Episode 16: Interview With Dr. Willie Parker

April 26th 2017

ATTN: Staff

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A 2016 video of a great white shark breaking into a diving cage is making the internet rounds again. The shocking incident took place near Guadalupe Island, off the coast of the Baja California peninsula in Mexico — which is known for being a great place to view great white sharks.

As the video below shows, a great white shark is able to enter the diving cage and then emerges from the top, described in the video as a "very rare event."

Here's how it was explained in the YouTube description:

"On a recent great white shark cage diving trip we experienced a very rare horrifying shark encounter event, a shark breaching the side of the cage. What might appear to be an aggressive great white shark trying to attack the cage, this is not the case. These awesome sharks are biting at large chunks of tuna tied to a rope. When a great white shark lunges and bites something, it is temporarily blinded. They also cannot swim backwards. So this shark lunged at the bait, accidentally hit the side of the cage, was most likely confused and not able to swim backwards, it thrust forward and broke the metal rail of the cage. There was a single diver inside the cage. He ended up outside the bottom of the cage, looking down on two great white sharks. The diver is a very experienced dive instructor, remained calm, and when the shark thrashed back outside the cage, the diver calmly swam back up and climbed out completely uninjured."

After watching such a paralyzing video, someone could reasonably ask, "why would anyone do that?" That's the question Senior Social Trends Editor Omri Rolan asked on this week's "Got Your Attention."

The answer, as explained by author and naturalist Sy Montgomery, has a lot to do with "how the brain processes fearful stimuli." Montgomery wrote about her own great white shark diving trip to Guadalupe Island for Aeon: "People such as me illustrate a fascinating paradox: in us, the physiology of fear relates not just to pain and phobias, but also to motivation, sex, pain relief, and love."

Montgomery was interviewed about her experience by WBUR in 2014, and she elaborates further:

"I know, as everyone does, that there are certain chemicals that are associated with certain states. We think of fear as being something associated with endocannabinoids and opioids that are released by the brain under acute stress. We think of adrenaline, we think of cortisol. We think of all these things that allow our heart rate to increase, our veins to increase, our blood glucose to rise, our pupils to dilate, our muscles to tense. All of these things that let you get away from something real scary or fight it, it turns out, are involved with things that we love such as seeing the man you’re in love with. They are also involved with jogger’s high. They’re the same neurotransmitters."

So while Omri, Head of Editorial Mike Vainisi, and Staff Writer Danielle DeCourcey would not dive with sharks — and they explain why at length — there is a scientific reason why somebody like Senior Editor Sarah Gray would.

The four also discuss Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stumping for an anti-abortion mayoral candidate, racist comments made about Serena Williams' unborn child, and Confederate monuments being taken down in New Orleans.

And to round out the show, we have an interview between Dr. Willie Parker, a Christian abortion provider, and Senior Editor Sarah Gray about his memoir "Life's Work: A Moral Argument for Choice" (which you can read more about here).

Podcast notes:

Read more about the stories we did (and didn't) talk about this week on "Got Your Attention."

  • The reason John Oliver sent out a warning about Ivanka Trump.
  •  A vending machine on the University of California, Davis campus sells Plan B — among other items!
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has come under fire after stumping for Heath Mello a pro-life Nebraska Democrat.
  • The Kardashians had the most meta episode of their decade long reality show yesterday. On their reality show, they discussed whether or not filming a reality show is good for their family, all while not outright saying the words "reality show."
  • This tennis player made an incredibly insensitive comment about Serena Williams unborn baby. It involves milk
  •  Researchers are looking into why people fake orgasms, and it’s fascinating. Science of Us explains.
  • A video of a shark breaking into a cage with a diver in it is making the rounds again.
  • There's a recall of the jalapeno chips Danielle likes due to Salmonella, and she's tired of factory farming, meat eating people.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) defended Ann Coulter's right to speak at University of California, Berkeley.
  • New Orleans is removing confederate monuments and people are freaking out.

What is the "Got Your Attention" podcast?

If you've ever wondered how the staff pitch and select the stories that you read or watch on ATTN:, we're giving you an inside listen. ATTN: Media is excited to announce "Got Your Attention," a podcast where ATTN: staffers compete to have their pitches accepted by our host — while also unpacking some of the week's most important headlines.

The game is simple: Three ATTN: staff members — Senior Social Trends Editor Omri Rolan, Staff Writer Danielle DeCourcey, and Senior Editor Sarah Gray — pitch their best stories to our host and Head of Editorial Mike Vainisi. If Mike picks their story, they get a point, and the four discuss the story.