Cover image of Trust Me, I'm An Expert
(2)
News

Trust Me, I'm An Expert

Updated 6 days ago

News
Read more

The Conversation's editors bring you the most insightful, fascinating, surprising analysis and stories from the academic world. We're asking the experts to bust the myths, explain the science and put the news headlines into context. Join us as we take a deep dive into the big ideas driving our world.

Read more

The Conversation's editors bring you the most insightful, fascinating, surprising analysis and stories from the academic world. We're asking the experts to bust the myths, explain the science and put the news headlines into context. Join us as we take a deep dive into the big ideas driving our world.

iTunes Ratings

2 Ratings
Average Ratings
1
1
0
0
0

iTunes Ratings

2 Ratings
Average Ratings
1
1
0
0
0
Cover image of Trust Me, I'm An Expert

Trust Me, I'm An Expert

Latest release on Apr 28, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 6 days ago

Rank #1: Trust Me I'm An Expert: The science of pain

Podcast cover
Read more
Pain lets us know when there is something wrong, but sometimes our brains can trick us. Mai Lam/The Conversation NY-BD-CC, CC BY-SA

As many as one in five Australians suffer from chronic and recurring pain. But despite its prevalence, it’s not always easy to find the help you need to manage it.

“When I went through medical school, we had about one hour on acute pain. And the whole concept of chronic pain and how it’s so very different from acute pain was not something that was ever on our horizon,” pain expert Professor Fiona Blyth says in the latest episode of The Conversation podcast Trust Me, I’m An Expert.

On Trust Me, I’m An Expert, we ask researchers to take us behind the headlines and walk us through the research on issues making news.

Our latest episode takes a deep dive into the science of pain: what it is and what the evidence really says about how to manage it. Today, we’re talking about:

What exactly is pain?

Professor Lorimer Moseley explains to Deputy Health Editor Sasha Petrova what really happens in your body when you experience pain. Pain is meant to keep us safe, he says, but unfortunately your brain can play tricks on you, making you feel pain even when there’s no real need for it.

Bioplasticity – the body and brain’s ability to train and change itself – could hold the key, he says. Here’s a taste:


Professor Lorimer Moseley on bioplasticity.

After the codeine crackdown, what now?

We asked student Sabine Hamad, who has thus far managed her chronic and recurring pain with occasional codeine use, to join us in the studio with pain experts Professor Michael Nicholas and Professor Fiona Blyth, to talk about the recent ban on over the counter sales of codeine – and the alternatives.


Professor Michael Nicholas on making sense of someone’s pain.

Australia’s opioid issues

Ben Ansell spoke to Dr Suzanne Nielsen, a lead researcher from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, about growing concern around opioid addiction in Australia.


Dr Suzanne Nielsen on addiction.

Talking about suicide and self-harm in schools can save lives

Our last story is about a different kind of pain. Education editor Sophie Heizer spoke to Dr Sarah Stanford, whose research focuses on self-harm in schools, churches, and other community settings. Dr Stanford said there are helpful – and harmful – ways for schools to talk about suicide:


Dr Sarah Stanford on suicide and self-harm prevention strategies.

For support, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit Headspace, which has information for schools, young people, and family and friends.

Trust Me, I’m An Expert is out at the start of every month. Find us and subscribe in Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Additional audio

David Szesztay, Backward, Free Music Archive

Kindergarten, Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

Poddington Bear, Storm Passing from Free Music Archive

Poddington Bear, Paper Boat, from Free Music Archive

Poddington Bear, Waves, from Free Music Archive

Letmeknowyouanatole, Free Music Archive

Komiku, Resolution, Free Music Archive

Kosta T, Free Music Archive

Audiobinger, Stress, Free Music Archive.

Blue Dot Sessions, Paper Feather

A Life in Pictures by David Hilowitz

Mar 01 2018

42mins

Play

Rank #2: Antibiotic resistant superbugs kill 32 plane-loads of people a week. We can all help fight back

Podcast cover
Read more
Antibiotics can be a wonder for treating bacterial infections – but we need to be cautious in how we use them. From shutterstock.com

You might think antibiotic resistance is something to worry about in the distant future. But it’s already having a deadly impact today.

The number of people dying globally every week from antibiotic resistant infections is equivalent to 32 Boeing 747s full of people. And if that sounds scary, the projections for the future are even scarier.

On today’s episode of Trust Me, I’m An Expert we ask you to imagine a future where more and more antibiotics don’t work any more – and hear from researchers about how you can help scientists fight back.


Read more:
'This is going to affect how we determine time since death': how studying body donors in the bush is changing forensic science

New to podcasts?

Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed, or you may want to listen and subscribe on another app such as Pocket Casts (click here to listen to Trust Me, I’m An Expert on Pocket Casts).

You can also hear us on Stitcher, Spotify or any of the apps below. Just pick a service from one of those listed below and click on the icon to find Trust Me, I’m An Expert.


Read more:
Trust Me, I'm An Expert: what science says about how to lose weight and whether you really need to

Additional audio

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks.

Airliner by Podington Bear from Free Music Archive.

Images

Shutterstock

Nov 26 2019

20mins

Play

Rank #3: Trust Me, I'm an Expert: Risk

Podcast cover
Read more
A time of change is upon us. How do you balance risk and reward? REUTERS/Laurent Dubrule

Ah, the new year. A time for throwing off your shackles, following your bliss, quitting your job and abandoning your family to finally start the artisinal yak-butter-sculpture studio of your dreams.

But big choices come with big risks. In this episode of Trust Me, I’m an Expert, Hassan Vally, an expert in epidemiology from La Trobe University, talks about “microlives”, which measure how much your life span is increased or decreased by particular activities.

We all make trade-offs between risk and reward, Vally explains on the podcast and in an article on The Conversation today. Every hour of television on the couch, for example, knocks 15 minutes off your life expectancy, on average. On the other hand, a daily serve of vegetables will increase your life expectancy by a couple of hours, and three coffees will add half an hour to your tally.

Even medical procedures can cost us “microlives”, as detailed in a table Vally put together for us.

“Having a mammogram costs you four hours off your life span, but if that diagnoses a cancer that’s going to save you maybe 20 years on your life. You’ve got to be really careful about understanding the costs and benefits,” Vally says.

Also in this episode, Michelle Lim, a lecturer in clinical psychology at Swinburne University of Technology, discusses one of the biggest risks we face as social animals: loneliness.

Loneliness and isolation seem to be on the rise, but Lim explores the ways we can understand – and overcome – loneliness, without being afraid of it.

And finally, we ask the big question: have you stuck with your cocktail, liquor or tipple of choice over the holiday season? Alex Russell, a wine expert at CQ University, asks why we’re so reluctant step outside our gastronomic comfort zones, and how we can expand our horizons.

As an encounter with “spit-bucket gin” proves, it’s not a totally risk-free endeavour, but Russell says that with awareness and intention we can open up a whole new world of flavour.

Lastly, we wanted to pay a quick tribute to Jesse Cox, a friend and audio producer who recently died from a brain tumour. He was a giant in the podcasting world. He worked on programs like Trace, This Is About and Long Story Short, and helped influence many of the podcasters working in Australia today, including some of us here at The Conversation.

We’ve included in this episode a montage of Jesse’s work that was first broadcast on RN Breakfast here, and check out his incredible back catalogue here.

Music in this episode of Trust Me, I’m an Expert

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

Gears Spinning by Podington Bear

Pour Me Another by Cletus Got Shot: Free music archive

Wine Wine Wine by Stompin Riff Raffs: Free music archive

Smells like Timperley Spirit by Ergo Phizmiz: Free music archive

Crawfish and Beer by Guitar Lightnin Lee and His Thunder Band: Free music archive

Muscadine Wine by Waylon Thornton: Free music archive

Glass of Wine by The Blue Onesies: Free music archive

Drink Beer (Till The Day That I Die) by Dazie Mae: Free music archive

Easy Life by Lee Rosevere: Free music archive

Blue Highway by Podington Bear: Free music archive

Ofelia’s dream: Bensound

Additional sound

WH.GOV

Game of Thrones theme music

Jaws theme music

Pouring Whiskey, Albertofrog: freesound.org

Small crowd pre-concert talking party bar walla talking, JohnsonBrandEditing: freesound.org

Pouring beer into short glass, megashroom: freesound.org

Champagne cork pop and pour, ultradust: freesound.org

New Years Eve Sydney, MrRobAU: YouTube

Dec 31 2017

33mins

Play

Rank #4: Trust Me, I'm An Expert: Competition

Podcast cover
Read more
Sibling competition may have played a bigger role in human evolution than you thought. Flickr/Dmitry Boyarin, CC BY-SA

Did you fight with a brother or sister when you were little? Do you still?

According to Rob Brooks, professor of evolutionary ecology at UNSW, sibling competition has played a more important role in human evolution than many of us realise.

“Siblings compete with one another for the love and affection of their parents but even more importantly for the investment of their parents. And that’s been a really big force in the evolution of our species,” he says in the latest episode of Trust Me, I’m An Expert, a podcast from The Conversation about the most fascinating stories from Australia’s academic experts.

Our November episode is all about research on competition, including the often fierce rivalry between siblings.

“There’s the notion that if that other child gets something that I don’t get or gets to it first – even if it’s the Weet-Bix packet and there are more than enough Weet-Bix in there – then I am going to be denied,” Brooks says on the podcast.

“I think we have deep psychological affinity for this knowledge.”

In the same episode, Victoria University sports historian Rob Hess discusses some of the long forgotten categories of the Olympic Games and its precursor the Wenlock Olympian Games – including penny-farthing races and even a town planning competition.

And we hear from Seng Loke, a professor in computing science at Deakin University about how driverless cars may one day end up colluding with each other and competing against rival cars.

Trust Me, I’m An Expert is out at the start of every month. Find us and subscribe in iTunes, Pocket Casts or wherever you get your podcasts.

You can read more about what the podcast is all about here, and find our previous episodes here.

And if you like Trust Me, you’ll love The Anthill, a podcast from our colleagues at The Conversation UK that draws out the best stories and brightest minds from the UK academic community.

Their latest episode is all about the 1917 Russian Revolution, with stories from historians, music experts and even descendants of key players in the story.

Here’s a taste, featuring Jan Plamper, professor of history at Goldsmiths, University of London:


The Anthill.
The Anthill519 KB (download)

Music in Episode 2 of Trust Me, I’m An Expert:

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

Podington Bear: Pulsars, from Free Music Archive.

Podington Bear: Vibe Drive, from Free Music Archive

Survivor: Eye of the Tiger

Additional audio:

CNN

BBC broadcasts of the 2012 London Olympics and the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The Olympic Channel

Nov 02 2017

27mins

Play

Rank #5: Marrying across Australia's Catholic-Protestant divide

Podcast cover
Read more
John and Helen Haynes on their wedding day in 1962. John, a Protestant, was cut out of three wills after marrying Helen, a Catholic. Siobhan McHugh, Author provided

These days, when Australians of Irish Catholic descent have occupied the highest positions in the land, it may seem hollow to talk of them as marginalised.

But right up to the 1970s the Catholic-Protestant divide was deeply entrenched – with painful and often lasting social consequences for those who dared to marry across it.

Siobhan McHugh, a journalism academic and oral historian, captured some of those experiences in interviews we’re showcasing on this month’s episode of Trust Me, I’m An Expert – a podcast where academic experts surprise, delight and inform us with their research.

Here’s a teaser:


Some of the 50 oral histories collected by Siobhan McHugh.
Siobhan McHugh, Author provided1.99 MB (download)

Among the stories McHugh collected was the tale of Susan Timmins. Her parents, Julia and Errol, married despite their different religious backgrounds. After Julia died in childbirth, neither side of the family helped Errol and he subsequently put Susan and her brother into an orphanage.



Julia O'Brien and Errol White, who were in a ‘mixed marriage’.
Susan Timmins, Author provided

In this episode, McHugh explains what drove her to unearth these stories and how they fit into broader debates about race, class and sectarianism in Australian society.

“It’s actually a myth that there was once this sort of polite and white Australia before the multicultural kind of Australia that we have now. Actually, this period is misrepresented by the term Anglo-Celtic, which suggests there was a cosy community of British and Irish at the time,” she said.

“That is actually absolutely the opposite of what the truth was. The truth was that there was this over 70% Protestant majority and about 23% Catholic minority – and the minority of Irish Catholics were deliberately kept as an underclass.”

Trust Me, I’m An Expert is out at the start of every month. Find us and subscribe in iTunes, Pocket Casts or wherever you get your podcasts.

You can read more about what the podcast is all about here, and find our previous episodes here.

Music in Episode 3 of Trust Me, I’m An Expert:

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

Lee Rosevere: Thoughtful, from Free Music Archive

Music in Siobhan McHugh’s segments by Thomas Fitzgerald, with vocals by Kavisha Mazella.

Additional audio sources:

CNN

Radio Documentary Series, Marrying Out: 2 x 50 minutes

Additional material:

History Australia journal article by Siobhan McHugh on mixed marriages

National Library of Australia: Sectarianism and Mixed Marriage Oral History Collection by Siobhan McHugh (indexed)

https://siobhanmchugh.org/marrying-out/

Nov 30 2017

19mins

Play

Rank #6: It's your money they're spending in this election-eve budget. Here's how we're covering the story

Podcast cover
Read more
In Tuesday night's budget we can expect a last ditch attempt to woo voters ahead of the election in May. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Next Tuesday night is budget night, and it’s happening on the eve of a federal election where the Coalition is in for the fight of its life to hold onto government.

The Conversation’s team of editors and experts will be in the budget lockup at parliament house next Tuesday, where they’ll have early access to what the government plans to do with our money this year.


Read more:
Expect tax cuts and an emptying of the cupboards in a budget cleanout as the billions roll in

On the night, we’ll bring you Chief Political Correspondent Michelle Grattan’s analysis of what’s set to be a last ditch attempt to woo voters ahead of the election next month.

And veteran economics correspondent Peter Martin will look in detail at where the money is going - and what the mooted tax cuts look like.

Economist Richard Holden will examine the government’s strategy, and former Chief Economist of the ANZ bank, Warren Hogan, now with UTS, will bring us the economic outlook.

And if you’re a podcast person, check your podcast app on Tuesday night for a fresh episode of Trust Me, I’m An Expert and Politics with Michelle Grattan (subscribe now, if you haven’t already). There, Peter Martin and Michelle Grattan will be speaking with political and economic journalist Tim Colebatch about this election-year budget.

We’ll also bring you some nifty graphics that will explain at-a-glance the big announcements from the budget papers. And as always, our experts will be on hand to respond to any big announcements in health, education, energy and infrastructure.

Keep an eye out for our special budget newsletter on the night (you can subscribe here), and on our Facebook and Twitter at @ConversationEDU.

New to podcasts?

Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed, or you may want to listen and subscribe on another app such as Pocket Casts (click here to listen to Trust Me, I’m An Expert on Pocket Casts).

You can also hear us on Stitcher, Spotify or any of the apps below. Just pick a service from one of those listed below and click on the icon to find Trust Me, I’m An Expert.


Read more:
Shorten to announce Labor's 'living wage' plan but without an amount or timing

Additional audio

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

Sky News report.

Sky News report.

Image:

AAP/Mick Tsikas

Mar 26 2019

2mins

Play

Rank #7: Mukurtu: an online dilly bag for keeping Indigenous digital archives safe

Podcast cover
Read more
Mukurtu is a Warumungu word meaning “dilly bag” or a safe keeping place for sacred materials. Nina Maile Gordon/The Conversation CC-NY-BD

Reader advice: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article may contain images of people who have died.

A few years ago, the State Library of NSW was working with Moree’s Dhiiyaan Centre to pull together archival photographs of the 1965 Freedom Rides, an Aboriginal-led protest against racist segregationist policies in NSW.

Moree – where Aboriginal people were once banned from swimming in the public pool – was an important site in the history of protest against official segregation in Australia, and a key stop on the Freedom Rides route.



Demonstrating outside the Council Chambers at Moree, February 1965
Photo from the Tribune archive, State Library of NSW. Courtesy the SEARCH Foundation. Digital ID: 5606003.
Photo from the Tribune archive, State Library of NSW. Courtesy the SEARCH Foundation, Author provided (No reuse)

Kirsten Thorpe - a Worimi woman, professional archivist and now a researcher at UTS – was then at the State Library, working with Mitchell Librarian Richard Neville to dig out old protest photos to share with the Moree community in the lead up to an exhibition.

But in practice, collecting, sharing and storing such digital archives in perpetuity is no simple matter.



Surveying at Bowraville, February 1965. Photo from the Tribune archive, State Library of NSW. Courtesy the SEARCH Foundation. Digital ID: 5606019.
Photo from the Tribune archive, State Library of NSW. Courtesy the SEARCH Foundation., Author provided (No reuse)

How to ensure the material is stored safely, so the whole process doesn’t need to be repeated in a few years time? How to capture the outpouring of memories and stories that such an exhibition evokes? What if the exhibition inspires more people to come forward with important historical material or accounts – where does that material end up? And how to ensure Indigenous people are empowered to tell their own stories and have a say over how digital archives are managed?

Enter Mukurtu.



Moree residents look on as the students protest outside the Moree Council Chambers, February 1965. Photo from the Tribune archive, State Library of NSW. Courtesy the SEARCH Foundation. Digital ID: 5606004.
Photo from the Tribune archive, State Library of NSW. Courtesy the SEARCH Foundation., Author provided (No reuse)

Mukurtu (pronounced MOOK-oo-too) is an online system that aims to help Indigenous communities conserve stories, videos, photographs, songs, word lists and other digital archives.

Mukurtu is a Warumungu word meaning “dilly bag” or a safe keeping place for sacred materials.

It’s a free, mobile, and open source platform built with Indigenous communities in mind to manage and share digital cultural heritage. Kirsten Thorpe says it’s the kind of thing that would have been really useful back when she was collating Freedom Rides material for the Moree community.

Conserving Indigenous archives for future generations

Mukurtu is/are already being used by Native American communities to store and preserve digital archives, and Kirsten Thorpe – now a senior researcher at the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research at UTS – is involved in making Mukurtu more widely accessible in Australia.

She works with other key players, such as Professor Kimberly Christen at the Centre for Digital Curation and Scholarship in the US and Richard Neville at the State Library of NSW, to ensure the Mukurtu Project has the institutional support it needs to help Indigenous communities protect their cultural heritage for generations to come.

On today’s episode of the podcast, Kirsten Thorpe and Richard Neville explain why Mukurtu is needed, how it’s being used and what’s at stake if we don’t find better ways to empower Indigenous people with the skills and tech to conserve and manage digital archives.



Freedom rider Charles Perkins (right) surveying members of the Moree community about living conditions, February 1965. Photo from the Tribune archive, State Library of NSW. Courtesy the SEARCH Foundation. Digital ID: 5605027.
Photo from the Tribune archive, State Library of NSW. Courtesy the SEARCH Foundation., Author provided (No reuse)

New to podcasts?

Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed, or you may want to listen and subscribe on another app such as Pocket Casts (click here to listen to Trust Me, I’m An Expert on Pocket Casts).

You can also hear us on Stitcher, Spotify or any of the apps below. Just pick a service from one of those listed below and click on the icon to find Trust Me, I’m An Expert.

Additional audio

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

ABC News 1965 intro music.

Lee Rosevere, Betrayal.

Lead image:

Nina Maile Gordon

Apr 16 2019

31mins

Play

Rank #8: Nearly all your devices run on lithium batteries. Here's a Nobel Prizewinner on his part in their invention – and their future

Podcast cover
Read more
Lithium ion batteries revolutionised the way we use, manufacture and charge our devices. They’re used to power mobile phones, laptops and even electric cars. Shutterstock

British-born scientist M. Stanley Whittingham, of Binghamton University, was one of three scientists who won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work developing lithium-ion batteries.



L-R: John Goodenough; Stanley Whittingham; Akira Yoshino, the three scientists who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry this year for their work developing lithium-ion batteries.
Niklas Elmehed/Royal Swedish Acad. Sci.

Maybe you know exactly what a lithium-ion battery is but even if you don’t, chances are you’re carrying one right now. They’re the batteries used to power mobile phones, laptops and even electric cars.

When it comes to energy storage, they’re vastly more powerful than conventional batteries and you can recharge them many more times.

Their widespread use is driving global demand for the metal lithium – demand that Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese this week said Australia should do more to meet.

The University of Queensland’s Mark Blaskovich, who trained in chemistry and penned this article about Whittingham’s selection for the chemistry Nobel Prize, sat down with the award-winner this week.

They discussed what the future of battery science may hold and how we might address some of the environmental and fire risks around lithium-ion batteries.

He began by asking M. Stanley Whittingham how lithium batteries differ from conventional, lead-acid batteries, like the kind you might find in your car.


Read more:
'Highly charged story': chemistry Nobel goes to inventors of lithium-ion batteries

New to podcasts?

Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed, or you may want to listen and subscribe on another app such as Pocket Casts (click here to listen to Trust Me, I’m An Expert on Pocket Casts).

You can also hear us on Stitcher, Spotify or any of the apps below. Just pick a service from one of those listed below and click on the icon to find Trust Me, I’m An Expert.


Read more:
Trust Me, I'm An Expert: what science says about how to lose weight and whether you really need to

Additional credits

Recording and production assistance by Thea Blaskovich

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks.

Announcement of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019

Images

Shutterstock

Nov 01 2019

18mins

Play

Rank #9: Trust Me, I'm An Expert: how to spot the work of a political spin doctor this election season

Podcast cover
Read more
Today, experts reveal the tips and tricks spin doctors use to shape the political messages you’re hearing every day - especially during election campaigns. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

It’s February, the holidays seem like a distant memory and here we are barrelling toward a federal election, which the government has indicated will be in May.

Remember in the olden days – as in, a few elections ago – we used to have a fairly set election campaign period of usually about six weeks? Now, of course, politicians seem to always be in campaign mode.

They’re not doing that all by themselves, of course. There’s a small army of spin doctors, social media strategists, political campaign advisers and press secretaries behind the scenes, finessing every utterance so it fits with the overall campaign strategy. And that’s what we are talking about on the podcast today – the art of political spin.


Read more:
It's reputation that matters when spin doctors go back to the newsroom

We’ll hear from Caroline Fisher, political communication and journalism researcher from the University of Canberra. She began her career as a journalist with the ABC, but went on to work as a media adviser for Labor’s Anna Bligh, a former Queensland premier.

Today, she’s talking to Michelle Grattan, political journalist and Professorial Fellow at the University of Canberra about the tips and tricks spin doctors use to shape the political messages you’re hearing every day. And you can read Caroline Fisher’s article on the spin tactics over here.


Read more:
The vomit principle, the dead bat, the freeze: how political spin doctors' tactics aim to shape the news

All year round and especially during election season, you’re going to hear a lot of competing claims about the state of the economy. Has school funding been cut or is it at a record high? Do tax cuts make the economy better or worse? Why are the government and the opposition saying seemingly contradictory things about debt and deficits?

To find out, Lucinda Beaman – who was our FactCheck editor but has just moved to the ABC – spoke to Fabrizio Carmignagni, a professor of economics at the Griffith Business School, Griffith University.

He’s authored many FactCheck articles for The Conversation, where he tests statements by key public figures against the evidence and his special super power is pulling back the curtain to reveal why certain claims you hear about the economy don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Today, Professor Carmignani reveals why you should be suspicious when you hear a politician claim their government has created jobs, how to spot a bit of causation vs correlation spin doctoring, and other political porkies that make economists’ skin crawl.


Read more:
FactCheck: have the Trump tax cuts led to lower unemployment and higher wages?

Trust Me, I’m An Expert is a podcast where we ask academics to surprise, delight and inform us with their research. You can download previous episodes here. And please, do check out other podcasts from The Conversation - you can find them all over here.

The segments in today’s podcast were recorded and edited by Sunanda Creagh, with additional recording and editing by Dilpreet Kaur and Eliza Berlage.


Read more:
Pencils ready: it's time for Politics 2019 Bingo!

New to podcasts?

Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed, or you may want to listen and subscribe on another app such as Pocket Casts (click here to listen to Trust Me, I’m An Expert on Pocket Casts).

You can also hear us on Stitcher, Spotify or any of the apps below. Just pick a service from one of those listed below and click on the icon to find Trust Me, I’m An Expert.

Additional audio

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann, RN Breakfast

Channel 9 news report.

Bill Shorten’s 2018 Budget reply speech.

Sky News report.

Today Show segment.

ABC news report.

Labor Facebook video.

Nick Xenophon SA Best ad.

The Greens ad.

Podington Bear, Pshaw, from Free Music Archive.

Bloomberg news report.

Image:

AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Jan 31 2019

33mins

Play

Rank #10: Trust Me, I'm An Expert: forensic entomology, or what bugs can tell police about when someone died

Podcast cover
Read more
Maggots are a major part of the puzzle when it comes to collecting forensic evidence. Shutterstock

A few episodes ago, we heard from forensic scientists at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER) – that’s the official name for what, in books and movies, they would call a body farm. It’s there, at a secret bushland site, researchers are making some surprising discoveries about how donated human bodies decompose in Australian conditions.

One of the researchers there is Professor James Wallman, Head of the School of Life Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney, and one of the nation’s few forensic entomologists.

It’s his job to unpack little clues left behind by insects – including the much maligned blowfly – that can help police solve crimes when a body is found.

Today, James Wallman explains how and why insects have a really profound influence on decomposition.

We’re also re-broadcasting a clip from Maiken Ueland, the interim director of the AFTER facility, on how research underway there is changing what we thought we knew about determining time since death.

And if you’re interested in finding out more about how to donate your body for such research, you can start here.


Read more:
'This is going to affect how we determine time since death': how studying body donors in the bush is changing forensic science

New to podcasts?

Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed, or you may want to listen and subscribe on another app such as Pocket Casts (click here to listen to Trust Me, I’m An Expert on Pocket Casts).

You can also hear us on Stitcher, Spotify or any of the apps below. Just pick a service from one of those listed below and click on the icon to find Trust Me, I’m An Expert.


Read more:
Trust Me, I'm An Expert: what science says about how to lose weight and whether you really need to

Additional audio

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks.

Backyard by David Szesztay from Free Music Archive

Images

Shutterstock

Oct 06 2019

25mins

Play

Rank #11: Trust Me, I'm An Expert: What research says about how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions

Podcast cover
Read more
Ready for all the research-backed tips and tricks for setting a goal and meeting it? www.shutterstock.com, CC BY

It’s that time of year when we all start to make promises to ourselves about how this year it’ll be different. This is the year I’ll get my health in order, exercise more, save money, cut that bad habit, do more of this, less of that, and just be better. But the fact is, change is hard. Most of us need help.

So, we found some.

Today, experts who have researched this terrain will be sharing with us insights into how to make a change – big or small – using evidence from the world of academic research.


Read more:
Trust Me, I'm An Expert: the science of sleep and the economics of sleeplessness

We’ll hear from Amanda Salis, a professor of obesity research at the University of Sydney’s Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders in the Charles Perkins Centre. She explains exactly is happening inside your body when you get that feeling you’ve eaten too much this silly season, that it’s time to step away from the festive feasts, put down the bubbly beverages and do a bit of exercise:

CC BY1.25 MB (download)

If you’re interested in participating in one of Amanda Salis’ weight loss trials, please contact her.

Also on the podcast episode Lisa Williams, a social psychologist from UNSW, shares with us all the research-backed tips and tricks for setting a goal and meeting it:


Read more:
Trust Me, I'm An Expert: Competition

We’ll also hear from Amy, our case study, on how she stuck to her goals and made some big changes in her life:

Trust Me, I’m An Expert is a podcast where we ask academics to surprise, delight and inform us with their research. You can download previous episodes here.

And please, do check out other podcasts from The Conversation – including The Conversation US’ Heat and Light, about 1968 in the US, and The Anthill from The Conversation UK, as well as Media Files, a podcast all about the media. You can find all our podcasts over here.

The segments in today’s podcast were recorded and edited by Sunanda Creagh, with additional editing by Dilpreet Kaur Taggar.

New to podcasts?

Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed, or you may want to listen and subscribe on another app such as Pocket Casts (click here to listen to Trust Me, I’m An Expert on Pocket Casts).

You can also hear us on Stitcher, Spotify or any of the apps below. Just pick a service from one of those listed below and click on the icon to find Trust Me, I’m An Expert.

Additional audio and credits

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

Refraction by Podington Bear, Free Music Archive

Gruyere by Podington Bear, Free Music Archive

Dec 30 2018

36mins

Play

Rank #12: A refugee law expert on a week of 'reckless' rhetoric and a new way to process asylum seeker claims

Podcast cover
Read more
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other Coalition MPs described Labor as weak on borders after the opposition and the crossbench voted to pass a bill allowing medical transfers from Manus and Nauru. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Today, we’re bringing you a special episode of our podcast Trust Me, I’m An Expert for anyone wondering: what the hell happened this week?

A sitting government lost a vote on the floor of parliament (which hasn’t happened in decades) over a bill that aims to facilitate medical transfers from Manus and Nauru.

(You can hear the MP Kerryn Phelps, who set the ball rolling for that legislation, give her account on Michelle Grattan’s politics podcast over here).


Read more:
Politics with Michelle Grattan: Kerryn Phelps on medical transfer numbers

A day after a bloc of cross-benchers and the opposition won the vote, Prime Minister Scott Morrison signalled the government may re-open the Christmas Island detention facility and the Coalition was accusing Labor of being weak on borders.

In other words, a federal election campaign centred on border security has well and truly begun.

To help us understand the broader context, we’re hearing today from Dr Daniel Ghezelbash, a refugee law expert from Macquarie University.

In our discussion, he busted several myths about how the asylum seeker “medevac” bill would work, and described as “reckless” political rhetoric that the new legislation represents a destruction of Australia’s border security.


Read more:
Explainer: how will the 'medevac' bill actually affect ill asylum seekers?

This week, many Australians cheered the release of refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi, and reports emerged showing airport arrivals of asylum seekers has soared, but much of the political discussion centred on boat arrivals.

The focus on boat arrivals in the lead-up to an election should be familiar to any student of Australian political history, he said – but this time it may be different.

Join us on Trust Me, I’m An Expert, as Dr Daniel Ghezelbash explains a policy alternative to our current system of offshore processing that he says wouldn’t involve compromising security or shirking our international legal obligations.


Read more:
We don't know how many asylum seekers are turned away at Australian airports

New to podcasts?

Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed, or you may want to listen and subscribe on another app such as Pocket Casts (click here to listen to Trust Me, I’m An Expert on Pocket Casts).

You can also hear us on Stitcher, Spotify or any of the apps below. Just pick a service from one of those listed below and click on the icon to find Trust Me, I’m An Expert.

Additional audio

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

Guardian News video.

Sky News report.

RN Breakfast report.

Image:

AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Feb 14 2019

19mins

Play

Rank #13: More than 70% of the Universe is made of 'dark energy', the mysterious stuff even stranger than dark matter

Podcast cover
Read more
Shutterstock

You’ve heard of dark matter. You’ve probably heard there’s a fair bit of it out there in space, and that astronomers don’t know for sure what it is.

But, strange as dark matter is, there’s an even more mysterious thing out there in the Universe – and quite a lot of it.

Dark energy, believed to be responsible for the acceleration of the expansion of the Universe, makes up the vast majority of space.

Today, editorial intern and astrophysics student Cameron Furlong, dives into what we know about dark energy and what it means for our place in the Universe.


Read more:
The Dish in Parkes is scanning the southern Milky Way, searching for alien signals

New to podcasts?

Everything you need to know about how to listen to a podcast is here.

Additional audio credits

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks.

Pulsars by Podington Bear, from Free Music Archive

Podcast episode recorded and edited by Cameron Furlong.

Lead image

Shutterstock


Read more:
'The size, the grandeur, the peacefulness of being in the dark': what it's like to study space at Siding Spring Observatory

Feb 23 2020

12mins

Play

Rank #14: 'This is going to affect how we determine time since death': how studying body donors in the bush is changing forensic science

Podcast cover
Read more
Research underway at the University of Technology, Sydney's AFTER facility is yielding some surprising new findings about how bodies decompose in the Australian bush. Supplied by UTS, Author provided (No reuse)

On the outskirts of Sydney, in a secret bushland location, lies what’s officially known as the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER). In books and movies, it’d be called a body farm.



Maiken Ueland at the AFTER facility run by UTS.
Supplied by UTS, Author provided

Taphonomy is the study of how an organism breaks down after death. Research underway at the University of Technology Sydney’s AFTER facility is yielding some surprising new findings about how bodies decompose in the Australian bush.

And here’s an astonishing detail: until AFTER opened in Sydney in 2016, there was no facility like it in the southern hemisphere. Most of the world’s taphonomic research came from the US, meaning we were missing vital clues relating to how Australian weather, bugs and climate conditions affect the way a human body decomposes in the bush.

Today on our podcast, Trust Me, I’m An Expert, we take you on a journey to AFTER. The facility’s interim director, Maiken Ueland, and PhD student Samara Garrett-Rickman share with us:

  • some of the unexpected findings emerging from AFTER on determining time since death;
  • why AFTER researchers prefer not to use the term “body farm”;
  • how the stages of decomposition work
  • a process of “mummification” that research suggests may be unique to Australian bushland conditions;
  • what the TV shows get wrong about forensic science;
  • why it’s harder to bury a body than most people think;
  • what investigators look for to spot a clandestine grave;

And if you’re interested in finding out more about how to donate your body for such research, you can start here.



Looking for odours at the AFTER facility, run by UTS.
Anna Zhu, Author provided (No reuse)

New to podcasts?

Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed, or you may want to listen and subscribe on another app such as Pocket Casts (click here to listen to Trust Me, I’m An Expert on Pocket Casts).

You can also hear us on Stitcher, Spotify or any of the apps below. Just pick a service from one of those listed below and click on the icon to find Trust Me, I’m An Expert.

Additional audio

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks.

Backyard by David Szesztay from Free Music Archive

Images

UTS/Anna Zhu

Jul 01 2019

33mins

Play

Rank #15: India election 2019: millions of Indian youth are underemployed and going to the polls

Podcast cover
Read more
Indian general elections begin April 11. vepar5/shutterstock

Here’s an astonishingly large number. Around 900 million Indians are heading to the polls to decide if they want to reelect the current government of Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

India Tomorrow is a seven-part podcast series by The Anthill (produced by The Conversation UK), exploring some of the major issues facing India – identity politics, the rise of Hindu nationalism, Kashmir, the role of caste and gender in shaping Indian society, and how women and young people experience these phenomena.

Part one, an episode on India’s information wars and how fake news fuels violence, launched on April 9. You can sign up to The Anthill newsletter to stay up to date and send questions via podcast@theconversation.com or via Twitter @AnthillPod. The producers will be putting your questions to academics.


Read more:
Why Australia should engage with the unemployment crisis affecting Indian youth

Today on Trust Me, I’m An Expert, we’re hearing from an academic featured on India Tomorrow. Craig Jeffrey is the director and CEO of the Australia India Institute and Professor of Development Geography at the University of Melbourne.

He explains what issues are front of mind for India’s millions of first-time voters delivering their verdict on the performance of the BJP government, led by Narendra Modi.

“Two things are really crucial. One is jobs. Young people across India and particularly in parts of India where the economy’s been less successful at creating jobs - so some of the northern states, for example, are going to be really concerned with the capacity of the government to provide better employment opportunities,” Professor Jeffrey told The Conversation’s editorial intern Bageshri Savyasachi.

“The second issue, I think, that they’ll be very concerned about is education. So they’ll be looking to see which political parties and politicians are promising to improve higher education […] Because for a lot of young people who aren’t part of the elite in India, there is a mismatch, often, between the educational opportunities they obtain in school or university and then the employment markets and the demands of key private sector firms.”

“A third area that’s perhaps less obvious is the issue of health care and public health. And my own observations, as an anthropologist and human geographer working in mainly Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand over the past 25 years on social change, is that young people are often demanding access to health services that are poorly provisioned in provincial India, particularly in relation to issues like sexual health, mental health, reproductive health and that’s an area where I think young people are looking to government for more action.”

Join us as Professor Jeffrey explains what implications this enormous election will have for the world’s second most populous nation, and for the rest of the globe as well.


Read more:
India Tomorrow: a podcast series from The Anthill – episode guide

New to podcasts?

Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed, or you may want to listen and subscribe on another app such as Pocket Casts (click here to listen to Trust Me, I’m An Expert on Pocket Casts).

You can also hear us on Stitcher, Spotify or any of the apps below. Just pick a service from one of those listed and click on the icon to find Trust Me, I’m An Expert.

Transcript

Craig Jeffrey: Those numbers are astonishing, aren’t they? And it’s very difficult, I think, for pundits to predict what precisely they’ll do in terms of the elections. What’s slightly easier to say, though, I think, is what’s in the minds of those voters. And I think two things are really crucial, one is jobs. So young people across India and particularly in parts of India where the economy’s been less successful at creating jobs - so some of the northern states, for example - are going to be really concerned with the capacity of the government to provide better employment opportunities. The second issue, I think, that they’ll be very concerned about is education. So they’ll be looking to see which political parties and politicians are promising to improve higher education, tertiary education more generally, the skills environment and school education. Because for a lot of young people who aren’t part of the elite in India, there is a mismatch, often, between the educational opportunities they obtain in school or university and then the employment market and the demands of key private sector firms.

So I think jobs and education are going to be at the top of young people’s minds as they go into the polling booths. What are parties and politicians promising in those areas?

A third area that’s perhaps less obvious is the issue of health care and public health. And my own observations, as an anthropologist and human geographer working in mainly Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand over the past 25 years on social change, is that young people are often demanding access to health services that are poorly provisioned in provincial India particularly in relation to issues like sexual health, mental health, reproductive health and that’s an area where I think young people are looking to government for more action. And I think that will also be in young people’s minds in the lead up to the elections.


Read more:
India Tomorrow part 1 podcast transcript: Fake news and the battle for information

Bageshri Savyasachi: What jobs are available to young people and do they want to do those jobs?

Craig Jeffrey: Well, I think one of the stories of Indian economic growth since 1990 is its failure to create a large number of what might be regarded as white collar or middle class jobs for the increasing numbers of young people who are getting high school matriculation certificates or degrees in India. Now, India’s not especially unusual in that regard. Particularly since the global financial crisis in the late 2000s, economies around the world have often found it difficult to create secure employment opportunities for people. Of course, automation, mechanisation is changing the nature of work throughout the world. So this isn’t specific to India but India is an almost very condensed or intense example of the failure of economic growth to create lots of good quality jobs, that long predates 2014 and the coming to power of the BJP. It’s a structural feature of the Indian economy since 1990 and especially since the mid-2000s period.

So to get to your question of what jobs actually exist, in many cases what we’re seeing in India is people having to realign their expectations of what work they’re going to do in that five to 10 year period after they graduate from high school or university. This is not new. Ronald Dore wrote in his book The Diploma Disease in 1970 that India was the country of the BA bus conductor. So that sense of having to downplay your expectations in light of circumstances is quite old in India. But now, I would argue, that a lot of people with bachelors degrees in India would be very keen to have a job on state roadways as a bus conductor, so intense and cut-throat has the employment market become. So you’re seeing people with masters degrees, with PhDs having to do very small scale entrepreneurial business work, you’re seeing them especially having to go back into agriculture – not as large-scale agricultural innovators making large amounts of money and employing other people but rather working on quite small plots of land in an environment where they didn’t imagine that they would go back into farming. So one of the alarming statistics, I think, is that while in most of the period between 2000 and 2010 the number of young people in agriculture was declining, as you would expect in a country that’s undergoing a structural transformation from agriculture into manufacturing and services, in the 2010s and particularly since 2014 there has been an increase in young people in agriculture. Now that is quite worrying for India and reflects the point that jobs in the modern economy are not becoming available quickly enough, young people are not finding the infrastructural and institutional environment conducive to moving into successful medium-scale entrepreneurship where they employ other people and find an outlet for their talents.

Bageshri Savyasachi: How crucial has mobilising young people been to the electoral successes of the ruling party, the BJP?

Craig Jeffrey: That’s an easy question to answer because of the demographic structure of India and the figures for voting in 2014 in particular show that of course the BJP has been very successful at mobilising people generally in India to vote for them and that includes young people. It’s done so through making a series of important statements about its approach to social and economic change. And it has done so also through tapping into, I think, a sense of national identity that’s important to young people. So the BJP has been pretty successful. Not just the BJP but also various organisations connected to the party at the grassroots level.

Bageshri Savyasachi: Is young people’s support for Modi on the wane? A lot of young people supported him when he was first running for prime minister but now a lot of young people are feeling disappointed. What do you think?

Craig Jeffrey: I should do that classic academic thing of saying that I’m not an expert on the contemporary views of young people in India. Where I’ve done most of my research has been in particular pockets of India, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and the bulk of that research was done in the period between 1995 and 2010. Since 2010, my work has been mainly in a village in quite a remote part of Uttarakhand, in Chamoli district, and I’ve written quite a lot about the social and political attitudes of young people in that village. Now, those are quite particular to one part of India. Like you and like lots of people, I read the newspapers, I talk to friends in different parts of India, I try to pick up on the streets a sense of the mood. But in that regard, I’m an armchair or amateur interpreter of young people’s political views at the moment.

With those caveats in mind, my sense is that young people may not support Modi as much as they did five years ago but that doesn’t mean that they won’t vote for him. So one needs to maybe distinguish between support and how people will actually behave in the ballot booth. I think lots of people that I speak to recognise that given the high pitch to which Modi raised people’s aspirations in 2014 there was always going to be a sense of disappointment, that skilling hundreds of millions of people quickly was going to be a very tough ask. And that the vision of New India, while attractive in certain respects, is not borne out in social reality for those outside of the elite and particularly in provincial parts of India, in small town and rural India. So people see on the social and economic side a kind of mismatch between promise and actuality. And I think that’s undermined a certain enthusiasm for the ruling BJP government. I’m really not in a position to be able to adjudicate on the extent to which people have sort of fallen out of love with a particular vision of the nation as primarily Hindu or driven by a Hindu civilisational push. That’s, I think, more difficult to ascertain. It’s tricky. The question, I suppose, is: is 2019 to be like 2004, where there was a bit of a surprise that actually the Indian population, including the young population, did move away from the BJP? And it was partly because they didn’t feel that they were sharing in the social gains associated with economic growth. And it was partly, as you just observed, that some of the aspects of the sort of rhetoric of Hindu nationalism were not anymore particularly attractive. So it is possible that the same kind of cocktail will still exist in 2019, of sort of a sense of social and economic exclusion and a sense of being a little bit tired of the same message coming out from the government. But it’s very very difficult to tell. As I said, one has to distinguish between support and enthusiasm on the one hand and the actual decision to vote on the other. Because one thing you see again and again in elections in India is people putting their votes in for politicians or parties that they don’t actually very much like but they feel like they ought to. Ultimately, it’s the least bad choice that they want to make, which is of course it’s not distinctly Indian, it’s an aspect of how people vote across the world.


Read more:
India Tomorrow podcast series from The Anthill – trailer

Bageshri Savyasachi: We’ll just have to wait and watch. What is the state of youth unemployment in India? My impression is that for young people, it’s hard to get a job if you don’t have a masters or a bachelor’s degree. And even then you may not get a job in your chosen field.

Craig Jeffrey: Oh, that’s absolutely right. The recent NSSO figures show that youth unemployment in India is something around 16 or 17%. Now those figures are contested but my view is that they are fairly robust. And, of course, beyond that problem of outright unemployment, there’s a very large problem of underemployment where people are working in part-time insecure work that doesn’t reflect their skills, ambitions and credentials. So both outright unemployment and underemployment are becoming increasing problems in India. In 2010, I wrote a book called Timepass which drew attention to this problem based on fieldwork work in Western Uttar Pradesh. I talked about the emergence of a generation of young people who described themselves as people with nothing to do. Who were doing nothing but also in some sense saw themselves as being nothing. A very intense form of social suffering associated with a prolonged period of unemployment or underemployment.

When I talk to young people in the same area now they say that actually that book is more relevant in 2019 than it was in 2010. Someone told me when I visited India two weeks ago “I felt like it had been written yesterday” and this reflects the way this problem of unemployment and underemployment to young people has intensified over the past nine years rather than dissipated.

Bageshri Savyasachi: In her recent book, Dreamers: how young Indians are changing the world, the prominent Indian journalist Snigdha Poonam writes, “the world’s future depends on young Indians meeting their aspirations but it’s a pipe dream at this point”. How big of a problem is this disconnect between young Indians’ aspirations and their reality?

Craig Jeffrey: Well, I think it’s a huge problem and I think that the book Dreamers is very successful in setting that out. It’s worth again going back to the point about demographics. One in eight people in the world is an Indian under the age of 30. It’s worth repeating that: one in eight people in the world is an Indian young person, someone under the age of 30. Now, that’s an extraordinary statistic and it gives a sense of the importance of that demographic for the future of Asia and of the world. Now unlike the same generation 25 years ago, that set of young people are very well aware of events in other parts of the world which are streamed to them via their mobile phones or on the internet. They are increasingly in secondary school, including young women, and in school they’re learning to obviously dream big. And the government is also encouraging those young people to see themselves as part of a new India that’s modern, in which people are based often in urban areas doing what historically has been described as sort of middle class work, service work. And now where you’ve got that situation of both demographic growth and the rapid sort of revolution of rising aspirations, you need an outlet for young people so that they feel as they move into their 20s and 30s that they’re achieving the goals that they desire. And that’s not happening. And the question then is, how much of a problem is that? Well, obviously for the young people concerned it’s a big problem for their families. Young people are not passive in that situation, they actively and creatively seek ways to make do. That may be entering into fallback work in agriculture. It may be finding jobs that perhaps they weren’t aspiring to originally but which provide a means for establishing a family and getting by, in areas like sales and marketing. But there is also a lot of just disappointment, I think, and a sense of stuckedness and limbo that, again, I wrote about in detail in my book Timepass. What’s surprising, perhaps, is that that sense of social suffering hasn’t led to more unrest in India and I think there are several reasons for that. I think partly because India is a democracy people have an outlet for frustration through the political system, through voting, through demonstrating on the streets. I think a second reason why there hasn’t been more political mobilisation is that people often perceive this as a personal failure rather than a failure of government or of society or as a structural failure, as social scientists would put it. They see it as “Well, I didn’t try hard enough” or “I wasn’t successful enough in that examination”. So it’s quite a lot of this failure I think often is personalised rather than seen as a reflection of the structural features of the Indian economy and the wider institutional environment in which people may be trying to start businesses. There’s a whole history of commentators on India talking about the country as being poised to sort of fall into unrest. I’m not going to do that. I think India, it holds together and as I said people are, young people are actively finding ways to make do. But I do think it’s a major social issue at the moment, the lack of capacity for young people to realise their aspirations and it should be and will remain an absolutely critical issue for government in India.

Bageshri Savyasachi: How has national politics played out in Indian universities under Modi?

Craig Jeffrey: Well, the information that leaks out on this issue tends to come from a small number of the very well-known universities in India. So universities like Jawaharlal Nehru University, Hyderabad University, Delhi University and that there has been, over the past few years as you’ll be well aware, a series of controversies over the government’s treatment of student protesters in those universities and of the ideological, the role of government in shaping how universities operate ideologically through, for example, the appointment of particular vice-chancellors with particular views on politics that then shape those institutions. Now, that’s a very important debate and it’s one that people can follow through a whole series of articles in magazines and newspapers in India. What interests me more is what’s happening outside of those well known central universities. What is happening actually in universities like the one that I worked in quite a bit 15 years ago. Chaudhary Charan Singh University which is the sixth largest university in the world if one excludes universities that provide distance education. And is actually, according to some sources, the second largest university in India after Indira Gandhi National Open University, which of course is largely a distance university, distance education university. So what’s happening in those big state universities that are affiliating other colleges. And that’s an area which desperately requires consideration. I think it would repay close social research. You’re seeing the emergence of different types of student politics to that which existed 15 years ago and some of those forms of student politics are linked to a Hindu nationalist agenda. Some are not. There’s a great deal of foment in those sort of more provincial universities that operates under the radar on which commentators and social scientists know very little about but which is really important in terms of shaping the environment in which the vast majority of students in India study, which is in colleges, not actually in universities. It’s in colleges affiliated to universities like Chaudhary Charan Singh University. I’d be really interested in hearing from anyone who’s listening to this podcast about their views or experiences of the curricular, of student action in India’s colleges where most people study.

Bageshri Savyasachi: Do you think there is a growing shift towards illiberalism among India’s youth?

Craig Jeffrey: Well, I think that’s a really interesting question. First, one has to think about, well, what is liberalism? And if we define that relatively narrowly in terms of a commitment to formal equality and individual freedoms then I think there’s evidence both ways. There’s evidence of young people contesting those visions of formal equality and individual freedom, for example through their views on areas like sexuality. So there was a recent Centre for the Study of Developing Societies survey that showed that the majority of young Indians didn’t approve of homosexuality. So there’s some evidence there of a certain kind of “illiberalism”. There’s evidence of young people’s involvement in societies or organisations that are policing people’s right to eat certain foods, again which would suggest the rise of a certain form of illiberalism. But there’s also of course a great deal of evidence the other way, that young people are very active in nongovernmental organisations that are seeking to protect people’s formal equality, protect people’s freedoms. The number of youth NGOs in India is growing very, very quickly. There’s also, I think, a very interesting debate about the relationship between the individual and liberalism in India. So an argument that’s been made by several people is that actually liberalism in India is organised around a sense of group rights rather than around individual rights. So it’s perfectly possible to be part of a caste organisation or a religious organisation that’s about equality and freedom but nevertheless is articulating those notions of equality and freedom through reference to caste and religion. So that would be an argument that I think lots of Hindu nationalists would make, is that even though Hindus are the majority and even though that they’re making an argument in Hindu terms, it’s an argument about tolerance and about liberalism rather than about violence or exclusion or limiting people’s freedoms. So it’s a very complicated question. There’s evidence both ways. There’s also a tangled set of debates about whether you could have a kind of liberalism based on a sense of group rights and whether so-called Western visions of liberalism can really be applied to a place like India, where notions of religion and caste and family are so strong. That might be a more detailed answer than you wanted but it’s one that really interests, this is a question that really interests me.

Bageshri Savyasachi: What do young people think now in 2019 that their parents or grandparents may not have thought at the same age?

Craig Jeffrey: Well, I think one of the effects of more young people studying in secondary school is that they’ve often absorbed notions of citizenship and good government that are communicated in school textbooks. So in one of the villages where I work, I was sitting working with a young person who was doing an English lesson recently and one of the English exercises was to write a letter to the local district magistrate in English complaining about the state of the drains in their neighbourhood. And this was obviously an attempt not only to learn English but to inculcate a particular vision of the citizen and of the state. And I think the effect of having large numbers of young people in school, being exposed to these narratives is actually that many more people have accepted and appreciate that kind of vision of rights and citizenship than in the 1990s when I started doing fieldwork in north India. So you see that’s reflected, for example, in young people’s support for anti-corruption movements. You see it in terms of young people’s questioning of forms of malpractice that exist in certain bureaucracies in India. Another point I’d really like to stress is the revolution that’s been happening in India with reference to women’s and especially young women’s rights and capacities. And that’s, I think, really a major success story in the last 20 years in India or 30 years, is that women and young women have achieved a much greater degree of autonomy and voice at all levels of society and in cities as well as in villages. Now, that comes, of course with all sorts of caveats about the continued problems of gender violence, of disparities in terms of pay and access to schooling and social goods. Nevertheless, I think that is a really important point to stress about the achievements of India in the period since 2000.

Additional audio

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

Image:

Shutterstock

May 06 2019

28mins

Play

Rank #16: Trust Me, I'm An Expert: Queensland still mystifies too many politicians but its needs are surprisingly simple

Podcast cover
Read more
Are southern-born politicians talking about a state they essentially don't understand? Shutterstock

The dust has well and truly settled on Scott Morrison’s surprise victory in this year’s federal election but opinion is still divided on exactly what happened in Queensland.

Why did Labor perform so poorly in the Sunshine State? Is Queensland an inherently conservative part of Australia? During the campaign, were southern-born politicians talking about a state they essentially didn’t understand? And – #Quexit jokes aside – is it time to redraw state lines in Australia, or even add new states?

Today on Trust Me, I’m An Expert, we bring you a discussion organised by The Conversation, recorded at Avid Reader bookshop in Brisbane and broadcast by Big Ideas on the ABC’s RN.

In this chat, political scientist Anne Tiernan from Griffith University speaks with the University of Southern Queensland’s John Cole, who has research expertise in the history of Australian federation, regional development and regional communities.

Host Paul Barclay began by asking them to name the biggest misconceptions floating around about Queensland.

New to podcasts?

Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed, or you may want to listen and subscribe on another app such as Pocket Casts (click here to listen to Trust Me, I’m An Expert on Pocket Casts).

You can also hear us on Stitcher, Spotify or any of the apps below. Just pick a service from one of those listed below and click on the icon to find Trust Me, I’m An Expert.

Credits:

Recording and editing by RN’s Big Ideas, additional editing by Sunanda Creagh.

Additional audio

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks.

CNN report.

BBC report.

Images

Shutterstock

Aug 27 2019

52mins

Play

Rank #17: The myth of 'the Queensland voter', Australia's trust deficit, and the path to Indigenous recognition

Podcast cover
Read more
Today we're asking: what Queensland seats are the ones to watch on election night? How to give Indigenous Australians a true voice in politics? And how can we improve trust in the political system? Shutterstock

Today we’re bringing you a special discussion about the federal election that took place at the launch of a book of Conversation essays, Advancing Australia: Ideas for a Better Country.

Recorded at Avid Reader bookshop in Brisbane on April 17, the discussion featured Indigenous academic lawyer Eddie Synot from Griffith University and Griffith’s Dean of Engagement, Professor Anne Tiernan.

Eddie Synot is currently completing his PhD, taking a hard look at the liberal rights discourse of Indigenous recognition, and has also taught Indigenous Studies.

And political scientist Anne Tiernan has worked in and advised Australian governments at all levels, so she knows politics from the inside out.

Together with Liz Minchin, the Executive Editor of The Conversation Australia & New Zealand, the panel covered topics including the Queensland seats to watch on election night, how to give Indigenous Australians a true voice in politics, and how to improve trust in the political system.

Today’s episode was recorded by Michael Adams from Griffith University.


Read more:
Our Advancing Australia series is about starting a conversation about what really matters

New to podcasts?

Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed, or you may want to listen and subscribe on another app such as Pocket Casts (click here to listen to Trust Me, I’m An Expert on Pocket Casts).

You can also hear us on Stitcher, Spotify or any of the apps below. Just pick a service from one of those listed below and click on the icon to find Trust Me, I’m An Expert.

Additional audio

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

Recording and editing by Michael Adams from Griffith University

Additional reading

Buy Advancing Australia: Ideas for a Better Country

Griffith University’s special election coverage, including interactive maps of Queensland’s 30 federal electorates

The Uluru statement showed how to give First Nations people a real voice – now it’s time for action by Griffith University’s Eddie Synot

The 14 Indigenous words for money on our new 50 cent coin by the University of Queensland’s Felicity Meakins

Explainer: the significance of the Treaty of Waitangi by the University of Waikato’s Sandra Morrison and Ingrid L M Huygens

The end of uncertainty? How the 2019 federal election might bring stability at last to Australian politics by University of Canberra’s Michelle Grattan

Image

Shutterstock

Apr 18 2019

53mins

Play

Rank #18: 'Futuring' can help us survive the climate crisis. And guess what? You're a futurist too

Podcast cover
Read more
When we are imagining this time, next year, are we limiting our thinking to how we avoid the conditions we faced in this summer? Or are there bigger questions we can ask? Shutterstock

Editor’s note: Today, on Trust Me, I’m An Expert, we hear from Clare Cooper, design lecturer at the University of Sydney, on how futuring techniques can help us think collectively about life under a drastically hotter climate. Her accompanying essay is below.

Australians, no matter where we are, are coming to acknowledge that our summers – and our autumns, winters and springs – are forever changed.

We are, bit by bit, reviewing our assumptions. Whether we need to radically rethink our calendars, or question where and how we rebuild homes and towns, we face a choice: collective, creative adaptation or increased devastation.

How might this time next year feel - anxious, hot and sticky? How might it smell - like bushfire smoke? How might it taste - would seafood and berries still be on the menu in future summers as our climate changes? (One of my favourite placards at a recent climate rally was “shit climate = shit wine”).

When we think about this time next year, are we freaking out, or are we futuring?



How might the Australian summer of the future look, taste, smell?
Shutterstock


Read more:
Why we should make time for remembering the future

Collaborative futuring in a climate crisis

“Futuring” is sometimes called futures studies, futurology, scenario design or foresight thinking. It has been used in the business world for decades.

Futuring means thinking systematically about the future, drawing on scientific data, analysing trends, imagining scenarios (both plausible and unlikely) and thinking creatively. A crucial part of the process is thinking hard about the kind of future we might want to avoid and the steps needed to work toward a certain desired future.

But futurists aren’t magical people who sweep in and solve problems for you. They facilitate discussions and collaboration but the answers ultimately come from communities themselves. Artists and writers have been creatively imagining the future for millennia. Futuring is a crucial part of design and culture-building.

My research looks at how futuring can help communities work toward a just and fair transition to a drastically warmer world and greater weather extremes.

Collaborative futuring invites audiences to respond to probable, possible, plausible and preposterous future scenarios as the climate crisis sets in. This process can reveal assumptions, biases and possible courses of action.



Cars lie damaged after a surprise hailstorm hit Canberra in January. Extreme weather events are predicted to worsen as the climate changes.
AAP Image/Mick Tsikas


Read more:
How we forecast future technologies

Getting creative

Futuring is not predicting futures.

It’s a way of mixing informed projections with imaginative critical design to invite us to think differently about our current predicaments. That can help us step back from the moment of panic and instead proactively design steps to change things for the better – not 20 years from now, but from today.

If you peeked into a futuring workshop with adults, you might see a lot of lively conversations and a bunch of post-it notes. For kids, you might see them making collages, or creating cardboard prototypes of emerging technology.

You might have done some futuring today, talking with friends and family about changes you might make as it becomes obvious our summers will grow only hotter.

I’ve seen futuring occur at my daughter’s school, where children are invited to imagine being on the other side of a difficult problem, and then work out the steps needed to get there.



13-year-old protester Izzy Raj-Seppings poses for a photograph outside of Kirribilli House in Sydney late last year.
AAP Image/Steven Saphore


Read more:
'This situation brings me to despair': two reef scientists share their climate grief

Futuring a just transition to a warmer world

When we are imagining this time next year, are we limiting our (mostly city-dwelling) thinking to how we avoid the conditions we faced in this summer?

For example, are we thinking about staying away from bushfire-prone areas, or buying air purifiers and face masks? For those who can afford it, are we thinking about booking extended overseas holidays?

Or are we challenging each other to think beyond such avoidance strategies: to imagine a post-Murdoch press and a post-fossil fuel lobby future? Can we imagine ways to respond to extreme weather beyond individual prepping?

Including a diverse range of voices, especially Indigenous community members, is crucial to a just transition to a warmer world. We can’t allow a changed climate to mean comfortable adaptation for a wealthy elite while everyone else suffers.

Many of us have joined climate protests in recent months and years.

But more work needs to be done and bigger questions asked. What steps are needed to meet demands for public ownership of a renewable energy system: more support for those battling and displaced by bushfires? How do we work toward First Nations justice, including funding for Indigenous-led land management, jobs on Country, and land and water rights?

It is not enough to pin an image of our future to a wall and pray we get there.

Short term fixes in the form of drought or emergency relief won’t address the fact that extreme weather events are not going away.

Responsible, useful futuring mixes equal parts of imagination and informed projections. It’s not wild speculation. Futuring practitioners draw on scientific and social data, and weave it with the stories, concerns and desires of those present to find new ways into a problem.



Short term fixes in the form of drought or emergency relief won’t address the fact that extreme weather events are not going away.
Shutterstock


Read more:
What would a fair energy transition look like?

Speaking of catastrophe to avoid it

Former Labor prime minister Paul Keating last year criticised the Morrison government for what he saw as a lack of vision:

If you look, there is no panorama. There’s no vista. There’s no shape. There’s no talk about where Australia fits in the world.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s performance during the unfolding bushfire horrors – widely perceived as lacklustre – suggests growing thirst for bolder vision on dealing with “the new normal.”

In their book Design and the Question of History, design scholars Tony Fry, Clive Dilnot and Susan Stewart argue that we should speak of catastrophe “in order to avoid it”.

Polish-born sociologist Zygmunt Bauman wrote

prophesying the advent of that catastrophe as passionately and vociferously as we can manage is the sole chance of making the unavoidable avoidable — and perhaps even the inevitable impossible to happen.

We owe it to those worst affected by the climate crisis – and to ourselves – to dedicate time to collaborative futuring as we rethink life in an increasingly hostile climate.

The next time you’re having a chat about this time, next year, are you collectively fretting or collaboratively futuring?

New to podcasts?

Everything you need to know about how to listen to a podcast is here.

Additional audio credits

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks.

Not Much by Podington Bear, from Free Music Archive

Above Us by David Szesztay, from Free Music Archive

Pshaw by Podington Bear, from Free Music Archive

Podcast episode recorded and edited by Sunanda Creagh.

Lead image

Shutterstock

Clare M. Cooper has an ongoing residential subsidy from Inner West Council for Frontyard Projects, a community research space. She is a member of the NTEU and Workers for Climate Action.

Jan 31 2020

10mins

Play

Rank #19: 'I think we should be very concerned': A cyber crime expert on this week's hack and what needs to happen next

Podcast cover
Read more
Shutterstock/AAP/The Conversartion

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced this week that a “sophisticated state actor” had targeted the big Australian political parties in a major cyber attack, the revelation threw up more questions than answers.

Who did it and how? What data did they get their hands on? How vulnerable is our data – and our democracy?


Read more:
We've been hacked – so will the data be weaponised to influence election 2019? Here’s what to look for

To make sense of it all, we’re hearing today from Nigel Phair, the director of UNSW Canberra Cyber and an expert on the intersection of crime, technology and society.

He said that while hacks like these should be seen as “the new normal” there was good reason to be concerned.

“Just merely having a breach is quite a big deal. Secondly, you look at the information that they hold. Political parties have information on donors – who they are and how much they give and what they want for it. They have information on the electorate, they have information on their own party politics and tactics for Senate Estimates for Question Time, those sorts of things,” he said.

“So that’s a lot of rich data that you could then use as a nation state to infiltrate other areas to perhaps change voter outcomes.”

The hackers may have used social engineering techniques such as phishing to gain access to the data, he said.

“They are quite unsophisticated attacks. It’s often spoofing an organisation or a person and getting someone, an end user, to reveal login credentials. And because we share passwords across multiple logins, that’s how you gain access to a trophy asset,” he said, adding that the hack served as a reminder to use a password manager and ensure all passwords are long and strong.

“I think we should be very concerned. We’ve got a great case study from the US. We’re very allied to the US and when you look at how nation states have disrupted that election I think it’s a given that there are many out there that’ll disrupt ours.”

You can read an edited transcript of the interview below.


Read more:
A state actor has targeted Australian political parties – but that shouldn't surprise us

New to podcasts?

Podcasts are often best enjoyed using a podcast app. All iPhones come with the Apple Podcasts app already installed, or you may want to listen and subscribe on another app such as Pocket Casts (click here to listen to Trust Me, I’m An Expert on Pocket Casts).

You can also hear us on Stitcher, Spotify or any of the apps below. Just pick a service from one of those listed below and click on the icon to find Trust Me, I’m An Expert.

Additional audio editing by Wes Mountain, production assistance from Bageshri Savyasachi.

Additional audio

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

ABC news report

Image:

AAP (Various)/Shutterstock/The Conversation

Transcript

SUNANDA CREAGH: And so what’s the main concern? Why was everybody so worried about this, particularly earlier this week?

NIGEL PHAIR: I think when you look at the history with the attack in the US on the DNC (Democratic National Committee), and a lot that’s been reported in the US about nation states trying to infiltrate the election process over there and change people’s voting habits and we’re some weeks/months from an election here – it strikes at the heart of what could be our dear beloved democracy, when you have nation state actors trying to influence voting outcomes.

SUNANDA CREAGH: And what do you think this week’s events tell us about the cyber security weaknesses here in Australia?

NIGEL PHAIR: It tells us that no organisation is immune. It tells us that cyber is another vector for people trying to win the hearts and minds of people.

SUNANDA CREAGH: If I was a sophisticated nation state using this as a strategy to achieve that goal, how might this sort of hack help me achieve that goal? What do you think they were actually trying to do here?

NIGEL PHAIR: There’s a number of things that they’ve achieved. Firstly, is the goal of doing the hack. When we look at parliament house, we look at the political parties, when we think about it, they’re revered from a democratic perspective. Just merely having a breach is quite a big deal.

Secondly, you look at the information that they hold. Political parties have information on donors – who they are and how much they give and what they want for it. They have information on the electorate, they have information on their own party politics and tactics for Senate Estimates for Question Time, those sorts of things. So a lot of rich data that you could then use as a nation state to infiltrate other areas to perhaps change voter outcomes.

SUNANDA CREAGH: China has strongly denied that it was involved but a lot of speculation has focused on that country, as opposed to Russia or another state actor that’s been linked to this kind of behaviour in other contexts. In Australia, why do you think speculation has focused on China as a potential perpetrator?

NIGEL PHAIR: Basically because they’re a near neighbour to ours, they’re in our arc of instability. They’re well known for their theft of intellectual property online. They’re well known for not adhering to the international norms of cyberspace. Add that all up and that’s why people keep pointing the finger at them.

SUNANDA CREAGH: And I believe there’s news reports that China was linked to other previous hacks of universities and parliament and other key pieces of computer infrastructure around Australia. Is that right?

NIGEL PHAIR: That’s right. They’ve been well known to do a range of cyber attacks on a range of different organisations – government, non-government, commercial etc.

SUNANDA CREAGH: So in the context of concerns that Australians have about the government’s capacity to keep our personal information safe – and I’m thinking here about the talk around My Health Record, the census – what does this hack tell us, if anything, about how capable the government and people in power are at guarding our private details?

NIGEL PHAIR: I think we need to go back a couple of steps before we start to think about this. Government, what they haven’t done is take the citizenry of Australia on a journey. They haven’t explained to them what it means to participate in a digital economy. What it means to be a good online citizen and transact with government and social media, commercially, e-commerce. If we had that narrative from the outset then people could understand that the internet is just another public place where they act ethically and lawfully and responsibly to what they do in the real world, then I think we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Because people would be able to have an informed decision about what it means to participate with My Health Record, or participate in an online census or other government instruments. But at the moment we just never had that background and people don’t have the certainty and because of that they make knee-jerk reactions.

SUNANDA CREAGH: Where do you land on this issue, do you think the government is capable of keeping that data safe?

NIGEL PHAIR: I think the government is capable of keeping it safe. The systems around My Health Record for example are really quite secure and there’s a lot of technologies, a lot of process and a lot of policy to ensure. But the reality is if there is going to be a breach of my health record, it’ll probably happen at a doctor’s surgery where there’s an unpatched or unprotected computer, or a user not using a good password, or accidentally emailing the wrong patient records to someone. It will be the end user compromise which we’ll see will be the failure. And that’s what the government isn’t investing in. It’s great to say they have a great secure system themselves but again we need to wind the clock back several years and start telling people this is what it means.

SUNANDA CREAGH: Just on this hack, how might it have been actually perpetrated? Can you just explain that to me in really basic terms?

NIGEL PHAIR: We don’t know yet until the forensic examination is done about how it occurred. Invariably, it was most probably some sort of social engineering attack against someone on the network. Most probably a phishing attack or something similar, where a person is targeted rather than the network itself is targeted. But again, until we know the forensics, we’re just speculating.

SUNANDA CREAGH: And those phishing and social engineering attacks, am I right in thinking they mainly focus on trying to get somebody to reveal their password or their login details to another person who is perhaps impersonating somebody else or impersonating an official password reset type email. Is that the sort of thing you mean there about the social engineering?

NIGEL PHAIR: Invariably, they are quite unsophisticated attacks. It’s spoofing an organisation or a person. Getting someone, an end user, to reveal login credentials and because we share passwords across multiple logins, that’s how you gain access to a trophy asset.

SUNANDA CREAGH: So the lesson there for all of us really is never reuse your password details and get a password manager. Am I right?

NIGEL PHAIR: You are right.

SUNANDA CREAGH: We’ve heard some commentators saying that this is the new normal, that this type of attack really should be expected in this day and age. What do you think about that?

NIGEL PHAIR: It’s been the new normal for quite some time. The reality is, most organisations get hacked just don’t know they’ve been hacked. This is all of a sudden a trophy matter, it’s come at the time where parliament is sitting, so it’s really got some attention in society, which is a great thing. And added to that the government that’s come out and actually said this is what’s happened and that is a completely different policy shift, whereas before it was swept under the carpet.

SUNANDA CREAGH: Do you think that’s a positive policy shift?

NIGEL PHAIR: There’s a great positive. We need to start having a conversation about what it means to be online and what it means to participate. And the fact is there’s countries out there, there’s actors out there trying to do us harm and Australians need to be brought into that confidence.

SUNANDA CREAGH: There was a lot of talk about this at the start of this week, but it really has sort of shifted off the news headlines toward the end of the week and some people are now saying that was a lot of noise over what? And I’ve seen some media commentators saying that this was an announcement that fed into a narrative of fear as election day draws closer. And that is a criticism that’s been directed at the government in the past in their rhetoric around border control and security in more general terms. To what extent do you see this announcement as about safety and awareness and how much of it is politics?

NIGEL PHAIR: I couldn’t put a percentage on either way but I focus purely on the safety and awareness side of it. I just think that’s the value of the message – is the safety and awareness.

SUNANDA CREAGH: It’s an important message to get out to make people aware of those risks. And, as you say, bring them into that conversation around online security and online participation in an active globally networked world, is that right?

NIGEL PHAIR: That’s right.

SUNANDA CREAGH: So what needs to be done? What should governments do to reduce risks and educate people?

NIGEL PHAIR: So the first thing for their internal networks, they need to do a proper risk management exercise. They need to identify the key target assets they hold and work out how sensitive that information is and put appropriate controls around where that data sits. Whether it’s a technology stack, whether it’s internal, cloud-based, those sort of decisions. And secondly, who has access to it, why they have access to it and how they access it. And once you start doing some simple things like that, you’ll find the cyber security posture of parliament house or a political party or anyone else in corporate Australia can really change the way that they’re viewed from a cyber security perspective.

SUNANDA CREAGH: And if, and I know this is speculation, but if the source of the problem was somebody sharing their login credentials or being victim to a phishing scam or victim to some social engineering then it sounds like it’s possible that some education is needed around that issue and what to be aware of and how not to get tricked online.

NIGEL PHAIR: Well, that’s a tough one. There aren’t sufficient technical controls to protect our data and ourselves online. In fact, we should’ve looked for any technical silver bullet. Likewise, we know education doesn’t work either. But education is all we have. So all we can keep doing is reinforce the message, particularly amongst young people as they grow up and participate in the online economy, and hopefully as time goes on we’ll be better protected for it.

SUNANDA CREAGH: In other words, not forgetting to address the capacity for human error in our effort to cover off and protect ourselves from technical error.

NIGEL PHAIR: Human error, but also the use of third parties and outlying people that you might not have specific command and control over.

SUNANDA CREAGH: And going back to this week’s hack, if I am an individual who has given my details as a donor or as a supporter to a political party, what does this hack tell us about what we as individuals might do in future to protect our data?

NIGEL PHAIR: Well, if you think you’ve (experienced) a loss of your data through this process, the first thing to do – contact the party that you’ve made say the donation or whatever it might be to. Secondly would be to start thinking about how that data or information that’s been stolen might be used against you - whether it’s identity theft or takeover, for example. So you need to start monitoring your bank accounts, you need to start thinking about consumer credit that might be done in your name. So you should be probably doing a credit reference check.

SUNANDA CREAGH: What advice do you give to people who want to use best practice in keeping their details safe online?

NIGEL PHAIR: Best thing you can do is use strong and long passwords. More stealthy it is, the harder it will be to guess by anyone else. Second, don’t replay the same password across multiple logins. Thirdly, be really wary when online and navigating around social media and e-commerce and other places. Really think about where you put your personal information in and why you’re placing it into a particular website or a portal.

SUNANDA CREAGH: Now, in the US we’ve heard about state actors really appearing to have an influence on election outcomes. How concerned do you think Australians should be about that happening here?

NIGEL PHAIR: I think we should be very concerned, we’ve got a great case study from the US. We’re very allied to the US and when you look at nation states that have disrupted that election I think it’s a given that there’s many out there that’ll disrupt ours.

SUNANDA CREAGH: So what can we do about that?

NIGEL PHAIR: It’s a tough one. We need to start working with all the players involved. And this is where the social media companies come into it. Your Googles, your Facebooks, your Twitters, your Instagrams etc. Because that’s the place of choice that nation states will use to send out any bespoke messaging.

SUNANDA CREAGH: Should we be changing any progression we’re making in Australia towards electronic voting?

NIGEL PHAIR: We have zero progression towards electronic voting, unfortunately, and I think it’s a great thing. But because we had the census failure, because we had the robo-debt issues, because we had the My Health Record issues, as a population there’s no way in my generation that we will see electronic voting. We just won’t countenance it because of the perceived risks. I’m a pro-online guy. We doom and gloom everything online too much and I’m guilty for doing that. But we want people to participate online. We are great and early adopters of mobile smart devices and we love being online itself, so it makes sense for service delivery to be online, it makes sense to order your food online, to do social media, participate in everything, there’s a lot of good benefit. But because we hear this messaging all the time about the government can’t deal with online issues, there’s already this level of distrust and dissatisfaction out there that voting will just be another one of those things. And the facts just don’t support that.

SUNANDA CREAGH: Would there be anything that you’d change about the way political parties collect or are allowed to collect data on people given that they seem to be a perfect target or a growing target?

NIGEL PHAIR: Oh, there’s lots I’d change. Primary to that is the Privacy Act and adherence to the privacy principles of which political parties don’t need to.

SUNANDA CREAGH: In what way? What change would you make?

NIGEL PHAIR: Well, I’d ensure that political parties have to adhere to the privacy principles when it comes to the collection, the storage, retention and dissemination of personally identifying information.

SUNANDA CREAGH: And what are the privacy principles?

NIGEL PHAIR: Well the privacy principles, there’s 13 of them, inform organisations in Australia where they have a turnover of more than A$3 million about how they should collect data, how they should store that data, how they should disseminate it and how they should destroy it. There’s some simple advice that’s provided by the Australian Office of the Information Commissioner. And they’re quite easy to adhere to, but unfortunately political parties are exempt from that and I see that as being a bad thing.

SUNANDA CREAGH: So we’re at a point where I guess you’d have to assume that basically anybody could be a target for a hack and any organisation could be. So what options are there for organisations like political parties that don’t have My Health Record level of security set ups or government scale security set ups?

NIGEL PHAIR: Well, the first thing they have to do is acknowledge that they’re are a target. Then they have to go through a risked-based process to understand what their information assets are, what their technology stack is, and who has access to it and make sound investment decisions around that. We can no longer, as a society, just say “it’s not us that gets hacked, it’s always someone else”. I mean, there is a cost of participating online.

SUNANDA CREAGH: Nigel Phair, thank you so much for talking to us.

NIGEL PHAIR: Pleasure.

Feb 21 2019

16mins

Play

Rank #20: Trust Me, I'm An Expert: Food fraud, the centuries-old problem that won't go away

Podcast cover
Read more
What is in these products? And if additives don't affect your health, would you care?
Shutterstock

What have you eaten today? And how much do you know about how it was produced, what was added to it along the way, and how it made its way to your plate?

Even as most of us grow increasingly removed from actual food production, many consumers still take food fraud and perceptions of food purity incredibly seriously.

Scandals around “meat glue” or milk and honey contamination, and the skyrocketing global interest in organic foods, underscore the fact that many of us still care quite deeply about the foods we eat and how they’re produced – and that’s affecting food labelling, regulation and consumer behaviour.

One person who’s studied that terrain closely is Dr Andrew Ventimiglia, a Research Fellow at The University of Queensland, who researches food fraud and how it relates to science, culture, trademark law and food regulation.


Read more:
Trust Me, I'm An Expert: Cyclone season approacheth, but this year there's a twist

He sat down with The Conversation’s deputy politics and society editor Justin Bergman to talk about the weird history of food adulteration and certification – everything from 19th century dairy farmers adding sheep brains to skim milk to make it look frothier, to centuries-old oil and wine adulteration scandals.

Dr Ventimiglia said types of food fraud laws have been recorded as early as the 13th century, but the issue really came into focus in the 1800s.

Adulterated milk was one of the first issues that got national attention, and this was roughly in the mid 1800s to late 1800s, both particularly in the UK and the US. And the earliest form of adulterated milk that was really concerning to regulators was actually simply skim milk.

Producers who were making skim milk were adding flour or starch, sometimes carrots for sweetness, but they were also adding things that did pose a public health risk.

So, for instance, chalk was added to increase the whiteness of milk, as well as often sheep or calf brains to froth the milk […] those posed really legitimate health risks that were recognised by early analytic chemists and that really initiated some early food regulations.

And while food scandals persist today, food standards are increasingly more concerned with fraudulent claims on packaging and innovations in food production. For instance, is yoghurt made with coconut milk still considered yoghurt? What to do about foods that claim to be “all natural?”

Special thanks to our multimedia intern, Dilpreet Kaur Taggar, for editing this segment together.


Read more:
Trust Me, I'm An Expert: How augmented reality may one day make music a visual, interactive experience

From food adulteration to food poisoning

We also hear from Associate Professor Shauna Murray from the UTS Plant Functional Biology and Climate Change Cluster, about her research into ciguatera fish poisoning. It’s a non-bacterial illness associated with fish consumption and symptoms in humans may include gastrointestinal, neurological and even sometimes cardiovascular problems.

Editorial intern Jordan Fermanis spoke to Dr Murray about why this tropical disease is showing up further south, and how recreational fishermen are helping researchers unlock the mysteries of ciguatera.

Trust Me, I’m An Expert is a podcast where we ask academics to surprise, delight and inform us with their research. You can download previous episodes here.

And please, do check out other podcasts from The Conversation – including The Conversation US’ Heat and Light, about 1968 in the US, and The Anthill from The Conversation UK, as well as Media Files, a brand new podcast all about the media. You can find all our podcasts over here.

Additional audio and credits

Additional editing by Dilpreet Kaur Taggar

Kindergarten by Unkle Ho, from Elefant Traks

Free Music Archive: Podington Bear, Clouds, Rain, Sun

Demand increases for organic produce, 23 ABC News.

Is your honey real honey or just “sugar syrup”? ABC News Australia.

Fake honey: Study finds disturbing results, ABC News Australia.

Meat glue secret, Today Tonight.

Chinese milk report, CNN.

Missouri Wine History, MissouriWine.

Pure. Fresh. Milk. 1991 Promo.

Australian milk ad.

Sad Marimba Planet by Lee Rosevere from Free Music Archive

Oct 31 2018

24mins

Play