Can we ever get inside the mind of an animal? Can we really know how a chimp or a parrot thinks and experiences the world? We'll talk with some naturalists and scientists who're trying, including Helen Macdonald and Frans de Waal. And the fascinating story of Charles Foster's attempt to live like a badger, when he lived in a hole in the ground and ate worms.
What's it like to be a badger? British naturalist Charles Foster wanted to know, so he dug a burrow and lived in the darkness, eating worms. Yup, it was kind of disgusting, but he says the experience brought him closer to the wildness within himself.
Helen Macdonald's book "H is for Hawk" turned her goshawk Mabel into one of the most memorable literary characters of recent years. Mabel is no longer with her, but Helen tells Anne Strainchamps about her new avian companion - an ornery and very smart parrot.
What separates your mind from an animal's? It's a question we've all asked, but renowned primatologist Frans de Waal says there's no point trying to rank who's smarter or dumber in the animal world. In fact, he believes there's no clear dividing line between humans and the rest of the animal world.
Finding the horns of a saola - a large ox-like mammal on the Laos-Vietnam border - was one of the great biological discoveries of the 20th century. But no biologist has actually seen the saola in the wild, which has given the animal an almost mythical status. That's why biologist William Robichaud and writer William deBuys call it "the last unicorn."
Some people talk to God and some think God talks to them. But what one person calls mysticism, another might call mental illness. We examine a range of spiritual experiences - from hearing voices to prayer and conversations with God. Also, David Steindl-Rast reflects on life as a Benedictine monk.
TTBOOK producer and interviewer Charles Monroe-Kane started hearing voices when he was a child. He became a child preacher once he thought God was talking to him. Years later Charles realized those voices were the product of mental illness, though he says there was something "beautiful" about hearing those voices.
When evangelical Christians say they talk to God, what do they mean? Anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann wanted to find out, so she spent two years as a participant observer in a Charismatic church, talking to the congregation and even praying herself. She says prayer involves cultivating the imagination. Luhrmann also describes her cross-cultural study of schizophrenics who hear voices.
Margery Kempe was one of the world's most famous Christian mystics - a medieval pilgrim with a penchant for uncontrollable sobbing. Her memoir is considered the first autobiography in English. But for all of her renown, she remains a controversial figure - sometimes accused of being a whiner and a fake. Medievalist Anthony Bale tells her remarkable story.
"Religion always starts with mysticism," says David Steindl-Rast. Now 89, he's been a Benedictine monk since 1953. Brother David was one of the first Roman Catholics to engage in dialogues between Christians and Buddhists. He tells Steve Paulson about the joys of life in the monastery.
Getting a good night's sleep is hard for a lot of people, but imagine trying to drift off when you have terrifying hallucinations. Filmmaker Rodney Ascher documents the unsettling world of sleep paralysis - a strange condition where you can't move or speak and often have visions of demonic "shadow men."