38 episodes

Each week, we tell the story of what happens when individual people confront deeply held American ideals in their own lives. We're interested in the cultural and political contradictions that reveal who we are.

The Experiment WNYC

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.2 • 2.3K Ratings

Each week, we tell the story of what happens when individual people confront deeply held American ideals in their own lives. We're interested in the cultural and political contradictions that reveal who we are.

    Is There Justice in Felony Murder?

    Is There Justice in Felony Murder?

    This week, The Experiment takes a look at the charge that sent Anissa Jordan to prison for a crime she didn’t even know had been committed. We consider how the felony-murder rule disproportionately punishes youth of color and women, and the debate over whether the same rule is key to holding police officers responsible in the killings of civilians.

    This episode of The Experiment originally ran on April 29, 2021.

    A transcript of this episode is available.

    Further reading: “What Makes a Murderer?” 


    This episode is part of  The Atlantic’s project “The Cycle,” which is supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge.

    Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com.

    This episode was produced by Alvin Melathe and Julia Longoria, with editing by Katherine Wells. Fact-check by Will Gordon. Sound design by David Herman. Special thanks to Adam Harris and John Swansburg. 

    Music by Water Feature (“With Flowers,” “Richard III (Duke of Gloucester),” and “A Paradise”), Keyboard (“Being There” and “My Atelier”), H Hunt (“C U Soon” and “Having a Bath”), and R McCarthy (“Home/Home”), provided by Tasty Morsels. Additional music by Bruce Wiley McKinnon Jr. (“Are You a Freak”) and Tyler O. Sterrett and Jason Trotta (“The Hamlet”). Additional audio from KQED and MPR News.

    • 43 min
    The Wandering Soul

    The Wandering Soul

    As the Vietnam War dragged on, the U.S. military began desperately searching for any vulnerability in its North Vietnamese enemy. In 1964, it found one: an old Vietnamese folktale about a ghost, eternal damnation, and fear—a myth that the U.S. could weaponize. And so, armed with tape recorders and microphones, American forces set out to win the war by bringing a ghost story to life. Today, The Experiment examines those efforts and the ghosts that still haunt us.

    This story originally aired on “Mixtape,” a special series from Radiolab about how the cassette tape allowed us to record, reshuffle, and reimagine our lives.

    A transcript of this episode is available.


    Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com.

    • 40 min
    How ‘Passing’ Upends a Problematic Hollywood History

    How ‘Passing’ Upends a Problematic Hollywood History

    Hollywood has a long history of “passing movies”—films in which Black characters pass for white—usually starring white actors. Even as these films have attempted to depict the devastating effect of racism in America, they have trafficked in tired tropes about Blackness. But a new movie from actor-writer-director Rebecca Hall takes the problematic conventions of this uniquely American genre and turns them on their head. Hall tells the story of how her movie came to life, and how making the film helped her grapple with her own family’s secrets around race and identity.

    A transcript of this episode is available. 

    Further reading: “Netflix’s ‘Passing’ Is an Unusually Gentle Movie About a Brutal Subject”


    Apply for The Experiment’s spring internship. Applications will be accepted through November 29, 2021.

    Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com.

    This episode was produced by Tracie Hunte and Peter Bresnan with help from Alina Kulman. Editing by Emily Botein, Julia Longoria, and Jenny Lawton. Special thanks to B.A. Parker. Fact-check by Will Gordon. Sound design by David Herman with additional engineering by Joe Plourde. Transcription by Caleb Codding.

    • 31 min
    A Friend in the Execution Room

    A Friend in the Execution Room

    Was anybody willing to be a spiritual adviser to a Muslim man on death row? That’s the question that went out by email to a local group of interfaith leaders in Indiana. Nobody answered. 

    After a week without responses, the management professor Yusuf Ahmed Nur stepped forward. A Somali immigrant who volunteered at his local mosque, Nur would counsel Orlando Hall in the weeks leading up to his execution. But Nur didn’t expect he’d end up standing beside Hall in the execution chamber as he was put to death.

    “That’s when it hit me,” Nur says. “You feel like you’re complicit, that you are cooperating with the system. They assign you a role to play in this execution.”

    This week on The Experiment: One man finds himself at the center of our legal system, and witnesses what gets sacrificed in the pursuit of justice.

    This episode of The Experiment originally ran on March 18, 2021.

    Further reading: “Trump Is Putting the Machinery of Death Into Overdrive”

    A transcript of this episode is available.


    Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com.

    This episode was produced by Alvin Melathe, Gabrielle Berbey, and Julia Longoria, with editing by Matt Collette and Katherine Wells. Fact-check by William Brennan. Sound design by David Herman. Special thanks to Katie Bishop and Najib Aminy.

    Music by water feature (“double blessing ii”), Keyboard (“Being There,” “More Shingles,” “My Atelier,” “Small Island”), and Parish Council (“Heatherside Stores”) provided by Tasty Morsels.

    • 27 min
    What Does It Mean to Give Away Our DNA?

    What Does It Mean to Give Away Our DNA?

    Just as the Navajo researcher Rene Begay started to fall in love with the field of genetics, she learned that the Navajo Nation had banned all genetic testing on tribal land. Now she is struggling to figure out what the future of genetics might look like, and whether the Navajo and other Indigenous communities should be a part of it. 

    Further reading: “Race, Genetics, and Scientific Freedom,” “Return the National Parks to the Tribes,” “​​The Search for America’s Atlantis,” “Elizabeth Warren’s DNA Is Not Her Identity”

    A transcript of this episode is available. 


    Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com.

    This episode was produced by Peter Bresnan and Julia Longoria, with help from Tracie Hunte and Alina Kulman. Editing by Jenny Lawton and Emily Botein. Fact-check by Michelle Ciarrocca. Sound design by David Herman, with additional engineering by Joe Plourde. Transcription by Caleb Codding. Special thanks to Pauly Denetclaw. 

    Music by Keyboard (“Ojima,” “Staying In,” and “Being There”), Naran Ratan (“Jam for Bwengo”), Parish Council (“It’s Purple, Not Blue,” “Durdle Door,” and “Scented Letters”), R McCarthy (“Contemplation at Lon Lon”), and Column (“スキャン 「Scan」”), provided by Tasty Morsels. Additional audio from the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program.

    • 31 min
    Justice, Interrupted

    Justice, Interrupted

    Last week, Justice Sonia Sotomayor announced that the Supreme Court had broken with tradition and changed its rules for oral argument. This came after a study revealed that women are disproportionately interrupted by men in the highest court in America. This week, we’re re-airing a More Perfect episode about the Northwestern University research that inspired the Court’s changes.

    This story originally aired on More Perfect, a Radiolab spin-off about the Supreme Court.

    A transcript of this episode is available. 


    Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com.

    • 20 min

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5
2.3K Ratings

2.3K Ratings

Family shared - Nik ,

Great podcast but uneven

Some episodes have absolutely expanded my horizons as well as educating me. A few, not so much. Whenever an episode seems to become more about the host and her opinion it just loses punch for me completely. I thought I understood the focus of the series when I started with the excellent first episodes but became uncertain more recently.

It would help the show to either coach some guest hosts/interviewers who don’t usually do radio or instead have someone else provide the voice for the show. Longoria and some others are excellent, so I don’t want this to be taken the wrong way. I just find the affected delivery I’m hearing in some shows to distract from the important content.

netherland again ,

We are not experiencing the best of times

The statement referring to the Jan 6 insurrection and like all news media ignoring the complete takeover of all 4 branches (news media as the fourth estate) by lobbyists representing corporate conglomerates betraying part of the reason for the American Revolution. The brave forefathers who put their lives on the line (yes, they were misogynistic racists too) to take on the most powerful military power in the world, to take them on militarily. Democracy was taken over around the time of President Eisenhower’s fair well warning speech. University grads paid 10s or 100s of thousands of dollars and are not about to dump that in the trash by taking on the corrupt university, business and government establishment, so we get unhelpful podcasts such as this one just capitalizing on the drama of the moment and throwing their hand in the air, at a loss for any helpful or insightful commentary or leadership or journalism and Apple selects this tripe as among the best podcasts for the year? Apple, don’t you, as a corporation, want to be on the correct side of history? Don’t you want to lead the way to saving the world? Or are you so invested in the corruption plaguing the rest of world as to need to drive humanity off a cliff in order to keep your corrupt edge? So short sighted and corrupt to the core. So sad that when you have the power to help you choose spineless sappy podcasts to reflect your own secret corruption

JennyClarkeB ,

Helpful Episode

As a fellow progressive person terrified of guns, this was a wonderful and helpful “way in” to an overwhelming issue. So grateful!

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