What would you do?

I’ve been a fan of the Hello Internet podcast for a while. I can’t remember exactly when I started listening – maybe a year or so ago, so I’m not a long-term fan, but long enough that I’ve started to get some of the jokes that repeat.

The latest episode was a fun one, and involved Brady asking Grey lots of questions from a book called Thunks (I’m not sure which one it is. Could be this or this).

Some of the questions were a bit stupid, but I liked the way Brady followed them up to tease out more effectively from Grey what he was thinking about. For example, the very first question about whether you’d be willing to have a massive factory built in Antarctica if it could produce the cure for cancer.

Grey answered immediately that he would, and that he’d burn down the Amazon rainforest too. I reckon lots of people might have the same reaction – cancer is a curse and has caused so much misery in the world that I assume anyone who has watched a loved one die would do pretty much anything to wipe it off the face of the planet.

But then Brady started posting follow-up questions until he hit a nerve with Grey. Specifically, would he sacrifice all the dogs on the planet to get the cure for cancer. And there Grey suddenly found himself confused. A moment earlier, he’d been very gung-ho about what he’d do to cure cancer, but now faced with the thoughts of killing dogs, which are clearly dear to him, he balked.

Naturally, the Amazon rain forest is stuffed full of animals, and Grey was happy enough for them all to burn. But bring it down to a puppy (Grey has been house-sitting a dog for someone) and the abstract turns real.

It’s a good lesson for us all, I think. We can jump to snap judgments about a whole range of issues, because they don’t have any personal bearing on us or our lives. We’ve got no skin in the game. But once an element is introduced that affects us personally, it’s a different story.