Mass Incarceration

What ‘Getting Curious’ Taught Jonathan Van Ness About … Everything

When the podcast Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness first dropped in 2015, it was with an episode titled, “What’s the Difference Between Sunni and Shia Muslims and Why Don’t They Love Each Other?” during which the then Gay of Thrones star spoke with a UCLA professor to hash out centuries of difficult strife. The present was a modest success, however three years later Van Ness was nabbed by Netflix to turn out to be considered one of Queer Eye’s new Fab 5 and located himself abruptly beloved by tens of millions of latest followers.

Since then, Van Ness has written a memoir, a kids’s e-book, and an essay assortment; been nominated for a number of Emmys; hung out in DC lobbying for LGBTQ+ rights; come out as each non-binary and HIV constructive; begun touring a dwell present that blends stand-up and gymnastics; and even launched his personal line of hair care merchandise. He’s additionally turned the podcast into a Netflix show

By way of all of it, although, Van Ness has nonetheless made time for his podcast, with Getting Curious dropping its three hundredth episode final week. Matters alongside the best way have ranged from fatphobia to The Nice British Bake Off, with Van Ness sustaining that he’ll cowl something so long as he’s genuinely all for it. “I’m simply so interested in us in the USA, how issues obtained this manner, and the way we grew to become who we grew to become,” says Van Ness. “I really feel like I’ve grown up with the present, and a lot of what I find out about life, I’ve realized whereas recording this podcast.” 

With an eye fixed towards sharing a few of that schooling, Van Ness whittled down the huge Getting Curious library to his 9 favourite episodes, selecting a variety for WIRED that he hopes “flip extra individuals on to their passions.”

Van Ness: [Data journalist] Meredith Broussard’s work is one thing I reference rather a lot. Techno-chauvinism on the entire is the concept that machines know the way to do issues higher than people. She used the instance of a set of computerized blinds. It is good to press a button and make it go up, however when it breaks, you may’t repair it. Whereas in case you had handbook blinds, you’d simply go over and decrease the blinds with the string and it will be working effective. It will be simpler to repair.

A extra necessary instance that she talks about is her algorithmic bias work, like how a police scanner or facial recognition system can’t determine a gender nonconforming particular person. Lots of these algorithms are a mirrored image of the individuals who make them and most of the time, the individuals who make these algorithms are males. The individuals who make the algorithms aren’t actually various. It is not inspired to convey up points like that inside these areas and the dissents are inclined to get unceremoniously quashed.

So, techno-chauvinism is baked into the programs that affect our day-to-day lives in actually necessary methods. In the event you’re at a TSA scanner, as an example, you may get pulled out of a line since you’re listed as a person however you’re carrying an extended shirt, so it’s possible you’ll get a pat down that another person could not get, simply because these algorithms do not know the way to acknowledge the nuance {that a} human eye would have the ability to determine.

Van Ness: Tina Lasisi is an evolutionary biologist and research human hair variation, however she additionally research how we obtained right here, just like the evolution of human hair variation and scalps. A lot of what I realized in hair faculty about why curly hair is curly, why wavy hair is wavy, why straight hair is straight … it is all a lie. It is not even true. In hair faculty we’re informed that in case your hair is coily, that it’s extra kidney bean formed. Curly hair is extra like an oval, after which straight hair is extra like an ideal circle. However in her work on the lab, they’ve truly discovered each single sort of hair in all of these shapes.

The actually scary factor about it’s that each one of this false hair science was utilized in crime scene investigation within the ’80s and ’90s, like, “This hair was there and since it’s kidney bean formed we all know it was a Black particular person.” It’s extra nuanced than that. 

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