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6 minute English from the BBC Learning English dot com
Welcome to 6 Minute English, the programme where we explore an interesting topic and
bring you six items of useful vocabulary. I’m Neil.
And I’m Dan.
Now, Dan, have you ever wanted to become invisible?
Invisible – impossible to see. Of course! Who hasn’t?
Well how about this: most of us think we are in fact invisible, at least some of the time…
We’ll be looking at the ‘invisibility cloak illusion’ in this programme.
Fascinating. And in that phrase we heard our first three words. Invisibility – the state
of being invisible. A cloak is a long piece of
material worn like a coat around the shoulders.
And the third word in that phrase – an illusion – is something that seems real but isn’t.
OK, question time. Which of these stories features an invisibility cloak? Is it…
a) The Hobbit b) Harry Potter
Or c) The Invisible Man
I know they are all connected to invisibility, but I’m gonna say…a) The Hobbit.
6 Minute English ©British Broadcasting Corporation 2017
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Ok – we’ll reveal the answer later on. Now, let’s hear more about this invisibility
cloak illusion. What’s the theory, Neil?
Right – imagine you’re sitting in a crowded train. People are busy looking at phones and
books, but they’re also looking at each other.
They’re ‘people-watching’, as we call it. Yes. Yes, I do that. I do it a lot, if
I’m honest!
So – where does the invisibility part come in?
A team of scientists from Yale University did some experiments on this. Commenting on
the research here is neuroscientist Dr Catherine Loveday from Westminster University.
What did the Yale team find?
So this study, they asked people that, first they did a survey and they asked people sat
in acanteen how much they were watching somebody, and how much they thought those
people were observing them. And there was always a mismatch. People always thought
they were more observational than the people who were watching them.
So, people think they observe others more than others watch them. Everyone thinks they
aren’t observed very much – it’s almost as if they’re invisible to others – or
wearing an invisibility cloak!
And the difference between how much they are actually being watched and think they’re
being watched is what she called a mismatch. It’s the difference between two things –
they’re two things which don’t ‘match’.
In other words – it’s not true that people aren’t watching us – which is why the
idea of having an invisibility cloak is just an illusion.
This next bit is interesting. Two people were asked to wait in a room. Then they were
each asked to make two lists: one, what they noticed about the other person; and two, what
they thought the other person noticed about them.
Neil So list one was always longer than list two.
Not only that – but there was also an important difference in the content of the lists.
Let’s hear again from neuroscientist Dr Catherine Loveday. What was the difference?
When people are observing you they’re doing it in a non-judgemental, fairly empathic way
– and not actually noticing the things that you’re self-conscious about. So if for example
you feel self-conscious about a spot on your nose, or something that you’re wearing,
that won’t be what they’re noticing. It’s a much less judgemental form of observation.
Right, so even if we’re feeling self-conscious about something – that means feeling extra
aware of an aspect of ourselves – maybe our appearance or our clothes – we needn’t
Yes, you don’t need to feel self-conscious. People aren’t being judgemental.
And being judgemental means being critical.
That’s good news. So even though all I’m thinking about is how badly I need a haircut,
the other person is probably noticing something completely different. Back to the question
about the invisibility cloak. Which story is it in?
I said The Hobbit.
And it was in fact – Harry Potter. Not only does the garment make you impossible to see,
it also protects you against magic spells.
Wow – I need one of those!
Dan In The Hobbit, it’s a ring that makes you
invisible, and in The Invisible Man, the main character uses chemicals to achieve the same
Now, before we become invisible ourselves, how about we go through today’s words?
Marvellous. First we had invisible – which means impossible to see. You could say that
stars are invisible during the day.
They’re only visible at night.
We also had cloak – who would wear a cloak? Maybe a king or a monk? Or maybe you, Neil?
I’m sure I could look good in a cloak – that’s a long piece of material worn over the
shoulders. What about illusion?
Illusions appear to be true, but they’re not. It can describe an idea: you could say
a politician has the illusion that everything
he says is true. Then we had mismatch – which can refer to the difference between two things
which perhaps should be similar: there’s a
mismatch between what Michael says and what he does.
Who’s Michael?
Just an example! You could also say that Michael and Simone are an unlikely couple – they
seem very different – they’re a bit of a mismatch.
What is it with you and Michael?! One, he doesn’t exist, and two, I think you’re
being judgemental.
Well, I’m criticising him so, yeah, you’re right – I’m being judgemental. Perhaps
I should stop. It’s just that… it’s just that
I’m in love with Simone myself, and I get all nervous and
self-conscious when I see her.
You mean you become embarrassed about what she might think of you – you become selfconscious?
I do.
Even though she doesn’t exist either?
Well, only in my examples. Sometimes I wish I really did have an invisibility cloak.
Hey, hang on, Dan – where have you gone?
Haha – very funny, I’m still perfectly visible. Time to go – but do visit our Facebook,
Twitter, Instagram and YouTube pages, and of course our website!
Goodbye for now.


BBC Learning English 6 Minute English - You Think You're Invisible?

8917 分類 收藏
Trieu Thi Phuong 發佈於 2017 年 8 月 27 日
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