Hi-Phi Nation

Slate Podcasts

Hi-Phi Nation is philosophy in story-form, integrating narrative journalism with big ideas. We look at stories from everyday life, law, science, popular culture, and strange corners of human experiences that raise thought-provoking questions about things like justice, knowledge, the self, morality, and existence. We then seek answers with the help of academics and philosophers. The show is produced and hosted by Barry Lam of Vassar College.

Hi-Phi Nation Presents: Decoder Ring, The Alberta Rat War
Nov 27 2021
Hi-Phi Nation Presents: Decoder Ring, The Alberta Rat War
Barry invites Willa Paskin of Slate's Decoder Ring podcast to talk about their recent episode, The Alberta Rat War, as a set up to next week's Hi-Phi Nation episode on genetic engineering. We then proceed to that episode. Rats live wherever people live, with one exception: the Canadian province of Alberta. A rat sighting in Alberta is a major event that mobilizes the local government to identify and eliminate any hint of infestation. Rat sightings makes the local news. Alberta prides itself on being the world’s sole rat-free territory, but in order to achieve this feat, it had to go to war with the rat. On this episode of Decoder Ring, we recount the story of how Alberta won this war, through accidents of history and geography, advances in poison technology, interventionist government policy, mass education programs, rat patrols, killing zones, and more. The explanation tells us a lot about rats and a lot about humans, two species that are more alike than we like to think. Some of the voices you’ll hear in this episode include Karen Wickerson, rat and pest program specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry; Robert Sullivan, author of Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants; Phil Merrill, former rat and pest specialist; George Colpitts, historian at the University of Calgary; and John Bourne, former manager of Alberta’s rat control program. Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every episode, host Willa Paskin takes on a cultural question, object, idea, or habit and speaks with experts, historians, and obsessives to try and figure out where it comes from, what it means, and why it matters. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Selfless Kidney Donor
Nov 20 2021
The Selfless Kidney Donor
Penny Lane gave up months of wages and weeks of her life to have her kidney cut out and given to someone she never knew, and who may never thank her. She is one of about 200 people in the US a year who give up a kidney altruistically. What motivates someone to do that? Evolutionary psychologist Michael McCullough believes that not only is there true altruism amongst the human species, but that it is a unique trait, an emerging and spreading trait, and it is selected for by evolution, even out-competing the more familiar traits of selfishness that drive evolution in other species. And the trait is responsible for moral progress in the world. Barry is skeptical, and calls friend of the show Kieran Setiya to talk him out of his skepticism, only to discover that, in many ways, humans are even worse than he thought. We may have evolved to demand altruism from others, but not be altruistic ourselves. This episode brought you by Scribd and Inkl. Get an enormous library of books, magazines, podcasts, and audiobooks. Try Scribd for 60 days free. try.scribd.com/hiphi Unlock reliable news sources from their paywalled sites, The Economist, The Atlantic, Bloomberg, and 100 more, a $12,000 annual value for just $75 the first year. Go to inkl.com/philosophy to get this deal. God and the Space-time Manifold is a summer seminar at Rutgers Center for the Philosophy of Religion June 13-24th, 2022. Twelve philosophers will lead discussions about God and the philosophy of time. They are looking for applicants. All professional philosophers and graduate students qualify. Sign up for Slate Plus, to receive ad-free version of this podcast and unlimited access to Slate. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices