You Are Not So Smart

You Are Not So Smart

Podcast Overview

You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of self delusion that explores topics related to cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies. David McRaney interviews scientists about their research into how the mind works, and then he eats a cookie.

Podcast Episodes

105 - Optimism Bias

In this episode, Tali Sharot, a cognitive neuroscientist and psychologist at University College London, explains our' innate optimism bias. When the brain estimates the outcome of future events, it tends to reduce the probability of negative outcomes for itself, but not so much for other people. In other words, if you are a smoker, everyone else is going to get cancer. The odds of success for a new restaurant change depending on who starts that venture, you or someone else. Sharot explains why and details how we can use our knowledge of this mental quirk to our advantage both personally and institutionally. More about Tali Sharot and her book The Optimism Bias here: Sponsors: -- • The Great Courses: -- -- • Dignity Health: -- -- • Blue Apron: -- ||| Show Notes at |||

104 - Labels (rebroadcast)

We are each born labeled. In moments of ambiguity, those labels can change the way people make decisions about us. As a cognitive process, it is invisible, involuntary, and unconscious – and that’s why psychology is working so hard to understand it. Our guest for this episode is Adam Alter, a psychologist who studies marketing and communication, and his New York Times bestselling book is titled Drunk Tank Pink after the color used to paint the walls of police holding cells after research suggested it lessened the urge to fight. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS • The Great Courses: • Dignity Health: • ZipRecruiter:

103 - Desirability Bias

Confirmation bias is our tendency to seek evidence that supports our beliefs and confirms our assumptions when we could just as well seek disconfirmation of those beliefs and assumptions instead. This is such a prevalent feature of human cognition, that until recently a second bias has been hidden in plain sight. Our past beliefs and future desires usually match up. Desirability is often twisted into confirmation like a single psychological braid - but recent research suggests that something called desirability bias may be just as prevalent in our thinking. When future desires and past beliefs are incongruent, desire wins out. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS • The Great Courses: • Dignity Health: • Blue Apron:

102 - WEIRD Science (rebroadcast)

Is psychology too WEIRD? That's what this episode's guest, psychologist Steven J. Heine suggested when he and his colleagues published a paper suggesting that psychology wasn't the study of the human mind, but the study of one kind of human mind, the sort generated by the kinds of brains that happen to be conveniently located near the places where research is usually conducted - North American college undergraduates. They called them the WEIRDest people in the world, short for Western, Education, Industrial, Rich, and Democratic - the kind of people who make up less than 15 percent of the world's population. In this episode, you'll learn why it took so long to figure out it was studying outliers, and what it means for the future of psychology. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS • The Great Courses: • Squarespace: | Offer Code = sosmart

101 - Naive Realism (rebroadcast)

In psychology, they call it naive realism, the tendency to believe that the other side is wrong because they are misinformed, that if they knew what you knew, they would change their minds to match yours. According to Lee Ross, co-author of the new book, The Wisest One in the Room, this is the default position most humans take when processing a political opinion. When confronted with people who disagree, you tend to assume there must be a rational explanation. What we don't think, however, is maybe WE are the ones who are wrong. We never go into the debate hoping to be enlightened, only to crush our opponents. Listen in this episode as legendary psychologist Lee Ross explains how to identify, avoid, and combat this most pernicious of cognitive mistakes. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS • The Great Courses: • Casper - offer code is SOSMART

100 - The Replication Crisis

"Science is wrong about everything, but you can trust it more than anything." That's the assertion of psychologist Brian Nosek, director of the Center for Open Science, who is working to correct what he sees as the temporarily wayward path of psychology. Currently, psychology is facing what some are calling a replication crisis. Much of the most headline-producing research in the last 20 years isn't standing up to attempts to reproduce its findings. Nosek wants to clean up the processes that have lead to this situation, and in this episode, you'll learn how. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS • The Great Courses: • Squarespace: | Offer Code = sosmart

099 - The Half Life of Facts

In medical school they tell you half of what you are about to learn won't be true when you graduate - they just don't know which half. In every field of knowledge, half of what is true today will overturned, replaced, or refined at some point, and it turns out that we actually know when that will be for many things. In this episode, listen as author and scientist Sam Arbesman explains how understanding the half life of facts can lead to better lives, institutions, and, of course, better science. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS - • - The Great Courses: - • - Zip Recruiter:

098 - Active Information Avoidance

The cyberpunks, the Founding Fathers, 19th Century philosophers, and the Enlightenment thinkers - they all looked forward to the world in which we now live, a multimedia psychedelic freakout in which information is free, decentralized, democratized, and easy to access. What they didn't count on though, was that we would choose to keep a whole lot of it out of our heads. In this episode, we explore a psychological phenomenon called active information avoidance, the act of keeping our senses away from information that might be useful, and that we know is out there, but that we'd rather not learn. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS • The Great Courses: • Squarespace: | Offer Code = sosmart

097 - Scams (rebroadcast)

Before we had names for them or a science to study them, the people who could claim the most expertise on biases, fallacies, heuristics and all the other quirks of human reasoning and perception were scam artists, con artists, and magicians. On this episode, magician and scam expert Brian Brushwood explains why people fall for scams of all sizes, how to avoid them, and why most magicians can spot a fraudster a mile away. Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS • The Great Courses: • Blue Apron: - offer code is SOSMART

096 - Progress

Do we have the power to change the outcome of history? Is progress inevitable? Is it natural? Are we headed somewhere definite, or is change just chaos that seems organized in hindsight? In this episode we explore these questions with University of Chicago historian Ada Palmer. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS • Playing with Science: • The Great Courses: • Blue Apron:

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