You Are Not So Smart (psychology)

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

In this episode we discuss the power of narratives to affect our beliefs and behaviors with Melanie C. Green, a psychologist who studies the persuasive power of fiction. 

According Nielsen, the TV ratings company, the average person in the United States watches about 34 hours of television a week. That’s 73 days a year. Over the course of a lifetime, the average American can expect to spend a full decade lost in the trance spell that only powerful narratives can cast over the human mind. 

What is the power of all the stories we consume through television? What about movies and books and comics and video games and everything else? How does it affect our beliefs and behaviors? 

We discuss all of that and more with Melanie C. Green who is a social psychologist who developed the transportation into a narrative worlds theory that helps explain total story immersion and how it translates into influence over our real-world behaviors. Green is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 

After the interview I eat some chocolate orange cherry cookies sent in by Elliot Jones and then discuss how photographs can either enhance or dampen your memory depending on how you use them.

Direct download: 014_-_Narratives_-_Melanie_C._Green.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 10:02pm EDT

The very fact that you are reading this sentence, contemplating whether you want to listen to this podcast, means that you are living out a fantasy from a previous generation's cyberpunk novel.

However you made it here, however you got these words into your brain, you did so by diving through data streams first cooked up by delirious engineers downing late-night coffees, wandering deep within rows of data tape unspooling from jerky, spinning platters.

We've been dreaming of this life for a long time, since before the vacuum tubes and punchcards of the '40s, and now that we are here, some people are worried that the tech will, at best, make us lazy, and at worst make us stupid.

Is all this new technology improving our thinking or dampening it? Are all these new communication tools turning us into navel-gazing human/brand hybrids, or are we developing a new set of senses that allow us to benefit from never severing contact with the people most important to us?

That's the topic of this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, and to answer these questions we welcome this episode's guest, Clive Thompson, who is the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better. As the title suggests, he disagrees with the naysayers, and his book is an impressive investigation into why they are probably (thankfully) wrong. Thompson is a journalist whose work can be found published in Wired, The Washington Post, and the New York Times Magazine. You can learn more about him at his website.

After the interview, I discuss a news story about research into how the way you walk can encourage or discourage criminals to attack you.

In every episode, before I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, “You Are Now Less Dumb,” and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode’s winner is Joye Swan who submitted a recipe for chewy rosemary sugar cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

Direct download: Technology__Clive_Thompson_.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 9:15am EDT

Why do human beings experience jealousy, what is its function, and what are the warning signs that signal this powerful emotion may lead to violence?

Once reserved for the contemplation of poets and playwrights, jealousy is now the subject of intense scientific scrutiny. "Mate poachers abound," explains this week's guest, psychologist David Buss, who says that his research supports his hypothesis that human jealousy is an adaptation forged by evolutionary forces to deal with the problems of infidelity. Moderate jealousy, he says, is healthy and signals commitment, but there is a dark and corrosive side as well that follows a clear, predictable pattern before it destroys lives.

David Buss is a professor of psychology who studies human mating at The University of Texas at Austin. He his the author of The Evolution Of Desire: Strategies Of Human MatingDangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is As Necessary As Love and SexThe Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill, and Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivations from Adventure to Revenge. You can learn more about him and his work at DavidBuss.com

After the interview I discuss a news story about research into societies in which women are more competitive than men.

In every episode, before I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, “You Are Now Less Dumb,” and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode’s winner is Fernando Cordeiro who submitted a recipe for chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

Direct download: Jealousy__David_Buss.mp3
Category:psychology -- posted at: 3:04am EDT