Philosophy & Other Big Ideas

Hi-Phi Nation

Barry Lam

+17 FANS

Hi-Phi Nation is the first story-driven, narrative podcast on contemporary philosophy. Every week we begin with compelling stories of ordinary and extraordinary human experiences, and transform them into an examination of philosophical ideas. We prof...Show More

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Hackademics II: The Hackers

41:46 | Mar 14th, 2017

One scientist decided to put the entire field of psychology to test to see how many of its findings hold up to scrutiny. At the same time, he had scientists bet on the success-rate of their own field. We look at the surprising paradoxes of humans bei...Show More

Risky Business

49:14 | Feb 16th

How many innocent people should we be allowed to arrest and jail in order to prevent a single dangerous person from being free? The Supreme Court has refused to answer this question, but algorithms have, and many courts across the country are going w...Show More

(Bonus) The Battle over CSOCs

17:47 | Feb 2nd

On this bonus episode, I go into some of the history between the LAPD police commission and the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, and feature some of the tape from the Central station CSOC protest that didn't make it into the episode, including some creepy...Show More

The Precrime Unit

47:58 | Jan 31st

Predictive policing technology is spreading across the country, and Los Angeles is the epicenter. A small group of LA activists are in a lopsided campaign against billions of dollars in city, federal, and Silicon Valley money using algorithms to pred...Show More

Season 3 Preview

02:37 | Jan 18th

After two successful seasons, philosophy in story form comes to Slate on January 31st, 2019.  On Season 3, we look at stories of risk, experiments in democracy, the reality of social categories, illusions of the senses. 

Chamber of Facts

45:03 | Jul 23rd, 2018

Do people of opposing political parties believe in different facts? The mantra at the moment is that they do, because of media echo chambers, motivated reasoning, and ideological blindspots. But a more careful look reveals a different answer, with pe...Show More

The Decision

09:20 | Jul 17th, 2018

On July 16, 2018, the Massachusetts Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Commonwealth versus Julie Eldred. I called lead counsel on the case, Lisa Newman-Polk, to get her reaction to the ruling and talk about its implications. This mini-e...Show More

A Night of Philosophy

45:59 | Jun 19th, 2018

Hi-Phi Nation stays overnight at the Brooklyn Public Library during the 2018 Night of Philosophy. From 7pm to 7am on a Saturday night, thousands of New Yorkers swarmed the central library for acrobats, musicians, and philosophy. Meanwhile, we present...Show More

Willful Acts

48:32 | May 30th, 2018

Army veteran Jim McKelvey applied for his VA benefits and was denied for willful misconduct. Thirty years later, Julie Eldred was sent to prison for a willful violation of probation. Both challenged, both got to a Supreme Court with the promise to ch...Show More

Creed and Credences

42:33 | May 1st, 2018

Dave has been hunting for the one decisive piece of scientific evidence that will settle one of Christianity's most challenging questions. On this episode we look at two stories of people trying to reconcile their religious and empirical beliefs abou...Show More

The Self and Survival

45:24 | Mar 27th, 2018

In ordinary life, it is usually not hard to know who you are and who you used to be. For a small group of children around the world, their knowledge seems to conflict with what modern science believes is possible. On this episode, we tell stories of ...Show More

Cover Me Softly

47:28 | Feb 28th, 2018

When Lori Lieberman was 19 years old, she went to a concert of a singer she didn't know, and ended up writing a poem that would become one of the greatest cover songs of all time. This week we are going to look at the art of covering in popular music...Show More

Freedom and Hostile Design

28:20 | Jan 23rd, 2018

Some acts of expression are awesome, while others suck, and one philosopher has a new theory about the difference. Using this theory as a guide, we look at some of the suckiest things that ever sucked in urban design, and the street artists and compa...Show More

Drowned at Sea

30:09 | Dec 19th, 2017

In the process of preparing to testify in a divorce case, Brian had to study one of the strangest books he had ever come across, where religion, mathematics, and the apocalypse intersect. This week, we look at how a religious cult of number worshiper...Show More

The Ethics Bowl

49:00 | Nov 28th, 2017

High school students from around the country converge on the University of North Carolina for a weekend of moral dilemmas. We follow twenty-four of the nation's top ethics teams competing in the 2017 National High School Ethics Bowl, and take a whirl...Show More

The Bottom of the Curve

37:05 | Oct 31st, 2017

At the beginning of their adult lives, millennials are trying to find out what it means to be happy in their 20s, not knowing that they have no where to go but down. Meanwhile, three highly successful people find themselves at the bottom of life's ha...Show More

A Better Love

47:05 | May 3rd, 2017

On our season finale, we follow a mother's love through the stages of life to seek wisdom about what love is, what love does, and why love happens. We follow five mothers at five different stages of motherhood, from the joys and anxieties of birth,...Show More

The Ashes of Truth

48:14 | Apr 18th, 2017

Documentary film and science do not appear to have much in common, except that, philosophically, they have everything in common. Two men met in 1971 and had a disagreement, which turned into an assault, and then 45 years of disdain. One of them was t...Show More

Be a Man

35:06 | Mar 21st, 2017

Our ideas of manhood and womanhood determine the ways in which we raise and socialize our children, but how much does gender in a particular society depend on that society's relationship with violence? What happens when, all of a sudden, women are al...Show More

Hackademics I: The Control

43:17 | Mar 7th, 2017

After years of unusual episodes dating back to her childhood, Anita went to the doctor and was told there was nothing medically wrong with her. "She had a gift," she was told, and she was sent down the street to an ESP lab. Parapsychology is the sc...Show More

The Cops of Pop

44:39 | Feb 21st, 2017

Two records from 1983 achieved minor novelty fame, and then faded away, only to emerge 20 years later as the originators of a curious genre of pop music in the age of social media. This peculiar genre raises questions about how we should think about ...Show More

The Name of God

47:39 | Feb 14th, 2017

With a small gesture of good will toward Syrian refugees, one woman incurred the wrath of evangelical Christians on social media. The resulting chaos helped write the next chapter in a thousand year-old controversy concerning Christianity, Islam, the...Show More

Soldier Philosophers Part 2: The Morality of War

46:20 | Feb 7th, 2017

For some reason, when people kill others in wars, we do not judge them morally and legally in the same way as we judge them when they kill in civilian life. Is there a justification for this difference, or is it only a convenient myth? We go to West ...Show More

Soldier Philosophers Part 1: Moral Exploitation

45:56 | Jan 31st, 2017

When one Army soldier discovered the propagation of torture tactics during the Iraq war, he engaged in a one-man mission inside the organization to learn about their origins, and the effect they had on lower-level soldiers who were implementing them....Show More

The Wishes of the Dead

46:49 | Jan 24th, 2017

Our lives are controlled by the invisible hand from the grave. Trillions of dollars of the economy are devoted to executing the wishes of people who died long ago, rather than satisfying the desires of the living. We follow the story of the Hershey f...Show More

(Preview) Hackademics

04:26 | Jan 16th, 2017

What happens when you play by all of the rules of science, and find something that could not possibly be there? Barry visits ESP research labs, once at the heart of elite mainstream universities, now at the fringes, to see whether parapsychology is a...Show More

(Preview) Soldier Philosophers

03:05 | Jan 9th, 2017

The current American laws outlawing torture in the war on terror trace back to the actions of one Army whistleblower over ten years ago. In a two-part series, we follow his story through four combat tours, leading up to his life today as a philosophe...Show More

(Preview) Wishes of the Dead

03:12 | Jan 2nd, 2017

Trillions of dollars of the US economy are devoted to executing the wishes of people who died long ago, rather than satisfying the needs, preferences, and values of those living now. Barry investigates one particularly interesting case of this, an...Show More

Season One Trailer #1

02:35 | Dec 24th, 2016

A brand new show bringing storytelling together with philosophy, Hi-Phi Nation aims to do for philosophy what Freakonomics did for economics, what Invisibilia does for cognitive psychology, and what all of your favorite podcasts do for your entertain...Show More