You are Listening to Radiolab…

Continuing the trend of new Blog posts, this one is dedicated to those lucky few who read this, other than Dave or myself. Upon a recent trip to Boston I met with Dave and our comp scientist friend Alex and we got into a discussion of time, space, and whether the universe was infinite. This conversation, which drew looks on the T (Although it is not unusual to hear people talk about particle physics on the Boston transit system, another reason to love the place…) ended with me asking both of my compatriots if they had ever heard of the NPR program Radiolab. This drew Radiolab, produced by WNYC is my second favorite Public Radio Program, narrowly edged out by This American Life. It centers on interesting questions which often combine both science and philosophy. My favorite episode involves the topic of Emergence, a field of study that holds that the collective intelligence of a species is more than that of the individuals. My favorite example of Emergence involves a country fair, a fat bull, and an erudite old white dude. At this fair there was a booth in which people paid a few cents to guess the weight of the fat bull standing on the elevated stage. The man, a supporter of the burgeoning field of eugenics, believed that the common folk at the fair couldn’t guess the correct weight, mostly because they were idiots, mostly because they were poorly bred. After the day was done he asked the man conducting the guessing game for all the stubs and began to count the guesses. As he suspected, very few of them were anywhere near the correct weight. Many were too high, many too low. However, the average of all the guesses was exactly correct. This is Emergence. The fact that although each person was wrong, everyone together knew the right answer (possibly through some sort of collective unconscious…) Whatever it is, it’s pretty cool.

Anyway, The purpose of this post is to get as many people as possible to listen to Radiolab, found at

~All the Best, and Merry Christmas,

5 Replies to “You are Listening to Radiolab…”

  1. The County Fair example you described in this post was the work of mathematician Francis Galton and is the origin of the concept of Linear-Regression.

    Oh yeah…he was also the father of eugenics. Ouch. Galton was also a cousin of Charles Darwin. I guess Galton’s mum got knocked-up by the ugly stick.

  2. Rather interesting. Has few times re-read for this purpose to remember. Thanks for interesting article. Waiting for trackback

  3. Radiolab is glorious! My roomate got me into their program several months back. I enjoyed their interview with Brian Greene (author of “The Elegant Universe” and “Fabric of The Cosmos” the most, but I learn a bucket of interesting new things with each program. Cheers!

  4. I will accept that comment on behalf of K-Bizz. K-Bizz graduated from Boston University with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and minored in Russian Literature. He was a graduate student in Columbia’s poetry program last year, before he decided to ditch an MA in Poetry, and instead pursue Medical School. He is one bright dude.

    I am the ghost in this machine that is the founder/creator of this site. I hold a B.S. from Trinity College for a self-designed interdisciplinary major in Science and Indian Philosophy. I was pursuing grad programs in Psychology, but after working as a research technician at UMass Medical School for 8 months (the reason why I have become beaten down and not posted as of recent), I am not applying to graduate programs in Asian Philosophy/Religion or Comparative Philosophy.

    Thank you for your compliments. They are most appreciated, and despite the lag in my response, they add fuel to what had been a dwindling creative fire. Cheers!

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