Category Archives: Podcasts

New Books in History Podcast: Dan Bouk’s How Our Days Became Numbered


The New Books in History podcast series, part of the New Books Network, has released an episode with historian Dan Bouk about his recent book, How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual, which may be of interest to AHP readers. As New Books in History describes,

Who made life risky? In his dynamic new book, How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual(University of Chicago Press, 2015), historian Dan Bouk argues that starting in the late nineteenth century, the life-insurance industry embedded risk-making within American society and American psyches. Bouk is assistant professor of history at Colgate University, and his new book shows how insurers categorized individuals and grouped social classes in ways that assigned monetary value to race, class, lifestyles, and bodies. With lively prose, Bouk gives historical context and character to the rise of the “statistical individual” from the Guided Age to the New Deal. Bouk’s primary argument is that risks did not always already exist, nor was risk invented by the medical establishment. Instead, the threat (and reality) of economic crisis helped insurers to create risk as a commodity, and eventually to control the lives it measured. As Bouk phrases it in the interview, “Insurers improved their bottom line by improving Americans’ bottom lines.” Bouk invites readers critically to reflect upon how we have come to see ourselves through a statistical lens in our daily lives– an issue of continued relevance in the age of big data and vast analytical capabilities.

The full episode can be found here.

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New Books in STS Podcast: Erik Linstrum on Ruling Minds

The New Books in STS podcast series, part of the New Books Network, has released an episode with historian Erik Linstrum on his new book Ruling Minds: Psychology in the British Empire. As New Books in STS describes,

Despite its critics, Linstrum shows how psychology mobilized to take part in Britain’s counter-insurgency campaigns in Kenya and Malaya. Colonial administrators borrowed tools from psychology to conduct interrogations and suppress dissent. The colonial state attempted to cast doubt on the psychological maturity of the colonized, articulating Third World nationalism itself as a kind of pathology. Britain’s representatives aimed to actively reshape thoughts and feelings in their quest to win “hearts and minds.”

Linstrum’s book challenges rigid definitions of scientists in the service of empire, complicating earlier narratives which portrayed psychologists as powerful supporters of colonial discourse. Psychology’s intended role was to aid the technocratic administration of a waning empire. While attempting to make the colonized knowable and predictable, British psychologists unintentionally exposed the dysfunctions inherent in European society, challenging the notion of an irrational, inferior “other.”

The full episode can be found here.

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BBC’s History of the Future series & seeing the brain

SML CT
The world’s first CT scanner (1971), at Science Museum London.

BBC 4’s series History of the Future “uses the fascinating objects in the Science Museum in London to chart how our understanding of ourselves and our technology has changed over time.”  Associated blogger Melissa Hogenbloom posted a piece titled “A brief history of our desire to peer into the brain,” which surveys methods from phrenology to EEG, CT Scan and fMRI. Included are video clips of Science Museum curator Katie Dabin showing Hogenbloom their relevant collection, including ceramic phrenological heads and early electroencephalography technology.

That post, with the films of Dabin’s explanations, can be found here.

 

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Sandra Harding interview on News Books in Sci, Tech, & Soc

9780226241364New Books in Science, Technology, and Society‘s Carla Nappi recently interviewed Sandra Harding about her volume Objectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific Research (University of Chicago Press, 2015).

From the back of the book:

Harding calls for a science that is both more epistemically adequate and socially just, a science that would ask: How are the lives of the most economically and politically vulnerable groups affected by a particular piece of research? Do they have a say in whether and how the research is done? Should empirically reliable systems of indigenous knowledge count as “real science”? Ultimately, Harding argues for a shift from the ideal of a neutral, disinterested science to one that prizes fairness and responsibility.

In the podcast Harding discusses her personal background to the program of research which led to the book, as well as touching on the themes of the volumes’ various chapters: the relevant socio-political conditions for the current positivist and secularist conceptualizations of scientific objectivity within the philosophy of science; the development of research fields in science studies which have provided critical perspectives thereof; strategies for engaging in her ‘stronger’ objectivity that can provide resources for identifying how values and perspectives constitute what research is undertaken, how it is undertaken, and the conclusions we derive from it; and arguments for a pluralistic definition of science that validates ways of knowing that have traditionally been marginalized. In conclusion she provides an introduction to her latest research on postcolonialist science and technology studies in relation to Latin America.

Find Nappi’s interview here.

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BBC Radio4’s Mind Changers: “Carl Rogers and the Person-Centred Approach”

The most recent episode of BBC Radio 4’s Mind Changers programme explores “Carl Rogers and the Person-Centred Approach.” As described on the BBC site,

Claudia Hammond presents the history of psychology series which examines the work of the people who have changed our understanding of the human mind. This week she explores Carl Rogers’ revolutionary approach to psychotherapy, led by the client and not the therapist. His influence can be seen throughout the field today.

Claudia meets Rogers’ daughter, Natalie Rogers, who has followed in her father’s footsteps and developed Expressive Arts Person-Centred Therapy, and hears more about the man from Maureen O’Hara of the National University at La Jolla, who worked with him. Richard McNally of Harvard University and Shirley Reynolds of Surrey University explain how far Rogers’ influence extends today, and Claudia sees this for herself in a consulting room in downtown San Francisco, where she meets Person-Centred psychotherapist, Nina Utigaard.

The full episode can be heard online here.

 

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History and the Hoffman Report: A Round-Up

Chances are you, like us, have been following the fall out from the American Psychological Association’s Hoffman Report, which details how the organization colluded with the United States government to ensure psychologists remained part of its torture program. While there are a ton of opinion pieces floating around in the wake of the report, we thought we’d highlight a few pieces that take a particularly historical view on the current situation.

Over on the Hidden Persuaders blog, part of a project on Cold War era brainwashing efforts, Marcia Holmes has written “What we’re reading now: The APA report.” Holmes details the events leading up to the Hoffman Report and situates psychology’s involvement in torture in relation to the emergence of “operational psychology.” The fundamental tension between “operational psychology” and ethics, Holmes argues, may never be resolved. Read the full piece online here.

BBC Radio program Witness has produced an episode on “CIA Mind Control Experiments” in the 1950s. While this piece is not directly about the Hoffman Report, it documents  the long history of relations between psychology and the CIA:

In the 1950s the CIA started attempting to brainwash psychiatric patients. They wanted to develop methods which could be used against enemies in the Cold War. Hear from one man whose father was experimented on in a Canadian psychiatric hospital.

The full 10-minute episode can be heard online here.

Finally historian Laura Stark, writing in Inside Higher Ed, explains “Why Ethics Codes Fail.” Stark, having previously written about the first ethics code adopted by the APA in 1973, argues that,

The APA’s current ethics mess is a problem inherent to its method of setting professional ethics policy and a problem that faces professional organizations more broadly. Professions’ codes of ethics are made to seem anonymous, dropped into the world by some higher moral authority. But ethics codes have authors. In the long term, the APA’s problems will not be solved by repeating the same process that empowers a select elite to write ethics policy, then removes their connection to it.

All ethics codes have authors who work to erase the appearance of their influence. Personal interests are inevitable, if not unmanageable, and it may be best for the APA — and other professional groups — to keep the link between an ethics policy and its authors. Take a new lesson from the Hippocratic oath by observing its name. The APA should make its ethics policies like most other papers that scientists write: give the code of ethics a byline.

Read the full piece online here.

If there are other historically focused responses to the Hoffman Report that we’ve missed please feel free to add them in the comments!

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BBC Radio4’s “Ritual Sexual Abuse: The Anatomy of a Panic”

BBC Radio4 is currently airing a two-part programme on “Ritual Sexual Abuse: The Anatomy of a Panic.” As their website describes,

David Aaronovitch of The Times traces the powerful intellectual influences behind what he sees as one of the most important cultural shifts of the past 40 years: from a society in which accusations of sexual abuse were wrongly ignored to one in which the falsely accused were crushed by a system where the mantra was “victims must be believed”.

In the first of two programmes, Aaronovitch will examine the role played by unproven psychoanalytic theories which, from the 1980s, spread from the world of therapists in Canada and the USA to social work, medicine and then to law enforcement in Britain.

From the NSPCC to academia it was believed that children were being sexually abused in group Satanic rituals, which involved murder and animal sacrifice. The programme will explore how these bizarre ideas took hold, how they were related to mistaken psychotherapeutic practices, and how they resonate still.

The programme will look at the influences of four books which played a key role in influencing the intellectual and cultural climate. These are Sybil, Michelle Remembers, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and The Courage to Heal.

….

In the second of two programmes, Aaronovitch re-examines the role played by unproven psychoanalytic theories which, from the 1980s, spread from the world of therapists in Canada and the USA to social work, medicine and then to law enforcement in Britain.

The programme explores the parallels between the belief in ritual abuse with some of the claims being made today about VIP paedophile rings and group murder.

Some of the mistakes of the past – such as the false accusations made against parents in the Orkneys and Rochdale of satanic abuse – have been acknowledged. But, Aaronovitch argues, without a profound understanding of how and why such moral panics arise we are unlikely to avoid similar mistakes in the future. And when such mistakes recur we risk an over-reaction and a return to a culture of denial.

Episode one can be heard online here and episode two can be heard here.

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Issues in Open Scholarship: ‘If Data Sharing is the Answer, What is the Question?’

coverThe European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics‘ publication ERCIM NEWS put out a special issue on ‘scientific data sharing and re-use.’ In it Christine Borgman (out of UCLA’s department of Information Studies) touches in brief on some of the topics covered in her new volume Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (2015, MIT Press).

In her book, Borgman locates data as only meaningful within borgmaninfrastructures or ecologies of knowledge, and discusses the management and exploitation of data as particular kinds of investments in the future of scholarship. Her take on the history of big data and the growing enthusiasm for data sharing, which she asserts often obscures the challenges and complexities of data stewardship, is relevant to historians of the social sciences. An excerpt:

Data practices are local, varying from field to field, individual to individual, and country to country. Studying data is a means to observe how rapidly the landscape of scholarly work in the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities is changing. Inside the black box of data is a plethora of research, technology, and policy issues. Data are best understood as representations of observations, objects, or other entities used as evidence of phenomena for the purposes of research or scholarship. Rarely do they stand alone, separable from software, protocols, lab and field conditions, and other context. The lack of agreement on what constitutes data underlies the difficulties in sharing, releasing, or reusing research data.  Continue reading Issues in Open Scholarship: ‘If Data Sharing is the Answer, What is the Question?’

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BBC Radio Free Thinking Series: Madness in Civilisation

free thinking

The March 17 2015 episode of BBC 3’s Free Thinking with Matthew Sweet featured authors Andrew Scull and Lisa Appignanesi, who discussed the history of madness within Western contexts–the reflexive relations between how it has been conceptualized and experienced, philosophical and theoretical changes in how it has been studied academically and professionally, and the shifting social politics of how it is apprehended and engaged with by the publics at large.

Listen to the full piece here.

Works cited in the interview:                                                                                                                 Andrew Scull, (April, 2015) Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity, from the Bible to Freud, from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine.                                                                          Lisa Appignanesi, (2009) Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present.

 

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New Book: Beautiful Data, A History of Vision and Reason since 1945

beautifuldataBy Orit Halpern, assistant professor at the New School for Social Research/Eugene Lang College and associate of their Parsons the New School of Design. Published by the Duke University Press. The dust jacket flap text reads as follows:

 

Beautiful Data is both a history of big data and interactivity, and a sophisticated meditation on ideas about vision and cognition in the second half of the twentieth century.  Continue reading New Book: Beautiful Data, A History of Vision and Reason since 1945

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