NPR: Invisibilia Podcast: Fearless
January 16, 2015 12:50 PM - Subscribe

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.
posted by edbles (9 comments total)
I was very struck by the discussion at the beginning about how we are surrounded by things that make us fearful (OK, basically the 24-hour news cycle that is happy to let us know about the latest atrocity) but really, the number of horrible things happening around us has not increased. The comment that we humans are not equipped to deal with this much fear on such a constant basis was very interesting--it made me think about what my news consumption is doing to my brain and body. I feel quite keyed up a lot of the time and I have to wonder if it is that I just am aware of too many things that I can't do much about.

And the part about SM, the woman who doesn't have the capacity to feel fear--wow! She was fascinating. Normal in every way, except that she does not feel fear! Amazing. (I did think it was quite endearing when she said the word "ass" in her interview and then was worried about whether or not it was OK.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:52 PM on January 16, 2015

The first part was fascinating, as was the snake stuff. I found the part about the guy who invented 'rejection therapy' a bit tone-deaf though. I was hoping for an acknowledgement that approaching strangers to ask them for things could actually be scary for the people he asked. I'd be pretty creeped out if some strange guy approached me in a parking lot and asked for a ride.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 3:30 AM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

That was my least favourite part too, but I couldn't quite articulate why. You put it well, une_heure_pleine.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:44 AM on January 17, 2015

With this second episode I've decided this podcast isn't for me. It wasn't particularly edifying although the first segment on S.M. was fairly intriguing. But the segue from the first half to the second totally enraged me.
Because this is not just high class journalism, but also cheesy secret self-help made by two women who have unironically watched all of Jennifer Aniston's romantic comedies, we will offer you at the end of the program an actual formula that you can break down that will help you to face your fear.
ARGH! Please don't self-deprecate. Don't dumb yourself down. Particularly don't awkwardly apologize for offering smart insightful programming. Don't offer some dumb girly-girl stereotype. Be strong women science reporters, own that, don't pander.

To add insult to injury the next segment was the "self experiment" with the python. Did not work on radio. Was not an interesting self experiment. Was a silly attempt to inject one of the narrators into the show's narrative. And then to cap it all off the promised formula at the end was nonsense.

(To be fair I'm a snobby, critical consumer of science journalism. I can't listen to TED. Radiolab is just barely on the edge of being sciencey enough for me. Planet Money and Astronomy Cast, those work for me, because they don't pander to the American idea that being too interested in scholarly topics is somehow a problem.)
posted by Nelson at 7:53 PM on January 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wanted to hear more about SM! I'm glad that we got to hear her speak - the best thing about podcasts/radio is hearing what people say in their own voices. I just want to know more. What was her childhood like? Was she a daredevil? Did she have to be taught to be cautious?

I do agree that the show fell flat a little bit towards the end. I also didn't understand the "formula" at the end, it didn't make sense to me).
posted by radioamy at 8:58 PM on January 18, 2015

OK, interesting, but Jane Goodall didn't study baboons.
posted by ChuraChura at 3:25 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

ARGH! Please don't self-deprecate. Don't dumb yourself down.

I actually didn't mind them injecting a little bit of their personalities into the show. This isn't to say that I actually like their personalities, but they are showing their human sides and I thought that was ok.

The formula made no sense.

In the SM segment, I was really frustrated that when SM said that she would try to get out of the way of a car that was going to hit her, no one asked "why?" If you aren't afraid of the car, why try to avoid it? Similarly, she was worried that she couldn't use the word "ass" on the podcast. Why was she concerned about that?
posted by sparklemotion at 9:38 AM on January 23, 2015

As someone who is not particularly afraid of snakes, I got distracted during the snake segment because I wanted to know more about how snakes move. Which a) would be totally outside of the episode's stated theme, and b) probably more suited to video than podcast; but still.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:08 AM on January 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sparklemotion, I wondered if being hit by a car was something she'd had to be taught to avoid. Like, if she saw a car coming toward her, she still wouldn't feel instinctive fear, but she's been trained to respond to move out of the way ASAP. It's been a week since I listened, but I seem to recall they talked about how she had had to be taught things for her own safety that most people know because of their fear instinct.

Re: "ass"--I don't think that was a fear response, just an unintended (very mild) moment of natural language that slipped out and then she wasn't sure if it was appropriate for public radio. She's neurotypical and aware of social norms; she just doesn't experience fear.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:22 AM on January 25, 2015

« Older Archer: Three To Tango...   |  Project Runway All Stars: Sket... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments