August 17, 2017

A human pyramid, formed in the 1920s. Credit: State Library Victoria Collections / Flickr Creative Commons

Unless you’re a paranoid conspiracy theorist, there are probably things you trust. Your mom, your friends, the company you work for. This week on Innovation Hub, we’re taking a look at trust. Trust in institutions, trust in success, and trust in people… even if that trust is a bit misplaced.

First up, why is it so easy for people to take advantage of us? Turns out, it’s because we’re evolutionarily hardwired to trust. Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It... Every Time, explores the science and history of cons, from the three-card monte to Bernie Madoff. And if you’d like to hear more from our interview, here's an extra clip of her talking about a navy doctor in the Korean War. Except that he wasn’t a doctor, or a member of the Navy. But he was one of the greatest conmen of the 20th century.

E.B. White once said, “Luck is not something you can mention in the presence of self-made men.” And, Robert Frank, an economist at Cornell University, says that his experience reaffirms that sentiment. According to Frank, luck plays a bigger role in our lives than we would like to admit. Successful people might be both talented and hard workers… but they also got lucky.

And finally… Marc Edwards was one of the first scientists to unearth lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan. But it was actually the second time he found himself battling the EPA. He tells us why our country’s lead crisis will only get worse. As mentioned in the interview, here’s the site that checks your zip code and tells you if there’s been cases of lead in the water.

innovation hub, pri, Kara Miller, WGBH

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