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Good and Evil; the Story of Dancer Tanaquil le Clercq; Roddy Doyle's Novel, The Guts; Brothers Who Shaped History

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Tuesday, February 04, 2014

On today’s show: Cognitive scientist Paul Bloom explains why he thinks that a moral sense of good and evil is hardwired into our brains from birth. Director Nancy Biurski talks about her documentary about Tanaquil le Clercq, the ballet star who was a muse to George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins before she was paralyzed by polio at the age of 27. Roddy Doyle discusses his new novel The Guts, which picks up the story of his bestseller, The Commitments, almost 30 years later. And we’ll look at how John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen Dulles led the United States into foreign conflicts in the 1950s and how we’re still feeling the aftereffects today.

Are Babies Born Good or Evil?

Philosophers and psychologists have long believed that we begin life as blank moral slates, but Paul Bloom argues that we have a deep sense of good and evil when we’re born. In Just Babies The Origins of Good and Evil, he draws on groundbreaking research at Yale, he demonstrates that babies have a rudimentary sense of justice before they can talk. He also examines the morality of chimpanzees, violent psychopaths, religious extremists, and Ivy League professors, and explores our often puzzling moral feelings about sex, politics, religion, and race.

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Tanaquil le Clercq: The Tragic Ballerina

The great American ballet star was a muse to George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins and was the foremost dancer of her day—until she was struck down by polio and paralyzed at the age of 27.

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Roddy Doyle's Novel The Guts, a Follow-Up to The Commitments

Roddy Doyle talks about his novel The Guts, a follow-up to his debut novel The Commitments, which was about a group of ragtag, blue-collar Irish youths who are determined to bring Soul Music to Dublin in the 1980s. He returns to his character Jimmy Rabbitte nearly 30 years later—he’s now approaching 50 with a wife, four kids, and a recent cancer diagnosis. 

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How Brothers John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles Shaped the World

At the peak of the Cold War in the 1950s, two powerful brothers—Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and CIA director Allen Dulles —led the United States into a series of foreign conflicts whose effects are still felt around the world today. Historian Stephen Kinzer explains how they were both propelled by what he calls a quintessentially American set of fears and delusions. In  The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War, Kinzer, looks at their campaigns that pushed countries from Guatemala to the Congo into long spirals of violence, led the United States into the Vietnam War, and laid the foundation for decades of hostility between the United States and other countries.

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Guest Picks: Roddy Doyle

Irish novelist Roddy Doyle was on the show Tuesday, February 4, 2014, to talk about his latest novel, The Guts. He shared a few of his favorite things with us.

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