Looking for an interview I heard a piece of
September 9, 2019 11:18 AM   Subscribe

I recently heard a snippet of an interview. (It must have been on NPR, so this should be easy for you guys. )

A male, British-sounding man was discussing gaps in his education. He said that as an adult he had never heard of the periodic table of elements and didn’t know that he was a mammal until his wife told him so. He had hidden his knowledge gap by doing a lot of bluffing in conversations with others.

Who was it, and where can I find that interview?
posted by SLC Mom to Education (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This sounds like a Radiolab episode, but I haven't found the right search term. They have several episodes on the Periodic Table which make it heard to search for.
posted by beowulf573 at 11:46 AM on September 9, 2019

Yeah, I remember that... he wasn't just some guy, though. He was very accomplished in his narrow field, like diplomat or wall street banker or something. I remember him as an older person, and something had just happened in his life (his wife passed away, maybe?) that caused him to open up and start pursuing more eclectic knowledge.

I don't think it was Radiolab, b/c my memory of it feels like a more intimate conversation. It feels like it was a Fresh Air interview? Or This American Life?

(Gawd, all these sites have terrible archive interfaces. Apparently the last thing they want is for you to actually *find* anything.)
posted by Horkus at 1:04 PM on September 9, 2019

There was an FPP about this; I think it was This American Life.
posted by jamjam at 1:53 PM on September 9, 2019

Googling for "periodic table", "mammal", and "wife" brings up this tweet which links to an article on sciencemag.org which describes how Rupert Pennant-Rea, former editor of the Economist and former deputy governor of the Bank of England, had exactly these knowledge deficits. I haven't been able to find the specific interview yet but at least we can be pretty sure of who the guy was.
posted by mhum at 1:56 PM on September 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Got it. It's the first segment of the March 7, 2019 episode (mp3) of Radiolab.
posted by mhum at 2:12 PM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

You guys are amazing.
Thank you.
posted by SLC Mom at 2:32 PM on September 9, 2019

This was really unnecessarily difficult to dig this up since Radiolab doesn't appear to list its guests on its episode guide. I just happened to come across this tweet (which somehow Google couldn't link directly too, so I had to use Twitter's own search to find) which cited Radiolab and suggested a specific episode. Not sure I would have been able to find it without that very specific tweet.
posted by mhum at 2:49 PM on September 9, 2019

Damn Mhum, good work!
posted by Horkus at 5:13 PM on September 9, 2019

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