Link to a RadioLab Program

Here

This program was particularly significant to me…all the segments. You can download them, or listen. Spooky coincidences surround us. The question is this: Is there such a thing of Fate? And if there is, can we control it, and if not, is everything predetermined.

1. Something happens to children around the age of four...the ability to delay gratification. However, some are better at it than others.  Some hold out for 8 minutes, some for 20 minutes. What has that to do with their future success? At age 15-17, that difference is 250 points on the SAT score. Listen to the rest. Health, BMI scale, income, education. Can you predict success at the age of 4? And what actually happens at age 4? Can it be changed?

2. The “gifted” program, what sense does it make? asks Malcolm Gladwell. So what if one child reads at 2 1/2 and another reads at 4? Are the things being read between 2 1/2 & 4 of such incalculable importance? There’s no “infinite scale” of reading. Once you can do it, you can do it! Hear about the “Matthew Effect” (“To those who have much, more will be given.”) The youngest kids get short shrift…from birth, through college. And when that magic fairy dust called “talent” is sprinkled onto persistence what is the missing–and so oft rejected–element that produces genius?

3. Why the heck are those Road Runner & Wiley Coyote cartoons so perennially popular? What has that to do with our view of Fate?

4. Behind words, and into an  author’s head. During the early Middle Ages, monks decided to write a concordance of the Bible…all 960, 243 words of it. Each occurrence and each context. At the time it took them  a whole lifetime.  A modern computer could do the same job in under 15 seconds. So you feed the best selling novelist of all time into a computer, and look at word frequency, vocabulary and context. But what happened between book number 72 and 73? And what did it mean? The topic is the predictive power of the words we use.

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