Break It Down

Break It Down: Climate Change

Feb 28, 2018
United Nations Photo / Foter

Georgia saw some record low temperatures this winter. So some might be surprised to hear that 2017 was the warmest year on record for our state. Climate change is not well understood, and that’s partly because it’s so politicized. But that phrase does have a scientific meaning, totally separate from politics or punditry.

Susan Walsh / The Associated Press

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to restrict law enforcement seizing cash and property from people who may not be charged with a crime. According to the FBI and the Institute for Justice, police seized more property than burglars stole in 2014. It’s called civil forfeiture. We asked attorney Robert Johnson of Institute for Justice to help us better understand what it means.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / The Associated Press

When Donald Trump addressed the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, he said there was bad behavior on both sides. Many people then accused the president of false equivalence. That phrase has come up a lot in the past couple years, whether we’re talking about Nazis or Benghazi or emails or Black Lives Matter.

Break It Down: Populism

Aug 14, 2017
Alik Keplicz / AP Photo

Donald Trump’s politics have often been described as “populist.” Populism, by definition, is the belief that average people should have more say in governance than the wealthy elite. But the term can be as misleading; Bernie Sanders was also called a populist. Since the word can cause some confusion, we break it down. Then we’re joined by a populism expert: Cas Mudde, a professor in the Department of International Affairs at the University of Georgia. And Jared Yates Sexton, a professor at Georgia Southern University.

Break It Down: Empathy

May 15, 2017
Mikhail Chekmezov / Flickr

Empathy is a crucial human ability. It’s the basis of the golden rule: do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. And yet, empathy is not all that well understood. Many people confuse empathy with sympathy, and they are not the same. Since this is a term that’s often used, but generally misunderstood, we break it down for you.

Shealah Craighead / The White House

President Trump has signed more than 20 executive orders since his January inauguration. Still, many news organizations don’t always seem clear on what an executive order really is, or how it’s different from other documents a president signs. We break down what an executive order means.


We then chatted with University of Houston lecture Michelle Belco, who studies the history of executive orders.

gopleader / flickr

Betsy DeVos was confirmed last week as President Donald Trump’s secretary of education. She has been an aggressive proponent of school choice, but her definition of school choice may not be the same as how other people define it. School choice is one of those phrases that gets thrown around a lot, but is often misunderstood. So, we explain it in another edition of our Break It Down series.  

Break It Down: Flu Shots

Dec 19, 2016
Penn State / Flickr

A new study from UGA suggests about half of Americans won't get flu shots this year. The CDC recommends just about everyone above the age of six months get an influenza vaccination. But people still seem to have questions about what these shots are and how they work.

So, we explain flu shots in our series, Break It Down. Then, we're joined by Professor Robert A. Bednarczyk from the Hubert Department of Global Health and Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, with more details. 


On Nov. 8, the presidency will be decided once one of the candidates reaches 270 electoral votes. Electoral votes are cast by members of the Electoral College. That's something most people know, but what they don't know is how exactly the Electoral College works.


We add another episode to our “Break it Down” series, where we give proper explanations of commonly used phrases or terms.

In this installment, we examine what “margin of error” means when it comes to polling with help from Pew Research Center senior research methodologist Andrew Mercer. 

Break It Down: Cognitive Dissonance

Oct 25, 2016
Stuart Mudie / Flickr

Sometimes people won’t – or don’t – change their minds, even when they’re presented with evidence showing their views aren’t based in fact. One reason why is a psychological term called cognitive dissonance.  

You may hear more and more about cognitive dissonance as we get closer to the election. It's a term used to explain politics all the time. But it's something that not a lot of people really understand. 

Craig Finn / Wikimedia Commons

Georgia Tech researchers hope to get a clearer picture of what schizophrenia does to the brain. Two biomedical engineers there have developed a tool to simulate the brain's reaction  to schizophrenia. With about one percent of Americans living with the condition, schizophrenia is more common in movies and TV than real life. So for some of us, what we know about the disorder mostly comes from the silver screen.


Recent news of Atlanta’s startlingly high HIV/AIDS rate prompted comparisons of Georgia’s capital city to a "third world country." But is it accurate to use the term in this case? Oglethorpe University history professor Nick Maher joins us to help break down the complicated origins of the phrase and what we really mean when we say it.  

Break It Down: Plutonium

Jun 6, 2016

The Nuclear Security Summit took place in Washington, D.C. in March and Georgia came up in the discussions among international leaders. Why? Because Japanese and American officials have decided to send 730 pounds of highly radioactive plutonium to the Savannah River Site, a nuclear reservation on the Georgia-South Carolina border. There's a lot of concern over this decision, but what exactly is plutonium and why is it dangerous? 

Wikimedia Commons

April is Financial Literacy Month. It was designated in 2003. The Great Recession revealed just how little average Americans know about their finances. So, in the spirit of education, we break down something we hear a lot about, especially during election time: Social Security. We also talk with Social Security expert Mary Beth Franklin, who is a contributing editor with InvestmentNews.