BBC 6 minute English-You think you’re invisible

BBC 6 minute English-You think you're invisible

BBC 6 minute English-You think you’re invisible


Transcript of the podcast

Note: This is not a word for word transcript

Neil: Welcome to 6 Minute English, the programme where we explore an interesting topic and bring you six items of useful vocabulary. I’m Neil

Dan: And I’m Dan

Neil: Now, Dan, have you ever wanted to become invisible

Dan: Invisible – impossible to see. Of course! Who hasn’t

Neil: Well how about this: most of us think we are in fact invisible, at least some of the time… We’ll be looking at the ‘invisibility cloak illusion’ in this programme

Dan: Fascinating. And in that phrase we heard our first three words. Invisibility – the state of being invisible. A cloak is a long piece of material worn like a coat around the shoulders

Neil: And the third word in that phrase – an illusion – is something that seems real but isn’t

Dan: OK, question time. Which of these stories features an invisibility cloak? Is it

a) The Hobbit

b) Harry Potter Or

c) The Invisible Man

Neil: I know they are all connected to invisibility, but I’m gonna say…a) The Hobbit

Dan: Ok – we’ll reveal the answer later on. Now, let’s hear more about this invisibility cloak illusion. What’s the theory, Neil

Neil: Right – imagine you’re sitting in a crowded train. People are busy looking at phones and books, but they’re also looking at each other

Dan: They’re ‘people-watching’, as we call it. Yes. Yes, I do that. I do it a lot, if I’m honest

Neil: So – where does the invisibility part come in

Dan: A team of scientists from Yale University did some experiments on this. Commenting on the research here is neuroscientist Dr Catherine Loveday from Westminster University. What did the Yale team find

INSERT Dr Catherine Loveday, Neuroscientist, Westminster University

So this study, they asked people that, first they did a survey and they asked people sat in a canteen how much they were watching somebody, and how much they thought those people were observing them. And there was always a mismatch. People always thought they were more observational than the people who were watching them

Dan: So, people think they observe others more than others watch them. Everyone thinks they aren’t observed very much – it’s almost as if they’re invisible to others – or wearing an invisibility cloak

Neil: And the difference between how much they are actually being watched and think they’re being watched is what she called a mismatch. It’s the difference between two things – they’re two things which don’t match

Dan: In other words – it’s not true that people aren’t watching us – which is why the idea of having an invisibility cloak is just an illusion. This next bit is interesting. Two people were asked to wait in a room. Then they were each asked to make two lists: one, what they noticed about the other person; and two, what they thought the other person noticed about them

Neil: So list one was always longer than list two. Not only that – but there was also an important difference in the content of the lists

Dan: Let’s hear again from neuroscientist Dr Catherine Loveday. What was the difference

INSERT Dr Catherine Loveday, Neuroscientist, Westminster University

When people are observing you they’re doing it in a non-judgemental, fairly empathic way – and not actually noticing the things that you’re self-conscious about. So if for example you feel self-conscious about a spot on your nose, or something that you’re wearing, that won’t be what they’re noticing. It’s a much less judgemental form of observation

Neil: Right, so even if we’re feeling self-conscious about something – that means feeling extra aware of an aspect of ourselves – maybe our appearance or our clothes – we needn’t be

Dan: Yes, you don’t need to feel self-conscious. People aren’t being judgemental

Neil: And being judgemental means being critical

Dan: That’s good news. So even though all I’m thinking about is how badly I need a haircut, the other person is probably noticing something completely different. Back to the question about the invisibility cloak. Which story is it in

Neil: I said The Hobbit

Dan: And it was in fact – Harry Potter. Not only does the garment make you impossible to see, it also protects you against magic spells

Neil: Wow – I need one of those

Dan: In The Hobbit, it’s a ring that makes you invisible, and in The Invisible Man, the main character uses chemicals to achieve the same effect

Neil: Now, before we become invisible ourselves, how about we go through today’s words

Dan: Marvellous. First we had invisible – which meansimpossible to see. You could say that stars are invisible during the day

Neil: They’re only visible at night

Dan: We also had cloak – who would wear a cloak? Maybe a king or a monk? Or maybe you, Neil

Neil: I’m sure I could look good in a cloak – that’s a long piece of material worn over the shoulders. What about illusion

Dan: Illusions appear to be true, but they’re not. It can describe an idea: you could say a politician has the illusion that everything he says is true. Then we had mismatch – which can refer to the difference between two things which perhaps should be similar: there’s a mismatch between what Michael says and what he does

Neil: Who’s Michael

Dan: Just an example! You could also say that Michael and Simone are an unlikely couple – they seem very different – they’re a bit of a mismatch

Neil: What is it with you and Michael?! One, he doesn’t exist, and two, I think you’re being judgemental

Dan: Well, I’m criticising him so, yeah, you’re right – I’m being judgemental. Perhaps I should stop. It’s just that… it’s just that I’m in love with Simone myself, and I get all nervous and self-conscious when I see her

Neil: You mean you become embarrassed about what she might think of you – you become self-conscious

Dan: I do

Neil: Even though she doesn’t exist either

Dan: Well, only in my examples. Sometimes I wish I really did have an invisibility cloak

Neil: Hey, hang on, Dan – where have you gone

Dan: Haha – very funny, I’m still perfectly visible. Time to go – but do visit our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube pages, and of course our website

Neil: Goodbye for now

Both: Bye

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