22 episodes

Figuring out what to believe is harder than ever in this pandemic, as we’re told we should trust scientists who often disagree or change their minds. In this podcast I’ll be covering the science behind Covid-19 and other medical issues while examining how we can distinguish scientific ideas from chatter, speculation, sanctimony, hype and noise. I’m Faye Flam and I’m a science journalist so it’s my job to sort it out.

I’ll also be investigating how misinformation spreads through social media and why so many people believe dubious claims – from miracle cures to Q-anon conspiracy theories.

Follow the Science Faye Flam

    • Science

Figuring out what to believe is harder than ever in this pandemic, as we’re told we should trust scientists who often disagree or change their minds. In this podcast I’ll be covering the science behind Covid-19 and other medical issues while examining how we can distinguish scientific ideas from chatter, speculation, sanctimony, hype and noise. I’m Faye Flam and I’m a science journalist so it’s my job to sort it out.

I’ll also be investigating how misinformation spreads through social media and why so many people believe dubious claims – from miracle cures to Q-anon conspiracy theories.

    22. The Painfully Slow Return to Normalcy

    22. The Painfully Slow Return to Normalcy

    On Friday, the CDC finally told vaccinated people they don’t have to wear masks anymore except in a planes, public transportation and a handful of other places. It’s an important step in the return to normalcy, but why now? And what’s taken so long? And when will CDC let up on children? 
    In the days before the mask recommendation changed, I grilled a few experts (Denis Nash, CUNY Institute for Implementation Science on Population Health & Dr. Tara Smith, Kent State University College of Public Health) on what was holding everything up now that we have an abundant supply of a vaccine that works. Listeners can decide for themselves if the answers make sense.
    “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam, with funding by the Society for Professional Journalists. Today’s episode was edited by Seth Gliksman with music by Kyle Imperatore. If you’d like to hear more "Follow the Science," please like, follow, and subscribe!

    21. Why We Feel Naked Without a Mask

    21. Why We Feel Naked Without a Mask

    People around the country have changed their behavior in big and small ways that don’t always line up with rules or guidelines to prevent Covid-19. People flout rules and take risks, and then take measures that go far beyond the rules, including wearing masks outdoors in situations where CDC says it’s not necessary. Neurobiologist Mark Changizi has some unconventional views on what’s happening. In this episode, I talk with him about ways societies sometimes change their own behavioral norms in a bottom up rather than top down fashion. 



    “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam, with funding by the Society for Professional Journalists. Today’s episode was edited by Seth Gliksman with music by Kyle Imperatore. If you’d like to hear more "Follow the Science," please like, follow, and subscribe!

    20. The Fake Science Detectives

    20. The Fake Science Detectives

    To cheat is human – and cheating affects most human endeavors, even science. Fake science refers to a growing problem with papers that look like they describe real experimental results but the data are made up, or copied from someone else’s work, often on a different disease altogether. Meet two scientists who’ve volunteered to become fake paper sleuths.



    David Sanders is a virologist at Purdue University who tracks scientific plagiarism, and has acted as a whistle blower. Elisabeth Bik is a microbiologist with a remarkable talent for spotting faked graphs. She eventually left her research job to focus full time on fake science papers and the infamous “paper mills” that churn them out for a profit. She was recently awarded the Peter Wildy Award for microbiologists who have championed outreach activities and enhanced the knowledge of microbiology as a subject.



    “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam, with funding by the Society for Professional Journalists. Today’s episode was edited by Seth Gliksman with music by Kyle Imperatore. If you’d like to hear more "Follow the Science," please like, follow, and subscribe!

    • 31 min
    19. From Fringe to Fact: How to Follow the Science

    19. From Fringe to Fact: How to Follow the Science

    What do I mean by Follow the Science? I picked this title for the show because it was catchy, but I thought I should take a deeper look at what it’s come to mean. It’s not always obvious what’s real science, what’s pseudoscience, and my guest for this episode is an expert on both. Historian Michael Gordin is author of "On the Fringe, Where Science Meets Pseudoscience". We talk about how hard it is to find one rule to separate science from pseudoscience, and how science has changed and evolved over time. We also look back at how astrology and other areas of fringe or pseudoscience used to be respected areas of science. The interview leads me to a new understanding of my podcast title. 



    “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam, with funding by the Society for Professional Journalists. Today’s episode was edited by Seth Gliksman with music by Kyle Imperatore. If you’d like to hear more "Follow the Science," please like, follow, and subscribe!

    • 38 min
    18. The Science of Social Media Misinformation

    18. The Science of Social Media Misinformation

    Social media has become the primary source of news for millions, and yet it’s not in the business of giving people reliable or accurate information. I’ll be talking to Indiana University computer scientist Filippo Menczer about the way social media divides us, manipulates us and deceives us. We talk about bad actors who set up deceptive automated accounts, called bots, and about the recent Scientific American piece he co-authored, Information Overload Helps Fake News Spread, and Social Media Knows it. He’ll also recount what happened when he became the target of a disinformation campaign.

    “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam, with funding by the Society for Professional Journalists. Today’s episode was edited by Seth Gliksman with music by Kyle Imperatore. If you’d like to hear more "Follow the Science," please like, follow, and subscribe!

    • 39 min
    17. Diseases Lurking in Nature: How Wildlife Viruses Have Sparked Pandemics

    17. Diseases Lurking in Nature: How Wildlife Viruses Have Sparked Pandemics

    Past pandemics have started because people trafficked, sold, ate or encroached on wild animals. In this episode we’ll discuss how pandemics start with science writer David Quammen, author of the 2012 book Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic. He’s accompanied international teams of disease detectives investigating how SARS1, Nipah Virus and other disease agents jumped from animals to humans and started to spread. 



    We may never know whether the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic started with a transfer directly from a bat, went through an intermediate host, or emerged from a lab accident, but understanding how other pandemics have started could help us avoid another global disaster. 



    “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam, with funding by the Society for Professional Journalists. Today’s episode was edited by Seth Gliksman with music by Kyle Imperatore. If you’d like to hear more "Follow the Science," please like, follow, and subscribe!

    • 26 min

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