Invisibilia

Saturdays 2-3 PM

NPR Illinois is airing a special run of Invisibilia through September.

Invisibilia is Latin for "invisible things." The program explores the unseen forces that shape human behavior -- things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions -- interweaving narrative storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life differently. The show is co-hosted by a trio of NPR's award-winning journalists, Alix Spiegel, Lulu Miller and Hanna Rosin, who have roots at This American Life, Radiolab and The Atlantic.

In the first season, Invisibilia showed us how science sheds light on what we individually experience; the second season will delve more often into how our lives are entwined, sometimes invisibly, with each other and the larger world.

Meet the Contributors

Jul 31, 2016

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Read the Transcript

Jul 29, 2016

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HANNA ROSIN, HOST:

When he was in college, the thing that annoyed Brett Cohen the most was celebrity culture.

Featured Music

Jul 29, 2016

Most of the music in this episode was obtained from NPR's licensed music libraries. But we are always on the hunt for awesome new music or original work by musicians! If that's you, write to us on Facebook or at invisibiliamail@npr.org and your music could be featured here!

Explore the Episode

Jul 29, 2016

Read the Transcript

Jul 22, 2016

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HANNA ROSIN, HOST:

Let's begin on October 31.

HANNA ROSIN AND LULU MILLER: Halloween.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: Trick or treat.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Trick or treat.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Happy Halloween.

Featured Music

Jul 22, 2016

Special thanks to musicians Kai Engel and Lee Rosevere, whose music was used under a Creative Commons attribution license.

Nazi's Shirt

Jul 22, 2016

Hanna Rosin has a story about Martin Greenfield, a tailor in Brooklyn who has dressed the last three presidents, and a host of celebrities – Donald Trump, Michael Jackson, Shaquille O'Neal. He learned how to sew when the SS put him to work in the tailor shop at Auschwitz, where he did an amazing thing. After he ripped the shirt of a Nazi officer, and took a beating for it, Martin decided to take the shirt for himself. No other prisoners had a shirt under their uniform but he kept his, throughout the rest of the war.

Shoes

Jul 22, 2016

A short comedic essay by contributor Colin Dwyer who proposes that maybe shoes are to blame, for pollution, climate change, violence, and all the other acts of human insensitivity. Because the moment we slipped a surface between ourselves and the ground, we lost our intimate connection with the earth.

Read the Transcript

Jul 15, 2016

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ALIX SPIEGEL, HOST:

This story starts in Washington, D.C., on a warm summer night. There were eight friends gathered around a backyard dinner table. They were toasting family and friendship. And everybody was having a good time.

Featured Music

Jul 15, 2016

Explore the Episode

Jul 15, 2016

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Explore the Episode

Jul 8, 2016

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Featured Music

Jul 8, 2016

Read the Transcript

Jul 8, 2016

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

HANNA ROSIN, HOST:

So let's go back to World War II.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: America goes to war to save the homes and ideals of free men from Axis domination.

ROSIN: America was fighting a terrible dictator determined to take over Europe.

Mental illness has been part of human society throughout recorded history, but how we care for people with mental disorders has changed radically, and not always for the better.

In Colonial days, settlers lived in sparsely populated rural communities where sanctuary and community support enabled the tradition of family care brought from England. "Distracted persons" were acknowledged, but erratic behavior wasn't associated with disease.

Explore the Episode

Jul 1, 2016

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Read the Transcript

Jul 1, 2016

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LULU MILLER, HOST:

So let's begin today with the American dream achieved. Gifford Briggs had found himself a beautiful wife.

JENNIFER BRIGGS: My name is Jennifer Briggs.

MILLER: A beautiful home, a great job.

GIFFORD BRIGGS: I work in construction.

MILLER: And then they had a daughter.

Meet the Experts

Jul 1, 2016

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Editors' note: It's Invisibilia bonus time! Sometimes we've got more wonderful stories than we can fit into the Invisibilia show and podcast. But we can't let them go. This story is being heard exclusively on NPR's Morning Edition.

At the center of Geel, a charming Belgian town less than an hour's drive from of Antwerp, is a church dedicated to Dymphna, a saint believed to have the power to cure mental disorders. It's a medieval church with stone arches, spires and a half-built bell tower, and it has inspired an unusual centuries-old practice: For over 700 years, residents of Geel have been accepting people with mental disorders, often very severe mental disorders, into their homes and caring for them.

The latest episode of the podcast Invisibilia explores the idea that personality — something a lot of us think of as immutable — can change over time.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the latest episode of the Invisibilia podcast and program, which is broadcast on participating public radio stations. This story contains language that some may find offensive.

Mike Marsella was a really competitive guy, a champion cross-country runner in high school. He got a running scholarship to college. Then a car hit him while he was riding a moped. He was left in a coma, with brain damage. And when his mind changed, his running changed, too.

Would he ever be Mike Marsella again? And would he ever run a four-minute mile?

A few weeks ago at a soccer game I was coaching, my team got trounced. They are 7 and they are not used to losing. As soon as I called the game and they realized what had just happened, two of the boys burst out crying.

When McDonald's came to the Soviet Union in 1990, the company insisted that workers smile. That didn't come easy. But customers grew to like it — and workers did, too. What happens when you change a norm?

Editors' note: Invisibilia's back! Each Friday for the next seven weeks, we'll feature an excerpt from the latest episode of the NPR podcast. We're also creating original features for Shots that explore the Invisibilia theme of the week. This Saturday, Hanna Rosin asks whether social norms have changed enough so that boys are no longer afraid to cry. On Sunday, we explore how the norms for sickness and health vary around the world.

Editor's note: This story first ran on Jan. 16, 2015, as part of NPR's Invisibilia podcast. It's about a man who decided he no longer wanted to be ruled by fear. Without realizing it, he used a standard tool of psychotherapy to help him stop dreading rejection.

How Can You See Without Seeing?

Nov 20, 2015

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Adaptation

About Daniel Kish's TED Talk

Daniel Kish has been blind since he was 13 months old, but has learned to "see" using a form of echolocation.

About Daniel Kish

When he was 13 months old, Daniel Kish lost both eyes to retinal cancer. He taught himself to navigate by clicking his tongue and listening for echoes — a method science calls echolocation, and that Kish calls flash sonar.