You Are Not So Smart podcast 016: Conspiracy Theories

You are Not So Smart is hosted by David McRaney, a journalist and self-described psychology nerd. In each episode, David explores cognitive biases and delusions, and is often joined by a guest expert. David concludes each episode by eating a delicious cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener.

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Who is pulling the strings? Who is behind the coverup? Who holds the real power, and what do they want? How deep does the conspiracy to control your mind go?

In this episode we discuss the history, social impact, neuroscience, and psychology behind conspiracy theories and paranoid thinking.

Our guests are Steven Novella and Jesse Walker. Listen as they explain why we love conspiracy theories, how they flourish, how they harm, and what they say about a culture.

Steven Novella is a leader in the skeptic community, host of The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, and an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine. He blogs at Neurologica, Skepticblog, and Science-Based Medicine.

Jesse Walker is the book editor for Reason Magazine and author of the new book, The United States of Paranoia, a Conspiracy Theory. Walker's articles can be seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and many others. He blogs at The Perpetual Three Dot Column.

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Schoolkids vs. disco Illuminati

In this performance from 1982, schoolchildren face off against the disco Illuminati of Pink Project, their dueling renditions of Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall (part 2) and Alan Parsons Project's Mammagamma merging into a groovy mashup a fair few years ahead of its time. An extended mix is also available. If you like it, the next stop is Pink Project's mix of Jean Michele Jarre's Oxygene and APP's Hyper Gamma Spaces. The next stop after that is paying too much for a tatty vinyl at eBay Italy.