Should We Trust Election Forecasting, COVID Dreams. Oct 23, 2020, Part 1 from Science Friday

From Science Friday - The first "scientific" election poll was conducted in 1936 by George Gallup, who correctly predicted that Franklin D. Roosevelt would win the presidential election. Since Gallup, our appetite for polls and forecasts has only grown, but watching the needle too closely might have some unintended side effects. Solomon Messing, chief scientist at ACRONYM, a political digital strategy nonprofit, tells us about a study he co-authored that found people are often confused by what forecast numbers mean, and that their confidence in an election's outcome might depress voter turnout. Sunshine Hillygus, professor of political science and public policy at Duke University, also joins to tell us about the history of polling in the United States. Next up, say you're standing in a crowded room and realizing nobody is wearing a mask. Or a family dog that has passed away protectively guarding grandkids. Maybe having a pleasant get-together with someone you haven't thought of in years, then suddenly realizing everyone is a little too close, and a little too sick. Do any of these instances sound familiar? A few weeks ago, we asked Science Friday listeners if their dreams have changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We heard from many listeners who said yes, their dreams have become more vivid, with elements of the pandemic included. A change in dreams due to a crisis is very common, says Deirdre Barrett, a dream researcher and assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When we're in a dream state, the brain is processing the same things we think about during the day. But when we're asleep, the parts of our brain that handle logic and speech are damped down. The parts that handle visuals, however, are ramped up. Barrett has been collecting dreams from people all over the world since the start of the pandemic. She says common dream themes range from actually getting the virus, natural disasters and bug attacks. Healthcare workers have regularly reported the highest level of stressful COVID-19 dreams, according to her data. "The typical dream from the healthcare workers is really a full-on nightmare," Barrett says. "Just as bad as you'd see in war zones." Barrett joins SciFri producer Kathleen Davis to talk about her research into crisis dreams, and what people can do if they want to experience stressful dreams less often. And, search engine giant Google was served an antitrust lawsuit by the Justice Department this week, which alleges the company abuses its near-monopoly status to harm consumers and competitors. This is the first such action against the company, which, over the last couple decades, has grown into one of the more powerful tech companies in history.  Meanwhile, early data from New York City schools shows a promising picture of what back-to-school in the age of COVID means. Out of more than 16,000 randomly tested students and staff members, only 28 positive results came back–20 from staff members, and eight from students. While COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools across the country are not zero, low rates are the norm so far.  Joining Ira to talk about these stories and other news from the week is Nsikan Akpan, a science editor at National Geographic in Washington, D.C.  
Should We Trust Election Forecasting, COVID Dreams. Oct 23, 2020, Part 1
2020-10-23 10:08:07
The first "scientific" election poll was conducted in 1936 by George Gallup, who correctly predicted that Franklin D. Roosevelt would win the presidential election. Since Gallup, our appetite for polls and forecasts has only grown, but watching the needle too closely might have some unintended side effects. Solomon Messing, chief scientist at ACRONYM, a political digital strategy nonprofit, tells us about a study he co-authored that found people are often confused by what forecast numbers mean, and that their confidence in an election's outcome might depress voter turnout. Sunshine Hillygus, professor of political science and public policy at Duke University, also joins to tell us about the history of polling in the United States. Next up, say you're standing in a crowded room and realizing nobody is wearing a mask. Or a family dog that has passed away protectively guarding grandkids. Maybe having a pleasant get-together with someone you haven't thought of in years, then suddenly realizing everyone is a little too close, and a little too sick. Do any of these instances sound familiar? A few weeks ago, we asked Science Friday listeners if their dreams have changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We heard from many listeners who said yes, their dreams have become more vivid, with elements of the pandemic included. A change in dreams due to a crisis is very common, says Deirdre Barrett, a dream researcher and assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When we're in a dream state, the brain is processing the same things we think about during the day. But when we're asleep, the parts of our brain that handle logic and speech are damped down. The parts that handle visuals, however, are ramped up. Barrett has been collecting dreams from people all over the world since the start of the pandemic. She says common dream themes range from actually getting the virus, natural disasters and bug attacks. Healthcare workers have regularly reported the highest level of stressful COVID-19 dreams, according to her data. "The typical dream from the healthcare workers is really a full-on nightmare," Barrett says. "Just as bad as you'd see in war zones." Barrett joins SciFri producer Kathleen Davis to talk about her research into crisis dreams, and what people can do if they want to experience stressful dreams less often. And, search engine giant Google was served an antitrust lawsuit by the Justice Department this week, which alleges the company abuses its near-monopoly status to harm consumers and competitors. This is the first such action against the company, which, over the last couple decades, has grown into one of the more powerful tech companies in history.  Meanwhile, early data from New York City schools shows a promising picture of what back-to-school in the age of COVID means. Out of more than 16,000 randomly tested students and staff members, only 28 positive results came back–20 from staff members, and eight from students. While COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools across the country are not zero, low rates are the norm so far.  Joining Ira to talk about these stories and other news from the week is Nsikan Akpan, a science editor at National Geographic in Washington, D.C.  

47 minutes, 2 seconds

More Episodes from Science Friday

Covering everything about science and technology -- from the outer reaches of space to the tiniest microbes in our bodies -- Science Friday is your source for entertaining and educational stories and activities. Each week, host Ira Flatow interviews scientists and inventors like Sylvia Earle, Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and more.

Valley Fever And COVID-19, Structure of Conspiracy Theories, New Climate Wars. Jan 15, 2021, Part 2
How The West Is Battling COVID-19 And Valley Fever For the past year, the COVID-19 crisis has taken up much of our attention. But the pandemic can come with complications: Some states face an onslaught of pre-existing diseases. In the American West, doctors, scientists, and patients continue to...

How The COVID-19 Vaccine Was Developed And Is Being Distributed. Jan 15, 2021, Part 1
How Did A Vaccine Get Developed In Less Than A Year? From the first discovery of a strange new respiratory virus in Wuhan, China, in January of 2020, it took less than a year to get a vaccine into the arms of frontline healthcare workers. More than two dozen vaccine candidates have made it from...

COVID Fact Check, Aging Cells, News Roundup. Jan 8, 2021, Part 1
Fact Check My Feed: What's Up With These COVID-19 Mutations? It's a new year, and that means there's a whole slew of new COVID-19 news to dive into, including an overwhelming amount of new information about vaccines and mutations. The U.S. has now administered roughly five million doses of COVID-19...

Fundamentals of Physics, Giant Ancient Birds, 2021 Space Outlook. Jan 8, 2021, Part 2
Finding New Particles On The Frontier of Physics As a theoretical physicist, Frank Wilczek has made a career out of dreaming up new ways to understand our physical universe–and he's usually right.  In the early 1980's, he predicted the existence of a new quasiparticle, called the anyon–which was...

They Might Be Giants, Animal Sounds Quiz, Luxury Ostrich Eggs. Jan 1, 2021, Part 2
They Might Be Giants With A Timely Reminder: "Science Is Real" Fans of the band They Might Be Giants are likely to be familiar with the band's version of the 1959 Tom Glazer song "Why Does The Sun Shine?" As they sing, "The sun is a mass / of incandescent gas / a gigantic nuclear furnace." In their...

Christmas Bird Count, Black Birders Week, Science Diction: Vaccine. Jan 1, 2021, Part 1
Where Did The Word 'Vaccine' Come From? As we head into 2021, there's one word on all of our minds: Vaccine. It may be in headlines right and left these days, but the word was actually coined more than a century ago.  In the 1700s, smallpox seemed unbeatable. People tried all sorts of things to...

2020 In Review, Charismatic Tubeworms, Dog Evolution. Dec 25, 2020, Part 1
2020: The Year In Science, With Wendy Zukerman It's the end of the year, and time to reflect. While there's no doubt the coronavirus and efforts to combat it led the science pages this year, there was more to this year than masks and hand sanitizer.  Wendy Zukerman, host and executive producer of...

Indigenous Astronomy, Auroras, Inclusive Science. Dec 25, 2020, Part 2
Nature's Own Holiday Light Show The spectacular glowing green of the Northern Lights is caused by charged particles from the solar wind interacting with gas molecules, atoms, and ions in the atmosphere. Protons and electrons streaming from the sun follow the Earth's magnetic field lines,...

Black Holes, Scallop Die-off, River Sound Map. Dec 18, 2020, Part 2
What Would Happen If You Fell Into A Black Hole? A new book, Black Hole Survival Guide, explores different theories of what would happen if you jumped into a black hole. Most of them are grizzly. As the reader traverses one of the great mysteries of the universe, they meet different fates. Author...

Future Of Climate Change, Tongue Microbiome. Dec 18, 2020, Part 1
How The Past Hints About Our Climate's Future Ask a climate scientist how much the earth will warm as a result of the carbon dioxide we're emitting right now, and the answer will be a range of temperatures: likely anywhere from 1 to 5 degrees Celsius. But all the models we have to predict the future...

Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.