Invisibilia Keeps me Warm on those Long Night Drives

I love podcasts. As someone who likes to keep up a steady stream of media intake, whether it’s a video, comic, song, news article, book, etc., podcasts have proven to be one of my favorite ways to multitask or keep myself entertained on long commutes. To me, it’s like story time while I’m driving, running or working.

Invisibilia hosts Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller. Photo courtesy of John W. Poole/NPR.
Invisibilia hosts Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller. Photo courtesy of John W. Poole/NPR.

As it so happens, one of the assigned podcasts is also one of my favorites. Invisibilia is a show on NPR about “the intangible forces that shape human behavior – things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.” The content, is something of specific interest to me because, while verging on pop science, the hosts take into account very academic approaches to the subject matter. Anything that helps humans better understand themselves and thus the world, is pretty great in my book. The only criticism I might have of the show is the specific cadence NPR has apparently trained all of its podcasters to use. They all sound like Captain Kirk, stopping for seemingly no reason and emphasizing odd parts of the sentence.

My personal favorite episode of Invisibilia is “How to Become Batman.” I genuinely learned something new. While I already knew that some blind people were able to perform a certain level of echolocation, the extent to which the subjects of the episode are apparently able to “see” with their ears blew my mind. According to a researcher interviewed for the episode, Daniel Kish, a master of the technique, his brain lights up in the same place while echolocating that sighted peoples’ do when seeing something.

Another that struck me in particular was “Fearless,” about a woman who had totally lost her ability to feel fear due to calcification in her brain. Her rare condition had lead to more than one thwarted mugging after she basically showed indifference in the face of being mugged.


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