Useful delusions, History of fighting disease

Air Date:
Heard On Central Time
During the influenza epidemic of 1918, workers at Army hospitals wore cloth face masks
During the influenza epidemic of 1918, workers at Army hospitals, like this on at Fort Porter, New York, wore cloth face masks. Photo courtesy of the National Archives Catalog

From the beginning of humankind, people have been fighting against infectious disease. We look back at what the history can teach us about the COVID-19 pandemic. We also talk with the host of NPR’s Hidden Brain about the useful ways our minds can deceive us.

Featured in this Show

  • 'Hidden Brain' host explores the power of self-deception in new book

    Our brains are engaged in more self-deception than we might think, from simple daydreams to deeply held beliefs. The host of public radio’s Hidden Brain talks with us about his book that looks into the positive and negative side of our common dellusions.

  • Our infected human history — and lessons for the future

    Humans today stand on centuries of dealing with mass infections and plagues — but there’s more we can learn from these past scourges to help us navigate the current pandemic and future scares.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Sarah Hopefl Technical Director
  • Tyler Ditter Technical Director
  • Dean Knetter Producer
  • Tim Peterson Producer
  • Shankar Vedantam Guest
  • Charles Kenny Guest

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