• The most logical logical fallacy of them all, the existential fallacy

    Hypothetical situations involving dragons, robots, spaceships, and vampires have all been used to prove and disprove arguments.

    Statements about things that do not exist can still be true, and can be useful thinking tools for exploring philosophical, logical, sociological, and scientific concepts.

    The problem is that sometimes those same arguments accidentally require those fictional concepts to be real in order to support their conclusions, and that's when you commit the existential fallacy.

    In this episode we explore the most logical logical fallacy of them all, the existential fallacy. No need to get out your pens and paper, we will do that for you, as we make sense of one the most break-breaking thinking mistakes we've ever discovered.

    This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the tenth in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    This episode is sponsored by Bombas – game-changing socks. Bombas decided to take socks seriously, by designing the most highly engineered, best-fitting, comfortable socks humans have ever imagined – and they look cool too. Go to Bombas.com/SOSMART for 20% off your first order.

    This episode is also sponsored by Casper Mattresses. Buying a Casper mattress is completely risk free. Casper offers free delivery and free returns with a 100-night home trial. If you don't love it, they'll pick it up and refund you everything. Casper understands the importance of truly sleeping on a mattress before you commit, especially considering you're going to spend a third of your life on it. Get $50 toward any mattress purchase by visiting www.casper.com/sosmart and using offer code "sosmart." Terms and Conditions Apply.

    This episode is also sponsored 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.

    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.

    BobBob Blaskiewicz is an assistant professor who teaches, among other subjects, critical thinking at Stockton University. He also writes about logic and reasoning at skepticalhumanities.com, and is a regular guest on the YouTube show The Virtual Skeptics.

    julia-galef-headshot

    Julie Galef is the president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, a non-profit devoted to training people to be better at reasoning and decision-making. She is also the host of the Rationally Speaking Podcast and writes for publications like Slate, Science, Scientific American, and Popular Science. This is her website.

    Vanessa Hill is an Australian science writer and stop-motion animator who hosts BrainCraft, a PBS series exploring psychology, neuroscience and human behavior. She previously worked for Australia's national science agency, as a science reporter for ScienceAlert, and has appeared in TIME,The Huffington Post, Scientific American, and Brain Pickings. Her Twitter page is here.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Samatnha Menzies who sent in a recipe for Chewy Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

    Links and Sources

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    Previous Episodes

    Boing Boing Podcasts

    Cookie Recipes

    BrainCraft

    Center for Applied Rationality

    Skeptical Humanities

    Your Logical Fallacy Is

    PBS Idea Channel

    A Guide to Logical Fallacies

    Stephen Downes on the Existential Fallacy

    Rationalwiki on Existential Assumptions

    Image Source – Paul K, CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

    fish-face

  • How you can avoid committing the "conjunction fallacy"

    Here is a logic puzzle created by psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.

    "Linda is single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with the issue of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in demonstrations. Which of the following is more probable: Linda is a bank teller or Linda is a bank teller AND is active in the feminist movement?"

    In studies, when asked this question, more than 80 percent of people chose number two. Most people said it was more probably that Linda is a bank teller AND active in the feminist movement, but that's wrong. Can you tell why?

    This thinking mistake is an example of the subject of this episode – the conjunction fallacy. Listen as three experts in logic and reasoning explain why people get this question wrong, why it is wrong, and how you can avoid committing the conjunction fallacy in other situations.

    This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the ninth in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    This episode is sponsored by Bombas – game-changing socks. Bombas decided to take socks seriously, by designing the most highly engineered, best-fitting, comfortable socks humans have ever imagined – and they look cool too. Go to Bombas.com/SOSMARTfor 20% off your first order.

    This episode is also sponsored by Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange
    your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you'll receive a custom domain for free for that year. Head to Squarespace.com and use the offer code "SoSmart" for 10 percent off your first order.

    This episode is also sponsored 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.

    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.

    BobBob Blaskiewicz is an assistant professor who teaches, among other subjects, critical thinking at Stockton University. He also writes about logic and reasoning at skepticalhumanities.com, and is a regular guest on the YouTube show The Virtual Skeptics.

    julia-galef-headshot

    Julie Galef is the president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, a non-profit devoted to training people to be better at reasoning and decision-making. She is also the host of the Rationally Speaking Podcast and writes for publications like Slate, Science, Scientific American, and Popular Science. This is her website.

    Vanessa Hill is an Australian science writer and stop-motion animator who hosts BrainCraft, a PBS series exploring psychology, neuroscience and human behavior. She previously worked for Australia's national science agency, as a science reporter for ScienceAlert, and has appeared in TIME,The Huffington Post,Scientific American, and Brain Pickings. Her Twitter page is here.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Justin Near who sent in a recipe for Monster Cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

    Links and Sources

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    Previous Episodes

    Boing Boing Podcasts

    Cookie Recipes

    BrainCraft

    Center for Applied Rationality

    Skeptical Humanities

    Your Logical Fallacy Is

    PBS Idea Channel

    A Guide to Logical Fallacies

    Extensional versus intuitive reasoning: The conjunction fallacy in probability judgment.

    Looking at "Linda": Is the Conjunction Fallacy Really a Fallacy?

    The Conjunction Fallacy at Bias123

  • Why you judge things on the basis of the source of information

    We often overestimate and overstate just how much we can learn about a claim based on where that claim originated, and that's the crux of the genetic fallacy, according to the experts in this episode.

    The genetic fallacy appears when people trace things back to their sources, and if you traced back to their shared source the ad hominem attack (insulting the source instead of attacking its argument) and the argument from authority (praising the source instead of supporting its argument), you would find the genetic fallacy is the mother of both kinds of faulty reasoning.

    You might be in danger of serially committing the genetic fallacy if your first instinct is to ask where attitude-inconsistent comes from once you feel the twinge of fear that appears after a belief is threatened.

    In this episode, listen as three experts in logic and rationality when we should and when we should not take the source of a statement into account when deciding if something is true or false.

    This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the eighth in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    This episode is sponsored by Bombas – game-changing socks. Bombas decided to take socks seriously, by designing the most highly engineered, best-fitting, comfortable socks humans have ever imagined – and they look cool too. Go to Bombas.com/SOSMART for 20% off your first order.

    This episode is also sponsored by Exo Protein. If you want to eat sustainably and responsibly, it's 20 times more resource-efficient to raise crickets for protein than cows. Exo, has made crickets easy to eat by making protein bars with cricket flour. These bars are not only high in protein and Omega 3s, but are also low sugar, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and most importantly, they're absolutely delicious. This makes sense, because a 3 star Michelin chef developed the recipes. Go to exoprotein.com/sosmart, to get a sampler pack with all their most popular flavors for less than $10, with free US shipping.

    This episode is also sponsored 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.

    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.

    BobBob Blaskiewicz is an assistant professor who teaches, among other subjects, critical thinking at Stockton University. He also writes about logic and reasoning at skepticalhumanities.com, and is a regular guest on the YouTube show The Virtual Skeptics.

    julia-galef-headshot

    Julie Galef is the president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, a non-profit devoted to training people to be better at reasoning and decision-making. She is also the host of the Rationally Speaking Podcast and writes for publications like Slate, Science, Scientific American, and Popular Science. This is her website.

    Vanessa Hill is an Australian science writer and stop-motion animator who hosts BrainCraft, a PBS series exploring psychology, neuroscience and human behavior. She previously worked for Australia's national science agency, as a science reporter for ScienceAlert, and has appeared in TIME,The Huffington Post, Scientific American, and Brain Pickings. Her Twitter page is here.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Jon Schnapp who sent in a recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

    Links and Sources

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    Previous Episodes

    Boing Boing Podcasts

    Cookie Recipes

    BrainCraft

    Center for Applied Rationality

    Skeptical Humanities

    Your Logical Fallacy Is

    PBS Idea Channel

    A Guide to Logical Fallacies

    Image Source – Micah Baldwin, CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

  • How you make excuses in order to maintain your beliefs

    Without realizing it, you sometimes apply a double standard to the things you love, believe, and consider crucial to your identity.

    If you do this while arguing, it is sometimes called special pleading. You search for exemptions and excuses for why a rule or a description or a definition does not apply to something that you hold dear while still applying those standards to everything else.

    You also use special pleading to explain away how something extraordinary failed to stand up to scrutiny, or why there is a lack of evidence for a difficult-to-believe claim that you personally think is credible.

    One of the tools used by special pleaders is called moving the goalposts. Whenever your opponent eliminates one of your claims, you alter your claim just a smidge so that it remains right outside your opponent's rhetorical grasp. When they do it again, you move your claim a bit more.

    In this episode, listen as three experts in logic and reasoning dive deep into the odd thinking behind the special pleading fallacy and how you move the goalposts to keep from seeming incorrect.

    This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the seventh in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    This episode is brought to you by the MIT Press, publishing Marc Wittmann's Felt Time The Psychology of How We Perceive Time. Read more about Felt Time and a few other new science, philosophy, language, and technology titles at mitpress.com/smart.

    This episode of You Are Not So Smart is also 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 10 percent off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code SOSMART.

    This episode is also sponsored 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.

    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.

    BobBob Blaskiewicz is an assistant professor who teaches, among other subjects, critical thinking at Stockton University. He also writes about logic and reasoning at skepticalhumanities.com, and is a regular guest on the YouTube show The Virtual Skeptics.

    julia-galef-headshot

    Julie Galef is the president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, a non-profit devoted to training people to be better at reasoning and decision-making. She is also the host of the Rationally Speaking Podcast and writes for publications like Slate, Science, Scientific American, and Popular Science. This is her website.

    Vanessa Hill is an Australian science writer and stop-motion animator who hosts BrainCraft, a PBS series exploring psychology, neuroscience and human behavior. She previously worked for Australia's national science agency, as a science reporter for ScienceAlert, and has appeared in TIME,The Huffington Post, Scientific American, and Brain Pickings. Her Twitter page is here.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is JP who sent in a recipe for Portuguese Pine Nut Cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

    Links and Sources

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    Previous Episodes

    Boing Boing Podcasts

    Cookie Recipes

    BrainCraft

    Center for Applied Rationality

    Skeptical Humanities

    Your Logical Fallacy Is

    PBS Idea Channel

    A Guide to Logical Fallacies

    Image Source – "A Special Pleader," painted in 1893 by
    Charles Burton Barber sent through the Deep Dream GeneratorWikimedia Commons

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

    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.

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    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.

    julia-galef-headshotJulia Galef is the president and co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality, a non-profit organization that training people and organization to make better decisions. She is also the host of the Rationally Speaking Podcast and has written for Slate, Science, Scientific American, and Popular Science.

    NeilAMansonNeil A. Manson is a philosopher and professor who teaches at the University of Mississippi. He teaches logic, philosophy, religion, philosophy of science, and medical ethics. His research concerns the design argument, and he assembled an anthology on the topic titled: God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science.

    In the show, Manson explains the math side of Bayes' Theorem, and Galef tells us how Bayes' Theorem makes it possible to see all of your beliefs as being in "grayscale," as neither black nor white, neither 0 nor 100 percent, but always somewhere in between, as a shade of gray reflecting your confidence in just how wrong you might be given the evidence at hand.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Andreas von Normann who submitted a recipe for Navette Provencale cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

    Links and Sources

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    Previous Episodes

    Boing Boing Podcasts

    Cookie Recipes

    Understanding Bayes' Theorem

    An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes' Theorem by Luke Muehlhauser

    Rationally Speaking

    Center for Applied Rationality

    Julia Galef

    Neil A. Manson

    Image Source: Popular Science Monthly Public Domain – Wikimedia Commons

  • Why we are unaware of how unaware we are

    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.

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    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.

    David DunningWhen you are unskilled yet unaware, you often experience what is now known in psychology as the Dunning-Kruger effect, a psychological phenomenon that arises sometimes in your life because you are generally very bad at self-assessment. If you have ever been confronted with the fact that you were in over your head, or that you had no idea what you were doing, or that you thought you were more skilled at something than you actually were – then you may have experienced this effect. It is very easy to be both unskilled and unaware of it, and in this episode we explore why that is with professor David Dunning, one of the researchers who coined the term and a scientist who continues to add to our understanding of the phenomenon.

    Read more about the Dunning-Kruger effect from David Dunning himself in this article recently published in the Pacific Standard.

    Links and Sources

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    Previous Episodes

    Boing Boing Podcasts

    Cookie Recipes

    David Dunning

    We Are All Confident Idiots

    Scientific Evidence That Self-Promoters Underestimate How Annoying They Are

    20 Minutes of X-Factor Auditions

    Ignorance and Surprise: Science, Society, and Ecological Design (Inside Technology)

    Image Source: Picserver via Creative Commons 3 – CC BY-SA 3.0

  • How to spot and avoid the "No True Scotsman" fallacy

    When your identity becomes intertwined with your definitions, you can easily fall victim to something called The No True Scotsman Fallacy.

    It often appears during a dilemma: What do you do when a member of a group to which you belong acts in a way that you feel is in opposition to your values? Do you denounce the group, or do you redefine the boundaries of membership?

    In this episode, you will learn from three experts in logic and argumentation how to identify, defend against, and avoid deploying this strange thinking quirk that leads to schisms and stasis in groups both big and small.

    This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the third in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    This episode is brought to you by Trunk Club. Like Netflix for clothes, a professional stylist helps you define your new look, and then your new clothes arrive at your doorstep in a special trunk. Keep what you want, return the rest. Get started today and Trunk Club will style you for FREE. Plus FREE SHIPPING both ways! Click here for this special offer.

    This episode is 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.

    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.

    Barbara Drescher is a cognitive psychologist and skeptical activist who lectured at California State University and currently serves as educational programs consultant for the James Randi Educational Foundation. Her website is ICBSEverywhere.com.

    Jesse Richardson is the founder of YourLogicalFallacyIs.com, a fantastic website where you can learn about fallacies and critical thinking and easily share what you discover. He is an award-winning creative lead on a number of other projects including School Of Thought.

    Mike Rugnetta is the writer and host of PBS Idea Channel produced by PBS Digital Studios. On Idea Channel he applies philosophical and critical concepts to pop-culture ideas and other more-familiar topics in an effort to better explain to a general, internet-savvy audience the strange and abstract propositions he explores in wonderful detail.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, You Are Now Less Dumb, and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Ashley Crutcher who sent in a recipe for poop cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

    Links and Sources

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    Previous Episodes

    Boing Boing Podcasts

    Cookie Recipes

    ICBSEverywhere

    Your Logical Fallacy Is

    PBS Idea Channel

    A Guide to Logical Fallacies

    Image Source – CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Why human brains are prone to the black and white fallacy

    Why do you try to drain the world of color when backed into a rhetorical corner?

    Why do you have such a hard time realizing that you have suggested the world is devoid of nuance when you are in the heat of an argument, reducing all every wavelength to black and white, and all choices to A or B?

    In this episode, you'll learn from three experts in logic and arguing why human brains are prone to the black and white fallacy and the false dichotomies it generates. You'll learn how to spot this fallacy, what to do when someone uses it against you, and how to avoid committing it yourself.

    This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the third in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    This episode is brought to you by Trunk Club. Like Netflix for clothes, a professional stylist helps you define your new look, and then your new clothes arrive at your doorstep in a special trunk. Keep what you want, return the rest. Get started today and Trunk Club will style you for FREE. Plus FREE SHIPPING both ways! Click here for this special offer.

    This episode is 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.

    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 your own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and ten percent off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code SOSMART.

    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.

    Barbara Drescher is a cognitive psychologist and skeptical activist who lectured at California State University and currently serves as educational programs consultant for the James Randi Educational Foundation. Her website is ICBSEverywhere.com.

    Jesse Richardson is the founder of YourLogicalFallacyIs.com, a fantastic website where you can learn about fallacies and critical thinking and easily share what you discover. He is an award-winning creative lead on a number of other projects including School Of Thought.

    Mike Rugnetta is the writer and host of PBS Idea Channel produced by PBS Digital Studios. On Idea Channel he applies philosophical and critical concepts to pop-culture ideas and other more-familiar topics in an effort to better explain to a general, internet-savvy audience the strange and abstract propositions he explores in wonderful detail.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, You Are Now Less Dumb, and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Andrew Leman who sent in a recipe for Salty Triple Chocolate Pistachio Cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

    Links and Sources

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    Previous Episodes

    Boing Boing Podcasts

    Cookie Recipes

    ICBSEverywhere

    Your Logical Fallacy Is

    PBS Idea Channel

    A Guide to Logical Fallacies

    Image Source – CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Why your brain creates straw men and doesn't realize it

    When confronted with dogma-threatening, worldview-menacing ideas, your knee-jerk response is usually to lash out and try to bat them away, but thanks to a nearly unavoidable mistake in reasoning, you often end up doing battle with arguments of your own creation.

    Your lazy brain is always trying to make sense of the world on ever-simpler terms. Just as you wouldn't use a topographical map to navigate your way to Wendy's, you tend to navigate reality using a sort of Google Maps interpretation of events and ideas. It's less accurate, sure, but much easier to understand when details aren't a priority. But thanks to this heuristical habit, you sometimes create mental men of straw that stand in for the propositions put forth by people who see the world a bit differently than you. In addition to being easy to grasp, they are easy to knock down and hack apart, which wouldn't be a problem if only you noticed the switcheroo.

    This is the essence of the straw man fallacy, probably the most common of all logical fallacies. Setting up and knocking down straw men is so easy to do while arguing that you might not even notice that you are doing it.

    In this episode, you'll learn from three experts in logic and arguing why human brains tend not to realize they are constructing artificial versions of the arguments they wish to defeat. Once you've wrapped your mind around that idea, you'll then learn how to spot the straw man fallacy, how to avoid committing it, and how to defend against it.

    This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the second in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. The first episode is here.

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    This episode is brought to you by Trunk Club. Like Netflix for clothes, a professional stylist helps you define your new look, and then your new clothes arrive at your doorstep in a special trunk. Keep what you want, return the rest. Get started today and Trunk Club will style you for FREE. Plus FREE SHIPPING both ways! Click here for this special offer.

    This episode is 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.

    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 your own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and ten percent off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code SOSMART.

    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.

    Barbara Drescher is a cognitive psychologist and skeptical activist who lectured at California State University and currently serves as educational programs consultant for the James Randi Educational Foundation. Her website is ICBSEverywhere.com.

    Jesse Richardson is the founder of YourLogicalFallacyIs.com, a fantastic website where you can learn about fallacies and critical thinking and easily share what you discover. He is an award-winning creative lead on a number of other projects including School Of Thought.

    Mike Rugnetta is the writer and host of PBS Idea Channel produced by PBS Digital Studios. On Idea Channel he applies philosophical and critical concepts to pop-culture ideas and other more-familiar topics in an effort to better explain to a general, internet-savvy audience the strange and abstract propositions he explores in wonderful detail.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Andrew Leman who sent in a recipe for Chinese New Year Cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

    Links and Sources

    DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

    Previous Episodes

    Boing Boing Podcasts

    Cookie Recipes

    ICBSEverywhere

    Your Logical Fallacy Is

    PBS Idea Channel

    A Guide to Logical Fallacies

    Origins of Straw Man Fallacy

    Image Source – CC BY-SA 3.0

  • The best logical fallacy of all: The Fallacy Fallacy

    If you have ever shared an opinion on the internet, you have probably been in an internet argument, and if you have been in enough internet arguments you have likely been called out for committing a logical fallacy, and if you've been called out on enough logical fallacies in enough internet arguments you may have spent some time learning how logical fallacies work, and if you have been in enough internet arguments after having learned how logical fallacies work then you have likely committed the fallacy fallacy.

    This episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is the first in a full season of episodes exploring logical fallacies. In the first show of this series you will hear three experts in logic and debate explain how formal arguments are constructed, what logical fallacies are, and how to spot, avoid, and defend against the one logical fallacy that, after learning such things, is most likely to turn you into an internet blowhard.

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    This episode is brought to you by Trunk Club. Like Netflix for clothes, a professional stylist helps you define your new look, and then your new clothes arrive at your doorstep in a special trunk. Keep what you want, return the rest. Get started today and Trunk Club will style you for FREE. Plus FREE SHIPPING both ways! Click here for this special offer.

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    BarbaraDrescherBarbara Drescher is a cognitive psychologist and skeptical activist who lectured at California State University and currently serves as educational programs consultant for the James Randi Educational Foundation. Her website is ICBSEverywhere.com.

    JRJesse Richardson is the founder of YourLogicalFallacyIs.com, a fantastic website where you can learn about fallacies and critical thinking and easily share what you discover. He is an award-winning creative lead on a number of other projects including School Of Thought.
    MikeRugnettaMike Rugnetta is the writer and host of PBS Idea Channel produced by PBS Digital Studios. On Idea Channel he applies philosophical and critical concepts to pop-culture ideas and other more-familiar topics in an effort to better explain to a general, internet-savvy audience the strange and abstract propositions he explores in wonderful detail.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Natalja Kusnezova of Kopeysk, Russia who sent in a recipe for peach cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

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    PBS Idea Channel

    A Guide to Logical Fallacies

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  • How to become better at smelling and avoiding the many varieties of bullshit

    How strong is your bullshit detector? And what exactly IS the scientific definition of bullshit?

    In this episode we explore both of those concepts as well as what makes a person susceptible to bullshit, how to identify and defend against it, and what kind of people are the most and least likely to be bowled over by bullshit artists and other merchants of feel-good woo.

    gordon_pennycookYou'll hear how Gordon Pennycook and his team at the University of Waterloo set out to discover if there was a spectrum of receptivity for a certain kind of humbug they call pseudo-profound bullshit – the kind that sounds deep and meaningful at first glance, but upon closer inspection means nothing at all. They wondered, is there a "type" of person who is more susceptible to that kind of language, and if so, what other things about personalities and thinking styles correlate with that tolerance and lack of skepticism, and why?

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    This episode is brought to you by The Great Courses. Get 80 percent off Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide presented by professor Scott Heutell along with many other fantastic lecture series by visiting this link and ordering today!

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    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Nick Dahlstrom who submitted a recipe for lemon ricotta cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

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    Previous Episodes

    Boing Boing Podcasts

    Cookie Recipes

    The New Age Bullshit Generator

    On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt

    Gordon Pennycook

    On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit

    Cognitive Reflection Test

    Big Think Article on Cognitive Reflection

    Barbara Drescher's ICBSEverywhere.com

    WisdomOfChopra.com

    Image Source: Wikimedia Commons – Stier by Beno Adams

  • How search engines make us feel smarter than we really are

    You've likely wondered if the internet is having a negative effect on your brain. Perhaps you've thought this after realizing the world wide web now serves as a trusty resource when gaps in your knowledge appear, and over time it, you've thought, maybe it might be making you less knowledgeable overall because you habitually head to Google if you don't know the answers to something, search, click, read a few lines, and then promptly forget the factoid until the next time you need it.

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    This episode is brought to you by The Great Courses. Get 80 percent off Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior presented by Professor Mark Leary along with many other fantastic lecture series by visiting this link and ordering today!

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    Fearing that new technology will lead to lazy thinking is an old concern, one that goes back at least as far as Socrates who was certain that scrolls would make people dumb because they would grow to depend on "external written characters" instead of memorization. Just about every new technology and medium has been vilified at some point by that era's luddites as finally being the end of deep thinking and the beginning of idiocracy. It never happens, of course, and I doubt it ever will.

    The latest research suggest that though technology probably doesn't make us stupid, it can, however, cause us to believe that we are smarter than we really are. Knowing you can search the internet is similar to knowing that you can consult a dictionary or a home encyclopedia or make a visit to the library when truly puzzled – but it's different in that your brain, and the brains of every other cybercitizen, has become accustomed to the power to almost effortlessly reach into the internet and in a second or two bring back the info previously missing from your head, and you can do that mid-conversation, or while driving, or in the subway or on the couch or in line for a concert. That effortlessness and in-our-pockets availability seems to deeply affect how we categorize what is in our heads and what is not. When we consider all there is to know about a given subject, the convenience of search engines seems to blur the way we think about what we do and do not personally know about the world.

    Matthew Fisher YaleAccording to the early studies of researcher Matthew Fisher, the side effect of a familiarity with search engines is an inflated sense of internal knowledge. Habitual googling leads us to mistakenly believe we know more than we actually do about any given subject – and here is the crazy part – that intuition persists even in moments in which we no longer have access to the internet. The more you use Google, it seems, the smarter you feel without it.

    In this episode we explore what happens when a human mind becomes aware that it can instantly, on-command, at any time, search for an answer to any question, and then, most of time, find it.

    After the interview, I discuss a new study that suggests having a Facebook account raises your cortisol levels way higher than normal, but interacting with Facebook in a positive way then lowers those levels to normal. Basically, it's like smoking. It introduces a stressor that it then reduces. It's the sickness AND the cure.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Jon Edwards who submitted a recipe for metacookies, or cookies inside of cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

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    Matthew Fisher

    Searching for Explanations: How the Internet Inflates Estimates of
    Internal Knowledge

    Liking on Facebook good for teens' stress, but being liked… not so much

  • Why you often believe people who see the world differently are wrong

    In psychology they call thinking that you see the world as it truly is, free from bias or the limitations of your senses, naive realism.

    According to our guest in this episode, famed psychologist Lee Ross, naive realism also leads you to believe you arrived at your opinions, political or otherwise, after careful, rational analysis through unmediated thoughts and perceptions. In other words, you think you have been mainlining pure reality for years, and like Gandalf studying ancient texts, your intense study of the bare facts is what has naturally led to your conclusions.

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    This episode is brought to you by The Great Courses. Get 80 percent off Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior presented by Professor Mark Leary along with many other fantastic lecture series by visiting this link and ordering today!

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    As Ross points out in the interview, your personal reality isn't the perception of what is "out there," but an observation of what is going on inside your head. Bertrand Russell put it like this, "The observer, when he seems to himself to be observing a stone, is really, if physics is to be believed, observing the effects of the stone upon himself," a point illustrated by this static, non-moving image (mobile readers click this for bigger version):

    Motion Illusion

    Your brain takes in the information from your senses, but your reality isn't made up of the atoms of the "real world." It's made up of the atoms of your brain. It's an interaction, a conjuring. Among those brain atoms, the picture is moving, but here is the kicker, since every human brain will make this picture move within the subjective reality of each person looking at it, there is no human reality in which the image isn't moving. There's no objective stance, perceptually speaking. According to Ross, our political realities are no different than that swirling mass which isn't really swirling. On most emotionally charged issues, there is no objective perspective that a brain can take, despite the fact all the people on each side of any debate believe their side is the one rooted in reality.

    Ross says that since you believe you are in the really-real, true reality, you also believe that you have been extremely careful and devoted to sticking to the facts and thus are free from bias and impervious to persuasion. Anyone else who has read the things you have read or seen the things you have seen will naturally see things your way, given that they've pondered the matter as thoughtfully as you have. Therefore, you assume, anyone who disagrees with your political opinions probably just doesn't have all the facts yet. If they had, they'd already be seeing the world like you do. This is why you continue to ineffectually copy and paste links from all our most trusted sources when arguing your points with those who seem misguided, crazy, uninformed, and just plain wrong. The problem is, this is exactly what the other side thinks will work on you.

    Lee Ross was one of the first psychologists to study naive realism, and he writes about it in a new his book ,co-written with Tom Gilovitch, titled The Wisest One in the Room. In the original paper, co-written with Andrew Ward in 1995, the two scientists concluded that naive realism leads people to approach political arguments with the confidence that "rational open-minded discourse" will naturally lead to a rapid narrowing of disagreement, but that confidence is usually short-lived.

    Lee RossWhen confronted with people who disagree with your estimations of reality, even after you've pushed a bunch of facts in their faces, you tend to assume there must be a rational explanation for why they think and feel the way they do. Usually, that explanation is that the other side is either lazy or stupid or corrupted by some nefarious information-scrambling entity like cable news, a blowhard pundit, a charming pastor, or a lack thereof. Since this is where we often end up, they say what usually happens is that our "repeated attempts at dialogue with those on the 'other side' of a contentious issue make us aware that they rarely yield to our attempts at enlightenment; nor do they yield to the efforts of articulate, fair-minded spokespersons who share our views." In other words, it's naive to think evidence presented from the sources you trust will sway your opponents because when they do the same, it never sways you.

    Listen in this episode as psychologist Lee Ross explains how to identify, avoid, and combat this most pernicious of cognitive mistakes.

    After the interview, I discuss a new study that found people are much more critical of other people's arguments than they are of their own, unless tricked to think one of their old arguments was someone else's.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Jennifer Foote who submitted a recipe for frostbitten molasses cookies entombed in ginger. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

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    The Wisest One in the Room

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    Paper: The Selective Laziness of Reasoning

    Neuroskeptic – The Selective Laziness of Reasoning

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    Illusion Image by Paul Nasca: http://bit.ly/1GTwHbc

  • How to willfully alter your brain's ability to willfully alter your brain's abilities

    In a way, you can simply will yourself into a new physical form – that is if you use your will to routinely move heavy things, run around, or eat fewer tacos.

    Just as you can change your body at the atomic level by lifting weights, exercising, or eating differently, you can willfully alter your brain by performing another physical act: thinking in a certain way.

    (more…)

  • How to turn your fears and anxieties into positivity and productivity with cognitive reframing

    Reframing is one of those psychological tools that just plain works. It's practical, simple, and with practice and repetition it often leads to real change in people with a variety of thinking problems.

    It works because we rarely question our own interpretations, the meanings we construct when examining a set of facts, or our own introspections of internal emotional states. So much of the things the anxiety and fear we feel when anticipating the future is just the result of plucking from a grab bag of best guesses and assumptions, shaky models of reality that may or may not be accurate and will likely pan out much differently than we predict.

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    This episode is brought to you by The Great Courses. Get 80 percent off Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior presented by Professor Mark Leary along with many other fantastic lecture series by visiting this link and ordering today!

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    This episode of You Are Not So Smart is also brought to you by Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create your own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and 10 percent off, go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code SOSMART.

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    tom_uniformIn this episode, we meet Tom Bunn, a former commercial pilot who uses reframing to cure people of their fears of flying and Robert R. Morris, a startup CEO who is developing a social network to crowdsource mental health in which users reframe others people's fears and anxious thoughts and in the process learn to reframe their own fruitless cognitive loops in their daily lives. RobertRMorris_BW_200x200

    After the interview, I discuss a news story about how humanizing slot machines can encourage people to empty their pockets at casinos.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Marion Low who submitted a recipe for Hertzoggies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

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    Slot machines are more addictive when we see them as having human-like intentions

    Photo Credit: d_pham

  • How the illusion of control leads you to perpetually wait for your life to begin

    Over the years, when most patients have first met psychiatrist Michael I. Bennett, they have tended to believe they would soon to get to know a trusted confidant who would sit quietly, listen intently, and eventually deliver something he says is scientifically impossible: a way to make all their bad feelings go away.

    "I'd say, 'Well, what's your goal with this problem?' explains Bennett. "And they would say, 'Of course, it's to feel better. It's to improve it. It's to solve it,' and I'd be essentially saying, 'Fuck that! That's not going to happen.'"

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    This episode is brought to you by The Great Courses. Get 80 percent off Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior presented by Professor Mark Leary along with many other fantastic lecture series by visiting this link and ordering today!

    This episode is sponsored by Wealthfront, the automated investment
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    In the show, you'll hear Michael elaborate on why that is. In this episode, our guests are Harvard-trained psychiatrist Michael I. Bennett and his comedy writer daughter Sarah Bennett whose new book, Fuck Feelings, makes the case for accepting the illusion of control as a guiding principle for living a better life.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 12.41.58 PMTime and again, study after study, psychologists have found that in situations in which the outcomes are clearly, undoubtably random or otherwise outside the realm of control, people tend to latch onto any shred of evidence that could be interpreted otherwise. It's a habit that can lead to self-loathing, ineffectual strategies for change, and lives filled with missed opportunities and squandered productivity.

    As the Bennetts explain in the book, most people seek a therapist in an effort to actively deny that they don't have any control over their emotions. Stuck in a neurotic, fruitless loop, people begin to wonder why they can't achieve perpetual happiness or erase their proclivity to procrastinate. If they could just fix the things they see as broken, they could then become the people they've always wanted to be and finally begin their lives.

    But just how much control do you really have over your feelings or your essential nature? According to the Bennetts, much less than you would like to believe. Your efforts are better spent elsewhere.

    In this episode, listen as Michael and Sarah explain what you should be doing instead, and why they say – "Fuck feelings."

    After the interview, I discuss a news story about how people can be fooled into believing a meal is delicious when told a master chef cooked the meal.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Tiffany R Carrell who submitted a recipe for buttermilk cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

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    The Illusion of Control

    Fuck Feelings

    Can A Meal's Presentation Change Your Perception Of Its Overall Quality?

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

    On this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, we discuss the folk practitioners of cognitive science with magician and scam expert Brian Brushwood. In the conversation, we explore a wide-range of ideas from how card tricks can be a gateway to better critical thinking to why most psychics end up tricking themselves into believing in their own bullshit. We also discuss why people fall for scams of all sizes, how to avoid them, and why most magicians can spot a fraudster a mile away.

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    This episode is brought to you by The Great Courses. Get 80 percent off Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella along with many other fantastic lecture series by visiting this link and ordering today!

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    1510568_672433689462372_2029764276_nBrian Brushwood tours the world giving lectures that mix comedy with stage and close-up magic designed to deliver an overall message about how to better navigate a world filled with scams, frauds, pseudoscience, and paranormal beliefs. His video series, Scam School, teaches people to do the kind of easy-to-learn tricks that can win bets and score free stuff in bars and parties, and his new series on Nat Geo, Hacking the System, takes that concept and expands it to cover social engineering in everyday life. He hosts a number of podcasts, and his hair used to look a lot like Guile's from Street Fighter.

    After the interview, I discuss a study that revealed Nigerian email scams are purposefully designed to look ridiculous so as to provide a better sorting mechanism for time-thrifty scam artists.

    Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 11.35.12 AMIn every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Jonathan Whitaker who submitted a recipe for Date Fingers. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

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    Scams, Sasquatch, and the Supernatural

    Why do Nigerian Scammers Say They are from Nigeria?

    Why We Should Scam the Scammers

    Photo: Public Domain via The British Library

  • Psychology's unhealthy obsession with the WEIRDest people in the world

    Is psychology too WEIRD?

    That's what this episode's guest, psychologist Steven J. Heine, suggested when he and his colleagues published a paper revealing that psychology wasn't the study of the human mind, but the study of one kind of human mind, the sort of mind generated by the kinds of brains that happen to be conveniently located near the places where research is usually conducted.

    When you hear about "subjects" in a psychology paper, those subjects are almost always North American college undergraduates or students from Australia or the UK, members of a cohort many scientists now label as the WEIRDest people in the world, short for Western, Education, Industrial, Rich, and Democratic – the kind of people who make up less than 15 percent of the world's population.

    Steven J. HeineOur guest, Steven J. Heine, was one of the authors of a paper that lead to psychology's greatest epiphany in decades, many (if not all) of the human universals discovered in all of field's most famous experiments are actually universals among only one demographic, not the entire human species. It was kind of like biologists suddenly learning they had based their entire science just on the animals living in a single cave in Montana.

    In this episode, you'll learn why it took so long to figure out it was studying outliers, and what it means for the future of psychology, neuroscience, and many other fields attempting that study human beings as a whole.

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    This episode is brought to you by The Great Courses. Get 80 percent off Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella along with many other fantastic lecture series by visiting this link and ordering today!

    This episode is sponsored byWealthfront, the automated investment
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    After the interview, I discuss a news story about how just two questions can determine how well a commercial airline pilot will handle a dangerous situation.

    In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, "You Are Now Less Dumb," and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode's winner is Terrence Rogers who submitted a recipe for Oatmeal Candy Bacon Cookies with Bourbon, Apple Cider, Maple Syrup Frosting and Sea Salt. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

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    Previous Episodes

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    Cookie Recipes

    Steven J. Heine

    Just two questions predict how well a pilot will handle an emergency

    Individual reactions to stress predict performance during a critical aviation incident

    The weirdest people in the world?

    We agree it's WEIRD, but is it WEIRD enough?

    Cognitive modulation of olfactory processing

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons