AirTalk for April 13, 2010

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Caltech earthquake rumor shakes Twittersphere

For several days, a rumor has been spreading wildly over the internet, compliments of Twitter and Facebook. It started with a tweet that claimed Caltech was sending employees and students home because seismologists were predicting a major earthquake was about to hit the Southland. Caltech and the U.S. Geological Survey were flooded with concerned calls, but the whole thing was a hoax – Caltech scientists say it’s impossible to predict earthquakes and no one was sent home. Why do rumors like this take off? What's going on in our heads? And is social media one giant rumor mill?
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It can't buy love, but can money buy better grades?

In recent years, schools have been testing the power of money to motivate student performance. They’ve been handing out cash to get students to show up, get better grades and read more. And according to economist Roland Fryer, in some cases, it works. The idea makes adults extremely uncomfortable. Teachers say kids should learn for the love of learning and psychologists warn financial-incentives can backfire altogether. On the other hand, kids love the idea - who wouldn’t prefer 50 bucks to a gold star? But is it right to bribe children? And can cash really make a difference in the classroom? If so, are more schools going to do it?
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The White House is billing it as the biggest international conference in the US since the 1945 meeting that created the United Nations. It’s a meeting of heads of state of China, India and some 40 countries total, to discuss reductions in nuclear stock piles with the hopes of eliminating the danger of a “loose nuke” ending up in the hands of terrorists. Many applaud the move as acknowledgement that Cold War thinking has got to go; that nuclear deterrents no longer matter. But some fear the US is focusing too much on the terrorist threat and foolishly giving up its nuclear advantage.
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Faith, Interrupted: losing your religion

As the son of an Episcopal priest, faith played an important role in writer Eric Lax's life growing up. During the Vietnam War, Lax's beliefs even moved him to become a conscientious objector. But over the years he slowly drifted away from those religious convictions, and he struggled to understand why. In his memoir Faith, Interrupted, Lax examines his personal spiritual journey as well as the experience of grappling with long-held beliefs.
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