Hear Invisibilia, NPR’S New Show About Human Behavior

Jan 12, 2015

Beginning Thursday, Feb 12 at 3pm, WMRA is offering a second airing of Invisibilia. NPR’s six-part series about the unseen forces that control human behavior.  Invisibilia will also have a rebroadcast on Sunday at 3pm.  It's a second chance for you to hear this amazing new series.

Take a glimpse into a world you can’t see with Invisibilia, a new program on WMRA about the unseen forces that shape human behavior - ideas, beliefs, assumptions and thoughts. The one-hour show, which takes its name from the Latin word meaning “all the invisible things,” is produced by NPR’s award-winning Science Desk.

Can't listen at this time? Then download the Invisibilia Podcast and listen on your own schedule.

Invisibilia explores how people’s lives are shaped - and sometimes even controlled – by ideas and feelings that are powerful and rarely examined. Creators and co-hosts Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller – who helped to create the groundbreaking public radio programs This American Life and Radiolab – combine powerful storytelling and cutting-edge research from the pages of scientific journals to bring listeners a unique audio experience. In the six-episode pilot season, Spiegel and Miller dig into how everyone has had, at times, dark, disturbing thoughts and whether those thoughts have any significance. They look at how fear can shape people’s actions; what causes fear and how to exert control over it. Another show examines how expectations have real-world consequences so powerful that they could overcome physical disability.

“Each program is scientifically rigorous, jumping right to the heart of the latest psychological and brain research,” said Anne Gudenkauf, Senior Supervising Editor of NPR’s Science Desk. “Alix and Lulu show us how what scientists know sheds light on what we experience. Invisibilia anchors its examinations with intimate accounts from real people living at the boundaries of our understanding of that new science.”

Invisibilia will introduce you to people and ideas you’ve never encountered before,” said Spiegel. “We profile these very unusual people because their experiences allow us to look more closely at the invisible forces that shape us all – things like fear and empathy.”

Alix Spiegel - Correspondent, Science Desk and Co-Host, Invisibilia & Lulu Miller - Co-host, Invisibilia
Credit John Poole NPR

The show brings together two award-winning radio reporters distinguished for their compelling science coverage and their powerful storytelling. Spiegel, one of the founding producers of This American Life, has covered psychology and human behavior for NPR’s Science Desk for 10 years. Her work has earned many awards including a George Foster Peabody Award and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award. Miller, who played a similar role at Radiolab, joined the Science Desk in 2013. Her work has been recognized by the George Foster Peabody Awards, Third Coast, and The Missouri Review.

Invisibilia Episode Descriptions

Jan 11 (10pm)
In The Secret History of Thoughts, we ponder 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. We tell the story of a man gripped by violent thoughts, and explore how various psychologists make sense of his experience. We also introduce you to a man trapped inside his head for 13 years with thoughts as his only companion.

Jan 18 (10pm)
In our hour Fearless, we look at what would happen if you could disappear fear. A group of scientists believe that we no longer need fear — at least not the kind we live with — to navigate the modern world. We will examine that claim, and reveal 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. 

Jan 25 (10pm)
In How to Become Batman, we examine the surprising effect that your expectations can have on the people around you. We’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. This journey is not without skeptics. We’ll hear from them, and from neuroscientists who explain the profound effect others’ expectations can have on your physiology.

Feb 1 (10pm)
The Power of Categories examines how categories define us — how, if given a chance, humans will jump into one category or another. We need them. We want them. We look at what categories provide for us, we hear the story of a person caught between gender categories in a way that will surprise you, and we visit the first retirement community in the country to be based around one ethnic group.

Feb 8 (10pm)
In Entanglement we hear from a woman with Mirror Touch Synesthesia who can physically feel what she sees others feeling. We also explore the ways in which all of us are connected — more literally than you might realize. The hour will start with surprising developments in physics and end with a conversation with comedian Maria Bamford and her mother. They discuss what it’s like to be entangled through impersonation.

Feb 15 (10pm)
In Our Computers, Ourselves we look at the ways technology is affecting us, and our main question is: Are computers changing our character? We hear from cyborgs, bullies, neuroscientists and police chiefs about whether our closeness with computers is changing us as a species.

Feb 12 & 15 (3pm)
In The Secret History of Thoughts, we ponder 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. We tell the story of a man gripped by violent thoughts, and explore how various psychologists make sense of his experience. We also introduce you to a man trapped inside his head for 13 years with thoughts as his only companion.

Feb 19 & 22 (3pm)
In our hour Fearless, we look at what would happen if you could disappear fear. A group of scientists believe that we no longer need fear — at least not the kind we live with — to navigate the modern world. We will examine that claim, and reveal 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. 

Feb 26 & March 1 (3pm)
In How to Become Batman, we examine the surprising effect that your expectations can have on the people around you. We’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. This journey is not without skeptics. We’ll hear from them, and from neuroscientists who explain the profound effect others’ expectations can have on your physiology.

March 5 & 8 (3pm)
The Power of Categories examines how categories define us — how, if given a chance, humans will jump into one category or another. We need them. We want them. We look at what categories provide for us, we hear the story of a person caught between gender categories in a way that will surprise you, and we visit the first retirement community in the country to be based around one ethnic group.

March 12 & 15 (3pm)
In Entanglement we hear from a woman with Mirror Touch Synesthesia who can physically feel what she sees others feeling. We also explore the ways in which all of us are connected — more literally than you might realize. The hour will start with surprising developments in physics and end with a conversation with comedian Maria Bamford and her mother. They discuss what it’s like to be entangled through impersonation.

March 19 & 22 (3pm)
In Our Computers, Ourselves we look at the ways technology is affecting us, and our main question is: Are computers changing our character? We hear from cyborgs, bullies, neuroscientists and police chiefs about whether our closeness with computers is changing us as a species.