Stories of filling in the blank. A man finds himself in a train station in India, with no idea how he got there or who he is. His memory gone, he has no choice but to let other people—police, doctors, friends, family—create an identity for him.
Tagged with “this american life” (18)
Stories of when things go wrong. Really wrong. When you leave the normal realm of human error, fumble, mishap, and mistake and enter the territory of really huge breakdowns. Fiascos. Things go so awry that normal social order collapses.
An updated version of a classic episode, now including one of the most popular stories we’ve ever aired… about a police officer and a squirrel.
Everyone knows you can’t always believe what you read, but sometimes even official documents aren’t a path to the truth. This week we have stories of people whose lives are altered when seemingly boring documents like birth certificates and petitions are used against them. And a family wrestles with a medical record that has a very clear, but complicated diagnosis.
To celebrate our 500th episode, Ira asked the producers of This American Life to talk about their very favorite moments on the show. Some chose stories that’ve been more or less forgotten for years; others chose just one line of script, or a segment that secretly made them cry. So for our 500th, we bring you the best of This American Life — the way we’ve been hearing it, behind the scenes, all these years.
Two years ago, we did a program about a mysterious business in Texas that threatens companies with lawsuits for violating its patents. But the world of patent lawsuits is so secretive, there were basic questions we could not answer. Now we can. And we get a glimpse why people say our patent system may be discouraging, not encouraging, innovation.
Stories of kids using perfectly logical arguments, and arriving at perfectly wrong conclusions.
Stories about the pitfalls of knowing just a little bit too little.
Calamari is on one side of the plate, sliced hog rectums are on the other. Which is which? We got a tip about a meat plant selling pig intestines as fake calamari, wondered if it could be true, and decided to investigate. Doppelgangers, doubles, evil twins and not-so-evil twins, this week. Fred Armisen co-hosts with Ira Glass.
Only the clever need apply. This week, stories of people acting on a technicality in the face of some of life’s toughest regulators: financial regulators, parents and God.
The Psychopath Test — Recently we heard about this test that could determine if someone was a psychopath. So, naturally, our staff decided to take it. This week we hear the results. Plus Jon Ronson asks the question: is this man a psychopath?
Ira explains that when the radio staff decided to take a test that reveals who is a psychopath, very quickly everyone came to believe that the highest score would go to either Robyn, Jane, or him. (6 minutes)
ACT ONE. UNDERACHIEVEMENT TEST.
NPR Science Correspondent Alix Spiegel tells the story of Robert Dixon, who’s in a maximum security prison in Vacaville California and is unlikely to ever get parole because of his score on the psychopath test. The test also is called "the checklist" or, more formally, the PCL-R, which stands for "Psychopathy Check List—Revised." Alix tells the story of its creation and reports that the man who created the test, Bob Hare, is concerned at how it’s being used today in the criminal justice system. A version of this story aired on NPR’s All Things Considered. (28 minutes)
ACT TWO. KING OF THE FOREST.
Jon Ronson investigates whether corporate leaders can, in fact, be psychopaths by visiting a former Sunbeam CEO named Al Dunlap. This is an excerpt from Ronson’s book, The Psychopath Test. (15 minutes)
Song: "If I Were King of the Forest", Wizard of Oz Soundtrack
ACT THREE. THE RESULTS ARE IN.
Ira and the radio show staff get their results on the psychopath test from Dr. David Bernstein, of Forensic Consultants, LLC., who administered the test to them. (6 minutes)
Song: "If I Only Had the Nerve", Wizard of Oz Soundtrack
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