Stemming Gun Homicides In Wisconsin, How Doubt Can Fuel Innovation, How Increasing Diversity Will Affect American Politics

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It might be hard to believe, but MacArthur genius and Radiolab host Jad Abumrad suffers from gut-churning doubt at times. He discusses how he uses this doubt to fuel his creative process and how insecurity can contribute to success. We also take a look at how the Beloit Police Department is seeking to reduce gun violence and we talk to a demographer about how increasing diversity could change American politics.

Featured in this Show

  • 'Radiolab' Host Has Come To Accept Self-Doubt As Part Of Making Radio

    It’s hard to believe that Jad Abumrad, host of the popular NPR radio show “Radiolab” and a MacArthur genius, suffers a gut-churn of doubt at times. However, he says that he’s learned to accept that self-doubt as a natural product of trying out new things in the creative process.

    Abumrad was in Madison on Monday night to deliver a public lecture about how he uses dark, biting insecurity as fuel for innovation when producing stories for “Radiolab,” a program known for its quirky approach to science. (It airs on WPR’s Ideas Network at 3 p.m. on Saturdays.)

    Back in 2002, when Abumrad launched “Radiolab,” he remembers that anxiety sometimes riddled him to the point where it stunted, if not paralyzed, his ability to produce radio. Those feelings still arise during the creative process — now, he just doesn’t fight it. Instead, he interprets their significance differently, and manages them by relying on the fascinating tricks of other cultures.

    To explore those interpretations, Abumrad interviewed a wide variety of people, from poker players to Cherokee shaman, all of whom recognized a utility in the self-doubt involved in the creative process, and strategies to defeat it.

    The Cherokee for example, said Abumrad, recognize there’s a difference between catalytic stress and the kind that pushes you into paralyses. Their shamans believe that the only response to any fear that has been handed to you from the outside is to kill it.

    “You can’t negotiate with it. You can’t listen to it. You’ve just got to kill it!” Abumrad said.

    Cherokee are trained to hunt for the “dark spirit” during lucid dreaming. By eliminating the fear there, it cannot externalized.

    “I wish I would have known about the Cherokee before. It’s changing the way I work,” Abumrad said. “It’s making me think differently about managing a group through a process of uncertainty, and it might just be worth speaking about out loud.”

  • Gun Homicides In Wisconsin In 2014

    There have been 118 gun homicides in Wisconsin this year. In an attempt to reduce gun violence, the Beloit Police Department is asking citizens to voluntarily allow police to search their homes for guns. The hope is that they could uncover unknown guns or guns that have been used in a crime.

  • How Doubt Can Fuel Innovation

    It’s hard to believe that Jad Abumrad, host of the popular NPR show Radiolab and a MacArthur genius, suffers a gut-churn of doubt at times. He shares how he uses fear to fuel his creative process and how insecurity contributes to the success of Radiolab. And… he also had this interesting fact about badgers to share

  • The Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America

    In 2011 more minority babies than white babies were born in the United States. This is just one of the facts pointing to massive demographic shifts in the future of this nation. A demographer discusses what these shifts might be and how they could affect American politics.

Episode Credits

  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Cynthia Schuster Host
  • Marika Suval Producer
  • Galen Druke Producer
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Jad Abumrad Guest
  • Gilman Halsted Guest
  • William Frey Guest

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