Radiolab believes your ears are a portal to another world. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Big questions are investigated, tinkered with, and encouraged to grow.


Wednesday, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
on News Station

 We Get Support From:
Become a Supporter 
 We Get Support From:
Become a Supporter 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 Permalink

Radiolab: Blame

Susan Sermoneta / Flickr

Susan Sermoneta / Flickr

This hour, we ask what blame does for us -- why do we need it, when isn't it enough, and what happens when we try to push past it with forgiveness and mercy?

Fault Line

Kevin* is a likable guy who lives with his wife in New Jersey. And he's on probation after serving time in a federal prison for committing a disturbing crime. Producer Pat Walters helps untangle a difficult story about accountability, and a troubling set of questions about identity and self-control. Kevin's doctor, neuroscientist Orrin Devinsky, claims that what happened to Kevin could happen to any of us under similar circumstances -- in a very real way, it wasn't entirely his fault. But prosecutor Lee Vartan explains why he believes Kevin is responsible just the same, and should have served the maximum sentence.


NOTE: We agreed not to reveal Kevin's real name in our reporting. If you know him or figure out his real name, please don't post it here -- in order to respect Kevin's privacy on our site, we'll remove any comments mentioning or linking to his real name.


Forget about Blame?

Nita Farahany, who's been following the growing field of Neurolaw for years now, helps uncover what seems to be a growing trend -- defendants using brain science to argue that they aren't entirely at fault. Neuroscientist David Eagleman thinks this is completely wrongheaded, and argues for tossing out blame as an old-fashioned, unfair way of thinking about the law. According to David and Amy Phenix, a clinical and forensic psychologist who relies on statistics, it makes more sense to focus on the risk of committing more crimes. But Jad and Robert can't help wondering whether that's really a world they want to live in. 


Dear Hector

Reporter Bianca Giaever brings us a story of forgiveness that's nearly impossible to comprehend -- even for the man at the center of it, an octogenarian named Hector Black.