Commentaries

If you're a regular listener to NPR news programs, you're probably familiar with the occasional brief commentary during the morning or evening news programs by experts in various fields; people providing insight into public affairs, observations on the arts, and thoughts on how we live. This page contains transcripts and/or audio recordings of local commentaries that have aired on WYSU.


The Cost of Pretrial Detention

Published: Oct 26, 2012
Commentator: Matthew T. Mangino
Transcript:

For the first time in nearly 40 years, the number of state prisoners in the United States has declined, according to the Department of Justice. While local jails have also experienced a modest decrease, those numbers may change with the diversion of state prisoners from state correctional facilities to local jails.

Why the diversion? State budget woes. However, local governments have not fared better. State aid and property taxes, which together account for more than half of local revenues, are dropping simultaneously for the first time since 1980.

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The Invisible Gorilla

Published: Oct 25, 2012
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

In 1997 two psychologists designed an experiment in which they directed a group of volunteers to view a film that lasted less than a minute in which people assembled in a circle pass a basketball to one another. The viewers were asked to count the exact number of passes. Because they focused their attention on the movement of the ball, over half of them failed to notice something that they didn't expect. Midway through the film, a person dressed in a gorilla suit walked through the circle, stopped, faced the camera, beat its chest, and walked off, spending a full nine seconds in the film.

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Popular Beliefs

Published: Oct 16, 2012
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

Did you know that 27% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 have doubts that NASA astronauts really landed on the Moon? (1) And that 4 of 10 parents in the United States refuse to give their children one or more traditional vaccinations for fear of autism? (2) These are two of the surprising revelations in a new book by science writer, Guy P. Harrison, entitled 50 popular beliefs that people think are true. In this book Harrison examines dozens of beliefs which, despite their hold on millions, lack one important ingredient – evidence. (3)Let's focus here on beliefs about the Moon landings and vaccinations.

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Jim Abbott

Published: Sep 13, 2012
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

In September 1967 in Detroit, Mike Abbott and Kathy Adams, recent high school graduates, welcomed Jim, their first child, into the world. Their marriage, fifteen days later, was subdued because Jim was born without a right hand. (1) With the help of their parents, Mike and Kathy overcame their doubts about their ability to raise a child with a handicap and helped Jim cope with challenges galore – putting on his clothes, tying his shoes, (2) blending in with peers, coping with jokes and insults, and opting for perseverance over self-pity. (3)

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Free Will

Published: Jul 19, 2012
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

As I collapse into my recliner to watch a network newscast, I recall the ones available, and then, without coercion, I consciously select the one I want. In other words, my choice is free. Or is it? Let's see if an experiment will tell us. Suppose that Sue, a scientist, instructs me to look at pictures on a screen and to press a button with my right or left hand within five seconds after a sailboat appears. Suppose, further, that while I'm doing this, Sue uses a neuroimaging device to track the activity in the prefrontal cortex of my brain.

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Abundance

Published: Jun 28, 2012
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

People who gush with hope and optimism about the future are few and far between. One of them is Peter Diamandis, a fifty-one year old aerospace engineer and medical doctor, who gives us an upbeat assessment in his book, Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think.

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Bertrand Russell, Prophet

Published: Mar 8, 2012
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

In 1929 Bertrand Russell published a book entitled Marriage and Morals (1) which brought an outcry from traditional moralists. What did he say which infuriated so many? Here are nine of his key points.

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John Dewey on Religion

Published: Feb 16, 2012
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

The year was 1934. In his new book, A Common Faith, (1) John Dewey assured his readers that traditional religion was drifting into oblivion and that it would soon be a matter of interest only to history buffs. Given Dewey's stature, this assessment deserved attention.

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Michael Shermer, Skeptic

Published: Jan 19, 2012
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

Michael Shermer is a psychologist, historian of science, columnist for Scientific American, and public intellectual. (1) His most recent book is entitled The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies – How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. (2) It draws from extensive research over the past thirty years.

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Marriage in America

Published: Jul 28, 2011
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

When Marriage Disappears is the title of a recent study on the status of marriage in America. (1) According to the study, marriage is "stable" in only one segment of our society - the highly-educated - which comprises about 30% of the population. (p. ix) (2) In the rest of society, marriage is on life support - the divorce rate is high, the number of unwed mothers continues to grow, cohabitation has skyrocketed, fewer children live with both of their parents, and satisfaction with marriage is declining. (p. 14) Let's focus on each.

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