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'The State Of Things' Producer Picks: A Look Back At 2015 With Will Michaels

Jeanmarie Schubach

As the new year approaches, “The State of Things” takes a moment to reflect on the highlights of 2015 with the program’s producers.

Some of producer Will Michaels’ favorite segments include conversations with behavioral economist Dan Ariely and U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). 

He also chose segments with Dudley Flood, the man who helped to desegregate every one of the state’s public schools and the story of Robert Brown who was a human bridge between corporate America and the civil rights movement. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Will Michaels about the conversations that stood out in 2015.

WUNC Editor’s Note – Adapted from NPR
Aug. 2, 2023

Since this article first published, researchers have raised concerns about a number of studies authored by Dan Ariely. Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, was a frequent guest on WUNC’s former talk show The State of Things, appearing at least five times between 2015-2019.

One study in question included data from an insurance company that purported to show that people are more truthful when they sign an ethics declaration at the beginning of a form than at the end. In an independent review, a group of researchers found evidence of data fabrication in that study. You can read more about their findings here, along with Dan Ariely's response. The insurance company that provided the data, The Hartford, released a statement to NPR’s Planet Money in July 2023. In that statement, the company said that it had done a review of its records and that “there appear to be significant changes made to the size, shape and characteristics of our data after we provided it and without our knowledge or consent.” You can hear the full Planet Money story and read the full statement from The Hartford here.

Additionally, a second study – in which Ariely reported reduced cheating among test-takers asked to recall the Ten Commandments before taking the test – has not stood up to replication by other researchers. You can read more about that here.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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