Return Home
Season 9 | Episode 3


« previous episode | next episode »
Greek Silver Dekadrachm of Athens (Attica) Greek Silver Dekadrachm of Athens (Attica) (Ancient Art/flickr/CC-BY-2.0)

What do you do when your own worst enemy This hour, Radiolab looks for ways to gain the upper hand over those forces inside us--from unhealthy urges, to creative insights--that seem to have a mind of their own.

We meet a Cold War negotiator who, in order to quit smoking, backs himself into a tactical corner, and we visit a clinic in Russia where patients turn to a radical treatment to help fight their demons. Plus, Elizabeth Gilbert lays out strategies for doing battle with your muse.

You v. You

Zelda Gamson tried for decades to stop smoking. But while one part of her wanted to quit, another part just didn't want to let go. So, how do you win a tug-of-war with yourself? We decided to ask one of the greatest negotiators of our time for some advice. Adam ...

Comments [22]

Me, Myself, and Muse

Imagine you're a writer, but the words won't come. Could you bargain with creativity to get past your writer's block? Oliver Sacks found himself in that very situation back in 1968: he was struggling to finish his first book, and got stuck. He imposed a deadline on himself that, while ...

Comments [37]

The Fear in Me?

Can fear change you for the better? Gregory Warner from Marketplace takes us to a clinic in Russia that aims to scare patients sober--with a pill called "the torpedo." Vyacheslav Davidov, the doctor who runs the clinic, describes the treatment and makes a case for the therapeutic powers ...

Comments [9]

Comments [153]

Brandon Forinash from Austin, TX

It wasn't "The Road Not Taken" was "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening", which Frost wrote on a break from working on the burdensome titular poem to his collection "New Hampshire"...and if you read in the context of his stopping to take part in the delights of poetry, the latter makes much greater since than "The Road Not Taken".

And contradictory to the premise of the podcast (and as Frost believed himself thinking of "Stopping by Woods" as his best claim to being remembered)...there's this notion of the work of poetry vs. the poem. Writers work for years and years on the craft of poetry if only to be remembered for the few truly great (read Italo Calvino's notion of classic) poems they might, if very lucky, produce in their career.

Not gifted from an external source. A product of the work. Milton might be a very relevant example here. And of course, the true context of Frost's "Stopping by Woods" that the Eat, Pray, Love author ascribed apocryphally to another poem.

Mar. 08 2016 12:33 AM
Sara G from San Francisco

It sounds like the big book was consulted in writing the script for this episode.

Dec. 22 2015 04:51 PM

When I first finished this, I was left feeling like, "that's it? What conclusion do I come to?". It wasn't until I tried to describe it to my boyfriend that I came to the three topical conclusions most important to me:
1. There are different parts of ourselves that don't always work together. One aspect of your identity wants to do something, but another makes it difficult, makes it seem unattainable or useless in the big picture, etc. So to counteract this, that problematic element becomes a whole other person, thereby removing yourself from it and taking a more objective perspective.
2. Creative inspiration is actually an entity outside yourself which you talk to and find solace in the idea that your failures and short-comings are not all your own fault. That there is something to be discussed with this other entity in order to gain a sort of enlightenment in the creative process.
3. Finally, a looming threat which is inescapable and self-imposed would be far more motivating than "if I do it, then I have the satisfaction of it being done!" or whatever other positive crap we think we need to say, as true as it might be.

Jun. 11 2014 07:34 PM
Heatherp from Akron, ohio

Loved today's stories about battling yourself. Just a quick note about the Ulysses contract: the episode with the Sirens is not found in the Iliad, but the Odyssey.

Jan. 25 2014 05:02 PM
ScooterNYC from NYC

I am allergic to Elizabeth Gilbert. I've no doubt inspiring or inspired. I'm certain she is. But, call me petty, but I cannot indulge a writer who ended the first chapter of her first memoir (that made her insanely rich and famous ) by describing herself as "literally a puddle" of tears.

Perhaps I should boycott her publisher. Or her editor. Or perhaps those who interview her. I'm not sure what the proper response is, but I know I cannot take seriously a fellow writer who does not respect the craft of writing.

While I'm on a roll, Robert and Jad, when are you going to lose all the noise, the riffing, the self-congratulatory transitional comments, the insulting sound-effects and bad acting? You're just not great at these things and they distract from some potentially compelling content.

Jan. 25 2014 12:52 PM
Carol Quirke

Cancel that--found it--Dvorak's song's my mother taught me...not from the memory episode, but from the "Help!" episode

Jan. 25 2014 12:36 PM
janie from Baltimore

oh my god can someone identify the song that starts playing at 39 minutes in ??? ??? it's so beutiufl!

Jan. 24 2014 11:15 PM
steve from ct

Icant find the radiolab with the story of a man and woman take one nonth hiatis Stopped listening tried to find. Help.....

Nov. 01 2013 09:35 PM

The Victim ( Eng) as most say in the comments, where taken advantage of by Radiolab and that it wasn't the fault of the Eng whats so ever. As hard as this sounds, the Victim at times plays its role because of the positive feedback they get in the form of sympathy or pity. Should we recognize the inappropriate attitudes in ourselves or others when plying the victim for "long amounts of time". We are not meant to be victimized in life, but to learn how to handle challenges and outrun our fears. Israel is a good example of how this can become part of their narrative. You bring up one argument against their government policies and then are labeled antisemitic.

Obviously they feel victimized by Radiolab and others when situation or narrative doesn't work out the way they wanted them to?

Ok go ahead and vote me down. Give it to me.

Oct. 02 2012 06:41 PM

Radiolab still needs to address it's extreme mishandling of both the science and the individuals involved in the "Yellow Rain" segment.

I was present for the phone interview. I observed and listened to the two hours of mistreatment that resulted in the emotional response that was heard on this program. I am Kalia's husband, a PhD candidate in culture and teaching. I thought Radiolab would honor and accurately represent Uncle Eng's truth.

I was wrong.

What is heard is only the start and the end of the interview, after an hour and a half of Krulwich and his producer pressing Eng to get him (or Kalia) to respond in a way that matched their narrative.

a) Eng described multiple times the Hmong centuries old familiarity with bees, bee behavior, and the location of bee dung. However, each time he would describe this the hosts discounted his knowledge suggesting that a "Harvard professor" had discovered yellow rain was not a chemical weapon. Engs experience and knowledge conflicted with this. This sort of cultural centrism and ignorance of the truths of people who lived, experienced, and had intimate knowledge, not only these events, but also bees, because they dont share an educational pedigree is anti truth.

b) Eng described canisters he saw that he explained released yellow rain. The hosts referred to this as heresay and implied Eng didn't actually see what he saw. Eng.'s response after explaining several times what he DID SEE [paraphrased], "Who watches planes drop bombs on them? you have to run"

c) The statement that time was monopolized is hateful. From the beginning, and through the interview, Eng tried to talk about his experience of yellow rain. He tried to do this for two hours. In the final edits we are instead presented with a character, nothing like Eng, but everything like the stereotypes of an old man who "doesn't know better". Hmong speakers have recognized that, in fact, Eng is telling the producers--this WAS translated for them in the moment-- that he KNOWS what dyssentary looks like, that he KNOWS what bee poop looks like, how bees behave, where they live, and where they poop. He explains yellow rain could NOT be explained by any of the explanations the producers chose to privilege.

d) No apology was or has been given. No recognition of blindness to the truth of experience was shown in the final edits.

e) Kalia asked if she could have a copy of the entire interview, Krulwich responded "youll need a court order for that"

Eng is a smart man. He experienced these things. Kalia has degrees from Carleton and Columbia. Eng told things to Krulwich and Walters that complicated the simple story the producers wanted to tell.

There is real knowledge and experience that were gifted to the producers. However, they left these out and pretended that Kalia’s reactions were to something other than their bullying. Radiolab has done nothing more than actively ignore people with real experience and bully a survivor. There is no excuse.

Sep. 29 2012 04:45 PM
jaki reis from Brattleboro

This is very interesting to hear, as I haven't heard of others who have used a method similar to the one I used on myself. I didn't make a deal I couldn't refuse and go cold turkey, but, recognizing what Mary did, that there was another person in myself that WANTED to smoke, I went about convincing THAT person that smoking was bad for "her". Separating the two of us was a great way to have influence over the "hidden" motivations that got in the way of me giving up smoking. It took about 6 months and has lasted ever since, except for a small 2-3 month period after a divorce. I was glad to find that I was able to kick in the old associations even after the then 8 year old period of non-smoking and could give it up again, with just mild rebellion from that other me. I did use my daughter as an added incentive the second time, as she was a teenager at the time and didn't want me to smoke.

Sep. 29 2012 02:23 PM

Good show, but I'd much rather be listening to Jonathon in this time slot.

Sep. 29 2012 12:57 PM
Bob from Manhattan

The smoking episode: "Her and Mary made a deal."

Her did?

Sep. 29 2012 12:13 PM
Reiko Callner from Olympia, WA

I love the show, but it was really distressing to hear the story of Ulysses and the Sirens attributed to the Iliad. Please - it was the Odyssey.

Sep. 28 2012 10:15 PM
christopher from everywhere

Radiolab needs to address the issue of their conduct in regards to Yellow Rain. As someone who has enjoyed your show for years, So what the hell was that. What if someone were to interview Robert or Jad like that? to the point of emotional upset. It is never alright to treat anyone like this, especially someone kind enough to share a horrific personal account of a genocide.
If Roberts view were correct than the facts should speak for themselves and he wouldn't have to force it down Eng's throat.
In my many years of being a listener and supporter of the show I've never heard the hosts ever act uncivil or with hostility. I guess nobody is perfect, everyone has a bad day sometimes, but you have to pick yourself up and apologize to those you have hurt. Saying the words sorry is the least you could do.
You have done a great job in the past, but if this issue goes without rectification then I can not support this show any longer.

Sep. 28 2012 06:10 PM
Wil Davis from Nashua, NH

What could be interesting items totally trashed by the lousy editing and the beating of the audience into submission by the constant over-use of SFX and musak, sloshed on with an over-large paintbrush, dreadful announcers with High-Rising-Terminals and weak stories! Terrible!!! "CLICK"
- Wil Davis

Sep. 28 2012 12:44 PM
Elizabeth from NYC

Sadly, I too was surprised to see that RadioLab is attempting to move on without some type of apology with or without a plan laid out as to how they will rectify the situation surrounding Yellow Rain.

I'm pretty sure if they--and Robert in particular--had just fully owned up to what they did wrong we would be having an easier time moving on. Instead the outrage seems to be snowballing.

I am ready to move on as soon as you guys at RadioLab give this situation the public attention it deserves. As I've said, I love this show, and I'd like to continue enjoying it.

Sep. 28 2012 11:35 AM

Is this supposed to act as a distraction from the yellow rain segment? I implore listeners to read the multitude of comments in "the fact of the matter" this last week's podcast. The hosts and producer (pat walters) of this show continue to hide from responsibility of mistreating not only the survivor of a genocide that killed 2/3 of his people, his experience and what he saw, but the western "science" as well. DO NOT be distracted.

Sep. 28 2012 11:00 AM

John Bear's book, The Blackmail Diet (Ten Speed Press; 1984), briefly discusses scores of diet plans and then explains that the problem in all of them is that it relies on a future positive outcome (skinny you) to keep contemporary you from eating. All diets are begun with good intentions, but it is easy to opt out of them. Instead, as with marriage and military, this diet system makes it easy to opt in, and difficult to opt out, so an impending negative consequence keeps the contemporary you from eating. Bear then walks the reader through the legal process of blackmailing themselves, setting up an escrow account in which the reader puts a large sum of money, and instructions to the lawyer to give that money to some hated organization (Bear provides a bipartisan list) if you have not met the requirements of skinny you by a certain date. Do I want that piece of cake more than I want 5K to go to the Nazi party?

Mar. 15 2012 12:32 PM
ryan d w from san diego

love radiolab, been crushing all episodes

Feb. 18 2012 05:57 PM
dov from Adelaide, Australia

To Caleb Paxton,
Alternatively, you could make note of what time in which show the piece of music was and email them with the query - worked for me.

Jan. 19 2012 01:46 PM
Egolite from los angeles, ca

Anyone know the address of the foot massage place in downtown LA?

Jan. 15 2012 03:01 PM
Alex from Atlanta, GA

To Morgan Chehalis Kucera from Seattle, Washington:
I understand your frustration, but must note that Ulysses is simply a Latin form of Odysseus, like Hercules for Heracles. They didn't exactly mess this one up.

Jan. 12 2012 02:09 PM

Radiolab should (if they haven't before) do a segment on the psychology of criticism and comments made on forums. "The Youtube Effect", or maybe just "Trolls". Exploring what happens inside the brain when we decide to criticize something, and how it benefits us. I would love to read the comments on that episode. These guys do a great job.

Jan. 05 2012 04:53 PM

It was turning out to be a good episode, until I heard Olafur Arnald's Ljosio come on...

And then it became incredible.

Dec. 28 2011 11:35 PM

To Listening @ work from North Carolina: Dr. Oliver Sacks is actually a world-reknowned... you know what? Google him. Go on. Google search him. He's very, very definitely an expert and has great insight into how the mind works. THAT'S why they keep bringing him back- the fact that he's a friend of the show and somewhat quirky enough to have anecdotes on multiple subjects is just a bonus.

Dec. 19 2011 11:53 PM

@caleb paxton If you have an android phone or an iphone you can use the Shazam app to identify the song

Dec. 02 2011 10:51 AM
caleb paxton

does anyone know how to find out how to the music that is in these podcasts? there's a song in this podcast that i might die if i don't get a
hold of.

Dec. 01 2011 11:18 PM
Jamie from Yokohama

I believe that Ulysses was what the Romans called Odysseus, basically the Latin version of the Greek name... I could be wrong though.

Interesting show! I always look forward to listening to Radio Lab. I love the show, and the stories are very interesting. That being said, I agree with the people who would like a little more science in the show. There is a wealth of topics out there that Radio Lab hasn't covered! Remember, people who listen to the show are not people who are afraid of science!

Nov. 18 2011 09:15 AM

Morgan, Ulysses is another name for Odysseus.

Nov. 10 2011 04:26 PM
Listening @ work from North Carolina

Umm....Oliver Sacks again??? I recognize Oliver Sacks is a friend (based on his introductions from Robert) so this may seem offensive, but really??... How many times must we be exposed to his weird insight? I mean, does the man have a particular expertise or wit that is really relevant and the most appropriate anecdote to add for the moment on all of these episodes or is he just filler because he is so peculiar and oddly extreme? 10 days or commit suicide? No way. I don't buy it. That segway was just ridiculous. I thought to myself, "This guy? Again?"

Personally, if you're going to bring a guest back over and over again, bring back the fire investigator (Louis Garcia) from Diagnosis. Now that's a guy with a great voice and a cool story.

Nov. 02 2011 10:42 AM
Morgan Chehalis Kucera from Seattle, Washington

That is how you spell it. The book? The Odyssey. And the character who gets lashed to his boat? Odysseus--the main character of the Odyssey. The book is by Homer. There is no Ulysses. And he doesn't make the idea by himself, he gets the idea, more like a prophecy or an order, from the Nymph Circe. And that is pronounced Serr-see. I love you guys, but I don't like book characters to be dissed.

Odysseus, not Ulysses. And that is final. Everything else (except for the prophesy) was right.

Nov. 01 2011 11:45 PM
Liz in LA from Los Angeles

Seems like you either love this episode or hate it. I'm in the love camp. I've always been fascinated by how change happens, and that's one of the themes of this episode. (A book that treats this subject very well is Switch by Dan and Chip Heath.)

There was one almost throw-away remark that didn't sit well with me, though. That there are different impulses, different personalities inside of us, and that they never talk to each other -- when one is in the driver's seat, the others are all locked in a closet.

I worked with a hypnotherapist a couple of years ago and learned self-hypnosis. When I put myself under and go inside my own mind, I create a mental space where the different aspects of my self can and do come together. I can ask the part of me that is depressed or sad to take a break, so I can focus on work and my loved ones. I can ask for advice or encouragement from the part that is wise. I can comfort the part that is fearful or apprehensive.

Add me to the list of those who would love to see an episode that further explores neurology and brain science and the aspects of the self and the mind.

Oct. 18 2011 01:45 AM

I really enjoyed this episode. I hear what some people are saying about wanting a deeper scientific view. However, I think at some point you need to accept the show for what it is, and choose to listen or not listen. This is not a "hard science" show. It's more focused on stories and the human element, with a theme of science woven in. It's meant to be accessible to people without a scientific bent, and it aims to reach listeners on an emotional level as much as an intellectual level.

Perhaps the name Radiolab is not the best fit, because it sets up expectations of a certain level of scientific rigidity. However, the name sounds cool and it's probably too late to think of changing it.

Regarding the section about creative influences existing outside of a person, I don't think that was meant to be taken so literally. It's more just a way to think about the creative process in order to gain a new perspective about it. It's similar to how scientists such as Einstein would invoke God when speaking philosophically about the deep physical laws of the universe.

I would love to find a show that does more hard science and which is engaging and well produced. If I do find such a show, I'll subscribe but I will keep listening to Radiolab too.

Sep. 27 2011 11:58 AM

The episode is great. Some of the comments below are not.

Keep up the good work.

Sep. 13 2011 05:17 PM

Thanks for reminding Grooper's nice track vessel around 41'.

Aug. 01 2011 03:51 PM

Thanks for reminding Grooper's nice track vessel around 41'.

Aug. 01 2011 03:50 PM
Sherri Reveal

Re the comment about exploring addiction in the context of broader issues made in an earlier posting: 12-step programs make that link. An addiction affects us physically, emotionally and spiritually. That's why some programs read "Alcoholics Anonymous" and change the word alcohol to whatever the addiction is. The mental/emotion and spiritual symptoms are the same. The solution is likewise three-fold. These programs call for working the 12 steps (clearing wreckage from the past, making amends, applying the principals in all our affairs) with a resulting spiritual awakening (not religious--available to all).

Jul. 24 2011 11:43 AM
Janet Murray from Atlanta

Correcting a misstatement by a guest on the show: It was THOMAS EDISON who said "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration. "

Jul. 23 2011 11:19 PM
A.J. from Oregon

Interesting show. Issues of addiction, personality, and mental disorder aside, most people benefit from external encouragement or a nudge at some point. That doesn't necessarily mean they need a dictator in their lives (with the possible exception of extreme addiction). But if someone knows a change is necessary and they're having trouble starting, some help getting on track is a plus. And at the risk of getting slightly political, one question raised by the behavior in Washington this week is how often staunch ideology (vs. run-of-the-mill personal weakness or resistance to change) gets in the way of what's best. In some ways, we're COLLECTIVELY our own worst enemy, and we collectively avoid action by bogging ourselves down in everyday routine, celebrity gossip and other non-issues, rather than things like nudging our representatives.

Jul. 16 2011 05:31 PM
KC from Philippines

This is an awesome episode. One thing that bugs me, though, is that the show seems to look at addiction in a vacuum, sort of. That is, substance abuse or compulsive gambling or whatever is treated as a discreet behavior that deals with a discreetly sick part of oneself. I'm somewhere on the slope of alcoholism and cigarette addiction right now, but (it seems to me) that these behaviors are symptoms of larger problems in my life (loneliness, lack of meaningful work or relationships). It's not like I want to drink or smoke per se; it's more like I don't care for my own life, and because these substances numb me, they give me a way to stop being me for a few hours. I want to hear the episode where they discuss the relationship between abusive and addictive behaviors (which are discreet and tangible) and let's say personal wholeness or spiritual health or whatever (which is complex, synthetic, and intangible).

Jul. 09 2011 04:20 AM

The subconcious mind can work out many problems that we can not when we have more things to focus on. In regards to the writters inspiration, I feel this is especially true. If we think about a problem deeply before sleep, we often can wake up to find that in our sleep we have found a solution. Jugglers use this trick when they can not figure out a new trick. They practice for a while before bed and wake up to find that they can do the trick. I think this "jugglers trick" can explain why when your get up at 6 am after trying to write an ending or poem for example, the answer or inspiration has been worked out for us in our subconciousness. Love the Show.
Thanks for all you guys do.

Jun. 16 2011 11:52 PM
Markus from DC

This is how I came to quit smoking cold turkey after 10 years of failures.

I was convinced that if I could go without smoking for 21 consecutive days, then the gratification felt by not smoking would exceed my perceived gratification of getting a buzz. In retrospect, 21 days seems quite arbitrary. But hey, it worked.

I had tried to quit several times before without success. So the next step was to compile a list of all the reasons why I had failed to quit before. This was my list of what I called "risks". Topping the list was alcohol. Having a drink not only weakened my resolve, it also gave me migraines which would not go away until I had a cigarette. The list also included stress, traffic, large meals and so on.

For 21 days, every risk in my list had to be managed in some way. Some risks like alcohol I entirely avoided. Some, such as traffic, were out of my control but could be mitigated in some way. I dealt with traffic by avoiding passing near my favorite 7-Eleven shops and always carrying some chewing gum with me. I also found that exercising cut down immensely in my urge to smoke. As did spacing out my meals evenly throughout the day.

Long story short: although it sucked, I successfully went 21 days without smoking. And in the process, I also got ripped! I have never smoked again. And I now ignore all those risks in my risk list -- they no longer have an affect on me whatsoever.

I should say, I did purchase a box of nicotine patches which I kept within reach in case of emergencies. But I never needed to open it.

Jun. 02 2011 04:18 PM

Just loved it! Such a smart way to talk about a lot in a short time. Thank you.

May. 23 2011 05:38 PM
Chuck from New Mexico

Unfortunately, the story about Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" is not true--not any of it. What's probably more interesting is the actual story of the poem, which Frost delighted in because the poem is a trick--a trap--that pokes fun at the American impulse to think we choose our futures and our selves. The poem is really about our need to re-narrate our pasts so they tell a story about our own exceptionalism.

May. 22 2011 02:08 PM
Jake from San Diego

As the son of a Latin teacher, errors of grammar and misuse of words hit me like fingernails on a chalk
"her" and x made a deal?? and he became a "masseuse"?? Please take care with our wonderful language and your meal ticket.

May. 14 2011 07:41 PM

This episode reminded me of a story I heard recently (perhaps I read on a blog, not sure) about 2 women who had been trying to stick to a diet and lose weight and had failed many times, until they made a deal together. The deal was this: if they once again failed to lose the weight they knew they wanted to lose, they would each have to eat a whole can of Alpo dog food. Yep. They each kept a can of Alpo in their kitchen. If one of them felt tempted to over eat, she would pick up her can of dog food and read the ingredients, and just think about what the experience of eating it would be like. That was all it took. They both lost the weight they had wanted to lose, and kept it off.

May. 13 2011 08:02 PM
Evelyn Manangan from San Francisco

Do you have a full credit listing for the musical pieces in this podcast? I'm interested in the opera track that plays when Ulysses and the temptation of the sirens' song is discussed. Thanks

May. 10 2011 06:51 PM
Ulises from Los Angeles

So my name is Ulises and thanks to this episode I decided to stop smoking.

May. 08 2011 03:07 AM

"thank you to all of you who have chipped in to help support the show, listener contributions are the reason we can do this, so thanks"

"this episode of radiolab is supported by stitcher smart radio, offering stitcher mobile app, with..."


May. 05 2011 12:30 PM
Lise Schiffer from Chicago

Your episode "Help" was wonderful, but I was astonished that you did not mention that disulfirum, marketed under the brand name Antabuse, has been used in this country for many years to treat alcoholism. In fact, I have 2 alcoholic clients (I'm a psychotherapist) on it now!!!!! These people were unable to stop drinking without it, despite, in one case, numerous inpatient treatment programs. It is a woefully underused resource but, if taken as prescribed, foolproof.

Apr. 25 2011 11:03 AM

On behalf of my Freshmen who just struggled through Homer's Odyssey, I'd like to point out that Odysseus lashed himself to the mast in The Odyssey, not The Iliad.

Apr. 20 2011 11:40 PM
Donna from San Francisco

Great stories, and I think the musical editing is fabulous! Very fresh and engaging.

Apr. 17 2011 11:53 AM
Mark from Venice, CA

This has been one of the most inspiring and benificial shows I've heard from all of your topics. It gave me a perspective that was stopping me from writing and sharing my creative ideas out to the world. Thank you for gathering this story.

Apr. 11 2011 12:04 PM
Kyle from San Diego, CA

Fascinating, I know the almost strangeness of the struggle between two sides of your desire. I am a Christian man, who is a sinner, but sees God working to take that away. The Bible describes that struggle as between the spirit and the flesh, the old man and the new. Romans 7 is an interesting description of this by St. Paul.

Also, the idea of inspiration coming from without has some Biblical parallels in that it claims that the things of God can not be understood, you need the Holy Spirit, see 1 Corinthians 2 if you are interested. Anyway, the Bible's answer to how you look to something without to change what is within is God, the Holy Spirit.

Apr. 09 2011 05:52 PM

Music at end of Gilbert section -"Ubi Caritas",
chant - many settings, notably by Durufle and Lauridsen

Apr. 08 2011 08:03 PM

Be brief: your shows are so contrived with the snippets and editing. very irritating to listen to.

Apr. 08 2011 05:39 PM
123 from atlantis

"come up with the idea to put wax in his ears; Circe does, as she helps him prepare to leave her island after idling away there for a year, drinking wine and eating feasts and being bathed by her maids."
successful, until the sun got too close...

Apr. 07 2011 09:52 AM
Vijay from Tarrytown, NY

Listened to this segment yesterday, and today I read this thought for the day ( They both talk about the same thing -- changing personal behavior -- but quite different ways.

While the spiritual thought talks about pecking away on small issues thoroughout the day, the Radiolab segments talk about one big push over to the other side to change behavior.

Apr. 07 2011 08:43 AM

I can't stand the way you edit this show with all the short snippets. It's gimmicky and distracting.

Apr. 06 2011 01:54 PM
Iron Mongoose

Tried four times to download it, and can't get it to work. Am I the only one having difficulty with this?

Apr. 06 2011 02:16 AM
Sangtae Kim from NJ

A big congrats to all of you at Radiolab on the Peabody award. You all deserve it! GO Radiolab!

Apr. 04 2011 07:44 AM

Just listened to this episode on podcast, and I really like it. Two errors bothered me, though. One was already caught about the "99% perspiration" quote being attributed by Elizabeth Gilbert to Henry Ford (it's Edison).

The other was the comment about Ulysses and the Sirens in The Illiad. First off, it's 'Odysseus' in both The Illiad and The Odyssey - 'Ulysses' is the Latin name the Romans gave to him and was used by Virgil in The Aeneid. Second, this episode occurs in The Odyssey as part of Odysseus' 10 year voyage to return home from the Trojan War (which was the subject of Homer's other epic, The Illiad). And, third, Odysseus does not come up with the idea to lash himself to the mast - this was the advice the goddess Circe gave him if he wanted to hear the Sirens' song and live. She also told him to plug his crewmen's ears with wax so they couldn't hear the song.

Apr. 03 2011 06:49 PM
Lauren Reed from Beijing, China

The song during the Ulysses story and the end of the podcast is "Songs My Mother Taught Me" by Antonín Dvořák, though I can't place the performers. I agree it would be helpful to have the music from each show listed on each show page.

Apr. 02 2011 10:03 AM
Preston Wade from Yakima, WA

Thanks for posting about the ethereal song being Vessel by Grouper. I was frustrated at not being able to figure out what the song was.

Mar. 30 2011 08:05 PM

I feel like this podcast was mis-titled. There did not seem to be common theme save for focus more on following through on some major commitment to quit an addictive drug. I think "inspiration" or "motivation" might have been a more apt title since it seems to be the major factor that individuals to commit themselves to quit a drug or write a novel. Though not my favorite, it was still a solid episode. Can't wait till the next one. One a side note the story about the Russian addicts who implant disulfiram to quit alcohol was truly fascinating. My lab studies how disulfiram (and other similar drugs) helps addicts quit not just alcohol but also cocaine. Though all the human studies I've come across have only administered disulfiram orally. I'll bring up this podcast by my advisor and see what he thinks!

Mar. 30 2011 06:48 PM
Hoopleton from Chicago

The ethereal song used in the break is "Vessel" by Grouper.

Now if only Radiolab would post a complete soundtrack for each episode!

Love you guys.

Mar. 29 2011 03:30 PM

Zelda's KKK donation story reminds me very much of my own 'no more cigarettes' campaign. I was what one would call a 'social' smoker, so addiction was never an issue for me. But various temptations of boredom, social interaction, alcohol, etc. constantly invited cigarettes into my life. Having no incentive to never smoke again other than 'I don't want to' made it very hard to actually give myself a reason not to.

So I told all my friends and most smoking acquaintances that I made a blood pact with myself. The blood pact basically stated that if I ever smoke a cigarette again, I would have to smoke it with my a$$. (I don't actually possess that skill.)

To this day, no cigarettes.

Mar. 28 2011 06:51 PM

First time commentor, or maybe second, can't remember, but long time listener!

I LOVED this show. I love all your shows, but the Liz Gilbert thing made me see her differently. I finished reading Eat, Pray, Love a few days ago and really apt to hear her talk about creativity this way.

Mar. 28 2011 01:18 PM

First time commentor, or maybe second, can't remember, but long time listener!

I LOVED this show. I love all your shows, but the Liz Gilbert thing made me see her differently. I finished reading Eat, Pray, Love a few days ago and really apt to hear her talk about creativity this way.

Mar. 28 2011 01:17 PM
Amanda From Texas from Fort Worth Texas

I have an anecdote to offer myself. After listening to your podcast I decided to try it. The Ulysses contract that is.

I know this sounds trite, but to me it isn't. Unsuccessfully I have been trying to quit drinking those horrible carbonated beverages, specifically Dr. Pepper. I would HAVE to drink one in the morning. I called it my cup of coffee. But it didn't stop there, I would have one in the afternoon, with lunch, dinner and even before bed. Sometimes I could back off the amount but I could never quit. I continued to fill myself with sugar, sodium and and numerous calories even though I knew it was bad for me.

After your show I decided to make a contract. If I ever took a drink of a carbonated beverage I had to stab myself in the stomach. Yes that sounds harsh, but it has worked. Any time I wanted a dr pepper, I picture myself stabbing myself in the stomach and it stops me. After a few days though I started telling myself, "hey, you know you aren't going to stab yourself" but the guilt of having not done it would outweigh my want. That image is more powerful than any temptation. Even more powerful than others saying, "C'mon, its not that bad".

Now that I'm more than two weeks in, I seldom have a desire for a coke. When I do the image wins out and the temptation is overcome easily.

My analysis is that after one makes the contract, the image is paramount. It works for several days. After that the image is accompanied by guilt. After a time the image alone may get weaker, but combined with guilt and time separated from the addiction it is still effective.

Thank you for your podcast.

Mar. 28 2011 01:11 PM
Kate McMillan

Does anyone know which opera is being sampled during the Ulysses bit?

Mar. 27 2011 09:13 PM
John R S from Gloucester, MA

I am confused about one thing that was said on the show. The gentleman talking about Ulysses said, "The present Ulysses bound the future Ulysses to the mast because he knew he'd be week." To me it is the other way around, the future Ulysses bound the present Ulysses to the mast because in the moment of dilemma that is the only way the future Ulysses could win. Am I right?

Mar. 26 2011 10:59 PM

Great show, fascinating. I dare say that some of the naysayers about the Elizabeth Gilbert section might be the same people who think Arcade Fire suck because they're popular.

But, more to the point of the episode, some of the angry folks might have hoped that creativity is created by a formula that anyone can solve, and that's what they were hoping to find here. Anything that seems vaguely spiritual or has the aura of conjuring is sneer bait.

Radio Lab has never followed the scientific method, why should they now?

Mar. 25 2011 09:55 PM
peter from nyc

I found the liz gilbert section really lame. the truth is, her second book was routinely savaged by absolutely everyone. not getting into the failure of that, which is a huge part of the story of creativity - that was weak. and so I see you are just another soft on celeb show. might as well watch E.

Mar. 25 2011 03:45 PM
Also Anon from Western US

This episode didn't sit well with me, and it took me some time to figure out why. Giving yourself an ultimatum, even a life-or-death threath, is nothing more than a gimmick. It will work on some people and it won't work on others.

As a member of a 12-step group, I meet new people every week for whom every self-imposed ultimatum fails. So many times I've heard someone say, "I know this will kill me." - yet that's not enough to make them stop.

So kudos to those people with enough willpower to give themselves ultimatums, but there was nothing in this show applicable to the general population.

I still like the show and I look forward to some more concrete, scientific schtuff.

Mar. 25 2011 01:09 PM
Seth Bowden from Colorado Springs, CO

More science, fewer anecdotes. Please.

Mar. 24 2011 04:54 PM
Ian from London, UK

Such literalists! Fundamentalists, you might say. I loved the Elizabeth Gilbert interview. She's not a scientist and 'angels' wasn't presented as a scientific proposition. It is just a metaphor for the way she feels about the creative process. And it was a delight to hear her expound on it.

I thought, all in all, this was an absolutely marvellous episode, one of my favourites. Well done Radiolab!

Mar. 24 2011 12:44 PM

I actually quite liked Me, Myself and Muse and found it useful for my work as a mathematician. Good ideas often occur at inconvenient times and it's not always easy to stop thinking about something.

It was very liberating to learn that I can talk to a math problem I am working on and tell it to "go away, you will have my full attention tomorrow morning." I do it regularly now, and the quality of my sleep has improved. Tom Waits is so cool.

There is a large unconscious component to the creative process. Even though it's all going on in your head, perhaps it's not such a bad idea to treat your muse (for lack of a better word) as a separate entity. I sure hope the Radiolab people can find an entertaining neurologist to tell us more about all the crazy shenanigans the different parts of our brain are up to.

Mar. 24 2011 05:23 AM
eric from pittsburgh, pa

In response to adrianna below me...

I had the same gut reaction at first, too. But the point is not to necessarily take the statements at face value. Radiolab isn't literally posing the question as to whether an idea-angel rockets down from heaven while you're on the toilet. It's a metaphor for the erratic creative process.

Actually, the act of "talking" to the idea, to organize my thoughts, has really helped in my own writer's block. The religious can call it prayer, we can call it a Life-hack. Don't discount something so easily.

Mar. 23 2011 09:29 PM

I hated the Eat Pray Love author interview portion of the Help! episode. HATED it. Angels? Really guys? Let's perpetuate more ridiculous and fictional notions regarding reality and creativity because there just aren't enough already. This is the first time I haven't liked a Radio Lab episode. Normally, you are scientific and bust myths and fictions. I'm disappointed with this wacky and silly point of view being espoused on Radio Lab. To me, creativity is absolutely and without any doubt completely attributable to the author or artist. There aren't any bloody angels at work.

Mar. 23 2011 07:23 PM
MikeO' from San Francisco

I had the same reaction to Tom's advice as Liz. "I can talk to this thing!?". I too could feel my center of gravity shift. I started to talk to her and she's been responding nicely.Thank you for such a great show.

Mar. 23 2011 04:15 PM
Steve from Toronto, ON Canada

Do you have listings for your musical tracks that are played in the show? I heard some great ones in "Help!" that I would like to check out (including one that I think is by Grouper).

Mar. 23 2011 01:48 PM
KJ from US, Vermont

I have to say this was the more disappointing episode of RadioLab. So many things were said without any evidence to back them up. Lots of talk, not enough science or even critical discussion.

To me it sounded as though the producers were so happy with their 'get' of Gilbert that they let her say anything she wanted and put it in the show, important and interesting or not. Her ideas of ideas being given to people from some imaginary source was insulting to artists. Higher standards please.

Mar. 23 2011 01:34 PM

I basically ask what music was used on every radiolab episode...Any idea what the piece thats running at 3.45 is....Its realllly good.

Mar. 23 2011 07:58 AM
Joseph from London, Ontario, Canada

The episode left me with somewhat of a catharsis. I still need help!

Mar. 22 2011 08:53 PM
Gabriela Duran

This episode was great! Thanks :D

Mar. 20 2011 01:20 AM
Emily from Houston, TX

I appreciate this show and always look forward to listening. As a 9th grade English teacher who has read The Odyssey out loud dozens of times (mulitiply 6 classes times 4 years), I have to throw out a correction to Dave Eagleman. Odysseus doesn't come up with the idea to put wax in his ears; Circe does, as she helps him prepare to leave her island after idling away there for a year, drinking wine and eating feasts and being bathed by her maids. While this is unimportant to the point you make in the show, it is important in the Odyssey; it reveals Circe's ultimate thoughtfulness and generosity despite her possessiveness.

Mar. 19 2011 11:16 PM
Jon from Maryland from Maryland

Which Tom Waits song was playing? Loved it.

Mar. 19 2011 04:44 PM

Great show this week :)

Add it to the list of odd coincidences that often pop up in one's life, it just so happens that I just yesterday (when "working hard" in the office on a Friday afternoon) came across the video below. It's a much less dramatic example of how we make poor economic decisions based on what we get now versus later. A bit funnier/cuter than examples involving suicide and the KKK.

Mar. 19 2011 04:25 PM
Anonymous Fan from California

Hey guys, I love your show and am always happy to see a new hour become available. I have to take issue however with your patronizing dismissal of 12 step programs. While the Russian treatment you discuss is sexier and more exciting than an alcoholics anonymous meeting, it was beneath you to describe recovery programs as helping people learn to love themselves and "make peace with" their addictions. If you had looked a little closer you might have seen that the steps are designed to help people experience an "entire psychic change" which removes the power of the previously addictive substance. I don't know exactly how this works (whether it's psychology, spirituality, brainwashing or what) but fascinatingly enough it does and I know that it does because I've experiened it for years.

Also, I was glad to hear the interview with Elizabeth Gilbert. I enjoyed her TED talk and find her perspective on the creative process very interesting (although I've never read her books).

Keep it up guys!

Mar. 19 2011 12:03 PM
Noomnom from a park

But another thing is that Ulysses is Odysseus but in Latin. So they got the name right.

Mar. 19 2011 10:42 AM
David Meyer

Hi - You do a great job. One correction, however, is necessary: you told the story of Odysseus when he ordered his men to lash him to the main mast and then fill their ears with wax while they pass in front of the Sirens. That way he could hear their mysterious music but not be compelled to go to them -- and to certain death. All very fine, except that you said that is in the Iliad. It's not. The Iliad tells the story of Achilles and the Trojan War. The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus.

Mar. 19 2011 08:45 AM
Gabriel from Mexico

Not a solid episode, from my perspective. The first third was very promising, with really interesting questions and insights, but the second was completely superficial, trivial and airy. And the third was OK, but you needed to go back to the first one to wrap it all up and you didn't.

Mar. 18 2011 04:32 PM
smalls from Houston, TX

Ya know, comment-ers, this episode covered a vast subject. Fighting with oneself, inner struggle, addiction? These are not topics that can be thoroughly explored - scientifically, sociologically, philosophically - in an hour-long show. I think the Radiolab crew did a great job of giving a thought-provoking overview of this topic. Just a taste from many different angles. That said, I will say that I've taken more away from episodes that take a micro, rather than a macro, approach to investigating something. This episode seemed to cast its net a bit too wide, and wound up lacking the cohesive narrative that I usually love so much in Radiolab shows. That said, it may help me quit smoking and finish this short story I've been working on for months...

Mar. 18 2011 03:44 PM

I love all your shows and this one really changed how I feel about Liz Gilbert. She seems really great.

I hate the idea that people can produce a beautiful work of genius and let some imaginary "other" take the credit for all their hard work, though! Robert Frost wasn't rewarded by some being for being at his desk at 6 AM, he was rewarded by HIMSELF because he worked so hard and was such a good poet.

Mar. 17 2011 10:46 PM

Loved the show.... but I unabashedly love ALL your shows. The KKK strategy reminded me of a comic book formatted Behavioral Psychology textbook from the 70's starring "Con-Man" (pun on Contingency Management). The plot concerned a graduate student who finally finished his dissertation to prevent donating to "Future Fascists of America." The fact that I still remember this (as opposed to most of what I read in the 70's) shows that a reinforcing format tends to help one keep information in the brain of addled college students.

Mar. 17 2011 10:41 PM
Cee from SF

Does anyone know how to find the name/artists of the songs that they use on the show?

Mar. 17 2011 08:45 PM
Daniel Eaton from Western Australia

There seems to be a seious lack of Sceince of late not to mention that advertising is now appearing in the podcasts. Please guys do not let it slip you had such a good thing going. you seem to be on a down hill roll. And that hill leads to a cesspit that reeks of comercialism.
I enjoy the show and still look forward to more but I am desperately hoping that it does not just turn into a series of individual anecdotes and subjective opinion with advertising stuffed between them.

Mar. 16 2011 09:12 PM
chrisp from Los Angeles

A lot of this episode was pretty insufferable (the exclusion of any science being the biggest factor), but worse was the stunning pat-on-the-back sentiment for "it worked for me" treatments all throughout the episode. Between the Ku Klux Klan donation, the suicidal author, and the Russian "death pill, were there any hard numbers to show whether these ideas are any more than a single person's success story?

Is bargaining with yourself actually helpful? We'll never know because all Radiolab had to offer were anecdotes.

Mar. 16 2011 04:56 PM
m from San Diego, CA

It feels like Radiolab is trying to broaden the listener base and the inclusion of Elizabeth Gilbert is a genius tactic. I found her book to be insufferable, but this interview changed my view of her. Whether I like her writing or not, the way she described the breakdown of the creative process as an oyster was mind-opening.

My understanding is that Radiolab exists to poke at our minds and give us questions, not answers. I think that the more numerous their anecdotes, the more useful it is as stimulation for the listener.

But of course, this is just my opinion. I enjoyed the episode as I have others. Now, my most pressing question is... What on earth was that gorgeous, ethereal song after Liz Gilbert's section?

Mar. 16 2011 02:37 PM

I like the show and I like the look of the site, but it is very hard to navigate. I only want to listen to podcasts at the moment, but the flash app only shows "Help!"... There's a list of smaller items underneath, but the first item listed is the item that comes up first when you select to list by "shorts"... So is that the list of old podcasts, starting with the one after the current one? Or is it a list of a different category entirely...

Don't understand what I'm talking about? That's kind of the point. The site is needlessly confusing.

(Not everybody subscribes through RSS... I would listen to your show more often if it weren't so hard to find the podcasts)

Mar. 16 2011 12:05 PM
Matt Leach from Boulder, CO

Not a huge fan of this episode, other ones were way better. 2 issues I had:

1) I'm a ancient greece buff and it just got to me that Jad got it wrong. Odysseus was tied to the mast for the Sirens in the Odyssey, not Ulysses (which although sounds greek is not in fact a greek character).

2) Eat Pray Love is one of the best selling books of all time!!!!????? Going a little extreme there Jad aren't we. Are we forgetting something called the Bible?

Most of the time I really like your guys work. Your science is awesome and I think you should stick to that. PLEASE stay away from spiritual matters (Roberts rewriting the story of Noah and Abraham in the show "In Silence"). That podcast really offended me and almost made me stop listening.

Keep up the good science!!

Mar. 16 2011 11:57 AM
Matt Leach from Boulder, CO

Not a huge fan of this episode, other ones were way better. 2 issues I had:

1) I'm a ancient greece buff and it just got to me that Jad got it wrong. Odysseus was tied to the mast for the Sirens in the Odyssey, not Ulysses (which although sounds greek is not in fact a greek character).

2) Eat Pray Love is one of the best selling books of all time!!!!????? Going a little extreme there Jad aren't we. Are we forgetting something called the Bible?

Most of the time I really like your guys work. Your science is awesome and I think you should stick to that. PLEASE stay away from spiritual matters (Roberts rewriting the story of Noah and Abraham in the show "In Silence"). That podcast really offended me and almost made me stop listening.

Keep up the good science!!

Mar. 16 2011 11:56 AM
D. Elder

"Eat Pray Love"? Guess I've been living under a rock. Or maybe the book doesn't have quite the rock star status you think.

Mar. 16 2011 11:44 AM

A mostly good episode with save the unfortunate inclusion of Elizabeth Gilbert. Why don't we have the actresses from Sex and the City on next week to tell us about multi-verse theory?

Mar. 15 2011 03:41 PM
Matt from Mountain View, CA

My thought is that the guy taking over his father's foot massage operation is happy for a different reason than both Jad and Robert thought. Instead of something "he wanted all along", it seems to me that it's more along the lines of "he embraced it when it became inevitable". People tend to agonize over choices, but if something is presented as a non-optional part of life I believe we all tend to figure out how to be happy with it. Since somebody mentioned TED, this is one of the main thrusts of Dan Gilbert's TED talk.

Mar. 15 2011 04:25 AM
Audra from Ottawa

I have tried to listen to this podcast at least 7 times, but it keeps cuttng off three minutes into the show .... I tried downloading, bu it only downloaded the first few minutes also ... HELP!

Mar. 15 2011 03:46 AM

While I agree that this episode could have done more to bring in at least speculative neuroscience about consulting oracles, personifying concepts, or fearing consequences as a way to think about them differently, I believe it's important to remember that lived experience, not theoretical perfection, is what actually helpful science is about. It is not so important that the Russian translator's uncle stopped drinking because of a procedure whose biochemical effects came in part from his own brain instead of exclusively from pill. What matters is that he got his life back.

Also, I agree with Elizabeth Gilbert's emphasis that the difference between the 1% inspiration and the 99% perspiration is that without the inspiration part you just have a pulp fiction novel, a dull website design, or a run-of-the-mill experiment that doesn't offer any new insight or perspective.

PS I understand shying away from religion, but people have used hell to scare eachother straight, angels and demons to anthropomorphize ideas and schizophrenic "selves," changing mental states (placebos) to heal bodily ailments, and oracles to provide affirmation mostly through religious channels for a long time. I don't think it's unscientific to deign to explore the effectiveness of those techniques.

Mar. 14 2011 11:31 PM
jim price from Dresser, WI

Well done! Is sociology and the study of behavior science? Maybe not quarks and black holes, but worthy of exploration. I love the exploration of experience through another lens.

Mar. 14 2011 10:37 PM

I disagree with Jose. Another homerun. BTW, September 1, 1968 is the very day my older brother was born.

Mar. 14 2011 08:50 PM

FYI - Everything is "empirical"

The recent shows are awesome, but unless the findings and mechanisms are addressed (even though they may be "inspirational", etc.) through the lens of theory, data, scientific method...we're just discussing ironic philosophy :(

Mar. 14 2011 05:08 PM
Steve B from Saint Paul, MN, United States

I am a big fan of the show, and really look forward to new episodes. I liked a lot of what was explored here, but a couple of comments:

1. Gotta add my "me too" for more science of decisions, self-deception, etc.
2. It felt like you dissed Alcoholics Anonymous and 12 step programs. We don't know *why* they work, and there is some science to be done here to understand the blend of psychology, physiology and spirituality that helps millions of people. But it does help millions of people, including me. Belittling that success with phrases like "touchy-feely" is letting yourselves off the hook. How about looking at why medical science can't "cure" addiction disorders, and the biggest relief for many comes from a simple program of honesty?

Keep rockin' the program. I really appreciate all the work that goes into the production. I know that kind of audio production takes a lot, and it is worth it.

Mar. 14 2011 09:07 AM
john from Sweden

The only thing I can say is that Elizabeth Gilbert is not a wellspring of creativity.

Mar. 14 2011 07:05 AM

YAY! Two of my favorite things in the same bundle of listening pleasure: Radiolab and Tom Waits. :D

Mar. 14 2011 05:50 AM
Evan from New York

I like Radiolab because it uses engaging narratives about people to explore fascinating topics in science. But when it is vague and mystical, I get really bored. I would care what Elizabeth Gilbert has to say about creativity if she ever demonstrated any creativity, but I really think she's just an Ayn Rand for the modern mom.

Kiki wrote, "we're talking about inspiration and cognition...not very empirical stuff." Actually, I was really excited for an empirical look at inspiration and cognition, and I was disappointed. There are plenty of decent science books about creativity; I recommend Brian Boyd's "On the Origin of Stories."

Mar. 14 2011 03:29 AM
Mr. B from Brooklyn

I enjoy Radiolab very much, but would enjoy it even more if I were able to see a soundtrack list of music for each episode. Unless of course the episode does not contain music, which would negate my request.


Mar. 13 2011 07:44 PM
perri from NYC

Thanks Jake and coyote from Minneapolis!

I've been trying to put a finger on why recent episodes haven't grabbed my attention as much. I thought perhaps because I sensed a merging of science and religion.... But the "lack of scientific inquiry/exploration" sounds about right.

Mar. 13 2011 05:56 PM
Oren Natan from Israel

Great episode as usual, But I still think that Leonard Cohen is much better then Tom Waits.

Mar. 13 2011 05:53 PM

Loved this episode (and all of RadioLab). Listening to the guy who used chance to decide whether he or his brother entered the family business reminded me of something I do in exams - some of my university exams are multiple choice, and when there's the odd question I really don't know which answer to choose I do the kid's game (ip dip dip, or ink-a-dink, or eeny-meeny-miney-mo..) to choose which answer to put.. anyway the interesting thing is that sometimes I'm disappointed with the answer. I thought I would be equally happy with each choice, which is why I left it to chance, but putting myself in that situation sometimes brings out feelings you didn't know were there. I guess that's maybe what happened to these brothers.

Mar. 13 2011 01:58 PM
Miles from Baltimore

Great program - when Tom Waits made an appearance in conversation, I threw up my arms and said "YES!"

Very therapeutic, listening to this. One of my favorite artists.

Mar. 13 2011 01:38 PM
SK from Los Angeles, CA

Interesting stuff. After listening to the "eat pray love" author, speak, i tried her technique. I have been working on a business proposal for 3yrs and just 2 hrs after trying her technique, the 20 page accurately done proposal was dropped on my lap, so to speak. All we needed and stressed about was sorta just given to me.

Mar. 12 2011 09:52 PM
Siviwe Minyi from Gugulethu, South Africa

Great piece and well researched. I would love to visit your studios and observe you two at work.

Mar. 12 2011 05:42 AM
Andrej Kyselica

One of my favorite RL episodes, thanks.

The best book I have seen on creative work and enticing the muse is "War of Art" by Stephen Pressfield. I highly recommend it, especially if you liked the interview with Elizabeth Gilbert.

Mar. 11 2011 09:19 PM

I can't believe Krulwich dropped the f-bomb! This from the man who didn't understand when Jad used "bitches" endearingly.

Mar. 11 2011 05:48 PM

do you guys get all your material from Oliver, Jonah, and TED? Or just most of it?


Nice episode.

Mar. 11 2011 02:59 PM

I liked this episode. Let us not forget that Economics is a science.

Did anyone else catch that they hit on the busy mind / greedy choice topic before? In the episode "Choice" in the section "How Much is Too Much" discussing the experiment Fruit vs. Cake. Cool to see an overlap.

Mar. 11 2011 02:10 PM

Great episode. Sorry to hear people lamenting the lack of science in it...but we're talking about inspiration and cognition...not very empirical stuff. Unless inspiration and intuition have touched you probably wouldn't get the importance of all the content in the episode.

Oh....and it was Thomas Edison that said invention is 99% perspiration 1% inspiration. Ford wasn't really an invention kind of guy....just a great capitalist and exploiter.

Mar. 11 2011 11:21 AM
Anonymous from Minnesota

I never thought I would ever hear a radiolab episode where there is an interview with the author of EPL...
@Dave Hermen Maybe I missed the point of RL when I started listening, but I was sure that science was supposed to be involved at some point...

Mar. 11 2011 09:01 AM
Dave Herman from Amsterdam, NL

Absolutely loved this episode! I disagree with the criticisms above that the episode should have given more “hard scientific” explanations for the anecdotes being told.

It’s perfectly obvious that the Radiolab guys are not interested in pseudo-scientific nonsense such as the so-called Law of Attraction. What they are showing with this episode is precisely that a narrow, overly deterministic and mechanical world view can cause you to miss important stuff that doesn’t fit in that frame.

I especially loved the section on creatives engaging with their works of literature and music as if they are entities outside themselves. With the emphasis on “as if.” Very recognizable and empowering.

With regard to setting yourself deadlines and threats, I’m far more sceptical. I’ll go with Tom Waits on this one: Some tasks can benefit from a coercive, forceful approach, but some things just take as long as they take…

Keep up the great work, guys!

Mar. 11 2011 06:58 AM
Mike from Reno

This episode rocked my world- as usual. Keep up the great work!

Mar. 10 2011 11:52 PM

This episode really spoke to me. Thanks for all you do. I enjoyed the way you stretched out a little and let the people tell their stories without too much explanation. I feel like a lot of the groundwork for this one was laid down in previous episodes. This is a culmination. We got some personal perspectives that tell the tale for themselves. Great job.

Mar. 10 2011 05:40 PM
JT from Austin, TX

Ugh! You were so close but danced right around it! You have got to check out - a commitment website.

I am currently in a commitment to lose 20 pounds in 20 weeks. Any week that I do not keep up the 1 lb/week average, I lose $15. So, for the entire commitment, I have $300 at stake.

Not much... especially when you consider the creator of the site, Ian Ayres. He went on a 52-week, $500 per week diet. Near the bottom of the free online excerpt of his book, you can see how he did:$500Diet_Kindle.htm

Any money I lose goes to charity. But, if you are REALLY committed, you can commit to have your losings go to an ANTI-charity - an organization that you hate (such as Zelda's commitment to give money to the KKK).

I am a HUGE fan of the show! I just finished re-listening to every show and podcast. Thank you for the amazing show!

Mar. 10 2011 05:40 PM
Lindsey from IL

Love this topic...would love to continue hearing more about the topic.....I don't mind at all that is wasn't completely about science. I appreciate that RL explores human issues on a deeper level and puts so much energy and effort into the reporting and story-telling. Thanks for bringing back your British scientist (whatever his name was) and for including his non-scientific thoughts in the mix. I respect his commentary and find him very interesting.

One observation....lots of beeps in this episode. I fully support the new unbridled way in which Jad and Robert express themselves, but how am I gonna get my mom to listen to radio lab now!?!? But seriously, the beeps were funny.

Mar. 10 2011 03:37 PM

Hello, any idea what the music that comes in around the 55:00 minute mark? Sounded like a very nice ambient piece, just curious.

Mar. 10 2011 12:47 PM
Bas from Amsterdam

I liked this episode, (but a bit to much like ´this American life´) As an art student, I can tell you that ideas and concepts don´t come from higher powers but only through hard work, and listening to interesting pod casts ;)

A few themes I think would make good future podcast:

Archaeology episode
The Search for Life
Are We Still Evolving?
why we need art
(from cave paintings to Conceptual art)
The Secret Life of Chaos

Mar. 10 2011 09:33 AM
Brad from Boulder from Help!

This was a dissapointment. RadioLab (usually) takes us to the limits of comprehension and lets us contemplate the reaches of our mind. This was sub-par. Please continue to do what you do so well, not new ideas

Mar. 09 2011 10:59 PM
Jennifer from Canada

Ummm... so what happened to science?

Mar. 09 2011 10:32 PM
Steve from Vermont

Just on a factual note, Odysseus instructs his crew to tie him to the mast in the Odyssey (Book XII), not the Iliad (as stated by Jad). Thanks!

Mar. 09 2011 08:20 PM
Strider from Bowling Green, KY

I found it a good ep until the end. While Elizabeth Gilbert was funny and nice-sounding I found her ideas about writers' products being "given" to them outrageous and dehumanizing. It reminded me of the people who insist that the pyramids *had* to've been built with the help of aliens because, you know, those backward egyptians *couldn't* have done it alone. *She* came up with the title for "EPL" from her own mind and out of her own hard work. Magical, title-bestowing angels *don't* bloody exist and people need to stop thinking that way.

Mar. 09 2011 07:35 PM
HunterJE from here to eternity

Gonna have to throw in with the crowd here -- a lot of radio here, but not much lab.

Mar. 09 2011 07:31 PM

Jae Lynn, the song at 40 minutes is Vessel by Grouper from her split LP with Roy Montgomery.

Mar. 09 2011 06:37 PM
Lyzz Davis

Jad...whats with all the f-bombs?

Mar. 09 2011 04:56 PM
Sam Tucker from Bournemouth, UK

There is an uncanny parallel between the opening of the episode and...

When did you start working on this ep. and this website that must have been planned back in 2010.

This confirms that you were on to something with 'What does technology want?'

Mar. 09 2011 03:31 PM
Nikki from Austin

Was I the only one that loved this episode? I actually thought it was one of the more interesting ones I've listened to lately. Perhaps it's not as scientific, but I thought it was a fascinating insight into the condition of inspiration, creativity, and addiction. The power of the mind never ceases to amaze me.

Thanks guys!

Mar. 09 2011 03:04 PM
Caroline from Missoula, MT

Jae Lynn: you may be referring to Ubi Caritas; you can find many arrangements from melancholy to sprite.

RadioLab: your whole episode is on the Law of Attraction. Do a little research on this (start with Abraham Hicks) and create an amazing show; it's not "The Secret's" version.

Mar. 09 2011 01:51 PM
coyote from Minneapolis

I have to agree with Jake.

The real genius of past Radiolab episodes was Jad and Robert's ability to walk us right up to the edge of understanding with science and leave us hanging there at the gap between what we know and what we want to know. Though we have an interview with Oliver Sacks here, this episode, as well as most episodes this season, is lacking in any kind of scientific exploration.

I got hooked on this for its willingness to dive into history, psychology, biology, evolution and scientific theory as a way to approach the hazier philosophical questions of life. I miss that. I have a real fear that Radiolab is slowly mutating into another This American Life copy: a series of interesting and odd stories around a single theme. While that isn't a bad format, it can't be all that Radiolab is.

Mar. 09 2011 01:42 PM
Jae Lynn

Does anyone know the song listed around 40 minutes in? It was very beautiful.

Mar. 09 2011 01:31 PM
Abi Mehdipour


Where may I find transcripts of your episodes?

Mar. 09 2011 11:56 AM

Although a very interesting set of stories, I am disappointed in the lack of scientific inquiry and explanation in recent episodes. This episode is a good example of this. An appealing observation of human behavior is only a portion of what made Radiolab an NPR favorite of mine.

Mar. 09 2011 11:52 AM

When I got to the section "Me, Myself, and Muse", while you were interviewing the author of Eat, Pray, Love about talking to the story, I finally was able to draw a map for the fantasy novel I have been writing off and on.

Work on the novel had stalled partly because I had no map, and had trouble getting it in my head to actually draw it. When I was listening to the podcast, I suddenly drew the entire world out -- two continents, three mountain ranges, a half dozen rivers, and political divisions -- including a country I had not created yet, as well as a volcanic island chain that also had not appeared in the story.

What's more, once I put in some story-relevant locations, it solved a continuity problem I had. A governor of a far-out province was able to get to the capital relatively quickly after fleeing his compound. I had been at a loss at how to account for this, but when I saw where his compound actually was, it was not so far from a major river route to the capital. Suddenly it was plausible to get to the capital in weeks, rather than months.

In sum, I would like to thank you, Radiolab. In addition to the above, I "asked the story" for the name of a country that so far had only a fairly stupid place-holder name. Now it has a great name.

Again, thank you,
George Alston Corley

Mar. 08 2011 10:28 PM
Jose from Queens

Good one guys...
Not a homerun but a pretty solid episode...

Mar. 08 2011 09:00 PM


Mar. 08 2011 08:16 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.