336: Who Can You Save?

336: Who Can You Save?

Jul 6, 2007
Stories about the pitfalls of trying to do the right thing.
Some Special Notes

This episode features a story from what is arguably the most groundbreaking new show in public radio: Radiolab, from WNYC New York Public Radio and NPR. Everything they've done is available as free downloads from their website.

Also, in Act Two, Ira interviews a retired diplomat, Kiki Munshi, about testimony she gave to Congress about Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq. You can read her testimony, and The Atlantic ran a story that goes into more detail about Kiki's experience heading up a PRT.

And Brady Udall, who tells the story in Act Three, also wrote one of the most popular pieces of fiction we've ever run: "Otis Is Resurrected," from our episode In Dog We Trust.
  • Say there's a group of five people standing on a train track, and you're on a train coming toward them. You can save the whole group by pulling a lever and switching to another track, but the catch is that you'll kill another person who's standing on that other track. Do you pull the lever?

    According to Harvard scientist Mark Hauser, who posed this question to hundreds of thousands of people on the Internet, nine out of 10 people say yes, they would pull the lever. But then, the questions get harder—and the answers much more confusing. It turns out that different parts of our brains make different moral decisions. (11 minutes)

    This story originally aired on the public radio program Radiolab. Science

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