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9.3.14: Prank Advertising, Childhood Amnesia & Simulating Surgery

Lisa Bunchofpants via flickr Creative Commons

With so many screens vying for consumer's attention, marketers are going to great lengths to catch our eye…even if it means scaring us out of our wits. On today’s show, a look into the prankstervising trend, where passers-by become unwitting props in extreme ad campaigns.

Plus, while we may think we remember the first day of kindergarten, current research indicates that accurate childhood memories begin around the age of seven. We’ll talk about the phenomenon of what Freud called childhood amnesia, and what our brains choose to forget.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.


  • David Griner, social editor for Ad Week and co-editor of Ad Freak, joins us to talk about the very fine ethical line marketers walk when they choose to prank or shock to create a buzz.
  • We've collected a few of the best/worst prank advertising stunts, you can see them right here.

The Crank Call King

  • Jim Florentine, professional prankster and stand-up comic talks to Senior Producer Maureen McMurray about the new need for specialized prank calling in the age of caller ID and unlisted numbers.
The King of crank calls

Childhood Amnesia

  • Kristin Ohlson is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Salon and New Scientist among others. Her latest book is The Soil Will Save Us. We found her article “The Great Forgetting,” on aeon.com, where she explored the science behind, and the impact of, “childhood amnesia.”
Childhood Amnesia

Disassociative Fugue

  • Jeff Ingram suffers from a rare type of amnesia, whenever he has an attack, his memory is wiped clean. At StoryCorps, Jeff's wife Penny told Jeff about the early days of their relationship.
  • You can hear Jeff & Penny's story at the StoryCorps website, where you'll also find a message Jeff left for himself.

Downsizing For A Reason

  • Seacoast reporter Emily Corwin,  shares the story of the Palombo family who have just sold the majority of their belongings and moved out of their 3000 sq. ft. home and into a 240 sq. ft. RV. Not because they have to, but because they want to.
Downsizing for a reason

Surgery Simulator

  • Jamin Warren is the founder of Kill Screen and host of the PBS Digital Short, "Game Show." He joined us to talk about the role video games and virtual reality might play in training the next generation of surgeons.
Simulating surgery

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