September 30, 2016

Just an early morning gab-fest. Credit: Malcolm Carlaw / Flickr Creative Commons

As summer FINALLY turns to fall - as pumpkins appear on doorsteps and the faint sounds of “Monster Mash” float through the crisp air - we have stories about some not-so-spooky topics: marriage, gossip, and the census.

First up: marriage. Turns out, the concept of one man, one woman, and pledging “til death do us part” is a pretty modern invention. Oh, and love used to be an afterthought - if you were lucky. Stephanie Coontz, author of The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap, and Sharon Sassler, a professor at Cornell University, talk about the changing landscape of wedded bliss, and the trends that are going to shape marriage moving forward.

Then, something very, very old. Gossip. It’s not just for embarrassing your seventh-grade nemesis; it’s one of the most important things that human beings do. Frank McAndrew, a Professor of Psychology at Knox College, says that gossip is an integral part of human life, and that it’s not purely a negative thing - it has some serious social benefits. 

And finally another relatively old institution that might just need to become new again. The census. Kenneth Prewitt, the former director of the US census, explains how the census has changed over time, why our racial categorizations make little sense, and how the whole thing could be overhauled.

Marriage, Stephanie Coontz, Frank McAndrew, Sharon Sassler, Gossip, innovation hub, WGBH, Kenneth Prewitt, Kara Miller

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