The Week Unwrapped: Birds, podcasts and painless nostalgia
Why did a flock of blackbirds plunge to their death? Are big-money deals changing the podcast landscape? And can nostalgia alleviate physical pain?
Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters.
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In this week’s episode, we discuss:
When hundreds of yellow-headed blackbirds were filmed appearing to fall from the sky in mysterious circumstances in northern Mexico last month, the footage quickly went viral, baffling millions of viewers. This week the phenomenon was finally explained, but in the gap between the event and the explanation, all sorts of rumours and theories were proposed, from climate change to 5G to pollution, mid-air electrocution and even alien activity. What does this tell us about the way we process information and attempt to understand the world.
Pivot to podcasts
This week marked the release of Matt Hancock’s first long-form interview since his career-derailing affair with an aide last year. But this exclusive tell-all with the former health secretary wasn’t granted to a veteran broadcaster. Instead, Hancock appeared on The Diary of a CEO, a podcast said he was “completely hooked” on. The sonic scoop came less than two weeks after the BBC’s Jon Sopel and Emily Maitlis announced they were leaving the corporation to launch “a major new podcast” and co-host a radio show. But why are so many famous figures ditching the small screen for audio – and what does this mean for the future of TV news?
A new study has found that nostalgia can act as a painkiller, reducing the sensation of pain in a group of patients who were showed images and videos that recalled their childhood. It seems to work not simply by distracting people from pain, but by reducing the activity in the parts of the brain that transmit and perceive pain. What does this tell us about the power of nostalgia? And might it be useful to us in other unexpected psychological ways?