Bill Nye’s Bow Tie: the Politics of Science

  • EP56: Don’t Look Left (ft. David Sirota)

    Why does the democratic establishment always avoid turning left, even when it might mean a political win? Gordon asks David Sirota. Sirota is behind the smash-hit Netflix movie Don’t Look Up! He is also host and co-writer of an excellent podcast series called Meltdown, which documented how Obama’s lacklustre response to the financial crisis set the stage for Trump. We cover a range of topics: from the limits of technocracy, the political co-option of science and expertise, the critical reaction to Don’t Look Up, and whether or not Ideocracy (2006) has bad politics.

  • EP52: The DNA of a Wrongful Imprisonment (ft. Kimani Boden, Stephen Cordner & Amade M’charek)

    In this episode, we look at how forensic DNA technologies relate to our ideas about race and criminality. We see how DNA led to the imprisonment of an innocent man, Farah Jama. Then, we look at the frontier of forensic DNA and artificial intelligence. A new technique promises to draw an image of a suspect based solely on what we see in the DNA, but critics say these pictures are entrenching stereotypes about race and crime.

  • Cited: America’s Chernobyl (2 of 2)

    We’re on break for two weeks. But we thought this was a good opportunity to celebrate our predecessor show, Cited Podcast.  America’s Chernobyl is our favourite episode. Here’s part #2. […]

  • Cited: America’s Chernobyl (1 of 2)

    We’re on break for two weeks. But we thought this was a good opportunity to celebrate our predecessor show, Cited Podcast.  America’s Chernobyl is our favourite episode. Here’s part #1. […]

  • EP17: Pathological: The Work of Dr. Charles Smith

    Dr. Charles Smith performed autopsies at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, ON. The cops kept turning to him with new corpses, and he kept claiming that these deaths were the result of foul play. He was thought of as a God in his field–few people were willing to question his work. That is until a 2008 inquiry, which found evidence of errors in 20 of the 45 autopsies they reviewed. Dr. Smith’s judgements played a role in 13 wrongful convictions. On this episode, we tell one of those stories.

  • EP16.1: Mesmerizing Convolutions: The Rise of Fingerprint Identification

    In this bonus episode, Gordon Katic speaks with Simon A. Cole, a professor of Criminology, Law and Society at University of California Irvine. He’s the author of “Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification”. We do a deep dive into the social and political story of fingerprinting, and how it took more than a century before anyone tried to figure out if it actually worked

  • EP16: Derailed: The Crisis of Forensic Expertise

    When it comes to complex social problems, us sensible well-educated book-learnin’ types turn to the experts; we ‘believe science’ — unlike those snorting, hooting, semi-literate dunces. But over the next two weeks, we have two stories that will make you think twice about putting blind faith in experts. What if they don’t actually know what they’re talking about? That happens to be the case with many forensic experts. You know, the folks who work on blood spatter, ballistics, hand-writing analysis, fingerprints, etc. They aren’t Gods, they aren’t magicians, they ain’t anything like what you see on CSI. In fact, they get things terribly wrong; and when they do, the consequences can be catastrophic. We’ll reveal the crisis in forensic expertise, and look for ways to fix it.

  • EP12: Left Jab (w/ Garth Mullins of CRACKDOWN)

    As the pandemic drifts into its one-year anniversary, all eyes are on the end of the thing. Whenever that may be. Discovering, producing, and shipping vaccines is the big plank in the world’s plan to move beyond the coronavirus, but there’s more to it than that. We live in an era of distrust — of corporations, of governments, of experts, of science itself. We also live in an era of inequality. So, getting the vaccines out the door is one thing. Getting people to take them, including in communities that have traditionally been marginalized, is another. But often these stories are told in a particular kind of way: distrustful people are dummies, and they simply have to be educated. If that doesn’t work, disciplined. We think that’s not going to work. Plus, it’s mostly punching down. Instead, Darts and Letters punches up. This episode looks at government miscommunication, political hypocrisy, journalistic obsequiousness, and industry profiteering. When you understand all that, distrust makes a lot more sense. But we still need that vaccine. So what to do about it?