How to get the most out of realizing you are wrong by using Bayes’ Theorem to update your beliefs

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You don’t treat all of your beliefs equally.

For some, you see them as either true or false, correct or incorrect. For others, you see them as probabilities, chances – odds. In one world, you live in certainty, in the other, uncertainty.

In this episode we explore why you gladly update some beliefs yet refuse to update others.

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This episode is brought to you by the MIT Press, publishing Suzana Herculano-Houzel’s book The Human Advantage: A New Understanding of How Our Brain Became Remarkable. Read more about The Human Advantage and a few other new science, philosophy, language, and technology titles at mitpress.com/smart.

This episode is also sponsored by Casper Mattresses – obsessively engineered American-made mattresses at a shockingly fair price. And now, you can get $50 toward any mattress purchase by going to casper.com/sosmart and using code sosmart

This episode is also brought to you by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with The Fundamentals of Photography filmed in partnership with The National Geographic and taught by professional photographer Joel Sartore. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

If you love the show and want to support its continued production, become a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free as well as show extras and original content just for patrons. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

In this episode you will learn from two experts in reasoning how to apply a rule from the 1700s called Bayes’ Theorem not only to numbers you can plug into formulas, but also to the beliefs you carry around in order to make sense of the world. Read the rest

Why we are unaware of how unaware we are

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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.

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This episode is also brought to you by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with The Fundamentals of Photography filmed in partnership with The National Geographic and taught by professional photographer Joel Sartore. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

If you love the show and want to support its continued production, become a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free as well as show extras and original content just for patrons. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

In the case of singing, you might get all the way to an audition on X-Factor on national television before someone finally provides you with an accurate appraisal. David Dunning says that the shock that some people feel when Simon Cowell cruelly explains to them that they suck is often the result of living for years in an environment filled with mediocrity enablers. Friends and family, peers and coworkers, they don’t want to be mean or impolite. They encourage you to keep going until you end up in front of millions reeling from your first experience with honest feedback. Read the rest

The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

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When you desire meaning, when you want things to line up, when looking for something specific, you tend to notice patterns everywhere, which leads you to ask the question, “What are the odds?” Usually, the odds are actually pretty good.

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast recaps Game of Thrones S6E05, "The Door"

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Season six of HBO's Game of Thrones continues as we bid a tearful farewell to the kindest and purest soul given unto this series. Each week following the show, Boars, Gore, and Swords recaps everything that goes down in the world of Westeros. For this week's "The Door," Ivan and Red are joined by the hilarious Lydia Popovich to discuss the Iron Islands' applause-based political process, theatrical dingdongs, the consequences of grabbing root, and the loss of our dearest, biggest friend.

To catch up on previous seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you want access to extra episodes and content, you can donate to the Patreon. Read the rest

Three boys with a toy cannon briefly held off U.S. Army during 1941 wargames

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During wargames in Louisiana in September 1941, the U.S. Army found itself drawn into a tense firefight with an unseen enemy across the Cane River. The attacker turned out to be three boys with a toy cannon. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll revisit the Battle of Bermuda Bridge and the Prudhomme brothers' account of their historic engagement. Read the rest

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast recaps Game of Thrones S6E04, "Book of the Stranger"

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Season six of HBO's Game of Thrones continues, with sibling reunions and fiery declarations aplenty. Each week following the show, Boars, Gore, and Swords recaps everything that goes down in the world of Westeros. For this week's "Book of the Stranger," Ivan and Red discuss Ramsay Bolton's trolling, the High Sparrow's torture by backstory, Brienne and Tormund's sexual tension, and yes, they cover the flatulence of Pycelle which they somehow missed last week.

To catch up on previous seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you want access to extra episodes and content, or just want to show your support, you can donate to the Patreon. Read the rest

O'Reilly Hardware Podcast on the risks to the open Web and the future of the Internet of Things

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I appeared on the O'Reilly Hardware Podcast this week (MP3, talking about the way that DRM has crept into all our smart devices, which compromises privacy, security and competition. Read the rest

Can a castaway survive on fish, plankton, and seawater?

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In 1952, French physician Alain Bombard set out to cross the Atlantic on an inflatable raft to prove his theory that a shipwreck victim can stay alive on a diet of seawater, fish, and plankton. In this week's episode of the Futility Closet podcast we'll set out with Bombard on his perilous attempt to test his theory.

We'll also admire some wobbly pedestrians and puzzle over a luckless burglar.

Show notes

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast recaps Game of Thrones S6E03, "Oathbreaker"

Varys fanning himself.

The sixth season of HBO's Game of Thrones soldiers on, as the consequences of last week's revival unfold and seemingly long-forgotten characters make surprise returns. Each week following the show, Boars, Gore, and Swords recaps all the action in the world of Westeros. For this week's "Oathbreaker," Ivan and Red discuss Varys's interrogation methods, the differing effects of puberty on actors, and possible ways to defeat a four hundred pound Icelandic zombie strongman. 

To catch up on previous seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you enjoyed the show, you can get even more BGaS content by supporting them on their newly opened Patreon. Read the rest

What would the world be like if we could all understand each other?

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Today we travel to a world with universal translation devices.

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In this episode we talk about how machine translation could be meddled with, who gets to be the baseline language, and what these devices might do for language loss and assimilation.

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast recaps Game of Thrones S6E02, "Home"

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The sixth season of HBO's Game of Thrones continues, with surprising deaths and unsurprising returns from death. Each week following the show, Boars, Gore, and Swords recaps all the newest developments in the world of Westeros. To cover this week's "Home," Ivan and Red are joined by Walter Hickey, chief culture writer of FiveThirtyEight, to discuss proper dragon training technique, startling lacks of chainmail, and the poor civil infrastructure of the Iron Islands.

To catch up on previous seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you enjoyed the show and want to support it, you can donate to their newly opened Patreon. Read the rest

Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast recaps Game of Thrones S6E01, "The Red Woman"

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The sixth season premiere of HBO's Game of Thrones aired Sunday, marking a return to all the characters and subplots we loved or dreaded. Each week following the show, Boars, Gore, and Swords will recap all the newest developments in the world of Westeros. For this week's "The Red Woman," Ivan and Red are joined by guest OJ Patterson to discuss dead Jons, Brothrakis, and woke fanfiction.

To catch up on previous seasons, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you enjoyed the show, you can support the show on their newly opened Patreon. Read the rest

Game of Thrones podcast Boars, Gore, and Swords returns to Boing Boing

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This Sunday marks the return of Game of Thrones to HBO for its sixth season, and the return of recap podcast Boars, Gore, and Swords to the Boing Boing Podcast Network.

For the uninitiated, BGaS is a television and film podcast primarily about Game of Thrones, hosted by comedians Red Scott and Ivan Hernandez. Since 2011, the show has recapped and reviewed every episode of Game of Thrones, and covered much of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire extended universe. With a casual, occasionally filthy tongue in cheek, Ivan and Red cover the show, books, video games, and more, along with other TV shows and films like Doctor Who, Jessica Jones, The Force Awakens, and more.

To get listeners up to speed for the premiere, this week Ivan and Red reviewed the current status of the Top 100 GoT characters. From that one guy who got stabbed to that other guy who got stabbed, they go over everyone of note in the world of Westeros.

If you're new to the show, you can check out their full podcast archive. Some episodes of note include a discussion on the role of women, the first of the live game shows, and their redo of the GoT pilot.

If you want to connect with the guys on social media, you can follow them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. They also just launched a Patreon, so if you enjoy the show you can kick a few bucks their way. Read the rest

Could America Ever Become a Direct Democracy?

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Today we travel to a future where America has converted to a direct democracy. Everybody votes on everything!

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In this episode we explore the U.S. states that have direct democracy systems in place today, how to apply that model to the whole country, how to even gather all those votes, and what could go so, so very wrong with this idea.

Illustration by Matt Lubchansky.

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Podcast explains the corrosive effects of tax havens

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Nicholas Shaxon, author of Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens (previously) appeared on The Foreign Desk podcast (MP3) this week to discuss the nature of tax havens, how they hollow out both their host countries and the countries whence their hidden riches comes. Read the rest

Listen: thought experiments about who or what has a mind

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Rick Kleffel sends us his latest podcast (MP3), "A conversation with one of the authors of a wonderful and strange book; science-fiction thought experiments ('robot versus baby') informed by social psychology experiments of fascinating design, part ethics, philosophy, neuroscience, the minds of god and the dead and machines... authentically mind-boggling. And Fun!" Read the rest

What happens when computers gain consciousness?

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Today we travel to a world we share with conscious robots.

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In this episode we talk about everything from what artificial intelligence and consciousness even mean, whether you’ll ever have a moral obligation to pay Siri, and what happens when your intelligent secretary needs a therapist.

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