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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.

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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.

The secret Somali mixtapes | Far Flung

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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 Reshamwala, another podcast in the TED Audio Collective. If you want to hear more episodes exploring ideas in Caracas, Barcelona, Puerto Rico, the world of dreams and beyond, follow Far Flung wherever you're listening to this.

Jul 25 2022

29mins

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Breaking Up with Perfectionism | WorkLife with Adam Grant

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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 Collective. To hear more episodes, follow WorkLife wherever you're listening to this.

May 03 2022

42mins

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What question is on YOUR mind?

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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)! Leave a voicemail at (919) 446-5131 OR drop us an email or voice message at aminormal@ted.com

Mar 17 2022

1min

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Is it really that bad to marry my cousin?

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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.

Nov 29 2021

25mins

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Should you break the law?

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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 can (and can’t) shape our behaviors. 

You can find the full text transcript along with studies cited in this episode at go.ted.com/AIN7

Nov 22 2021

19mins

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Which box do I check?

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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 checking that box for “other”? Mona talks with nonbinary British Iraqi drag queen Amrou Al-Kadhi about embracing the contradictions of having multiple, wonderful, identities, that SOME people see as conflicting.

You can find the full text transcript along with studies cited in this episode at go.ted.com/AIN6

Nov 15 2021

23mins

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The Spermageddon is coming

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"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 down the scientific, cultural, and psychological elements that have shaped the way we think and talk about fertility.

You can find the full text transcript along with studies cited in this episode at go.ted.com/AIN5.

Nov 08 2021

29mins

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Should I move home?

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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 London. Money? New York. Self deprecation and sarcasm? London. As she wrestles with her decision, something weird happens. A bird THWACKS against her window, falling dead. Could this be a sign to fly back home, or a coincidence? Mona looks into the data to see the chances and then discovers something that will eventually tip the scales.

Nov 01 2021

21mins

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Is my dentist scamming me?

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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.

Oct 25 2021

23mins

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How many friends do I need?

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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 social relationships for 50 years, and he has answers. Mona maps out her own relationships against the averages, and invites us to do the same.

You can find the full text transcript along with studies cited in this episode at go.ted.com/AIN2. Special thanks to guest Robin Dunbar for lending his expertise.

Oct 18 2021

22mins

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When will I get over my breakup?

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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. We’ll find that much like relationships themselves, the answer here is a little … complicated.

You can find the full text transcript along with studies cited in this episode at go.ted.com/AIN1. Special thanks to guests Eli Finkel and Hod Tamir for lending their expertise to this episode.

Oct 18 2021

20mins

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Coming soon: Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi

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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 fill in the gaps. The answers might surprise you, and make you ask: does normal even exist? To hear new episodes on Mondays, follow Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi wherever you get your podcasts.

Oct 06 2021

2mins

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