You Are Not So Smart

Is it possible to for different parts of your mind to learn how the world works at different rates? Is it possible that the unconscious part of you can know something long before the conscious you realizes it? Learn more about the weirdness of the unconscious mind as we interview Ryan Scott, a cognitive psychologist who has discovered a new phenomenon that suggests you can have unconscious knowledge about something and fail to realize it until it is too late - something he calls blind insight.

Direct download: 039_-_Blind_Insight_-_Ryan_Scott.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 1:55pm EST

One salient trait can cause you to misjudge every other trait when evaluating a new hire, a love interest, a colleague, or even a potential purchase. Learn more about the power of the halo effect in this episode, and as a bonus, hear all the previous excerpts from You Are Now Less Dumb in this special extended episode lasting 2 hours and 43 minutes!

Direct download: 038_-_Inbetweenisode_-_The_Halo_Effect.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 2:06pm EST

What motivates you to keep going, to reach for your dreams, to persist and endure? Psychology has, over the last 40 years, learned a great deal about human motivation and drive. In this episode we ask Daniel Pink, author of Drive, how we can better put that knowledge to use in our lives and in our workplaces and institutions.

Direct download: 037_-_Motivation_-_Daniel_Pink.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 2:04pm EST

Have you ever been confronted with the fact that you were in over your head, or that you had no idea what you were doing, or that you thought you were more skilled at something than you actually were? At its most extreme, this is called the Dunning-Kruger effect - the fact that it is very easy to be both unskilled and unaware, and in this episode we explore how it works and where you might expect to see it your own life.

Direct download: 036_-_The_Dunning-Kruger_Effect.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 2:24am EST

Are you throwing good money after bad? Are you stuck in a job, a relationship, a degree, or some other situation that you know you should abandon but fear you'll have wasted years of time and effort? Are you in pain because of your fear of having done something in vain? This episode, learn all about the sunk cost fallacy and how you sometimes get stuck in a wasteful loop of behavior because of your fear of loss.

Direct download: 035_-_The_Sunk_Cost_Fallacy.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 6:03pm EST

Do you believe in magical amulets? Apparently, in 2011, enough people did to allow one company to earn $34 million making and selling them to professional athletes, celebrities, and even a former president...all thanks to the post hoc fallacy. In this episode you'll learn more about how this fallacy led to the rise and fall of the Power Balance bracelet, and whether or not you might believe in a little magic yourself.

Direct download: 034_-_The_Post_Hoc_Fallacy.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 10:31am EST

Do you think that everything you believe is true? If not, then what are you wrong about? It is a difficult question to answer, and it leads to many others. Where do our beliefs come from, and how do we know where we should place our doubt? Why don't facts seem to work on people? In this episode we explore the psychology of belief through interviews with Margaret Maitland, an Egyptologist, Jim Alcock, a psychologist who studies belief, and Will Storr, a journalist who wrote about his adventures with people who believe in things most people don't in his book, The Unpersuadables.

Direct download: 033_-_Belief_v2.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 12:12am EST

Is willpower a skill? Is it something we develop like a muscle, or hone like a talent - is it something we can strengthen through practice and mental exercise? The latest research suggests willpower is more like a fuel, a resource, an internal battery, and once you've used it up, you much recharge it or else you'll be unable to keep your hand out of the cookie jar. Speaking of cookies...we also explore in this episode how psychologists have used cookies in novel ways to uncover the secrets of our minds.

Direct download: 32_-_Ego_Depletion.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 10:44pm EST

Why do you so often fail at removing bad habits from your life?

You try to diet, to exercise, to stop smoking, to stop staying up until 2 a.m. stuck in a hamster wheel of internet diversions, and right when you seem to be doing well, right when it seems like your bad habit is dead, you lose control. It seems all to easy for one transgression, one tiny cheating bite of pizza or puff of smoke, and then it's all over. You binge, calm down, and the habit returns, reanimated and stronger than ever.

You ask yourself, how is it possible I can be so good at so many things, so clever in so many ways, and still fail at outsmarting my own vice-ridden brain? The answer has to do with conditioning, classical like Pavlov and operant like Skinner, and a psychological phenomenon that's waiting in the future for every person who tries to twist shut the spigot of reward and pleasure - the extinction burst, and in this episode we explore how it works, why it happens, and how you can overcome it.

Direct download: 31_-_Extinction_Burst.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 4:08pm EST

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: 11:49pm EST

029 - Labels - Adam Alter

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: 12:32am EST

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: 1:19pm EST

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: 1:23pm EST

“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: 6:42pm EST

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: 12:36am EST

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: 5:12pm EST

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: 12:52pm EST

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: 10:05pm EST

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: 1:29am EST

In this episode we discuss how terrible people are at predicting the future, how history really works, and how we can understand where we are going by changing how we view where we've been. Our guests are science historian and communications legend James Burke and Paleofuture creator Matt Novak.

Direct download: 020_-_The_Future_-_James_Burke_and_Matt_Novak.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 9:29am EST

In this episode we learn about the placebo effect and how research continues to unravel the mysteries behind it and how it affects our behaviors.

Our guest is Kristi Erdal whose latest research discovered a new psychological phenomeon now known as placebo sleep.

After the interview, I eat a white chocolate Oreo cookie and discuss a new study into how the eccentricity of artists affects our perceptions of their art.

Direct download: 019_-_The_Placebo_Effect_-_Kristi_Erdal.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 8:13pm EST

Benjamin Franklin knew how to deal with haters, and in this episode we learn how he turned his haters into fans with what is now called The Benjamin Franklin Effect.

Listen as David McRaney reads and excerpt from his book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," explaining how the act of spreading harm forms the attitude of hate, and the act of spreading kindness generates the attitude of camaraderie.

Direct download: 018_-_Inbetweenisode_-_The_Benjamin_Franklin_Effect.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 10:46pm EST

Where is the line between medicine and alternative medicine? Are Eastern medicine and Western medicine truly at odds, and if so, who is right and who is wrong? What harm is there in using complementary or integrative treatments in an effort to improve wellness?

In this episode we discuss alternative medicine with Tim Farley, creator and curator of What's The Harm, a website that tracks the harmful effects that result from seeking out alternative treatments and cures before, or instead of, seeking out science-based medicine. Tim is a software engineer and research fellow at the James Randi Foundation. He also created the website Skeptical Software Tools, and he tweets at @krelnik.

Direct download: 017_-_Alternative_Medicine_-_Tim_Farley.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 11:53pm EST

Who is pulling the strings? Who is behind the coverup? Who holds the real power, and what do they want? How deep does the conspiracy to control your mind go?

In this episode we discuss the history, social impact, neuroscience, and psychology behind conspiracy theories and paranoid thinking.

Our guests are Steven Novella and Jesse Walker. Steven is a leader in the skeptic community, host of The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, and a neurologist at Yale University's School of Medicine. Walker is the book editor for Reason Magazine and author of the new book, The United States of Paranoia, a Conspiracy Theory. 

Listen as they explain why we love conspiracy theories, how they flourish, how they harm, and what they say about a culture.

Direct download: 016_-_Conspiracy_Theories_-_Steven_Novella_and_Jesse_Walker.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 6:24pm EST

In this inbetweenisode I read an excerpt from my book, You Are Now Less Dumb, about a strange experiment in Michigan that tested the bounds of the self by throwing three very unusual men into a situation that won't likely be repeated ever again by science.

Direct download: 015_-_Inbetweenisode_-_Narrative_Bias.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 9:19pm EST

1