is a neurologist and author of the book, Is It All in Your Head?: True Stories of Imaginary Illness. In her book, O’Sullivan chronicles the world of psychosomatic illnesses and shows how it can take over people’s lives.


7 Apr 2017

Rank #14

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Listening to Body Language

When is a shrug just a shrug? What are you really saying when you fold your arms across your chest? Whether we know it or not, we’re constantly conveying signals to other people through our body language and facial expressions. On this week’s Please Explain, we’re decoding body language and non-verbal communication, and looking at the psychology behind why we communicate this way with Dana Carney, Associate Professor at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.  Have questions about body language? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! 


27 Jan 2017

Rank #15

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How To Go Vegan

Our first Food Fridays Please Explain kicks off with vegan cooking! Ronen Seri and Pamela Elizabeth are the co-founders behind the vegan restaurant franchise Blossom and the authors of The Blossom Cookbook: Classic Favorites from the Restaurant That Pioneered a New Vegan Cuisine. They’ll debunk some myths about vegan food/cooking, offer tips for home cooks and share some of their most popular recipes including Trumpet Mushroom Calamari, Sweet Potato and Coconut Cream Soup, and German Chocolate Cake.  Check out recipes from The Blossom Cookbook below! Pine Nut–Crusted Eggplant Eggplant is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine. It is full of flavor, has a fantastic hearty texture, and is extremely versatile. Created as an inventive option for our gluten-free guests, this dish uses a combination of pine nuts and basil as the crust for the eggplant, and the creamy sauce is a wonderful finish. It’s sure to please and impress at any dinner party and is great for all seasons. Serves 3 or 4 1 medium eggplant, halved and peeled 1½ tablespoons salt 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes 2 cups pine nuts 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil Scant ¾ cup olive oil 4½ tablespoons chopped garlic 1½ teaspoons salt, plus more as needed 3 pinches of black pepper 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes 1 sprig fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped 1 cup artichoke hearts 2/3 cup white wine 2 cups Cashew Cream (page 000) 1 head escarole Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Slice the peeled eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices (each half should yield 6 slices). Fill a deep bowl with water and add 1 tablespoon of the salt. Soak the eggplant slices in the water for 20 minutes to help remove any bitterness. Bring a pot of water to boil and add the potatoes. Boil the potatoes for 30 to 40 minutes, or until soft, then remove and place in a large bowl. While the potatoes are boiling and the eggplant is soaking, put the pine nuts, flour, and basil in a food processor. Process until the mixture has the consistency of bread crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and add 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil, 1½ tablespoons of the garlic, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Mix well. Drain the eggplant and dredge the slices in the pine nut breading, making sure each slice is thoroughly coated. Set the breaded eggplant slices on a rack and let sit for 10 to 20 minutes to dry. Meanwhile, mash the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the garlic. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, rosemary, and artichoke hearts and sauté until the tomatoes begin to soften. Add 1/3 cup of the white wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the mashed potatoes and the salt and stir well. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant slices and pan-fry on each side until they begin to lightly brown. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 3 to 5 minutes to crisp. Make the sauce: In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ½ tablespoon of the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/3 cup white wine, the Cashew Cream, and 1 tablespoon chopped basil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper and stir. In a separate medium skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining ½ tablespoon garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the escarole and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, or until soft. To assemble, divide the sauce among three or four plates, then add the potato mixture, the escarole, and finally the eggplant slices on top. Cashew Cream Cashews . . . the cream of the crop! With their high healthy fat content, cashews are the best cream substitute, because when blended, they create an incredible richness for sauces. Who would ever think that an alfredo alternative could be so simple? One of our patrons’ most frequently asked questions is “How you do it?” when they eat our coveted fettuccini alfredo. Note that you need to soak the cashews 3 hours (or overnight), so be sure to plan ahead. Makes 6 to 7 cups Ingredients 2 cups raw unsalted cashews, soaked for 3 hours or overnight 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon salt 1½ teaspoons black pepper Put the drained cashews, nutritional yeast, olive oil, salt, pepper, and 4 cups water in a high-speed blender. Blend until creamy. The sauce will be relatively thin, but will thicken quickly when heated in a recipe. Raw Key Lime Pie The “key” to this dish is the fresh lime juice—accept no substitutions! You won’t believe the fantastic texture of this pie—the avocados add an unbelievable creaminess to the filling. Makes one 9-inch pie Ingredients For the Crust 1¼ cups macadamia nuts 1¼ cups pecans ½ cup dried, pitted dates, soaked in water for 1 hour Pinch of salt ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract For the Filling 1½ cups fresh lime juice (from about 12 limes) 1 cup agave syrup ½ cup full-fat coconut milk 2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled 2 tablespoons vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon salt 1¼ cups coconut oil Make the crust: Lightly grease a 9-inch springform baking pan with coconut oil. Put the macadamia nuts, pecans, dates, salt, and vanilla in a food processor and process until the mixture is soft and easily workable. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Make the filling: Put the lime juice, agave, coconut milk, avocados, vanilla, salt, and coconut oil in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Pour the filling over the crust, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze overnight. Thaw before serving.


27 Oct 2017

Rank #16

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How To Cut The Clutter And Get Organized

If your desk is a total mess, today’s Please Explain is meant for YOU! We tackle the crucial, yet all-so-difficult task, of getting organized, with Amanda Sullivan, author of Organized Enough: The Anti-Perfectionist's Guide to Getting -- and Staying -- Organized.


14 Jul 2017

Rank #17

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What's Keeping You Up at Night?

Why can’t we sleep? The CDC estimates that 50 to 70 million U.S. adults have a sleep or wakefulness disorder, caused by "broad scale societal factors such as round-the-clock access to technology and work schedules, but sleep disorders such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea also play an important role."  Dr. Rafael Pelayo, Clinical Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, joins us for this week's Please Explain about insomnia and sleep disorders.  Have questions about insomnia and sleep disorders? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! 


9 Dec 2016

Rank #18

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The Science of Cheese

Ever wonder why Swiss cheese has holes? Why are so many types of cheese yellow in color? Or, what kinds of milk are best for making cheese? Chemist Michael Tunick has spent almost three decades working with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service creating new dairy products and improving existing ones. On our latest Please Explain, he’ll address the chemistry, physics and biology that results in cheese! He's the author of The Science of Cheese. Have questions about cheese? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook!


4 Nov 2016

Rank #19

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Why We Love To Run

For our next Please Explain, Vybarr Cregan-Reid jogs us through the basics of running. Cregan-Reid, who authored the book Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human, reveals how running reconnects us to our bodies and helps us cleanse our minds. He explores the world’s most advanced running laboratories and research centers, and draws on literature, philosophy, neuroscience and biology to understand our passion for running.


18 Aug 2017

Rank #20