Some (ok, many) of you have probably heard me mention a favourite audio podcast a time or two: This American Life. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show/podcast, it’s a weekly public radio show hosted by the talented Ira Glass and produced by Chicago Public Media.
There’s a theme to each episode and a variety of stories on each theme. As they say, “It’s mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always. There’s lots more to the show, but it’s sort of hard to describe.” True. Take it for a tour–you can subscribe for free on iTunes.
At any rate, this week’s episode, Batman, delivered much more than expected.
The show starts with a story about a research psychologist named Bob Rosenthal. Rosenthal went into his lab late at night and hung signs on all of the rat cages. Some of the signs said that the rat in the cage was incredibly smart, and some incredibly dumb. The rats were all the same.
The next part of the experiment has subjects running either their incredibly “smart” or “dumb” rat through a maze. Guess what–hands down, the “smart” rats outperformed the “dumb” rats.
This particular podcast highlights how expectations and assumptions shape behaviour of all kinds in lab rats and more importantly, people.
The podcast then gets into the meaty and most interesting content with their feature on Daniel Kish, who is blind and blows away theories of what blind people can/can’t do. He developed a form of echolocation or sonar–similar to what bats use to get around.
It’s both a fascinating and incredibly inspiring story about possibilities. Take a preview of Daniel riding a bike in the clip below. But to really get the full impact of his story–take a listen to the entire episode>
Have thoughts about how expectations hem us in? Post them here!