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Downside Up

What if the parts of our lives we've accepted as normal were totally different? What if dogs had never been domesticated? Or humans had no sense of flavor...what would've happened to the spice trade? And how would that have shaped the future of the world? Join CNN's Chris Cillizza as he speaks with journalists, experts and forward-thinking futurists to help us envision what might have been — and how even a small shift in the status quo could change our world completely.

What if we lived in a world without credit? Downside Up
The American economy revolves around credit. We use credit cards for everyday purchases like gas and  groceries, but we also take out major loans to pay for school, homes and automobiles. But what if we lived in a world without credit? How would this affect our financial system and our daily lives? Would it reshape human history? On the last episode of this season of Downside Up, Chris Cillizza considers these questions with sociologists Sarah Quinn and Monica Prasad, and New York Times business reporter Emily Flitter.
Dec 5, 2022
What if we only worked four days a week? Downside Up
Eighty years ago, Congress formalized a 40 hour work week in the United States. That policy hasn’t changed since then, even though today’s workforce looks very different than it did in the 1940s. With so many people working from home these days or dropping out of the workforce altogether, is it time we rethink our employment laws? What if we worked four days a week instead of five? Would it completely upend our work culture? This week on Downside Up, Chris Cillizza is joined by Anne Helen Peters...Show moreen, author of “Out of Office;” Angela Garbes, author of “Essential Labor;” and Charlotte Lockhart, founder of the nonprofit 4 Day Week - Global, to explore what the world would look if everyone works fewer hours.
Nov 28, 2022
What if we lived in a world without sneakers? Downside Up
Sneaker culture is a multibillion dollar business. It’s long shaped the way we think about sports, music and fashion. And today the sneakers we choose to wear define who we are as people. Somewhere in the last hundred years, a shoe that was designed exclusively for exercise was transformed into a status symbol and a work of art. How did this come to be? And what would our world look like if sneaker culture didn’t exist as it does today? This week on Downside Up, Chris Cillizza considers these questions with fashion historian Elizabeth Semmelhack and Sneakerheads Jacques Slade and Nick Engvall.
Nov 21, 2022
What if NCAA Sports Didn’t Exist? Downside Up
College sports is big business in America. Thanks to TV contracts, sponsorships and merchandise deals, the NCAA has grown into a multi-billion dollar brand. And for most of the last century, the league also controlled who had access to those dollars. Until recently, college athletes could not make any money from their talent. Now things are starting to change, which could put the National Collegiate Athletic Association on a path to obsolescence. This week on Downside Up, Chris Cillizza is joine...Show mored by player rights attorney Tim Nevius, professional tennis player Brittany Collens, and ESPN personalities Jay Bilas and Paul Finebaum to discuss what the world might look like if the NCAA didn’t exist.
Nov 14, 2022
What if California seceded from the United States? Downside Up
California is the fifth largest economy in the world. But could it survive as its own country? And could the rest of the United States survive without California? This week on Downside Up, Chris Cillizza is joined by UCLA economist Dr. Lee Ohanian, President of the California National Party Sean Forbes, and Richard Kreitner, author of “Break it Up,” a book about the history of secession efforts in America. They help us consider a loaded question: What if California seceded from the United States?
Nov 7, 2022
What if we lived in a world without plastic? Downside Up
Plastics are everywhere. They’re in our shoes and clothes. They’re in our cars, our airplanes and our cellphones. They’re in our hospitals and schools. They’re also in our bodies and in our oceans. The invention of this versatile material radically changed our world. But what if plastic didn’t exist? What would our world look like today? This week on Downside Up, Chris Cillizza is joined by Allison Cobb, author “Plastic: An Autobiograpy,” Erica Cirino, author of  “Thicker Than Water: The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis,” and Winnie Lau who studies plastics with the Pew Charitable Trusts, to reimagine the world without plastics.
Oct 31, 2022
What if we got rid of all mosquitoes? Downside Up
Nothing ruins a good barbecue like a swarm of mosquitoes. But what would happen if we eliminated all the mosquitoes in the world? We might save a lot of people from irritation and deadly diseases, but how would it affect the global environment? On this episode of Downside Up, Chris Cillizza is joined by scientists Dr. Tanya Latty and Dr. Lawrence Reeves as he seeks to understand what the world would be like without mankind’s deadliest predator.
Oct 24, 2022
What if we designed cities around people instead of cars? Downside Up
In some cities, 50 percent of the space downtown is dedicated to parking and roadways. We spend hours each day isolated from each other in our cars, zipping by the places we call home. But what if we designed cities around people instead of cars? What would our communities look like? This week, architect Vishaan Chakrabarti, urban planner Destiny Thomas and transportation reporter Joann Muller help us imagine a world where our communities serve our needs, not our cars.
Oct 17, 2022
What if dogs had never been domesticated? Downside Up
We think of dogs as man’s best friend. They sleep in our beds, they dominate on Instagram feeds, they shape our public parks. But do dogs also hold the key to our survival? 20,000 years ago, the gray wolf started the long evolutionary process to become our beloved household pet and changed the course of humanity in the process. But what if dogs had never been domesticated? What would that world look like? On this episode of Downside Up, host Chris Cillizza speaks with journalist David Grimm, anthropologist Dr. Radhika Govindrajan, and anthrozoologist Dr. Margot DeMello, to better understand our relationship with dogs and what society would look like without them.
Oct 10, 2022
What would the world look like without flavor? Downside Up
Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning and couldn’t taste your favorite meal. Imagine you couldn’t experience flavor at all. How would it affect your day-to-day world? There’d be no lunch dates, no birthday cakes, no barbecues. On this episode of Downside Up, Chris Cillizza is joined by food historians Sarah Lohman and Dr. Paul Freedman as he searches for an answer to the question: what would the world look like without flavor?
Oct 3, 2022
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