Podcast of the week: #3 Thinking Aloud

Thinking Aloud, a long running BBC Radio 4 show, is a weekly discussion of the latest research in social science. It might seem an odd choice for a lecturer in engineering. But since it’s been a Podcast, I’ve been hooked! It may be the host, Prof. Laurie Taylor, who’s erudition and humour is infectious, but it’s more probably the subject matter. When couched in academic language “discussion of the latest research in social science” seems a dull dry subject. But when framed for an intelligent audience and discussed by Laurie’s guests, usually practicing academics talking about their latest research results, the topics are often fascinating, and generally illuminating.

A few subjects from recent episodes include Japan’s strange love for female robots (rooted in Shinto worship of amina apparently), Oslo drug dealers, choice, lap dancing, and teenage music. As you can see a mixed bag. Like a lot of the BBC’s radio output on “academic” topics, there is a large archive of the show, going back at least 8 years and organized by topic. The latest episode is available as a podcast from iTunes for a week (but there’s not time limit on how long you can keep the recordings … so this is a great resource for teachers). Also for teachers (and learners) there’s an Open University site related to the topics discussed.

If you haven’t been thinking aloud, perhaps you should.


Laurie Taylor is also the genious behind the THE’s long running Poppletonian, an official newsletter publshed from a redbrick university’s chalk face. He is also on the after-dinner speaker circuit. I saw him once at a systems engineering conference. Very funny!

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