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The 30 Most Popular Stories On NPR's Website In 2015

NPR's audience were drawn to a wide range of topics in 2015, from music and politics to the lives of girls and the work of robots.
Top, from left: Matt Rourke/Getty Images; Jane Greenhalgh/NPR; Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images. Middle, from left: Darren McCollester/Getty Images; Naftali Beder for NPR; Brad Barket
Getty Images for Comedy Central. Bottom, from left: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images; Claire O'Neill/NPR; Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
NPR's audience were drawn to a wide range of topics in 2015, from music and politics to the lives of girls and the work of robots.

The topics range from knowing our bodies — exploring the mysteries of "lost posture" and how well your ears can pick up audio quality — to stories of our times, such as same-sex marriage and political paranoia. Along the way, we also looked at the lives of girls around the world and handicapped the odds of robots taking your job.

Nearly 20 of the most popular stories on NPR's website in 2015 were viewed a million times or more. Many were also widely shared and discussed on Facebook and elsewhere — and now, they give us a way to look back on what at times seemed like a uniquely unpredictable year.

1. Supreme Court Declares Same-Sex Marriage Legal In All 50 States
"The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote after recounting the legal struggles faced by same-sex partners. - by Bill Chappell, June 26

2. Lost Posture: Why Some Indigenous Cultures May Not Have Back PainThere are a few populations in the world where back pain hardly exists. One woman thinks she has figured out why, and she's sharing their secrets. Have Americans forgotten how to stand properly? - by Michaeleen Doucleff, June 8

3. What Happened To The 9-Year-Old Smoking In Mary Ellen Mark's Photo?The photographer, who died in May, has a famous portfolio of arresting images. Among them is a shot of two children in 1990. One of them thought the photo shoot would change her life. It did not. - by Chris Benderev, June 27

4. Trapped In His Body For 12 Years, A Man Breaks Free
Martin Pistorius spent more than a decade unable to move or communicate, fearing he would be alone, trapped, forever. NPR's new show Invisibilia tells how his mind helped him create a new life.
- by Lulu Miller, Jan. 9

5. Texas Governor Deploys State Guard To Stave Off Obama Takeover
Texas' GOP governor is sending the Texas State Guard to monitor a military training exercise after right-wing militia alleged it's just a cover for the president's plan to put Texas under martial law. - by Wade Goodwyn, May 2

6. Boy Says He Didn't Go To Heaven; Publisher Says It Will Pull Book
The young man at the center of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, Alex Malarkey, said this week that the story behind the 2010 book was all made up. - by Bill Chappell, Jan. 15

7. How Well Can You Hear Audio Quality?
A hi-def test for your ears (and your audio equipment): Listen to these songs and see if you can tell the difference between an MP3 and an uncompressed audio file. - by Jacob Ganz and Tyler Fisher, June 2

8. Map: The Most Common* Job In Every State
The jobs picture has changed profoundly since the 1970s. This map shows how those changes played out across the country. - by Quoctrung Bui, Feb. 5

9. People Are Finally Talking About The Thing Nobody Wants To Talk About
It's menstrual hygiene. The topic makes many folks uncomfortable. Yet in the developing world, it's a problem that keeps girls from going to school and playing sports. Now things are changing. - by Nurith Aizenman, June 16

10. Will Your Job Be Done By A Machine?
Will your job be around in the future? We take a peek at the research. - by Quoctrung Bui, May 21

11. Vatican Details Pope's Meeting With Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis
Responding to a flood of interest, the Vatican says the private meeting shouldn't be seen as an endorsement of all of Davis' views. - by Bill Chappell, Oct. 2

12. A Black Mississippi Judge's Breathtaking Speech To 3 White Murderers
Judge Carlton Reeves sentenced three young white men in the murder of an innocent black man. But first, he had something to tell them. - Code Switch blog, Feb. 13

13. South Korea? Trump's 'Where Are You From' Moment
Donald Trump interrupted an Asian-American student this week to ask if he was from South Korea. "I was born in Texas," he responded. - by Asma Khalid, Oct. 15

14. In Spain, Entire Villages Are Up For Sale — And They're Going Cheap
As Spaniards migrate from villages to cities for work, education and access to health care, rural hamlets are ending up on the auction block. Foreigners are in the market for these properties. - by Lauren Frayer, Aug. 23

15. Babies On Display: When A Hospital Couldn't Save Them, A Sideshow Did
Among Coney Island's sideshows a century ago, one was different: an exhibit of premature infants. The show funded Dr. Martin Couney's pioneering work — and saved thousands, including Lucille Horn. - StoryCorps, July 10

16. Pain, But No Regrets: A Father Remembers His Adopted Son
Bill Jones is thought to have been the first single man to adopt a child in California, back in the 1960s. His son has since died, but despite the loss, Jones says he never regrets adopting his child. - StoryCorps, Feb. 20

17. How Much (Or Little) The Middle Class Makes, In 30 U.S. Cities
What do families in the middle of the income distribution actually make in cities around the United States? - by Quoctrung Bui, March 19

18. That Little Syrian Boy: Here's Who He Was
A photo of a drowned Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach sparked anguish and outrage over the handling of the world's migration crisis. - by Hannah Bloch, Sept. 3

19. Review: Mac Miller, 'GO:OD AM'
The Pittsburgh rapper makes his major label debut and presents himself as a more balanced artist and human being. - by Timmhotep Aku, Sept. 14

20. A Girl Gets Her Period And Is Banished To The Shed: #15Girls
When a teenage girl in rural Nepal gets her period, an ancient tradition may drive her to sleep outdoors. But one 15-year-old is trying to break the taboos around menstruation. - by Michaeleen Doucleff and Jane Greenhalgh, Oct. 17

21. Paris Attacks: What We Know On Saturday
As France copes with shocking violence, the death toll from Friday night's attacks is not yet final, and details are beginning to emerge about the attackers. - by Christopher Dean Hopkins and Bill Chappell, Nov. 14

22. 8 Obama Jokes That Stood Out From The White House Correspondents Dinner
Every year, the president sits down for dinner with Washington reporters and delivers a stand-up routine. From his "bucket list" to Hillary Clinton, here's what he came up with this year. - by Domenico Montanaro, April 26

President Obama delivers remarks during the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in April.
Evan Vucci / AP
President Obama delivers remarks during the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in April.

23. 6 Clips Of Audio You Should Hear From The Planned Parenthood Hearing
The congressional hearing was oftentimes contentious, with the head of Planned Parenthood defending her organization and explaining that it does not receive federal money for most abortions. - by Eyder Peralta, Sept. 29

24. Rare And 'Horrific': Frilled Shark Startles Fishermen In Australia
The frilled shark's roots are traced to 80 million years ago. Its prehistoric origins are obvious in its primitive body; nearly all of the rare animal's closest relatives are long extinct. - by Bill Chappell, Jan. 21

25. NASCAR's Kurt Busch Testifies That Ex-Girlfriend Is An Assassin
The race car driver and others told a Dover, Del., court this week that his former girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, is an assassin. Driscoll did not deny the claims. - by Bill Chappell, Jan. 13

26. 5 Things You Should Know About Hillary Clinton
She started out as a Republican and hasn't driven a car since 1996. Here's what you may not know or just may not remember about the former secretary of state and first lady. - by Tamara Keith, April 11

27. Here's What People Are Saying About The Waco Shootout And Race
People are contrasting media and police reaction to the Texas shootout with their reaction to the recent protests in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo. - by Maanvi Singh, May 18

28. Trevor Noah, Jon Stewart's Replacement, Goes From Hero To Villain In 24 HoursSoon after it was announced that Noah will host The Daily Show, it emerged that some of his tweets mocked women and Jews — tweets that critics have called sexist and anti-Semitic. - by Krishnadev Calamur, March 31

29. Take The ACE Quiz — And Learn What It Does And Doesn't Mean
First developed in the 1990s, the 10 questions of the Adverse Childhood Experiences test are designed to take a rough measure of a difficult childhood. Finding out your score is easy. Now what? - by Laura Starecheski, March 2

30. Review: Cast Recording, 'Hamilton'
Don't call Hamilton unlikely: Lin-Manuel Miranda's lauded musical about the life of the Founding Father is Broadway crafted by an artist who knows rap to be our cultural lingua franca. - by Frannie Kelley, Sept. 21

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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