36 episodes

Circle of Willis is a podcast for and about the scientists, authors, journalists, and even a few mystics, who make and communicate science for all of us. Circle of Willis is brought to you by VQR, the Center for Media and Citizenship, and WTJU FM in Charlottesville, VA. We're also a proud member of the Virginia Audio Collective. Find out more at virginiaaudio.org.

Circle of Willis Jim Coan

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 27 Ratings

Circle of Willis is a podcast for and about the scientists, authors, journalists, and even a few mystics, who make and communicate science for all of us. Circle of Willis is brought to you by VQR, the Center for Media and Citizenship, and WTJU FM in Charlottesville, VA. We're also a proud member of the Virginia Audio Collective. Find out more at virginiaaudio.org.

    Tim Cunningham, Part 1

    Tim Cunningham, Part 1

    WELCOME BACK to CIRCLE OF WILLIS, my podcast about science and the scientists who do it. In this episode, I introduce you to TIM CUNNINGHAM, VP for Practice & Innovation at Emory Healthcare, super nice guy, and badass who's given more of himself than you have to the cause of health, well being, and even literal survival.

    Here in Part 1 of our interview, we talk about how caregivers and patients endure pandemics like the one we’re going through right now, from a guy who’s been through one before, as a pediatric nurse in Sierra Leone during the Ebola Crisis.

    Watch for Part 2, coming up in a couple of weeks, where Tim and I talk about the existential and life affirming practice of Clowning, and indeed about how Clowning dovetails with nursing and medicine, especially during times of crisis. Yes, I'm talking about being a literal professional clown. Tim is that, too.

    Folks, the Music on Circle of Willis is written and performed by Tom Stauffer and his band The New Drakes…

    For information about how to purchase their music, check the “about” page at circleofwillispodcast.com

    Circle of Willis is Produced by Siva Vaidhyanathan and brought to you by VQR and the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia.

    And Circle of Willis is a member of the Virginia Audio Collective! You can find out more about that at Virginiaaudio.org.

    Special thanks to Nathan Moore, General Manager and swell guy at WTJU FM in Charlottesville, VA, Tough as nails editor in chief Paul Reyes at VQR, and Lulu Miller, plucky genius co-founder of the podcast Invisibilia, co-host of Radiolab, and author of Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life, which you can find wherever you go to get your books.

    If you like this podcast, how about giving us a little review at iTunes and letting us know how we’re doing? It’s super easy and we like it! Or send us an email but going to circleofwillispodcast.com and clicking on the “contact” tab.

    This podcast is powered by Pinecast.

    • 38 min
    Brian Nosek

    Brian Nosek

    Welcome to Circle of Willis!
    For this episode I'm sharing a conversation I had a while ago with BRIAN NOSEK, professor of Psychology here, with me, at the University of Virginia, as well as co-Founder and Executive Director of the CENTER FOR OPEN SCIENCE, also here in Charlottesville. Brian earned his PhD at Yale University way back in 2002, only about a year before I first met him here, when I was just a jittery job candidate.
    Brian has been in the public eye quite a lot in the past decade or so, not only due to his work with the Implicit Association Test, otherwise known as the IAT, but also and perhaps mainly for his more recent path breaking efforts to increase the transparency and reproducibility of the work scientists do.
    I think you'll find that in our conversation, Brian is relentlessly thoughtful about everything that comes up. And I want to say here, publicly, that I think he's absolutely right, at the very least, about the toxicity of the current system of incentives and rewards faced by academic scientists.
    Occasionally you'll hear that "science is broken." It's a great, click-baity phrase that thrives in our current social media ecosystem. But it's completely wrong.
    Science is not and has never been broken. Even now, science is our most precious, life affirming, life saving, human activity. Literally nothing humans have invented has done more than science has to improve our welfare, to increase our sensitivity to the natural world, or to reveal the forces and mechanisms that form and constrain our miraculous universe.
    But the institutional structures within which science is done are in bad shape.
    At the foundation, public funding for science is dismal, and that problem is yoked to the steadily declining public commitment to higher education in general. Our institutions have come to rely on bloated federal grants to just keep the lights on, and the responsibility for securing those federal dollars has fallen heavily on the shoulders of scientists who ought to be focused on making discoveries and solving the world's problems. And because that is a heavy burden, institutional structures have formed to incentivize -- some would say coerce -- scientists into striving for those federal dollars. Want to get tenure? Better bring in some big federal grants. Want 12 months of continuous salary? Better bring in some big federal grants. You get the idea.
    But there are other problems, too. Want to get a good raise? You'd better publish a lot.
    Note that I didn't say you'd better publish excellent work. No one would say that excellent work isn't valued -- it is -- but what you really want is good numbers, because numbers are easier to evaluate.
    And we love indices we can point to, that can help us evaluate each other as algorithmically as possible. So each individual scientist has an h-index associated with their name (Google Scholar thinks mine is 44). Journals come with impact factors. And all of these indices are relatively easy to game, so professional advancement and stability orients itself toward gaming the indices at least as much as doing high quality work.
    In the meantime, a profession -- a passion, and even an art, really -- can gradually transform into a cynical race for money and prestige.
    And though a scientist may well grow skilled at reeling in the money during their career, whatever level of prestige they attain will ultimately fail them.
    As John Cacioppo argued in a previous episode of this very podcast, you and your specific work are not likely to be remembered for long, if at all. Prestige and recognition are understandable but ultimately foolish goals. Far better, Cacioppo argued, to focus your attention on the process -- on the doing of your work.
    And your best shot at enjoying that work -- perhaps at enjoying your life -- is to make sure that the work that you do is aligned with your values.
    Brian Nosek a

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Preview: Brian Nosek

    Preview: Brian Nosek

    Hi Everyone!
    My conversation with BRIAN NOSEK is coming soon, but it isn't quite ready yet. In this preview we talk about how despite being the most successful endeavor in human history, science can be improved upon, not least through changing how we evaluate the success of individual scientists. Our current incentives might be encouraging us to make scientific “beauty out of mush.”
    This conversation is priceless. More soon!
    Jim

    • 4 min
    Susan Johnson, Part 2

    Susan Johnson, Part 2

    Welcome to Part 2 of my conversation with SUSAN JOHNSON, inventor of Emotionally Focused Therapy, or EFT, which is an evidence based therapy for couples that she's been developing and refining for more than30 years. How do you develop and refine a psychological intervention? Well, on the one hand, you spend a lot of time working with your intervention targets—in Sue's case, romantic couples in distress. On the other hand, you put a lot of time and energy into subjecting the intervention to scientific studies, not only to see whether it works, but to pick apart HOW it works, what the mechanisms are.
    Sue's work has influenced thousands of therapists and couples over the past several decades, and her work continues to this day, as professor emeritus at the University of Ottawa, as founder of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, and as inductee into the very prestigious Order of Canada in recognition of her profound service to her adopted country.
    In the last episode, I mentioned her books HOLD ME TIGHT and LOVE SENSE. I advise you to check them out if you are interested in sprucing up your relationships and learning a little about what Sue calls the science of love.
    Sue is certainly passionate and committed to this work, but you'll also find that she's unusually thoughtful about it, too.
    Sue is a first generation college student who grew up working in a pub, in Chatham, Kent, southeast of London. I think you can hear that background in her, in the way she allows herself a sort of straight-talky candor and accessibility. But don't let that accessibility fool you. Sue is one of our deepest and most sophisticated thinkers.
    So here in Part 2, we dive a little deeper into the scientific side of Sue's life and into the development of EFT.
    And we talk a little bit about what life's all about, too.
    Wisdom, folks.
    * * * Music for this episode of Circle of Willis was written and performed by Tom Stauffer of Tucson, Arizona.
    For information about how to purchase Tom’s music, as well as the music of his band THE NEW DRAKES, visit his Amazon page.
    Circle of Willis is Produced by Siva Vaidhyanathan and brought brought to you by VQR and the Center for Media and Citizenship. Plus, we're a member of the TEEJ.FM podcast network. Special thanks to VQR Editor Paul Reyes, WTJU FM General Manager Nathan Moore, as well as NPR reporter and co-founder of the very popular podcast Invisibilia, Lulu Miller.

    • 44 min
    Susan Johnson, Part 1

    Susan Johnson, Part 1

    Welcome to Part 1 of my epic conversation with SUSAN JOHNSON, inventor of Emotionally Focused Therapy—EFT—which is an evidence-based therapy for couples, one focused on repairing and enhancing the kinds of emotional bonds that we all depend on for our health and well being. The author of numerous scientific articles, Sue has also written a bunch of books—some for practicing psychotherapists and some, notably HOLD ME TIGHT and LOVE SENSE, for the general public. In 2017, Sue was honored by the Canadian Government with membership in the Order of Canada, one of Canada's highest civilian honors, which recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to the country.
    Sue is Professor Emeritus of Clinical Psychology at the University of Ottawa, and the founder of the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy.
    * * * Music for this episode of Circle of Willis was written and performed by Tom Stauffer of Tucson, Arizona.
    For information about how to purchase Tom’s music, as well as the music of his band THE NEW DRAKES, visit his Amazon page.
    Circle of Willis is Produced by Siva Vaidhyanathan and brought brought to you by VQR and the Center for Media and Citizenship. Plus, we're a member of the TEEJ.FM podcast network. Special thanks to VQR Editor Paul Reyes, WTJU FM General Manager Nathan Moore, as well as NPR reporter and co-founder of the very popular podcast Invisibilia, Lulu Miller.

    • 44 min
    The Widowmaker

    The Widowmaker

    Welcome to the first annual Circle of Willis Halloween Special, THE WIDOWMAKER, in which I tell the story of almost dying recently of a particularly deadly heart attack. If you have a family history of heart disease, if you had a traumatic childhood, if you have been under a lot of stress, for a long period of time, if you work too much, especially in a sedentary job, if you’re overweight, if you smoke, if you’re hypertensive or have high cholesterol... consider at least chatting with a cardiologist. Make an appointment. Get a calcium scan test. Reflect on your life as it’s happening now, not at some future point where you’ve achieved some kind of goal or real stability or peace and contentment or whatever thing it is.
    Think about how you’re living this single life you’re ever going to have, or even whether you are living that life.
    Because The Widowmaker can strike at any time, without warning, on any ordinary day.
    It almost got me. Don’t let it get you.
    * * * As always, remember that this podcast is brought to you by VQR and the Center for Media and Citizenship. Plus, we're a member of the TEEJ.FM podcast network. AND... The music of CIRCLE OF WILLIS was composed and performed by Tom Stauffer and his band THE NEW DRAKES. You can purchase this music at their Amazon page.

    • 30 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
27 Ratings

27 Ratings

Nikkisunside ,

Children at the Border episode ...

was really well done and powerful.

Animal lover29 ,

My favorite podcast, and I don't even like podcasts.

Each episode is full of rich insights and intriguing revelations as you peer under the hood of science with an accomplished guide at your side. The best part is Jim Coan's constant delight- - you can't help but be fascinated along with him. Warm, funny, full of curiosities.

phil ullrich ,

Awesome

Great stuff, conversational but informative. Coan is good at use of selective enthusiasm to keep things moving along thereby preventing these nerds from rambling too much. If I were in prison this is the sort of stuff that would get me through. Well, that and my keen grasp of cigarette economies ....

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