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Radiolab

Author: WNYC Studios

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A two-time Peabody Award-winner, Radiolab is an investigation told through sounds and stories, and centered around one big idea. In the Radiolab world, information sounds like music and science and culture collide. Hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, the show is designed for listeners who demand skepticism, but appreciate wonder.

WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including On the Media, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin.

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244 Episodes
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Radiolab creator and host Jad Abumrad spent the last two years following around music legend Dolly Parton, and we're here to say you should tune in! In this episode of Radiolab, we showcase the first of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this intensely divided moment, one of the few things everyone still seems to agree on is Dolly Parton—but why? That simple question leads to a deeply personal, historical, and musical rethinking of one of America’s great icons. We begin with a simple question: How did the queen of the boob joke become a feminist icon? Helen Morales, author of “Pilgrimage to Dollywood,” gave us a stern directive – look at the lyrics! So we dive into Dolly’s discography, starting with the early period of what Dolly calls “sad ass songs” to find remarkably prescient words of female pain, slut-shaming, domestic violence, and women being locked away in asylums by cheating husbands. We explore how Dolly took the centuries-old tradition of the Appalachian “murder ballad”—an oral tradition of men singing songs about brutally killing women—and flipped the script, singing from the woman’s point of view. And as her career progresses, the songs expand beyond the pain to tell tales of leaving abuse behind.How can such pro-woman lyrics come from someone who despises the word feminism? Dolly explains.   Check out Dolly Parton's America here at: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/dolly-partons-america 
Silky Love

Silky Love

2019-09-2700:37:3659

We eat eels in sushi, stews, and pasta. Eels eat anything. Also they can survive outside of water for hours and live for up to 80 years. But this slippery snake of the sea harbors an even deeper mystery, one that has tormented the minds of Aristotle and Sigmund Freud and apparently the entire country of Italy: Where do they come from? We travel from the estuaries of New York to the darkest part of the ocean in search of the limits of human knowledge.This episode was produced by Matt Kielty and Becca Bressler. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. Further reading:Lucy Cooke's book The Truth about Animals!Chris Bowser's Eel Research Project
Tit for Tat

Tit for Tat

2019-09-1700:26:5088

In the early 60s, Robert Axelrod was a math major messing around with refrigerator-sized computers. Then a dramatic global crisis made him wonder about the space between a rock and a hard place, and whether being good may be a good strategy. With help from Andrew Zolli and Steve Strogatz, we tackle the prisoner’s dilemma, a classic thought experiment, and learn about a simple strategy to navigate the waters of cooperation and betrayal. Then Axelrod, along with Stanley Weintraub, takes us back to the trenches of World War I, to the winter of 1914, and an unlikely Christmas party along the Western Front.  
What's Left When You're Right?

What's Left When You're Right?

2019-09-0501:03:37122

More often than not, a fight is just a fight... Someone wins, someone loses. But this hour, we have a series of face-offs that shine a light on the human condition, the benefit of coming at something from a different side, and the price of being right.Special thanks to Mark Dresser for the use of his music. 
The Memory Palace

The Memory Palace

2019-08-2800:42:1956

Nate DiMeo was preoccupied with the past, and how we relate to it, from a very young age. For the last decade or so he's been scratching this itch with The Memory Palace, a podcast he created. He does things very differently than we do, but his show has captured the hearts of Radiolab staffers, past and present, time and time again. So we decided to get Nate into the studio to share a few of his episodes with us and talk to us about how and why he does what he does. He brought us stories about the Morse Code, the draft lottery, and then he hit us with a brand new episode about a bull on trial, that bounces off a story we did pretty recently.More history on scrub bulls.Follow @thememorypalace on Twitter.This episode was produced with help from Bethel Habte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.  Other staff favorites:Zulu Charlie RomeoNotes on an Imagined PlaqueSnakes!Outliers 
Right to be Forgotten

Right to be Forgotten

2019-08-2300:49:2761

In an online world, that story about you lives forever. The tipsy photograph of you at the college football game? It’s up there. That news article about the political rally you were marching at? It’s up there. A DUI? That’s there, too. But what if ... it wasn’t.In Cleveland, Ohio, a group of journalists are trying out an experiment that has the potential to turn things upside down: they are unpublishing content they’ve already published. Photographs, names, entire articles. Every month or so, they get together to decide what content stays, and what content goes. On today’s episode, reporter Molly Webster goes inside the room where the decisions are being made, listening case-by-case as editors decide who, or what, gets to be deleted. It’s a story about time and memory; mistakes and second chances; and society as we know it.This episode was reported by Molly Webster, and produced by Molly Webster and Bethel Habte. Special thanks to Kathy English, David Erdos, Ed Haber, Brewster Kahle, Imani Leonard, Ruth Samuel, James Bennett II, Alice Wilder, Alex Overington, Jane Kamensky and all the people who helped shape this story.Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. To learn more about Cleveland.com’s “right to be forgotten experiment,” check out the very first column Molly read about the project.
On the inaugural episode of More Perfect, we explore three little words embedded in the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: “cruel and unusual.” America has long wrestled with this concept in the context of our strongest punishment, the death penalty. A majority of “we the people” (61 percent, to be exact) are in favor of having it, but inside the Supreme Court, opinions have evolved over time in surprising ways.And outside of the court, the debate drove one woman in the UK to take on the U.S. death penalty system from Europe. It also caused states to resuscitate old methods used for executing prisoners on death row. And perhaps more than anything, it forced a conversation on what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.Special thanks to Claire Phillips, Nina Perry, Stephanie Jenkins, Ralph Dellapiana, Byrd Pinkerton, Elisabeth Semel, Christina Spaulding, and The Marshall ProjectSupport Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. Also! We’re working on collecting some audience feedback so we can do a better job of getting our show out to all of you, interacting with you, and reaching new people. We’d love to hear from you. Go to www.radiolab.org/survey to participate.
G: The World's Smartest Animal

G: The World's Smartest Animal

2019-07-3000:50:0493

This episode begins with a rant. This rant, in particular, comes from Dan Engber - a science writer who loves animals but despises animal intelligence research. Dan told us that so much of the way we study animals involves tests that we think show a human is smart ... not the animals we intend to study. Dan’s rant got us thinking: What is the smartest animal in the world? And if we threw out our human intelligence rubric, is there a fair way to figure it out?Obviously, there is. And it’s a live game show, judged by Jad, Robert … and a dog.For the last episode of G, Radiolab’s miniseries on intelligence, we’re sharing that game show with you. It was recorded as a live show back in May 2019 at the Greene Space in New York City. We invited two science writers, Dan Engber and Laurel Braitman, and two comedians, Tracy Clayton and Jordan Mendoza, to compete against one another to find the world’s smartest animal. What resulted were a series of funny, delightful stories about unexpectedly smart animals and a shift in the way we think about intelligence across all the animals - including us.Check out the video of our live event here! This episode was produced by Rachael Cusick and Pat Walters, with help from Nora Keller and Suzie Lechtenberg. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris and Dorie Chevlin.Special thanks to Bill Berloni and Macy (the dog) and everyone at The Greene Space.Radiolab’s “G” is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
G: Unnatural Selection

G: Unnatural Selection

2019-07-2600:36:1269

This past fall, a scientist named Steve Hsu made headlines with a provocative announcement. He would start selling a genetic intelligence test to couples doing IVF: a sophisticated prediction tool, built on big data and machine learning, designed to help couples select the best embryo in their batch. We wondered, how does that work? What can the test really say? And do we want to live in a world where certain people can decide how smart their babies will be?This episode was produced by Simon Adler, with help from Rachael Cusick and Pat Walters. Fact-checking by Michelle Harris. Engineering help from Jeremy Bloom.Special thanks to Catherine Bliss.Radiolab’s “G” is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
G: Unfit

G: Unfit

2019-07-1700:52:0584

When a law student named Mark Bold came across a Supreme Court decision from the 1920s that allowed for the forced sterilization of people deemed “unfit,” he was shocked to discover that it had never been overturned. His law professors told him the case, Buck v Bell, was nothing to worry about, that the ruling was in a kind of legal limbo and could never be used against people. But he didn’t buy it. In this episode we follow Mark on a journey to one of the darkest consequences of humanity’s attempts to measure the human mind and put people in boxes, following him through history, science fiction and a version of eugenics that’s still very much alive today, and watch as he crusades to restore a dash of moral order to the universe.This episode was produced by Matt Kielty, Lulu Miller and Pat Walters. You can pre-order Lulu Miller’s new book Why Fish Don’t Exist here.Special thanks to Sara Luterman, Lynn Rainville, Alex Minna Stern, Steve Silberman and Lydia X.Z. Brown.Radiolab’s “G” is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate. 
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Comments (635)

Elephant Wig

the judge ar one point says that the he was punished for a biological problem, but the judge seems to be implying that all problems are biological problems, so I'm not sure why he said that.

Oct 21st
Reply

Elephant Wig

new stuff starts at 28:00

Oct 21st
Reply

April Seay

I'm hooked in!

Oct 17th
Reply (1)

brianna bowne

This is amazing. I can not wait to hear more from Dolly.

Oct 17th
Reply

Alynna N.

This hits home as I'm epileptic. It's scary.

Oct 16th
Reply (1)

Angie Hildebrand-Hebert

I love Dolly Parton. She is a hardworking All American Lady! 💖 She is kinda like America's Queen.

Oct 16th
Reply (1)

Cory

this is a story of a young, smart man who worked hard and grew from it. radiolab gave this young man its customary minority-group victimology spin, for flavor, and made it...soft. im done with radiolab

Oct 15th
Reply

Elephant Wig

gay Republicans, jumbo shrimp, I love paradoxes.

Oct 11th
Reply

g

isn't this a really old episode

Oct 8th
Reply (1)

jennifer johnson

I am a biology nerd and I still found the episode among the most boring of the lot.

Sep 30th
Reply

Ryles

Bought the book. It's great. Highly recommend it. And it's only $14 for a hardcover, surprisingly.

Sep 29th
Reply

Joshua Nunn

San Francisco has upward mobility! Get the heck out of here you can have two jobs and be homeless in that city.

Sep 20th
Reply

Mohit Agarwal

wow, physical transportation for light and trapping the light for future

Sep 20th
Reply

Elephant Wig

personally, I still believe in the whole bringing yourself up thing, but I believe it takes more than one generation of dedication to get results.

Sep 18th
Reply

Mohit Agarwal

just finished listening to this old episode and have two questions 1. if you don't penalise the person committed the crime and blame on biological thing then how do you make sure people are following the law? fear is one of the greatest power for mortals like us and it keeps us away from dwindling to law breaking 2. in the second half of the story, the man who committed the crime was remorseful of his act and he was pardoned by the father of victim itself so should we still keep him under lock and key and not try to get the voice taken out of this head which pushed him to that heinous act

Sep 16th
Reply

Mauro Acuña

me encantaría que a todos sus audios les pusieran los metadatos con el cover, autor(artista), track(episodio) año genero ya que soy de las personas que prefiere descargar los audios y luego escucharlos sin tener que estar conectado o por wifi o datos, aparte esté app como reproductor molesta si no estoy conectado, me gusta más usar mi reproductor de audio ya que no consume tanta batería y recursos del sistema, entenderán que no es el único podcast que escucho pero cuando los bajo y los busco en mi dispositivo aparecen como una serie de números sin metadatos para identificar los, se que si se puede ya que bajo los de all ears English podcast y ellos si le colocan los metadatos y realmente son los que suelo escuchar más que de otros por qué no los identico, por cierto muy chebre todo lo que narra me encanta pa lante y esto es más una retroalimentación de alguien que quiere que mejore más y más (gracias por la atención brindada)

Sep 16th
Reply

Jijia Bai

the sound effects are a tad annoying

Sep 15th
Reply

Eric A

I'm alittle bummed there wasn't a check to see if there was any correlation with the parrots and their speach abilities. assuming their speach centers are also left brained..

Sep 15th
Reply

Ryan Persaud

I kinda feel like the last one, while interesting, was a bit of a let down. The first two stories were such fantastic explorations of different perspectives clashing.

Sep 11th
Reply

Danger Durian

"About as good a predictor as the SAT"... doesn't work on poc... that checks out

Sep 11th
Reply (1)
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