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Rank #180 in History category

Society & Culture
History

The Why Factor

Updated 10 days ago

Rank #180 in History category

Society & Culture
History
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The extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions

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The extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions

iTunes Ratings

158 Ratings
Average Ratings
123
19
7
5
4

Great listen

By Zabstaff - Jan 08 2020
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Loved the victim blaming episode.

The why factor

By swarm1138 - Sep 08 2019
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Excellent podcast. Well produced. Interesting topics, informative and educational. Fun also.

iTunes Ratings

158 Ratings
Average Ratings
123
19
7
5
4

Great listen

By Zabstaff - Jan 08 2020
Read more
Loved the victim blaming episode.

The why factor

By swarm1138 - Sep 08 2019
Read more
Excellent podcast. Well produced. Interesting topics, informative and educational. Fun also.
Cover image of The Why Factor

The Why Factor

Latest release on Feb 03, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 10 days ago

Rank #1: Yoga

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Yoga is an ancient practice that includes meditation, exercise and spirituality. It’s said to date back thousands of years and originate in the east. But why do millions of us do it every day and how has it become so popular over time?
There is controversy about different types of yoga and whether they ring true to the original purpose of the practice. So when we do yoga, are we doing it for the right reasons?
Valley Fontaine hears from the director of a 98-year-old yoga institute in India, a religious studies professor in the US, an instructor who teaches yoga for you and your dog, founders of a yoga festival in the UK, and the 2016 women’s yoga champion.
(Image: Woman in Yoga pose near Indian temple. Credit: Pikoso.kz/Shutterstock)

Mar 24 2017

17mins

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Rank #2: Grief

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Why do we feel so many different and intense emotions when someone close to us dies? Whether it is yearning, sadness, anger or even shame, Mike Williams explores why each person’s grief is unique.
The pain of losing a loved one initially seems so unbearable, yet most bereaved people do eventually find a way to adjust to their changed life. So what happens when we grieve and why does grief sometimes get complicated?
Mike talks to Bill Burnett, who is learning to live without his wife, Betty. She died in 2010 after 43 years’ marriage, yet Bill still talks to her photo and asks her advice. And, we hear from Rhonda O’Neill who lost her husband in a plane crash and then her young son to kidney disease two years later. She describes feeling tormented by the belief she could have done something more to save her son’s life.
We also hear from eminent UK psychiatrist Dr Colin Murray Parkes, who describes what happened to one of his patients who buried his grief, and from Dr Katherine Shear, professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University and director of the Center for Complicated Grief.
(Photo: A woman hugging a man. Credit: Vibe Images/Shutterstock)

Oct 07 2016

17mins

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Rank #3: Interviews

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Job interviews are stressful experiences and have mostly been proved by scientists to be ineffective at selecting the right candidates. So why has this means of selection survived so long and why is so much value placed on it? Catherine Carr explores the cultural and psychological bias that flaws them, how we might improve the experience both as interviewee and interviewer, and the extent to which technology might hold promise in making the process fairer.
(Image: Someone at an interview, Credit: Shutterstock)

Feb 19 2018

23mins

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Rank #4: Dogs

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Why do we have such a close and complex relationship with dogs? No matter whether you love or hate them, it’s undeniable they’ve built up a special relationship with us that most animals haven’t.

On this episode of The Why Factor, we find out why dogs are so special. Mary-Ann Ochota delves into the emotion, science and history that sets them apart - be they friend, foe or food.

(Image: Essex Search and Rescue, Credit: Gabriela Jones/BBC)

May 28 2018

23mins

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Rank #5: Poetry

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Jo Fidgen asks why we read, or write poetry, as opposed to prose? What can poetry do that prose can’t? And why do we respond to poetry in a way that we don’t respond to prose? Jo talks to award-winning American poet Jane Hirshfield, to Cambridge cognitive neuroscientist Usha Goswami, to Brazilian “cordel” poetry expert Paulo Lumatti and to Rachel Kelly, author of Black Rainbow, who found poetry helped her recover from severe depression, and now reads poems in workshops with prisoners and others.
(Image: A poet writes before a poetry performance at a club in New York. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Nov 15 2014

18mins

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Rank #6: Chess

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Why has the game endured over more than 1500 years and how has it mirrored politics and changes in society? We speak to Chess federation president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, chess pupil Diana Davletova, women’s chess champion Judit Polgar, Grande Master Dan King, Artificial Intelligence expert David Levy, chess historian Marilyn Alom and chess author Dave Edmonds.

Nov 01 2014

17mins

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Rank #7: Loneliness

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What is loneliness and why do we feel it? Why do some people feel lonely when surrounded by people and others never feel lonely at all. Mike Williams finds out why feeling lonely can help us to survive.

Feelings of loneliness do not only come from the position we can sometimes find ourselves in. Studies of twins in Holland have shown that loneliness has a hereditary element. And surprisingly loneliness can also be contagious.

Mike speaks to the Chinese artist Li Tianbing about how growing up under China’s one child policy shaped his art and to a Swedish entrepreneur who invited 11 people to come and live with her to combat her loneliness.

(Photo: Woman alone on a bridge. Credit: Shutterstock)

Jun 17 2016

17mins

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Rank #8: Romance

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Red roses, romantic dinners and Valentine’s Day might have become the modern expression of Romance – but where do its ancient roots lie? And do traditional ideas about Romance conflict with today’s experience of gender, love and sexuality?
Afua Hirsch talks to Eddie and Justin Outlaw about their experience of Romance as a gay couple in America’s deep south. We also hear from Kiru Taye, a Nigerian author who wanted to challenge the predominately white and western world of Romance novels; and sex and attachment expert Sarah Merrill describes how the romantic instinct is etched into our very biology.
Yet in the world of swipe right, swipe left dating apps – how might our experience of Romance be changing?
(Image: Book, heart pages, Credit: Shutterstock)

Sep 18 2017

23mins

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Rank #9: Attraction

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Why are we attracted to some people and to not others? Mike Williams explores the factors that lie behind our feelings of attraction. He speaks to the authors Christy and Clare Campbell. Christy fell in love at first sight, but it took Clare six months to feel that strong sense of attraction. After 40 years of marriage they are still attracted to each other.

Beauty, facial symmetry, personality and values all play a role in our attraction to others. Evolution biologist Dr Anna Machin from Oxford University explains the science behind attraction. Dr Machin explains how chemicals released in our brains gives us the confidence to approach someone who we are attracted to and how the smell and taste of a prospective partner can tell us a lot of their genes and whether they will be a compatible mate.

(Photo: A couple gazing at each other. Credit: Shutterstock)

Jun 27 2016

17mins

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Rank #10: Self-Harm

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We all experience negative emotions and find different ways to cope – maybe by exercising or by listening to music. But some people deliberately inflict pain on themselves as a way of managing how they feel. Why? Experts believe 15% of adolescents self-injure at least once, with some children as young as 9 using self-injury as a coping mechanism, albeit an unhealthy one. The behaviour can lead to feelings of guilt and distress; family and friends often don’t know how to help. Catherine Carr explores the impact self-harming has on those who do it and those close to them.

She speaks to Matthew Nock, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University who explains the type of person most at risk of engaging in self-injury and the reasons why they use it to regulate their emotions.
News reporter, Aidan Radnedge, describes why he began self-harming at university; and how his family and friends have given unstinting support throughout his road to recovery.
Writer and editor, Janelle Harris, explains what it was like to discover that her daughter, Skylar, was self-harming aged 11. Now 18 and having graduated from high school, Skylar is no longer injuring herself and is looking forward to going to college next year.
Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Priory Group of mental health hospitals and clinics in the UK, offers advice for parents on how to react if their children are self-harming – and offers alternative coping strategies for those struggling to deal with their feelings.
If you’ve been affected by the issues in this programme, please visit the following websites for support and advice:
Befrienders Worldwide: http://www.befrienders.org/about-self-harm

Samaritans: http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/what-speak-us-about/signs-you-may-be-struggling-cope/helping-you-through-self

LifeSIGNS: http://www.lifesigns.org.uk/

Talk Life: https://talklife.co/
Presenter: Catherine Carr

Producer: Sally Abrahams
(Image: Sad beautiful girl, Credit: Wayhome studio/Shutterstock)

Jun 05 2017

23mins

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Rank #11: Laziness

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Laziness, slothfulness, idleness and apathy are used as criticisms and insults against individuals, groups and sometimes whole countries. But why? The Greeks saw laziness as a virtue and something to be sought after whereas today we look down on being unproductive. Should we keep ourselves constantly busy or is laziness something we should feel less guilty about? Isn’t a little bit of downtime good for the soul? After all, do good things not come out of taking it easy?
(Photo: Legs extended on a hammock. Credit: Shutterstock)

Mar 19 2018

23mins

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Rank #12: The Female Orgasm

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Why don’t we understand how the female orgasm works? After years of scientific research, the male body is understood but when it comes to how women work, we are a long way behind. Why is there this gap in knowledge?
It appears research has been hindered by the assumption that the female body works in the same way as the male body and that for women, arousal is all in the mind. There’s also a general attitude that studying sexual pleasure isn’t important and that female orgasms aren’t important to study as they serve no purpose for reproduction.
Researchers are slowly correcting these assumptions and making surprising discoveries.
We’ll take you behind the scenes to two orgasm labs to bring you the latest research on how orgasms work for women. We’ll also hear from Callista, who struggled with excruciating pain during sex for many years but was told the problem was all in her mind. Her journey to diagnosis shows how little is known, even amongst gynaecologists and doctors, about female sexual pleasure.
Presenter: Aasmah Mir

Producer: Phoebe Keane
(Image: Woman's hand grasping a bed sheet. Credit: Shutterstock)

Dec 02 2016

17mins

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Rank #13: Nudity

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We are all born naked, yet there is a taboo about displaying naked bodies in public. Societies around the world have established conventions about who may see what, when and where. So why does the naked human form provoke such strong reactions?
A fully-clothed Mike Williams visits a life drawing class, speaks to the founder of a topless protest group, and hears from an academic about how the former East German government tried, but ultimately failed, to ban public nudism.
(Photo: Tourists look at David by Michelangelo in Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, Italy. Credit: Lornet/Shutterstock)

Dec 06 2014

18mins

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Rank #14: Serial Killers

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Serial killers and their terrible high profile crimes have spawned a massive global industry... feature films, documentaries, TV series, books, magazine profiles, hit podcasts and video games. But why do many of us find serial killers so intriguing? Is it their psychology or the gory details of their murders? Becky Milligan explores the dark world of the serial killer and asks if any of us could be one.
(Image: Dark city alley, Credit: Shutterstock)

Oct 23 2017

23mins

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Rank #15: Polygamy

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When many people struggle to maintain one relationship, why do some people enter into multiple simultaneous marriages? Lucy Ash speaks to polygamists around the world to find out why they were drawn to these complex arrangements and how they manage them.

Lucy hears about rotas, hierarchies and curfews from the stars of a popular South African reality TV show about a businessman, his four wives and their ten children. The creator of a dating website in Gaza explains why many of his clients are looking for second or third wives. A woman who left her Mormon plural marriage in the American state of Utah tells how having to share her husband with a sister wife had a devastating impact on her mental health. What about polyandry – one woman marrying multiple men? Anthropologist Katie Starkweather explains why some societies have favoured it.
(Photo: Models on wedding cake, Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Jun 26 2017

23mins

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Rank #16: Sibling Birth Order

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Shivaani Kohok explores why so many people feel that the order in which we are born shapes our character and destiny. Whether you’re the eldest, the youngest or a middle child can make a difference to how we see ourselves and how we relate to others, according to psychologists. And some studies suggest that there economic and educational advantages to being the first or later born child – depending where in the world you live. Herself the eldest of three, Shivaani talks with other sisters of different ages to find out why they love or hate their place in their sibling hierarchy.
(Image: Siblings of different ages, Credit: Shutterstock)

Apr 02 2018

23mins

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Rank #17: Habits

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How do you start your day? It’s a more complicated question than you think – and that’s because you don’t think about it very much. Quite a lot of what we do, we do every day. We create order by forming habits. From the way we brush our teeth to how we drive a car, ride a bike even tie our shoelaces – these are things we do every day without thinking. And it is a good thing we do because if we had to make multiple choices for every single simple activity our brains would just clog up. But, there are good habits and bad habits. Ones that help us through the day and ones we can not control. Shiulie Ghosh explains the difference between these behaviours and why, one way or another, we are all creatures of habit.
(Photo: New Habits v Old Habits Credit: Shutterstock)

May 01 2017

23mins

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Rank #18: Hunting

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Why do we hunt? In some societies hunting is necessary to get food, but why do those who can buy meat in a shop go out hunting? Do they like to kill? Or is there something else at play? Lucy Ash talks to hunters from Canada, South Africa, the US and Scotland, who between them have killed animals ranging from deer to elephants, to ask them why they do it.

She finds out that the majority of hunters don’t actually like the act of killing, but hunt because they enjoy the adrenaline-fuelled tracking, or being out in nature with heightened senses, or simply to provide for their families in a way they find much more satisfying than simply buying meat in a grocery store. And then there are some reasons that go deeper.

(Photo: A hunter with this dog and a deer)

Jan 01 2016

17mins

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Rank #19: Perfume

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For centuries perfume has been used to show status and wealth, for medicinal and for religious reasons and the global business is now worth tens of billions of dollars a year. So why do we still perfume ourselves? What image are we trying project when we use a fragrance that emanates from our bodies and permeates the air? Mike Williams talks to a historian, an archaeologist, a 'nose' and a business analyst to find out. He also learns how to make Eau de Cologne.
(Photo: A craftswoman works on a perfume bottle at a fragrance workshop in Paris. Credit: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

Dec 20 2014

17mins

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Rank #20: Fishing

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People have been fishing for thousands of years – it is one of the last hunter gatherer activities. But increasingly it is becoming more difficult, as fish stocks dwindle or regulation limits the number of fishes that can be caught. Caz Graham asks why do people continue to fish despite these difficulties. She goes out into the Solway Firth in the north of England, with a group of haaf net fishers who use a traditional form of salmon fishing that dates back over a thousand years. She hears how new regulations have limited the number of fish that can be caught – something that the fishers say could threaten this form of fishing.
To find out more about how people continue to fish internationally, we hear from a fishing community in Alaska, and about tuna fishing in the Maldives. On the North East coast of England, we meet a fishing party as they complete successful day’s fishing from the tiny harbour of Staithes – and further along that coast, we hear from a trainee at the Whitby Fishing School who explains why he wants to join the fishing industry. Professor Calum Roberts of York University in the UK explains the motivation behind fishing and the changing character of fishing today.

(Image: Old fisherman with nets, Credit: Shutterstock)

Jun 25 2018

22mins

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