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Follow the Science

Follow the Science

By Faye Flam
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.
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18. The Science of Social Media Misinformation w/ Filippo Menczer

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66. Cracking the Mystery of Long Covid w/ Bruce Levy
Some scientists think long Covid is caused by lingering inflammation. Others think the virus might hide out in the body. Two years into the pandemic, scientists are scrambling to understand long Covid and find treatments.  Bruce Levy is chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He now heads the Recovery Center, which was set up to treat and study long Covid. We talk about risk factors for long Covid, the most common lingering symptoms, the different theories for its cause, the hunt for treatments and how the threat of long covid should shape people’s risk calculations.  “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam. 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!
30:40
April 16, 2022
Pandemic Misinformation - How Politics and Polarization Are Distorting the Science w/ Roger Seheult & Florian Krammer [Episode 11 Rebroadcast]
I think this February 2021 episode is more relevant than ever today. It explores the subjective, politicized way that some ideas get labelled as misinformation and why it’s so important for experts to explain why something is likely to be wrong rather than dismissing it out of hand - and why censorship can cause more harm than good. Original Description: Misinformation about the pandemic is flooding over social media and traditional news media as well. But it’s not obvious what constitutes misinformation when the we’re grappling with a new virus and the state of science changes weekly. I’ll be talking to physician and medical educator Roger Seheult about getting censored by YouTube, and about the way politics has shaped people’s perception of such seemingly neutral topics as drugs, vitamin D and vaccines. Immunologist Florian Krammer will talk about how the pandemic has changed the way people consumer and create science news, so that legitimate scientific papers can be misinterpreted to create misinformation. “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam. 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!
31:20
April 09, 2022
65. Science vs. Long Covid w/ Ziyad Al-Aly
Some people still have symptoms from a Covid-19 infection picked up in 2020 and are wondering if there’s any relief in sight. Many suffer months of debilitating fatigue and neurological problems, and Covid-19 can increase risk for heart disease. Scientists are scrambling to understand why, and how to prevent or treat what’s come to be called "long Covid".  Ziyad Al-Aly has been a leader in research on long Covid. We talk about the symptoms he’s seeing in his patients,  leading ideas for what’s causing long Covid, how infection affects the brain, the challenge of estimating the frequency of long Covid, and why he thinks a “Long Covid moonshot” is warranted.  Dr. Al-Aly is Chief of Research and Development at the VA Saint Louis Health Care System. “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam. 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!
22:41
April 02, 2022
64. Covid-19, Sense of Smell and the Brain w/ Mark Albers
Covid-19 has some weird long-term effects, including prolonged inability to taste or smell, and various neurological symptoms – difficulty concentrating, memory loss and crushing fatigue. Alzheimer’s Disease is also connected to changes in smell and ability to remember smells. My guest, neurologist Mark Albers of Massachusetts General Hospital will help explain what all this means.  We talk about how to interpret a brain scanning study showing brain “shrinkage” in people who’d had Covid; How inflammation in the brain might have something to do with changes in smell and long Covid; How he’s devised a smell test that picks up risk of early Alzheimer’s Disease, and whether there’s any reason to be concerned that Covid-19 will increase the risk for dementia.   “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam. 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!
31:24
March 26, 2022
63. Lessons from Germ Warfare Against Rabbits w/ Andrew Read
In the 1950s, 100 million rabbits were overrunning Australia – an invasive species crisis that led people to unleash germ warfare – infecting them with a deadly virus called myxomatosis. It was devastating – 99.9% of the rabbits across the continent died, according to Penn State University biologist Andrew Read.  But the survivors rebounded, and over the subsequent decades the virus became less virulent, and then deadlier, and the rabbits evolved resistance. I talk to Dr. Read about that episode, what scientists learned from it, and how those lessons might apply to understanding the evolution of SARS-CoV-2. “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam. 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!
31:04
March 19, 2022
62. Overconfidence and Other Covid-19 Mistakes w/ Michael Osterholm
We seem to be in Covid intermission now, with low cases but lots of warnings that the disease will stage a comeback, probably in some new mutated form. It’s a time to reflect back on the last two years, and consider the many misleading predictions and projections, including the notion that the pandemic would go away if enough people wore a mask.  In this episode I’ll talk with epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, who heads the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He’s worried about a next wave, and even more worried that public health squandered our trust with overconfident predictions about untested non-pharmaceutical interventions. We talk about mask policies, evolution of the virus, and why he’s still mystified by the steep rise and fall of pandemic waves.  “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam. 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!
29:41
March 12, 2022
61. The Folly of Following the Science w/ Jacob Hale Russell
Science can tell us something about the risks of Covid-19 but it can’t tell us how much risk to accept, or how much to sacrifice in the name of mitigation. Too often politicians used the phrase “Follow the Science” to silence much-needed public debate and create the illusion that science allowed no other alternatives to the policies they wanted to impose. Rutgers University law professor Jacob Hale Russell has studied populism and the public’s attitude toward expertise. He questions the stereotype of populists as those who dislike knowledge and hate science. Instead, their grievances are against use of science to deflect legitimate concerns and questions. We talk about how our policies – especially universal making - came about and why follow the science may be a problematic policy slogan but it’s still a pretty good name for a podcast. “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam. 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!
35:36
March 05, 2022
60. Covid Threat Lingers, Society Turns the Page w/ Dan Barouch
There’s a lot of anxiety this week as the public, politicians and even some scientists are moving on from restrictions and mask-wearing that defined the last two years. And yet, SARS-CoV-2 is very much still with us, a sub-variant called BA.2 is still posing a threat, and new variants are likely to emerge. And there’s evidence that protection from our booster shots could wane. Immunologist Dan Barouch of Harvard and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center will talk about all these threats, address scientists’ new appreciation for “natural immunity” and explain how he and other scientists will continue to fight the pandemic in months to come.  “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam. 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!
19:57
February 25, 2022
59. From The World’s Oldest Virus to The Newest Pandemic Variant w/ Erin Bromage, Bill Hanage, David Sanders & Sarah Otto
In this episode I set off on a quest to find the oldest endemic human virus–the one that’s been riding along with our species the longest.  The answer is harder to get than I’d anticipated, but along the way I learn about some ancient viruses, and how viruses shape our evolution as they evolve themselves.  I’ll also discuss where the omicron variant came from – including the possibility it jumped to another animal and back to humans. And I’ll get up to date on the latest worrisome variant – a sister of omicron called BA.2 Erin Bromage is a biologist and infectious disease expert at the UMass, Dartmouth Bill Hanage is an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health David Sanders is a virologist at Purdue University  Sarah Otto is an evolutionary biologist at the University of British Columbia “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam. 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!
34:19
February 18, 2022
58. Why the Worst, Most Deceptive People Are Also the Most Politically Savvy w/ Michael Bang Peterson
Spreading rumors and misinformation about enemies for political gain has deep roots in humanity’s affinity for tribal behavior, says political scientist and evolutionary psychologist Michael Bang Petersen of Aarhus University in Denmark. His latest work shows that the biggest super-spreaders of misinformation and hatred on social media are actually the most politically savvy and well-connected.  In this interview we talk about his latest work and about how both the US and Denmark recently ended many pandemic restrictions. But in his country it went smoothly and here people are either outraged that restrictions are ending or outraged they were ever imposed. We talk about Dr. Bang Petersen’s New York Times piece, “The End of the Pandemic May Tear Us Apart.” Why isn’t it tearing Denmark apart? They have trust and shared, realistic goals.  “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam. 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!
26:20
February 12, 2022
Alternatives to Censorship w/ David Rand & Gordon Pennycook [Episode 28 Rebroadcast]
Social media companies may claim censorship is for our own good – to shield us from misinformation – but the process has no transparency. And Facebook and Twitter algorithms are set up to amplify sensational claims, to push people into polarized camps, and delude users about the popularity and value of what are often fringe ideas.  Social scientists David Rand and Gordon Pennycook have studied social media behavior and found that people care about sharing accurate news, but often give in to temptation to share with what’s likely to be popular, rather than accurate. But there are solutions. The researchers found a way to leverage crowdsourcing to improve the quality of shared information. And algorithms could, in principle, be reset to amplify high quality information. “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam. 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!
28:52
February 05, 2022
57. What It Means If Covid-19 Becomes Endemic w/ Aris Katzourakis
Suddenly the word endemic is all over the media – perhaps it’s replacing “herd immunity” and “new normal” to put words to people’s hopes that the pandemic will end soon.   But what does endemic mean and when will Covid-19 get there? I pose these questions to Aris Katzourakis, an expert in viral genomics and evolution at Oxford University, and author of a recent opinion piece in the journal Nature titled "Endemic Doesn’t Mean Harmless".  We also talk about how new variants come along, and what can be predicted about the evolution of the virus in the future.  That said, there are signs everywhere that people in many parts of the world will soon stop reacting to Covid-19 as an emergency and settle into more normal activities as we recognize that we’re in this for the long haul. “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam. 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!
24:53
January 28, 2022
56. The Strange Randomness of Covid-19 Immunity w/ Gaurav Das Gaiha
Almost everyone has a story of someone who was healthy and received all the shots and still got wiped out by Covid-19 this winter. While there’s  no doubt getting vaccinated and boosted vastly lowers your odds being hospitalized, there’s a random element in this omicron phase of the pandemic that comes down to our genes. Immunologist Gaurav Das Gaiha explains how he and his colleagues discovered that about 20% of people don’t get nearly as much protection against omicron from their vaccines. Instead of everyone getting 75% protection, we’re seeing a lot of variability. In this discussion, we consider why the human immune system is so diverse and what it means for our species. Here is the study we discuss showing some people’s vaccines don’t give them strong protection against omicron: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.01.04.21268586v1 And here’s the study connecting pheromones, attraction and the genes regulating our immune systems: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17888797/ “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam. 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!
27:41
January 21, 2022
55. How Vaccine Memory Works Against Covid-19 w/ Shiv Pillai
It’s a confusing time right now - in January of 2022, since so many vaccinated people are coming down with omicron. The virus has changed a lot since the vaccines were formulated, but the data show they are still offering partial protection. To understand what’s going on, I asked immunologist(and poet) Shiv Pillai to explain how our bodies “remember” those vaccines. I wanted to know how vaccines work in the first place, and how they can protect us after the virus mutates into a new variant. What I learned was that the vaccines kick off a process of Darwinian evolution in your antibody-producing cells. “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!
35:46
January 14, 2022
54. When to Trust Big Pharma in the Covid-19 Battle w/ Derek Lowe
Big pharma is out for big pharma, but that doesn’t mean we don’t benefit from drugs, vaccines and treatments – AIDS was a death sentence until pharma came up with drugs called protease inhibitors that allowed people with HIV to live out their lives.  Now there’s Paxlovid - a protease inhibitor to fight Covid-19. The biggest downside of this drug is there isn’t enough of it to go around.  I’ll be talking about that drug and more with medicinal chemist Derek Lowe, who is the author of Science Magazine’s In the Pipeline blog. It’s a wonderful, critical, objective look at the science of pharmaceuticals. The bottom line is you don’t ever have to blindly trust anyone to tell you a drug works. What matters is that they can show how drugs work – and provide reproducible data.  “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!
31:47
January 07, 2022
53. Why Some Covid-19 Treatments Work w/ Roger Seheult
Few subjects are more contaminated with misinformation than treatments for Covid-19, with many patients still demanding Ivermectin in hospitals despite the drug’s failure in clinical trials. But now, finally, we’re hearing claims that new drugs really do save lives. Pfizer just got approval for a pill called Paxlovid, and now there’s evidence a cheap anti-depressant called Fluvoxamine can save lives as well. But how do we sort out the science from the big pharma hype? I’ll be talking to Roger Seheult (MedCram), a pulmonologist and critical care doctor, who goes deeper than the clinical data. Our discussion delves into the inner workings of your cells to show what these drugs do, why they’re likely to help some people, and how they might cause some side effects.   Dr. Seheult is also a sleep researcher, and had some fascinating ideas on how to stay healthy this winter – because it’s much better not to need drugs in the first place.  “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!
26:39
December 31, 2021
52. Müge Çevik’s Down-to-Earth View of Omicron
Omicron is less deadly but spreading at blinding speed. Is it the end of the world or no big deal? The UK is several weeks ahead of us in their omicron wave and can give us a sense of what might happen here.  Physician Müge Çevik will join us from the Scotland, where she’s an infectious disease specialist and a lecturer at the University of St. Andrews. She’s become famous as a source of practical advice throughout the pandemic. We talk about what’s happening in the hospitals there, who’s at risk for hospitalization, what prevention measures are likely to help, and what society’s goals should be in dealing with the virus.  “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!
23:52
December 24, 2021
51. Booster Mandates: Where's the Science? w/ Stephen Kissler
With omicron exploding, we’re seeing vaccine mandates expand and booster mandates on the table. What’s the scientific rationale? Mandates are predicated on the idea that vaccines stop or at least reduce transmission, and booster mandates on the notion that unboosted people pose a danger to society. Do they? I’ll be talking about vaccines and transmission with Stephen Kissler. He’s a research fellow in immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard School of Public health. He’s the lead author on a recent study that tracked cases in the NBA to understand viral loads, variants and the effects of vaccines.  “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!
24:54
December 17, 2021
50. Vaccines vs Omicron w/ Emma Hodcroft
Some experts tell us to be very afraid, others are not so sure. But what matters about the omicron problem is how we solve it – and that means understanding what it is, how well vaccines protect against it, and whether to focus efforts on boosters, getting doses to other countries, or creating a new vaccine tailored for this emerging variant.  My guest, Emma Hodcroft, is a molecular epidemiologist at the University of Bern, and has been closely tracking all the scientific work that’s been done to quickly assess omicron. We talk about best and worst case scenarios, laboratory experiments that attempt to measure how well vaccines work against omicron, and how the new data should translate into action.  “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!
26:43
December 10, 2021
49. To Boost or Not To Boost w/ Dan Barouch
That’s a hard question, with a sudden change in CDC recommendations that everyone over 18 get one and not much explanation. Scientists have started to change their minds about boosters as they’ve seen more breakthrough cases. Another rationale was protection against the new variant – omicron - but it’s not clear how well our vaccines will work against omicron if it becomes dominant.  My guest is Dan Barouch, who is director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a researcher at Harvard Med School. A few years before the pandemic he designed a new kind of vaccine that became the J&J shot. He also led the team that adapted this vaccine to Covid-19 and did the pre-clinical studies that prepared it for human trials.  “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!
30:01
December 03, 2021
48. Sick Buildings and the Pandemic w/ Joseph Allen
Most people aren’t going to wear a mask forever, even if viruses remain a persistent threat. What we now know is that respiratory viruses are transmitted mostly through the air, mostly indoors, and mostly in badly ventilated buildings. I talk with Harvard Professor Joseph Allen about a new normal that makes sense. It’s okay, he says, that vaccinated people are putting their masks back in the drawer. It’s not okay that so many of us live and work in “sick” buildings. There’s no downside to healthy buildings – they not only help keep people from getting covid, colds and flu, they can also help us feel more energetic and think more clearly.  “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!
27:46
November 19, 2021
47. Mental Health and the Pandemic w/ Lucy McBride
For the last 20 months society has focused primarily on a single aspect of health – avoiding SARS-CoV-2. But as the pandemic drags on, some people argue we need to bring back a big picture perspective. General practitioner Lucy McBride says her patients are showing up with all kinds of complaints about health problems beyond Covid-19, and she’s seeing an alarming number of mental health problems. We talk about what mental health means, why it’s an important aspect of overall health, what’s behind the surge in mental health problems, and how we can have a more balanced approach to health moving forward.  “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!
26:44
November 12, 2021
46. Evolution and the Future of Covid-19 w/ Jesse Bloom
One of the most unnerving things about this pandemic is that the virus keeps changing. And yet, viruses we’re familiar with don’t spawn vastly more dangerous variants every year. Even flu, while it changes enough to require a new shot, doesn’t usually turn the world upside down. Will SARS-CoV-2 reach some limit on the new variants it can produce? Biologist Jesse Bloom of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center had studied influenza evolution for years before turning his attention to how SARS-CoV-2 is evolving. We talk about where things might be going, and where the virus might have come from.  “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!
25:24
November 05, 2021
45. Havana Syndrome: A Disease of Body or Mind? w/ Suzanne O'Sullivan
It started with a young undercover agent in Havana hearing a piercing noise, then realizing that his ears wouldn’t stop ringing and he’d lost some of his hearing. Soon he told colleagues who remembered hearing weird noises. Soon they, too, started to feel distressing symptoms – difficulty concentrating, headaches, insomnia, dizziness. Now more than 200 people in different foreign service posts around the world are reporting symptoms.  Originally some experts thought it was some a sonic weapon, while others proposed a directed energy or microwave weapon. But others, such as neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan, think it’s a problem that starts where the brain and mind intersect.  “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!
34:20
October 29, 2021
44. The Experts Change Their Tune on Covid-19 w/ Amesh Adalja
In late October, experts in the US stopped talking about taking extreme precautions against Covid-19 and started talking about learning to live with the virus. Does this represent a change of heart or a change in the science? It’s been hard for experts to detangle their scientific opinions from their feelings and values.  In this episode I’ll talk with Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He’s long advocated an approach called harm reduction, which was used in the AIDS crisis to help guide people toward having safer sex rather than asking them to give it up forever. He says many experts initially pushed a Covid-19 strategy akin to abstinence only, but it’s becoming more obvious by the day that this is unsustainable, and the virus isn’t going away. “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!
24:48
October 22, 2021
43. Antisocial Science w/ John Ioannidis
There’s no there’s no doubt science has advanced humanity’s store of useful, reliable knowledge. Still, sometimes scientists, groups or whole fields get off track. Stanford professor John Ioannidis is famous for diagnosing why medical research had started producing too many unreliable results. Statistical errors, lack of cross checks, and cutting corners were leading to bad science and bad medicine. But when he applied his critical eye to pandemic science, instead of praise, he got attacks. Now, he’s diagnosed a new problem – a breakdown of civility and communal spirit.  “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!
31:59
October 15, 2021
42. Why Neil deGrasse Tyson Thinks Science Is True
How do we know what’s true? What should we trust and what should we question? I’ll talk about the nature of science, truth and critical thinking with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. We’ll talk about why so many scientists doubt the UFOs are alien interlopers, but do take seriously the possibility of multiple universes. We’ll also talk about his new book, “A Brief Welcome to the Universe”. By coincidence, this episode 42, a number that in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was the answer to ultimate question of life, the universe and everything – at least according to a powerful computer programmed 7 ½ million years ago. Unfortunately, the people who programmed the computer didn’t understand the question. To Neil DeGrasse Tyson, sorting truth from fakery is all about asking good questions. “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!
34:47
October 08, 2021
41. Where Medicine Doesn’t Follow the Science w/ Gilbert Welch
Medicine is based partly on science, partly on tradition, partly on assumptions and partly on profits. My guest in this episode, physician Gilbert Welch, says many screening healthy people for cancer, for example, is very profitable, but there’s surprisingly little evidence that it helps people live longer. His most recent book is called Less Medicine, More Health. We’ll talk about which tests and treatments are least likely to help us, why some cancers are better left alone, and how financial interests can push doctors away from the most scientifically backed procedures and tests. “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!
32:29
October 01, 2021
40. Theranos: Medicine's Unhealthy Infatuation with Technology w/ Daniel Holmes & Eleftherios Diamandis
The blood testing company Theranos was the darling of the medical establishment for years before a journalist helped expose the fact that its technology didn’t work. Now the CEO Elizabeth Holmes has gone from being the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire to being on trial for fraud.  But the fact that the company got so big on so little evidence points to a bigger problem with American medicine. In this episode I’ll be talking to pathology professors Daniel Holmes of the University of British Columbia, and Eleftherios Diamandis, of the University of Toronto. We talk about what the dramatic rise and fall of Theranos, about what testing technology can’t do to improve our health, and why the medical establishment focuses so much effort on screening the healthy, while remaining ill-prepared for a true crisis.  “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!
24:54
September 24, 2021
39. Are Vaccines Helping or Hurting? w/ Derek Lowe
The prevalence of Covid-19 even in highly vaccinated countries such as Israel has led to a scary rumor that vaccines are actually making the disease worse. That has happened before with other vaccines - sometimes antibodies can actually turn traitor and help the virus through something called antibody dependent enhancement.  Medicinal chemist Derek Lowe has been getting lots of questions about this from concerned readers of his Science Magazine pharmaceutical blog In The Pipeline. In this episode he explains how antibody dependent enhancement works, where it’s happened before, and why it’s almost certainly not happening with our Covid-19 vaccines.  “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!
27:34
September 17, 2021
38. The Science of Mask Mandates for Kids w/ Elissa Schechter-Perkins & Vinay Prasad
Should mask mandates for kids go all the way down to age 2? Should kids have to keep masks on at recess? Should kids wear cloth masks despite little evidence of protection? Is universal masking in schools the new normal?  Emotions are running high and relevant scientific studies are in short supply.  I’ll be talking with two doctors, Dr. Elissa Schechter-Perkins and Dr. Vinay Prasad (Plenary Session), to explore what science can tell us, not just about whether kids should wear masks to school but which kids, under which circumstances, and for how long?  “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!
29:59
September 10, 2021
37. Beyond Covid-19 – Other Looming Threats w/ Rodney Rohde
If we weren’t all obsessed with the pandemic, there would be scare stories about a life-threatening fungus that’s infecting people in Texas and Washington DC. It can’t be cured with drugs that would normally be used for fungal infections. Even as we battle a virus, fungi and bacteria are evolving resistance to known drugs, and as clinical laboratory science professor Rodney Rohde says, Covid-19 may be making this other threat worse.  “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!
16:25
September 03, 2021
36. Breakthrough Cases, Boosters, and Confusion w/ Bill Hanage
There’s still a strong consensus that getting vaccinated is better than not – but a surprising lack of information on which vaccines work best, how long protection lasts, and why cases are skyrocketing in some places with high vaccination rates, including Israel, where more than 60% of the population is fully vaccinated with the Pfizer shot. Here in the United States, tens of thousands are being hospitalized in a fourth wave, and many are vaccinated.  Harvard Epidemiologist Bill Hanage will talk to me about breakthrough cases, what’s driving this unexpected fourth wave, and what’s likely to happen next. “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!
21:37
August 27, 2021
35. Why is the Pandemic So Hard to Predict? w/ Sam Scarpino
We take precautions, get vaccinated, and yet cases surge again and again. And then the waves decline unexpectedly, defying predictions. There’s no good explanation for why cases are going up in some places and not others. And there’s not nearly enough information on which venues or activities are the most dangerous. By contrast, weather forecasters look downright clairvoyant.  Today’s guest, Sam Scarpino, is an expert on complex systems. He’s just started a new position as managing director of the pandemic surveillance program with the Rockefeller Institute. We talk about what’s predictable, what isn’t, and what he and his colleagues hope to learn to help give people more concrete forecasts and more information about our risks. “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!
24:22
August 20, 2021
34. Official and Unofficial Misinformation on Vaccines w/ Art Krieg
Vaccines aren’t perfect. Physician Art Krieg knows that all too well since his fully vaccinated 90-year-old father recently died from Covid-19. But he makes a good case that getting vaccinated still helps protect the community by lowering your odds of getting infected and vastly lowering your odds of being hospitalized. Dr. Krieg also tackles the question of whether people who have had Covid-19 should get the shots, whether some people are medically exempt, and how the delta variant changes the equation. “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!
25:47
August 13, 2021
33. Using Biology to Recalculate the Pandemic's Future w/ Vineet Menachery
What can the scientific study of the delta variant tell us about the pandemic’s future? Does it make sense go back to taking precautions to deal with a temporary setback, or is it time we all learn how to live with some risk? Today I talk with immunologist and microbiologist Vineet Menachery from the University of Texas Medical Branch. He explains how the virus gets into cells, and why the delta variant does it better than earlier forms of the virus. He explains why a future variant that evades vaccine-induced antibodies probably wouldn’t be as transmissible – it’s going to be hard for the virus to improve in both ways simultaneously. He also explains why he plans to get his young children vaccinated when it’s approved for them. “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!
25:60
August 06, 2021
32. The Long Memory of Vaccines: Explained w/ Monica Gandhi
Jubilation at the introduction of Covid-19 vaccines is giving way to debates about boosters and fears of breakthrough infections. And people are understandably confused about how vaccines work. How could they possibly help us fight a virus years or even decades in the future? Infectious disease expert Monica Gandhi of the University of California, San Francisco explains how this seemingly magical process works – with special B and T cells that hide away in your lymph nodes and bone marrow, ready to respond when needed. Understanding how the immune system works can bring some understanding to today’s outrage-filled debates about Covid-19 vaccines – and it’s fascinating to boot. “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!
21:52
July 23, 2021
31. Ivermectin: The Chemistry of Hope and Hype w/ Derek Lowe
There are philosophical reasons that political conservatives are more likely to cheer for experimental Covid-19 drugs - hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin – and reasons that political liberals are more likely to cheer for vaccines. But you can’t always get what you want. In this episode, medicinal chemist Derek Lowe, author of the In the Pipeline blog, gets into the molecular workings of things to explain why it’s easier to fight a viruses with vaccines than with drugs. He explains why it’s worth continuing to search for better drugs for Covid-19, and to test the much-publicized anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin. But there are scientific reasons that it’s a big long shot, and any miracle cure for Covid-19 is highly unlikely.  “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!
25:21
July 16, 2021
30. Fear and Fatigue Shape Our Response to Delta w/ Müge Çevik & Shira Doron
Just when Americans were getting back to normal life, a new variant is leading some public health officials to call for a return to distancing, masks and fear. How will the new, more transmissible variant change the future now that around half the population is vaccinated? Some clues come from the UK, where my first guest, Müge Çevik, works as an infectious disease doctor. She said the vaccines are still working despite the fact that Delta has been dominant in the UK for a while. Hospitals this time around aren’t becoming overwhelmed even as cases climb.  My second guest, Shira Doron, is an epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center. She says that while Delta is easier to transmit, she sees no reason for panic or a return to universal masking in regions of the US where the vaccination rate is high.  “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!
23:02
July 09, 2021
29. Are Doctors Misinformed About Stress? w/ Michael Romero
Is the stress associated with being busy harming our health? If so, why are so many people stressed out by doing less during the pandemic? Stress is confusing because the concept is built on a questionable foundation. Tobacco companies paid researchers to show that a big rise in heart disease in the mid 20th century was caused by stress. But that was deceptive - the rise was caused by smoking.  I talk to biologist Michael Romero of Tufts University, who has helped create a more coherent picture of stress and health by looking at the kinds of stress that do physical harm across species. Scientists trying to understand stress have gone so far as to use dogs on boats to sniff out whale poop, which can be tested for stress hormones. That research has shown, among other things, that noise and pollution are causing chronic stress among whales.  “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!
20:55
July 02, 2021
28. Why Social Media Has Misinformation Overload w/ David Rand & Gordon Pennycook
Science doesn’t lend itself to fact checking, since science isn’t a set of facts but a process for finding things out. That’s why Facebook got criticized for deleting posts suggesting the virus causing Covid-19 might have had something to do with a lab accident. The reality is we don’t know where the virus came from. This week, social scientists David Rand of MIT and Gordon Pennycook of the University of Regina will discuss why there’s so much misinformation on social media, and how to fix the problem without employing fact checkers. “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!
27:47
June 25, 2021
27. What the Mainstream Media Got Wrong About the Pandemic w/ David Leonhardt, David Wallace-Wells & Gary Schwitzer
Newspapers, magazines and television played a critical role in informing people about the pandemic, and many news outlets did a good job. But some also fed misconceptions – often exaggerating risks, or equating small risks with large ones, as well as dismissing those who suggested a possible lab leak origin of the pandemic as conspiracy theorists.  In this episode, I talk to two prominent journalists, David Leonhardt (New York Times) and David Wallace-Wells (New York Magazine), and one media critic, Gary Schwitzer (Health News Review) – all have different views of what the mainstream media got right, and what we got wrong. “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!
34:23
June 18, 2021
26. A Brief History of Lab Errors, Germ Warfare, and Secrecy w/ Jamie Metzl & Bill Sargent
We were told the first person to get Covid-19 was probably a rural farmer or hunter or trafficker in wildlife, but now the attention has turned to the possibility it was a scientist or lab technician. In this episode I’ll try to give that idea some historical context. Jamie Metzl is a WHO advisor and former State Department official who talks about the history of secrecy in China. He explains why he argued on 60 minutes that we need to keep investigating a lab leak. Bill Sargent is the author of the book Terror by Error, which gives a long history of humanity’s attempts to manipulate and weaponize pathogens, and the people killed by intentional and accidental releases. “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!
34:05
June 11, 2021
25. Our Post-Vaccine Future w/ Monica Gandhi
The history of Covid-19 is already littered with bad predictions. There are exceptions, such as AIDS expert Monica Gandhi, who foresaw from the first clinical trial results that the pandemic would wane where vaccines – and good public health information - were readily available. Her vision of the future now is that Covid will fade as a major source of mortality and fear for the wealthy. But in poor areas, it will continue to kill, as AIDS did for many years after the invention of effective drugs. We talk about the science of immunity, and why she thinks our vaccines will protect us for years to come.  “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!
36:13
June 04, 2021
24. Hazardous Research at Virology Labs w/ Richard Ebright
What is going on in virology labs around the world? Are they really using genetic technology to create superviruses? Though scientists still don’t know whether a lab accident had anything to do with the start of Covid-19, the possibility has raised questions about dangers lurking in labs.  Biologist Richard Ebright, a professor at Rutgers University, lays out a historical tour of germ research, and argues that it’s been too loosely regulated given the dangers inherent in collecting, storing, and sometimes enhancing viruses.  “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!
27:52
May 28, 2021
23. Can We End This Nightmare Yet? w/ Babak Javid
Life suddenly feels normal in the United States, with Covid cases down, hospitals clearing out, and people taking off their masks. But India, recently praised for controlling the virus, is now immersed in a crisis worse than anything seen so far in the pandemic. UCSF physician and infectious disease expert Babak Javid talks with me about the changing fortunes of the two countries, and why we should be sending India vaccine doses. He was an early proponent of universal masking, and while he says the vaccinated should be able to unmask, he has mixed feelings about the way CDC suddenly shifted its position.  “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!
24:08
May 21, 2021
22. The Painfully Slow Return to Normalcy w/ Denis Nash & Tana Smith
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!
22:45
May 14, 2021
21. Why We Feel Naked Without a Mask w/ Mark Changizi
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!
24:26
May 07, 2021
20. The Fake Science Detectives w/ David Sangers & Elisabeth Bik
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!
31:54
April 30, 2021
19. From Fringe to Fact: How to Follow the Science w/ Michael Gordin
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!
38:43
April 23, 2021
18. The Science of Social Media Misinformation w/ Filippo Menczer
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!
39:46
April 16, 2021
17. Diseases Lurking in Nature: How Wildlife Viruses Have Sparked Pandemics w/ David Quammen
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!
26:13
April 09, 2021
16. Clues Withheld, Questions Unanswered – The Pandemic’s Origin, Revisited w/ Matt Ridley
The World Health Organization recently sent a team to China to investigate the origin of the coronavirus that sparked our pandemic. But they returned with little new information beyond a vague assertion that the virus probably had a “natural” origin in an animal. There was no explanation for how, where or when it jumped to humans.  Matt Ridley, a journalist with a background in biology, says the possibility of a lab accident is far from ruled out. He talks about potential clues being withheld, including a database cataloguing the genetic sequences of viruses studied at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. He calls out,  “an appalling lack of transparency,” and applauds a group of volunteer internet sleuths.  “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!
28:34
April 02, 2021
15. Herd Immunity and the Coming Tide of Normalcy w/ Monica Gandhi & Paul Offit
Now that vaccines are available to younger people who are unlikely to die from Covid-19, many are getting their shots with the understanding that they can finally bring down the barriers to normal social lives, and even dating and romance. While most experts agree the vaccines work, they disagree on whether people should feel okay about returning to normal interactions any time soon. And some warn of a pandemic that will linger for months, if not forever.  In this episode, I’ll talk with UCSF infectious disease doctor Monica Gandhi, who is advocating the kind of “harm reduction” approach developed during the AIDS crisis – when experts stopped condemning people for being human and instead found ways for us to more safely experience romance and love. She’s still very upbeat that vaccines will squash the disease through herd immunity.  My second guest is renowned vaccine expert Paul Offit, from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He, too, is upbeat about the lifesaving effects of vaccines, but is more concerned about the return to normal, which he says may come at a cost. At this point, normalcy may be rushing back like the tide, whether the experts approve or not.  “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!
30:04
March 26, 2021
14. When Trust in Experts Goes Too Far w/ Vinay Prasad & Peter Sandman
Even before the pandemic, trusting experts had become synonymous with trusting science. But there’s a world of difference between “science” and the opinion of a scientist. In this episode I’ll examine the value, and the limitations, of expert opinion. Physician, epidemiology professor and podcaster Vinay Prasad (Plenary Session) will discuss the reasons certain experts get all the limelight while others, despite being better qualified, might be drowned out. He’ll also talk about the oversized role of Twitter in shaping public opinion.  And risk communication consultant Peter Sandman and I discuss the ways experts have recently overstepped the bounds of their expertise and imposed their values and politics on us, couched as “the science”.  “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!
34:45
March 19, 2021
13. When Public Health Officials Lie w/ Peter Sandman
Is it okay to deceive people if you think your dishonesty will save lives? Are some lies virtuous? Risk Communication consultant Peter Sandman says public health officials routinely lie when they think it’s good for us. We talk about the ways public health officials lie, how they justify it, and which aspects of pandemic messaging are deliberately misleading. In the end, we agree that lies generally have bad long-term consequences. “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!
23:49
March 12, 2021
12. When Political Views Are Mislabeled as “Following the Science” w/ Vinay Prasad
In the pandemic, science and politics are getting mixed up in an unhealthy relationship, especially in decisions about how much risk is acceptable to society. UCSF physician and science communicator Vinay Prasad (Plenary Session) talks about the way scientific discussion is being squelched when it’s deemed politically incorrect, and how, more broadly, politics can bias medicine toward pessimism and more extreme interventions.  “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!
35:46
March 05, 2021
11. Pandemic Misinformation - How Politics and Polarization Are Distorting the Science w/ Roger Seheult & Florian Krammer
Misinformation about the pandemic is flooding over social media and traditional news media as well. But it’s not obvious what constitutes misinformation when the we’re grappling with a new virus and the state of science changes weekly. I’ll be talking to physician and medical educator Roger Seheult about getting censored by YouTube, and about the way politics has shaped people’s perception of such seemingly neutral topics as drugs, vitamin D and vaccines.  Immunologist Florian Krammer will talk about how the pandemic has changed the way people consumer and create science news, so that legitimate scientific papers can be misinterpreted to create misinformation.   “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!
30:11
February 26, 2021
10. Covid-19 Rules and Regulations – the Good, the Bad, and the Misleading w/ Julia Marcus & Babak Javid
From wiping down desks to masks at the beach – we’re surrounded by rules, some of which probably help, and others, probably don’t make much difference. Rules can be misleading if they forbid things that aren’t harmful or force people to take precautions that don’t make a difference. “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!
29:52
February 19, 2021
9. Evolutionary Arms Race w/ Angela Rasmussen & Kevin McCarthy
The good news is the virus is retreating. The bad news is its shape-shifting in a way that might give it a new advantage.  Scientists studying how SARS-CoV-2 is evolving within individual patients figured out why it’s mutated faster, and with greater consequence, then they anticipated last summer. Will vaccines be able to keep up?  “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!
26:03
February 12, 2021
8. Sex, Pregnancy and Vaccines w/ Sabra Klein
Men and women have different reactions to viruses – whether it’s flu or the coronavirus. Women’s immune systems have to work a little bit differently to accommodate the foreign cells of a fetus. Scientists who study sex differences see important clues to understanding the pandemic, and they fear that not nearly enough attention has been paid to the risk of the virus, or the approved vaccines – for pregnant women. “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!
21:13
February 05, 2021
7. Dissecting QAnon w/ Reed Berkowitz & Simon DeDeo
QAnon is weird and yet wildly popular. The conspiracy theory is based on the notion that prominent people in Hollywood and the Democratic party are torturing children to obtain something called adrenochrome from their blood. It’s gathered a massive cult-like following and has generated hundreds of millions of shares and likes on social media.  Are people getting dumber? That’s very unlikely – but the tools of mass manipulation are becoming a lot more sophisticated. Experts say QAnon draws people in by appealing to an innate love of solutions we discover ourselves, and a tendency to favor explanations that connect the dots. “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!
22:14
January 28, 2021
6. Can the Vaccines Take Us Back to Normal? w/ Monica Gandhi & Ben Cowling
The first good news of the pandemic came when vaccines were developed much faster than expected, holding out the promise of a return to normal life. In this episode I’ll be exploring just how well the vaccines work, what their deployment means for getting back to normal, and why people need a normal world that allows contact and connection. “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!
20:27
January 21, 2021
5. Bats, Germs, and Lab Accidents – The Mysterious Origin of SARS-CoV-2 w/ David Sanders, Stanley Perlman & Rasmus Nielsen
Scientists have yet to offer a coherent picture of how, when and where the Covid-19 pandemic started. Some tests on banked blood indicate the virus might have been circulating months before it was officially identified. Meanwhile, the closest known viruses to SARS-CoV-2 come from bats that live far from Wuhan, where the virus was first discovered. Scientists can’t yet dismiss the possibility that the virus was released by accident from the Wuhan Institute of Virology – and it’s not clear a WHO investigative team will be able to solve the mystery. “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!
21:23
January 14, 2021
4. A New Strategy for Fighting the Virus: Home Testing and Social Support w/ Michael Mina & Müge Çevik
It will be months, we’re told, before the full vaccine rollout, and thousands more will die. People are being blamed for the dying, but what if the fault lies more with bad public health strategies than with bad citizens? Some scientists propose fighting the virus a new way – a way that doesn’t rest on shutting down of social fabric of society. These new ideas rest on a plan that would let us all know when we’re carrying the virus and would give us the means to isolate ourselves when it matters. “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!
24:41
January 07, 2021
3. The Virus Mutates and the Balance of Power Changes w/ Bill Hanage & Ralph Baric
What does it mean that a new version of SARS-Cov-2 is spreading fast in England and now around the world? How do scientists know this is happening? Viruses can change through evolution by natural selection, just like we can, but a lot faster. Experts talk about how alterations in the virus could change the course of events for us.  “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!
27:09
December 31, 2020
2. Are We Asking the Wrong Questions About Covid-19 Transmission and Vaccines? w/ Peter Bach & Müge Çevik
What does it mean when companies tell us their vaccines work? Turns out, clinical trials weren’t set up to answer really important questions about how long immunity lasts, whether the shots stop disease transmission, or whether some of the many vaccines still in clinical testing might have advantages over the front runners. And since we’re supposed to “stay vigilant” for months to come, we need better studies aimed at finding who’s at risk and why, and how to distinguish big risks from small ones. “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!
27:03
December 24, 2020
1. Vaccine Fears and Vaccine Safety – Delving Beneath the Surface w/ Stewart Lyman, Florian Krammer & Art Krieg
Covid-19 vaccines are rolling out, and for many they could be mandatory. But how do we really know if they’re safe and how well they work? I’ll be talking with a variety of scientists to learn what vaccines do once they get into your body, and how they might end the pandemic if anti-vaxxers don’t slow things down. “Follow the Science" is produced, written, and hosted by Faye Flam, with funding by the Society for Professional Journalists. Today’s episode was edited and scored by Seth Gliksman. If you’d like to hear more "Follow the Science," please like, follow, and subscribe!
33:11
December 17, 2020