Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi

Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi


We all want to know if we’re normal—do I have enough friends? Should it take me this long to get over my ex? Should I move or stay where I am? Endlessly curious data journalist Mona Chalabi NEEDS to know, and she’s ready to dive into the numbers to get some answers. But studies and spreadsheets don’t tell the whole story, so she’s consulting experts, strangers, and even her mum to fill in the gaps. The answers might surprise you, and make you ask: does normal even exist?

Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi is produced in partnership with Transmitter Media.


Together for 20 years — but living apart?

The binary category of single/married doesn't allow for much nuance. What if, say, you’re in a long term committed relationship like a marriage — but you live apart? In the last episode of this mini series, Saleem talks to a couple who’s been living apart together ("LAT") for years about what motivates them to be in a LAT relationship, and how the arrangement works for them. 
01/11/2322m 39s

What it's like to find your birth parent

In Britain, one-fourth of people who were adopted make contact with their birth parents before they turn 18. In this episode, Saleem meets Amanda, a Dominican woman who was adopted by a white couple in Connecticut. Amanda always knew she was adopted and was curious about her birth parents. After a few years of dead ends, she finally finds her biological mother … in the last place she expected.
25/10/2320m 47s

Lessons from the happiest place in the world

For multiple years in a row, Gallup has named Finland the happiest country in the world. But can you actually measure happiness — and what do the Finns know that the rest of the world doesn’t? Before you move to Finland, we talk to a Finnish “happyologist” about how she defines happiness, what we can learn from even trying to quantify something so subjective, and why happiness might be less of an individual pursuit than you think.
18/10/2322m 29s

Should kids have more freedom?

Would you let your child run errands unaccompanied? Saleem investigates what this kind of early age autonomy can teach us about community, resilience, and family. Saleem talks to a Japanese mother who has lived in the U.S. & Japan about how she and her family navigate independence. Then he hears from one special on-the-ground expert about the value of doing things on one’s own.
11/10/2323m 38s

What it’s like to live at home with your parents as an adult

In the U.S. living with your parents can be seen as a “bad” thing. But across the world, living with your parents is common – and even preferable to living by yourself. In the first episode of a special series of Am I Normal, Saleem Reshamwala talks to a 28-year-old teacher from Hong Kong about what it’s like to be growing into adulthood in her childhood home.
04/10/2320m 29s

Introducing Body Electric

Am I Normal will be back this week! Until then, we’ve got a special 6-part series with an interactive twist coming your way: On Body Electric, TED Radio Hour host Manoush Zomorodi investigates the relationship between our bodies and our technology…and she has a challenge for YOU. Starts TOMORROW Tuesday, October 3rd.
02/10/232m 0s

Episode 1: The Internet’s First Main Character? | The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks

The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks is a new show from the TED Audio Collective, hosted by Dylan Marron. It’s 1999, and sixteen years after its original release, a new Star Wars is finally coming. Fans have been camping out in front of theaters across the country just to be the first to see it. The beloved intergalactic saga is set to debut a slew of brand new characters, one of whom is a revolutionary CGI creation named Jar Jar Binks. Whispers begin to spread about big changes coming to the galaxy far, far away – and not everyone’s happy about it. Listen to The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks wherever you get your podcasts. Transcripts for The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks are available at
26/07/2332m 29s

Fixable: Kelli - "How do I deal with a communication breakdown?"

This is an episode of Fixable, a new business call-in podcast from the TED Audio Collective hosted by Harvard Business professor Frances Frei and CEO and best-selling author Anne Morriss. Kelli is a nurse at a leading teaching hospital where communication issues are not only leading to resentment – they could also be affecting patient care. After hearing from Kelli about the larger problems at play in the healthcare space, Anne and Frances discuss the link between communication and transparency and guide Kelli into taking matters into her own hands. If you want to be on Fixable, call the hotline at 234-Fixable (that's 234-349-2253) to leave Anne and Frances a voicemail with your workplace problem -- or email them at 
05/04/2327m 39s

Introducing Good Sport

This week on Am I Normal? we’re excited to introduce TED’s newest podcast, Good Sport, hosted by veteran sports producer Jody Avirgan. What can sports teach us about life – and each other? Good Sport brings you invigorating stories from on and off the field to argue that sports are as powerful and compelling a lens as any to understand the world – from what happens when you age out of a sport, to how we do or don't nurture talent, to analyzing how sports arguments have become the mode for all arguments. Good Sport launched on February 8th and you can find it anywhere you’re listening to this. TED Audio Collective+ subscribers on Apple Podcasts can hear the whole season early and ad-free.
15/02/233m 34s

How to answer your biggest questions—with data | How to Be a Better Human

Whenever we have a question – about ourselves or the world around us – it can be helpful to visualize our answer in order to really understand it. But how do you conceptualize something as big as inequality, as complex as grief, or as silly as your probability of correctly guessing today’s Wordle? Mona was a guest on another podcast in the TED Audio Collective, called How to Be a Better Human, to explain how anyone can use analysis to answer their most personal questions. For the text transcript, visit And for more episodes on how to be a little less terrible, follow How to Be a Better Human wherever you're listening to this.
04/01/2336m 23s

Come As You Are with Dr. Emily Nagoski: How to Improve Your Orgasms

Today, we're sharing a preview of a new podcast we think you'll enjoy. On Come As You Are, educator and bestselling author Dr. Emily Nagoski answers questions about sex with the latest science. You’ll get a modern guide to sexual wellbeing, backed by groundbreaking research about desire, anatomy, orgasms, and much more. In conversation with her producer, Emily debunks cultural myths and flips the script on everything you thought you knew about sex and sexuality. In this preview, Emily answers a listener's call about orgasms and debunks several myths about where orgasm happens in the body. And we hear her advice about how to work with the body and the brain to have better orgasms. Hear the full episode, and more from Come As You Are, at
08/12/2222m 23s

How to predict the future | The TED Interview

Future forecaster and game designer Jane McGonigal ran a social simulation game in 2008 that had players dealing with the effects of a respiratory pandemic set to happen in the next decade. She wasn’t literally predicting the 2020 pandemic—but she got eerily close. Her game, set in 2019, featured scenarios we're now familiar with (like masking and social distancing), and participant reactions gave her a sense of what the world could—and eventually, did—look like. How did she do it? And what can we learn from this experiment to predict—and prepare for—the future ourselves? In this episode, Jane teaches us how to be futurists, and talks about the role of imagination—and gaming—in shaping a future that we’re truly excited about. This is an episode of The TED Interview, another podcast in the TED Audio Collective. For more episodes on the future of intelligence, the future of work, and much more, follow The TED Interview wherever you're listening to this.
22/08/2243m 6s

The secret Somali mixtapes | Far Flung

It’s 1988, and Somalians are fleeing the city of Hargeisa. People are trying to get out, trying to save their families and sometimes their things. But in the city’s radio station, staff are packing cassettes and reel to reel recordings into a secret underground bunker. What's on them? A slice of the country’s musical heritage, to remain for years in an underground room—until now. This is an episode of Far Flung with Saleem Reshamwala, another podcast in the TED Audio Collective. If you want to hear more episodes exploring ideas in Caracas, Barcelona, Puerto Rico, the world of dreams and beyond, follow Far Flung wherever you're listening to this.
25/07/2229m 29s

Breaking Up with Perfectionism | WorkLife with Adam Grant

Perfectionism is on the rise–and not just in job interviews when people claim it’s their greatest weakness. But the desire to be flawless is not always productive—or healthy. As a recovering perfectionist, organizational psychologist Adam Grant dives into how he managed to abandon the quest for 10s while holding onto his drive for excellence. This is an episode of WorkLife with Adam Grant, another podcast in the TED Audio Collective. To hear more episodes, follow WorkLife wherever you're listening to this.
03/05/2242m 24s

What question is on YOUR mind?

The first season of Am I Normal? centered around the questions of data journalist Mona Chalabi. In Season 2, launching in September this year, we want to answer the questions on YOUR mind. If you’ve ever wondered if something’s normal–whether that something is about you or the world AROUND you–or you just have that nagging question you simply NEED the data on, then Mona’s excited to figure it out with you (or to at least try to)! Leave a voicemail at (919) 446-5131 OR drop us an email or voice message at
17/03/221m 13s

Is it really that bad to marry my cousin?

Charles Darwin. Edgar Allen Poe. Albert Einstein. What do all of these men have in common? Yes, they’ve made major contributions to science and literature. Buuuut they also all married their first cousins. Mona looks at the genetic consequences of cousin marriage, and what taboos really tell us about the social norms and power.
29/11/2125m 5s

Should you break the law?

The obvious answer: no. Though you haven’t exactly committed to a life of crime if you jaywalk on an empty street. But if we bend the law on jaywalking, why not drunk driving? Well, there was a time when people thought drunk driving didn't really matter either. So what changed? How do we decide to follow a law or not? What even IS a law? Mona meets with social psychology of law professor, Kenworthy Bilz to understand how laws can (and can’t) shape our behaviors.  You can find the full text transcript along with studies cited in this episode at
22/11/2119m 25s

Which box do I check?

We’re constantly checking boxes on forms, whether it’s for eye color or sexual orientation. Those categories can be empowering or, they can make you feel invisible, like when Mona painted a portrait of 100 New Yorkers based on the New York Census data, and realized she couldn’t see herself. There was no “Arabic” box to check in the census—the closest being “white” or “other.” So what happens when someone spends their whole life checking that box for “other”? Mona talks with nonbinary British Iraqi drag queen Amrou Al-Kadhi about embracing the contradictions of having multiple, wonderful, identities, that SOME people see as conflicting. You can find the full text transcript along with studies cited in this episode at
15/11/2123m 15s

The Spermageddon is coming

"You should start thinking about kids at your age! Your biological clock is ticking!” When we talk about fertility, there's one section of the population that's consistently subjected to fear mongering: the people with the ovaries. But is that worry backed up by data? Should we be stressed out about sperm too? Scientist Joe Osmundson divulges his own fears and findings on the journey to save his sperm, and Mona breaks down the scientific, cultural, and psychological elements that have shaped the way we think and talk about fertility. You can find the full text transcript along with studies cited in this episode at
08/11/2129m 11s

Should I move home?

Did you consider moving over the last two years? If you did, you’re not alone. People all over the world for so many different reasons considered moving: to be closer to family, to live somewhere more affordable, to kick back in a warmer climate. When Mona wrestles with this question, she pulls out a spreadsheet and weighs her options: Want to maintain current friendships? Stay in New York. Want to be close to family? Go back to London. Money? New York. Self deprecation and sarcasm? London. As she wrestles with her decision, something weird happens. A bird THWACKS against her window, falling dead. Could this be a sign to fly back home, or a coincidence? Mona looks into the data to see the chances and then discovers something that will eventually tip the scales.
01/11/2121m 34s

Is my dentist scamming me?

When a dentist tells us something is wrong with our teeth, we tend to follow their advice. But when Mona visits two different dentists, they give her two wildly different diagnoses (with wildly different price tags). So how do we know who's telling the tooth? Mona digs up the dental data to look for answers, and finds that in reality, the study of dentistry is riddled with holes.
25/10/2123m 52s

How many friends do I need?

Time with friends just isn’t the same with a screen in between you. That’s a struggle many have faced recently, with half of Americans saying they’ve lost touch with at least one friend during the pandemic. It can be sad, but is falling out of touch with friends normal? How many relationships should we maintain, and what are the different kinds of friendships we need anyways? Evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar has been studying social relationships for 50 years, and he has answers. Mona maps out her own relationships against the averages, and invites us to do the same. You can find the full text transcript along with studies cited in this episode at Special thanks to guest Robin Dunbar for lending his expertise.
18/10/2122m 17s

When will I get over my breakup?

Search “How long does it take to get over a break up?” and you’ll find answers ranging from three weeks to three-and-a-half years. Despite heartbreak being one of the most universal human experiences, we know very little about what—and how LONG—it takes to get over someone. On the mend from a breakup herself, Mona set out to find a number while enlisting help from a psychology professor, her relationship counselor, and  yes—her Mum. We’ll find that much like relationships themselves, the answer here is a little … complicated. You can find the full text transcript along with studies cited in this episode at Special thanks to guests Eli Finkel and Hod Tamir for lending their expertise to this episode.
18/10/2120m 43s

Coming soon: Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi

Launching October 18 from the TED Audio Collective. We all want to know if we’re normal—do I have enough friends? Should it take me this long to get over my ex? Should I move or stay where I am? Endlessly curious data journalist Mona Chalabi NEEDS to know, and she’s ready to dive into the numbers to get some answers. But studies and spreadsheets don’t tell the whole story, so she’s consulting experts, strangers, and even her mum to fill in the gaps. The answers might surprise you, and make you ask: does normal even exist? To hear new episodes on Mondays, follow Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi wherever you get your podcasts.
06/10/212m 25s
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