Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi

Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi

We all want to know if we’re normal—do I have enough friends? Should it take me this long to get over my ex? Should I move or stay where I am? Endlessly curious data journalist Mona Chalabi NEEDS to know, and she’s ready to dive into the numbers to get some answers. But studies and spreadsheets don’t tell the whole story, so she’s consulting experts, strangers, and even her mum to fill in the gaps. The answers might surprise you, and make you ask: does normal even exist? Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi is produced in partnership with Transmitter Media.

Episodes

January 4, 2023 36 min

Whenever we have a question – about ourselves or the world around us – it can be helpful to visualize our answer in order to really understand it. But how do you conceptualize something as big as inequality, as complex as grief, or as silly as your probability of correctly guessing today’s Wordle? Mona was a guest on another podcast in the TED Audio Collective, called How to Be a Better Human, to explain how anyone can use analysis...

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Today, we're sharing a preview of a new podcast we think you'll enjoy. On Come As You Are, educator and bestselling author Dr. Emily Nagoski answers questions about sex with the latest science. You’ll get a modern guide to sexual wellbeing, backed by groundbreaking research about desire, anatomy, orgasms, and much more. In conversation with her producer, Emily debunks cultural myths and flips the script on everything you th...

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Future forecaster and game designer Jane McGonigal ran a social simulation game in 2008 that had players dealing with the effects of a respiratory pandemic set to happen in the next decade. She wasn’t literally predicting the 2020 pandemic—but she got eerily close. Her game, set in 2019, featured scenarios we're now familiar with (like masking and social distancing), and participant reactions gave her a sense of what the world ...

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It’s 1988, and Somalians are fleeing the city of Hargeisa. People are trying to get out, trying to save their families and sometimes their things. But in the city’s radio station, staff are packing cassettes and reel to reel recordings into a secret underground bunker. What's on them? A slice of the country’s musical heritage, to remain for years in an underground room—until now.

This is an episode of Far Flung with Saleem Res...

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Perfectionism is on the rise–and not just in job interviews when people claim it’s their greatest weakness. But the desire to be flawless is not always productive—or healthy. As a recovering perfectionist, organizational psychologist Adam Grant dives into how he managed to abandon the quest for 10s while holding onto his drive for excellence. This is an episode of WorkLife with Adam Grant, another podcast in the TED Audio Collectiv...

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March 17, 2022 1 min

The first season of Am I Normal? centered around the questions of data journalist Mona Chalabi. In Season 2, launching in September this year, we want to answer the questions on YOUR mind. If you’ve ever wondered if something’s normal–whether that something is about you or the world AROUND you–or you just have that nagging question you simply NEED the data on, then Mona’s excited to figure it out with you (or to at least try to)! L...

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November 29, 2021 25 min

Charles Darwin. Edgar Allen Poe. Albert Einstein. What do all of these men have in common? Yes, they’ve made major contributions to science and literature. Buuuut they also all married their first cousins. Mona looks at the genetic consequences of cousin marriage, and what taboos really tell us about the social norms and power.

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November 22, 2021 19 min

The obvious answer: no. Though you haven’t exactly committed to a life of crime if you jaywalk on an empty street. But if we bend the law on jaywalking, why not drunk driving? Well, there was a time when people thought drunk driving didn't really matter either. So what changed? How do we decide to follow a law or not? What even IS a law? Mona meets with social psychology of law professor, Kenworthy Bilz to understand how laws c...

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November 15, 2021 23 min

We’re constantly checking boxes on forms, whether it’s for eye color or sexual orientation. Those categories can be empowering or, they can make you feel invisible, like when Mona painted a portrait of 100 New Yorkers based on the New York Census data, and realized she couldn’t see herself. There was no “Arabic” box to check in the census—the closest being “white” or “other.” So what happens when someone spends their whole life che...

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November 8, 2021 29 min

"You should start thinking about kids at your age! Your biological clock is ticking!” When we talk about fertility, there's one section of the population that's consistently subjected to fear mongering: the people with the ovaries. But is that worry backed up by data? Should we be stressed out about sperm too? Scientist Joe Osmundson divulges his own fears and findings on the journey to save his sperm, and Mona breaks d...

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November 1, 2021 21 min

Did you consider moving over the last two years? If you did, you’re not alone. People all over the world for so many different reasons considered moving: to be closer to family, to live somewhere more affordable, to kick back in a warmer climate. When Mona wrestles with this question, she pulls out a spreadsheet and weighs her options: Want to maintain current friendships? Stay in New York. Want to be close to family? Go back to Lo...

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October 25, 2021 23 min

When a dentist tells us something is wrong with our teeth, we tend to follow their advice. But when Mona visits two different dentists, they give her two wildly different diagnoses (with wildly different price tags). So how do we know who's telling the tooth? Mona digs up the dental data to look for answers, and finds that in reality, the study of dentistry is riddled with holes.

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October 18, 2021 22 min

Time with friends just isn’t the same with a screen in between you. That’s a struggle many have faced recently, with half of Americans saying they’ve lost touch with at least one friend during the pandemic. It can be sad, but is falling out of touch with friends normal? How many relationships should we maintain, and what are the different kinds of friendships we need anyways? Evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar has been studying...

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October 18, 2021 20 min

Search “How long does it take to get over a break up?” and you’ll find answers ranging from three weeks to three-and-a-half years. Despite heartbreak being one of the most universal human experiences, we know very little about what—and how LONG—it takes to get over someone. On the mend from a breakup herself, Mona set out to find a number while enlisting help from a psychology professor, her relationship counselor, and  yes—her Mum...

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Launching October 18 from the TED Audio Collective. We all want to know if we’re normal—do I have enough friends? Should it take me this long to get over my ex? Should I move or stay where I am? Endlessly curious data journalist Mona Chalabi NEEDS to know, and she’s ready to dive into the numbers to get some answers. But studies and spreadsheets don’t tell the whole story, so she’s consulting experts, strangers, and even her mum to...

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