Roni Recommends: Radiolab

I am probably toward the medium to low-end of the tech savvy.

I became a member of Facebook when you still had to have a college e-mail addy (although I was out of college).  I was on Friendster, which a lot of people missed, before Myspace.

I try to keep as up-to-date as possible with what’s new and cool online.  I’m sure that I used Wikipedia religiously before most people that I knew.  That being said, if you’re ahead of the curve (if I define said curve), you probably already know about the podcast ‘Radiolab‘.

First, let’s do a bit of catchup on the whole ‘podcast’.   The whole idea of a podcast is generally to have something other than radio to listen to or watch on a commute.  All it is is a sound or video file.  You can set up iTunes to synch to your iPod so all you do is plug your iPod in and it’ll download every new episode of that podcast.  Such as “Don’t Worry About The Government“, the political audio podcast that I am a part of.  To get that, all you need to do is go to the iTunes Store and search for my name or “Don’t Worry About The Government”.  I know that my readers are of all levels of technical ability, so if this interests you and internet/computers aren’t your forte, I would be very willing to help you out more.

In any case, Radiolab.  (On the podcast, they list it as “Radio Lab”, on Wikipedia and the website itself, it’s listed as “Radiolab”.)

The basic idea of Radiolab is that they take topics about the human experience and then try to explain them scientifically, using interviews with experts/researchers.  Some podcasts are basically just radio shows.  Radiolab is different from that, because Jad Abumrad, one of the hosts/producers studied music composition, which is used to create rhythm to the show.  The show is heavily edited, using stereo and overlapping sounds, music and voices to create a unique experience.

An example of what they do.

Currently, I am listening to the “Morality” episode.  It starts off with two very similar moral quandaries.

1.  If you were by train tracks, with 5 workers on them, with a train approaching, would you flip a switch that allows only one separate person to be killed instead of the five?

2.  If instead, you were on a bridge over the tracks, with a large man next to you, who, if you pushed, would stop the train, allowing the 5 men to live, would you do it?

9/10 people said ‘yes’ to #1.  The same number said ‘no’ to number two.  This, despite the fact that both circumstances would allow for the same result.  They then go to the research, in which they take brain scans from people while they were making the decision.  In each circumstance, different parts of the brain light up.

After this, they go into the evolution of morality, with chimps being an example of another primate that has some innate fairness.  Beyond that, they ask when it starts and show some anecdotal evidence with kids.

All-in-all, the show does a very good job of keeping it both scientifically-based, as well as accessible.  It isn’t dumbed down, in that “Hey Doc, explain it to me in English,” sort of way.  The hosts/producers know that they need to accommodate a wide audience and they do it well.

So, go check out Radiolab.  And, of course, if you haven’t checked out Don’t Worry About The Government, go and do that, as well.

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2 Responses to Roni Recommends: Radiolab

  1. […] have already pitched Radiolab as a podcast that is worth listening […]

  2. Jack says:

    Here’s wishing you and yours a very happy and prosperous new year !

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