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A Thanksgiving Travel Companion From What’s The Point

For this week’s What’s The Point, I’ve compiled excerpts of some of my favorite conversations so far. Is this a clip show? A rerun disguised as a “best of”? Basically, yes.

But I still think these conversations are worth revisiting. They get at some of the basic What’s The Point themes: how data is being used in new ways, how data is vulnerable to the same set of biases that humans are, and how data affects real people’s lives.

I’ve chosen excerpts mostly from the show’s first couple of months, so if you’re a newer listener, you may have missed those conversations. If you’re a loyal listener and want to turn people on to What’s The Point, this may be a good place to start. Just throw some headphones over their ears like Natalie Portman does to Zach Braff in “Garden State” and stare into their eyes as they listen to the show.

Here’s what’s included:

  • Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on the research he still does every day and why work-life balance is overrated. (Full episode)
  • FiveThirtyEight’s Farai Chideya explains that data is like your pet — you may own it, but you can’t always control it. (Full episode)
  • Journalist Donovan X. Ramsey discusses why it’s so hard to collect data on police violence, and activist and data scientist Samuel Sinyangwe describes his “Mapping Police Violence” project. (Full episode)
  • Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City transportation commissioner under Michael Bloomberg, recounts the efforts to install bike lanes and calm the city’s streets. (Full episode)
  • Military expert William Arkin weighs in on how the military’s obsession with drone-powered war is forestalling a conversation about what kinds of conflicts we should be involved in. (Full episode)

This is much longer than a normal episode. If you have time to kill in an airport or you’re stuck on the freeway, hopefully this helps.

And assuming you have more time to fill your earbuds, here are a few recent podcast episodes I’ve enjoyed. Stock up:

Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy that late-night third piece of pie.


If you’re a fan of What’s The Point, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, and please leave a rating/review — that helps spread the word to other listeners. And be sure to check out our sports show Hot Takedown as well. Have something to say about this episode, or have an idea for a future show? Get in touch by email, on Twitter, or in the comments.

What’s The Point’s music was composed by Hrishikesh Hirway, host of the “Song Exploder” podcast. Download our theme music.

Jody Avirgan hosts and produces podcasts for FiveThirtyEight.

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