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Season 12 | Episode 6

What's Left When You're Right?

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More often than not, a fight is just a fight... Someone wins, someone loses. But this hour, we have a series of face-offs that shine a light on the human condition, the benefit of coming at something from a different side, and the price of being right.

Special thanks to Mark Dresser for the use of his music.

 

Guests:

Jonathan Gottschall, Lulu Miller and Pat Walters

The Golden Rule

At first glance, Golden Balls was just like all the other game shows—quick-witted host, flashy set, suspenseful music. But underneath all that, each episode asked a very serious question: can you ever really trust another person? Executive producer Andy Rowe explains how the show used a whole lot of money ...

Comments [14]

Lu vs. Soo

Lulu Miller, reporter at NPR and former Radiolab producer, tells us the story of how her entire world view flipped in one scary moment. It happened on a bike trip she took with her friend Soo. Lulu and Soo are, well … different. Lulu tends to be an optimist who ...

Comments [32]

What's Right When You're Left?

Jonathan Gottschall was just a lowly adjunct in the English Department of a small college outside of Pittsburgh. Then one day a mixed martial arts gym shows up across the street from his office. Jonathan can’t resist trying his hand in the ring, but 4 months into his training he’s ...

Comments [14]

Comments [81]

Ayn D. Grisham

I love the fact that girls can be more aggressive than guys in certain situations. as well as comparing different situations and relating them to each other. and they also talk about how you will not always be right and you wont always win.

Oct. 19 2014 11:05 PM
squintnasty from New York, NY

I'm late to the party here, but might I suggest a follow-up podcast about ambidexterity? Seems a bit crass at this point, though.
What percentages of humans are ambidextrous? How truly might humans be ambidextrous? Surely many people are at least somewhat ambidextrous, but how might a graph look when plotting the degrees of handedness of our species?

Aug. 11 2014 06:36 PM
squintnasty from New York, NY

I'm late to the party here, but might I suggest a follow-up podcast about ambidexterity? Seems a bit crass at this point, though.
What percentages of humans are ambidextrous? How truly might humans be ambidextrous? Surely many people are at least somewhat ambidextrous, but how might a graph look when plotting the degrees of handedness of our species?

Aug. 11 2014 06:36 PM
Jason Alexander from Norwood Ontario Canada Earth.

Hello Radiolab crew!
Just had a quick question regarding this episode. I wonder if anyone has ever looked into speech impediments and if people who are left handed are more likely to be this way. That is to say, are there more people with speech impediments who are left handed?
Just curious,
Jason Alexander

Aug. 06 2014 02:11 PM
Taylor Sluder from Asheville, NC

After listening to this episode, it was neat to read over this article: http://www.healthline.com/health-news/mental-are-left-handedness-and-psychosis-linked-110713

Jul. 11 2014 11:18 PM
david choi from Seattle

Hey RadioLab, This was a good episode. I really like the stories, but the one I wanted to comment on was the Lulu and Sue cause it ended with an open ended question mark about Sue and why she is the way she is. Sue thinking she herself doesn't really like this side of her and Lulu actually admiring this side of her. I feel strongly that the key may be that she is an Americanized Korean and I say that cause I'm also an Americanized Korean having arrived here at a very young age. In the episode, Sue or Lulu mentioned possible anger issues and although there may be something to that, I think it's more about justice, or at least an overinflated vision of justice or more of a sense of correcting a perceived wrong. The bike shop owner said he would have it ready and he didn't, of course Sue is going to try to voice that hypocrisy to correct it. The prophecy guy violated the line of acceptable social sharing whether intentional or not and I think Sue couldn't help it but volley that ball back over at the guy to solve and correct his mystery intent for sharing that about him to complete strangers.

I think there was an opportunity in this episode to explore which culture has built into them an overly sense of being right all the time cause if there was, Koreans would definitely be on the list.

David

Jul. 10 2014 01:10 AM

I was intrigued by this report. I had been postulating for many years that the evolutionarily adaptive advantage of an illness like schizophrenia may fit with the same concept as left-handedness. Schizophrenia occurs in about 1% of nearly all populations around the globe. This is unlike virtually all other illnesses which vary due to a number of factors such as environment, cultural differences, genetic vulnerabilities to certain conditions, etc. If " nature"is hedging its bet on the future by allocating 1% of the population towards the random occurrences that might make for schizophrenia being an adaptive advantage at the time, it would account for the consistency across the globe despite the many variances that occur. An example might be the paranoid schizophrenic patient who refuses to get into the bomb shelter with everyone else including the suicide bomber who succeeds in the mission. (sometimes being paranoid has its advantages).
I'm sure there is more to the genetics than that simple explanation. However small things are sometimes just what the doctor ordered.

Jul. 08 2014 02:26 PM
Victor from Las Vegas

Soo seems very smart and truly honest. I learned something form this and definitely agree more with her way.
That being said, imo a female can get away with being a little more aggressive in these circumstances than a male can.
Being male, if I called people out every time I saw them not being the best they could be, I'd be considered rude, and might get into fights.
Just as I could never throw a drink in a guy's face in a bar without it escalating, I probably wouldn't be able to say the exact things Soo did to these people and get the same results.

Jul. 08 2014 02:17 AM
Barbara from Keene, NH

I confess I haven't read all the comments on the Lulu/Sue incident so what I am about to say may have already been addressed. I must say that to confront an obviously mentally disturbed stranger was dangerous to all of them in that hostel. While Lulu came to admire Sue's confrontational style, and while the style may or may not be admired by all....they are fortunate to have not been injured or even killed in that situation. It was/is inadvisable to confront, argue with, and accuse an apparently delusional, possibly paranoid stranger, who has just told you he almost killed someone... in the unsafe setting they were in. All I can say is that if Lulu continues to hang around with Sue, she needs to learn when to RUN LULU, RUN!!! as Sue lacks an ability to understand the possibly dangerous consequences of her confrontational style.

Jul. 05 2014 02:54 PM
jo

Wasn't this episode just on recently? I feel like I just heard it. Oh well, one less show to make time for this week, so that's okay. I have too many to keep up with!

Jul. 05 2014 09:27 AM
Vanessa

My best friend is exactly like Sue, and I'm just like Lulu, and our relationship is made strong because of these differences. Neither one is bad, and having a best friend like this has made me realize that. There's a certain naivety in having that happy-go-lucky attitude about everything. There are times when you truly have to stand up and shake people up and challenge them, and a lot of people don't have the guts to do this. My boyfriend is also a Sue. It seems I'm attracted to this kind of people, and they're attracted to me - but there's a reason for this. For one, they challenge me, the Sues of the world speak up when nobody else will, and stick to their guts even if everyone around them wants to shut them up. Sure, sometimes they go too far, or speak out unnecessarily but that's why they have people like us. Lulu sees the beauty in people, the beauty in everything, and that in itself is a beautiful thing, it's a beautiful part of her character. Lulu shows Sue a side of the world she doesn't necessarily believe (at first look) that is there...She has to look a little deeper to see it, and sometimes this makes it that much brighter. Lulu has stuck around to see how truly amazing Sue is when others haven't, she finds beauty effortlessly, without having to struggle for it. Because of that she got to see that "moment," that moment that touched her so deeply, and filled her with pride, of not just knowing Sue, but maybe that there are people like this in the world. I mean Sue cared, if she was so mean, she would have never insisted on making that guy in the cabin realize what was going on with him. She easily could have been like shut up I'm tired of hearing your shit. But she helped him... and she was the only person to do it. He needed a Sue.

Jul. 03 2014 12:26 PM
Vighnesh Sivakumar from New Jersey

The message of that second story reminds me of this one specific moment in the manga Liar Game (fantastic read): http://www.mangareader.net/164-10841-11/liar-game/chapter-29.html

Boundless optimism is, when push comes to shove, is the lazy person's idea of a good person. Human beings are inherently flawed, and to mindlessly assume that any person you meet only has good intentions is to not consider them human in the first place. Humans are mentally complex beings so it seems disrespectful to look no deep into a person's personality than the hair on their head.

Jun. 25 2014 04:28 PM
Jake from Omaha, NE

So...I'm guessing that the Hypothesis about parrots being predominantly left-handed this that since we've taught them to "speak" they've strengthened that side of their brain and now a vast majority of parrets favor 1 hand (or foot/claw)?

Jun. 15 2014 06:18 AM
Jenny from SLC Utah

OK I just have to comment on the parrot experiment. I believe their assumption is wrong-- that if the Parrot uses it's left claw to grab the food, that means it's "Left-handed". I actually think it's just the opposite. I think it's right claw is stronger and more predominant and that is why it chooses to STAND on it, while it is grabbing the food--so it can balance while eating. That would make it right handed, er clawed. Just an idea

Jun. 14 2014 05:46 PM
Charmaine Childs from Vancouver BC

wow. thank you for all of these podcasts. this one brought me to tears

Jun. 04 2014 02:43 PM
Camilo Marín Mejía from Colombia

Actually, my father is right handed while my mother is left handed, and my two sisters are right handed while we (4 male brothers) are left handed. It's too curious for me.

May. 29 2014 03:19 AM
Brandon R from Mexico

I would like to reach out to Suzan, I believe her name is (The girl who feels the need to point out peoples faults.) I think this is more of a strength or power than her, the commenters, and most people might seem. I also find myself to be in the same situations as her, and to have lost many friends. I had previously thought I was just anti-social, but as life went on I learned I had an ability to view the mental blocks, hang ups, etc of other people and have since been working on trying to improve my tact in these situations. Anyways I just want to let you know suzan, you are not alone! Keep it up, be yourself. You are lucky to have a friend who sees that in you!

May. 17 2014 06:30 PM
Joseph Campbell

On this comments I belive what they say considering fighting really is pointless same as arguments. Like what really is left when you win your pride and satifactions that you won the argument and how no body truly doesnt care after the argument is done? Some also just dont like to loose arguments as well.

Apr. 27 2014 01:59 PM
Justin from Tennessee

I really enjoyed this episode. In fact, I'm a martial artists, and tomorrow night at class we're going to specifically study attacking coming from the left! Thanks for the inspiration to that idea.

Apr. 24 2014 08:50 PM
crazzed

I didn't enjoy this podcast. The first segment seemed to carry on a good moral story but faded towards the end. Then the foolish bike ride anecdote really began to go off course. Do we really need to hear about two girls petty adventure on the bike ride, while they complain about their service. I did some what enjoy the prison excerpt and believed it played well into the game analogy. We loose our personality and dignity by getting so enthroned into these activities that sometimes people need to take a moment to step back and observe their position.

Apr. 10 2014 09:58 PM
lions20

The analogy with the prisoners dilemma which these self serving commentators is only partially right. The other analogy is something similar to the Milgram experiments. These sociopaths look others in the eyes while forcefully lying about their intentions. They allow the "rules" of the "game" to take away any personal culpability for their direct actions upon another person sitting directly opposite them... and in many cases these truly are life-changing amounts of money.

Apr. 10 2014 06:52 PM

Disappointed! I have heard a lot of good things about Radiolab, but was not impressed with this episode. I found the lefty portion really subpar and lacking any depth or substantiated facts. An entire show could be dedicated to handedness and its complexities (which should be supported with respectable research).

Mar. 31 2014 03:00 PM
Gary mapes

Sue and Lulu's story about the little town and Roger is not exactly how I remember it. For one this town that they play off as some little desolate town is a little underrated. Pittsburg Kansas is the Home of the Pittsburg State University, this school has a football team that has won multiple NCAA Division II National Championships, the town has a population of over 20,000 people. Not a huge town, but not what I would call desolate. I guess it's not unusual for journalist to over dramatize things. As far as Roger goes, these ladies came into the shop and Lulu was friendly, but Sue was very rude and unfriendly. I know because I was one of the three mechanics that was working in the shop including Roger. I was finishing my graduate studies and I would help out Roger during the summers and in-between classes.

Lulu, did the two of you ever ask Roger why he hadn't finished her wheel in the time frame you expected? That shop is the only shop in that area and the only one within 300 miles on either side of the trans am route that they were riding. During the summer there is at-least 2-3 weeks of backlog. Most of the costumers live in the area and wait for the expert level mechanic work, yet Roger was kind enough to put these two ahead of others that had been waiting weeks for their bikes to be completed. They waited a little under 24 hours to get a professionally built wheel and would have probably waited less hadn't Sue been such a hag. What Lulu is failing to mention is they showed up 15 minutes before closing time and then expected it to be done when they came back the next morning at 10AM. The shop opens at 9AM. Next my good friend Jon was friendly enough to drive them out of state, they gave him a whole 20 bucks for his effort and time. That wouldn't even pay for the gas not to mention his time. Don't forget that I had to pick up Jon's slack while he drove these ladies to Missouri, in the mean time locals are still waiting for their bikes. These ladies are lucky Jon was working that day, because as rude as Sue was I wouldn't have been as nice as Jon. Sue was so rude that I remember it very well, and it should be noted that this was nearly two years ago that they came through the desolate town of Pittsburg Kansas. I remember it well, It's sad that rude people make such a big impact on ones memory.

Mar. 29 2014 11:36 PM
Tom Hunter from Indianapolis, IN

What we know about the distinctions about the left and right hemispheres comes from Dr. Roger Sperry, who won the 1981 Nobel Prize. He identified that one hemisphere of the brain is devoted to the storage of discrete items like words, while the other hemisphere is devoted to images and the associations that produce them. Generally, that means that the left hemisphere--which is faster, larger, evolved earlier and is mostly gray matter--is devoted to storing things like words. The right hemisphere--which is smaller, evolved later and is mostly white matter--is devoted to storing images and image processing. However, words are assembled into sentences in the right hemisphere so it's false to say that "language" is in the left and "vision" is the only thing on the right. The gray matter is mostly discrete neurons while the white matter is axons that make connections between neurons.

The most fascinating insight Sperry found was that it generally one hemisphere dominates. For about 88% of the population--those who are right handed--the left hemisphere dominates. For about 12% of the population--those who are left handed--the right hemisphere dominates.
The hand that any one person uses to write with is an uncertain measure of their "laterality" or which hemisphere dominates. That's because society has a vested interest in enforcing conformance with right-handedness.
However, you should try this test on yourself. Fold your hands together with the fingers interlocked as if you were praying. Please notice that you automatically place one of your thumbs on top. It feels "natural" that way and the opposite way--which the other thumb on top--does not feel "natural". Because society does not care about this choice, it is a neutral measure of which hand--and by inference--hemisphere is dominant.

Now, if your Left thumb feels natural on top, it's likely--according to the research done by Sperry--that your Right hemisphere is dominant. If your Right thumb feels natural on top, it's likely that your Left hemisphere is dominant.

Despite what books like "Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain" would have you believe, neither Sperry nor any other researcher has found a correlation between "creativity" and any dominant hemisphere.

But there is one correlation that does look to be valid.
If you are Left hemisphere dominant and you are working on a task--and get interrupted in that work--when you resume work on the interrupted task, it's likely that you will need to start over from the beginning.
If you are Right hemisphere dominant and you are working on a task--and you get interrupted in that work--when you resume work on the interrupted task, it's more likely that you will be able to resume where you left off working on the interrupted task. This is the fabled "multitasking", which strictly speaking is not possible for the human brain. But a more effective task switching is possible if the person doing the switching is right-hemisphere dominant.

Mar. 27 2014 09:39 PM
Ben from Chicagoland

I don't think Nick's strategy is perfect play or would work in future games. Once you had a few evil Nicks who stole or uncooperative Ibrahims who stole hoping a nice Nick would split, the whole thing would be kaput and would return to a situation of mistrust resembling the original game.

I have an alternative solution that could ensure a moral and relatively high-yield strategy every game (not sure if it'd be legal; definitely not after the first time)

A player declares he will steal unless his opponent agrees to let him decide which ball she picks (left or right) and in turn picks which ball (left or right) he chooses as well. Because neither knows the identities of the other's balls these will be essentially random. If either switches to the other ball, their opponent can pull their steal ball to ensure they get nothing. The enforcing player would explain everything to the opponent so they definitely knew the parameters of the situation. Instead of assuming that chance of sharing*prize value*.5 is greater than the value of shafting them (because they are being a bully or because one expects deceit), it becomes a simple choice between an expected value of .375*prize or 0.

I prefer this system because it is by design altruistic (or at least morally neutral) and does not rely on the altruism of a player to ensure an outcome that doesn't reward sociopathic behavior. While Nick’s play produced a nice moment, it could have easily been a nasty one if Nick had been a less altruistic individual. Rather than one player (Nick) dictating the parameters for the entire game, one player takes control momentarily in order to dictate parameters that take control out of the hands of either player.

While conventional split or steal provides a natural advantage to those adept at cheating and lying at the expense of decent human beings the use of this system would allow honest people who genuinely want an equitable result to neutralize potentially predatory opponents and eliminate “accidental” steal-split outcomes caused by mistrust. Because an initial statement that one will steal makes the game unwinnable for the other player, this system could be implemented by a good faith player without depending on the good faith of an opponent. The ability of either player to choose their steal ball if their opponent breaks the agreement also provides a viable enforcement mechanism. Ensuring random outcomes would remove the inherent disadvantage conferred by being an honest person, and eliminate the need for trust between players (and thus opportunities for deceit). While players randomly choosing balls for their opponents would produce a lose-lose result 25% of the time, this is likely not much greater than the rate of lose-loses in conventional play. Enforcing a zero payoff if an opposing player does not accept a randomized payoff presents a more moral solution without significant loss in net expected values for players.

Mar. 26 2014 05:33 PM
Robert from Minneapolis

Most of the time, LuLu's behavior is more rational. Most repair shops aren't going to run by some nut who won't fix your bike because he resents your being on vacation, and most of the time, you're not going to encounter psychopaths who confess to you their murderous fantasies. On those occasions, sure, you want to be able to confront them like Sue. But that doesn't mean it is a good idea to like Sue all the time. Just because you're prone to confrontation doesn't make you honest, often it is nothing more than belligerence. It's important to find a balance. Or you can go around having tantrums, wondering why people don't respect your "honesty".

Mar. 17 2014 03:29 PM
Karl from nc

Lulu is not so much pollyannaish as non-confrontational. Like Soo said, there is non-malevolent deceit in the willingness of Lu to not address a perceived transgression. On the other hand, Soo's confrontational manner seems rooted in an inability to let someone get by with an assault on her sense of right or wrong.

I completely relate to Soo's personality in that I have alienated many people by not being able to ignore certain failures of judgement by those around me. In these two instances, Soo's responses seem born out of a perceived moral wrong. Whereas mine tend to be triggered by someone failing to be true to their word, or not living up to a very high standard that I set for performance and completion of a specific task, especially in a work environment. I am notorious for calling people out on their shortcomings and it has pushed many away. Therein lies the caveat for those like us, Soo. It is our goal to break through to someone and effect change in them, like you hopefully did with the hiker. But for many others, they recoil from the reality check and call us out for being too tough or judgmental. Are we better off not having those people around to offend our sense of right? Or are we losing out by pushing folks away who do not see the world our way?

Those break-through moments for me are some of the most visceral and proud episodes of my life, and I like to think that I have helped many people work through issues like Soo did with the hiker. And I can only hope that those offset the heartbreak and disappointment that comes when people push you away for offending their pride.

Mar. 16 2014 04:23 PM

I love Radiolab ,
one of my favorite shows on the radio, internet etc.
I love it so much , despite how poor I am I donate a portion of my phone bill
to keep them going.
The pieces are well thought out ,
expertly edited
and not only entertaining ,
educational but they cause us to question , to take stock of our humanity
and to look differently at the world around us.
Although I feel this way about almost every show ,
A portion of this show surprised me.
.
Radio lab what happened to your standards?
Are we letting bloggers and amateurs write and contribute weak material to your show?
I don't know where most of the listeners live , I am native born New Yorker so I found the naiveté of Lulu ridiculous.

I am under the impression that she might be new to the concept of danger.
There should be no reason other than coming in fresh from a small town
to be so unrealistic about strangers
when on a cross country bike ride.
I feel if it wasn't for Soo , Lulu might not be alive to put this silly story on.
The only genuine statement was made by Soo to Lulu
"you romanticized even this , won't you even see this moment for what it is "
This is not a scientific story , it is not about art , or our consciousness , or the triumph of the human spirit.
It is a gossipy piece of overdramatized fluff.

The fact that this story even made it into the show as a "thing" is beyond understanding.
Spooky ? What is so spooky about this Jad? ,
unless you live in a bubble
which is what I am guessing.
I did not feel anything new was revealed about human nature, science , other than the possibility that everyone at the show was so hard up to fill a space in the show that they chose this unremarkable story about someone who represses their feelings to the point of becoming a doormat
and someone who speaks their mind and gets marginalized by her peers of having "anger issues" .
The sad thing is that this sums up "Lulu's" demographic .
I guess since I was born in the throws of the late 20 th century this type of pablum seems like "cry me a river" nonsense that generation Um? types who haven't experienced any life altering experiences can actually contemplate writing a book about.
The book might make the New York times best seller list ,
which says more about the Lulu's of the world.
The rest of us will roll our eyes in disdain and confusion.
If Radiolab is experimenting with Radio "Reality" stories ? I beg you to please stop!
Let those people go to other blogs and podcasts for such guilty pleasures.

Mar. 16 2014 01:03 AM
Robert from Minneapolis

In real life interactions, reputation is important. You might be able to cheat someone once, but not a second time. And they will tell their friends how dishonest you are. If you go to dinner with a friend, and stick him with the bill, that might work once, but not a second time. The Golden Balls, like the Prisoner's Dilemma it is based upon, is an unnatural one-shot interaction. If you cheat here, there are no consequences.

The solution presented here is genius. The problem with the game is that the more you convince your opponent that you will split, the greater the incentive to steal. On the other hand, if your opponent is not convinced you will split, they have no incentive to split. By claiming that he will steal but promising to divide the money afterwards, he has changed the game. It's now a reputation game, like in real life, the game has an ongoing dimension. If you want a shot at the money, you split, hoping that your opponent will keep their word. It's possible that your opponent could renege and refuse to divide the winnings, but you have the potential to use moral authority to pressure your opponent to honor his agreement. If you steal, you lose. Normally, you can't afford to split, you can't take the chance that your opponent will steal. Here, you can't afford to steal.

With LuLu and Sue, neither method is better than the other. Both have advantages and disadvantages. When someone wants to take advantage of you, cooperation puts you at a disadvantage. On the other hand, confrontation is a disadvantage when dealing with someone who is being reasonable, they lose interest in cooperating with you. If you are too confrontational, "brutal honesty" just becomes brutality. I don't agree that Americans are timid and non-confrontational. American tourists have a reputation for being loud, obnoxious and demanding.

Mar. 14 2014 10:57 AM

In the last story of this piece it mentions that population lateralization is the exception, but from my reading on the subject it is my understanding that it is more the norm. See how this article mentions:
"In recent years, it has become apparent that behavioural and brain lateralization at the population level
is the rule rather than the exception among vertebrates."
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691668/

Mar. 13 2014 11:03 PM
Carol P

Just a comment about the Lulu/Sue segment. Although society tends to be more welcoming of those who are nice all of the time, those who are unable to voice an honest opinion often ended up surrounded by the bad behavior that they allow to go on around them. I can think of a former boss who I adored, but after ending my work relationship with her not once, but in two different offices, I finally realized that she was part of the problem, allowing the members of her team to get away with murder. But no one every realized that the person that never appeared to do anything out of line was a key component of the dysfunction.

Though I think that both Sue and Lulu can learn some lessons from each other, I do think that Sue will end up with more valuable friendships long term, and I don't think she has anything to worry about, as I'm sure she'll learn more effective ways to voice her opinions as she goes.

Mar. 13 2014 05:14 PM
Frank Garcia from Seattle

I think that there is some similarity between the golden ball problem and climate change:

If both parties fail to act, there are major global changes, and we all lose.
If both parties change, then the crisis is largely averted and we all win.
But if one party acts, and the other does not, then that first party will be forced to pay for the research/development costs while the second benefits from this research, and the new technologies.

This is not a direct analogy due to a number of real-world complexities, and due to the slowness of the debate (there is no magic "flip over your balls moment. To some extent, we can see what the other person is choosing, as they choose it), but it seemed interesting enough to warrant writing a post over.

Mar. 13 2014 04:13 AM
Matt M from Asheville, NC

The Lulu/Sue story was not satisfying for me. I found it adolescent. I didn't relate to anybody or any of their 'deep insights about the nature of humanity.' I just heard a lot of young people arguing instead of communicating.

Golden balls story was self indulgent. There was zero science or art, and just a handful of people speculating. 9 out of 10 shows are great. This is that 1 out of 10 that I turn off half way through...

Mar. 12 2014 12:35 PM
Blake Lowry from Ridgewood, NY

Are there transcripts for this show? I try to focus on the content, but I was imagining what it must be like to type out these shows with the over the top editing. It has to be a nightmare.

Mar. 11 2014 10:38 PM
Sarah W. from NYC

Loved this episode, particularly the first two segments. As a fairly meek person, I found it empowering to hear that there's a way to force good behavior in the prisoner's dilemma, and it's interesting to think about the benefits of confrontation (though I still believe both dispositions have their benefits).

Mar. 09 2014 03:18 PM
Jerry Curry from Chicago, WBEZ

Hi Guys,

Question: If 90% of parrots favor their left, is the right hemisphere of parrots more developed as the left brain of humans species?

Mar. 08 2014 05:00 PM
Misha from San Francisco, CA

Love your show, avid listener.

But I just wanted to give a little feedback... Why didn't you check if there were any research concerning whether the parrot's speech centers were developed on the right side of their brains, and if that was why they tend to be left handed? I kept waiting for it, it would have been a great way to test the theory that that is why we are predominantly right handed. You almost got there, you mentioned they also talk a lot and then....left us hanging. :P

(I have to say right on, Sue. Problems must be confronted, even if you do lose some friends. That said, benefit of the doubt first, and confront with tact. So as one or two people above pointed out, everything is not black and white, really.)

You guys do fantastic work, thanks for all you do!

Mar. 07 2014 05:12 PM
Chadney Spencer from Bayside, Queens, NYC

It is important to recognize that the shift from the 50/50 ambidextrous lifestyle of either "prehuman ancestors" or early humans was not caused by spoken or written language itself, but by the purposely-willed discrimination of the left hand by the minds of those individuals conforming to a new cultural hygiene rule (habit) imperatively demanding that only the left hand be used to wipe one's rectum after a bowel movement, thus keeping the right hand free to perform other tasks & chores in their lifestyles. This cultural demand set the agenda for the right hand gene to dominate the human race's 90% right handedness. Because what happens after someone sets this rule for oneself? They dominantly use the right hand, thus causing the motor skills of the brain to be stored on the left hemisphere. Spoken language alone would not have caused this, but could have been shifted predominantly to the right side, had the right hand been selected & enforced as the favored pooper-scooper!

Great show, guys! Loved it! Keep them coming!

Mar. 07 2014 04:20 PM
Frank from Brooklyn

I loved the final portion in particular. Three of my close friends and I are lefties and we've shared many anecdotes of social jabs present and past. What irks us most is that there isn't a vocabulary established that describes left handedness in a right handed world. We have compartmentalized and labelled every discernible difference we can find in one another but somehow handedness has kept off the radar.

It would be great to hear you all delve into this subject further. Love it, thanks again!

Mar. 07 2014 02:13 PM
Hannah from New York City

Great episode! How do they know that the parrots are left dominant because they pick up the food with their left claws? Maybe they pick up their left claw because they are better at balancing on their right leg.

Mar. 06 2014 08:33 PM
Traci from Oakland, CA

I thought the Left-handed segment (the final segment of the piece) was only 1/4 interesting. RadioLab could do an entire piece on "handedness." I felt you guys left out some key components to this piece, and as a female lefty, I felt the segment was a little sexist. You only focused on male athletes and warriors, for example. And as a female, left-handed athlete, I have to say,I was pretty disappointed with this.

I got my left handedness through my mother, so the fact that you kept pointing the finger towards male athletes as creators of handedness got old quick. The other sexist part was the implication that "warrior" types in hand-to-hand combat were always men.

I understand you were trying to piece together handedness through historical points, but I felt disappointed in the apparent sexism of the final piece.

That said, I remain an avid RadioLab fan.

Mar. 06 2014 01:07 PM
jack from Los Angeles

i think the generalizations about Koreans on this message board need to be addressed. I am Korean-American, having spent a decent amount of time in both countries, and I definitely identify myself more with Lulu. I avoid confrontation, and live in that "be nice to everyone", happy hopelessness state of mind. I think Sue is the way she is because of genetics, and the unique experiences in her life that formed who she is. I know and have met many Korean and Korean-American people, some who are more introverted and quiet, and others who are outspoken and aggressive. Of course, in certain cultures, there are similarities of experience, and in Korea, it is super-competitive and you have to work hard to get to where you want to be. But like anywhere else, there are the privileged rich and the poor who lack opportunities.

Mar. 05 2014 10:16 PM
muz from Australia

Fun episode with a bit of a TAE-ish theme. Thanks
I do think you guys went a bit light on the Golden Balls story for Radiolab though. There's a whole untold story of why that tactic of refusing to play the game is really interesting. Something economists and psychologists who work in game theory a lot would surely have something to say about.
The reaction of people finding it offensive that Nick refused to negotiate, even dishonestly; that Nick is insisting he be trusted outside the parameters of the game (the "I'll split it later") so the reaction is that he should then promise to split now, in the game, as though that is the more honourable dealing (which it isn't if you think about it); Ibrahim pulling out a lie about his father to try to get Nick to change his option, even though that in a way is just trying to get Nick to go back to more familiar duplicitous territory instead of the one he could be insisting on...
The implicit judgements of rules and fairness (and authority of the show) in trust, what difference the amounts of money might make, whether or not anyone could do this again.
All of this is a sociological goldmine you guys could spend half an episode on.

Mar. 05 2014 12:01 PM
Dan from Australia

This is the ONLY episode of Radiolab I have ever been disappointed with.

Golden balls was fantastic! Excellent story and brilliant storytelling.

The Sue and Lulu story was completely without substance and really shocked me that it made up 20 mins of the episode. A group of college people have a 'deep and meaningful' conversation in the woods?!? That's it?! Did the guy with mental problems go on to get treatment? Did the confrontation turn his life around? Without any follow-up or mind-blowing result, all I got was a couple of college kids with no life experience had a serious conversation....not exactly a needle in a haystack.

Am I missing something?

Mar. 05 2014 03:38 AM
JB Lawton from Dublin, Ohio

It was implied that Nick's swimming/tea inspired strategy for Golden Balls was to claim he was going to steal but secretly split. Was that, indeed, always his plan or he did he switch himself?

Mar. 04 2014 04:12 PM
Evan from Brooklyn

Pat - I met you once a while back not a fan of the show, I've since been converted (!) and am now looking forward to new podcasts. Sorry to hear you're leaving and wish you all the best out west. best, Evan

Mar. 04 2014 03:37 PM
Eamonn from Dublin, Ireland

What a great episode! Really back on form in this one guys!

Have been addicted to looking at all the Golden Ball finales on youtube since listening! I particularly love how many moral sociopaths keep posting on these Golden Balls youtube episodes saying that mathematically it makes no sense to split! That only idiots split. Etc. The point of the game (what makes it interesting) is to test people's character and morals - how far they will go to deceive - not their mathematical skills. It doesn't take any brains to know that stealing is good for your chances!

The analogy with the prisoners dilemma which these self serving commentators constantly bring up is, at best, only half right. The other (and perhaps more appropriate) analogy is something similar to the Milgram experiments. These sociopaths look others in the eyes while forcefully and passionately lying about their intentions. They allow the "rules" of the "game" to take away any personal culpability for their direct actions upon another person sitting directly opposite them... who very often does right by them. In many cases these truly are life-changing amounts of money. And then they prove their sociopathic tendencies even further by claiming (like the youtube commentators) that it was all about their skill and individual intelligence - even though the whole structure of what just happened was the result of one person simply taking a leap and trusting them (nothing to do with one person being more clever).

What I particularly love about Nick's ploy was that it represented neither right-liberal "me me" philosophies, nor left-liberal trust in charity. He forced a new shared group logic that controlled even one of these "me me" psychopaths into knowing that the good of the group was the only real answer to this new situation. That Ibrahim could either link his own good to the good of the group or he could feck off. 

Mar. 03 2014 05:36 AM
Gordon Holey from Williamstown, MA

just listened to "What's left when you are right" . . . the brilliance continues, thank you for the amazing program.

A theory on Parrots that I was hoping you'd bring up! I was aching for this! Parrots obviously must have developed their speech from mimicking humans, I doubt it was the other way around.

How do parrots learn speech sounds? I would guess by mimicking the movements of the human tongue, lips, teeth, and even the neck. Could it be possible that through observation (staring at a human speaking would be like looking in a mirror) everything speech related would develop oppositely, making the parrots' right side of the brain develop more for motor control, and therefore making them predominately left handed, clawed, taloned, whatever, almost to the same ratio as humans? I'm certainly not a researcher but this is a theory that seems make sense!

Mar. 02 2014 11:15 PM
Jeff from Shanghai, China

I'm a lefty. My dad thought I should be a pitcher BECAUSE I was a lefty, not the other way around.

Mar. 02 2014 10:01 PM
Alexa James from Los Angeles, CA

I wish RadioLab would go back to the pure science episodes, which is what makes the show unique. By continually trying to be This American Life, it seems like you're undermining the idea that science can be interesting (because if it was, you'd be sticking to it instead of wandering to other more "interesting" territory).

Also, honestly, Ira's better at the human interest stuff. But you guys... NO ONE rocks the science like you (not even the TED folks).

Please get back to the original mission!

Mar. 02 2014 03:32 AM
Wayne from North Las Vegas

Sue idea that Lulu's kindness is self deceiving. Pretending to be alright with the situation will change the situation is a lie. I would have to dare to label her coward.

Sue on the other side is harsh, but she is honest if she sees something that she may perceive as a character flaw she will bring it to task. The result the person on the receiving end will have defend themselves or not, but either way they are confronted with the observation and must deal with it; which means they'll either shift their behavior or form defenses if they don't see this perceived flaw a wrong. Either way there will be change.

Feb. 28 2014 11:04 PM
JT from SLC, UT

I'd like to see if the relationship between speech development in the left side of the brain and right-handed bias in humans applies to parrots? What side of a parrots' brain controls speech, the right? I was disappointed that you told us about how humans are usually right handed and parrots usually left but didn't investigate why parrots are usually lefties. Now it's driving me crazy! :p

Feb. 28 2014 07:38 PM
Draco

Would you please stop allowing cussing on your podcast?! I'd like to share Radiolab with my children. I don't need them learning causal cussing from something that is supposed to be though-provoking.

Feb. 28 2014 06:49 PM
BleepBlop from Seattle

The Sue and Lulu story really struck a chord with me. I don't want to downplay the beauty of Sue's willingness to confront people with the truth, because it's amazing. I'll just add that, as someone who lived in Korea for a few years and who is married to a Korean woman, I believe there may be a cultural component to Sue's forthrightness and her expectation of fair dealing from others.

Or put another way, there is something uniquely American (I can't speak for other western societies) in our willingness to shrug off sub-par treatment. I'll die before I don't tip somebody, even if they've given me horrible service (my version of putting the smack down would be to leave only 15%). But if my wife detects even a whiff of unfairness or injustice, she goes into all-out kill mode. And she isn't alone. For this reason, the Korean service industry is mind-blowingly solicitous and customer-oriented.

Koreans don't cringe inwardly and tell themselves that the reason their steak was delivered cold was because the server probably had a rough day. They expect excellence and honesty, and when they don't get it, the gloves come off.

Their education system is the same. They don't care if a student is non-gifted or underprivileged. They expect a full and honest effort, and for that reason, many fewer students are left behind in Korea than in America.

It's pretty awesome to see a whole country run on Sue's no-nonsense principles.

Feb. 28 2014 06:40 PM
Adder from Dublin, Ireland

Oh god, I remembered watching that episode of Golden Balls, realising it was the perfect strategy, and seeing exactly when the Ibrahim switched - showing that it was the only way it would work.

Feb. 28 2014 02:07 PM
Jeffrey Johnston

this is the song that started playing in the background of my head.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ikwp204zuA4

Feb. 28 2014 12:28 PM
Kat from detroit

The Su and Lulu story hit close to home for me. the more Lulu described her friend Su the more it felt like she was describing me. The strange thing is I have friends like Lulu, my own sister is like Lulu. I think sometimes we become friends with people who are so different from us so that we can see the world in a way that is different. I can try to be happy go lucky like Lulu but it's not who I am deep down and I will always revert back to Su but I need Lulus in my life to remind me and Lulus needs Sues to be reminded themselves.

Feb. 28 2014 11:51 AM
Carl from L.A., CA

As with most truth that the Bible addresses, this is easy to apprehend but difficult to comprehend and even more difficult to practice. The 12th chapter of Paul's first letter to the believers in Corinth discusses this idea of gifts. Lu has a gift but makes the selfish mistaken assumption that since Soo doesn't have it that she must have anger problems. Then, when she gets a glimpse of the value of Soo's gift, she de-values her own gift. By the end of the segment, both Lu and Soo are feeling dejected about their shortcomings. Paul encourages us not only to exercise and value our own gifts but to value and encourage the gifts of others. On a larger scale, the United States will continue to stagnate and wither as long as the Left and the Right continue to demonize each other rather than see the unique value the other possesses and therefore contribute to policymaking. Right-wingers (Judgemental Soo-type Nazis) need to accept the superiority of the Left-winger in their ability to respond to human suffering and injustice. Left-wingers (bleeding heart liberal Lu-type Commies) need to accept the superiority of the Right-winger in their ability to understand the 'physics' of the flow of money and power. The day we can see each other for the gifts we bring, there will be real healing and progress. Until then, happy sliding into the trash heap of history, America!

Feb. 28 2014 10:54 AM
nate from portland, or

That we show more emotion on the left side of our face seems a relevant footnote in the sidedness discussion, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120420123847.htm

Feb. 28 2014 05:26 AM
C

Great show. The Sue and Lulu story struck me as a portrait of two different ways women deal with conflicts with men. Lulu placates, Sue confronts.

Feb. 27 2014 06:24 PM
Raffy

ADHD is NOT a "condition". Can this be somehow corrected?

Feb. 27 2014 05:28 PM
Jeffrey from Brooklyn

Traveling mercies on Pat Walters as he moves out west. He gave us wonder and knowledge with his disarming voice and curious heart. Thank you Pat, and good luck!

Feb. 27 2014 05:02 PM
mat wong from toronto

Korean people are like that, very in your face and very stubborn. And this is coming from a Chinese person, its not a racist observation, its a cultural observation, its like saying British people are timid and polite and drive on the left side of the road.

That being said, i think lulu is right, its right to be polite, and just let people be. Why is it our responsibility to change people, even then we'd be changing people in 'our' view of what is right. And then again it's just our view, it could be wrong. People just want have an ear to listen too, they don't necessarily want a whole life lesson. Chances are the man in the story did not follow through and seek help afterwards.

At the same time too why does sue have to be so angry and intimidating in her delivery and tone. No psychiatrist would ever talk to their patient like that, and that patient them self is seeking help.

Feb. 27 2014 04:27 PM
Peter from California

I've always thought that right handed people favor their left foot and left handed people favor their right foot... So, in the case of the parrots, since they have wings and favor their left FOOT, isn't it possible that they're actually right 90% handed like us?

Either way, Great Program!

Feb. 27 2014 04:19 PM
Maura from Tucson, AZ

Everyone I've pretty much dated has been a left-handed guy. I don't know why, but that last story was interesting!

Feb. 27 2014 02:25 PM
matt wong from Canada

Ya Korean people are like that, so confrontational and dramatic. And this is coming from a Chinese person.

Feb. 27 2014 01:30 PM
Julia

I really enjoyed this episode and this is first time commenting!
I think Lulu and Sue are thinking in extreme black and white, that you can only be extremely aggressive or passive, a pushover or someone who stands up for themselves. Reminds me of Monica v. Phoebe from Friends. I used to think like this and it drove me crazy, thinking there is only ONE RIGHT way to think and act. So in the case of the bike shop owner, I think Lulu was right in giving him the benefit of a doubt, but after a day she should've told him straight, though not angrily like Sue did. They are still conflicted about how to see the world because they falsely expect "good" things will happen because they behaved "correctly". Perhaps their conundrum can be solved by throwing away the notion that people "should" and "would" react in ways they can understand and accept that people are free to do whatever they please.

Feb. 27 2014 01:11 PM
keren from UP, MI

Great episode. The segment about LuLu and Sue's bike trip left me thinking, needing a conclusion...

Fortunately, we are all dynamic people and the dialogues that we have can help to bring these dynamics to light. Where LuLu tends (at least as I heard it) toward kindness, perhaps at her own expense at times, careful to not make waves, Sue might err on the side of justice, self-protection and utter honesty, taking no crap. While LuLu tends to begin situations embracing the notion of basic human goodness, Sue can find her way into that notion, but risks rubbing people the wrong way in the process. She carries this notion with her as does LuLu, but doesn’t express itself until she sees evidence of that humanity surface, and then she courageously embraces the person with empathy.

At this point, I should disclose that I’m currently under the influence of Terry Tempest Williams’ most recent book, When Women Were Birds, which is all about voice.

Either place can get you into a spot, a spot marked by a lack of voice on the one hand or a lack of empathy (too much ego) on the other. Which is right and which is left? A person can recognize the woundedness as well as the humanity in both approaches. There is something to be learned by both people, both approaches, both spots. One is to find that voice: be more assertive. The other is to soften a bit. Put together, approach people with respect and dignity and acknowledgement of their basic goodness, while also maintaining your voice and respecting yourself. This is an ever-difficult balance that we get to tweak our whole lives. The opportunity is ours to observe and learn around the edges of life that challenge and confuse us.

Thanks for sharing.

Feb. 27 2014 12:55 PM
Nita Keesling from Bend, OR

Thanks so much for your story Lulu. It articulated something for me about me and my best friend's worldview/interaction style that I never had the words for before. Made me cry tears of recognition.

Feb. 27 2014 12:40 PM
Johnny Stinebaugh from Mahattan, KS

I wish I would have known about Sue and Lulu... I know people and have family from Pittsburg, KS that would have been glad to help. Sorry that Roger didn't work out though...

Feb. 27 2014 10:16 AM
Lauren from Victoria, BC

I would like to say thank you to Lulu & Soo for sharing their story offering up their personal experiences in this way and I love that it was left unfinished for us to complete the conclusion ourselves. Knowing when to get involved and when to step away is a personal choice but to go at something "like a dog with a bone" tends to happen when we are emotionally involved with an outcome. Soo engaged the with the hiker (despite the danger) as if his decisions/realizations mean everything to her at that point - it was worth her energy and passion to push him to what sounded like an amazing eye-opening discussion. I think many of us don't push others into this type of challenging conversation - first, because many won't hear us if they aren't ready and second, because we are caught up in our own worlds and don't want to get involved so we stay distant and polite so we can move on. But truly, the biggest show of respect for someone is to ask something of them... make them accountable for their actions and words and that is ultimately what I heard Soo doing. I have no doubt that most people, including Lulu, would push for this type of confrontation with beloved friends and family members, but few would do it for strangers.

Feb. 27 2014 12:19 AM

I can relate a lot with Soo. So much of being female is about fearing social ostracization for standing up for your beliefs and yourself. So much of being female means rolling over and pressing your own wants, needs, and beliefs downward in favor of being accommodating to others, lest you be labelled a "nag" or a "bitch". I've never had that in me. I'm talkative, abrasive, loud, and opinionated. I've had to learn to phrase my thoughts in ways that don't hurt others, but I've never been shy about what's on my mind. I never want to be the wallflower society wants me to be.

It is possible to be opinionated like Soo and not have to lose any friends over it. You just have to learn to phrase things more carefully, and be friends with smart people. That's the secret. It's worked out fine for me.

Feb. 26 2014 08:13 PM
quinn-o-matic

I can relate a lot with Soo. So much of being female is about fearing social ostracization for standing up for your beliefs and yourself. So much of being female means rolling over and pressing your own wants, needs, and beliefs downward in favor of being accommodating to others, lest you be labelled a "nag" or a "bitch". I've never had that in me. I'm talkative, abrasive, loud, and opinionated. I've had to learn to phrase my thoughts in ways that don't hurt others, but I've never been shy about what's on my mind. I never want to be the wallflower society wants me to be.

It is possible to be opinionated like Soo and not have to lose any friends over it. You just have to learn to phrase things more carefully, and be friends with smart people. That's the secret. It's worked out fine for me.

Feb. 26 2014 07:55 PM
Jim H.

I'm one of the community TAs for an online course called Introduction to Mathematical Thinking, which is taught by Keith Devlin, the "Math Guy" on Saturday Morning Edition.

Yesterday I posted a "just for fun" question on our discussion forums about a made-up TV game show that's identical to Golden Balls, except I called my version "Steal or Deal." We're discussion whether one would steal or split/deal and why. We're talking about the game theory aspects as well as what happens if you play the game repeatedly. I also want to factor the guilt factor of stealing a bunch of money from someone, especially after swearing that you will split.

I had never heard of Golden Balls before, so I was stunned when heard it was a real TV show today!

Feb. 26 2014 06:31 PM

I was thinking the same thing as Mac during the conclusion of the second segment. The obvious choice is a healthy balance between the two. I know that Lulu was very emotional by that time during the story, but I feel like someone could have chimed in with the obvious answer and ground the whole thing a little bit. I'm assuming that we were meant to draw our own conclusions, but Soo even agreed that she's too abrasive and admitted to it having a negative affect on her life.

This story is great, but I can't help but think about if the hiker had reacted in a hostile manner, which could easily have happened. I admire Soo's gall, but that was a very delicate situation that could have gone South really quickly.

Feb. 26 2014 06:23 PM
JD

I listened to this with my right ear bud in my left ear and my left ear bud in my right ear, and my mind was blown.

Feb. 26 2014 04:57 PM
R Sachs from Chicago

What if parrots are 90/10 lefty/righty because they mirror humans?

Feb. 26 2014 02:26 PM
Mac

I enjoyed the Sue and Lulu story however I was intrigued but the lack of a clear and concise conclusion to the story, specifically how the two individuals were unsure about whether their coping mechanisms were effective/best. This appears to be a relatively common phenomenon when we are faced with these apparently split decisions, we can't seem to pick a side. Why not choose both. In some situations utilize the happy-go-lucky love everyone attitude and in others use the realist, abrasive, hopeful attitude, sometimes use both, sometimes neither. Let the situation choose which attitude/tool/coping mechanism to use rather than approach every situation in the same way. Lulu merely observed a scenario where Sue's technique worked best, however in Lulu's own life there have been many situations where her style triumphed (we know this because she wouldn't still be happy-go-lucky if it had no benefits).

Feb. 26 2014 02:02 PM
wydok

I was totally thinking about Nick's strategy for the Golden Balls game. Just say you are going to Steal. Although I would have truly picked Steal and still split the money.

Feb. 26 2014 12:36 PM

@Jacob Smith.

I was just thinking the same thing. Kicking over to manual mode and downloading them by hand. Woulda thought it would come to this in 2014. Totally worth it.

Feb. 26 2014 01:03 AM
Jacob Smith from Ponce, Puerto Rico

Dear Radiolab,

OK, I'm confused. I have subscribed to the Radiolab podcast for quite a while now, and I thought I knew the dealio. Anyway, I'm supposed to be studying, but I noticed a notification on my phone that a new episode of the podcast was available. The title and description for "What's Left When You're Right" were too interesting to just pass up, but I didn't have time to actually listen. I decided to content myself with seeing if there was a longer description of the episode here on your website. The description was a bit longer and I felt sated enough to leave it alone until after my test in the morning. Before I clicked back to my electronics homework I noticed a series of unfamiliar titles to other episodes beneath the one I was investigating. They all looked really interesting and yet none of them were familiar. Are these older episodes that I just don't remember? My fear is that there is some whole other class of episode that for some reason isn't part of the normal podcast subscription. How many of them are there? What is going on? Up is down, down is up! Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria!!

Seriously, what up wit dat?

Feb. 25 2014 10:56 PM

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