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The Why Factor

BBC World Service

+18 FANS
The extraordinary and hidden histories behind everyday objects and actions

24:25 | Aug 21st, 2017

News has a powerful pull. We spend so much of our time checking it, absorbing it and talking about it. And some of us even claim to be addicted to it. But why, asks David Baker, do we need news in the first place? So much of what goes on in the world...Show More

23:06 | Jul 3rd, 2017

Why Do humans Kiss? You might think it is a universal trait, something that we all do. But when European explorers travelled the world, they met tribes that didn’t kiss. So is it a learnt response after all? It can be as a greeting, or a sig...Show More

23:23 | Mar 27th, 2017

Why do men crave these six bumps on their stomach? Why are they willing to risk their lives for this look? We take a journey to ancient Greece to discover the origins of the chiselled abdominals, learn from online stars on how hard it is to achieve o...Show More

23:26 | Aug 26th

In the 1970s, second wave feminists declared war on make-up - arguing it oppressed women, distracted them from gaining equality, and forced them to attain a beauty ideal not expected of men. And yet young women today wear more make-up than ever. Wome...Show More

23:58 | Aug 19th

What does happiness mean to you? Friends, family, the rush of a crowd or the joy of solitude? Happiness is a fundamental human desire, yet we often struggle to achieve it. Understanding what does and does not make us happy is a growing field of scien...Show More

24:26 | Aug 12th

Christopher Gunness explores why funerals matter so profoundly to us, as individuals and societies. He talks to people who have lost loved ones in Ghana, Pakistan and the UK about the challenges they have faced. He discovers how burial and cremation ...Show More

24:08 | Aug 5th

Blending ingredients to produce something new is a distinctively human urge, and one of our most creative acts. We blend all sorts of products, such as tea, champagne and perfume. Did you know that blended whiskies combine over 30 single malts? In t...Show More

22:58 | Jul 29th

As the world grows more urban, humanity moves further away from nature. Could this be the reason anxiety has become the most diagnosed mental illness in the west? The idea of mindfulness is becoming more popular as the mainstream grows more aware of ...Show More

23:13 | Jul 22nd

The sports teams we support say something about who we are. Our identities are bound up with the men and women who play for our side – and we experience their success and failure as if they were our own. But, if supporting your team is so important,...Show More

24:14 | Jul 15th

If the idea of being all alone, in silence, for long periods of time fills you with dread, it might be hard to understand why anyone would choose to be a hermit. But throughout history and across all cultures, there have been people who choose to le...Show More

23:12 | Jul 8th

Open plan offices, hot-desking, group brainstorming sessions: collaboration seems to be king in the modern workplace. Recent studies have found that we are spending up to 80% of our working days either in meetings or dealing with requests from our co...Show More

23:18 | Jul 1st

Schadenfreude is a German word that means “harm-joy”. It is the pleasure we feel from someone else’s misfortune, and it can come in many shades. It is the laughter we can’t stifle when someone unexpectedly falls over, or the triumphant pleasure we fe...Show More

24:42 | Jun 24th

The history of computing is filled with the accomplishments of women. But in the West, the number of women taking computer science degrees has fallen sharply from its peak in the 1980s. In the developing world, however, the trend is going in the oth...Show More

24:39 | Jun 17th

Most of us feel some need to know a roadmap of our past, our connections with a family tree which took root before we were born. We look for stories to tell about where we come from and seek answers in the lives of our ancestors, even in the DNA they...Show More

23:10 | Jun 10th

What makes some people want to base jump off a building, or climb a cliff with no ropes? A thrill-seeking personality may be necessary, but is it enough to court the sort of danger that could kill? In this week's Why Factor, we explore why some peopl...Show More

23:14 | Jun 3rd

Our attitude to taxation is determined by a wide range of factors: whether we think our neighbours are tax dodgers, how much control we have over how funds are spent and even our gender, age and religious beliefs. Nastaran Tavakoli-Far hears tales of...Show More

24:06 | May 27th

Last week we found that there is very little overlap between how good people think they are and how good they really are. This week, we look at how confidence can motivate, get us off the couch, make us healthier, enterprising, decisive and help us l...Show More

23:12 | May 20th

From doctors to politicians to your boss, people often ask us to put our confidence in them. We’re often urged to build more confidence in ourselves. But one of the most consistent findings in psychology is that there is very little overlap between c...Show More

24:09 | May 6th

At some point in our lives, we’re all likely to make an investment, in time or money or effort, which goes wrong. But, when we know we’re in a hole, why do we find it so hard to stop digging? Realising when we should cut our losses is a decision maki...Show More

23:32 | Apr 29th

Many jobs require workers to manage their emotional expressions with others. Flight attendants are expected to smile and be friendly even in stressful situations, carers are expected to show empathy and warmth, whereas bouncers and prison guards migh...Show More

23:03 | Apr 22nd

People on the left are more likely to accept climate change than those on the right in the USA, Australia and much of Western Europe. But it’s a question that starts with little more than a thermometer, a measurement of the temperature at the earth’s...Show More

22:58 | Apr 15th

Why can’t we judge art at face value? How does the identity, behaviour and cultural context of the artist play a part in how we approach their artwork? Edwina Pitman explores why we can’t seem to separate the art from the artist. Guests: John Myatt,...Show More

23:09 | Apr 8th

Popularly known through the1950 Disney film of the same name, Cinderella has become a childhood classic all over the world. But different versions of her story can be traced all the way from Asia to Africa and beyond. These variants provide a snapsho...Show More

23:11 | Apr 1st

Telling stories is one of the ways we connect to one and other. Stories teach us empathy and allow us to feel what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. They evolve to show us what our society considers acceptable - and what will not be forgiven...Show More

23:18 | Mar 25th

Is there any truth to claim that the mother daughter relationship is more fraught than any other dynamic? Psychologist Professor Terri Apter explains how conflict can help mothers and daughters renew their bond. Mother and daughter team Sally and Sar...Show More

22:58 | Mar 18th

Fathers are often regarded as secondary parents in many cultures, perhaps even more so when they have girls. We examine why this can be damaging, and the ways in which fathers can have a profound influence on how their daughters navigate the world. ...Show More

23:59 | Mar 11th

We are told obesity is on the rise - globally. But if you think about it, how often do you see an obese chief executive, or tech entrepreneur, or politician even? Especially a female one. Perhaps the reason is because society discriminates against fa...Show More

24:26 | Mar 4th

Beauty pageants project an image of inspiring glitz and glamour. Often contestants enter these competitions to boost their confidence and take advantage of the platform they provide. But, there are plenty of critics who argue they objectify women, a...Show More

24:20 | Feb 25th

Instagram’s one billion users love architecture. If you search for #architecture, you will get hundreds of millions of results. Some architecture publications have more followers than household names like Cosmpolitan for example. We also seem to love...Show More

23:36 | Feb 18th

The concept that you can get ahead on your work and talents, also called meritocracy, is something we mostly agree is good. We also equate it with a fairer society, one where the social order is not determined by birth but one which gives us some sor...Show More

24:27 | Feb 11th

We live in a world where going fast – and faster – is an everyday fact of life. Where fast cars, fast boats and fast athletes command our attention. In theme parks we queue for the most fastest, most exciting rides. But why do we find speed so thri...Show More

24:31 | Feb 4th

When things go wrong, we crave something or someone to blame. It’s a strategy which puts people on the defensive, and can create a toxic culture. People remember when they have been blamed for something, and will be quicker to deflect blame themselve...Show More

23:06 | Jan 28th

The number of smart speakers in US households has increased by 78% year-over-year, from 66 million in December 2017 to 118 million in December 2018. About ten million people in the UK now use one and, on average, one in 10 people in the world now own...Show More

22:59 | Jan 21st

A present connects, communicates and makes people generally happy. It can strengthen a relationship, but also jeopardise it. Have you ever wondered why a certain present was chosen for you? And how much thought goes into the presents you give? This W...Show More

24:11 | Jan 14th

In a world increasingly obsessed with health, the fitness technology market is booming. Whether you’re a serious athlete or just enjoy a casual run or cycle around your local park on a Sunday morning, it seems more and more of us are using fitness de...Show More

24:13 | Jan 7th

Whether it’s climbing Everest, hiking through the Amazon jungle or cycling round the world, why are more of us taking on extreme endurance challenges which push our minds and bodies to the limit? Marathons now seem commonplace and a whole new breed ...Show More

23:37 | Dec 31st, 2018

We are asking why so many people are fascinated by Zombies. For many people the Zombie is a walking corpse that’s out to bite you, and turn you into a similarly mindless, flesh craving undead person. What’s not to like? And we seem to be going throug...Show More

22:58 | Dec 24th, 2018

Why do some instruments get all the tunes and the respect, while others are left at the bottom of the heap? The leader of the orchestra is always a violinist, and the guitarist usually gets to leap around at the front of the band. Meanwhile other in...Show More

22:58 | Dec 17th, 2018

Wine has been referred to as the nectar of the gods, and has been tempting connoisseurs for centuries. But contained in this simple pleasure is an incredibly complex product; and anyone interested in reaching the pinnacle of the wine world must lear...Show More

23:08 | Dec 10th, 2018

It’s a bite in Mexico, a sweetener in Britain, Tea money in Cambodia. Why do we collude with corruption when it’s unfair and costs us billions of dollars? Nastaran Tavakoli-Far examines the moral quandaries we face when asked to pay a bribe. She ta...Show More

23:05 | Dec 3rd, 2018

We all need a place to call our own. For a lot of men, that place is the garden shed. Going to the shed is sometimes seen as eccentric or strange behaviour. What is it about the space inside those four wooden walls, among the tools and the junk, that...Show More

23:05 | Nov 26th, 2018

The horse has been part of human society since earliest times – archaeologists have unearthed evidence from over 5000 years ago in central Asia. Over the centuries, the horse has been celebrated in myths and legend, it has played a role as human soc...Show More

23:16 | Nov 19th, 2018

Every day we’re bombarded with information and, with each new story or alternative fact, we have to decide what we believe to be true. But some of the mental short cuts we take to sift through this material allow us to be deceived: past experiences...Show More

23:14 | Nov 12th, 2018

Fake News - sometimes it’s obvious to spot, other times it requires more thoughtful investigation. That’s a fact checker’s job; dedicated researchers trying to flesh out what is true and what is not in the deluge of information we see every day. In 2...Show More

23:07 | Nov 5th, 2018

Ayeisha Thomas-Smith discovers how when we suffer a scarcity of mental resources, we fail to plan for our futures. That means, according to Princeton psychology professor Eldar Shafir, that millions of people on low incomes where money is scarce are ...Show More

23:04 | Oct 29th, 2018

Why do people love plane, train and bird spotting? Novice aviation geek Alys Harte enters the worlds of twitchers, birders, watchers and spotters. She meets Noel Marsh-Giddings, who has flown on the shortest and longest flights on the planet - jus...Show More

23:12 | Oct 22nd, 2018

Women are increasingly seeking out ways to look after their minds, bodies and emotions. Nutrition and lifestyle changes - from meditating to drinking green smoothies full of so-called super foods - all come under the term wellness. There are wellnes...Show More

23:08 | Oct 15th, 2018

Open Secrets - when everybody knows something is going on but it is never officially acknowledged. Things are left unsaid, remaining in this strange unacknowledged state for decades. So why do some open secrets not come out sooner? Nastaran Tavako...Show More

23:10 | Oct 8th, 2018

Rhetoric has been described as the art of persuasion. Used to its best effect, it can make what you say very convincing. In the age of non-stop tweets, news updates and digital distractions, discourse feels like it’s become more immediate, less consi...Show More

23:02 | Oct 1st, 2018

We hear about disasters and bad things happening in the world around the clock. Thanks to our TVs and smartphones we are bombarded 24/7. And charities use those same platforms to appeal to us for donations almost as frequently. Those whose job it i...Show More

23:13 | Sep 24th, 2018

You’re a feminist. You’re pregnant. It’s a boy. What next? Feminist mothers share with Nastaran Tavakoli-Far the complexities of bringing up a son. One mother feels she has failed to impart her feminist values to her 17-year-old son who insists on ...Show More

23:10 | Sep 17th, 2018

Fathers can influence their sons long after the two have stopped living together. The father can act as the role model or, conversely, a cautionary tale. In this edition of the Why Factor, Nastaran Tavakoli-Far talks with fathers and sons about how...Show More

23:11 | Sep 10th, 2018

Have you ever been captivated by a book, full of stories you never knew, revelled in that new knowledge …and then forgotten it all? If the answer is yes, take heart; you are not alone. Why is it we remember some facts easily, and others slip away? I...Show More

23:21 | Sep 3rd, 2018

Heartbreak after love lost has been written about for generations. Who can forget the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet? Or how Rose lost Jack in Titanic? Some of our favourite songs were inspired by heartbreak and as most of us have felt heartbr...Show More

23:04 | Aug 27th, 2018

Why would you go to the coldest place on Earth? A place mostly devoid of life, where there are rarely more than a few thousand other humans spread out across a landmass twice the size of Australia. A place whose sublime beauty is matched by its capac...Show More

23:08 | Aug 20th, 2018

Boredom is a powerful emotion, one which many of us will go to lengths to avoid. Psychologists describe its purpose as trying to get us to do something else. Boredom can spur us on to do something more meaningful or tempt us into dangerous behaviou...Show More

23:05 | Aug 13th, 2018

Lesley Curwen has sailed thousands of miles around Europe on her yacht and knows the strange joy of being out of sight of land. Talking to fellow sea-lovers - sailors, a marine biologist, an artist and a Captain of a merchant ship - she asks why we a...Show More

23:05 | Aug 6th, 2018

Why do so many of us love boats? They are used as homes as well as for work and pleasure across the world. Lesley Curwen, a proud owner of a yacht, finds out how our love affair with the boat can be a deep, passionate attachment and how some vessels ...Show More

23:10 | Jul 30th, 2018

Just like in the TV show Sex and the City, female friendships tend to be uniquely close – women talk often and share a lot. But this level of intimacy can make the relationships susceptible to serious and even terminal breakdown. As friendships inc...Show More

23:22 | Jul 24th, 2018

From the Obama – Biden bromance to the transformative experience of the men’s group, in this programme presenter Nastaran Tavakoli-Far explores what men can get from their friendships with other men that is unique. With theories from Aristotle to t...Show More

23:04 | Jul 16th, 2018

Why do people go to their school reunion? Caz Graham goes to a 50th anniversary school reunion in the North of England where she meets people who are encountering friends who have not seen each other for years. She hears how the event prompts thei...Show More

23:07 | Jul 9th, 2018

Dividing people into groups is part of our social experience. Be it through race, gender, nationality; we build our identities through groups we belong to. And these identities can be numerous and elastic. But, what makes us decide who is like...Show More

23:36 | Jul 2nd, 2018

How often do you think about other peoples’ opinion of you? In many parts of the world status is something we can change through education, occupation and wealth but what if you come from a culture where the status you are born with is inescapable? ...Show More

22:59 | Jun 25th, 2018

People have been fishing for thousands of years – it is one of the last hunter gatherer activities. But increasingly it is becoming more difficult, as fish stocks dwindle or regulation limits the number of fishes that can be caught. Caz Graham asks...Show More

23:07 | Jun 18th, 2018

Why has football becomes the world’s favourite team sport? Aasmah Mir asks why “soccer” has developed such a huge following. As the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Russia, Aasmah talks to players and fans across the world about the game’s accessibility, ...Show More

23:06 | Jun 11th, 2018

What is it about a beautiful landscape that people like so much? Caz Graham explores the appeal of landscapes, starting with a visit to the English Lake District and the site of William Wordsworth’s poem, Daffodils. Caz meet local poet Harriet Frase...Show More

23:20 | Jun 4th, 2018

Why do we believe complete strangers can guide us in improving every aspect of ourselves. Mary-Ann Ochota explores whether the self-help industry really changes peoples’ lives. Mary-Ann visits a self-improvement workshop, talks to the owner of an I...Show More

23:17 | May 28th, 2018

Why do we have such a close and complex relationship with dogs? No matter whether you love or hate them, it’s undeniable they’ve built up a special relationship with us that most animals haven’t. On this episode of The Why Factor, we find out why d...Show More

23:31 | May 21st, 2018

Although we don’t like thinking about it, most of us are resigned to the fact that we won’t escape death in the end. But there are people who have dedicated their entire lives to conquering death. This relatively new movement of so called ‘transhuman...Show More

23:29 | May 14th, 2018

Why do people marry themselves – and what even is self-marriage? The Why Factor meets the self-married, who argue if marriage is about committing to an individual - to love and cherish, in sickness and in health - who better to commit to… than you...Show More

23:06 | May 7th, 2018

Why do people fall for online romance frauds? With false online profiles, doctored photographs, and convincing background stories, online fraudsters target people who are looking for love and online relationships. Once they have hooked their vict...Show More

23:10 | Apr 30th, 2018

Why are we giving away our personal data so cheaply and with so little thought? Aasmah Mir asks if it is too late to secure our information. And if it is, whether we should charge for it. She talks to a law professor who believes everyone now has sen...Show More

23:07 | Apr 23rd, 2018

In the USA, those least likely to become victims of gun violence are the most likely to carry guns. So if they are not likely to become victims of crime, what are they really afraid of? We speak to people getting their gun licence to try and untang...Show More

23:29 | Apr 16th, 2018

We all fantasise from time to time – about landing our dream job, finding our perfect partner or moving into our ideal home. But some people go much further, creating new personas and elaborate fantasy worlds that become central to their lives. Nicol...Show More

23:44 | Apr 9th, 2018

Why do so many people decide to open a restaurant? Mary-Ann Ochota speaks to the people who have been through the joys and stresses of serving fine food around the globe, those who are just embarking on the journey, and those who are exploring new a...Show More

23:32 | Apr 2nd, 2018

Shivaani Kohok explores why so many people feel that the order in which we are born shapes our character and destiny. Whether you’re the eldest, the youngest or a middle child can make a difference to how we see ourselves and how we relate to others,...Show More

23:20 | Mar 26th, 2018

Machines are merging into our lives in ever more intimate ways. They interact with our children and assist with medical decisions. Cars are learning to drive themselves, data on our likes and dislikes roam through the internet. Algorithms can determ...Show More

23:17 | Mar 19th, 2018

Laziness, slothfulness, idleness and apathy are used as criticisms and insults against individuals, groups and sometimes whole countries. But why? The Greeks saw laziness as a virtue and something to be sought after whereas today we look down on bei...Show More

18:04 | Mar 15th, 2018

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind closed doors at a men only club? Maybe you have even asked yourself why segregated groups still exist. According to sociologist Todd Migliaccio, society has historically been male dominated making men only c...Show More

25:01 | Mar 5th, 2018

They roamed our planet for millions of years before most of them were wiped out. So what’s our fascination with the dinosaur? And will our love affair with them endure? Not only is this reptile beast loved by children across the world but it also fi...Show More

23:22 | Feb 26th, 2018

Why do bullies do what they do? Shivaani Kohok explores the reasons for bullying behaviour. She talks to two bullies who explain why they do what they do – in one case, a young woman realised how the online comments she had posted about others who ...Show More

23:12 | Feb 19th, 2018

Job interviews are stressful experiences and have mostly been proved by scientists to be ineffective at selecting the right candidates. So why has this means of selection survived so long and why is so much value placed on it? Catherine Carr explores...Show More

23:45 | Feb 12th, 2018

Pain comes to us all at some point in our lives. Sometimes it’s a short, sharp shock. Other times, it seems to cling to us. A person’s pain is a unique experience and describing what hurts is not a simple task. In this edition of the Why Factor on...Show More

23:38 | Feb 5th, 2018

Curing phobias, managing pain, entertainment: hypnotism has a number of tangible benefits. But it can also carry significant risks for the most suggestible people. So why would anyone allow a stranger to access their mind? Nicola Kelly speaks to pe...Show More

23:16 | Jan 29th, 2018

Why are more and more people giving up all food produced from animals? Mary-Ann Ochota explores if it’s natural for us to eat meat, and the impact on our health and the environment. She looks at how social media is helping spread the vegan message, t...Show More

23:38 | Jan 22nd, 2018

Why do some sleep disorders turn normal dreams into terrifying nightmares? And what do they tell us about the workings of the brain? Dreaming usually occurs in REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement sleep) when our brains are very active, but our bodies ar...Show More

23:26 | Jan 15th, 2018

Why high levels of noise affects all of us. David Baker explores how different sounds can impact on people without them even knowing and how to make our lives more tranquil. From the clangs and clatter of city life to weapons that use sound to harm u...Show More

24:30 | Jan 8th, 2018

Meet Rachel Waddingham and meet the voices that inhabit Rachel’s head: there is three-year-old Blue who just wants to play with other children, 11-year-old Elfie who is easily offended and a panel of three critical scientists. Peter hears a voice tha...Show More

23:47 | Jan 1st, 2018

Why do some of us do bizarre things in our sleep? Like riding a motorbike, using a shoe to ‘phone for pizza or even having sex while sleeping? These are complex behaviours and yet sleepwalkers aren’t aware of what they’re doing and often have no memo...Show More

18:25 | Dec 25th, 2017

Catherine Carr asks why excessive drinking can sometimes seem to be socially acceptable. And why countries like America and India have at times turned against alcohol. She hears stories of addiction in India and Kenya and a history of temperance and...Show More

23:35 | Dec 18th, 2017

Why have so many women in so many different cultures and eras been denounced as witches? BBC Africa’s Sammy Awami visits a village in his home country of Tanzania where, just four months ago, five women were murdered after being accused of witchcraft...Show More

23:09 | Dec 11th, 2017

When a group of people come together, they form a crowd. Strangers connect and share a common purpose and identity. It's an exhilarating experience. At football matches, music festivals and protest marches, people become energised in groups. They ...Show More

24:43 | Dec 4th, 2017

Coming of age rituals, hazing at universities or entrance rites into secretive organisations, initiations are present in every culture around the world. They are often secretive and can involve horrific ordeals and yet people are still prepared to pu...Show More

23:06 | Nov 27th, 2017

Professor James Tilley finds out what we can learn about politics from the power struggles within chimpanzee groups and how our evolutionary past affects the political decisions that we make today. Interviewing primatologists, evolutionary psychologi...Show More

23:25 | Nov 20th, 2017

Beliefs about language and gender are everywhere; we are told that women apologise more, men interrupt more, women talk more, that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. But are any of these things true? Why do so many people believe them? Cat...Show More

23:06 | Nov 13th, 2017

Rhianna Dhillon finds out why so many films are dubbed into another language. She discovers the artistic, social and political reasons why countries like Italy, France and Spanish speaking countries have opted to dub rather than subtitle movies. Why...Show More

23:25 | Nov 6th, 2017

Millions of people every year visit sites of death, tragedy and destruction, from nuclear disaster zones to genocide memorials. Why do we go? Is it an effort to understand the darker parts of our history, or are we just indulging our morbid curiosity...Show More

23:41 | Oct 30th, 2017

Have you ever felt like a fraud? You think that one day your mask will be uncovered and everyone will know your secret. According to psychologists, this is a common feeling that many of us suffer from and it has a name; Imposter Syndrome. The term wa...Show More

23:17 | Oct 23rd, 2017

Serial killers and their terrible high profile crimes have spawned a massive global industry... feature films, documentaries, TV series, books, magazine profiles, hit podcasts and video games. But why do many of us find serial killers so intriguing? ...Show More

23:16 | Oct 16th, 2017

Inhaling and exhaling – we all do it. No breath means death. So why restrict it? And how does holding our breath affect our bodies and minds? Some argue holding your breath is a good way to manage stress. But what happens when small children do it u...Show More

23:22 | Oct 9th, 2017

When Hurricanes’ Harvey and Irma made landfall in America, hitting Houston and Florida respectively, people who lived in the predicted paths of these devastating storms faced an agonising choice – should they leave their homes or stay put. The Auth...Show More

23:28 | Oct 2nd, 2017

Why is living space important and can we learn to live with less of it? Why are the Japanese so good at living small and is sharing space more important than having space to ourselves? To find out why, Catherine Carr meets the principal investigator...Show More

24:22 | Sep 25th, 2017

Why would any woman choose to carry a baby for a total stranger? Modern medicine has enabled the childless to have a baby that’s blood-related, by using another woman to carry the pregnancy to term. But what does it feel like to hand over a child t...Show More

23:31 | Sep 18th, 2017

Red roses, romantic dinners and Valentine’s Day might have become the modern expression of Romance – but where do its ancient roots lie? And do traditional ideas about Romance conflict with today’s experience of gender, love and sexuality? Afua Hir...Show More

23:05 | Sep 11th, 2017

When we meet someone and ask them what do you do – what are we really hoping to find out about that person? David Baker explores why we ask ‘what do you do?’ and finds out what happens when you decide you won’t start a relationship with a question ab...Show More

23:25 | Sep 4th, 2017

Technology has the potential to change all our lives for the better, yet many of us are often reduced to hitting screens in frustration. So why does technology feel so complicated? In this edition of the Why Factor, Kate Lamble explores why we get s...Show More

23:14 | Aug 28th, 2017

Many museums around the world hold human bodies and body parts. Egyptian mummies draw huge crowds curious about our ancient past and specimens in medical museums allow us to imagine our own bodies from the inside. Many of these museum objects have be...Show More

23:15 | Aug 14th, 2017

On trains, in cafes, offices and in the street, we cannot help overhearing conversations not intended for our ears. Catherine Carr explores why we eavesdrop, and whether it is a harmless habit or a dangerous invasion of privacy. The poet Imtiaz Dhark...Show More

23:27 | Aug 7th, 2017

Raising children is demanding. It takes time, money and devotion. So, why would anyone want to raise another person’s child? In this edition of the Why Factor, Mary-Ann Ochota, explores what it means to be a parent. Can mothers who adopt or ...Show More

23:36 | Jul 31st, 2017

Every country in the world has at least one Sign Language. Each is a complete communication system with its own grammar, lexicon and structure and has evolved over centuries, just like their verbal counterparts. Although many have legal status under...Show More

23:02 | Jul 24th, 2017

We sweat; we feel sick and even shake when we’re faced with the limelight. Our bodies release stress hormones and begin fight or flight response. So why then do some people crave the limelight so badly? Presenter Jordan Dunbar undergoes an experim...Show More

23:38 | Jul 24th, 2017

Anybody who watched the European Championships of football last summer in France would have seen shocking scenes of violence between fans. The vast majority, if not all, were men. Men also commit more than 90% of murders across the world and are more...Show More

23:03 | Jul 10th, 2017

With increasing numbers of Westerners opting to have smaller families, some go one step further and decide to have no children at all. As a result they often face suspicion, abuse even, for being selfish or materialistic. Women, in particular, who de...Show More

23:32 | Jun 26th, 2017

When many people struggle to maintain one relationship, why do some people enter into multiple simultaneous marriages? Lucy Ash speaks to polygamists around the world to find out why they were drawn to these complex arrangements and how they manage t...Show More

23:21 | Jun 19th, 2017

Why do foreign migrants yearn to go home and what happens when they do? Some have had no choice, but others are influenced by nostalgia for their early lives. Or sometimes by disillusionment with their adopted country. When they go back, can the old...Show More

23:36 | Jun 12th, 2017

All over the world this summer young people are sitting exams which will have a big impact on their future. In some places, a single exam might determine whether and where candidates go on to university, their future earning potential, and even their...Show More

23:34 | Jun 5th, 2017

We all experience negative emotions and find different ways to cope – maybe by exercising or by listening to music. But some people deliberately inflict pain on themselves as a way of managing how they feel. Why? Experts believe 15% of adolescents...Show More

23:29 | May 29th, 2017

We all do it – sometimes. It can be embarrassing or just the way we organise our thoughts, a tool for remembering what is important. Sarah Outen, who spent four and a half years rowing, cycling and kayaking around the planet, says talking to hers...Show More

24:20 | May 22nd, 2017

Why take on a role where lots of people hate you for doing it? Dotun Adebayo talks to people whose daily life can include verbal and even physical abuse. They include an 18 year old referee in Manchester who has been head-butted and spat upon. He hea...Show More

23:37 | May 15th, 2017

Some people are numbers people – and some are not. One meltdown moment in the classroom is often all it takes to put people off maths for life. But, when you lose the ability to interrogate numbers, it makes it easier to be fooled by fancy figures. ...Show More

23:18 | May 8th, 2017

Why would anyone be a goth? What is the appeal of this dark and spooky subculture that embraces death, pain and sadness? Goths have been attacked, abused and are often misunderstood, but still choose to stand out – dramatically - from the crowd. ...Show More

23:09 | May 1st, 2017

How do you start your day? It’s a more complicated question than you think – and that’s because you don’t think about it very much. Quite a lot of what we do, we do every day. We create order by forming habits. From the way we brush our teeth to how...Show More

23:38 | Apr 24th, 2017

Why do some short people lie about their height? How much difference does a few inches make? Felicity Evans is 5 foot (152 cm) tall. That’s 5 inches shorter than the average woman in the UK. In this edition, she examines whether society discrimina...Show More

23:27 | Apr 17th, 2017

The average English-speaker knows about 25,000 words. And yet those 25,000 words can be combined into an infinite number of sentences -not a simple process. Many people believe that, whatever language you speak, the words you know have a profound inf...Show More

23:07 | Apr 10th, 2017

What lures people to delve beneath the earth, peering into the dark recesses that exist underground? Simon Cox hears from the urban explorers trying to find the hidden layers of cities that exist deep beneath our feet and the danger how do we cope wi...Show More

23:11 | Apr 3rd, 2017

Why do we clap? Becky Milligan uncovers how the highly contagious nature of applause has been exploited by everyone from Roman emperors to today's politicians . She explores the different styles and rhythms. And how it can make us feel on top of the ...Show More

17:39 | Mar 24th, 2017

Yoga is an ancient practice that includes meditation, exercise and spirituality. It’s said to date back thousands of years and originate in the east. But why do millions of us do it every day and how has it become so popular over time? There is c...Show More

17:52 | Mar 10th, 2017

There is something satisfying about working with our hands. Whether it is making something, fixing something or caring for someone, tactile skills are rewarding and valuable. Maria Margaronis asks what it is about working with our hands that make us ...Show More

17:30 | Mar 3rd, 2017

Why is listening different from hearing? What is the skill of listening and how can we develop that skill? (Photo: Close up of woman's ear. Credit: Photomediagroup/Shutterstock)

17:32 | Feb 24th, 2017

For most of us, speaking fluently comes naturally. But if you have a stutter, getting the words out can be a real struggle. Some sounds are repeated or prolonged or a word gets stuck and doesn’t come out at all. At times it’s impossible even to sa...Show More

17:36 | Feb 17th, 2017

It’s probably something we take for granted and do every day - whether a toothy grin, a megawatt beam or just a slight upturn of the corners of the mouth. But have you ever considered why we smile and what effect is has on other people? Scientists ...Show More

17:36 | Feb 10th, 2017

Hypochondria: the fear of having a serious, undiagnosed illness. We may mock the hypochondriac, but a constant fear of sickness and death can be a debilitating and distressing condition in itself, with some sufferers even ending up in wheelchairs. So...Show More

17:49 | Feb 3rd, 2017

In his first TV interview as US President, Donald Trump claimed that torture “absolutely” works and said the US should “fight fire with fire.” But what evidence is there that torture is an effective method of obtaining valuable intelligence? And ...Show More

17:46 | Jan 27th, 2017

Can deep-frozen bodies ever return from the dead? Before death you can express a choice about what happens afterwards. Burial perhaps? Cremation? Or something else? Maybe you could ask for your body to be pumped full of anti-freeze, then suspen...Show More

17:45 | Jan 13th, 2017

Regret – why do we feel this negative emotion? Is it right to live with it, or should we simply get over our mistakes of the past? Mike Williams speaks to a palliative care nurse who recorded the regrets of the dying, and the man with 50,000 regre...Show More

17:32 | Jan 7th, 2017

In 1994, most Americans said they owned their gun for sport or hunting. Fast forward twenty years and now most people say they have their gun for self protection. So what changed in this time; did crime increase? Actually, the data shows that crime ...Show More

17:45 | Dec 30th, 2016

What drives some people to take the law into their own hands? Mike Williams hears stories from Europe, Africa and the US. Stories about the men – and it is usually men – who take it upon themselves to patrol the streets or seek out paedophiles onlin...Show More

17:12 | Dec 29th, 2016

Lists of things to do and things to buy. Presents we want for Christmas, or things we desire in a lover. Lists help us organise our thoughts and bring order to a confusing world. But what do they reveal about us? (Photo: An original Madonna handwri...Show More

17:50 | Dec 23rd, 2016

Could you forgive the person who killed your child or who raped or tortured you? Some crimes, some events are so awful, so cruel, it’s impossible to imagine ever being able to say to the wrongdoer, ‘I forgive you’. Mike Williams hears the stories...Show More

17:39 | Dec 16th, 2016

Everyday millions of us across the world get into our cars and drive. For many of us this will be an unpleasant experience because of the behavior of other drivers or even because of our own bad behavior. Even the calmest person can become a raging d...Show More

17:46 | Dec 9th, 2016

The desire for vengeance – to harm those who’ve harmed you - is part of human nature. Whether it’s getting your own back on a cheating partner or settling a score with a childhood bully, many of us have considered retribution against the person wh...Show More

17:53 | Dec 2nd, 2016

Why don’t we understand how the female orgasm works? After years of scientific research, the male body is understood but when it comes to how women work, we are a long way behind. Why is there this gap in knowledge? It appears research has been hin...Show More

17:46 | Nov 25th, 2016

When we are surrounded by people why do we tend to shun them? Why do we refuse to make eye contact or say hello? And, why do tempers flare on busy city streets? More and more of the world’s population are moving to cities. As they swell in size our ...Show More

17:51 | Nov 18th, 2016

Mike Williams asks why so many people are obsessed with discovering their family origins and also learns new things about his own ancestors along the way. Genealogy is a growing phenomenon driven by the digitisation of old paper records, websites off...Show More

17:45 | Nov 11th, 2016

Imagine your home is so filled with stuff that moving around it is almost impossible. Every bit of space is piled high with books, pictures, DVDs and newspapers so you can’t even get into some rooms – not even the bathroom or kitchen. There’s nowh...Show More

17:45 | Nov 4th, 2016

Are you sexist, racist or ageist? Even if you think you are open-minded, the chances are, you will be judging people and situations without even realising. These hidden biases – which are different from conscious prejudice – lurk within our minds. ...Show More

17:45 | Oct 28th, 2016

Can you believe your own eyes? Can you trust your own memory? Why is it that so many social scientists and so many in the police and the judiciary are so very concerned about eye-witness testimony. Mike Williams talks to an attorney at the Innocence ...Show More

17:47 | Oct 21st, 2016

It has become quite a common thing but when you think of it, it is remarkable that we can take a part of one human (dead or alive) and insert it into another to cure them. Last year across the planet, an estimated 119,000 people received transplan...Show More

17:48 | Oct 14th, 2016

Why do we write farewell letters? Whether it is messages from the living to the dying or from the dead to the living, how can we find the words to say goodbye? A letter from a daughter to her dying father, a last letter from a soldier on the eve ...Show More

17:48 | Oct 7th, 2016

Why do we feel so many different and intense emotions when someone close to us dies? Whether it is yearning, sadness, anger or even shame, Mike Williams explores why each person’s grief is unique. The pain of losing a loved one initially seems so u...Show More

17:46 | Sep 30th, 2016

Is it ever right to take a life? Mike Williams explores the ethical dilemmas of assisting death. In a few countries, terminally-ill people — suffering pain and distress — are allowed to get help from friends, family and physicians to bring their li...Show More

17:48 | Sep 26th, 2016

Pokemon Go has been the runaway success of the summer but why is it that some games, hobbies and activities become crazes while others do not? Is there a secret formula? Johanna Basford, the illustrator behind the current adult colouring book craze a...Show More

17:55 | Sep 23rd, 2016

Why are we so fascinated with the likes of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman - the superheroes which populate our cinema screens and comic-books? These modern, mythical, magical titans emerged from 20th century comic books but they’re descended from ...Show More

17:54 | Sep 12th, 2016

On the last episode of The Why Factor Mike Williams explored the human voice in all of its unique power and beauty; this week we investigate its unique ability to irritate and annoy. We all have our personal bugbears when it comes to irritating voi...Show More

17:53 | Sep 2nd, 2016

We each have a unique voice, shaped by our biology, history, class and education. It is a powerful tool and we are often judged by the very first words out of our mouths. Mike Williams discovers what makes one voice trustworthy and another not. We h...Show More

17:52 | Aug 26th, 2016

Introverts. People who are often labelled as shy, a term coined following the work on personality types by German psychologist, Carl Jung, in 1921. But introversion is much misunderstood. Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone whereas ...Show More

17:48 | Aug 19th, 2016

The Why Factor is about our pets on the internet. Those viral videos of our cats stalking us or the dogs saying I love you. Why have cats become celebrities and why do we love to watch and follow them on social media? Mike Williams meets the cat at...Show More

17:48 | Aug 12th, 2016

Why do we still fear animals that pose no serious threat to us and how can the effect of that irrational fear be so overpowering? As Mike Williams discovers in this week’s Why Factor, the answers lie deep in our evolutionary past and deep inside our ...Show More

17:52 | Aug 5th, 2016

Mike Williams asks if we now live in a post-factual age — where messages of fear dominate and the truth goes unspoken or unheard? He investigates the “Backfire Effect” which means that entrenched views can become more entrenched – when confronted by...Show More

17:50 | Jul 29th, 2016

Why do we love driving? Mike Williams asks if we would miss driving, as auto-piloted cars are tested in cities around the world. He talks to Dr Lisa Dorn, psychologist and associate professor of driver behaviour, Dr Zia Wadud an associate professor ...Show More

17:34 | Jul 22nd, 2016

Anybody who watched the European Championships of football this summer in France would have seen shocking scenes of violence between fans. The vast majority, if not all, were men. Men also commit more than 90% of murders across the world and are more...Show More

17:52 | Jul 15th, 2016

For many decades now we’ve been getting smarter. All across the planet average IQ results have been rising… by about 3 points every ten years. It’s called the Flynn Effect and it’s changing our societies. So what is it? What causes it? And what co...Show More

17:53 | Jul 8th, 2016

Free, digital news is threatening traditional newspapers around the world, so why do they survive and what is their future? Mike Williams speaks to legendary newspaper editor Sir Harry Evans and journalist in exile Qaabata Boru who fought to set up a...Show More

17:52 | Jun 27th, 2016

Why are we attracted to some people and to not others? Mike Williams explores the factors that lie behind our feelings of attraction. He speaks to the authors Christy and Clare Campbell. Christy fell in love at first sight, but it took Clare six mont...Show More

17:53 | Jun 17th, 2016

What is loneliness and why do we feel it? Why do some people feel lonely when surrounded by people and others never feel lonely at all. Mike Williams finds out why feeling lonely can help us to survive. Feelings of loneliness do not only come from ...Show More

17:51 | Jun 13th, 2016

The ideal university experience is expected to train the minds of students by exposing them to new ideas and challenging their assumptions. Why then, in the English speaking west at least, are some students rebelling against this principle by insist...Show More

17:52 | Jun 10th, 2016

Why do people try to create old masters and modern art, brush stroke by brush stroke? And, why do people buy them? He talks to art copier David Henty, fine art expert and gallery owner Philip Mould, Paul Dong a Beijing based art auctioneer, Colette ...Show More

17:52 | May 27th, 2016

For thousands of years, a thin body was a sign of poverty or disease. But there is now a growing, global obsession with being thin. And this at a time when many populations around the world are, paradoxically, suffering epidemics of obesity. Mike Wi...Show More

17:57 | May 20th, 2016

Robots are in our homes, our factories, on battlefields and in hospitals. Some are smarter than us, some are faster. Some are here to help us, others not. Science fiction is filled with malign machines which rise against humanity. In the Why Factor t...Show More

17:51 | May 13th, 2016

Mike Williams asks why some weeks just fly by but sometimes minutes can seem like hours? Why do we perceive time differently in different circumstances? Mike talks to Pakistani writer and broadcaster Raza Rumi; Claudia Hammond, author of Time Warped;...Show More

17:55 | May 6th, 2016

For thousands of years mankind has erected pillars of public art. Statues exist across almost every culture. To some they pay homage to gods, to others they are attempts at immortalising man. Their toppling has become a symbol of regime change. They ...Show More

49:46 | Apr 30th, 2016

As part of the BBC World Service “Identity” season The Why Factor explores how the one of the fundamental tenets of our personal make up, our national identity. Few countries have a stronger sense of themselves than the United States of America and ...Show More

17:47 | Apr 29th, 2016

Mike Williams asks what the rest of the world thinks of the United States, one of the most recognisable nations on the planet. This is the second part of a programme looking into the concepts of identity for the BBC World Service's Identity season. ...Show More

49:54 | Apr 23rd, 2016

Pop, Blues, RnB, Hip Hop, Folk, Reggae, Metal - why do we like the music that we like? As part of the Identity Season, BBC Radio 1 presenter Gemma Cairney asks why we listen to the music we do. What is the importance of music in forming an identity i...Show More

17:46 | Apr 22nd, 2016

What are notions of national identity and how does it arise? We look at probably the most powerful country on the planet - the United States of America. What is its character? And what do Americans see when they look at themselves. Mike Williams trav...Show More

17:56 | Apr 15th, 2016

When there are so many ways in the world we can listen to music, why does getting your request played on a radio station feel universally so special and exciting? Gemma Cairney speaks to music fans and radio stations from Mexico to Myanmar. They tell...Show More

18:02 | Apr 8th, 2016

Lee Kumutat examines why blindness comes to define the identity of people who have little or no sight. And why is sight so highly prized by people who have it. She talks to people in Kingston Jamaica, Accra in Ghana, in Edinburgh Scotland and Califo...Show More

17:51 | Apr 1st, 2016

As part of the BBC World Service Season on Identity, The Why Factor examines one simple question: Who are you? Did you choose your identity or was it given to you? Mike Williams asks how our identities are created and if that shapes the way we se...Show More

18:00 | Mar 29th, 2016

A pregnant Captain Kirk gives birth on the Enterprise, Harry Potter and his rival Draco Malfoy fall in love and you take a starring role in your favourite book, film or TV show. Seems unlikely? With fanfiction any of this - and more - becomes possibl...Show More

17:59 | Mar 18th, 2016

Juju, Evu, Witchcraft, the evil eye, Voodoo, black magic. There are many names for beliefs that supernatural forces can be harnessed by people who are out to cause harm. Harm to someone’s health, finances, relationships, even their political ambiti...Show More

17:56 | Mar 11th, 2016

Tricksters, conjurers, the world of magicians. Who are they and why do they do what they do? We began by asking ourselves why we enjoy magic shows and why we allow them to deceive us. But it turns out that the psychology of the magicians themselves i...Show More

17:59 | Mar 4th, 2016

Throughout history people have held conspiracy theories which cast doubt on the official narratives of some very serious events - from the Holocaust to 9/11, Diana to JFK, Lockerbie to Sandy Hook. What prompts people to think in this way? How should...Show More

17:50 | Feb 26th, 2016

Mike Williams visits the ultimate cathedral of science, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, where researchers from around the world have built the largest single machine on earth to discover some of the most extreme elements of nature, from the heart ...Show More

18:01 | Feb 19th, 2016

What happens when the biochemistry of the brain’s pleasure and reward system goes wrong? How can something that starts off being pleasurable end up making us feel so low? Mike Williams talks to scientists and former addicts to search for some answers...Show More

17:54 | Feb 12th, 2016

Why do we like the things that we like? At the root of it is 3, 4 -Dihydroxyphenethylamine - or Dopamine - a chemical produced by the nerve cells in the brain to signal to others. But as Mike Williams finds out our pleasure circuit can be triggered b...Show More

17:49 | Feb 5th, 2016

Water is the only molecule in the natural world which expands when it freezes. And that is not its only unusual feature. It is the cornerstone of all of life on this planet, and maybe others. Water is part of the myths and rituals of civilisations al...Show More

17:59 | Jan 29th, 2016

Impersonators, imposters, con-artists and entertainers – those people who pretend to be who they are not. Some do it for financial gain, some to pay tribute to a music icon and some simply to raise a laugh. But what happens when people start to belie...Show More

17:52 | Jan 22nd, 2016

The age of consent is the age at which a person is considered by law to be capable of agreeing to sex. It is just a number, but a number which varies greatly around the world. It is bound up with child protection, notions of honour and marriage, and ...Show More

17:50 | Jan 15th, 2016

On the Why Factor this week, Angie Hobbs asks why do we want or need heroes? What constitutes a heroic act? Is it something you set out to do, or something you don’t choose, but live up to when it’s thrust upon you? And why do societies celebrate he...Show More

17:51 | Jan 8th, 2016

Do as I say, not as I do. No-one likes a hypocrite, and we like being accused of hypocrisy even less. Yet most of us are hypocritical to some degree. So why do we profess one thing but do another? How far is hypocrisy part of the human condition? And...Show More

17:57 | Jan 1st, 2016

Why do we hunt? In some societies hunting is necessary to get food, but why do those who can buy meat in a shop go out hunting? Do they like to kill? Or is there something else at play? Lucy Ash talks to hunters from Canada, South Africa, the US and ...Show More

17:50 | Dec 25th, 2015

Anyone who has ever been in a meeting has seen the phenomenon of "Groupthink" first hand. The will of the crowd over shadows the wisdom of individuals and it can lead to dangerous consequences. Mike Williams asks why humans succumb to "Groupthink" an...Show More

18:00 | Dec 18th, 2015

Lists of things to do and things to buy. Presents we want for Christmas, or things we desire in a lover. Lists help us organise our thoughts and bring order to a confusing world. But what do they reveal about us? (Photo: An original Madonna handwrit...Show More

18:01 | Dec 11th, 2015

It’s a simple item of dress but one that says much about the societies in which we live. Mike Williams looks at this most basic form of dress the skirt. A rectangle cloth which throughout centuries has been associated with great meaning including wo...Show More

18:00 | Dec 4th, 2015

Mike William looks at the paradox at the heart of the human condition - the desire to belong and to conform, but also to hold onto our individuality. And we see a symbol of this paradox every day in an apparently useless piece of clothing about 150 c...Show More

17:58 | Nov 27th, 2015

It’s a style of dress that’s spread around the world - the suit. It’s survived, largely unchanged, for the three centuries. But, where does it come from, what’s its appeal and what does it say about those who wear it? Mike Williams talks to fashio...Show More

17:55 | Nov 20th, 2015

They’re something you probably see every day… maybe hundreds of them, thousands. Plain ones, coloured ones, funny ones. Often they’re promotional, sometimes provocative. They’re so common that they’re very easy to ignore. From the catwalk to the bu...Show More

17:48 | Nov 13th, 2015

Why is private tutoring becoming so commonplace? In London it is estimated that 50% of schoolchildren have a tutor at some point. In Hong Kong, that figure is much higher. What impact does tutoring have education systems around the world? And does it...Show More

18:00 | Nov 6th, 2015

In some countries, about 10% of their population suffers from a food allergy. What is going on? And why do an increasing number of people believe they have an allergy when they don’t? Mike Williams asks how the food industry has responded to this gr...Show More

18:00 | Oct 30th, 2015

The bicycle - and cycling - started out as somewhat of a faddish leisure pursuit, largely the preserve of middle-aged and wealthy men. Yet it quickly became the world’s most popular means of transport and remains so to this day. So what lies behind i...Show More

18:02 | Oct 23rd, 2015

Sneaker, trainer call them what you will. How did this product of the industrial revolution and a rising middle class become a global fashion item worth tens of billions of dollars a year? Especially when 85% of the purchases are never intended for ...Show More

18:00 | Oct 16th, 2015

Every week, hundreds of millions of people around the world surrender their emotions; leave them - for a while - in the hands of strangers. They might face dejection or, with luck, jubilation. The US National Basketball association say that less than...Show More

17:59 | Oct 9th, 2015

Hundreds of millions of us bear the stress and boredom of the same journey day in day out - the commute. For some it is a time of reflection while for others it is a time to turn the air blue with howls of frustration. Why does commuting make us the ...Show More

17:51 | Oct 2nd, 2015

From Stone Age caves, to the buildings of Pompeii and on the walls of our modern cities we find evidence of a very human – and ancient – urge to leave a mark. Why? Mike Williams joins the artists at a Graffiti competition held in London and talks to ...Show More

17:52 | Sep 25th, 2015

They are human and inanimate, beautiful yet disturbing; made for children but collected by adults. From the rag dolls of Ancient Egypt to the mass produced plastic fashion dolls of today, they have existed in almost every culture. Traditionally, they...Show More

17:50 | Sep 18th, 2015

Tea comes in many guises - milky, sweet and spicy for those in India. The Chinese drink it as nature intended green with no milk and strong with two sugars for the average British builder. So how did this Asian leaf conquer the world to become the se...Show More

17:50 | Sep 11th, 2015

Some of us are content to surrender our personal space to serve on a submarine, while some of us struggle with claustrophobia. As we become more urban and the global population increases, we have to get used to having less space but some architects s...Show More

17:53 | Sep 4th, 2015

The UN proclaimed its Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, after the horrors of World War Two. But they are far from universally upheld. Yecenia Armenta Graciano’s right not to be tortured was grievously violated in Mexico, when she was bea...Show More

49:50 | Aug 29th, 2015

To mark the centenary of World War One, Mike Williams explores the meaning of sacrifice. We often talk of military sacrifice - young men and women, giving their lives for a higher cause. The “ultimate sacrifice”. Countless acts of bravery on the batt...Show More

17:58 | Aug 28th, 2015

Why do people give their lives for a nation? For a cause? As the world marks the centenary of the First World War, bereaved families reflect on the sacrifices made by their loved ones. What is the true nature of modern sacrifice? Presented by Mik...Show More

17:53 | Aug 21st, 2015

It’s something that will come to all of us. So why is it so hard to talk about death? Mike Williams meets a British doctor facing her own mortality and another in India who wrestles with telling her patients the bad news. Produced by Smita Patel (P...Show More

17:53 | Aug 14th, 2015

We trust them with our deepest secrets, and use them to preserve our memories. They’ve been hidden, destroyed, and read without permission. Mike Williams talks to people who write diaries, and the historians on a mission to "rescue" the diaries of no...Show More

17:58 | Aug 7th, 2015

Mike Williams asks why do we travel? Why do we leave the comforts of our homes to go to other places? Psychology has shown that travel - even just thinking about other countries - broadens our minds and makes us more creative. But we travel for m...Show More

17:54 | Aug 3rd, 2015

For most of us it is a sanctuary. But some people have no home at all, while for others it can become a place of terror and pain. What is home and why is the notion of home so deeply embedded in us? Mike Williams finds out how we shape our homes and ...Show More

17:53 | Jul 24th, 2015

We use encryption every day - in our bank transfers, on our mobile phones and whenever we buy anything online. Yet what is it and why is it so important? Mike Williams explores cryptography from the Roman Caesar Cipher to modern day computer encrypti...Show More

18:02 | Jul 17th, 2015

The journalist, author and Olympian Matthew Syed blew it big time at the Sydney 2000 games. Despite a GB medal prospect in table tennis, he was thrashed by an opponent he had beaten many times before. He choked. Ever since, he has been keen to unders...Show More

17:51 | Jul 10th, 2015

How would you describe your nationality and how much does it matter? When did we start defining ourselves by where we are from and why? And how does our nationality affect who we are? The concept of nationality, historically very specific, is becom...Show More