The Why Factor

The extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00xtky9

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      Interviews


      Job interviews are stressful experiences and have mostly been proved by scientists to be ineffective at selecting the right candidates. So why has this means of selection survived so long and why is so much value placed on it? Catherine Carr explores the cultural and psychological bias that flaws them, how we might improve the experience both as interviewee and interviewer, and the extent to which technology might hold promise in making the process fairer. (Image: Someone at an interview,...


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      23m
       

      Why We Need To Learn More About Pain


      Pain comes to us all at some point in our lives. Sometimes it’s a short, sharp shock. Other times, it seems to cling to us. A person’s pain is a unique experience and describing what hurts is not a simple task. In this edition of the Why Factor on the BBC World Service, Sandra Kanthal asks why we need to understand more about pain and learns more about new ways being developed to manage and measure pain. (Photo: Pain level meter indicating maximum Credit: Shutterstock)


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      23m
       

      Hypnotism


      Curing phobias, managing pain, entertainment: hypnotism has a number of tangible benefits. But it can also carry significant risks for the most suggestible people. So why would anyone allow a stranger to access their mind? Nicola Kelly speaks to performers, dentists and therapists who use hypnotism in their work and discovers how the brain functions when in a trance. Through hypnosis, she faces her own fear of rats, hears from a patient who had his front tooth extracted without...


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      23m
       

      Vegans


      Why are more and more people giving up all food produced from animals? Mary-Ann Ochota explores if it’s natural for us to eat meat, and the impact on our health and the environment. She looks at how social media is helping spread the vegan message, the pros and cons of a solely plant based diet and whether eating meat today is ethical. (Image: Selection of Vegan dishes, Credit: Shutterstock)


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      23m
       

      Dreaming


      Why do some sleep disorders turn normal dreams into terrifying nightmares? And what do they tell us about the workings of the brain? Dreaming usually occurs in REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement sleep) when our brains are very active, but our bodies are almost completely paralysed. But sometimes, the switch that paralyses our muscles is faulty, causing conditions that can significantly impact our days and nights. Neurologist, Dr Guy Leschziner, from Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals in...


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      23m
       

      Noise


      Why high levels of noise affects all of us. David Baker explores how different sounds can impact on people without them even knowing and how to make our lives more tranquil. From the clangs and clatter of city life to weapons that use sound to harm us, noise can be a lot more dangerous than we think. But help is at hand from quieter underground stations to restaurants where the sound changes to reflect our moods and preferences. (Image: Crowded, noisy, station; Credit: Shutterstock)


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      23m
       2018-01-15

      Why do People Hear Voices in Their Heads?


      Meet Rachel Waddingham and meet the voices that inhabit Rachel’s head: there is three-year-old Blue who just wants to play with other children, 11-year-old Elfie who is easily offended and a panel of three critical scientists. Peter hears a voice that dictated an entire children’s book to him. Around 2% of people claim, like Rachel, to be inhabited by voices with whom they have full blown relationships. Are they all sick? What causes people to hear voices? And why have some psychologists cha...


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      24m
       2018-01-08

      Sleepwalking


      Why do some of us do bizarre things in our sleep? Like riding a motorbike, using a shoe to ‘phone for pizza or even having sex while sleeping? These are complex behaviours and yet sleepwalkers aren’t aware of what they’re doing and often have no memory of their strange night-time activities. These sleep disorders are known as non-REM parasomnias and include conditions like night terrors and sleep eating. Neurologist, Dr Guy Leschziner, talks to patients he’s been treating at his sleep...


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      23m
       2018-01-01

      Alcohol Addiction


      Catherine Carr asks why excessive drinking can sometimes seem to be socially acceptable. And why countries like America and India have at times turned against alcohol. She hears stories of addiction in India and Kenya and a history of temperance and prohibition movements in America. Medical specialists explain why people can become alcoholics, why some people are drinking more and the treatments available. How Alcoholics Anonymous began and how a new synthetic alcohol may provide a...


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      18m
       2017-12-25

      Witches


      Why have so many women in so many different cultures and eras been denounced as witches? BBC Africa’s Sammy Awami visits a village in his home country of Tanzania where, just four months ago, five women were murdered after being accused of witchcraft. Sammy meets a witch doctor who believes he has met a witch and talks to a local politician who is trying to stop the killings. We also hear from Professor Dianne Purkiss, an expert on the European witch hunts of the Early Modern period. And he t...


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      23m
       2017-12-18