What are the lives of the planet's wealthiest people really like?
Several years ago, sociologist Brooke Harrington decided to find out.
She knew she'd have a hard time gaining access to the world of the über wealthy, so she did something unusual: She took courses to become a wealth manager.
In the course of this training, Harrington met other wealth managers, who agreed to be interviewed for her research.
She discovered that, in order to manage money for the super-rich, these professionals learn a lot about the private lives of their clients.
What they shared, Harrington says, shocked her.
"The lives of the richest people in the world are so different from those of the rest of us, it's almost literally unimaginable. National borders are nothing to them. They might as well not exist. The laws are nothing to them. They might as well not exist."
The Hidden Brain podcast is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced Maggie Penman, Jennifer Schmidt, and Renee Klahr. Our supervising producer is Tara Boyle. You can also follow us on Twitter @hiddenbrain, and listen for Hidden Brain stories each week on your local public radio station.