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Think101: Conversations

What’s the most efficient way to become an expert? Is it possible to learn something without trying? How do you use the scientific method in everyday life? Can you “nudge” someone to make more optimal choices? In this series, we offer a variety of tools to help you learn and remember information for longer, avoid self-deception, and value data over personal experience. Learn more at think101.org.

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Episode 5: Know When to Walk Away

Why do people persist with terrible jobs or relationships, where jumping ship is clearly the better option? Is it even possible to seriously consider a future job or partner that you've never had before? One way to better generalise from toy problems is to think about them in everyday circumstances. Try thinking about your interactions with someone like drawing marbles from an urn. Reading: Mindware by Richard Nisbett, “Foiling Foibles” and “Odds and Ns”; Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, "Bernoulli’s Errors" and "Prospect Theory." Guests: Jason Tangen, Rachel Searston, Ruben Laukkonen, Jeremy Nash, and Brooklyn Corbett. Learn more at think101.org.

48mins

15 Aug 2016

Rank #1

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Episode 4: Decisions, Decisions…

How do you decide what product to buy, apartment to rent, or who to marry? Listing pros and cons, weighing attributes, and collecting evidence are important for optimal decision making. It’s also valuable to consider sunk costs and opportunity costs, but when do you say, "Enough is enough," and finally make a choice? Should we rely on highly analytic and rational approaches to decision making, or leave it to our unconscious processes to solve in the background? Reading: Mindware by Richard Nisbett, “Should You Think Like an Economist?” and “Spilt Milk and Free Lunch”; Arkes, H. R., & Blumer, C. (1985). The psychology of sunk cost. Organizational behavior and human decision processes, 35(1), 124-140. Guests: Jason Tangen, Rachel Searston, Ruben Laukkonen, Jeremy Nash, and Kirsty Kent. Learn more at think101.org.

1hr 20mins

15 Aug 2016

Rank #2

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Episode 11: Epistemic Modesty

In the final chapter of “Mindware,” Nisbett assures the reader that we’re smarter than we were before started the book, and that we’ll now recognise mistakes in the wild. Are you, dear listener, less likely to make the errors in thinking that we’ve been discussing here? When are you likely to make mistakes? When should you rely on other people’s judgements about a domain? There seems to be an element of politeness when interacting with people who make claims, but is it wrong to, say, ask your doctor how often a diagnosis is wrong? Being sceptical about your own claims and expertise seems to be important in making everyday decisions, so how can we develop this epistemic modesty? Does knowing about experimental methodology help you make better decisions? Does is make you more sceptical? Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone asked to see the evidence before important policy decisions were made? How about an Open Science Framework for public policy? Reading: Mindware by Richard Nisbett, “Keeping It Real” and “The Tools of the Lay Scientist” Guests: Jason Tangen, Rachel Searston, Ruben Laukkonen, Gianni Ribeiro, Jeremy Nash, Brooklyn Corbett, Josephine Echberg, Joshua Adie, Kirsty Kent, Melissa Lane, and Ryan Metcalfe. Learn more at think101.org.

1hr 19mins

20 Oct 2016

Rank #3

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Episode 10: Simplicity

If a major goal in science is to “Keep It Simple,” what exactly does “simple” mean in this context? Helpful? Useful? Easy to Understand? Should public money only be spent on research that can be explained to folks down at the local pub? Does simplification naturally lead to overgeneralisation? Should the media “keep it simple” when communicating scientific results to the public? The curse of knowledge is clearly operating here. How much does the average person actually know (or need to know) about seemingly simple everyday objects like a zipper, lock, or toilet? What about cognitive explanations about “simple” species like bees, fish, or birds? Are simple explanations ideal in the judgements and decisions that we make everyday? Reading: Mindware by Richard Nisbett, “KISS and Tell.” Guests: Jason Tangen, Rachel Searston, Ruben Laukkonen, Gianni Ribeiro, Jeremy Nash, and Ryan Metcalfe. Learn more at think101.org.

1hr 7mins

6 Oct 2016

Rank #4

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Episode 9: Logic and Wisdom

Many experiments have demonstrated differences between people who grew up in the Eastern vs Western cultures on a variety of perceptual and cognitive tasks. Is an “object-centric” perspective more useful than a “situation-centric” perspective? Logic and the scientific method grew out of this object-centric approach, and they're pretty useful. There's some real value in treating objects and events abstractly, so we can better appreciate how they operate. But in many of our everyday decisions, we don't need to generate a label to successfully navigate the world, and recognising the context of an argument is clearly important for opinion change. Is dialectical reasoning more like conscious or unconscious processing? How does the notion of “wisdom” relate to these two perspectives? Reading: Mindware by Richard Nisbett, “Logic” and “Dialectical Reasoning.” Guests: Jason Tangen, Rachel Searston, Ruben Laukkonen, Gianni Ribeiro, Jeremy Nash, and Ryan Metcalfe. Learn more at think101.org.

52mins

3 Oct 2016

Rank #5