The Why Factor

The extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions

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

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      Eavesdropping


      On trains, in cafes, offices and in the street, we cannot help overhearing conversations not intended for our ears. Catherine Carr explores why we eavesdrop, and whether it is a harmless habit or a dangerous invasion of privacy. The poet Imtiaz Dharker takes ‘furtive pleasure’ in ‘lying in wait for secrets that people don’t even know they’re telling’ and sometimes what she hears ends up in her poems. Canadian journalist, Jackie Hong, eavesdropped on the radio communications of police and para...


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      23m
       

      Why Raise Other People's Children?


      Raising children is demanding. It takes time, money and devotion. So, why would anyone want to raise another person’s child? In this edition of the Why Factor, Mary-Ann Ochota, explores what it means to be a parent. Can mothers who adopt or foster have the same connection to their children as a birth mother would? And, what does it say about human society that we choose to take in the offspring of others? (Photo: Family, Credit: Pressmaster/Shutterstock)


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      23m
       

      Sign Language


      Every country in the world has at least one Sign Language. Each is a complete communication system with its own grammar, lexicon and structure and has evolved over centuries, just like their verbal counterparts. Although many have legal status under disability legislation, only four have been given the status of a recognised official language. But not everyone who is deaf uses sign language, and not everyone who uses sign language is deaf. There is a debate in deaf communities as to...


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      23m
       

      Why Do Some People Crave the Limelight?


      We sweat; we feel sick and even shake when we’re faced with the limelight. Our bodies release stress hormones and begin fight or flight response. So why then do some people crave the limelight so badly? Presenter Jordan Dunbar undergoes an experiment to find out what the limelight does to our bodies, to get a chemical answer. We speak with an historian of Fame, Leo Braudy, to hear how Alexander The Great started it all and how he used the Ancient Greek version of twitter to let e...


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      23m
       

      Male Violence


      Anybody who watched the European Championships of football last summer in France would have seen shocking scenes of violence between fans. The vast majority, if not all, were men. Men also commit more than 90% of murders across the world and are more likely to join a gang. Why are men more violent than women? Caroline Bayley speaks to ex-football hooligan Cass Pennant about his experiences and motivation when violence became his way of life. Former British Army officer Jane Middleton...


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      23m
       

      Childlessness


      With increasing numbers of Westerners opting to have smaller families, some go one step further and decide to have no children at all. As a result they often face suspicion, abuse even, for being selfish or materialistic. Women, in particular, who decide to go childless, experience the full force of this near-universal stigma. Mary-Ann Ochota speaks to people who’ve made this often lonely decision. Presenter: Mary-Ann Ochota Producer: Rose de Larrabeiti (Photo: Empty old swings, C...


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      23m
       2017-07-10

      The Kiss


      Why Do humans Kiss? You might think it is a universal trait, something that we all do. But when European explorers travelled the world, they met tribes that didn’t kiss. So is it a learnt response after all? It can be as a greeting, or a sign of reverence or supplication- but we will be talking about the romantic kiss- face to face, lips to lips. We examine the biochemistry, psychology, anthropology and history of kissing. Where does it come from? (Image of two women k...


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      23m
       2017-07-03

      Polygamy


      When many people struggle to maintain one relationship, why do some people enter into multiple simultaneous marriages? Lucy Ash speaks to polygamists around the world to find out why they were drawn to these complex arrangements and how they manage them. Lucy hears about rotas, hierarchies and curfews from the stars of a popular South African reality TV show about a businessman, his four wives and their ten children. The creator of a dating website in Gaza explains why many of his clients...


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      23m
       2017-06-26

      Returning Home


      Why do foreign migrants yearn to go home and what happens when they do? Some have had no choice, but others are influenced by nostalgia for their early lives. Or sometimes by disillusionment with their adopted country. When they go back, can the old country live up to their hopes and dreams? Shivaani hears emotional tales from those returning to Jamaica, Sierra Leone, India and Ghana. (Image: Empire Windrush, Credit: Getty Images)


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      23m
       2017-06-19

      Exams


      All over the world this summer young people are sitting exams which will have a big impact on their future. In some places, a single exam might determine whether and where candidates go on to university, their future earning potential, and even their marriage prospects. Given the stakes, it is easy to see why so many cultures place great importance on exam success. However, is this one-size-fits-all approach to assessment really a good judge of ability and understanding? Or do exam results...


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      23m
       2017-06-12