Seeing Ourselves

Since the days of Narcissus and the looking pool, we’ve known there’s a danger in seeing ourselves. There’s a possibility of caring too much, or seeing something we don’t want to see. But that hasn’t stopped humans from trying to see more and more. Today we have more ways to see ourselves than ever before. So it’s time to take a look at looking. What do we want to see, and what do we do with that information? Today on our show, four stories of people who tried to see themselves clearly. A woman views her genetic profile, and learns why her tendency towards depression might be an asset. A true mirror–one that doesn’t reverse your image–is deployed on Stanford students. A personality test called the Meyers Briggs profile is taken to the max. And a girl explains her point system that lets her keep track of exactly how people feel about her.

Producer: Jonah Willihnganz

Host: Xandra Clark

Featuring: Daniel Steinbock, Lone Frank, Colleen Caleshu, Hank Greely, John Nantz, Rachel Hamburg, Xandra Clark, Iris Clayter, Christy Hartman, and Alexzandra Scully

Release Date: 11 April 2012



Story 1: The True Mirror

Every day we look in the mirror to see what we look like. But that reflection is a lie. It’s flipped. The face you see in a mirror is a face only you know. Maybe that’s fine, but if you want to see how you look to other people–and not just frozen in a photograph–you need a “true mirror”. State of the Human brought one to Stanford’s White Plaza, in the heart of campus, to see how students reacted to seeing themselves, truly.

Producers: Xandra Clark and Rachel Hamburg

Featuring: Daniel Steinbock


Story 2: The Human Map

For seeing one’s self, there’s no portrait more fundamental than the genetic code. But the genome is a frustrating way to see ourselves because there’s still so much we don’t know. Hear how three individuals deal with this incomplete information to see themselves, others, and the future of genetics.

Producers: Raj Bhandari and Jonah Willihnganz

Featuring: Lone Frank, Colleen Caleshu and Hank Greely

Image via flickr


Story 3: I Have Enough T For 1000 People

Personality tests are ubiquitous today. You could spend a life time answering multiple choice questions, figuring out which brand of sports drink you are, what animal you most resemble, and which pop star is your psychological twin. But how helpful are any of these? And which just feed our desire about ourselves? In our next story, you’ll hear about one test known as the Myers-Briggs. It’s about someone who was exposed to the test at 14, and hasn’t stopped pondering it since.

Producers: Rachel Hamburg and Xandra Clark

Featuring: John Nantz


Story 4: Keeping Score

The most powerful mirror we use may be other people. We all know the cliche, true self-worth comes from within. But what if that’s wrong? Like it or not, we see ourselves how other people see us. We like to know what other people think. But not too many of us, probably, have developed a point system for keeping track, like in our next story.

Producers: Christy Hartman and Alexzandra Scully

Featuring: Iris Clayter