We Have Concerns

We Have Concerns

United States

Jeff Cannata and Anthony Carboni talk about the personal philosophical concerns they find lurking inside everyday things. It's fun?


WHC Program Note  

Due to a recording error at PAX West last weekend, there will be no new episode today or Monday. We Have Concerns will be back next Wednesday with new content. Thanks for understanding!

Mess Up  

A new study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes says that being disorganized can actually increase productivity, as a mess often presents quicker access to relevant information. Anthony is thrilled, but Jeff has his doubts that this methodology can actually work.

Aquatic Narcotic  

Scientists have tested the drug-seeking behavior of zebrafish in a tank that allows them to trigger the release of the opioid hydrocodone in the water. The new tool, described in a study published online today in Behavioral Brain Research, can be used to study the underlying biological pathways that push zebrafish to seek drugs. Jeff and Anthony discuss the drug tank, and examine how exactly it might work.

Forget It  

Alongside the studies telling us how to keep our memories intact, an enormous body of research has led to another conclusion: In many cases, it's okay (and in fact, beneficial) to forget. Human memory is not only unreliable, but often partially or wholly false. And certain kinds of forgetting is actually really good for us. Anthony and Jeff talk about memory, and try to convince themselves that forgetting is a good thing.

Watch Your Hands  

Using a combination of depth cameras and computer-vision algorithms, a research team has tracked people around two hospital wards and automatically identified when they used gel dispensers to wash their hands. The trial was so successful that the group is now going to fully kit out three hospitals for a whole year, to see if it puts a dent in the acquired infections. Jeff and Anthony discuss the practice of washing up, and whether cameras or people are better at staying vigilant.

Echo Effect  

The research firm eMarketer estimates that 60.5 million people in the U.S.—a little less than a fifth of the population—will use a digital assistant at least once a month this year, and about 36 million will do so on a speaker-based device like Amazon Echo or Google Home. These things are most popular among people age 25 to 34, which includes a ton of parents of young children and parents-to-be. What will the effect of growing up with a digital assistant be? Anthony and Jeff consider the good and bad of helpful AI housemates.

Sloth Sleuth  

Usually, tunnels are made either by human engineers or flowing water. But near the town of Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, there are tunnels large enough to drive a car in that were dug by neither - instead, scientists have a theory that these are the work of ancient, giant sloths. Jeff and Anthony discuss the theory, and suggest a few of their own.

The Life Neurotic  

Neurotic people may get a lot of flak, but in reality neuroticism is linked to some very good traits—intelligence and creativity among them. And a new study suggests that there may be another, unexpected bonus to neuroticism: It may be linked to a longer life. Anthony and Jeff are all about neuroticism, so they are excited to finally discuss an upside.

Dredge a Mite  

When Australian teen Sam Kanizay felt sore after football practice, he decided to soak his legs at Dendy Street Beach in Brighton. Half an hour later, he walked out covered in blood and gore. Tiny mites were eating his feet and legs, and he couldn't feel them. Just another day in the life living in Australia, and Jeff and Anthony are on the case, keeping track of all the ways that continent comes up with to kill you.

Tell a Phony  

A team from the University of Warwick in England showed doctored photos to 707 people ages 14 to 82 who volunteered to test their ability to spot a fake. The results led to believe that not only are humans awful at knowing when a picture isn't real, but there isn't much we can do to get better at it. Jeff and Anthony discuss this test, and what it means for the future of objective truth.

Healing Touch  

Researchers have developed a device that can switch cell function to rescue failing body functions with a single touch. The technology, known as Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), injects genetic code into skin cells, turning those skin cells into other types of cells required for treating diseased conditions. Jeff and Anthony discuss this seemingly magic technology, and how it might change the world.

Quiz Knows  

People trying to comment on articles will now be forced to prove they understand what it's about. That's at least at Norwegian broadcaster NRK's website, which will present people who want to leave comments with a quiz that asks them about what the story is actually about. Anthony and Jeff discuss whether this plan is just crazy enough to stop the crazies.

Pharma to Table  

A DIY pharmaceutical revolution is coming - at least according to one scientist trying to make crafting your own prescription drug at home easier. Anthony and Jeff discuss the idea of disrupting the healthcare industry by trusting individuals to make their own meds, and whether they'd have the guts to do it themselves.

The Juice Diet  

A Finnish research team has taken a step towards the future of food by developing a method for producing food from electricity. If scaling it up proves to be successful, it could be a tool in the fight against world hunger and climate change. Anthony, Jeff, and special guest Justin Johnson discuss how this might change the world by changing their lunch.

Plan a Head  

Scientists have figured out why the women’s restroom line is always longer than the men’s. And while the reasons may not surprise you, the solutions just might. They certainly give Anthony and Jeff some ideas. Can we solve the bathrooms problems for all?

Harder, Better, CRISPR, Stronger  

The first known attempt at creating genetically modified human embryos in the United States has been carried out by a team of researchers in Portland, Oregon. The effort, led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University, involved changing the DNA of a large number of one-cell embryos with the gene-editing technique CRISPR. Anthony and Jeff discuss designer babies, and what this might mean for the future.

Operating in a Vacuum  

A new article in Wired considers all of the dangers associated with performing surgery in space. NASA has never had to do it, but has thought about it a lot. And now Jeff and Anthony will think about it a lot, too. That may not be a good thing.

Don't Stay in Contact  

A “blueish mass” of 17 contact lenses has been discovered in the eye of a patient who was scheduled for cataract surgery. The 67-year-old patient was unaware that the contact lenses were missing, and later told surgeons that she thought her discomfort was due to dry eye and old age. Anthony and Jeff marvel at the ability to even get to that point, and wonder about the circumstances that led to the discovery.

All You Breed is Love  

People with Williams syndrome, a rare genetic condition, can’t stop hugging people, have no fear of strangers, and love everyone equally. And it may be that this same syndrome is the reason your dog loves you, too. Jeff and Anthony discuss the condition, and the moral ramifications of breeding it into man's best friend.

Second Strife  

According to an MIT study published in The Journal of Human Resources, second-born children are more likely to grow up to become criminals. Anthony and Jeff discuss birth order and whether they believe it leads to a life of crime.

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