Genetics promised us the book of life laid open. But even after the sequencing of the human genome, there’s still a lot we don’t know. How do people make choices based on the imperfect knowledge that genetic science provides? Today we look at a few examples of that. We hear a story about sperm donation and the perils of choosing your child’s father out of a book. We hear a story about using genetics to make a decision about surgery. We walk into an MRI to investigate the genetic basis of personality. And a short story about cannibalistic vultures. Prepare for a show that will leave you doubled up in a helix of joy.


Host: Charlie Mintz

Producers: Charlie Mintz, Matt Larson, Laura Chao, Angela Castellanos, Leah Bakst

Featuring: Max McClure

Music: Cults, Boomsnake, Mothlight

Release Date: 23 November 2009

image via flickr


Story 1: Two Women, a Frenchman, and Seth Rogen All Walk Into a Bank

Producer: Matt Larson

Imagine the chance to choose half your child’s genetic material from a book. How would you pick? The best looking? The smartest? The least Seth-Rogen-like? This is the choice one coupled faced when one half decided to become pregnant through a sperm donation.


Story 2: Uncertain Information

What would you do if you knew you were predisposed to get a certain disease? What if that disease was breast cancer? How far would you go to prevent yourself from getting sick?

Producer: Laura Chao

image via U. of Minnesota


Story 3: Is Your Personality in Your Genes?

Why do we end up like our parents? Is it because we model ourselves after them (despite vowing never to become them)? Or is there something in our DNA that codes for hating sports, or talking to strangers, or just being plain stubborn?

Producer: Angela Castellanos and Leah Bakst

image via flickr


Story 4: It Was Suggested the Vultures of the Region Refused to Eat Their Own Dead

Author: Max McClure

After the collapse of society, a scientist attempts to figure out why vultures refuse to eat their own dead. A story about science at the end of civilization–an odd, unsettling piece we think goes best with a plate of gado-gado.

image via wikimedia