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Episode 1

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Michael Blastland invites listeners to discover the way human beings think, behave and make decisions and to explore how far they are led by reason, emotion or instinct.

The Human Zoo is a place to learn about the one subject that never fails to fascinate - ourselves. Are people led by the head or by the heart? How rational are we? How do we perceive the world and what lies behind the quirks of human behaviour?

Michael Blastland presents a curious blend of intriguing experiments to discover our biases and judgements, conversations, explorations and examples taken from what's in the news to what we do in the kitchen - all driven by a large slice of curiosity.

Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick University, is on hand as guide and experimenter in chief.

Our thoughts, John Milton said, are a kingdom of infinite space and they might take us anywhere -whether our subject is writ large, like the behaviours of public figures or the contradictions of politics, or located in the minutiae of everyday life. We can show how what happens on the big stage is our own behaviour writ large - like the old Linda Smith joke about the Iraq-war coalition's failure to find chemical weapons: "I'm the same with the scissors".

The Human Zoo explores why it is that our judgements are so averse to ambiguity, how mental energy is linked to our legs, why we don't want to be in the dock when the judge is hungry - and other thoughts that have nothing to do with anything much beyond the ironing.

Producer: Toby Murcott
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

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28 minutes

Last on

Mon 2 Mar 2015 23:00

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Change Blindness Experiment

In the first episode of The Human Zoo, we are looking at how difficult it can be to do more than one thing at a time. But it turns out that it is also difficult even to pay attention to the various elements of a scene, even though we feel that we are "taking it all in" at once.

One demonstration of this is the phenomenon of "change blindness," which is the subject of this week's experiment. You will soon see how strange change blindness can be.


  • Tue 5 Mar 2013 15:00
  • Mon 2 Mar 2015 23:00