What's The Point
What's The Point
A show about our data age. Each week, Jody Avirgan brings you stories and interviews on how data is changing lives.
Sparks: Interview with David Baron
Aug 11, 2017 • 42 min
Christie Aschwanden interviews the author of “American Eclipse,” by David Baron.
Sparks: The Eclipse Of 1878
Aug 10, 2017 • 43 min
The Sparks gang discusses “American Eclipse” by David Baron, and the solar eclipse coming to the U.S. later this month.
WTP Best Of: DNA Evidence
Jul 27, 2017 • 40 min
Jody discusses the rise of forensic DNA with Erin Murphy, professor at New York University and author of the book “Inside the Cell.”
WTP Best Of: Adam Ruins Everything
Jul 18, 2017 • 30 min
Jody interviews Adam Conover of TruTV’s Adam Ruins Everything on how his show covers stats heavy topics.
Sparks: Interview with Charles Ornstein
Jul 7, 2017 • 34 min
Christie Aschwanden talks to journalist Charles Ornstein about how he reports on how money can influence doctors.
Sparks: Conflicts of interest
Jul 6, 2017 • 38 min
The Sparks crew discusses how politicians and scientists wrestle with conflicts of interest, and what the science says about how conflict of interest can change our decisions.
Sparks: Interview with Bob Holmes
Jun 2, 2017 • 40 min
Anna Maria Barry-Jester talks to Bob Holmes, the author of “Flavor: The science of our most neglected sense.”
Sparks: Flavor Science
Jun 1, 2017 • 39 min
FiveThirtyEight’s science team discusses “Flavor: The science of our most neglected sense,” a book by Bob Holmes. They also go flavor tripping.
WTP Best Of: Bear Mapping
May 18, 2017 • 36 min
Rae Wynn-Grant, a conservation researcher at the American Museum of Natural History, discusses her work tracking black bears in the American West.
Sparks: Interview with Thomas Levenson
May 5, 2017 • 46 min
FiveThirtyEight’s Christie Aschwanden interviews the author of “The Hunt for Vulcan.”
Sparks: “The Hunt for Vulcan”
May 4, 2017 • 47 min
What does it take to revise a cold, hard science fact? This montha€™s Sparks podcast explores that question in the context of a€œThe Hunt for Vulcana€ by Thomas Levenson.
WTP Best Of: Baseball
Apr 20, 2017 • 36 min
Jody interviews Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller, authors of “The Only Rule Is It Has To Work,” a chronicle of their summer spent as general managers for the Sonoma Stompers.
Sparks: Interview with Elisabeth Rosenthal
Apr 12, 2017 • 28 min
Anna Maria Barry-Jester interviews the author of “An American Sickness: How healthcare became big business and how you can take it back.”
Sparks: “An American Sickness”
Apr 6, 2017 • 50 min
Our science podcast crew discusses the state of American health care, and what consumers can do about it. This month’s book: “An American Sickness” by Elisabeth Rosenthal.
WTP Best Of: Internet Tracking
Mar 23, 2017 • 32 min
Jody interviews Arvind Narayanan about the latest in online tracking, and what you can do to shield yourself.
WTP Best Of: Your Certainty Bubble
Mar 9, 2017 • 25 min
Jody Avirgan and Carl Bialik discuss research into how we get information and what information we trust.
Sparks - Interview with Alondra Nelson
Mar 3, 2017 • 50 min
FiveThirtyEight’s Maggie Koerth-Baker discusses The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome with author Alondra Nelson.
Sparks - The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome
Mar 2, 2017 • 40 min
This month, we’re discussing Alondra Nelson’s The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome.
WTP Best Of: Life In Yemen
Feb 17, 2017 • 38 min
What cell phone metadata can reveal about the patterns of daily live — and the effect of drone strikes.
WTP Best Of: James Hamblin
Feb 2, 2017 • 38 min
From the archives, Jody Avirgan and James Hamblin discuss modern medicine, personal health tracking, and why health journalism is broken.
Sparks: Interview with the author of “The Unpersuadables”
Jan 26, 2017 • 53 min
FiveThirtyEight’s Maggie Koerth-Baker talks with author Will Storr about his book “The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the enemies of science.”
Sparks - The Unpersuadables
Jan 19, 2017 • 40 min
FiveThirtyEight’s science team discusses Will Storr’s book, “The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the enemies of science.”
The Amazing Postcards You Mailed Us
Dec 22, 2016 • 37 min
Jody Avirgan and Kate Larue discuss the postcards we received for our “Dear Data” project, and then rerun our original conversation. Check it out: fivethirtyeight.com/deardata
Sparks (Part 2) Nate Silver and Michael Lewis
Dec 16, 2016 • 36 min
This month we’re discussing Michael Lewis’s new book “The Undoing Project.” Here he talks with Nate Silver about his work. Be sure to check out part 1!
Sparks - The Undoing Project
Dec 15, 2016 • 39 min
Our science team discusses Michael Lewis’s new book, which is about the rise of behavioral economics. Check out part 2, coming soon, in which Nate Silver talks with Lewis.
.72 That Was The Point
Dec 8, 2016 • 32 min
What’s The Point is coming to an end with Jody Avirgan as the host. We discuss what we’ve learned over the last year and a half. Stay tuned for our next big thing!
.71 How Adam Ruins Everything
Dec 2, 2016 • 30 min
Adam Conover on the challenge of explaining tough topics - while being funny. Catch “Adam Ruins Everything” on TruTV.
.70 Sparks (Pt 2) Kenji Lopez-Alt
Nov 23, 2016 • 29 min
In part two of our Thanksgiving special, Anna Maria Barry-Jester talks about the science of food with Kenji Lopez-Alt.
.69 Sparks: Let’s Eat, With Science!
Nov 17, 2016 • 32 min
A Thanksgiving cooking special from our science team as they discuss Kenji Lopez-Alt’s “The Food Lab.”
.68 Sparks (Pt 2) Risk
Nov 5, 2016 • 30 min
Maggie Koerth-Baker talks with Kayt Sukel about how we define risk, and how to write about it responsibly.
.67 Sparks: Risk
Oct 28, 2016 • 31 min
Our monthly science series looks at why humans make, or don’t make, risky choices. Part 2 of this conversation - and interview with author Kayt Sukel - airs next week.
.66 When The Algorithm Decides
Oct 23, 2016 • 35 min
Cathy O’Neil discusses her book “Weapons Of Math Destruction,” about algorithms that are widespread, harmful, and secretive.
.65 Optimized Or Monetized?
Oct 15, 2016 • 28 min
Julia Angwin of Pro Publica discusses their investigations into “black box” algorithms.
.64 Do You Feel Informed?
Oct 7, 2016 • 25 min
Carl Bialik discusses a new study that shows how Americans get their information, how they make decisions, and how they change their minds.
.63 Sparks (Pt 2) Mental Health Stigma
Sep 29, 2016 • 26 min
Maggie Koerth-Baker talks with Dr. Patrick Corrigan about the stigma of mental health and how it relates to public figures.
.62 Sparks: Politicians’ Mental Health
Sep 22, 2016 • 34 min
Our monthly science series looks at the ethics and laws of discussing and diagnosing the health of political figures. Part 2 of this show airs next week.
.61 Bear Tracks
Sep 16, 2016 • 36 min
How a digital model can help prevent bear-human conflicts. Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant discusses her work in the field, and at the computer.
.60 Blythe Picks A Team
Sep 8, 2016 • 28 min
From Hot Takedown, how our editor Blythe Terrell used an algorithm to help pick a new NFL team to root for.
.59 Your Browser’s Fingerprint
Sep 1, 2016 • 31 min
A new survey of one million websites reveals the latest tricks being used to track your online behavior. Arvind Narayanan of Princeton University discusses his research.
.58 Math Gold
Aug 25, 2016 • 31 min
The coach of the U.S. Math Olympiad team shares his secrets.
.57.2 Sparks (Part Two) — Alice Dreger
Aug 19, 2016 • 26 min
In the second part of our new science podcast, Christie Aschwanden talks to Alice Dreger about her book “Galileo’s Middle Finger.”
.57 Sparks: Galileo’s Middle Finger
Aug 18, 2016 • 39 min
The debut of our new science series! The FiveThirtyEight science team discusses “Galileo’s Middle Finger,” and what happens when activism and science cross paths.
.56 A History Of Political Data (Part 4 - Trump)
Aug 11, 2016 • 28 min
A memo from the Trump campaign reveals their attempts to go after “low P, high T” voters. Clare Malone discusses her reporting.
Dog Show! [Repeat]
Aug 4, 2016 • 23 min
A visit to the Westminster Dog Show with FiveThirtyEight’s Oliver Roeder.
.55 Two Aspen Ideas
Jul 29, 2016 • 33 min
Mini-interviews with Charles Duhigg and Marcus Bullock of Flikshop, from the Aspen Ideas festival.
.54.7 Accidents, Guns, And Stats
Jul 20, 2016 • 21 min
We conclude our series of mini-conversations about the FiveThirtyEight guns project. FiveThirtyEight.com/gundeaths
.54.6 A Guns Program The NRA Actually Likes
Jul 18, 2016 • 11 min
A mini-interview a day for a week about the 538 guns project. Carl Bialik discusses the criminal justice program that is gaining GOP support. fivethirtyeight.com/gundeaths
.54.5 Mass Shootings
Jul 17, 2016 • 13 min
A mini-interview a day for a week about the 538 guns project. Leah Libresco discusses how other countries have reacted to mass shootings. fivethirtyeight.com/gundeaths
.54.4 - Guns And Domestic Violence
Jul 16, 2016 • 9 min
A mini-interview a day for a week about the 538 guns project. Hayley Mungia discusses how to get guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. fivethirtyeight.com/gundeaths
.54.3 - Men, Suicide, And Guns
Jul 15, 2016 • 14 min
We’re doing a mini-interview every day for a week about the the 538 guns project. Anna Maria Barry-Jester discusses her reporting from Wyoming. fivethirtyeight.com/gundeaths
.54.2 - Stopping Gun Deaths In New Orleans
Jul 14, 2016 • 13 min
Our series - a mini-interview every day for a week - on the guns project continues with reporter Ben Casselman. See the full project fivethirtyeight.com/gundeaths
.54.1 - A Week Of Conversations About Gun Deaths
Jul 13, 2016 • 13 min
Every day for a week, we’ll discuss the new FiveThirtyEight project on gun deaths in America. Today, editor Simone Landon frames the issue. www.fivethirtyeight.com/gun-deaths
.53 Mapping Police Violence
Jul 7, 2016 • 19 min
A rerun of a conversation with Samuel Sinyangwe describing why data on police shootings is so murky. Samuel runs mappingpoliceviolence.org and checkthepolice.org
.52 A History Of Political Data (Part 3)
Jun 30, 2016 • 39 min
Daniel Kreiss of UNC is back to discuss what we’ve learned from the 2016 primaries. fivethirtyeight.com/podcasts
.51 The $173,775 Data Set
Jun 23, 2016 • 24 min
David Yanofsky is suing the U.S. government for immigration data after they wanted to charge him $173,775 for it. fivethirtyeight.com/podcasts
.50 How To Hate-Like
Jun 16, 2016 • 42 min
Tom Vanderbilt is accounting for taste. More at fivethirtyeight.com/podcasts
.49 Hearing Philly
Jun 10, 2016 • 28 min
A new project is testing different polling techniques to get input from Philadelphians about their civic lives. fivethirtyeight.com/podcasts
.48 The Schmidt Sting Pain Index
Jun 2, 2016 • 38 min
Entomologist Justin Schmidt is developing a way to measure painful insect stings - by stinging himself with as many creatures as possible.
.47 Rivers Cuomo Has Spreadsheets (from Song Exploder)
May 26, 2016 • 21 min
Song Exploder talks with Rivers Cuomo of Weezer about his very nerdy songwriting style. Plus, we’re collecting your playlists at DefeatedJoy.com
.46 Gut Week, Gut Strong
May 19, 2016 • 27 min
It’s Gut Week at FiveThirtyEight. Chad Matlin, filling in for Jody (who’s on jury duty) discusses the world of pro- and psycho-biotics. fivethirtyeight.com/podcasts
.45 The Stompers Get Stats
May 12, 2016 • 36 min
Ben Lindbergh describes what happened when a professional baseball team let him take over as general manager and apply the most cutting edge analytics to real games.
.44 An Unusual Pattern
May 5, 2016 • 39 min
WTP presents a data murder mystery, reported by Joel Werner.
.43 Every Song Ever
Apr 21, 2016 • 35 min
How algorithmic listening is changing our relationship to music. With New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff. Find more at fivethirtyeight.com/podcasts
.42 Tagging Banksy
Apr 14, 2016 • 36 min
A geospatial mapping formula may hold the clues to the graffiti artist Banksy’s real identity.
.41 How To Change Minds
Apr 7, 2016 • 38 min
New developments in the story of the fraudulent research about persuasion and empathy. Visit fivethirtyeight.com/podcasts for more.
.40 Mahler By The Numbers
Mar 31, 2016 • 33 min
A visit to the NY Philharmonic archives. For 147 years, the Phil has had a data-collection streak. Now it’s all going to the cloud. More at fivethirtyeight.com/podcasts
.39 Let’s Move To The Country
Mar 24, 2016 • 34 min
Christopher Ingraham used a data sat to determine “the worst place to live in America.” Then he visited Red Lake Falls, MN; and now he’s moving there.
.38 Wall St. vs. Internet
Mar 17, 2016 • 33 min
Doug Rushkoff is one of our favorite media/tech thinkers. His new book is about how our economy is wired for growth that stifles innovation.
.37 52 Postcards
Mar 10, 2016 • 42 min
Every week for a year, Stefanie and Giorgia collected info about their lives and mailed each other postcards with a data visualization. Now it’s your turn! More on our site.
.36 Yemen Calling
Mar 3, 2016 • 43 min
In countries like Yemen, cell phone metadata can serve as an end-around to paint a picture of daily life, the effect of drone strikes, and more.
.35 The Academy
Feb 25, 2016 • 39 min
Walt Hickey’s been trying to crack the tricky data problem that is the Oscars. He talks about his reporting, and we host the first ever WTP data debate.
.34 Who’s A Good Dog
Feb 18, 2016 • 26 min
A visit to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show with Oliver Roeder, who wrote about the rise and fall of the terrier dynasty.
.33 A Privacy Mea Culpa
Feb 11, 2016 • 37 min
We’ve been screwing up in the way we talk about privacy on the show. Kashmir Hill of Fusion sets us straight.
.32 Big-Time Sports
Feb 4, 2016 • 40 min
As you watch the Super Bowl this weekend, tons of data — and millions of dollars — will be zipping around. Jim Glanz of the New York Times discusses his reporting.
.31 Don’t Drink The Water
Jan 28, 2016 • 30 min
In Flint, Michigan, bad data decisions made the water crisis much worse. FiveThirtyEight’s Anna Barry-Jester recently reported on the story.
.30 A History Of Political Data (Part Two)
Jan 21, 2016 • 35 min
Obama 2008 to the present, including reporting from Iowa. With Daniel Kreiss of UNC.
.29 A History Of Political Data (Part One)
Jan 14, 2016 • 43 min
William Jennings Bryan to Barack Obama. With Daniel Kreiss of the University of North Carolina.
BONUS: Elections Pilot (Iowa!)
Jan 13, 2016 • 35 min
From a Des Moines hotel room, we talk about the Iowa caucus and the latest polling numbers. Let us know what you think by emailing email@example.com
.28 Algorithmic Arugula
Jan 7, 2016 • 29 min
A visit to a data-driven farm, where the light, water, nutrients and more are all optimized and controlled from an iPad.
BONUS: Election Podcast Pilot
Jan 4, 2016 • 33 min
Let us know what you think of our elections podcast as we continue to pilot. We’ll launch the show formally in a new feed before the Iowa caucus.
.27 The 2015 Data Awards (Part 2)
Dec 24, 2015 • 33 min
More of the most interesting stories and people of the year. Be sure to check out the special site fivethirtyeight.com/dataawards. We’ll be back with new shows in 2016!
BONUS: Election Podcast Pilot
Dec 22, 2015 • 30 min
538 is launching a proper election pod in January. For now, we’re piloting with Nate Silver, Clare Malone, Harry Enten and Jody Avirgan. Let us know what you think.
.26 The 2015 Data Awards (Part 1)
Dec 17, 2015 • 32 min
A very special evening, brought to you by FiveThirtyEight.
BONUS: Election Podcast Pilot
Dec 15, 2015 • 30 min
538 is launching an election podcast in January! We’re piloting now with Nate Silver, Harry Enten, Clare Malone, and Jody Avirgan. Take a listen, let us know what you think.
.25 The Dark Side Of Forensic DNA
Dec 10, 2015 • 39 min
Forensic evidence has the promise of leading to science-based convictions. But for it to be reliable we need a better understanding of data and statistics, says Erin Murphy.
.24 Building Pixar’s Landscapes
Dec 3, 2015 • 28 min
The Good Dinosaur features vast, hyperrealistic landscapes — powered by terabytes and terabytes of US Geological Survey data.
.23 A WTP Compendium
Nov 25, 2015 • 69 min
For your holiday travels, excerpts of our favorite conversations: Neil deGrasse Tyson - (15:50) Farai Chideya - (25:40) Bike Lanes - (37:30) Police Violence - (54:10) Drones
.22 God, In One Chart
Nov 19, 2015 • 34 min
Religion is personal, nuanced, evolving — which makes it particularly resistant to easy quantification. Emma Green (Atlantic) and Leah Libresco (538) discuss stats and faith.
.21 Rejoice! The Canadian Longform Census Is Back
Nov 12, 2015 • 36 min
Turns out, the Canadian census was a pretty big flashpoint in the recent elections, and the fight over it tells us a lot about why government data matters.
.20 Fighting Outbreaks With New Tech (And Paper)
Nov 5, 2015 • 31 min
In a country like Niger, Doctors Without Borders epidemiologists use a combination of advanced technology and old-fashioned paperwork.
.19 Why The Bronx Burned
Oct 29, 2015 • 45 min
In 1970’s NYC, huge swaths of the city were engulfed in flames. Bad stats may have been to blame. Joe Flood, author of “The Fires,” tells the story.
.18 That’s Just, Like, Your Opinion, Man
Oct 22, 2015 • 35 min
Walt Hickey recently discovered that Fandango’s movie ratings are weirdly inflated. What he learned says a lot about trust online and the wisdom of the crowd.
.17 Little Bird, Big Data
Oct 16, 2015 • 37 min
We take a hike in the woods north of Santa Cruz in search of the marbled murrelet, an elusive bird that’s being tracked using remote sensors and machine learning. Tweet tweet.
.16 The $2000/Month Chat Service
Oct 8, 2015 • 45 min
A tour of the Bloomberg terminal — it’s clunky, powerful, addictive and ubiquitous on Wall Street. It also costs $2000/month and has everything a trader could need.
BONUS: Nate, Harry and Micah Talk Election 2016
Oct 6, 2015 • 34 min
Nate Silver, Harry Enten and Micah Cohen talk about the 2016 election as part of an Advertising Week panel. Stay tuned for the FiveThirtyEight Politics channel coming soon!
.15 Cloud Self vs. Physical Self
Oct 1, 2015 • 35 min
Your data creates its own data. Farai Chideya discusses how she thinks of data, security, and why your information is like your pet — you own it, but you can’t control it.
.14 Everyone Is Your Cousin
Sep 24, 2015 • 27 min
A.J. Jacobs is trying to build the world’s biggest family tree, connecting him to everyone on earth. The data-driven revolution genealogy is helping.
.13 Moneyball For Movies (w/ Andy Greenwald)
Sep 17, 2015 • 34 min
Josh Lynn says his “consumer engagement” algorithm can predict how a movie will do - months before it’s even made. A special co-podcast with Grantland’s Andy Greenwald.
.12 Your Boss Is Watching
Sep 10, 2015 • 30 min
From Amazon to UPS, the data-driven workplace is here. Is your humanity being traded for your company’s efficiency?
.11 Make It Viral
Sep 3, 2015 • 26 min
The people behind @buzzfeed and @nba discuss how analytics help them decide what to post and when, plus the behind-the-scenes story of how Buzzfeed got that dress to go viral.
.10 Science Is Hard
Aug 27, 2015 • 37 min
After a deluge of retractions, fraudsters, and high-profile failures, is it time to ask: “Is science broken?” FiveThirtyEight’s Christie Aschwanden answers.
.09 Our Military Is Drowning In Data
Aug 20, 2015 • 39 min
Our military collects terabytes and terabytes of data every day. Is the drone-driven obsession with tactical information preventing a conversation about the morality of war?
.08 A Year Since Ferguson
Aug 13, 2015 • 34 min
It’s been a year of protest and unrest — and a year of data collection — in the effort to understand the scope of police violence in America.
Aug 6, 2015 • 36 min
New tools use data to predict whether someone who has committed a crime may do so again. Does this mean we’ll be locking people up for crimes they haven’t yet committed?
BONUS: Totally Subjective 2016 Odds (Early August)
Aug 5, 2015 • 54 min
FiveThirtyEight’s latest “totally subjective odds,” where we handicap the (very early) presidential race. Featuring Nate Silver, Harry Enten, and Katherine Miller of Buzzfeed.
.06 Behind The Browser
Jul 30, 2015 • 39 min
Journalist and internet activist Quinn Norton discusses the cookies and algorithms that track you online — including on FiveThirtyEight.com — and how they shape identity.
.05 How Numbers Drive The Book Industry
Jul 23, 2015 • 30 min
The head of one of the world’s biggest book publishers talks about how data is changing the industry, from deciding to sign an author to the war with Amazon.
.04 Doctors And Data
Jul 16, 2015 • 43 min
Dr. James Hamblin, writer for The Atlantic, discusses how big (and bad) data will affect your next visit to the doctor.
.03 Dear Mona, How Many People Regret Their Tattoos?
Jul 9, 2015 • 23 min
In the first audio version of our popular (and statsy) “Dear Mona”€ column, Mona Chalabi and Jody Avirgan investigate how many folks have tattoos and people’s tattoo regrets.
.02 Solving Our Most Vexing Transportation Problems (With Data)
Jul 2, 2015 • 33 min
During Janette Sadik-Khan’s tenure as NYC transportation commissioner, the city’s streetscape altered dramatically. She discusses her data-driven (and controversial) approach.
.01 Neil deGrasse Tyson - “Are you wired for doubt?”
Jun 25, 2015 • 28 min
Star Talk’s Neil deGrasse Tyson on how data is revolutionizing astronomy, why he hates “balance,” and why his being black often leads people to confuse him for a sportscaster.
.00 Welcome - Nate Silver Helps Introduce What’s The Point
Jun 22, 2015 • 27 min
From fake studies to bad polling to privacy fears, is data in a moment of crisis? We launch our newest podcast with a discussion about the state of big data, and some of the major themes we hope to explore.
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