After the Fact

The Pew Charitable Trusts

After the Fact, from The Pew Charitable Trusts, that you data and analysis on the issues that matter to you—from our environment and the sciences, to larger economic trends and public health. Experts from Pew and other special guests discuss the numbers and trends shaping some of society’s biggest challenges, then go behind the facts with nonpartisan analysis and stories.

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All Episodes

Stat: 4 in 10: U.S. Census data from 2020 shows that 4 in 10 Americans identify with a race other than White. Story: The demographic landscape in the United States is changing rapidly. In this virtual event rebroadcast, guests from our “Race and Research” season discuss how the country’s growing diversity is driving a new national conversation about race and ethnicity. The event panelists also highlight the challenges and opportunities researchers face when applying a racial and equity lens to data.

Nov 12

50 min 4 sec

Stat: 93%—93% of new COVID-19 cases were caused by the delta variant in the United States by the end of July 2021. Story: The battle against the COVID-19 virus seemed almost won, but the delta variant is now responsible for a new surge of cases. In this episode, we turn again to infectious disease physician Dr. Rebecca Wurtz to learn more about this new variant and what it means for both vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.

Aug 27

21 min 49 sec

Charita Castro, a social science researcher and ambassador for the American Association for the Advancement of Science IF/THEN Ambassadors program, speaks about how to recruit more women and people of color to the STEM fields¾science, technology, engineering, and math¾to strengthen innovation

Jul 12

17 min 4 sec

In this conversation with Fanta Traore, we hear about her work to support and empower Black women in economics, finance, and data science fields through The Sadie Collective. She shares the latest data on how increasing diversity in the economic workforce can help encourage innovative problem solving for society. 

Jul 7

18 min 32 sec

In this bonus episode of our “Race and Research” season, we share an extended talk with Dr. Marie Bernard, chief officer for scientific workforce diversity at the National Institutes of Health, on her experience as a Black female physician and efforts to improve diversity within health care, from at a patient’s bedside to medical research.

Jul 2

28 min 26 sec

Stat: 68%: The percentage of technology experts who express doubt about ethical standards in artificial intelligence systems. Story: Technology driven by artificial intelligence and other data science will lead to life-changing innovation in the coming years. But much of the historical data those innovations will rely on could be biased. In this episode, Lee Rainie, director of internet and technology research at the Pew Research Center, reports on the growing ethical concerns of technology experts about the use of artificial intelligence. And Jeannette Wing, who leads the Data Science Institute at Columbia University, discusses ways scientists are confronting bias and how to use “data for good.”

Jun 25

27 min 26 sec

Stat: 33%—The percentage of people of color who make up America’s STEM workforce. Story: In this episode, we consider the pipeline to the research workforce—higher education. In a conversation with Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), and its vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Katharine Cole, we explore how the university supports undergraduate and graduate students from a range of backgrounds and prepares them for STEM careers.

Jun 17

21 min 28 sec

Stat: 99%: The percentage of census tracts in the United States where young black men end up having lower incomes than their white counterparts even though they grew up with comparable family incomes and resources. Story: In this episode of our season on race and research, our guests examine the impact of race on economic mobility. David Williams, of Harvard University’s Opportunity Insights, describes research tools that can help communities improve economic outcomes for families and kids. And the Brookings Institution’s Andre Perry outlines research showing the systemic undervaluing of homes in black neighborhoods and its implications for family wealth, the health of minority-owned businesses, and the tax bases that fund community needs.  

Jun 11

21 min 4 sec

Stat: 5%—The percentage of Black physicians and surgeons in America. Story: Continuing our look at race and research, we turn to health care. We hear from Dr. Marie Bernard, who heads efforts to increase diversity in the research workforce at the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Stephanie Brown and Kristen Azar of Sutter Health, a nonprofit California health care provider. They discuss the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, how to build trust in the medical system among those communities, and other ways to improve patient care.

Jun 4

25 min 26 sec

Stat: 46.8 million: The number of people in the United States who identify as Black. Story: The census shows that the U.S. is growing more diverse racially and ethnically, and reflecting this evolution in research data has become even more essential. In this episode, Mike Dimock, president of the Pew Research Center, describes how the Center is addressing these changes in public opinion polling and why examining the nuances behind these demographic shifts helps us better understand society’s diversity. And Yolanda Lewis, who heads The Pew Charitable Trusts’ public safety and justice work, discusses why inclusive research is vital in informing how the criminal justice system handles mental health issues.

May 28

22 min 52 sec

Stat: 40%: 4 in 10 Americans identify with a race other than White. Story: In our first episode on race and research, we explore the diverse story of America. William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an internationally regarded demographer, highlights the latest census findings and what they say about the nation today. And we examine what these changes mean for society—and the evolving national conversation about race—with the Pew Research Center’s director of race and ethnicity research, Mark Hugo Lopez.

May 21

20 min 2 sec

A new season of Pew’s “After the Fact” podcast explores diversity in America and how race intersects with research in a range of fields—from public opinion polling to medicine to economics. We talk with social scientists who are helping society better understand how the nuances of race can change the perspective of issues and other experts who are looking at how diverse viewpoints improve policy solutions. The episodes of this season are a contribution to the evolving national conversation about race and diversity, offering a timely look at the challenges, opportunities—and the work—ahead. 

May 7

2 min 20 sec

Stat: 30 percent—According to the Pew Research Center, 30% of Americans don’t intend to get a coronavirus vaccination. Story: There’s a light appearing at the end of a long tunnel in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic: the emergence of effective vaccines to prevent its spread. Yet, even with a solution in sight, public trust is still a hurdle—with an “infodemic” of misinformation occurring alongside the pandemic. In this episode, we discuss the facts about the science of the vaccines—and the importance of communicating accurate information to the public—with Dr. Rebecca Wurtz, infectious disease physician and associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Division of Health Policy and Management.

Mar 12

15 min 47 sec

Stat: 70%: The percentage of debt collection cases that result in default judgment, or automatic win, to plaintiffs.   Story: Debt collection cases are the most common civil court cases today, but many Americans are navigating the civil legal system without legal representation and paying heavy consequences. In this episode we hear from Erika Rickard, who leads Pew’s work to modernize civil court systems, on the issues surrounding debt collection cases and how the pandemic is bringing some courtrooms online. We’ll also speak to Chief Justice Nathan Hecht from the Supreme Court of Texas about how data on debt collection cases is informing the state’s efforts to ensure the court process is open, fair, and transparent.

Feb 19

18 min 34 sec

Stat: $1.24 trillion: The 50-state pension funding gap—the shortfall between what all the states have funded and what they actually owed public employee retirees—as of 2018. Story: Public employees count on pensions when they retire, but most states haven’t adequately funded their obligations. As of 2018, the funding gap for all the states totaled $1.24 trillion. Without sustainable funding, the cost of retiree benefits can mean less money is available for schools, roads, or public safety. In this episode, we hear from Greg Mennis, who leads Pew’s efforts to help states find innovative solutions to close the funding gap and save taxpayer dollars. We also speak with Marcie Frost, who leads the California Public Employees' Retirement System—the country’s largest public pension system—on how stress testing that pension fund helps policymakers understand potential costs and liabilities as they make decisions to help secure retirement benefits for 2 million public employees, retirees, and their families.   

Jan 29

19 min 30 sec

Stat: $8 billion: The cost of vehicle collisions with wildlife each year in the U.S. Story: In America’s West, animal herds follow ancient migration routes that are bisected by roads and highways. In this episode, we hear from Matt Skroch, who leads Pew’s efforts to conserve wildlife corridors, and Jodi Hilty, of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, about innovative solutions that make roads safer for both people and animals.

Jan 22

17 min 27 sec

Stat: 18%: The percentage of Americans with opioid use disorder who receive medication as part of their treatment. Story: As the coronavirus pandemic grips the world, the opioid epidemic continues to affect millions of Americans. Several states are developing innovative ways to tackle this public health issue. In this episode, we speak with Beth Connolly, who leads Pew’s research on substance use disorders, and Louisiana Representative Paula Davis, who helped ensure effective treatment in her state.

Jan 15

22 min 30 sec

Stat: $850 billion: The damage caused by flood-related disasters in the U.S. since 2000. Story: Floods are the costliest natural disasters in the United States, but there are ways to prepare for the storms ahead. In this episode of our “States of Innovation” season, we hear from Laura Lightbody, who directs Pew’s work to better prepare communities for floods, about how states such as Texas and South Carolina are reducing their risks through innovative solutions. We also speak with South Carolina state Representative G. Murrell Smith Jr. and the Coastal Conservation League’s Laura Cantral about the state’s newly founded Office of Resilience and efforts to minimize the effect of flooding on taxpayers, communities, and the environment.

Jan 8

17 min 27 sec

Stat: 12 million: The number of Americans who use payday loans each year. Story: Payday loans can help people facing an unexpected financial crunch—but can also bring unexpected problems. Ohio adopted an innovative new law to protect consumers who were being dragged into a cycle of debt by the very loans they thought would help them. We learn more from Nick Bourke, who directs Pew’s consumer finance work, and Pastor Carl Ruby, who saw the downside to the loans and helped lead the fight to change the law.

Dec 2020

18 min 29 sec

Stat: 67% of U.S. adults think local elected officials care about the people they represent, according to the Pew Research Center. Story: In the first episode of our season “States of Innovation,” Sue Urahn, Pew’s new president and CEO, discusses the role of state governments as “laboratories of our democracy,” where innovative thinking can be paired with policies informed by data to address long-standing problems.

Dec 2020

15 min 22 sec

In a new season of Pew’s “After the Fact” podcast, we look at innovative solutions to some long-standing problems, including how small loans can be more affordable for consumers, how communities can better prepare for floods, and ways for migrating animals to cross highways that keep them—and drivers—safe. These innovations are possible thanks to state leaders around the country who are working together to make people’s lives better. Join us as we bring you five stories about states of innovation—and meet Pew’s new president and CEO, Sue Urahn, too. She tells us about how these sorts of innovations occur when data and evidence give policymakers from all backgrounds the common ground they need to truly collaborate.  

Dec 2020

1 min 34 sec

In this bonus episode of our “Conversations on Science” season, Sudip Parikh, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, discusses the important pathways connecting science and society. From the coronavirus pandemic to relationship building with faith leaders, Parikh reflects on his career in the lab and the halls of Congress, and the impact that the 172-year-old organization he leads has on the scientific community and the world.

Oct 2020

24 min 21 sec

In this extended conversation with France Córdova, we hear how her passion for science and public policy took her on a quest for scientific truth in leadership positions at NASA and the National Science Foundation. Córdova also discusses the importance of collaboration and inclusiveness to the future of scientific discovery and how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the larger scientific community.

Oct 2020

24 min 30 sec

In this bonus episode of our “Conversations on Science” season, we share an extended talk with Carlo Rovelli, a theoretical physicist and bestselling author who believes science is just as creative as it is logical. “Science starts,” says Rovelli, “in the life of each scientist with wonder and a mystery.”

Oct 2020

21 min 41 sec

Stat: 54%: The share of Americans who view scientists as good communicators. Story: In the last episode of our science season, we explore how scientists communicate: What is the state of our national conversation on science, and who is doing the talking? Guests include Laura Lindenfeld, executive director of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and dean of the School of Journalism at Stony Brook University, and Shirley Malcom of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Oct 2020

25 min 43 sec

Stat: 60%: According to the Pew Research Center, 6 out of 10 Americans say scientists should take an active role in policy debates about scientific issues. Story: As we continue our “Conversations on Science” season, we talk to Esther Krofah, executive director of FasterCures; Molly Irwin, vice president, research and science, at The Pew Charitable Trusts; and Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America, about the intersections between scientific research, the public, and policymakers today.

Sep 2020

13 min 43 sec

Stat: 79%: Percentage of the U.S. population that agrees that science has made the world a better place. Story: Scientific discovery shapes the world—from our medical care to how we live, learn, and work. In this episode, we explore the process of discovery and how it is playing out during the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll hear from leading experts on the science of the coronavirus, the pipeline for potential vaccines and treatment, and how these times are changing the way we conduct science.

Sep 2020

21 min 50 sec

Stat: 35%: The percentage of Americans  in 2019 who report a great deal of confidence in scientists to act in the public interest, up from 21% in 2016. Story: Public trust in science is front and center today as researchers seek to learn more about the coronavirus. In this episode, France Córdova, former National Science Foundation director, discusses confidence in scientific research, and Cary Funk, the Pew Research Center’s director of science and society research, shares survey results on how the public perceives scientists. We’ll also hear from Sudip Parikh, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, on how speaking with precision and jargon creates separation between scientists and the public.   

Sep 2020

19 min 47 sec

Stat: 79%: The percentage of people who agree that science has made life easier for most of us. Story: Science may sometimes seem abstract, but its benefits can be seen everywhere—from the technology in smartphones to the medicines we take. In this episode, we explore what science really is (and what it’s not) with Ira Flatow, host of the popular “Science Friday” radio program, and Carlo Rovelli, a world-renowned physicist and bestselling writer.

Sep 2020

13 min 49 sec

Stat: 78%: The percentage of Americans who say it makes sense that studies on the coronavirus may present conflicting advice because research is constantly improving. Story: In the first episode of our new season “Conversations on Science,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discusses the importance of science in our daily lives, especially amid the pandemic, and shares his own story about how he fell in love with science.

Aug 2020

22 min 53 sec

In a new season of Pew’s “After the Fact” podcast, we talk about science: what it is, how it’s conducted and explained to the public, and how it affects our lives. We speak with scientists and researchers—from Dr. Anthony Fauci and Pew biomedical scholar Pamela Bjorkman, who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, to “Science Friday” host Ira Flatow and physicist and bestselling author Carlo Rovelli, who speak about the scientific process and why it matters. Join us as we explore science and envision how what’s happening today may shape the future of our world.  

Aug 2020

1 min 48 sec

Story: With summer heating up, we’re again sharing our conversation with Pew biomedical scholar and Princeton scientist Lindy McBride about one of the peskiest and deadliest insects on the planet: the mosquito. Listen in for the facts about mosquitoes and why they find some people tastier than others.

Aug 2020

14 min 30 sec

Stat: 78 percent: About 8 in 10 adults feel that libraries help them find information that is trustworthy and reliable. Story: Everybody knows what happened on the Fourth of July, but what about the First of July? That’s the anniversary of America’s first free library. Established in 1731 by Ben Franklin, it marked the democratization of information. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden—the first woman and African American in that role—talks about how libraries and librarians continue that mission to this day.  

Jul 2020

16 min 50 sec

Stat: 87 percent: Americans who say they are following news about the coronavirus outbreak fairly or very closely. Story: According to the World Health Organization, people are not only living through an epidemic but also an “infodemic”—a surge of information about COVID-19 that has made it hard for people to know which news and guidance about the virus is accurate. In a conversation with Alan Miller, founder and CEO of the News Literacy Project, we discuss how to sort fact from fiction today.

Jun 2020

15 min

Stat: 48% of U.S. adults have cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. Story: What do zebrafish have to do with human health? As it turns out, they can help researchers understand how and why heart disease happens. We spoke to Pew biomedical scholar (2002) Steven Farber at the Carnegie Institution for Science to learn more about his work, which is revealing new strategies to combat heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

May 2020

15 min 51 sec

Stat: 21 million: The number of Americans not connected to broadband internet, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Story: While most Americans are managing remote work, learning, and even participating in social gatherings online during the pandemic, there are still millions of Americans who don’t have access to high-speed internet where they live. Kathryn de Wit, manager of Pew’s broadband research initiative, explains who’s not online and shares what some states and communities are doing to bridge connectivity gaps.

May 2020

12 min 14 sec

Story: With schools and universities closed and millions now learning and working from home because of the coronavirus, Pew’s latest edition of Trend magazine focuses on the topic of learning. In this rebroadcast featuring two Stanford University researchers with an essay in the magazine, you’ll hear about how breakthroughs in neuroscience and technology have given us insights into the human mind and how those findings are being applied in classrooms today.

May 2020

22 min 38 sec

Stat: $75 billion: The total amount of money that states had set aside in rainy day funds at the end of 2019 in case of an economic downturn. Story: The short-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic on our health care systems and daily lives were immediately clear. But how will states weather the economic storm over the long term? In this episode, we hear from Josh Goodman of Pew’s state fiscal health team, who shares insights on the steps that states are taking to address looming budget shortfalls.

Apr 2020

12 min 22 sec

Stat: 44 percent: The percentage of Americans who say the COVID-19 outbreak has changed their lives in a major way. Story: From how we work, socialize, and even pray, the coronavirus has upturned American life. The Pew Research Center’s Claudia Deane summarizes recent survey findings, including Americans’ views of the impact on their daily life, their concerns about the economy, and trust levels in government and the health system.

Apr 2020

10 min 42 sec

As the world copes with the COVID-19 pandemic, Pew’s “After the Fact” podcast is taking a pause. For all our listeners, stay safe and healthy, and we’ll be back with new content soon.

Mar 2020

36 sec

Stat: 47 percent: The percentage decline of newsroom employees at newspapers between 2008 and 2018. Story: Newspapers are cutting staff or closing altogether, but in the final episode of our local news series we visit The Berkshire Eagle in western Massachusetts, which is bucking that trend. We speak to the publisher and editor who are adding reporters and to community leaders who value a local paper in their civic life.

Mar 2020

19 min 52 sec

Stat: 2000: More than 2,000 of the 3,143 counties in the United States have no daily local newspaper. Story: What is a news desert? We explore the definition—a community with limited access to credible and comprehensive news and information—by traveling to southeast Georgia where the Waycross Journal-Herald abruptly closed in September 2019. We also interview expert Penny Abernathy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who has documented the spread of news deserts across the United States.

Mar 2020

19 min 21 sec

Stat: 71: The percentage of Americans who believe that their local news outlet is doing well financially. Story: Local news outlets are struggling against declines in circulation and advertising, with 2,100 newspapers closing over the past 15 years. In the first installment of our three-part series on the changing landscape of local news in America, we hear from experts on what’s changed and how it may be affecting our communities.

Feb 2020

17 min 3 sec

Story: In this series, we explore the decline in local news coverage across America. Host Dan LeDuc interviews journalism experts, travels to a “news desert” where the daily newspaper recently printed its last edition, and visits the newsroom of a paper that is bucking the trend and doubling down on its investment in community coverage.

Feb 2020

1 min 33 sec

Stat: 800 million: The number of people in the world who live within the footprint, 62 miles, of a volcano. Story: In the latest episode in our “Scientists at Work” series, we go behind the scenes at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where we meet geologist and volcanologist Ben Andrews, who works to answer three key questions about volcanoes around the world: When will an eruption happen, how big could the eruption be, and how fast?

Feb 2020

13 min 45 sec

Stat: 22.73: Ken Burns’ documentary Civil War was created from 22.73 miles of film. Story: Ken Burns is known for his expansive documentaries on American history and culture. With 33 documentary films to his name, what is the secret to his creative process? We travel to the New Hampshire barn where he works for a conversation about how he tells old stories in a new way and what inspires him to create.

Jan 2020

26 min 48 sec

Stat: 59 percent: The percentage of Americans who say they have little to no confidence in the public’s political wisdom. Story: As the new year—and an election year—begins, we turn to data on our democracy to learn more about how Americans view institutions and civic life today. Host Dan LeDuc speaks with Michael Dimock, president of the Pew Research Center, about the latest research on trust, facts, and democracy in America.

Jan 2020

20 min

Story: “After the Fact” is sharing one more fan favorite before the end of the year with Paula Marincola, executive director of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. She selected an episode with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and 1999 Pew arts fellow Jennifer Higdon on how ideas become reality. Since that conversation, Jennifer has again been nominated for a Grammy Award. Host Dan LeDuc also speaks with Paula about the importance of the arts today.

Dec 2019

25 min 5 sec

Story: “After the Fact” is sharing a couple more fan favorites as we close out 2019. This week, Ray Suarez, guest host of our “Future of Learning” series and a former broadcaster, selected an episode (No. 46) that focuses on how location can affect an individual’s economic prospects.

Dec 2019

20 min 42 sec

Stat: 68 million: The number of Americans who say they have no religious affiliation as of , compared with 39 million in 2009. Story: This episode focuses on Americans’ views of religion and the generational changes that are taking place. Greg Smith of the Pew Research Center shares an update on the changing religious landscape, and host Dan LeDuc talks to a mother and daughter about their evolving religious paths.

Dec 2019

21 min 18 sec