Bob Duke

Art Markman and Bob Duke, stars of KUT radio’s “Two Guys on Your Head,” and host Rachel McInroy speak on a panel at the Belo Center on Wednesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

The hosts and producer of “Two Guys on Your Head," the KUT radio show on science and the brain, discussed their show and the public understanding of science at a talk at the Belo Center for New Media on Wednesday.

Art Markman and Bob Duke, UT professors and hosts of the show, and the show’s producer, Rebecca McInroy, spoke about the establishment of “Two Guys On Your Head” and the importance of teaching this science to young students. The show features discussions on various aspects of psychology and the scientific process.  

McInroy said she invited Markman, psychology professor, to appear on the psychology episode on her radio show “Views and Brews” after receiving a call from one of his affiliates. 

“I was under the impression that we had to play music,” Markman said. “Thank goodness that wasn’t the case, but I called [Duke] up anyway to accompany me on the show.”

Duke, music and human learning professor, said he recorded two episodes with Markman before McInroy realized that she wanted to create a new show focusing on the brain. 

“We didn’t want the show to feel teach-y” Duke said. “What’s missing from science education is work on the scientific process.”

McInroy said each show is a collaborative effort. 

“I wanted people to feel like they had been to a dinner party after each episode,” McInroy said. “One thing that’s great about working with [Markman] and [Duke] is that we trust each other.”

Duke said they discuss a specific topic each episode, with an emphasis on psychology.

“Science is about a process,” Duke said. “The show works to teach the process and things that aren’t intuitive. A lot of students have the misconception that science is a group of facts. Science changes constantly.”

Markman said that a problem with the public’s understanding of science is a lack of good science teachers.

“I tell my colleagues to tithe 10 percent to the field, give 10 percent of your work time to teaching the community,” Markman said. “Luckily, a growing number of people are willing to teach the public.”

According to Duke, researcher bias creates an issue of trust between scientists and the public.

“There is no such thing as inherently dispassionate data,” Duke said. “So long as humans are involved, a bias will be present. A system was developed to thwart that bias though: That system is science.”

Professors Art Markman and Bob Duke speak at “Views and Brews” hosted by KUT at The Cactus Cafe on Tuesday evening. The talk focused on the different psychological manifestations of fear and how people cope and react to the emotional experience.

Photo Credit: Marshall Nolen | Daily Texan Staff

In honor of Halloween, UT professors talked about the dimensions of fear at a KUT live radio discussion Tuesday. 

Art Markman, a psychology and marketing administration professor, and music professor Bob Duke talked at a Views and Brews event about the different psychological manifestations of fear. 

“Fear is multidimensional,” Markman said. “Fear is an emotion we experience when there is something out there in the world that we want to avoid, and we are not being successful at avoiding it.”

According to Markman, there are two different types of primary motivation systems that direct behavior. The first, an approach motivation system, involves actions sparked by positive feelings, such as the desire to see good friends. The second, an avoidance motivation system, involves actions taken to avoid undesirable possibilities. Markman said fear is a result of the avoidance motivation system.

Markman said at some level, people know fearful situations are not real, but they can still experience fright just by thinking about imagined possibilities.

“What makes fear really interesting is that we fear truly dangerous things, but we are also able to think our way into fear,” Markman said.

Duke said fear is an emotional stimulant, and sleep can weaken the connection between the memory and associated emotions, which can make remembering a frightening experience less traumatic, for example.

“We take joy out of being emotionally stimulated,” Duke said. “When we recall a memory, we reconsolidate and re-establish the memory.”

Duke said the way people deal with fear is, to some degree, an inherited trait.

“There is a genetic predisposition related to fear,” Duke said. “A person early on will avoid situations, and [their reaction to fear] becomes visible in their behavior.”

Markman said children experience fear at night because it is dark, the world gets quiet and their imagination is allowed to run wild.

“Children interpret things differently at night due to fear,” Markman said. “This is how the motivation systems work.”

Markman talked about the Terror Management Theory, which offers an explanation for why humans fear their own deaths. The theory says people’s awareness of their mortality impacts them psychologically.

“We make fun of death as an exposure therapy,” Markman said. “The Terror Management Theory is how we deal with thoughts of our own mortality.”

Rebecca Mclnory, executive producer and KUT host of Views and Brews, was the host at the event and questioned the professors about the aspects of fear.

“People relate to fear differently across the board,” Mclnroy said.

Markman and Duke are regularly featured on KUT’s “Two Guys on Your Head,” which airs weekly.