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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 enamoured 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 or our earlier selves, or if we might have to grow up just a little bit.This piece was produced by Simon Adler and Amanda Aronczyk and reported by Dan Engber and Amanda Aroncyk. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
You never know what might happen when you sign up to donate bone marrow. You might save a life… or you might be magically transported across a cultural chasm and find yourself starring in a modern adaptation of the greatest story ever told.One day, without thinking much of it, Jennell Jenney swabbed her cheek and signed up to be a donor. Across the country, Jim Munroe desperately needed a miracle, a one-in-eight-million connection that would save him. It proved to be a match made in marrow, a bit of magic in the world that hadn’t been there before. But when Jennell and Jim had a heart-to-heart in his suburban Dallas backyard, they realized they had contradictory ideas about where that magic came from. Today, an allegory for how to walk through the world in a way that lets you be deeply different, but totally together. This piece was reported by Latif Nasser. It was produced by Annie McEwen, with help from Bethel Habte and Alex Overington.Special thanks to Dr. Matthew J. Matasar, Dr. John Hill, Stephen Spellman at CIBMTR, St. Cloud State University’s Cru Chapter, and Mandy Naglich.
There’s nothing quite like the sound of someone thinking out loud, struggling to find words and ideas to match what’s in their head. Today, we are allowed to dip into the unfiltered thoughts of Oliver Sacks, one of our heroes, in the last months of his life. Oliver died in 2015, but before he passed he and his partner Bill Hayes, in an effort to preserve some of Oliver’s thoughts on his work and his life, bought a little tape recorder. Over a year and half after Oliver’s death, Bill dug up the recorder and turned it on. Through snippets of conversation with Bill, and in moments Oliver recorded whispering to himself as he wrote, we get a peek inside the head, and the life, of one of the greatest science essayists of all time.The passages read in this piece all come from Oliver’s recently released, post-humous book, The River of Consciousness. Special thanks to Billy Hayes for letting us use Oliver’s tapes, you can check out his work at http://www.billhayes.com/
Today, while the divisions between different groups in this country feel more and more insurmountable, we zero in on a particular neighborhood to see if one man can draw people together in a potentially history-making election. Khader El-Yateem is a Palestinian American running for office in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, one of the most divided, and most conservative neighborhoods in New York City. To win, he'll need to convince a wildly diverse population that he can speak for all of them, and he'll need to pull one particular group of people, Arab American muslims, out of the shadows and into the political process. And to make things just a bit more interesting, El-Yateem is a Lutheran minister.This story was reported and produced by Simon Adler, with help from Bethel Habte, Annie McEwen, and Sarah Qari. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
This story comes from the second season of Radiolab's spin-off podcast, More Perfect. To hear more, subscribe here.What happens when the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, seems to get it wrong? Korematsu v. United States is a case that’s been widely denounced and discredited, but it still remains on the books. This is the case that upheld President Franklin Roosevelt’s internment of American citizens during World War II based solely on their Japanese heritage, for the sake of national security. In this episode, we follow Fred Korematsu’s path to the Supreme Court, and we ask the question: if you can’t get justice in the Supreme Court, can you find it someplace else? The key voices:Fred Korematsu, plaintiff in Korematsu v. United States who resisted evacuation orders during World War II.Karen Korematsu, Fred’s daughter, Founder & Executive Director of Fred T. Korematsu InstituteErnest Besig, ACLU lawyer who helped Fred Korematsu bring his caseLorraine Bannai, Professor at Seattle University School of Law and friend of Fred's familyRichard Posner, recently retired Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit The key cases:1944: Korematsu v. United States The key links:Fred T. Korematsu InstituteDensho ArchivesAdditional music for this episode by The Flamingos, Lulu, Paul Lansky and Austin Vaughn. Special thanks to the Densho Archives for use of archival tape of Fred Korematsu and Ernest Besig. Leadership support for More Perfect is provided by The Joyce Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation.Supreme Court archival audio comes from Oyez®, a free law project in collaboration with the Legal Information Institute at Cornell.
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.This story was reported and produced by Amanda Aronczyk and Bethel Habte.Thanks to Iyad Rahwan, Edmond Awad and Sydney Levine from the Moral Machine group at MIT. Also thanks to Fiery Cushman, Matthew DeBord, Sertac Karaman, Xin Xiang, and Roborace for all of their help. Thanks to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism students who collected the vox: Chelsea Donohue, Ivan Flores, David Gentile, Maite Hernandez, Claudia Izizarry-Aponte, Comice Johnson, Richard Loria, Nivian Malik, Avery Miles, Alexandra Semenova, Kalah Siegel, Mark Suleymanov, Andee Tagle, Shaydanay Urbani, Isvett Verde and Reece Williams.Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
One morning, Oliver Sipple went out for a walk. A couple hours later, to his own surprise, he saved the life of the President of the United States. But in the days that followed, Sipple’s split-second act of heroism turned into a rationale for making his personal life into political opportunity. What happens next makes us wonder what a moment, or a movement, or a whole society can demand of one person. And how much is too much? Through newly unearthed archival tape, we hear Sipple himself grapple with some of the most vexing topics of his day and ours - privacy, identity, the freedom of the press - not to mention the bonds of family and friendship. Reported by Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte. Produced by Matt Kielty, Annie McEwen, Latif Nasser and Tracie Hunte.Special thanks to Jerry Pritikin, Michael Yamashita, Stan Smith, Duffy Jennings; Ann Dolan, Megan Filly and Ginale Harris at the Superior Court of San Francisco; Leah Gracik, Karyn Hunt, Jesse Hamlin, The San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive, Mike Amico, Jennifer Vanasco and Joey Plaster.Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.
This week, we are presenting a story from NPR foreign correspondent Gregory Warner and his new globe-trotting podcast Rough Translation.Mohammed was having the best six months of his life - working a job he loved, making mixtapes for his sweetheart - when the communist Somali regime perp-walked him out of his own home, and sentenced him to a lifetime of solitary confinement. With only concrete walls and cockroaches to keep him company, Mohammed felt miserable, alone, despondent. But then one day, eight months into his sentence, he heard a whisper, a whisper that would open up a portal to - of all places and times - 19th century Russia, and that would teach him how to live and love again.
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