What magicians, con-artists, and scammers can teach us about humility and humanity

Before we had names for them or a science to study their impact, the people who could claim the most expertise on biases, fallacies, heuristics and all the other recently popularized quirks of human reasoning were scam artists, con artists, and magicians.

Psychology’s unhealthy obsession with the WEIRDest people in the world

Psychology studies are almost always about WEIRD people: Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, and Democratic – the kind of people who make up less than 15 percent of the world's population.

Curing kids of the notion that they suck at science

Can a new computer-assisted teaching program rid us of the cognitive errors that lead to students believing they suck at math or just aren’t cut out to study science? According to Ulrik Christensen, senior fellow of digital learning at McGraw-Hill Education, yes it can.

How we learn to be helpless—and unlearn it

Learned helplessness keeps people in bad jobs, poor health, terrible relationships, and awful circumstances despite how easy it may be to escape. Learn how to defeat this psychological trap, thanks to the work of Martin Seligman.

How Google uses behavioral science to make work suck less

From Dilbert to Fight Club to Joe Versus the Volcano, the world of white-collar drones and managerial ineptitude has long been a goldmine for parody.

LISTEN: Overcoming our irrational and sometimes crippling fear of rejection with Jia Jiang


What if you could give yourself a superpower – not Hulk-level strength, not telekinesis, but something realistic, something that added a superhuman ability by taking away a normal human limitation?

That’s what Jia Jiang wondered when he began a quest to remove the fear of rejection from his brain.


This episode is sponsored by the excellent and mind-bending movie Ex Machina – in theaters now. Seriously, it’s really good. Go see it.

This episode is also sponsored by Wealthfront, the automated investment service that makes it easy to invest your money the right way. Visit this link to to get your first $10,000 managed for free.

Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast you’ll hear how Jiang wanted to become an entrepreneur ever since he was 14-years-old and Bill Gates visited his hometown. Two-years later, he traveled to the United States. He eventually got a degree, got married, got a job, and at 30, right after having his first child, decided to finally take the plunge and start his own business. But four months into the adventure, a crucial investor rejected him. Jia was crushed. He became worried that his business would fail not because he needed funding, but because his fear of rejection was now magnified to stasis-inducing proportions.

To rid himself of that irrational emotion, Jiang created his own fear-elimination course – 100 days of rejection-based exposure therapy. Read the rest

How to change a person’s mind on a divisive social issue in 22 minutes

The power of disclosure can reduce prejudice, shift attitudes, and change minds forever

Our newfound power to ruin the lives of strangers with tweets

Author Jon Ronson looks at what happens when we obliterate people for unpopular opinions, off-color jokes, offensive language, and professional faux pas.

Unlearning, laser eyes, and reptilian false flags

In this episode of the You Are Not so Smart Podcast you will hear an excerpt from a lecture I gave at DragonCon2014 all about unlearning, superseded scientific theories, post-hoc rationalization, just-so stories, laser eyes, goose trees, spanking and more. Read the rest

How "compassion fatigue" affect doctors' decisions

An interview with Danielle Ofri, physician and author of “What Doctors Feel” – a book about the emotional lives of doctors.

James Burke on the coming age of scarce scarcity and abundant abundance

Matt Novak and James Burke help us understand why we are to terrible at predicting the future

The science behind Brian Williams' misremembering

The last 40 years of memory research strongly suggests the kind of misremembering Williams claims to have suffered is easy to reproduce in our own lives.

Avatars, rubber hands, virtual reality, and racism

Can changing your body, even just for a few minutes, change your mind? Can a psychological body transfer melt away your long-held opinions and unconscious prejudices? Maybe so.

The ceiling that birthed a naked man

What happened when a naked man literally appeared out of thin air inside a couple’s apartment while they were getting ready for work?

Monkeys, money, and the primate origins of human irrationality

Psychologist Laurie Santos trains monkeys how to use money, and has learned that they attempt to solve the same sort of financial problems humans have attempted.

The odd phenomenon of "blind insight"

A growing body of evidence is revealing that our guesses and our confidence in those guesses don’t come from the same place in our minds.

How the Halo Effect turns uncertainty into false certainty

When faced with complex information, why do we turn the volume down on what's hard to quantify ?

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