Submit a link Features Reviews Podcasts Video Forums More ▾

You Are Not So Smart podcast 021: how to use science as a tool to understand human nature

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.

This episode of You Are Not So Smart is brought to you by Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create you own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and ten percent off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code LESSDUMB.

YANSS: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Stitcher | Cookie Recipes

In 1998, The Journal of the American Medical Association published research that debunked therapeutic touch and moved the well-meaning mystical practice out of the kingdom of medicine and into the abandoned strip mall of quackery.

At the time, touch was enjoying a surge in popularity in hospitals and clinics. Practitioners claimed that they could manipulate mysterious energy fields and bring about healing by placing their hands above the body of the sick. The people doing this kind of work thought they were doing something wonderful, something good, but it was wishful thinking that had somehow bypassed the checks and balances of medical science.

The research that revealed therapeutic touch was bunk was based on a 9-year-old girl’s fourth-grade science fair project. Emily Rosa had already conducted several sound experiments based on her skepticism, and with the help of some career academics, her work was expanded. She is now part of history, the youngest person to publish research in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

One of the central themes of You Are Not So Smart is you are so bad at thinking, judging, and deciding that your species had to invent a tool to help you work on the sort of problems you, as a human, are terrible at solving. For example, “Can I heal someone with my hands and empathy alone?” or “Should I pay someone to wave his hands above my dying mother?” or “Should health insurance plans cover healing touch?” or “Should our university offer nurses classes in manipulating energy?” These are not easy questions to answer correctly. Without science, you’ll probably get them wrong.

Read the rest

You Are Not So Smart podcast 020: The Future - James Burke and Matt Novak

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.

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 when we arrive in a future where scarcity is rare 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.

This episode of You Are Not So Smart is brought to you by Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create you own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and ten percent off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code DUMDUM.

YANSS: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Stitcher

| YANSS Cookie Recipes

Read the rest

You Are Not So Smart podcast 019: Placebo sleep and other new discoveries in placebo research

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.

How powerful is the placebo effect? After a good night’s sleep could a scientist convince you that you had tossed and turned, and if so, how would that affect your perceptions and behavior? What if a doctor told you that you had slept like a baby when in reality you had barely slept at all? Would hearing those words improve your performance on a difficult test?

In this episode we learn the answers to these questions and more as we explore how research continues to unravel the mysteries behind the placebo effect and how it can drastically alter our bodies and minds.

This episode of You Are Not So Smart is brought to you by:

Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create you own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and ten percent off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code DUMDUM.

Warby Parker. Try out 5 pairs of prescription eyeglasses for free and get three-day shipping with the offer code SOSMART.

YANSS: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Stitcher

Read the rest

You Are Not So Smart podcast 018: How Benjamin Franklin dealt with haters

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.

Benjamin Franklin knew how to deal with haters, and in this episode we learn how he turned his haters into fans with what is now called The Benjamin Franklin Effect.

Listen as David McRaney reads and excerpt from his book, You Are Now Less Dumb explaining the psychology behind the effect and how the act of spreading harm forms the attitude of hate, and the act of spreading kindness generates the attitude of camaraderie.

This episode of You Are Not So Smart is brought to you by:

Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create you own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and ten percent off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code DUMDUM.

Audible, which is offering a free audiobook of your choice and a free 30-day trial membership. Go to audiblepodcast.com/notsosmart and choose from over 150,000 titles.

YANSS: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Stitcher

You Are Not So Smart podcast 017: Alternative Medicine - Tim Farley

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.

Where is the line between medicine and alternative medicine? Are Eastern medicine and Western medicine truly at odds, and if so, who is right and who is wrong? What harm is there in using complementary or integrative treatments in an effort to improve wellness?

In this episode we discuss alternative medicine with Tim Farley, creator and curator of What's The Harm, a website that tracks the harmful effects that result from seeking out alternative treatments and cures before or instead of seeking out science-based medicine. Tim also created the website Skeptical Software Tools, and he tweets at @krelnik.

This episode of You Are Not So Smart is brought to you by Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create you own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and ten percent off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code PIPE.

YANSS: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Stitcher

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.

This episode of You Are Not So Smart is brought to you by Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create you own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and ten percent off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code PIPE.

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.

YANSS: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Stitcher

You Are Not So Smart podcast 015: You Are Now Less Dumb

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

In this inbetweenisode David reads an excerpt from his book, You Are Now Less Dumb, about a strange experiment in Michigan that tested the bounds of the self by throwing three very unusual men into a situation that won’t likely be repeated ever again by science. (The photo is of the Ypsilanti state hospital and it comes courtesy of Opacity.us. )

In the next episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, neurologist Steven Novella and author Jesse Walker explain why we love conspiracy theories, how they flourish, and what they say about a culture.

YANSS: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Stitcher

You Are Not So Smart podcast 014: How stories can change beliefs and behaviors

YANSS: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Stitcher

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. Enjoy! -- Mark

In this episode we discuss the power that narratives have on our beliefs and behaviors with Melanie C. Green, a psychologist who studies the persuasive power of fiction.

According to Nielsen, the TV ratings company, the average person in the United States watches about 34 hours of television a week. That’s 73 days a year. Over the course of a lifetime, the average American can expect to spend a full decade lost in the trance spell that only powerful narratives can cast over the human mind.

What is the power of all the stories we consume through television? What about movies and books and comics and video games and everything else? How does it affect our beliefs and behaviors?

Read the rest

New York City's placebo buttons and "The Post Hoc Fallacy"

David McRaney, host of Boing Boing's most popular podcast, You Are Not So Smart, just posted this fun video about "The Post Hoc Fallacy" ("just because B follows A doesn't mean that A causes B") to promote his new book, You Are Now Less Dumb.

You Are Not So Smart podcast 013: Clive Thompson and How Technology Affects Our Minds


YANSS: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Stitcher

The very fact that you are reading this sentence, contemplating whether you want to listen to this podcast, means that you are living out a fantasy from a previous generation's cyberpunk novel.

However you made it here, however you got these words into your brain, you did so by diving through data streams first cooked up by delirious engineers downing late-night coffees, wandering deep within rows of data tape unspooling from jerky, spinning platters.

We've been dreaming of this life for a long time, since before the vacuum tubes and punchcards of the '40s, and now that we are here, some people are worried that the tech will, at best, make us lazy, and at worst make us stupid.

Read the rest

You Are Not So Smart podcast 012: The Dangerous Passion of Jealousy:


Why do human beings experience jealousy, what is its function, and what are the warning signs that signal this powerful emotion may lead to violence?

Once reserved for the contemplation of poets and playwrights, jealousy is now the subject of intense scientific scrutiny. "Mate poachers abound," explains this week's guest, psychologist David Buss, who says that his research supports his hypothesis that human jealousy is an adaptation forged by evolutionary forces to deal with the problems of infidelity. Moderate jealousy, he says, is healthy and signals commitment, but there is a dark and corrosive side as well that follows a clear, predictable pattern before it destroys lives.

David Buss is a professor of psychology who studies human mating at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of The Evolution Of Desire: Strategies Of Human Mating, The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is As Necessary As Love and Sex, The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill, and Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivations from Adventure to Revenge. You can learn more about him and his work at DavidBuss.com.

Read the rest

You Are Not So Smart 011: Hazel Markus and The Influence of Where You Live on How You Think


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. Enjoy! -- Mark

Is your state of mind from one situation to the next drastically altered by the state in which you live? According to cultural psychologists, yes it is.

Studies show that your thoughts, perceptions, emotions, and behaviors in response to a particular setting will reliably differ from those of others in that same setting depending on where you spent your childhood or even where you spent six years or more of your adult life.

On this episode of the You Are Not So Smart podcast, we explore cultural cognition and the psychological effects of the region you call home on the brain you call yours.

My guest this week:

Hazel Rose Markus is a social psychologist at Stanford University who studies the effects of culture, class, ethnicity, region, society, and gender on the concept of self and human psychology in general. She is the author of Clash! Eight Cultural Conflicts that Make Us Who We Are. You can learn more about her at her website here.

After the interview I try out a cinnamon chocolate cookie and read a bit of psychology news about how reading good books can make you more adept at reading faces.

YANSS: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Stitcher

Interested in sponsoring one of Boing Boing's podcasts? Visit Podlexing!

You Are Not So Smart 010: Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us


YANSS: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Stitcher

If a world archery champion fell madly in love with the Eiffel Tower, who she considered to be a female, married the monument, and then went on to consummate her union with it, would you consider her a crazy person? How about perverted? Insane? What about a person who can only reach sexual climax by falling down stairs? What about a person who masturbates to wheelchairs or to a recently worn hearing aid?

Read the rest

You Are Not So Smart 009: The Psychology of Arguing


You are Not So Smart is a new addition to Boing Boing's line-up of terrific podcasts! It's 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. Enjoy! -- Mark

Why do human beings get into arguments? What does science have to say about argumentation? Is there an evolutionary explanation? Is arguing adaptive? Is all our bickering in comments, forums, social media and elsewhere a good or a bad thing? Those are some of the questions posed in this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast. We ask those questions of:

Jeremy Sherman is an evolutionary epistemologist. He says that means he researches how humans evolved to draw conclusions from inconclusive data. At 24, he was an elder in the world’s largest hippie commune, but now he lectures at the Expression College for Digital Arts in Emeryville California and is a chief researcher at Berkely’s Consortium for Emergent Dynamics where he and others research how minds emerge from matter. He is now working on a book, "Doubt: A Natural History; A User's Guide" and he blogs at Psychology Today.

Hugo Mercier is a researcher for the French National Center for Scientific Research who shook up both psychology and philosophy with a paper published in 2011 titled, “Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory” (PDF) that proposed humans evolved reason to both produce and evaluate arguments. Respected and well-known names in psychology like Steven Pinker and Jonathan Haidt have both praised the paper as being one of the most important works in years on the science of rationality. You can find his website here.

YANSS: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Stitcher

Interested in sponsoring one of Boing Boing's podcasts? Visit Podlexing!

You Are Not So Smart 008: Video Games and Self Delusion


Guess what -- Boing Boing has added a new show to its line-up of terrific podcasts! It's called You Are Not So Smart and it's hosted by David McRaney, a journalist and self-described psychology nerd. He's the author of the books You Are Not So Smart and You Are Now Less Dumb. David runs the You Are Not So Smart website, a blog about about the psychology of self delusion. 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. Enjoy! -- Mark

In this episode we discuss the how video games can help us understand our delusions and speak with Jamie Madigan, the curator of psychologyofgames.com. Also, at the end, we eat a white chocolate oatmeal cookie and discuss a misconception about poverty.

YANSS: RSS | iTunes | Download this episode | Stitcher

Interested in sponsoring one of Boing Boing's podcasts? Visit Podlexing!