Episodes
This week, President Joe Biden rolled out a large-scale federal mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for two-thirds of the American workforce, impacting more than 100 million people across the public and private sectors. Some lawmakers have already called the mandate unconstitutional, and Arizona is the first state to sue to block it. This week on The Experiment: As the struggle between individual liberty and public safety rages, we revisit the story of the first Supreme Court battle over...
Published 09/23/21
The Atlantic staff writer Hannah Giorgis grew up in the ’90s, watching dozens of Black characters on TV. Living Single, Sister, Sister, Moesha, and Smart Guy were just a few of the shows led by Black casts. But at some point in the 2000s, those story lines and some of the Black writers behind them seemed to disappear. In a cover story for The Atlantic, Giorgis traces the cyclical, uneven history of Black representation on television. One writer whose career encompasses much of that history...
Published 09/16/21
On September 11, 2001, Bobby McIlvaine was killed, along with nearly 3,000 other Americans. In the 20 years since, his parents and brother have searched for ways to live through, and with, their grief. The writer Jennifer Senior’s brother was Bobby’s roommate when he died, and in the cover story for The Atlantic’s September issue, she visited with each member of the family to understand their personal journey through the aftermath of national tragedy. “The McIlvaines very early on saw a...
Published 09/09/21
Here in the United States, 19-year-old Aséna Tahir Izgil feels as though she’s a “grandma.” Aséna is Uyghur, an ethnic minority being targeted by the Chinese government in what other nations have called a genocide. The pain she witnessed before escaping in 2017 has aged her beyond her years, she says, making it hard to relate to American teenagers. “They talk about … TikToks … clothing, malls, games, movies, and stuff,” she says. “And then the things I think about [are] genocide, Uyghurs,...
Published 08/19/21
Ever since Kerri Strug and the Magnificent Seven won Olympic gold in 1996, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team has been a point of pride for many Americans. But over the past five years, athletes have been coming forward with allegations of widespread abuse in the sport. Former gymnasts say they were forced to train and compete with broken bones and that they were denied food. And dozens of women have testified that they were sexually assaulted by Larry Nassar, the former doctor who worked with...
Published 08/12/21
The epic, oft-told origin story of Texas centers on the Lone Star State’s most infamous battle: the Battle of the Alamo, where American heroes such as Davy Crockett fought to the death against the Mexican army to secure Texas’s independence. The only problem, according to the writer and journalist Bryan Burrough, is that this founding legend isn’t all true. In June, Burrough and two other Texan writers set out to debunk the myth of the Alamo, only to find themselves in an unexpected battle...
Published 08/05/21
In June, the Supreme Court issued a narrow ruling on college sports: Student athletes will now be able to receive educational benefits such as free laptops and paid internships. The decision may have seemed relatively small, but in this episode of the Experiment podcast, the Atlantic staff writer Adam Harris explains how it could change the way we think about college athletes. College sports rake in billions of dollars a year for schools. But athletes themselves have historically been barred...
Published 07/29/21
Hate crimes in the United States have reached their highest levels in more than a decade, prompting bipartisan support for legislation to combat them and increased resources for law enforcement. But the recent COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act has spurred resistance from an unexpected source: activist groups that represent the people these laws are meant to protect. This week on The Experiment, our correspondent, Tracie Hunte, investigates the 150-year history of legislating against racist violence...
Published 07/22/21
Last summer, an unexplained phenomenon gripped nightly newscasts and Facebook groups across America: Unsolicited deliveries of obscurely labeled seed packages, seemingly from China, were being sent to Americans’ homes. Recipients reported the packages to local police, news stations, and agriculture departments; searched message boards for explanations; and theorized about conspiracies including election interference and biowarfare. Despite large-scale USDA testing of the packages, the mystery...
Published 07/15/21
From the Pilgrims’ arrival at Plymouth Rock to the rise of the pandemic “quarantini,” alcohol has been a foundation of American society and culture. The Atlantic's Kate Julian explores how this tool for cohesion and cooperation eventually became a means of coping, and what history can teach us about improving our drinking habits.  This conversation originally ran on the podcast Today, Explained, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.  Further reading: America Has a Drinking Problem Be part of The...
Published 07/08/21
The COVID-19 pandemic shattered social norms around physical closeness and intimacy. As the world reopens, how do we learn to touch other people again—even in normal, everyday ways? The Atlantic staff writer Emma Green seeks advice from the iconic sex therapist and Holocaust survivor Dr. Ruth on how to find pleasure and purpose after life-changing loss. Further reading: Dr. Ruth on Finding Love After the Pandemic Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to...
Published 06/24/21
The Columbia professor Carl Hart spent his career studying the effects of drugs, and uses heroin himself. In his book Drug Use for Grown-Ups, he argues that not only can drug use be safer, but that it’s our right.  This week on The Experiment: how villainizing drug use interferes with our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at [email protected] This episode was produced by Alvin...
Published 06/17/21
  In the face of death, grief, and indifference, what can people do to make a change? In trying to understand a year of tragedy and conflict, the correspondent Tracie Hunte looks back 30 years to explore the U.S. AIDS epidemic and how protesters balanced rage and anguish with pointed and often painstaking political action.  This week on The Experiment, we hear from AIDS activists who put their bodies on the line and from the man they burned in effigy, Anthony Fauci.  This story originally...
Published 06/10/21
  Katharine Smyth is 39 years old and has never, to her knowledge, had an orgasm. This fact didn’t worry her very much until her 30s, when a divorce and a series of dates with frustrated men made her think she might never find love again. So she embarked on a quest—diving deep into an industry designed to solve her problem, searching for a feeling that’s been a fixation of science, pseudoscience, politics, and philosophy for centuries. “The metaphor that came to me is that it’s kind of like...
Published 05/27/21
Lecrae Moore came up in a Christian culture deeply entwined with politics: Evangelicals were Republicans, and Republicans were evangelicals. As a Black college student, he found a sense of belonging in Bible study. His mentors and community were predominantly white and very conservative, but that didn’t really bother him. He found success as an artist and built a career in the white evangelical world. Over time, though, he began to notice how much politics influenced his church culture. He...
Published 05/20/21
These days, everyone assumes that this is just a fact of life: Evangelicals are Republicans, and Republicans are evangelicals. The powerful alliance culminated in the 2016 election of Donald Trump, tying the reputation of Christianity in America to the Trump brand—maybe permanently. It wasn’t always like this. One man—a political operative from Georgia named Ralph Reed—devised a plan to harness the energy of young Christians and turn them into America’s most powerful voting bloc, one church...
Published 05/13/21
Dating shows often push contestants to extreme measures in pursuit of love. Reality-show producers will impose fake deadlines, physical obstacles, and manufactured drama to create the juiciest spectacle. But on TLC’s 90 Day Fiancé, a high-stakes and wildly popular reality show, the producers didn’t need to dream up a deadline: It’s a requirement of the rigorous U.S. visa-application process.  The show follows real-life couples pursuing a K-1 visa—the “fiancé visa”—which allows a U.S....
Published 05/06/21
One night in the spring of 2005, Anissa Jordan was sitting in a car in San Francisco while her boyfriend attempted to rob a young man nearby. Shortly after, police arrested both Anissa and her boyfriend. Anissa was detained and dressed in an orange jumpsuit before she learned that the young man had been shot and killed that night and that she and her boyfriend would both be held responsible. The charge: felony murder. The felony-murder rule, which exists in more than 40 states, allows...
Published 04/29/21
In her fight for women’s rights, the then–ACLU lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg did something unexpected: She argued on behalf of men. “It didn’t matter to her if the plaintiff was a man or a woman,” says the Georgetown law professor Wendy Williams. “Because in most of those cases, the discrimination against the man was derivative of a prior and worse discrimination against the woman.” Craig v. Boren involved Oklahoma frat boys, a drive-through convenience store, and gender-specific beer laws....
Published 04/22/21
The national-park system has been touted as “America’s best idea.” David Treuer, an Ojibwe author and historian, says we can make that idea even better—by giving national parks back to Native Americans. “By virtue of the parks returning to Native control, I would like people, when they’re standing at the foot of El Capitan, to look up knowing they’re on Native lands, to look up knowing that they’re standing on the graves of Native people,” says Treuer, who grew up on the Leech Lake...
Published 04/15/21
The patients of the nurse practitioner and aspiring reality star Jeffrey Young say he helped them like nobody else could. Federal prosecutors who charged him in a massive opioid bust say he overprescribed painkillers, often for “money, notoriety, and sexual favors.”  Young’s case provides a rare glimpse into the ways patients wind up addicted to the powerful painkillers fueling the national opioid epidemic. Branding himself “the Rock Doc” in a self-produced reality-TV pilot, Young would...
Published 04/01/21
In 1902, a Swedish American pastor named Henning Jacobson refused to get the smallpox vaccine. This launched a chain of events that landed the Massachusetts pastor in a landmark 1905 Supreme Court case in which the Court considered the delicate balancing act between individual liberty over our bodies and our duty to one another. "We can be grateful for his work here [while] at the same time also saying the dude was terribly mistaken about this one thing for which, unfortunately, he's most...
Published 03/25/21
Was anybody willing to be a spiritual adviser to Orlando Hall, a Muslim man on death row with a fast-approaching execution date? 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 Hall in the weeks leading up to his execution. But Nur never expected to stand beside Hall...
Published 03/18/21
Do Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Cubans share an identity? The answer wasn’t necessarily clear before 1980. That’s when the Census Bureau introduced a pair of new terms, Hispanic and Latino, to its decennial count. The addition was the result of years of advocacy and negotiation: Being counted on the census meant the potential for far more government action, yet the broad category oversimplified the identities of an immense and diverse group.  “The way that we define ourselves is...
Published 03/11/21
The Confederate States seceded from the United States over slavery. But the “lost cause” myth—the idea that the Civil War was not about slavery but about northern aggression—still has a hold on countless Americans. The historian Ty Seidule doesn’t believe that anymore, though he only came to the realization well into his career as an Army officer and a history professor. His book Robert E. Lee and Me deconstructs the legacy of the top Confederate general and unpacks the enduring “lost cause”...
Published 03/04/21