Hosted by social psychologist Michael Sargent, this podcast has become a place for conversation about policy and politics, where Sargent talks with people who nerd out on the topics, bringing extensive knowledge, including knowledge of the limits of their knowledge. These nerds don't have the pocket protectors and social awkwardness of nerd stereotypes. They have wit, a love of fun, and most importantly, an understanding gained from the tattered pages of journals, books, and printouts of statistical analyses, or they've been tattered by experience. As host, Sargent isn't above asking dumb questions, because he knows we all learn from the answers.
If you're looking for overconfident, ill-informed (or misinformed) bloviation, this isn't the place for you. (But maybe Fox & Friends is.) If that's the opposite of what you want, then stick around.
Episode 67: Metastasis (Impeachment, w/ Frank Bowman)
The U.S. House has impeached President Donald Trump, for an unprecedented second time. This time, a majority of members of Congress endorsed a single article of impeachment for "incitement of insurrection," based on Trump's urging a crowd of his supporters to march to the Capitol where both houses of Congress were meeting to count electoral votes, urging the crowd to go pressure members of Congress to overturn the results in key states that Trump lost. Once the House officially transmits the article of impeachment to the Senate, they will be able to conduct a trial, which could result in conviction and disqualification of Trump from federal office in the future, ensuring he could not be President ever again.
I spoke with an expert on impeachment, Frank O. Bowman, III, the Floyd R. Gibson Missouri Endowed Professor of Law, at the University of Missouri School of Law. He has many areas of expertise, including legal history and the impeachment of the President and other federal officers. We discussed the history of impeachment, his thoughts on the strengths and shortcomings of the single article of impeachment, as well as where blame lies surrounding the riot at the Capitol on January 6.
--Frank Bowman University of Missouri web profile
--High Crimes and Misdemeanors: A History of Impeachment for the Age of Trump, by Frank O. Bowman, III
--"Impeachable offenses: Examining the case for removal of the 45th President of the United States" (Bowman's blog)
--"The constitutional case for impeaching Donald Trump (again)," by Frank O. Bowman, III (in Just Security)
--Text of the impeachment resolution approved by the U.S. House on January 13, 2021
Special Guest: Frank Bowman.
Episode 66: Conviction (Impeachment Politics, w/ Sarah Binder)
In the wake of the violence and destruction resulting from mob action in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and given that many view President Donald Trump's public comments beforehand as inciting the mob's action, House Democrats have presented a single article of impeachment with a vote likely imminent. If this happens, Trump would be the first U.S. president impeached twice. I recently spoke with Sarah Binder, Professor of Political Science at The George Washington University, and Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, speaking with her about impeachment politics, as well as things to watch as Democrats prepare to regain control of the Senate, albeit by the thinnest of margins.
--Binder's GWU profile
--Binder's Brookings profile
--"What to expect when Congress counts the electoral college votes on Wednesday," by Sarah Binder (Washington Post's Monkey Cage, January 4, 2021)
--"Impeachment resolution cites Trump's 'incitement' of Capitol insurrection," Brian Naylor (NPR, January 11, 2021)
--"Impeachment lessons: Where has deliberation gone?" Sarah A. Binder & Steven S. Smith (Brookings, December 13, 1998)
--"We're on the road to impeachment. Here's what you need to know about what's ahead," Sarah Binder (Washington Post's Monkey Cage, December 12, 2019)
Special Guest: Sarah Binder.
Episode 65: Gut Check (w/ Tim Spector, on food science)
We all eat, but we don't all eat well. How can we do so? In particular, what dietary choices are best for an individual's physical wellness? And how much do individuals' unique characteristics determine what choices are best for them? And what choices are best for the environment? Why are calories and "food miles" overrated as metrics? How can governments help consumers make good food choices, especially if they live in food deserts? I discuss such questions with genetic epidemiologist Tim Spector.
--Tim Spector's King's College web profile
--Spoon-Fed: Why Almost Everything We've Been Told About Food is Wrong (2020), by Tim Spector
--The Guardian review of Spoon-Fed (by Bee Wilson)
--Information on Zoe (program through which individuals learn more about how their bodies process food)
--"The human microbiome: Our second genome," by Elizabeth Grice & Julia Sege (2012), Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics
--"Attempts to lose weight among adults in the United States, 2013-2016," report from the CDC: National Center for Health Statistics
--"Chile battles obesity with stop signs on packaged foods," by Eileen Smith (2016) for National Public Radio
Special Guest: Tim Spector.
Episode 64: Rogue (Conspiracy Theories, w/ Kelley-Romano & Miller)
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
Even though some conspiracy theories are only endorsed by a small fraction of the population, it is likely a mistake to write off all who believe in conspiracy theories, especially since some theories are endorsed more widely, and with substantial effect. I discuss these issues with two conspiracy theory researchers: Stephanie Kelley-Romano of the Bates College Department of Rhetoric, Film, and Screen Studies, and Joanne Miller of the University of Delaware Department of Political Science & International Relations.
--Stephanie Kelley-Romano's Bates College web profile
--Joanne Miller's University of Delaware web profile
--"Trust no one: The conspiracy genre on American television," (Stephanie Kelley-Romano, in The Southern Communication Journal)
--"Make American hate again: Donald Trump and th birther conspiracy," (Stephanie Kelley-Romano & Kathryn Carew, in The Journal of Hate Studies)
--"Conspiracy endorsement as motivated reasoning: The moderating roles of political knowledge and trust," (Joanne Miller, Kyle Saunders, & Christina Farhart, in American Journal of Political Science)
--"Gender differences in COVID-19 conspiracy theory beliefs," (Erin Cassese, Christina Farhart, & Joanne Miller, in Politics & Gender)
--Little A'Le'Inn (Rachel, NV)
Special Guests: Joanne Miller and Stephanie Kelley-Romano.
Episode 63: Tripwire (w/ Peter Margulies)
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
The firings and resignations of senior civilian officials at the Pentagon--most notably of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper--has raised alarm in many quarters. Many are also concerned about President Trump's refusal to concede the election and his refusal to support a transition to the administration of President-elect Joe Biden. I discuss these concerns, and other issues, with Roger Williams University Professor of Law, and expert on national security law, Peter Margulies.
--Peter Margulies's Roger Williams University profile
--"Trump administration removes senior defense officials and installs loyalists, triggering alarm at Pentagon," by Barbara Starr, Zachary Cohen, & Ryan Browne, for CNN
--"Is it mere spite--or something more sinister?" by Michael T. Klare, for The Nation
--"Exclusive: Top official on U.S. election cybersecurity tells associates he expects to be fired," by Christopher Bing, Joseph Menn, & Raphael Satter, for Reuters
--"Kavanaugh decision sides with immigrant seeking factual review of denied torture claim," by Debra Cassens Weiss, for ABAJournal
Special Guest: Peter Margulies.
Episode 62: Hard Knocks (w/ Seth Masket)
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
As Democrats were reminded (the hard way) in 2016, elections don't always turn out as we expect them to. When a political party loses an election, especially if it does more poorly than expected, it often has tough, self-reflective conversations about what happened. In so doing, parties try to learn lessons from their losses. University of Denver political scientist has written about these issues in his new book, Learning from Loss: The Democrats, 2016-2020.
--Seth Masket's DU profile
--Learning from Loss: The Democrats, 2016-2020 (Amazon)
--"Amid tears and anger, House Democrats promise 'deep dive' on election losses," by Luke Broadwater and Nicholas Fandos (New York Times, 2020, Nov. 5)
--"Susan Collins was never going to lose," by Robert Messenger (New York Times, 2020, Nov. 6)
--Fair Fight (Voting Rights Organization founded by Stacey Abrams)
Special Guest: Seth Masket.
Customer ReviewsSee All
my favorite psych-related podcast
Michael is a wonderful interviewer and storyteller. His episodes are such high quality, and he brings a variety of excellent expert guests on for discussions of complex, controversial topics.
Thoughtful-with great guests
A podcast that tackles tough topics with outstanding guests and thoughtful analysis.
I feel smarter after every episode.
Thank you, Michael!
Refreshingly concise, dispassionate perspective
This podcast is outstandingly respectful of the listener by not dedicating gratuitous amounts of time or emotional energy to a topic. It gets to the point quickly, finds the relevant facts and/or experts and/history, and then begins the analysis. And the purpose of its analysis is clearly to clarify and educate; we are not distracted by attempts to entertain us or provoke us or confirm our biases. I love it.
How much? Well, if this were a TV show, it’d be the reason I consider buying a cable package for the first time in 10 years. Hell, I’d buy other people cable if they’d tune in to this kind of analysis.
Favorite episodes so far:
- The US prison episode
- The AR-15 episode