The Experiment It's easy to forget that the United States started as an experiment: a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, with liberty and justice for all. That was the idea. On this weekly show, we check in on how that experiment is going. The Experiment: stories from an unfinished country. From The Atlantic and WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts, including Radiolab, On the Media, and Death, Sex & Money. Since 1857, The Atlantic has been a magazine of ideas—a home to the best writers and boldest minds, who bring clarity and original thinking to the most important issues of our time.
The Experiment

The Experiment

From WNYC Radio

It's easy to forget that the United States started as an experiment: a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, with liberty and justice for all. That was the idea. On this weekly show, we check in on how that experiment is going. The Experiment: stories from an unfinished country. From The Atlantic and WNYC Studios. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts, including Radiolab, On the Media, and Death, Sex & Money. Since 1857, The Atlantic has been a magazine of ideas—a home to the best writers and boldest minds, who bring clarity and original thinking to the most important issues of our time.

Most Recent Episodes

The End of This Experiment

The Experiment is coming to an end. For our final episode, we contemplate our strange, sometimes beautiful, often frustrating country. We go back to some of the people we met and fell in love with while making the show, and ask them how their version of the American experiment is going. A transcript of this episode is available. Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com. This episode was produced by Alyssa Edes, Gabrielle Berbey, Julia Longoria, and Tracie Hunt, with editing by Michael May and Emily Botein. Fact-check by Sam Fentress. Sound design by David Herman. Transcription by Caleb Codding. Music by Water Feature ("Richard III (Duke of Gloucester)"), Naran Ratan ("Forever time Journeys"), H Hunt ("C U Soon"), Parish Council ("Heatherside Stores" and "Durdle Door"), and Ob ("Ghyll"), provided by Tasty Morsels.

The Experiment Introduces: How To Start Over With Olga Khazan

In The Atlantic's new series How To Start Over, Olga Khazan takes listeners on a journey of reinvention. How To Start Over is your guide to navigating life's gray areas, whether knowing it's time to make a career switch, repairing strained family ties, or forging new connections in a post-pandemic world. Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com.

The 50-Square-Mile Zone Where the Constitution Doesn't Apply

Deep in Yellowstone National Park, there's a glitch in the U.S. Constitution where, technically, you could get away with murder. Lawmakers didn't seem interested in fixing the problem until Mike Belderrain stumbled into the "Zone of Death" while hunting the biggest elk of his life. In a world with so many preventable deaths, The Experiment documents one attempt to avert disaster. This episode of The Experiment originally ran on February 4, 2021. A transcript of this episode is available. Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com. This episode was produced by Julia Longoria and Alvin Melathe, with editing by Katherine Wells and sound design by David Herman. Music by Water Feature ("In a Semicircle or a Half-Moon"), R McCarthy ("Big Game," "She's a Gift Giver, She's a Giver of Gifts," and "Melodi 2"), Ob ("Ell" and "Ere"), Parish Council ("Mopping"), H Hunt ("11e"), Column ("Quiet Song"), and Bwengo ("Première Mosrel"); catalog by Tasty Morsels. Additional audio from Montana State University Library's Acoustic Atlas, the National Park Service's Sound Library, C. J. Box, CNBC, C-SPAN, Vox, NPR's All Things Considered, Idaho News 6, @ItsKeyes, and C-SPAN's Book TV.

Fighting to Remember Mississippi Burning

In June 1964, at the height of the civil-rights movement, the Ku Klux Klan burned a Black Methodist church to the ground in the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi, and murdered three civil-rights workers in cold blood. This crime became one of the most notorious of its era, shocking the nation on the eve of the passage of the Civil Rights Act and later inspiring a Hollywood blockbuster: Mississippi Burning. But when the reporter Ko Bragg started questioning how this history is being preserved in Philadelphia, she was confronted with a town that would much rather forget its violent past. Bragg finds a few Black residents taking it upon themselves to keep the story of this crime alive, and she asks where the burden of safeguarding history should lie. A transcript of this episode is available. Further reading: "Who Will Remember the Mississippi Murders?" Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com. This episode of The Experiment was produced by Gabrielle Berbey, with help from Salman Ahad Khan. Editing by Michael May and Julia Longoria. Reporting by Ko Bragg. Fact-check by Naomi Sharp. Sound design by Hannis Brown with additional engineering by Jennifer Munson. Music by Hannis Brown and Tasty Morsels. Transcription by Caleb Codding.

Teenage Life After Genocide

At 19 years old, Aséna Tahir Izgil feels wise beyond her years. She is Uyghur, an ethnic minority persecuted in China, and few of her people have escaped to bear witness. After narrowly securing refuge in the United States, Aséna's now tasked with adjusting to life in a new country and fitting in with her teenage peers. This week on The Experiment, Aséna shares her family's story of fleeing to the U.S., navigating newfound freedom, and raising her baby brother away from the shadows of a genocide. This episode's guests include Aséna Tahir Izgil and her father, Tahir Hamut Izgil, a Uyghur poet and author. This episode of The Experiment originally ran on August 19, 2021. A transcript of this episode is available. Further reading: "One by One, My Friends Were Sent to the Camps," "Saving Uighur Culture From Genocide," "'I Never Thought China Could Ever Be This Dark,'" "China's Xinjiang Policy: Less About Births, More About Control" Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com. This episode was produced by Julia Longoria, with help from Gabrielle Berbey and editing by Katherine Wells and Emily Botein. Fact-check by Yvonne Rolzhausen. Sound design by David Herman, with additional engineering by Joe Plourde. Translations by Joshua L. Freeman. Music by Keyboard ("Over the Moon," "Mu," "Water Decanter," and "World View"), Laundry ("Lawn Feeling"), Water Feature ("Richard III (Duke of Gloucester)" and "Ancient Morsel"), Parish Council ("New Apt."), and H Hunt ("C U Soon), provided by Tasty Morsels. A translation of Tahir Hamut Izgil's poem "Aséna" is presented below. Aséna By Tahir Hamut Izgil Translation by Joshua L. Freeman A piece of my flesh torn away. A piece of my bone broken off. A piece of my soul remade. A piece of my thought set free. In her thin hands the lines of time grow long. In her black eyes float the truths of stone tablets. Round her slender neck a dusky hair lies knotted. On her dark skin the map of fruit is drawn. She is a raindrop on my cheek, translucent as the future I can't see. She is a knot that need not to be untied like the formula my blood traced from the sky, an omen trickling from history. She kisses the stone on my grave that holds down my corpse and entrusts me to it. She is a luckless spell who made me a creator and carried on my creation. She is my daughter.

Judge Judy's Law

Almost 30 years ago, a fed-up Manhattan-family-court judge named Judith Sheindlin was sitting in her chambers when she got a call from a couple of television producers. They pitched her the idea for a TV show with Judy at its center. The result was Judge Judy, one of the most popular and influential television series ever made. Over its decades-long run, it beat out The Oprah Winfrey Show in ratings, led to the explosion of court TV, and influenced how large swaths of Americans think about crime and justice. The Experiment's Peter Bresnan has been watching Judge Judy with his mom ever since he was a kid. But recently, he began to wonder how the show managed to become such a force in American culture, and what impact it's had on the thousands of litigants who stood before Judy's TV bench. What he found was a strange story about what happens when the line between law and entertainment starts to blur. A transcript of this episode is available. Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com. This episode of The Experiment was produced by Peter Bresnan with help from Salman Ahad Khan. Editing by Jenny Lawton, Julia Longoria, Emily Botein, and Michael May. Fact-check by Will Gordon. Sound design by Joe Plourde with additional engineering by Jen Munson. Transcription by Caleb Codding. Music by Naran Ratan ("East of Somewhere Else"), Ob ("Wold"), R McCarthy ("Big Game" and "Contemplation at Lon Lon"), Parish Council ("P Lachaise," "Walled Garden 1," and "New Apt."), and Column ("A Year in Your Garden" and "Sensuela") provided by Tasty Morsels. Additional music by Alex Overington. Additional audio from Judge Judy, CBS News, The People's Court, NBC4 News, ABC News, AP Archive, and The Roseanne Show.

The Experiment introduces Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery

The Experiment introduces WNYC colleague Nancy Solomon's new podcast: Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery New Jersey politics is not for the faint of heart. But the brutal killing of John and Joyce Sheridan, a prominent couple with personal ties to three governors, shocks even the most cynical operatives. The mystery surrounding the crime sends their son on a quest for truth. Dead End is a story of crime and corruption at the highest levels of society in the Garden State.

The Experiment introduces Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery

The Resurgence of the Abortion Underground

There's a common story about abortion in this country, that people have only two options to intentionally end a pregnancy: the clinic or the coat hanger. They can choose the safe route that's protected by Roe v. Wade—a doctor in a legal clinic—or, if Roe is overturned, endure a dangerous back-alley abortion, symbolized by the coat hanger. But a close look at the history of abortion in this country shows that there's much more to this story. As the Supreme Court prepares to hear a case that could overturn Roe v Wade in June, activists are once again preparing to take abortion into their own hands. Reporter Jessica Bruder explores the abortion underground to learn about the movement's origins, and reveals how activists today are mobilizing around effective and medically safe abortion methods that can be done at home. A transcript of this episode is available. Further reading: "A Covert Network of Activists Is Preparing for the End of Roe" Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com. This episode was produced by Gabrielle Berbey and Alyssa Edes, with help from Salman Ahad Khan. Editing by Michael May and Julia Longoria. Reporting by Jessica Bruder. Fact-check by Michelle Ciarrocca. Sound design by Joe Plourde. Engineering by Jen Munson. Transcription by Caleb Codding. Music by R McCarthy ("Fine"), Ob ("Ere"), Parish Council ("Leaving the TV on at Night" and "Mopping"), Laurie Bird ("Detail Wash" and "Jussa Trip"), Safa Park ("Loose Yams"), Ceefax ("Dissolving Skull"), and Column ("「The Art of Fun」 (Raj)"), provided by Tasty Morsels. Additional music by Joe Plourde. Additional audio from CBS, Hope 2020 (Clip 1 and Clip 2), NBC News (Clip 1 and Clip 2), KCRG, WLKY, and KXAN.

Should We Return National Parks to Native Americans?

The national-park system has been touted as "America's best idea." David Treuer, an Ojibwe historian and the author of The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present, says we can make that idea even better—by giving national parks back to Native Americans. This episode of The Experiment originally ran on April 15, 2021. A transcript of this episode is available. Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com. This episode was produced by Tracie Hunte and Gabrielle Berbey, with editing by Matt Collette and Katherine Wells. Fact-check by Jack Segelstein. Sound design by David Herman. Additional engineering by Joe Plourde. Music by Laundry ("Films"), Parish Council ("Socks Before Trousers" and "Heatherside Stores"), h hunt ("11e" and "Journeys"), and naran ratan ("Trees etc."), provided by Tasty Morsels. Additional music by John Charles Schroeder and Ross Taggart Garren ("Mournful Blues") and Ken Anderson and Rebecca Ruth Hall ("Calliope - Underscore"). Additional audio from National Geographic, WNYC, PBS, and C-SPAN.

Who Belongs in the Cherokee Nation?

From the time she was a little girl, Marilyn Vann knew she was Black and she was Cherokee. But when she applied for citizenship in the Cherokee Nation as an adult, she was denied. What followed was a journey into a dark part of Cherokee history that not many people know about and even fewer understand: Vann and her family are descended from people who were enslaved by the Cherokee Nation. They were freed after the Civil War, but that wasn't the end of their struggle. In 1866, the Cherokee Nation made a promise—a promise of citizenship for these "freedmen" and their descendants. But in the years that followed, that promise would be at the center of a battle between civil rights and sovereignty. Related Viewing: Will Congress Fulfill a 184-Year-Old Promise? A transcript of this episode will soon be made available. Please check back. Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at theexperiment@theatlantic.com. This episode was produced by Tracie Hunte, with help from Gabrielle Berbey and Alyssa Edes. Editing by Jenny Lawton and Julia Longoria. Fact-check by Will Gordon. Sound design by Joe Plourde with additional engineering by Jen Munson. Transcription by Caleb Codding. Special thanks to Rebecca Nagle, Bryan Pollard, Sterling Cosper, and Gregory Smithers. Music by Parish Council ("Marmalade Day"), Keyboard ("Freedom of Movement," "Over the Moon," "Ojima," "Being Darrell," and "Only One"), and Water Feature ("Richard III (Duke of Gloucester"). Additional music by Alexander Overington. Additional audio from Bloomberg, Global News, and Fox News.