You Are Not So Smart (psychology)

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If dumping evidence into people’s laps often just makes their beliefs stronger, would we just be better off trying some other tactic, or does the truth ever win?

Do people ever come around, or are we causing more harm than good by leaning on facts instead of some other technique?

In this episode we learn the answers to these questions and others from two scientists who have learned how to combat the backfire effect.   One used an ingenious research method to identify the breaking point at which people stop resisting and begin accepting the fact that they might be wrong. The other literally wrote an instruction manual for avoiding the backfire effect and debunking myths using the latest psychological research into effective persuasive techniques.

- Show notes at: www.youarenotsosmart.com

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Direct download: 095_-_The_Backfire_Effect_-_Part_Three.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 2:07pm EDT

If you try to correct someone who you know is wrong, you run the risk of alarming their brains to a sort-of existential, epistemic threat, and if you do that, when that person expends effortful thinking to escape, that effort can strengthen their beliefs instead of weakening them.

In this episode you'll hear from three experts who explain how trying to correct misinformation can end up causing more harm than good.

- Show notes at: www.youarenotsosmart.com
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Direct download: 094_-_The_Backfire_Effect_-_Part_Two.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 11:12am EDT

We don’t treat all of our beliefs the same.

The research shows that when a strong-yet-erroneous, belief is challenged, yes, you might experience some temporary weakening of your convictions, some softening of your certainty, but most people rebound from that and not only reassert their original belief at its original strength, but go beyond that and dig in their heels, deepening their resolve over the long run.

Psychologists call this the backfire effect, and this episode is the first of three shows exploring this well-documented and much-studied psychological phenomenon, one that you’ve likely encountered quite a bit lately.

In this episode, we explore its neurological underpinning as two neuroscientists at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute explain how their latest research sheds new light on how the brain reacts when its deepest beliefs are challenged.

- Show notes at: www.youarenotsosmart.com
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Direct download: 093_-_The_Backfire_Effect_-_Part_One.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 7:04pm EDT

Gordon Pennycook and his team at the University of Waterloo set out to discover if there was a spectrum of receptivity for a certain kind of humbug they call pseudo-profound bullshit – the kind that sounds deep and meaningful at first glance, but upon closer inspection means nothing at all. They wondered, is there a “type” of person who is more susceptible to that kind of language, and if so, what other things about personalities and thinking styles correlate with that tolerance and lack of skepticism, and why?

- Show notes at: www.youarenotsosmart.com
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Direct download: 092_-_Bullshit_rebroadcast.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 10:58am EDT

Even when the prison doors are left wide open, we sometimes refuse to attempt escape. Why is that?

In this rebroadcast of one of our most popular episodes we learn all about the strange phenomenon of learned helplessness and how it keeps people in bad jobs, poor health, terrible relationships, and awful circumstances despite how easy it might be to escape any one of those scenarios with just one more effort.

You'll learn how to defeat this psychological trap with advice from psychologists Jennifer Welbourne, who studies attributional styles in the workplace, and Kym Bennett who studies the effects of pessimism on health.

- Show notes at: www.youarenotsosmart.com
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Direct download: 091_-_Learned_Helplessness_rebroadcast.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 10:12pm EDT

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.

Listen as Hoffman talks about the bicameral mind, the umwelt, and the hard problem of consciousness in this mindbending episode about how we make sense of our world, our existence, and ourselves.

- Show notes at: www.youarenotsosmart.com

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Direct download: 090_-_Reality_-_Donald_Hoffman.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 7:26pm EDT

Legendary science historian James Burke returns to explain his newest project, a Connections app that will allow anyone to "think connectively" about the webs of knowledge available on Wikipedia.

Burke predicted back in 1978 that we’d one day need better tools than just search alone if we were to avoid the pitfalls of siloed information and confirmation bias, and this month he launched a Kickstarter campaign to help create just such a tool - an app that searches connectivity and produces something Google and social media often don’t - surprises, anomalies, unexpected results, and connections, in the same style as his documentary series, books, and other projects.

In the interview, Burke shares his latest insights on change, technology, the future, social media, models of reality, and more.

To support the Kickstarter campaign for the Connections app, here are some links:

jbconnectionsapp.com
knowledgediscoveries.com
kck.st/2eIg21R

- Show notes at: www.youarenotsosmart.com

SPONSORS

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Direct download: 089_-_Connections_-_James_Burke.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 5:23pm EDT

In this divisive and polarized era how do you bridge the political divide between left and right? You 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 psychological tendencies influenced by our genetic predispositions and shaped by our cultural exposure that blind us to alternate viewpoints.

Because of this, we find it very difficult to construct an argument with the same facts, but framed in a different morality. Willer's work suggests that if we did that, we would find it a much more successful route to persuading people we usually think of as unreachable.

Show Notes: www.youarenotsosmart.com

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Direct download: 088_-_Moral_Arguments.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 2:41pm EDT

Jesse Walker is the author of The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory, a book that explores the history of American conspiracy theories going all the way back to the first colonies.

Walker argues that conspiratorial thinking is not a feature of the fringe, but a fundamental way of looking at the world that is very much mainstream.

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

Show notes at: youarenotsosmart.com

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Direct download: 087_-_Paranoia.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 9:33pm EDT

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 most likely to be changed.

In this episode you’ll hear from the co-founder of Reddit, the moderators of Change My View, and the scientists studying how people argue on the internet as we explore what it takes to change people’s perspective and whether the future of our online lives is thicker filter bubbles or the whittling away of bad ideas.

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SHOW NOTES at http://youarenotsosmart.com

Direct download: 086_-_Change_My_View.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 1:56am EDT

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