You Are Not So Smart

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August 2014
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Is it true that all it takes to be an expert is 10,000 hours of practice? What about a professional athlete? Do different people get more out of practice than others, and if so, is it nature or nurture? In this episode we ask all these things of David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene, who explains how practice affects the brain and whether or not greatness comes naturally or after lots and lots of effort.

Direct download: 030_-_Practice_-_David_Epstein.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 3:49 AM

What are the subconscious, invisible, involuntary ways that labels affect the way we think, feel, and behave? Listen as Adam Alter, author of Drunk Tank Pink, explains how labels affect every way in which we interact as human beings.

Direct download: 029_-_Labels_-_Adam_Alter_1.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 4:32 AM

What causes people to riot? What gives a rousing speech its power over the masses? Could you be seduced by the presence of a mob to do things you wouldn't do otherwise? We ask these questions and more of Michael Bond, author of The Power of Others, as we examine the psychological power of crowds to alter our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. 

Direct download: 028_-_Crowds_-_Michael_Bond.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 5:19 PM

I recently collaborated with Joe Hanson of the YouTube channel It’s Okay to be Smart and helped him write an episode about pattern recognition. I thought it would be great to bring him on the show and interview him in an episode all about the new science communicators.

We learn what it is like to be part of the new wave of science communication, talk about science literacy, and discuss the ramifications of rubbing a beard with an infected chicken before conducting lab work.

After the interview, I discuss a study about the difference between dogma and belief superiority, and how it helps explain why some politicians will never compromise.

Direct download: 027_-_Science_Communication_-_Joe_Hanson.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 5:23 PM

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” You’ve heard the expression before. You’ve may have, like myself, smugly used it a few times to feel like you made an intelligent point in an office conversation. It’s one of those great comebacks that we’ve decided is ok to use in professional settings like congressional debates and televised political arguments about everything from gun control to foreign policy. But, it might surprise you to learn who wrote it, how young the above quote is, and why it was written in the first place.

Direct download: 026_-_Maslows_Hammer.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 10:42 PM

The clothes you wear have powers...over your mind. Your wardrobe doesn't just affect the way others see you, but it affects the way you see yourself. That results in changes in perception, attention, behavior, and more. Learn what researcher Hajo Adam has to say about the phenomenon he discovered along with Adam Galinsky, enclothed cognition, and how you can use it to your advantage.

Direct download: 025_-_Enclothed_Cognition_-_Hajo_Adam.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 4:36 AM

Why do we sleep and why do we dream? Despite the fact that every human being spends roughly 1/3 of his or her life asleep, science has yet to crack the mystery of the phenomenon. Why do we sleep and dream? The answer for now is...we don't know. To learn more, we interview psychologist Richard Wiseman who has written a new book on sleep and dreaming that promises to help you get the most out of both based on what science has learned so far.

Direct download: Sleep.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 9:12 PM

In the 1950s, a group of psychologists nearly turned a summer camp into Lord of The Flies. The story of how and why it was so easy to turn normal boys into bloodthirsty, warring tribes can teach you a lot about a common mental phenomenon known as the illusion of asymmetric insight - something that helps keep you loyal to certain groups and alters the way you see outsiders.

Direct download: 022_-_The_Illusion_of_Asymmetric_Insight.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 4:52 PM

The problem with sorting out failures and successes is that failures are often muted, destroyed, or somehow removed from view while successes are left behind, weighting your decisions and perceptions, tilting your views of the world. That means to be successful you must learn how to seek out what is missing. You must learn what not to do. Unfortunately, survivorship bias stands between you and the epiphanies you seek.  
To learn how to combat this pernicious bias, we explore the story of Abraham Wald and the Department of War Math founded during World War II, and then we interview Wald's modern-day counterpart, Megan Price, statistician and director of research at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group who explains how she uses math and statistics to save lives and improve conditions in areas of the world suffering from the effects of war.
Direct download: 022_-_Survivorship_Bias_-_-_Megan_Price.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 2:05 AM

In this inbetweenisode, Christina Draganich explains how she came up with the idea to research placebo sleep, and she tells us how anyone with the right guidance can use science to expand our understanding of the natural world. We also learn about the continuity field generated by the human brain.

Direct download: 021_-_Inbetweenisode_3_-_Christina_Draganich.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 5:29 AM