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You Are Not So Smart

You Are Not So Smart is a show about psychology that celebrates science and self delusion. In each episode, we explore what we've learned so far about reasoning, biases, judgments, and decision-making.

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020 - The Future - James Burke and Matt Novak

If you love educational entertainment – programs about science, nature, history, technology and everything in between – it is a safe bet that the creators of those shows were heavily influenced by the founding fathers of science communication: Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, and James Burke.In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast we sit down with James Burke and discuss the past, the present, and where he sees us heading in the future. Burke says we must soon learn how to deal with a world in which scarcity is scarce, abundance is abundant, and home manufacturing can produce just about anything you desire.James Burke is a legendary science historian who created the landmark BBC series Connections which provided an alternative view of history and change by replacing the traditional “Great Man” timeline with an interconnected web in which all people influence one another to blindly direct the flow of progress. Burke is currently writing a new book about the coming age of abundance, and he continues to work on his Knowledge Web project.We also sit down with Matt Novak, creator and curator of Paleofuture, a blog that explores retro futurism, sifting through the many ways people in the past predicted how the future would turn out, sometimes correctly, mostly not.Together, Burke and Novak help us understand why we are to terrible at predicting the future and what we can learn about how history truly unfolds so we can better imagine who we will be in the decades to come.After the interview, I discuss a news story about how cigarettes affect the way your brain interprets cigarette advertising.Patreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart

1hr 14mins

17 Mar 2014

Rank #1

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161 - Bad Habits

In this episode, Dr. Jud Brewer, a neuroscientist and addiction psychiatrist, discusses bad habits and how to change them.He is the author of The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love -- Why We Get Hooked and how We Can Break Bad Habits -- and his TED Talk on how to change a bad habit has more than 12 million views. But...we talk about so many other things in this episode. It's a free association smorgasbord of brain stuff that will rattle your head.::: Show Notes at YouAreNotSoSmart.com :::Patreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart

1hr 13mins

25 Aug 2019

Rank #2

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083 - Idiot Brain - Dean Burnett

In this episode we interview Dean Burnett, author of "Idiot Brain: What Your Brain is Really Up To." Burnett's book is a guide to the neuroscience behind the things that our amazing brains do poorly.In the interview we discuss motion sickness, the pain of breakups, why criticisms are more powerful than compliments, the imposter syndrome, anti-intellectualism, irrational fears, and more. Burnett also explains how the brain is kinda sorta like a computer, but a really bad one that messes with your files, rewrites your documents, and edits your photos when you aren't around.Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist who lectures at Cardiff University and writes about brain stuff over at his blog, Brain Flapping hosted by The Guardian.SPONSORS:• The Great Courses Plus: http://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/smart• Blue Apron: http://www.blueapron.com/yanssShow notes at: http://www.youarenotsosmart.comPatreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart


25 Aug 2016

Rank #3

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170 - Mark Sargent

In October of 2019 I sat down with prominent Flat Earther Mark Sargent in Stockholm, Sweden at the Gather Festival to try and understand the reasoning behind his beliefs, and non-beliefs, that run counter to the scientific consensus that the Earth is a globe.Patreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart

1hr 2mins

30 Dec 2019

Rank #4

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193 - Gossip

In this episode we sit down with psychologist Robb Willer to discuss the psychology of gossip: how much we do it, why we do it, its major functions, and what life would be be like without it.Patreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart

1hr 11mins

16 Nov 2020

Rank #5

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127 - Selfie

In this episode, we sit down with author Will Storr to talk about his new book -- Selfie: How We Became so Self-Obsessed, and What it is Doing to Us.The book explores what he calls “the age of perfectionism” -- our modern struggle to meet newly emerging ideals and standards that tell us we are falling short of the person we ought to be. As he says in the book, "Perfectionism is the idea that kills," and you’ll hear him explain what he means by that in the interview.Patreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart

1hr 23mins

7 May 2018

Rank #6

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004 - The Self

In this episode we discuss the self and interview Bruce Hood, author of "The Self Illusion." Also, at the end, we eat a chewy chocolate chip cookie and discuss therapeutic touch.Patreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart


1 Jul 2012

Rank #7

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093 - The Backfire Effect - Part One

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- Become a patron at: www.patreon.com/youarenotsosmartSPONSORS• The Great Courses: www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/smart• Casper Mattresses: www.casper.com/sosmart | Offer Code = sosmartPatreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart


13 Jan 2017

Rank #8

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166 - Prevalence Induced Concept Change (rebroadcast)

In this episode we explore prevalence induced concept change. In a nutshell, when we set out to change the world by reducing examples of something we have deemed problematic, and we succeed, a host of psychological phenomena can mask our progress and make those problems seem intractable -- as if we are only treading water when, in fact, we’ve created the change we set out to make.||| Show Notes at YouAreNotSoSmart.com |||Patreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart


4 Nov 2019

Rank #9

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003 - Confabulation

In this episode, we discuss confabulation with neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran, and at the end of the episode we taste a cranberry chocolate chip cookie while contemplating positive affirmations.Patreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart


28 May 2012

Rank #10

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192 - The Dunning-Kruger Effect (rebroadcast)

In this episode, we explore why we are unaware that we lack the skill to tell how unskilled and unaware we are. The evidence gathered so far by psychologists and neuroscientists seems to suggest that each one of us has a relationship with our own ignorance, a dishonest, complicated relationship, and that dishonesty keeps us sane, happy, and willing to get out of bed in the morning. Part of that ignorance is a blind spot we each possess that obscures both our competence and incompetence called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. It's a psychological phenomenon that arises sometimes in your life because you are generally very bad at self-assessment. If you have 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 – then you may have experienced this effect. It is very easy to be both unskilled and unaware of it, and in this episode we explore why that is with professor David Dunning, one of the researchers who coined the term and a scientist who continues to add to our understanding of the phenomenon.• Show Notes: youarenotsosmart.com• Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/youarenotsosmart• Donate Directly through PayPal: https://www.paypal.me/DavidMcRaneyPatreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart


1 Nov 2020

Rank #11

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143 - How to Talk to People About Things

In this episode, we sit down with negotiation expert Misha Glouberman who explains how to talk to people about things -- that is, how to avoid the pitfalls associated with debate when two or more people attempt to come to an agreement that will be mutually beneficial.- Show notes at: www.youarenotsosmart.com- Become a patron at: www.patreon.com/youarenotsosmartSPONSORS• The Great Courses: www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/smart• Squarespace: www.squarespace.com/sosmartPatreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart

1hr 42mins

17 Dec 2018

Rank #12

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061 - Mindfulness - Michael Taft

You have the power to wield neuroplasticity to your advantage.Just as you can change your body at the atomic level by lifting weights, you can willfully alter your brain by...thinking in a certain way. In this episode we explore using your brain to change your brain at the level of neurons and synapses beyond what is possible through other methods like learning a new language or earning a degree in chemistry. With mindfulness meditation, the evidence seems to suggest that one can achieve a level of change that would be impossible otherwise. The more you attempt to focus, the better you get at focusing on command, and so a real change begins taking place - you slowly become able to think differently, to hold thoughts differently and to dismiss thoughts that before led to attention difficulties or what feels like unwanted thoughts or clutter - and that’s not magical or the result of shaking hands with a deity, it’s biological. Listen as author and meditation teacher Michael Taft explains the benefits of secular, scientific practice of modern mindfulness meditationPatreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart

1hr 22mins

22 Oct 2015

Rank #13

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110 - Sleep Deprivation and Bias

If you could compare the person you were before you became sleep deprived to the person after, you’d find you’ve definitely become...lesser than. When it comes to sleep deprivation, you can’t trust yourself to know just how much it is affecting you. You feel fine, maybe a bit drowsy, but your body is stressed in ways that diminish your health and slow your mind. In this episode, we sit down with two researchers whose latest work suggests sleep deprivation also affects how you see other people. In tests of implicit bias, negative associations with certain religious and cultural categories emerged after people started falling behind on rest.- Show notes at: www.youarenotsosmart.com- Become a patron at: www.patreon.com/youarenotsosmartSPONSORS• The Great Courses: Free month at www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/smart• Squarespace: 10 percent off with the code SOSMARTPatreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart


10 Sep 2017

Rank #14

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073 - Bayes' Theorem

We don’t treat all of our beliefs equally.For some, we see them as either true or false, correct or incorrect. For others, we see them as probabilities, chances, odds. In one world, certainty, in the other, uncertainty.In this episode you will learn from two experts in reasoning how to apply a rule from the 1700s that makes it possible to see all of your beliefs as being in “grayscale,” as neither black nor white, neither 0 nor 100 percent, but always somewhere in between, as a shade of gray reflecting your confidence in just how wrong you might be...given the evidence at hand.• Show notes: http://bit.ly/1Nfby8T• Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/youarenotsosmart• Donate Directly through PayPal: https://www.paypal.me/DavidMcRaneySPONSORS• MIT Press: https://mitpress.mit.edu/smart• Casper Mattresses: https://casper.com/sosmart• The Great Courses Plus: https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/smartPatreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart

1hr 28mins

8 Apr 2016

Rank #15

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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: www.youarenotsosmart.com- Become a patron at: www.patreon.com/youarenotsosmartSPONSORS• The Great Courses: www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/smart• Squarespace: www.squarespace.com | Offer Code = sosmartPatreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart


20 Apr 2017

Rank #16

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119 - The Unpersuadables

Our guest for this episode, Will Storr, wrote a book called The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science. In that book, Storr spends time with Holocaust deniers, young Earth creationists, people who believe they’ve lived past lives as famous figures, people who believe they’ve been abducted by aliens, people who stake their lives on the power of homeopathy, and many more – people who believe things that most of us do not. Storr explains in the book that after spending so much time with these people it started to become clear to him that it all goes back to that model of reality we all are forced to generate and then interact with. We are all forced to believe what that model tells us, and it is no different for people who are convinced that dinosaurs and human beings used to live together, or that you can be cured of an illness by an incantation delivered over the telephone. For some people, that lines up with their models of reality in a way that’s good enough. It’s a best guess.Storr proposes you try this thought experiment. First, answer this question: Are you right about everything you believe? Now, if you are like most people, the answer is no. Of course not. As he says, that would mean you are a godlike and perfect human being. You’ve been wrong enough times to know it can’t be true. You are wrong about some things, maybe many things. That leads to a second question – what are you are wrong about? Storr says when he asked himself this second question, he started listing all the things he believed and checked them off one at a time as being true, he couldn’t think of anything about which he was wrong.- Show notes at: www.youarenotsosmart.com- Become a patron at: www.patreon.com/youarenotsosmartPatreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart


15 Jan 2018

Rank #17

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004 - Money

In this episode we speak with Elizabeth Dunn about better spending money to increase happiness. Later, we eat an apple toffee cookie and explore novelty in old churches.Patreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart


7 Jul 2013

Rank #18

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125 - Status Quo Rationalization

When faced with an inescapable and unwanted situation, we often rationalize our predicament so as to make it seem less awful and more bearable, but what if that situation is a new law or a new administration? The latest research suggests that groups, nations, and cultures sometimes rationalize the new normal in much the same way, altering public opinion on a large scale.Patreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart


9 Apr 2018

Rank #19

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160 - Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

In Lori Gottlieb's new book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, she opens with a quote from James Baldwin that reads, "Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch."In this episode, we talk about therapy, how it works, the misconceptions around it, and how people go from resisting change to embracing the behaviors required to alter their own thoughts and feelings when stuck in destructive, unhealthy loops. You'll also learn the difference between idiot compassion and wise compassion.-- Show Notes at: youarenotsosmart.com ---- Become a patron at: www.patreon.com/youarenotsosmart --Patreon: http://patreon.com/youarenotsosmart


12 Aug 2019

Rank #20