We often listen to audio books, that we download for free, as we travel down the road. But on occasion, we will switch to listening to podcasts and these two really make you think.
I consider podcasts one of the greatest inventions of the last decade (actually I am not sure they were developed in the last decade…but work with me here). I started listening to podcasts to pass the time during my morning walks. I became obsessed with RV related podcasts when we started thinking about buying our first RV. As soon as a pickleball podcast became available I added it to my subscription list. Listening to podcasts are also great if you don’t want to talk to the person sitting next to you on a plane. Popping in the old earphones is clear signal you really aren’t interested in their story. (But I digress.)
My favorite podcasts, however, are those that make me think. Think about things that I wouldn’t think about in the normal course of a day. Podcasts that make me stop and pause for a moment and wonder what is really going on in my brain.
The Hidden Brain
Shankar Vedantam leads a conversation each week with one or more guests about a topic you likely didn’t think about. This NPR show attempts to offer a conversation about life’s unseen patterns.
- Why disorder may actually be good for us; or
- How cigarette taxes affect food buying; or
- Some people are great at recognizing faces, while others cannot.
The topics are often timely. For example, “When People are Sesceptical to Fake News”. Some may seem controversial, “Implicit Bias and Police Shootings” or “When is it ‘Terrorism’? How the Media Cover Attacks by Muslim Perpetrators.” Yet each is covered in a thorough, thoughtful and balanced way. I often find myself thinking about the research shared several days later.
Invisibilia is Latin for “the invisible things.” It is a show that explores the invisible forces that shape human behavior — things like ideas, beliefs, assumptions, and emotions. Recently co-hosted by two of NPR’s award-winning journalists Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin the previously Lulu Miller, the topic is typically explored by introducing the listener to interesting people.
I was hooked early in the first season when they delved into topics like fearlessness, by interviewing a woman who actually did not experience fear. In another episode, How to Become Batman, a blind man shared how he was able to see by turning on sonar within his brain. This season a show on emotions shared a heart breaking story of 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. Perhaps the story that stayed with me the longest was about a town in Belgium with a completely different approach to dealing with mental illness. There, families in the town bring complete strangers with severe mental illnesses into their homes, sometimes for decades. Most remarkably, it works, because they are not looking to cure them.
If you have an iPhone device, you can find podcasts by browsing through the Apple Store. When I was showing a friend how to do this recently, she explained she never went there because she didn’t want to buy anything. I explained that there are lots of FREE things in the Apple Store…and now I can’t get her out of “the store”.
If you are using an Android or want more detailed instructions, read this article. You don’t even need a smart phone to listen to podcasts. You can listen from a desktop computer by accessing the podcast’s website. Whether you listen when taking a walk, cleaning the house or driving down the road…we hope you will check out our favorite podcasts to make you think.