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Rank #153 in History category

Society & Culture
History

The Why Factor

Updated about 11 hours ago

Rank #153 in History category

Society & Culture
History
Read more

The extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions

Read more

The extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions

iTunes Ratings

139 Ratings
Average Ratings
108
17
5
5
4

The why factor

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

Fantastic

By Stefan Van Sant - Jun 29 2017
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Beautifully produced and well worth listening to. Highly recommend.

iTunes Ratings

139 Ratings
Average Ratings
108
17
5
5
4

The why factor

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

Fantastic

By Stefan Van Sant - Jun 29 2017
Read more
Beautifully produced and well worth listening to. Highly recommend.
Cover image of The Why Factor

The Why Factor

Updated about 11 hours ago

Read more

The extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions

Rank #1: Suicide

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The desire to live is strong in us humans. But it’s not always enough. Sometimes people fall so low that they can see only one way forward. And every year, across the world, around a million people take their own lives. Why?
The answers are as complex and numerous as the people themselves but, often, there are common features… and, by understanding these, it may be possible to help them.
Presenter: Mike Williams

Producer: Ben Carter
If you’ve been affected by this programme and would like to get help please visit: www.samaritans.org or www.befrienders.org
(Photo: Steve Mallen whose 18 year-old son Edward took his own life in February 2015. BBC Copyright)

Apr 03 2015

18mins

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Rank #2: Grief

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Why do we feel so many different and intense emotions when someone close to us dies? Whether it is yearning, sadness, anger or even shame, Mike Williams explores why each person’s grief is unique.

The pain of losing a loved one initially seems so unbearable, yet most bereaved people do eventually find a way to adjust to their changed life. So what happens when we grieve and why does grief sometimes get complicated?

Mike talks to Bill Burnett, who is learning to live without his wife, Betty. She died in 2010 after 43 years’ marriage, yet Bill still talks to her photo and asks her advice. And, we hear from Rhonda O’Neill who lost her husband in a plane crash and then her young son to kidney disease two years later. She describes feeling tormented by the belief she could have done something more to save her son’s life.

We also hear from eminent UK psychiatrist Dr Colin Murray Parkes, who describes what happened to one of his patients who buried his grief, and from Dr Katherine Shear, professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University and director of the Center for Complicated Grief.

(Photo: A woman hugging a man. Credit: Vibe Images/Shutterstock)

Oct 07 2016

17mins

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Rank #3: Loneliness

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

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

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

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

Jun 17 2016

17mins

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Rank #4: Interviews

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

(Image: Someone at an interview, Credit: Shutterstock)

Feb 19 2018

23mins

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Rank #5: Racism

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Why are some people racist and judge others by the colour of their skin? Is it some deep seated fear of the ‘other’ which has roots in genetic and cultural difference or are exposure to artificial factors constructed by politicians and the media to blame?

This week's Why Factor with presenter Jo Fidgeon explores the experience of racism around the world and in different societies. She finds out about the personal experiences of racism and how it affects peoples’ everyday lives. She also begins to understand how racism is perpetuated through generations and cemented through institutional racism.

(Image: Members of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan participate in a neo-Nazi rally. Credit: Associated Press)

Apr 11 2014

17mins

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Rank #6: Chess

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

Nov 01 2014

17mins

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Rank #7: Self-Harm

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

News reporter, Aidan Radnedge, describes why he began self-harming at university; and how his family and friends have given unstinting support throughout his road to recovery.

Writer and editor, Janelle Harris, explains what it was like to discover that her daughter, Skylar, was self-harming aged 11. Now 18 and having graduated from high school, Skylar is no longer injuring herself and is looking forward to going to college next year.
Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Priory Group of mental health hospitals and clinics in the UK, offers advice for parents on how to react if their children are self-harming – and offers alternative coping strategies for those struggling to deal with their feelings.
If you’ve been affected by the issues in this programme, please visit the following websites for support and advice:

Befrienders Worldwide: http://www.befrienders.org/about-self-harm
Samaritans: http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/what-speak-us-about/signs-you-may-be-struggling-cope/helping-you-through-self
LifeSIGNS: http://www.lifesigns.org.uk/
Talk Life: https://talklife.co/
Presenter: Catherine Carr
Producer: Sally Abrahams

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

Jun 05 2017

23mins

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Rank #8: Polygamy

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When many people struggle to maintain one relationship, why do some people enter into multiple simultaneous marriages? Lucy Ash speaks to polygamists around the world to find out why they were drawn to these complex arrangements and how they manage them.
Lucy hears about rotas, hierarchies and curfews from the stars of a popular South African reality TV show about a businessman, his four wives and their ten children. The creator of a dating website in Gaza explains why many of his clients are looking for second or third wives. A woman who left her Mormon plural marriage in the American state of Utah tells how having to share her husband with a sister wife had a devastating impact on her mental health. What about polyandry – one woman marrying multiple men? Anthropologist Katie Starkweather explains why some societies have favoured it.

(Photo: Models on wedding cake, Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Jun 26 2017

23mins

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Rank #9: Habits

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

(Photo: New Habits v Old Habits Credit: Shutterstock)

May 01 2017

23mins

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Rank #10: Dogs

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

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

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

May 28 2018

23mins

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Rank #11: Romance

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Red roses, romantic dinners and Valentine’s Day might have become the modern expression of Romance – but where do its ancient roots lie? And do traditional ideas about Romance conflict with today’s experience of gender, love and sexuality?

Afua Hirsch talks to Eddie and Justin Outlaw about their experience of Romance as a gay couple in America’s deep south. We also hear from Kiru Taye, a Nigerian author who wanted to challenge the predominately white and western world of Romance novels; and sex and attachment expert Sarah Merrill describes how the romantic instinct is etched into our very biology.

Yet in the world of swipe right, swipe left dating apps – how might our experience of Romance be changing?

(Image: Book, heart pages, Credit: Shutterstock)

Sep 18 2017

23mins

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Rank #12: Attraction

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

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

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

Jun 27 2016

17mins

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Rank #13: Poetry

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

Nov 15 2014

18mins

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Rank #14: Imposter Syndrome

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Have you ever felt like a fraud? You think that one day your mask will be uncovered and everyone will know your secret. According to psychologists, this is a common feeling that many of us suffer from and it has a name; Imposter Syndrome. The term was coined by two American psychologists, Dr Pauline Clance and Dr Suzanne Imes, in 1978. Dr Clance and Dr Imes first thought the feeling was only experienced by high achieving women, but quickly found that men experienced it too. According to subject expert, Dr Valerie Young, women are more susceptible to imposter feelings because they internalise failure and mistakes- whereas men are more likely to attribute failure and mistakes to outside factors. However, those who belong to minority groups of whom there are stereotypes about competence also commonly experience imposter feelings.
If you suffer from imposter syndrome, don’t worry you’re in good company; Maya Angelou, Robert Pattinson, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis and many more successful people have expressed feeling like imposters.
Presented by Afua Hirsch
Produced by Priscilla Ng’ethe

(Image: Puppet and mask, Credit: Shutterstock)

Oct 30 2017

23mins

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Rank #15: Hunting

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Why do we hunt? In some societies hunting is necessary to get food, but why do those who can buy meat in a shop go out hunting? Do they like to kill? Or is there something else at play? Lucy Ash talks to hunters from Canada, South Africa, the US and Scotland, who between them have killed animals ranging from deer to elephants, to ask them why they do it.
She finds out that the majority of hunters don’t actually like the act of killing, but hunt because they enjoy the adrenaline-fuelled tracking, or being out in nature with heightened senses, or simply to provide for their families in a way they find much more satisfying than simply buying meat in a grocery store. And then there are some reasons that go deeper.
(Photo: A hunter with this dog and a deer)

Jan 01 2016

17mins

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Rank #16: Why Can’t Some People Eat Certain Foods?

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In some countries, about 10% of their population suffers from a food allergy. What is going on? And why do an increasing number of people believe they have an allergy when they don’t? Mike Williams asks how the food industry has responded to this growing fear of food and whether developing nations will end up with the same levels of affliction.
Produced by Rosamund Jones
(Photo: Food restrictions written in chalk on a blackboard, gluten, nut and dairy. Credit: Shutterstock)

Nov 06 2015

18mins

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Rank #17: Self-Help

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Why do we believe complete strangers can guide us in improving every aspect of ourselves. Mary-Ann Ochota explores whether the self-help industry really changes peoples’ lives. Mary-Ann visits a self-improvement workshop, talks to the owner of an Indian finishing school and to two academics who spent a year in bitter competition as each attempted to outdo the other in self-improvement.

(Image: Yes you can, Credit: Shutterstock)

Jun 04 2018

23mins

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Rank #18: Chastity

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From the Europe of the Middle Ages to the wired world of today, The Why Factor this week looks at chastity – a complicated subject, tangled up with morality and modesty, with politics and religion, and with the role of women through the ages. Mike Williams speaks to, among others, an American campaigning for abstinence in US schools and a nun for whom chastity is an important part of the job. He examines chastity chosen, and chastity imposed.

Produced by Nina Robinson

Picture: Chastity belt, Credit: BBC

Aug 08 2014

17mins

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Rank #19: Why Does the World Love Drinking Tea?

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Tea comes in many guises - milky, sweet and spicy for those in India. The Chinese drink it as nature intended green with no milk and strong with two sugars for the average British builder. So how did this Asian leaf conquer the world to become the second most consumed drink after water? Mike Williams slurps and sips his way through this cup of calm to find out how this unassuming shrub conquered the world.
(Photo: Preparations for the Chinese Tea Ceremony, at Chaya Tea House, London)

Sep 18 2015

17mins

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Rank #20: Why do we forget the things we’ve learned?

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Have you ever been captivated by a book, full of stories you never knew, revelled in that new knowledge …and then forgotten it all? If the answer is yes, take heart; you are not alone. Why is it we remember some facts easily, and others slip away? In this week’s Why Factor Sandra Kanthal asks why do we forget the things we’ve learned.

Image: Brain Concept. Credit: BSIP / UIG via Getty Images

Sep 10 2018

23mins

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