Journalist and broadcaster Jon Ronson looks at the human condition with the help of interviewees and reporters from the world of writing and performance.


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0101Amateur Sleuths2004121420140105 (R4+)4 Extra Debut. Journalist Jon Ronson explores the world of amateur sleuthing with a collection of extraordinary stories. From December 2004.
This week he talks to Jeremy Dyson, of the League of Gentlemen, who recalls his search for a missing childhood maze, philosophizes with a man who spent his life looking for the Loch Ness Monster, and meets Tony Frewin, Stanley Kubrick's live-in amateur sleuth who tracked down Kubrick's impersonator.
0102Being Invisible2004122120090924
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How To Be Invisible
Journalist and broadcaster Jon Ronson tries to find out how to be invisible with the help of a collection of extraordinary stories which try to illuminate the human condition.
He talks to Frank Ahearn, whose job it is to make people vanish; comedian Jon Holmes, whose parents are 'invisible' to him as he is adopted; and Maggie O'farrell who recalls her time as a chamber maid, cleaning hotel rooms while guests carried on extremely personal activities.
This week he talks to Michael Foot, a World War II Veteran who was fooled by a French resistance spy who could turn his personality off and Frank Ahearn whose job it is to make people vanish.
He also meets comedian Jon Holmes, whose parents are 'invisible' to him as he is adopted, and Maggie O'farrell who recalls her time as a chamber maid, cleaning hotel rooms while guests carried on extremely personal activities.
 
0103Positive Thinking2004122820140119 (R4+)Ian Haworth talks about his experience of leaving a cult, and Jon tries out his own powers of positive thinking when he goes fire-walking. From December 2004.
Jon Ronson explores ideas surrounding positive thinking with extra-ordinary stories illuminating the human condition.
Ian Haworth talks about his experience of making a break from a cult.
0104Going West2005010420140126 (R4+)Tales of hitchhiking and spirituality, featuring the Mormons and a pair of criminal brothers. With Rich Hall. From January 2005.
Journalist and broadcaster Jon Ronson hears a collection of extra-ordinary stories illuminating the human condition from people who have all decided to 'go west'.
This week he hears from Tom Fremantle who followed in his ancestors' footsteps across America, and writer Chris Ettridge who battled with the bureaucracy of US customs.
0105The Comfort Of Strangers2005011120091001
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Journalist and broadcaster Jon Ronson hears a collection of extra-ordinary stories illuminating the human condition from people who have taken comfort in strangers.
Jon talks to Abdullah Redpath who found, then lost, the love of his life in a remarkable 12 hour period.
And Miranda Sawyer interviews Mark Pilkington who hitch-hiked and found himself in the company of helpful strangers who turned out to be criminals.
Jon Ronson collects a series of extraordinary stories to illuminate the human condition.
Jon talks to Abdullah Redpath, who found and then lost the love of his life in a remarkable 12-hour period.
Comedian Danny Robins tries to make new friends in Amsterdam and Miranda Sawyer interviews Mark Pilkington, who hitch-hiked and found himself in the company of helpful strangers who turned out to be criminals.
Jon talks to Abdullah Redpath, who found and lost the love of his life in a 12-hour period

Jon talks to Abdullah Redpath, who found and then lost the love of his life in a remarkable 12-hour period. Comedian Danny Robins tries to make new friends in Amsterdam and Miranda Sawyer interviews Mark Pilkington, who hitch-hiked and found himself in the company of helpful strangers who turned out to be criminals.
0106 LASTMagical Moments20050118 Journalist and broadcaster Jon Ronson hears a collection of extra-ordinary stories illuminating the human condition from people who have decided to provide magical moments to others.
Jon talks to Jeremy Dyson who's father changed his life by providing a trip to a Blackpool joke shop and Danny Wallace who takes it upon himself to perform random acts of kindness.
0201Living In The Past 2006011720090903Jon investigates why often it is so difficult to leave a particular incident in the past.
He he looks back to the time when he was thrown into a lake by his school friends, and confronts his bullies at his school reunion.
Father Ted writer Graham Linehan remembers his own bully, and comedians Dan Tetsell and Robert Popper discover that they have parallel stories: one has a Nazi grandfather, the other a Jewish evacuee grandmother.
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.
Jon recalls an incident in the past when he was thrown into a lake by school friends.
This week he asks why he can't seem to leave a particular incident in the past behind when he was thrown into a lake by school friends.
Jon confronts his bullies at his school reunion as Father Ted writer Graham Linehan remembers his own bully.
Comedians Dan Tetsell and Robert Popper also discover they have parallel stories one has a Nazi as a grandfather, the other a Jewish evacuee as a grandmother.
0202Irrational Thoughts20060124 Jon asks why his inner conversations spiral into irrationality and discovers he isn't alone.
Actress Jessica Stevenson created a whole imaginary world for her boyfriend, while comedian Danny Robbins can't stop himself singing 'hopefully not' after the chorus of American Pie.
0203Lying20060131 This week Jon confronts his compulsive lying disorder with the help of Danny Wallace who tries to get him out of his funk by teaching how to say yes more.
Danny Robbins visits a town in the US Midwest where lying has got so bad that the mayor has banned it and James Rawlings recounts how his whole life turned into one great lie.
0204Friendship20060207 Jon asks whether friendship is over if the power balance becomes skewed.
Lawrence Howarth recounts how a relationship ended because his girlfriend wouldn't reveal her date of birth for two years, Caitlin Moran discusses a moment when friendship was challenged over the bird flu vaccine, and Jon visits a party held by a woman who has 25,000 'friends' in her contacts book.
0205Waiting20060214 Jon asks what happens in the space while we wait.
He talks to Richard Thomas who has spent his professional career waiting to record events such as his stomach on Christmas Day and eggs frying.
He also talks to comedian Janey Godley on why she pretended to be ill in order to avoid waiting in queues at a theme park, and he meets the world's leading 'waiting' scientist.
0206 LASTBuilding Bridges2006022120091008Jon asks why and how we learn to build bridges.
He talks to Tom Hart Dyke who was kidnapped by Colombian rebels when out orchid hunting.
He spent nine months trying to build bridges with his captors.
Jon also hears how writer Jesse Armstrong remembers failing to build bridges while working in politics.
Journalist and broadcaster Jon Ronson asks why and how we learn to metaphorically build bridges.
He talks to Tom Hart Dyke, who was kidnapped by Colombian rebels when out orchid hunting and spent nine months trying to build bridges with his captors.
He hears how writer Jesse Armstrong remembers failing to build bridges while working in politics.
Jon also takes his producer to a workplace mediator to find out if he really is a difficult person to work with.
Journalist and broadcaster Jon Ronson asks why and how we learn to 'build bridges'.
0301The Internet Date From Hell2007052920090827Journalist Jon Ronson investigates the extraordinary story of Mary Turner Thompson, who experienced the worst internet date ever which lasted seven years and was to cause the total devastation of her life.
Edinburgh-based Mary met and married a man who told her he was a CIA agent.
Jon visits her in Scotland and hears the incredible twisting and turning love story of Will and Mary.
Will carried a gun and had to dash off to Israel at a moment's notice; Mary was left holding the baby, never knowing when he would come back, and was unable to contact him.
She even feared a terrorist attack on her home.
But the most bizarre twist was still to come.
The story of Mary Turner Thompson, who married a man who told her he was a CIA agent.
The extraordinary story of Mary Turner Thompson, who met and married a man who told her he was a CIA agent.
He carried a gun and often had to go away at a moment's notice.
Mary was left holding the baby, unable to contact him and never knowing when he would come back.
She even feared a targeted terrorist attack on her home.
0302Waking Up From A Dream20070605 Jon talks to John Downes, director of the Centre of Fortean Zoology who spent his life searching for mythical creatures.
When he woke up and realised they didn't exist, he turned his attention to something much more real, a giant eel spotted in Lake Windermere.
Jon follows him on his underwater adventure.
0303Uncontrollable Responses2007061220090910Jon Ronson continues his look at human behaviour by finding the moments where we respond in an uncontrollable way.
Comedian Robert Popper couldn't stop his drunken friend from putting their lives at risk while at a wedding in Israel.
The story involved a pair of underpants, but no hilarious consequences.
Another interviewee, who survived the 7/7 terrorist attacks, found herself - during the period of her recovery - uncontrollably joining in with message boards accusing her of being a government plant on one of the bombed trains.
Jon Ronson looks at the moments where we respond in an uncontrollable way.
Another interviewee who survived the 7/7 terrorist attacks found herself uncontrollably joining in with message boards accusing her of being a government plant on one of the bombed trains.
0304Crushed Egos20070619 This edition features an Italian waiter who offered up his action film script to comedy writer Graham Linehan over the pasta, an American real estate entrepreneur who owns unsaleable houses all over America and owes millions, and the architects of a new town which proved a spectacular failure.
0305Getting Lost At Glastonbury20070626 Jon Ronson continues his series with the first of two special programmes recorded at Glastonbury, taking a different look at the festival and the many human dramas being played out over four intense days.
Jon observes how performers, audience and organisers get lost and found at Glastonbury, both literally and figuratively.
With Danny Robins and Pete Paphides 
0306 LASTGood V Evil At Glastonbury20070703 Jon Ronson concludes his series with the second of two special programmes recorded at Glastonbury, taking a different look at the festival and the many human dramas being played out over four intense days.
Jon searches for good and for evil at the festival, looking for acts of kindness, bad deeds of hedonistic excess and emotional moments rarely captured.
With Danny Robins and Pete Paphides 
0401Bad News 20080828 Jon Ronson looks at how we take bad tidings.
He talks to a man who was told that he had terminal cancer and spent the last six months of his life living it up, only to find out that the doctors got it wrong.
He also hears the story of William Lobdell, the LA Times religious correspondent who became an atheist.
0402Being Fancy 20080904 Jon Ronson talks to Elliot Castro, who spent five years as a conman, living a five-star life before his eventual capture.
Castro talks about his early school years when he would try to convince his school friends that he had magic powers.
Other contributors include writer Charlie Brooker, who offers his thoughts on travelling first class, and wealth counsellor Theyer Willis, who advises rich people on how to cope with their huge wealth.
0403The Right Kind Of Mental Illness 2008091120090917Jon Ronson looks at how we view mental illness in society, the media and politics.
He talks to former Labour spin doctor and psychoanalyst Derek Draper about sociopathic behaviour in parliament.
He interviews a former Norwegian Prime Minister who resigned publicly, announcing that he was depressed, and later went on to be re-elected.
Plus an update on a story from the last series.
Former MI5 officer David Shayler has announced that he is the Messiah.
States Of Mind
Jon Ronson looks at how we all exist in different states of reality, according to the balance of our minds.
He talks to ex-Labour spin doctor and psychoanalyst Derek Draper about the sociopathic behaviour in Parliament.
Jon also interviews the ex-Norwegian prime minister who resigned after announcing he was depressed and who later went on to be re-elected.
There is also an update on a previous story involving ex-MI5 officer David Shayler, who announced he is the Messiah and invites Jon along to his first press conference.
Jon Ronson looks at how we all exist in different states of reality.
0404How To Stop Time20080918 Jon Ronson wonders how we slow down or even stop time in a world which seems to be constantly accelerating.
He talks to the scientist who claims to be developing a method of time travel and eventually hopes to visit the father who died in his childhood.
He also talks to a man who holds the world record for staying awake the longest, thereby doubling his time.
Guests include comedian Danny Robins 
0405 LASTAnything For Love20080925 Jon explores the silly things we sometimes do to prove our devotion to loved ones.
He visits the perimeter fence at Stonehenge, which he once almost jumped over in an attempt to curry favour with his girlfriend.
He talks to comic writer Jane Bussman about the time she decided to drop her well-paid job in the media to seek out a man who worked in Africa for a charity.
Her story has some remarkable twists, not least that he never materialised
0501Fear Of Flying2010010520110921Jon Ronson looks at one of our deepest fears - the fear of flying.
When Vicky Coren realised her fear of flying was stopping her travelling, she sought help from a specialist councillor.
He cured her - only to die a year later in an air crash.
Comedian Danny Robins is terrified of death - so terrified that Jon decides to send him to a near death experience festival in Spain to try to cure his phobia.
Mike Thexton tells Jon of his ordeal on board a hijacked plane, waiting for 12 hours to be shot.
Finally, Jon finds a scientist who is working on finding an answer to eternal life.
0501Fear Of Flying20100105 The writer Jon Ronson looks at one of our deepest fears. When Vicky Coren realised her fear of flying was stopping her travelling, she sought help from a specialist councillor. He cured her - only to die a year later in an air crash.

Mike Thexton tells Jon of his ordeal on board a hijacked plane, waiting to be shot for 12 hours. And comedian Danny Robins is terrified of death - so terrified that Jon decides to send him to a near death experience festival in Spain in order to try to cure his phobia. Finally, Jon finds a scientist who is working on finding an answer to eternal life.


Producer: Laura Parfitt
An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.
0501Fear Of Flying20100105  
0502When Small Talk Goes Wrong2010011220110920Jon Ronson talks to Denis Fillion who was behind one of the first major internet hoaxes.
Denis used to post threads and make small talk on a technical forum called Anandtech.
Irritated by the misogyny he found on the site, he invented a female character to join in the chat.
Soon he found himself flirting with his own character and weaving a tale so believable that the character took on an air of reality, even for him.
As the relationship deepened, Denis was forced to take drastic action to get out of his own hoax.
With additional contributions from comedian Josie Long and Charlie Brooker 
0502When Small Talk Goes Wrong20100112 Jon Ronson talks to Denis Fillion who was behind one of the first major internet hoaxes. Denis used to post threads and make small talk on a technical forum called Anandtech. Irritated by the misogyny he found on the site, he invented a female character to join in the chat.

Soon he found himself flirting with his own character and weaving a tale so believable that the character took on an air of reality, even for him. As the relationship deepened, Denis was forced to take drastic action to get out of his own hoax. With additional contributions from comedian Josie Long and Charlie Brooker.


Producer: Laura Parfitt
A Unique Production for BBC Radio 4.
0502When Small Talk Goes Wrong20100112  
0503Living In A Movie2010011920110919The journalist and documentary maker Jon Ronson talks to the conflict photographer Jason Howe.
Jason had gone to Colombia to photograph both sides of the war when he met a Colombian woman Marilyn at a bus stop.
They quickly became romantically involved but then she revealed she was a paramilitary fighter.
Suddenly Jason was living his life as if it were a movie, going down a dangerous path that would end in tragedy.
0503Living In A Movie20100119 The journalist and documentary maker Jon Ronson talks to the conflict photographer Jason Howe. Jason had gone to Colombia to photograph both sides of the war when he met a Colombian woman Marilyn at a bus stop. They quickly became romantically involved but then she revealed she was a paramilitary fighter. Suddenly Jason was living his life as if it were a movie, going down a dangerous path that would end in tragedy.


Producer: Laura Parfitt
An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.
0503Living In A Movie20100119  
0504Being Alone2010012620110922The writer Jon Ronson asks are we more ourselves or less ourselves when we are alone? He confronts David Quantick, who Jon noticed avoiding him in the street one day.
Father Ted writer Graham Linehan reveals the moment he was ignored.
We also talk to Yoshiro Nakamatsu, the world's most prolific inventor about the moment he invents - alone and under water.
Finally we hear of the British man who was jailed in Japan and wasn't allowed to speak to anyone in his daily life for nearly 3 years.
Jon Ronson asks if we are more ourselves or less ourselves when we are alone.
The writer Jon Ronson asks if we are more ourselves or less ourselves when we are alone.
He confronts David Quantick, who Jon noticed avoiding him in the street one day.
Yoshiro Nakamatsu, the world's most prolific inventor, talks about the moment he invents - alone and under water.
Finally Jon hears from the British man who was jailed in Japan and wasn't allowed to speak to anyone in his daily life for nearly three years.
0504Being Alone20100126 The writer Jon Ronson asks are we more ourselves or less ourselves when we are alone? He confronts David Quantick, who Jon noticed avoiding him in the street one day.

Father Ted writer Graham Linehan reveals the moment he was ignored. We also talk to Yoshiro Nakamatsu, the world's most prolific inventor about the moment he invents - alone and under water. Finally we hear of the British man who was jailed in Japan and wasn't allowed to speak to anyone in his daily life for nearly 3 years.


Producer: Laura Parfitt
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.
0504Being Alone20100126  
0505 LASTAmbition2010020220110923The writer Jon Ronson asks how our driving ambitions shape us.
By interviewing several people at different points in their lives, he sees how ambition can make and break people.
He talks to an 11 year old boy who has plans to be a world class architect, a young woman who has set her sites on being Prime Minister and an ambitious stock broker whose success led him down a dangerous path towards a high security prison in the US.
He talks to an 11-year-old-boy who has plans to be a world-class architect, a young woman who has set her sights on being prime minister, and an ambitious stockbroker whose success led him down a dangerous path towards a high security prison in the US.
0601Voices In The Head2011042620120604Writer and documentary maker Jon Ronson returns for another 5 part series of fascinating stories shedding light on the human condition.
Eleanor Longden started to hear voices in her head when she was at university and was diagnosed as a schizophrenic - a label she totally rejects. Now she is a high achieving academic. What started the voices and how did she get to a point where she not only lives happily with the voices that still exist but also works with others who have the same experience? With contributions from writer Graham Linehan and comedian Josie Long.
Producer: Laura Parfitt and Simon Jacobs
An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.
0602Spying2011050320110503 (R4)
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Writer and documentary maker Jon Ronson returns for another series of fascinating stories shedding light on the human condition.
Jon Ronson talks to comedian Josie Long who found herself in a situation where she had to make a choice on whether to spy on someone's life... did morality step in? Writer Danny Wallace recalls the days when a spy was sent to his home to spy on his father, a leading expert on East German literature.
Johnny Howorth, rookie documentary maker, was also in a situation where he was asked by US Marshals to spy on the couple Ed and Elaine Brown who were convicted of tax crimes. As he naively got more deeply involved, he feared another Wako and had to make a difficult decision... John Symonds, a so-called 'romeo spy' also tells his sometimes shocking story.
Producers: Laura Parfitt and Simon Jacobs
An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.
Jon Ronson talks to comedian Josie Long who found herself in a situation where she had to make a choice on whether to spy on someone's life - did morality step in?
Writer Danny Wallace recalls the days when a spy was sent to his home to spy on his father, a leading expert on East German literature.
Johnny Howorth, rookie documentary maker, was also in a situation where he was asked by US Marshals to spy on the couple Ed and Elaine Brown who were convicted of tax crimes.
As he naively got more deeply involved, he feared another Wako and had to make a difficult decision.
John Symonds, a so-called 'romeo spy' also tells his sometimes shocking story.
0603The Fine Line Between Good And Bad2011051020110510 (R4)
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Writer and documentary maker Jon Ronson returns for another series of fascinating stories shedding light on the human condition.
Recorded on location in Fremont, New Hampshire, Jon meets the sisters who were part of the girl group from the 1960s 'The Shaggs'. Created by their father, the sisters were home schooled and made to practice every day. Their album, Philosophy of the World was ridiculed and a flop, but remarkably many years later they were re-discovered and hailed as way ahead of their time and a major contribution to music. The other story in this programme is told by Simon Hollis who recalls the time he worked as a designer in Calvin Klein's New York flag ship store and made a major mistake with too many red candles.
Producers: Laura Parfitt and Simon Jacobs
An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.
Recorded on location in Fremont, New Hampshire, Jon meets the sisters who were part of the girl group from the 1960s 'The Shaggs'.
Created by their father, the sisters were home schooled and made to practice every day.
Their album, Philosophy of the World was ridiculed and a flop, but remarkably many years later they were re-discovered and hailed as way ahead of their time and a major contribution to music.
The other story in this programme is told by Simon Hollis who recalls the time he worked as a designer in Calvin Klein's New York flag ship store and made a major mistake with too many red candles.
0604Witch Hunts2011051720110517 (R4)
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Jon Ronson considers the moment when we follow the herd and make accusations. Jon talks to Meredith Maran who at one time believed she was abused by her father. Her beliefs wrecked her family's relationships. Years later she was to question her memory, and ask whether she had been caught up in a wave of accusations that swept America at the same time which was based on false memory syndrome. But what were the consequences of her doubts on her family and her father?
Music writer David Quantick brings a lighter note to the programme with his stories of his time as entertainment officer at the student union where he took part in an evening of humiliation towards the rock society. He is still left with feelings of guilt around his actions.
Producers: Laura Parfitt and Simon Jacobs
An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.
Jon Ronson considers the moment when we follow the herd and make accusations.
Jon talks to Meredith Maran who at one time believed she was abused by her father.
Her beliefs wrecked her family's relationships.
Years later she was to question her memory, and ask whether she had been caught up in a wave of accusations that swept America at the same time which was based on false memory syndrome.
But what were the consequences of her doubts on her family and her father?
Music writer David Quantick brings a lighter note to the programme with his stories of his time as entertainment officer at the student union where he took part in an evening of humiliation towards the rock society.
He is still left with feelings of guilt around his actions.
0605 LASTAiming Low2011052420110524 (R4)
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Jon Ronson talks to Stewart Lee about why we are all so caught up in competitive lives.
They discuss how choosing to aim low in a conscious way is the way forward.
Jon Ronson talks to Stewart Lee about why we are all so caught up in competitive lives. They discuss how choosing to aim low in a conscious way is the way forward.
Producer: Laura Parfitt and Simon Jacobs
An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.
0701Confirmation Bias20130404 Writer and documentary maker Jon Ronson returns for another five-part series of fascinating stories shedding light on the human condition.
In the first programme, he investigates confirmation bias - or why so many people look for evidence that confirms their pre-existing beliefs.
Jon believes he may be susceptible to confirmation bias himself. Over the last two years he has kept noticing that the time on his phone is 11.11. After looking on the internet, he found out there are many other people also doing this, including Uri Geller who first started noticing the number 11 over twenty years ago. Jon has also discovered that a particular community of people believe 11.11 is a sign for a new spirit guide who will come to earth, coincidentally known as Monjoronson. He speaks to the owner of the Monjoronson web domain, Ron Besser, and asks if it is possible that Jon himself is the spirit guide they're looking for.
Jon talks to other people who have been affected by confirmation bias, including an Oxford academic who believes her fate can be determined by looking at two lip balm pots.
The journalist David Aaronovitch says he believed the delusions he had while suffering intensive care psychosis after a routine operation were real.
Lotfi Raissi, the first person to be charged in connection with the September 11th attacks, tells Jon he believes his arrest was down to confirmation bias because he fitted a certain profile. A judge found there was no evidence to link Raissi to any form of terrorism.
Finally Jon speaks to the lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, who believes people who are prone to confirmation bias are more likely to be recruited to police forces.
Producer: Lucy Greenwell
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.
0702Brainstorming20130411 Writer and documentary maker Jon Ronson returns for the second episode of his latest series of fascinating stories shedding light on the human condition.
In this programme, he looks at brainstorming and asks whether it really works.
He travels to Latvia to investigate the story of how media PR agency Inspired came up with a bizarre idea after a mobile phone company asked them for a concept to advertise their new tariff. Their brief was that it had to have a superhero theme. The agency decided then to fake a meteorite landing in a field outside Riga by digging a giant hole in the middle of the night and setting fire to it.
Jon finds out what happened when the stunt backfired.
He also speaks to the author Susan Cain who says forty years of research into brainstorming in groups has shown it doesn't work.
And Jon considers other brainstormed ideas that have gone wrong - such as the decision by the American restaurant chain Hooters, known for its young waitresses dressed in revealing outfits,
to go into the airline business.
Finally Jon asks whether we should listen more to quiet, thoughtful introverts who say little in brainstorming meetings, rather than the extroverts who shout loudest?
Producer: Lucy Greenwell
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.
0703Being Normal20130418 As a new edition of the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published this year, writer and documentary maker Jon Ronson travels around the UK meeting people whose behaviour might be considered normal, but may soon fall under the criteria of some brand new disorders.
He goes to a competitive eating competition in Bristol to speak to a man who has been obsessed with his weight. And he visits Adam Buxton, who may be a candidate for "intermittent explosive disorder" as he is prone to losing his temper in an explosive way.
Psychiatrist Dr Joanna Moncrieff says she believes the DSM is amplifying a tendency to label more and more people as having health problems. While Dr Jeffrey Lieberman, president elect of the American Psychiatric Association, which publishes the DSM, defends the manual saying it does not attempt to pathologise normal behaviour such as anger but look at repeated behaviour.
Jon also hears from David Aaronovitch who was sent to a psychiatrist by his parents for being a shouty teenager and he wonders if, these days, he would be misdiagnosed? Finally Jon speaks to Alex Trenchard who tells his story for the first time of how his obsession with his music festival resulted in a prison sentence.
Producer: Lucy Greenwell
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.
0704Not Fair - Undeserved Rewards20130425 We like to think we live in a fair world - but writer and documentary-maker Jon Ronson investigates the way in which the least deserving often win the greatest rewards.
Writer Helen Keen opens the programme, describing how she won an award for comedy she wrote about working class life in a gritty northern town - but, when she met the judges, she sensed that her 'poshness' disappointed them and made her less deserving of the award.
Jon meets comedian Bob Mortimer who admits that, when he was a criminal barrister in Peckham, he couldn't resist asking his clients if they were guilty. Astonishingly, he says, all fifteen hundred admitted their guilt. Nevertheless, he fought their cases in court and a huge proportion of them walked free. He was rewarded for his success but it cost him dear on other more profound levels.
South Hampstead Synagogue sounds like an unlikely site for misplaced rewards. Jon travels there to meet a charismatic young rabbi who had a novel idea to increase youth attendance. Kids won raffle tickets for turning up and joining in. The competition ran over a year, culminating in a grand draw. The prizes were massive. Emotions were running high. But things went drastically wrong, leaving the children asking "how could God let this happen?".
Finally, Jon talks to ex-New York Times reporter Jayson Blair, who added fictitious flourishes to his news stories. He embellished details, put words in people's mouths and created poignant touches about his interviewees' lives. He knew it was wrong but his lies started earning him huge respect from his bosses and readers - until the whole fa├žade dramatically unravelled.
Producer: Lucy Greenwell
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.
0705 LASTPride20130502 Writer and documentary maker Jon Ronson with more fascinating stories shedding light on the human condition.
If you discovered that Hitler was a fugitive on the run, you might call the police. But what if, when he met you, he exclaimed how much he loved your work. Graham Linehan opens the programme with this conundrum, which tells you nothing about Nazi escapees, and everything about what too much pride in your work can do to your morals.
Having a surfeit of pride wraps its tendrils around us, it can affect whole lives - as was the case with Anna, who always held her much loved grandparents up as role models for a long happy marriage. That was until her grandfather died and they discovered a box of cassettes in his office, revealing a secret so shocking it changed Anna's entire understanding of her family.
Luke Wright is a performance poet who once fell foul of his pride when he tried to impress a band he greatly admired. He planned to seduce them with his wit so that they'd want to be his friend. Things began to go awry but pride, that most domineering of masters, forced Luke to struggle on. The gap between his imagined evening and the one that was actually happening widened to epic proportions.
There's a lesson in there somewhere - one that comedian Helen Keen learnt the hard way. A good degree from Cambridge University meant she felt she was sure to walk into a successful career. When she found herself doing filing in a dead end engineering firm in London, she took matters into her own hands and tried to become a spy. MI5 must have collectively raised an eyebrow as she set about trying to convince them of her credentials by weaving together some far-fetched untruths.
Producer: Lucy Greenwell
A Unique production for BBC Radio 4.