“Back in 1995, Claude Steele published a study that showed that negative stereotypes could have a detrimental effect on students’ academic performance. But the big surprise was that he could make that effect disappear with just a few simple changes in language. We were completely enamored with this research when we first heard about it, but in the current roil of replications and self-examination in the field of social psychology, we have to wonder whether we can still cling to the hopes of our earlier selves, or if we might have to grow up just a little bit.”
“Most of us would sacrifice one person to save five. It’s a pretty straightforward bit of moral math. But if we have to actually kill that person ourselves, the math gets fuzzy.
“That’s the lesson of the classic Trolley Problem, a moral puzzle that fried our brains in an episode we did about 11 years ago. Luckily, the Trolley Problem has always been little more than a thought experiment, mostly confined to conversations at a certain kind of cocktail party. That is until now. New technologies are forcing that moral quandry out of our philosophy departments and onto our streets. So today we revisit the Trolley Problem and wonder how a two-ton hunk of speeding metal will make moral calculations about life and death that we can’t even figure out ourselves.”
“When people are dying and you can only save some, how do you choose? Maybe you save the youngest. Or the sickest. Maybe you even just put all the names in a hat and pick at random. Would your answer change if a sick person was standing right in front of you?
“In this episode, we follow New York Times reporter Sheri Fink as she searches for the answer. In a warzone, a hurricane, a church basement, and an earthquake, the question remains the same. What happens, what should happen, when humans are forced to play god?”
“Out drinking with a few biologists, Jad finds out about something called CRISPR. No, it’s not a robot or the latest dating app, it’s a method for genetic manipulation that is rewriting the way we change DNA. Scientists say they’ll someday be able to use CRISPR to fight cancer and maybe even bring animals back from the dead. Or, pretty much do whatever you want. Jad and Robert delve into how CRISPR does what it does, and consider whether we should be worried about a future full of flying pigs, or the simple fact that scientists have now used CRISPR to tweak the genes of human embryos.”
How do we judge the morality of hunting? Is it ever ethical to kill an animal? What if the hunt raises money for conservation efforts? What if the animal being killed was a threat to younger members of the herd? Below is a podcast that interviews the famous/infamous hunter who was cast into international spotlight for his buying a permit to hunt a black rhino which is an endangered species. People had very angry and visceral reactions to hearing about this. The issue is much deeper than simple reactive anger and offers us a great issue with which to examine ethics. Below are links to some articles on the topic that I have previous posted.
“Back in 2014, Corey Knowlton paid $350,000 for a hunting trip to Namibia to shoot and kill an endangered species. He’s a professional hunter, who guides hunts all around the world, so going to Africa would be nothing new. The target on the other hand would be. And so too, he quickly found, would be the attention.
“This episode, producer Simon Adler follows Corey as he dodges death threats and prepares to pull the trigger. Along the way we stop to talk with Namibian hunters and government officials, American activists, and someone who’s been here before – Kenya’s former Director of Wildlife, Richard Leakey. All the while, we try to uncover what conservation really means in the 21st century.”
“A US hunter who paid $350,000 to kill a black rhinoceros in Namibia successfully shot the animal on Monday, saying that his actions would help protect the critically-endangered species.”
Here is an article arguing in favor of that policy.
“This hour of Radiolab, a look behind the curtain of how memories are made…and forgotten. Remembering is an unstable and profoundly unreliable process–it’s easy come, easy go as we learn how true memories can be obliterated, and false ones added. And Oliver Sacks joins us to tell the story of an amnesiac whose love for his wife and music transcend his 7-second memory.”
“When professor Caroline Elkins came across a stray document left by the British colonial government in Nairobi, Kenya, she opened the door to a new reckoning with the history of one of Britain’s colonial crown jewels, and the fearsome group of rebels known as the Mau Mau. We talk to historians, archivists, journalists and send our producer Jamie York to visit the Mau Mau. As the new history of Kenya is concealed and revealed, document by document, we wonder what else lies in wait among the miles of records hidden away in Hanslope Park.”
What does this podcast tell us about the way in which we construct knowledge in History? What role does corroborating documentary evidence play? Can we solely rely on oral history to construct knowledge about the past?
This podcast also raises many interesting questions about ethics and responsibility. Does Britain’s government have any responsibility, moral, ethical, or legal, to acknowledge past crimes? Does it have to make amends for these actions?
“When we talk online, things can go south fast. But they don’t have to. Today, we meet a group of social engineers who are convinced that tiny changes in wording can make the online world a kinder, gentler place. So long as we agree to be their lab rats.
Ok, yeah, we’re talking about Facebook. Because Facebook, or something like it, is more and more the way we share and like, and gossip and gripe. And because it’s so big, Facebook has a created a laboratory of human behavior the likes of which we’ve never seen. We peek into the work of Arturo Bejar and a team of researchers who are tweaking our online experience, bit by bit, to try to make the world a better place. And along the way we can’t help but wonder whether that’s possible, or even a good idea.”
“On July 29th, 1985, a 36-year-old woman named Penny Beerntsen went for a jog on the beach near her home. About a mile into her run, she passed a man in a leather jacket, said hello and kept running. On her way back, he re-appeared. What happened next would cause Penny to question everything she thought she knew about judging people — and, in the end, her ability to be certain of anything.”
“Reporter Ari Daniel Shapiro tells us about Klaus Zuberbuhler’s work in the Tai Forest of West Africa. When Klaus first came to the forest, he hit a wall of sound. But he slowly started making sense of that sonic chaos by scaring a particular monkey called the Diana Monkey. Turns out, the Diana Monkey is making more than just noise. Then we jump from the jungle to the prairie, where Con Slobodchikoff has discovered what he calls a grammar of color, shapes, and sizes embedded in prairie dog chirps. His discovery leaves Jad and Robert wondering whether we could ever understand the language of a different species. Back in the jungle, Klaus is wondering the same thing, and tells us about one day when the cacophony of monkey calls distilled into a life-saving warning.”