You Are Not So Smart

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YANSS 180 – How too much efficiency coupled with too little slack can cause complex systems to fail and why we ran out of toilet paper because of it

In this episode we sit down with Chris Clearfield, author of Meltdown: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do About It. He says about his book, “By understanding what lies behind these failures, we can design better systems, make our teams more productive, and transform how we make decisions at work and at home.” Chris is the founder of System...

YANSS 179 – How a psychologist convinced 70 percent of subjects they were guilty of a crime they didn’t commit, and other stories about the fallibility of memory

Our guest on this episode is Dr. Julia Shaw, the author of The Memory Illusion. Julia is famous among psychologists because she was able to implant false memories into a group of subjects and convince 70 percent of them that they were guilty of a crime they did not commit, and she did so by using the sort of sloppy interrogation techniques that some...

YANSS 178 – Why conspiratorial thinking has gone mainstream, why facts don’t always persuade people, and other lessons we can learn from those of us who are pretty sure the Earth is flat

In this episode we sit down with the director and producers of the documentary film, Behind the Curve, an exploration of motivated reasoning and conspiratorial thinking told through the lives of people who have formed a community around the belief that the Earth is flat. Also in this episode, we spend time with political scientist Joseph E. Uscinski...

YANSS 177 – Why people waited so long to take precautions against COVID-19, how to better persuade those who still refuse, and how to take bettercare of your mental health during isolation

Flatten the curve. That idea has spread through the population faster than COVID-19 ever could. That’s the power of culture, of human psychology, of brains interacting with brains. Of course, culture and human psychology and brains interacting with brains are also how the virus spread to begin to with, and that is what this show is about — the psychology...

YANSS 176 – How a divisive photograph of a perceptually ambiguous dress led two researchers to build the nuclear bomb of cognitive science out of socks and Crocs – Part Two

When facing a novel and uncertain situation, the brain secretly disambiguates the ambiguous without letting you know it was ever uncertain in the first place, leading people who disambiguate differently to seem iNsAnE. This episode is about the science behind The Dress, why some people see it as black and blue, and others see it as white and gold....

YANSS 175 – How a divisive photograph of a perceptually ambiguous dress led two researchers to build the nuclear bomb of cognitive science out of socks and Crocs – Part One

Back in 2015, before Brexit, before Clinton vs. Trump, before weaponized Macedonian internet trolls, one NPR affiliate called the mass epistemic crisis created by The Dress, “The debate that broke the internet,” and The Washington Post referred to that moment of widespread existential confusion as “The drama that divided the planet.” This episode is...

YANSS 174 – Who speaks for science when evidence can be twisted, ignored, and selectively presented to support just about any conclusion?

In this episode, we sit down with vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit to discuss his new book, Bad Advice or Why Celebrities, Politicians, and Activists Aren’t Your Best Source of Health Information. Offit has been fighting for years to educate the public, promote vaccines, and oppose the efforts of anti-vaxxers, and in his new book he offers advice for...

YANSS 173 – How our differing relationship with norms predicts cultural evolution, innovation, and conflict

In this episode, we sit down with psychologist Michele Gelfand and discuss her new book: Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World. In the book, Gelfand presents her research into norms, along with a fascinating new idea. It isn’t norms themselves that predict how cultures will react, evolve, innovate, and clash,...

YANSS 172 – Douglas Rushkoff implores us to curate a digital, psychedelic substrate that embraces the messiness of human beings

In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast we sit down with one of the original cyberpunks, the famed journalist, documentarian, media theorist, all-around technology superstar and weirdo, Douglas Rushkoff. MIT considers Rushkoff one of the “world’s ten most influential thinkers,” and in the episode we talk about his latest (and 20th)...

YANSS 171 – How partisan identities affect our ability to reason, rationalize, and recall

Jay Van Bavel studies “from neurons to social networks…how collective concerns — group identities, moral values, and political beliefs — shape the mind and brain,” and in this episode we travel to his office at NYU to sit down and ask him a zillion questions about how the brain uses motivated reasoning to create the separate realities we argue over...

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