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You Are Not So Smart

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You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of self delusion that explores topics related to cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies. David McRaney interviews scientists about their research into how the mind works, and then he eats a cookie.

You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of self delusion that explores topics related to cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies. David McRaney interviews scientists about their research into how the mind works, and then he eats a cookie.
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You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of self delusion that explores topics related to cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies. David McRaney interviews scientists about their research into how the mind works, and then he eats a cookie.




123 - Active Information Avoidance (rebroadcast)

Little did the champions of the Enlightenment know that once we had access to all the facts…well, reason and rationality wouldn’t just immediately wash across the land in a giant wave of enlightenment thinking. While that may be happening in some ways, the new media ecosystem has also unshackled some of our deepest psychological tendencies, things that enlightenment thinkers didn’t know about, weren’t worried about, or couldn’t have predicted. Many of which we’ve discussed in previous...


122 - Tribal Psychology

The evidence is clear that humans value being good members of their tribes much more than they value being correct. We will choose to be wrong if it keeps us in good standing with our peers. In this episode, we explore how that affects politics and science communication, and how it is driving our growing partisan divide.


121 - Progress (rebroadcast)

Do we have the power to change the outcome of history? Is progress inevitable? Is it natural? Are we headed somewhere definite, or is change just chaos that seems organized in hindsight? In this episode we explore these questions with University of Chicago historian Ada Palmer. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS • Squarespace: - offer code SOSMART • The Great Courses:


120 - The Backfire Effect - Part Four

New research into the backfire effect...complicates things, but it also provides us with new insights and strategies when it comes to correcting misconceptions and spreading the truth.


119 - The Unpersuadables

Our guest for this episode, Will Storr, wrote a book called The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science. In that book, Storr spends time with Holocaust deniers, young Earth creationists, people who believe they’ve lived past lives as famous figures, people who believe they’ve been abducted by aliens, people who stake their lives on the power of homeopathy, and many more – people who believe things that most of us do not. Storr explains in the book that after spending so much...


118 - Connections (rebroadcast)

In this episode of the YANSS Podcast, we sit down with legendary science historian James Burke. For much of his career, Burke has been creating documentaries and writing books aimed at helping us to make better sense of the enormous amount of information that he predicted would one day be at our fingertips. In Connections, he offered an “alternate view of history” in which great insights took place because of anomalies and mistakes, because people were pursuing one thing, but it lead...


117 - Idiot Brain (rebroadcast)

In this episode we interview Dean Burnett, author of "Idiot Brain: What Your Brain is Really Up To." Burnett's book is a guide to the neuroscience behind the things that our amazing brains do poorly. In the interview we discuss motion sickness, the pain of breakups, why criticisms are more powerful than compliments, the imposter syndrome, anti-intellectualism, irrational fears, and more. Burnett also explains how the brain is kinda sorta like a computer, but a really bad one that messes...


116 - Reality (rebroadcast)

Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? For our guest in this episode, cognitive psychologist Donald Hoffman, that's his day job. Hoffman has developed a new theory of consciousness that, should it prove true, may rearrange our understanding of reality itself.


115 - Machine Bias

We've transferred our biases to artificial intelligence, and now those machine minds are creating the futures they predict. But there's a way to stop it. In this episode we explore how machine learning is biased, sexist, racist, and prejudiced all around, and we meet the people who can explain why, and are going to try and fix it.


114 - Moral Arguments (rebroadcast)

In this divisive and polarized era how do you bridge the political divide between left and right? How do you persuade the people on the other side to see things your way? New research by sociologist Robb Willer and psychologist Matthew Feinberg suggests that the answer is in learning how to cross something they call the empathy gap. When we produce arguments, we do so from within our own moral framework and in the language of our moral values. Those values rest on top of a set of...


113 - Narrative Persuasion

One of the most effective ways to change people’s minds is to put your argument into a narrative format, a story, but not just any story. The most persuasive narratives are those that transport us. Once departed from normal reality into the imagined world of the story we become highly susceptible to belief and attitude change. In this episode, you’ll learn from psychologist Melanie C. Greene the four secrets to creating the most persuasive narratives possible. - Show notes at:...


112 - Change My View (rebroadcast)

For computer scientist Chenhao Tan and his team, the internet community called Change My View offered something amazing, a ready-made natural experiment that had been running for years. All they had to do was feed it into the programs they had designed to understand the back-and-forth between human beings and then analyze the patterns the emerged. When they did that, they discovered two things: what kind of arguments are most likely to change people’s minds, and what kinds of minds are...


111 - Collective Intelligence

If you wanted to build a team in such a way that you maximized its overall intelligence, how would you do it? Would you stack it with high-IQ brainiacs? Would you populate it with natural leaders? Would you find experts on a wide range of topics? Well, those all sound like great ideas, but the latest research into collective intelligence suggests that none of them would work. To create a team that is collectively intelligent, you likely need to focus on three specific factors that...


110 - Sleep Deprivation and Bias

If you could compare the person you were before you became sleep deprived to the person after, you’d find you’ve definitely become...lesser than. When it comes to sleep deprivation, you can’t trust yourself to know just how much it is affecting you. You feel fine, maybe a bit drowsy, but your body is stressed in ways that diminish your health and slow your mind. In this episode, we sit down with two researchers whose latest work suggests sleep deprivation also affects how you see other...


109 - The Search Effect (rebroadcast)

What effect does Google have on your brain? Here's an even weirder question: what effect does knowing that you have access to Google have on your brain? In this episode we explore what happens when a human mind becomes aware that it can instantly, on-command, at any time, search for the answer to any question, and then, most of time, find it. According to researcher Matthew Fisher, one of the strange side effects is an inflated sense of internal knowledge. In other words, as we use search...


108 - Pandora's Lab

The facts don't speak for themselves. Someone always speaks for them. From the opioid crisis to the widespread use of lobotomies to quiet problem patients, celebrity scientists and charismatic doctors have made tremendous mistakes, but thanks to their fame, they escaped the corrective mechanisms of science itself. Science always corrects the problem, but before it does, many people can be harmed, and society can suffer. In this episode, we sit down with Dr. Paul Offit to discuss how we can...


107 - Debate

In late 2014 and early 2015, the city of Starkville, Mississippi, passed an anti-discrimination measure that lead to a series of public debates about an issue that people there had never discussed openly. In this episode, we spend time in Starkville exploring the value of argumentation and debate in the process of change, progress, and understanding our basic humanity. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS • The Great...


106 - The Climate Paradox (rebroadcast)

In this episode, psychologist Per Espen Stoknes discusses his book: What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming. Stoknes has developed a strategy for science communicators who find themselves confronted with climate change deniers who aren’t swayed by facts and charts. His book presents a series of psychology-based steps designed to painlessly change people’s minds and avoid the common mistakes scientists tend to make when explaining climate change to laypeople....


105 - Optimism Bias

In this episode, Tali Sharot, a cognitive neuroscientist and psychologist at University College London, explains our' innate optimism bias. When the brain estimates the outcome of future events, it tends to reduce the probability of negative outcomes for itself, but not so much for other people. In other words, if you are a smoker, everyone else is going to get cancer. The odds of success for a new restaurant change depending on who starts that venture, you or someone else. Sharot explains...


104 - Labels (rebroadcast)

We are each born labeled. In moments of ambiguity, those labels can change the way people make decisions about us. As a cognitive process, it is invisible, involuntary, and unconscious – and that’s why psychology is working so hard to understand it. Our guest for this episode is Adam Alter, a psychologist who studies marketing and communication, and his New York Times bestselling book is titled Drunk Tank Pink after the color used to paint the walls of police holding cells after research...


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