A podcast from The Conversation - on everything from the curious to the serious
The Conversation's editors bring you the most insightful, fascinating, surprising analysis and stories from the academic world. We're asking the experts to bust the myths, explain the science and put the news headlines into context. Join us as we take a deep dive into the big ideas driving our world.

Latest Episodes

'This is going to affect how we determine time since death': how studying body donors in the bush is changing forensic science

‘This is going to affect how we determine time since death’: how studying body donors in the bush is changing forensic science. The Conversation, CC BY77.2 MB (download)

On the outskirts of Sydney, in a secret bushland location, lies what's officially known as the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research (AFTER). In books and movies, it'd be called a body farm. Maiken Ueland at the AFTER facility run by UTS. Supplied by UTS, Author provided Taphonomy is the study of how an organism breaks down after death. Research underway at the University of Technology…

2 Hosts: Maiken Ueland and Samara Garrett-Rickman

'People felt totally trapped': what it's like to be a pensioner renting privately as Australia's housing costs soar

‘People felt totally trapped’: what it’s like to be a pensioner renting privately as Australia’s housing costs soar. The Conversation, CC BY39 MB (download)

A growing number of older Australians don't own their homes. And whether they are private renters or live in social housing can make a big difference to their risk of loneliness and anxiety. That's the key finding of research led by Alan Morris, a professor at the UTS Institute for Public Policy and Governance, who interviewed older Australians about how their housing situation may relate to the loneliness…

1 Host: Alan Morris

India election 2019: millions of Indian youth are underemployed and going to the polls

India election 2019: millions of Indian youth are underemployed and going to the polls. The Conversation, CC BY64.4 MB (download)

Here's an astonishingly large number. Around 900 million Indians are heading to the polls to decide if they want to reelect the current government of Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). India Tomorrow is a seven-part podcast series by The Anthill (produced by The Conversation UK), exploring some of the major issues facing India – identity politics, the rise of Hindu…

1 Host: Craig Jeffrey

Nimbin before and after: local voices on how the 1973 Aquarius Festival changed a town forever

Nimbin before and after: local voices on how the 1973 Aquarius Festival changed a town forever. The Conversation, CC BY69.6 MB (download)

Today, Trust Me, I'm An Expert brings you a special episode carried across from another Conversation podcast, Essays On Air. In the north-east corner of Australia's most populous state of New South Wales is a small former dairying and banana farming community. Today, however, that village is unrecognisable. Nimbin is now widely acknowledged as Australia's counter-cultural capital, a sister city to…

1 Host: Jeanti St Clair

'Labor will win this election. I think that's virtually unquestionable': political scientist Andy Marks on #AusVotes2019 and the key issues in NSW

‘Labor will win this election. I think that’s virtually unquestionable’: political scientist Andy Marks on #AusVotes2019 and the key issues in NSW. The Conversation, CC BY34 MB (download)

We are but a few weeks from a federal election, and the way the wind is blowing may depend on what state you're in. Trust Me, I'm An Expert – along with Politics with Michelle Grattan – is bringing you state-focused podcast episodes as polling day approaches. To catch up on all the political drama unfolding in NSW, I spoke to political scientist (and self-described political tragic) Andy Marks, who…

1 Host: Andy Marks

The myth of 'the Queensland voter', Australia's trust deficit, and the path to Indigenous recognition

The myth of ‘the Queensland voter’, Australia’s trust deficit, and the path to Indigenous recognition. The Conversation122 MB (download)

Today we're bringing you a special discussion about the federal election that took place at the launch of a book of Conversation essays, Advancing Australia: Ideas for a Better Country. Recorded at Avid Reader bookshop in Brisbane on April 17, the discussion featured Indigenous academic lawyer Eddie Synot from Griffith University and Griffith’s Dean of Engagement, Professor Anne Tiernan. Eddie Synot…

2 Hosts: Anne Tiernan and Eddie Synot

Mukurtu: an online dilly bag for keeping Indigenous digital archives safe

Mukurtu: an online dilly bag for keeping Indigenous digital archives safe. The Conversation71.5 MB (download)

Reader advice: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article may contain images of people who have died. A few years ago, the State Library of NSW was working with Moree's Dhiiyaan Centre to pull together archival photographs of the 1965 Freedom Rides, an Aboriginal-led protest against racist segregationist policies in NSW. Moree -- where Aboriginal people were once banned…

1 Host: Kirsten Thorpe

PODCAST: Michelle Grattan, Peter Martin and Tim Colebatch on the election-eve budget chock full of sweeteners

Michelle Grattan, Peter Martin and Tim Colebatch on the election-eve budget chock full of sweeteners. The Conversation27.4 MB (download)

Today's federal budget, as predicted, was chock full of sweeteners designed to woo voters on the eve of what promises to be a bitterly fought election. We've got loads of analysis and at-a-glance graphics over here but if you're just looking for the short, sharp version -- what was announced, who's affected, what it all means as polling day approaches -- you're in the right place. Today on Trust Me…

2 Hosts: Michelle Grattan and Peter Martin

It's your money they're spending in this election-eve budget. Here's how we're covering the story

It’s your money they’re spending in this election-eve budget. Here’s how we’re covering the story. The Conversation5.73 MB (download)

Next Tuesday night is budget night, and it's happening on the eve of a federal election where the Coalition is in for the fight of its life to hold onto government. The Conversation's team of editors and experts will be in the budget lockup at parliament house next Tuesday, where they'll have early access to what the government plans to do with our money this year. Read more: Expect tax cuts and an…

1 Host: Sunanda Creagh

Mark Latham in the upper house? A Coalition minority government? The NSW election is nearly upon us and it's going to be a wild ride

Mark Latham in the upper house? A Coalition minority government? The NSW election is nearly upon us, and it’s going to be a wild ride.

We are but weeks away from an election in New South Wales – polling day is on March 23 – and it will be eagerly watched. Not just for the outcome but for the implications for the looming federal election. That's according to Dr Andy Marks, a political scientist from Western Sydney University, who tells us on the podcast today that this state election outcome may give us some clues on how some global…

1 Host: Andy Marks

'I think we should be very concerned': A cyber crime expert on this week's hack and what needs to happen next

‘I think we should be very concerned’: A cybercrime expert on this week’s hack and what needs to happen next. The Conversation38.8 MB (download)

When Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced this week that a "sophisticated state actor" had targeted the big Australian political parties in a major cyber attack, the revelation threw up more questions than answers. Who did it and how? What data did they get their hands on? How vulnerable is our data -- and our democracy? Read more: We've been hacked – so will the data be weaponised to influence…

1 Host: Nigel Phair

A refugee law expert on a week of 'reckless' rhetoric and a new way to process asylum seeker claims

A refugee law expert on a week of ‘reckless’ rhetoric and a new way to process asylum seeker claims. The Conversation44 MB (download)

Today, we're bringing you a special episode of our podcast Trust Me, I'm An Expert for anyone wondering: what the hell happened this week? A sitting government lost a vote on the floor of parliament (which hasn't happened in decades) over a bill that aims to facilitate medical transfers from Manus and Nauru. (You can hear the MP Kerryn Phelps, who set the ball rolling for that legislation, give her…

1 Host: Daniel Ghezelbash

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: how to spot the work of a political spin doctor this election season

How to spot the work of a political spin doctor this election season. The Conversation, CC BY77.6 MB (download)

It’s February, the holidays seem like a distant memory and here we are barrelling toward a federal election, which the government has indicated will be in May. Remember in the olden days -- as in, a few elections ago -- we used to have a fairly set election campaign period of usually about six weeks? Now, of course, politicians seem to always be in campaign mode. They’re not doing that all by themselves…

3 Hosts: Caroline Fisher, Fabrizio Carmignani, and Michelle Grattan

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: What research says about how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions

What research says about how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions. The Conversation, CC BY82.9 MB (download)

It’s that time of year when we all start to make promises to ourselves about how this year it’ll be different. This is the year I’ll get my health in order, exercise more, save money, cut that bad habit, do more of this, less of that, and just be better. But the fact is, change is hard. Most of us need help. So, we found some. Today, experts who have researched this terrain will be sharing with us…

2 Hosts: Amanda Salis and Lisa A Williams

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: the science of sleep and the economics of sleeplessness

The science of sleep and the economics of sleeplessness. The Conversation, CC BY52.8 MB (download)

How did you sleep last night? If you had anything other than eight interrupted hours of peaceful, restful sleep then guess what? It's not that bad -- it's actually pretty normal. We recently asked five sleep researchers if everyone needs eight hours of sleep a night and they all said no, you don't. Read more: We asked five experts: does everyone need eight hours of sleep? In fact, only about one quarter…

2 Hosts: Melinda Jackson and Roger Wilkins

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: Food fraud, the centuries-old problem that won't go away

Food fraud, the centuries-old problem that won’t go away. The Conversation55.8 MB (download)

What have you eaten today? And how much do you know about how it was produced, what was added to it along the way, and how it made its way to your plate? Even as most of us grow increasingly removed from actual food production, many consumers still take food fraud and perceptions of food purity incredibly seriously. Scandals around "meat glue" or milk and honey contamination, and the skyrocketing global…

2 Hosts: Andrew Ventimiglia and Shauna Murray

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: Cyclone season approacheth, but this year there's a twist

Cyclone season approacheth, but this year there’s a twist. The Conversation, CC BY31.4 MB (download)

Australia has just had its driest September on record, and the second driest month ever: the only drier month was April 1902. The Bureau of Meteorology's tropical cyclone outlook is out today. It's predicting a weaker-than-normal tropical cyclone season this year but if one hits -- and it's likely one will -- it'll bring water to rain-starved soil that will soak it up and reduce the flooding risk…

2 Hosts: Andrew B. Watkins and Joelle Gergis

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: Australia's extreme weather

October teaser: Australia’s extreme weather. The Conversation, CC BY1.5 MB (download)

It's easy to write off Australia's extreme weather as business as usual. We deal with floods, droughts, cyclones and other wild events every year. But as climate change raises global temperatures, are the droughts happening more often? Are the floods getting worse? The October episode of Trust Me, I'm An Expert looks back through colonial evidence and prehistoric records, and forward to the Bureau…

1 Host: Andrew B. Watkins

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: How augmented reality may one day make music a visual, interactive experience

Music. The Conversation67.8 MB (download)

You probably heard your first strains of music when you were in utero. From then on it's helped you learn, helped you relax, hyped you up, helped you work, helped you exercise, helped you celebrate and helped you grieve. Music is ingrained in so many aspect of our lives, but it's also the subject of a significant body of academic work. Today's episode of Trust Me, I'm An Expert is all about research…

3 Hosts: Ben Swift, Clint Bracknell, and Hollis Taylor

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: what the huge HILDA survey reveals about your economic well-being, health and family life

What the huge HILDA survey reveals about your economic well-being, health and family life. The Conversation, CC BY53.6 MB (download)

On today's episode of the podcast, we’re talking about what one of Australia’s biggest longitudinal surveys and richest data sets, released today, says about how the nation is changing. And some of the trends may surprise you. The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey tells the stories of the same group of Australians over the course of their lives. Starting in 2001, the…

1 Host: Roger Wilkins

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: What is sport worth?

The value of sport. The Conversation45.1 MB (download)

Even if you're no great sports fan, you may have noticed a lot of it around lately. There were the Winter Olympics and the Commonwealth Games, and now we're halfway through the 2018 FIFA World Cup. What isn't always so obvious is the money and the diplomatic power plays lingering just below the surface of every big sporting meet. But a growing body of academic research is examining those elements and…

4 Hosts: Andrew Hughes, Barbara Keys, Con Stavros and 1 other

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: The explainer episode

The explainer episode. The Conversation, CC BY67.5 MB (download)

Today on Trust Me, I'm An Expert, we're bringing you the explainer episode - where we ask researchers to unpack some truly tricky topics. The University of Queensland's James Sherlock explains what psychology can reveal about why people like pimple popping and ingrown hair removal videos. They're more popular online than you may realise, as a quick YouTube search for words like "pimple" or "blackhead…

3 Hosts: Andrew White, James M. Sherlock, and Raffaello Pantucci

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: 'Dancing out of depression' – how Syrian refugees are using exercise to improve mental health

Trust Me, I’m An Expert: how Syrian refugees are using exercise to improve mental health. The Conversation40.1 MB (download)

A growing body of research is drawing a link between mental and physical health – and the connection is much stronger than you might realise. Simon Rosenbaum, a senior research fellow in school psychiatry at UNSW, had been researching the role of exercise in mental health treatment for years when he teamed up with a colleague, Ruth Wells. Wells is a PhD candidate in clinical psychology at the University…

2 Hosts: Ruth Wells and Simon Rosenbaum

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: Brain-zapping, the curious case of the n-rays and other stories of evidence

Brain-zapping, the curious case of the n-rays and other stories of evidence. The Conversation, CC BY70.4 MB (download)

You've had an x-ray before but have you had an n-ray? Of course not, because they're not real. But people used to think they were. Scientists had shown they were. And the weird history of n-rays, explored in today's episode of Trust Me, I'm An Expert, tells us a lot about people's willingness to believe wrong information -- but also how well-designed studies can debunk myths, reveal important truths…

5 Hosts: Colleen Loo, Fiona Fidler, Laurent Billot and 2 other

Trust Me I'm An Expert: The science of pain

Trust Me I’m An Expert: The science of pain. The Conversation58.7 MB (download)

As many as one in five Australians suffer from chronic and recurring pain. But despite its prevalence, it's not always easy to find the help you need to manage it. "When I went through medical school, we had about one hour on acute pain. And the whole concept of chronic pain and how it's so very different from acute pain was not something that was ever on our horizon," pain expert Professor Fiona Blyth…

5 Hosts: Fiona Blyth, Lorimer Moseley, Michael Nicholas and 2 other

Trust Me I'm An Expert: Why February is the real danger month for power blackouts

The urban heat island and summertime blackouts. The Conversation25.6 MB (download)

It's been hot -- and it's going to get hotter. Australia has experienced some record hot days in recent weeks and scientists say Sydney and Melbourne need to prepare for 50℃ days by the end of the century, or sooner. In today's episode of Trust Me I'm An Expert, we're unpacking the research on why some of the most disadvantaged parts of our cities cop the worst of a heatwave. And Chris Dunstan, an…

3 Hosts: Casey Furlong, Chris Dunstan, and Marco Amati

Trust Me, I'm an Expert: Risk

Trust Me, I’m an Expert: Risk. CC BY45.3 MB (download)

Ah, the new year. A time for throwing off your shackles, following your bliss, quitting your job and abandoning your family to finally start the artisinal yak-butter-sculpture studio of your dreams. But big choices come with big risks. In this episode of Trust Me, I'm an Expert, Hassan Vally, an expert in epidemiology from La Trobe University, talks about "microlives", which measure how much your life…

3 Hosts: Alex Russell, Hassan Vally, and Michelle H Lim

Marrying across Australia's Catholic-Protestant divide

Marrying across Australia’s Catholic-Protestant divide. Trust Me, I'm An Expert, CC BY-ND44.1 MB (download)

These days, when Australians of Irish Catholic descent have occupied the highest positions in the land, it may seem hollow to talk of them as marginalised. But right up to the 1970s the Catholic-Protestant divide was deeply entrenched – with painful and often lasting social consequences for those who dared to marry across it. Siobhan McHugh, a journalism academic and oral historian, captured some of…

1 Host: Siobhan McHugh

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: Competition

Trust Me, I’m An Expert: Competition. The Conversation, CC BY62.4 MB (download)

Did you fight with a brother or sister when you were little? Do you still? According to Rob Brooks, professor of evolutionary ecology at UNSW, sibling competition has played a more important role in human evolution than many of us realise. "Siblings compete with one another for the love and affection of their parents but even more importantly for the investment of their parents. And that's been a really…

3 Hosts: Rob Brooks, Rob Hess, and Seng W. Loke

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: a lawyer, a biblical scholar and a fact-checker walk into the same-sex marriage debate...

Trust Me, I’m An Expert: Episode 1. The Conversation, CC BY-ND81.9 MB (download)

Where should the line fall between protecting people's right to hold religious beliefs and the right to be free from discrimination? It's a question that's emerged several times as the same-sex marriage debate has unfolded in Australia. "Freedom of religion is not absolute. And neither is anti-discrimination law. Both are rights, absolutely, but both have limitations - particularly where they impinge…

3 Hosts: Jennifer Power, Renae Barker, and Robyn J. Whitaker

Trust Me, I'm An Expert: a new podcast from The Conversation

Everything from the curious to the serious. The Conversation, CC BY-ND4.16 MB (download)

Trust Me, I'm An Expert is a new monthly podcast from The Conversation, where we bring you the most fascinating, surprising stories from the academic world. On this show, we ask the experts to bust the myths, explain the science and put the news headlines into context -- and to do it in a way we can understand and enjoy. Listen to our teaser episode, above, to get a taste of the amazing stories ahead…

4 Hosts: Jennifer Power, Renae Barker, Rob Brooks and 1 other