What shapes the way we perceive the world around us? A lot of it has to do with invisible frames of reference that filter our experiences and determine how we feel. Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin interview a woman who gets a glimpse of what she's been missing all her life – and then loses it. And they talk to Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj about which frame of reference is better – his or his dad's.
I often think about frames of reference having grown up in poor, rural Appalachia and then living in affluent areas of Connecticut and later Los Angeles. I’m sure it’s had more of an effect on me than I could verbalize.
The closest I’ve come to having as significant a frame of reference change as the physician who realized she had Asperger syndrome (and how she came to know), was when I worked my way through David Christian’s Big History concept. In some sense I had some background in both science and history which helped, but I cannot possibly go back to seeing the world (and the Universe we live in) the same way again.
Incidentally, the fact that this treatment seemed so effective for this woman hopefully means that some really heavy and interesting research is continuing in these areas.
The final segment was interesting from the perspective of gradations in change of reference. I was blown down by the idea of the “skin lamp.” Just the phrase and it’s horrific meaning is enough to drastically change anyone’s frame of reference.
There's a popular idea out there that you can change from the outside in. Power posing. Fake it 'til you make it. If you just assume the pose, inner transformation will follow. We examine to what extent this is true, by following the first all-female debate team in Rwanda, a country that has legislated gender equality. We also see how an app reshaped the relationship of twin sisters. And we end our season at the beach, with a man whose life was transformed by a seagull named Mac Daddy.
The last episode of season 2. Somehow the first long segment of this episode doesn’t quite fit into the broader theme of the rest of the episodes. It felt like the producers needed to fill in the space or took a pitch from outside. The story of the twin sisters, one with diabetes, was interesting, but not exceptional.
The final piece about animals brings it all back home though.
This may be my least favorite of all of the episodes thus far, but I’m excited to hear what comes in season 3.
Psychology has a golden rule: If I am warm, you are usually warm. If I am hostile, you are too. But what happens if you flip the script and meet hostility with warmth? It's called "noncomplementary behavior" — a mouthful, but a powerful concept, and very hard to execute. Alix and Hanna examine three attempts to pull it off: during a robbery, a terrorism crisis and a dating dry spell.
Wow! Just wow! This concept is certainly worth thinking about in greater depth.
I loved the story of police and harassment; it is particularly interesting given the possible changes we could make in the world using these techniques. It shows what some kindness and consideration can do to reshape the world.
Do clothes have the power to transform us? Lulu and Hanna bring us seven stories that explore how clothes can change us in quiet but surprising ways. We have help from Yowei Shaw, Chenjerai Kumanyika and Colin Dwyer.
Awesome little episode. Clothes are highly visible, but their true effect is deeply hidden. They could probably do an episode like this on make up as well.
Glasses, hoodies, lab coats, shoes (or lack thereof), and a Nazi shirt have never been so interesting.
The story about the man dressing as a woman was possibly the most intriguing.
We are naturally drawn to finding solutions. But are there ever problems we shouldn't try to solve? Lulu Miller visits a town in Belgium with a completely different approach to dealing with mental illness. Families in the town board people – strangers - with severe mental illnesses in their homes, sometimes for decades. And it works, because they are not looking to cure them.
A stunning idea, and one that could do well not only for the mentally ill among our friends and families, but some interesting psychology for parenting and expectations of parents for their children.
We like to think of our own personalities - and those of our spouses, children and friends - as predictable and constant over time. But what if they aren't? In this episode, Alix Spiegel visits a prison to explore whether there is such a thing as a stable personality. And Lulu Miller asks whether scientists can point to a single thing about a person that doesn't change over time. The answer might surprise you.
Not explicitly said, but this episode points out the heavy nurture side of the nature/nurture question in relation to the stability of one’s personality over time. In some sense, you are who those around you expect you to be. This also makes me think I ought to go back to working for a larger company with more people around me.
Yet another great episode, though to me not as intriguing as some of their other prior efforts. Still overall, a stellar podcast series.
In Our Computers, Ourselves, a look at the ways technology affects us, and the main question is : Are computers changing human character? You'll hear from cyborgs, bullies, neuroscientists and police chiefs about whether our closeness with computers is changing us as a species.
Possibly not as interesting to me because I’ve watched this space more closely over the past 20 years or so. Still it’s an interesting episode asking some great questions.
I can’t believe I flew through season one so quickly.
The Power Of Categories examines how categories define us — how, if given a chance, humans will jump into one category or another. People need them, want them. The show looks at what categories provide for us, and you'll hear about a person caught between categories in a way that will surprise you. Plus, a trip to a retirement community designed to help seniors revisit a long-missed category.
The transgender/sexual dysphoria story here is exceedingly interesting because it could potentially have some clues to how those pieces of biology work and what shifts things in one direction or another. How is that spectrum created/defined? A few dozen individuals like that could help provide an answer.
The story about the Indian retirement community in Florida is interesting, but it also raises the (unasked, in the episode at least) question of the detriment it can do to a group of people to be lead by some the oldest members of their community. The Latin words senīlis (“of or pertaining to old age”) and senex (“old”) are the roots of words like senate, senescence, senility, senior, and seniority, and though it’s nice to take care of our elders, the younger generations should take a hard look at the unintended consequences which may stem from this.
In some sense I’m also reminded about Thomas Kuhn’s book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and why progress in science (and yes, society) is held back by the older generations who are still holding onto outdated models. Though simultaneously, they do provide some useful “brakes” on both velocity of change as well as potential ill effects which could be damaging in short timeframes.
Entanglement by Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel from Invisibilia | NPR.org
In Entanglement, you'll meet a woman with Mirror Touch Synesthesia who can physically feel what she sees others feeling. And an exploration of the ways in which all of us are connected — more literally than you might realize. The hour will start with physics and end with a conversation with comedian Maria Bamford and her mother. They discuss what it's like to be entangled through impersonation.
I can think of a few specific quirks I’ve got that touch tangentially on mirror synethesia. This story and some of the research behind it is truly fascinating. Particularly interesting are the ideas of the contagion of emotion. It would be interesting to take some complexity and network theory and add some mathematical models to see how this might look. In particular the recent political protests in the U.S. might make great models. This also makes me wonder where Donald Trump sits on this emotional empathy spectrum, if at all.
One of the more interesting take-aways: the thoughts and emotions of those around you can affect you far more than you imagine.
Four episodes in and this podcast is still impossibly awesome. I don’t know if I’ve had so many thought changing ideas since I read David Christian’s book Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History.  The sad problem is that I’m listening to them at a far faster pace than they could ever continue to produce them.
D. Christian, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History. Univ of California Press, 2004.
In "How to Become Batman," Alix and Lulu examine the surprising effect that our expectations can have on the people around us. You'll hear how people's expectations can influence how well a rat runs a maze. Plus, the story of a man who is blind and says expectations have helped him see. Yes. See. This journey is not without skeptics.
Expectations are much more important than we think.
Is it possible that this podcast is getting more interesting as it continues along?! In three episodes, I’ve gone from fan to fanboy.
Fearless by Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel from Invisibilia | NPR.org
In "Fearless," co-hosts Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller explore what would happen if you could disappear fear. A group of scientists believe that people no longer need fear — at least not the kind we live with — to navigate the modern world. We'll hear about the striking (and rare) case of a woman with no fear. The second half of the show explores how the rest of us might "turn off" fear.
Our evolution certainly hasn’t been keeping up with our level of fear in the modern world. Even simple things like kids playing around their own neighborhood like I did as a kid in the 70’s and 80’s has changed drastically. How can we keep ourselves from being held back unnecessarily?
In "The Secret History of Thoughts," co-hosts Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller ask the question, "Are my thoughts related to my inner wishes, do they reveal who I really am?" The answer can have profound consequences for your life. Hear the story of a man gripped by violent thoughts, and explore how various psychologists make sense of his experience. Also, meet a man trapped inside his head for 13 years with thoughts as his only companion.
What an awesome little podcast Invisibilia is! Can’t wait to catch the rest of the episodes. Interesting to hear the quick overview of the three schools of thought on thought.
I had been hearing commercials for this off and on from other podcasts for almost a year; glad I finally downloaded to listen.