23 Feb 2015

Podcast Recommendation Monday: Invisibilia

Author: krb3k | Filed under: communication, community, podcast, Technology


Podcast: The mission of Invisibilia (Latin: “all the invisible things”), as stated on its website is to: “explore[s] the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.” What this boils down to is science (in one form or another), but mostly psychology, brain science, and human behavior.

Who’s responsible? Invisibilia is the brain child (haha) of Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller (both of Radiolab and This American Life fame). Support comes from a variety of sources: some from NPR, some from show-specific sponsors, and of course from listener donations.

Why I like it:

  • I am deeply interested in science, but I am even MORE interested in the ways in which science impacts humans. As someone who lives with both Type 1 diabetes and low-grade, persistent depression (Churchill’s black dog is my ever-constant companion- I would totes prefer a charming pug), I live very intimately with the effects of both an autoimmune disorder and wonky brain chemistry. Luckily, both tend to be well-controlled because they’re (thankfully) garden-variety diseases- depression is the common cold of mental illness, for goodness’ sake. Invisibilia goes beyond the garden to explore conditions about which we know very little; past topics have included quantum entanglement, mirror-touch synesthesia, our need to categorize everything, the history of thoughts (do they mean nothing? do they mean everything?), etc, etc. Beyond finding the topics fascinating, the two hosts (who REALLY don’t sound that much alike- they should make like Elsa and LET IT GO!), excel at two key aspects of the show: 1) finding experts who are very good at explaining some pretty complex science (which the hosts sometimes further translate- but never in a condescending way), and 2) clearly illustrating the impact that the science has on the very real people who are at its mercy. Both hosts are cognizant of the fact that the people who’ve agreed to be interviewed for these stories are taking risks, in one way or another, and they are extremely respectful of that.
  • It probably goes without saying, but I learn something with each new episode.
  • I’m reminded that this world is infinite, and that I could live lifetimes and barely scratch the surface of everything around me
  • The format- it’s a good mix of scientist interviews, “real people” interviews, and Alix’s and Lulu’s commentary and reactions
  • The music- thoughtful, and always tonally appropriate

Website: http://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/ Follow the hosts on Twitter: Alix Spiegel @aspiegelnpr   |   Lulu Miller @lmillernpr *Note: It’s a huge bummer, but no new episodes are being released as the team prepares for Season 2. Good luck, y’all! I’m really looking forward to it :) Have you listened to Invisibilia? What do you think about it?