Invisibilia

Invisibilia (Latin for all the invisible things) is about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Co-hosted by Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel, Invisibilia interweaves narrative storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life differently.


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July 28, 2017

Season 3 has ended but we’re hard at work on Season 4! We’ll see you soon, but in the meantime, we wanted to share Invisibilia’s tips for a successful road trip.

June 23, 2017

What happens when you discover a part of yourself that is so different from who you think you are? Do you hold on to your original self tightly? Do you explore this other self? Or do you just panic?

June 22, 2017

We all have a future self, a version of us that is better, more successful. It can inspire us to achieve our dreams, or mock us for everything we have failed to become. A note to listeners: this episode contains some disturbing content related to teen suicide and grieving parents.

June 15, 2017

Is there a part of ourselves that we don’t acknowledge, that we don’t even have access to and that might make us ashamed if we encountered it?

June 8, 2017

How is it that two neighbors can look out their window at the exact same thing, and see something completely different? This is a question many people in America are asking now. We explore it by visiting a small community in Minnesota, called Eagle’s Nest Township, that has a unique experience with the reality divide: some of the people in the town believe that wild black bears are gentle animals you can feed with your hands, and others think they are dangerous killers. This divide leads to conflict and, ultimately, a tragic death. So, is there a “real” truth about the bear, or is each side constructing its own reality?

June 8, 2017

The concept of bubbles (social bubbles, media bubbles, political bubbles) has become popular lately as people grapple with the outcome of the 2016 election. We talk to two people who are making attempts to break out of their bubbles, and expose themselves to new points of view. We start with a woman seeking to break out of the confines of the human bubble altogether, by teaching herself to experience the world more like a dog. Then we meet a young man named Max, who has made a life out of hopping from bubble to bubble.

June 1, 2017

We offer you a truly mind-blowing alternative explanation for how an emotion gets made. And we do it through a bizarre lawsuit, in which a child dies in a car accident, and the child’s parents get sued by the man driving the other car.

June 1, 2017

An anthropologist discovers an emotion, and after a tragic event, comes to understand it. And a young woman does the one thing guaranteed to ruin a date, and learns something about her emotional life.

May 18, 2017

On June 1, Invisibilia is back for Season 3! Invisibilia explores the invisible forces that shape human behavior – thoughts, emotions, assumptions, expectations. Check out the trailer for the upcoming season!

July 29, 2016

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.

July 22, 2016

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.

July 15, 2016

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 “noncomplimentary 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.

July 8, 2016

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.

July 5, 2016

In this special podcast bonus, Lulu Miller tells the story of William Kitt, a resident of the Broadway Housing Communities, featured in our episode “The Problem with the Solution”. William Kitt was insane, by his own definition. But he no longer believes he is, because of what he calls the Greatest Scheme of All.

July 1, 2016

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.

June 28, 2016

In a special podcast bonus, Lulu Miller tells the story about a young runner who always thought he had it in him to break the four-minute mile, until a potential change in personality made him question if he was the same runner.

June 24, 2016

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.

June 17, 2016

You probably don’t even notice them, but social norms determine so much of your behavior – how you dress, talk, eat and even what you allow yourself to feel. These norms are so entrenched we never imagine they can shift. But Alix Spiegel and new co-host, Hanna Rosin, examine two grand social experiments that attempt to do just that: teach McDonald’s employees in Russia to smile, and workers on an oil rig how to cry.

May 20, 2016

On June 17th Invisibilia is back for Season 2! Invisibilia explores the invisible forces that shape human behavior – thoughts, emotions, assumptions, expectations. Check out the trailer for the upcoming season!

July 15, 2015

Been hungry for more Invisibilia? Alix and Lulu pop in to tell you a bit about what they are working on for Season 2 — and a way you can hear a brand new Invisibilia story. On Tuesday, July 28, Lulu will be premiering a new story at an event called Cast Party. She’ll be joined by Radiolab, Reply All, The Truth, dancers and comedians, and more. Best part? The night will be simulcast to MOVIE THEATERS all over the country! You can learn more and find out where it’s playing near you at castparty.org.

February 18, 2015

Thanks for listening to the first season of Invisibilia! Here’s a message from Alix and Lulu about what’s happening next.

February 12, 2015

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.

February 10, 2015

Alix and Lulu present a bonus podcast about why “Inside Out” was considered as a possible name for the show, but ultimately wasn’t chosen.

February 5, 2015

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.

January 29, 2015

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.

January 23, 2015

A podcast BONUS for you today. We didn’t have enough room in our Batman show for this lovely story about Julee-anne Bell, one of the many people who have learned Daniel Kish’s echolocation technique. Enjoy!

January 22, 2015

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.

January 15, 2015

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.

January 8, 2015

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.

December 18, 2014

Starting January 9th, NPR brings you Invisibilia, a six episode series about the invisible forces that shape human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and thoughts. Invisibilia interweaves personal stories with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life differently. Your co-hosts Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel give you a sneak preview of their first show: The Secret History of Thoughts.