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2.25.14: Solitary Confinement, Viral Images, Giant Of Cardiff, Ethical Failures & NH Biathlon

George Oates, Nathan Fixler & Chris Griffith via Flickr Creative Commons

Today on Word of Mouth, we delve into the consequences of solitary confinement. Then a trip to the Internet reveals that cyberspace is chock full of fakes and fails; Photoshopped images can quickly become viral and shared as authentic. But history is full of giant hoaxes, too, as we learn from Nate Dimeo of the Memory Palace Podcast.  Then we hear about The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure,  which isn’t one of those Darwin Awards-style coffee table books. It’s a real government document that catalogs bribery, graft, and other infractions in the Department of Defense. Finally, NHPR's Sean Hurley visited the Jackson biathlon range - the only dedicated course in New Hampshire - to find out more about this unusual sport.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Solitary Confinement

  • While most other democratic nations have discontinued the practice, long-term solitary confinement is increasingly routine in American prison, and a series of new studies show that the psychological effects of such deprivation counters any goals of rehabilitation.  Joseph Stromberg is a reporter and science blogger at Smithsonian Magazine who wrote about the science of solitary confinement.

Viral Image Creator


The Greatest Hoax in American History


Ethical Failures

  • The title, The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure may sound like one of those novelty books of humorous historical anecdotes. Actually, it’s a 164-page government document detailing hundreds of instances of bribery, graft, and other infractions within the Department of Defense.  And despite the bureaucratic subject matter, the report is written in a breezy, informal style not commonly found in government reports.  Gordon Lubold, national security reporter for Foreign Policy Magazine recently wrote about the "kind of awesome" failures in the Encyclopedia.


  • The biathlon, the Olympic sport that combines skiing and shooting, was actually created as a form of alternative military training in Norway. With the games in Sochi having wrapped up this week, Word of Mouth is saying goodbye to our Olympic coverage with one final piece from NHPR's Sean Hurley

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