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  • This is a download from BBC Learning English

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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?

  • Invisibleimpossible 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

  • Well be looking at theinvisibility cloak illusionin this programme.

  • Fascinating. And in that phrase we heard our first three words. Invisibilitythe 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 phrasean illusionis 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.

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  • Okwell reveal the answer later on. Now, let’s hear more about this invisibility

  • cloak illusion. What’s the theory, Neil?

  • Rightimagine youre sitting in a crowded train. People are busy looking at phones and

  • books, but theyre also looking at each other.

  • Theyrepeople-watching’, as we call it. Yes. Yes, I do that. I do it a lot, if

  • I’m honest!

  • Sowhere 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 muchit’s almost as if theyre invisible to othersor

  • wearing an invisibility cloak!

  • And the difference between how much they are actually being watched and think theyre

  • being watched is what she called a mismatch. It’s the difference between two things

  • theyre two things which don’t ‘match’.

  • In other wordsit’s not true that people aren’t watching uswhich 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 thatbut 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 theyre doing it in a non-judgemental, fairly empathic way

  • and not actually noticing the things that youre self-conscious about. So if for example

  • you feel self-conscious about a spot on your nose, or something that youre wearing,

  • that won’t be what theyre noticing. It’s a much less judgemental form of observation.

  • Right, so even if were feeling self-conscious about somethingthat means feeling extra

  • aware of an aspect of ourselvesmaybe our appearance or our clotheswe needn’t

  • be.

  • 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 factHarry 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

  • effect.

  • Now, before we become invisible ourselves, how about we go through today’s words?

  • Marvellous. First we had invisiblewhich means impossible to see. You could say that

  • stars are invisible during the day.

  • Theyre only visible at night.

  • We also had cloakwho would wear a cloak? Maybe a king or a monk? Or maybe you, Neil?

  • I’m sure I could look good in a cloakthat’s a long piece of material worn over the

  • shoulders. What about illusion?

  • Illusions appear to be true, but theyre not. It can describe an idea: you could say

  • a politician has the illusion that everything

  • he says is true. Then we had mismatchwhich 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 couplethey

  • seem very differenttheyre a bit of a mismatch.

  • What is it with you and Michael?! One, he doesn’t exist, and two, I think youre

  • being judgemental.

  • Well, I’m criticising him so, yeah, youre right – I’m being judgemental. Perhaps

  • I should stop. It’s just thatit’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 youyou 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, Danwhere have you gone?

  • Hahavery funny, I’m still perfectly visible. Time to gobut do visit our Facebook,

  • Twitter, Instagram and YouTube pages, and of course our website!

  • Goodbye for now.

  • Bye!

This is a download from BBC Learning English

Subtitles and keywords

B1 INT UK cloak invisibility invisible mismatch illusion hobbit

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

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