Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Radiolab, from WNYC, has the subtitle "Curiosity on a Bender". I discovered it from listening to This American Life, and it's really, really wonderful. It takes a general idea and then investigates it. Or, as they put it:

"Radiolab believes your ears are a portal to another world. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience. Big questions are investigated, tinkered with, and encouraged to grow. Bring your curiosity, and we'll feed it with possibility."

So far, I've listened to the "Numbers" podcast, which explores how we learn numbers and the human construction of math. Fascinating.

And now, I'm listening to "Placebo", which explores just that, placebos, and then moves into how we feel and experience pain. And, as one of the hosts said "that's when my mind blew out of my face".
I'm only twenty minutes in, and they've already talked about the effectiveness of placebos in things as difficult to treat as Parkinson's, and then on to how the narrative that we construct around a moment of pain or injury can actually effect how we experience that pain. They talk about a doctor during WWI, who found that soldiers injured had less pain and asked for less morphine than people suffering the same injury at home - precisely because the soldier sees being hit in a positive way - awards, honor, glory, survival, and possibly being sent home - while the person shot in his store, for instance, sees it as loss of income, difficulty, pain...and therefore asks for more morphine. Mind-blowing!

There's so much more in that one, and both of them, to go into, but they're just two of the many. So excellent.

! Really, just !!

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

ANOTHER thing that I need to listen to! And I'm going to, because that Placebo one sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the link!