You Are Not So Smart

You Are Not So Smart is a celebration of self delusion that explores topics related to cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies. David McRaney interviews scientists about their research into how the mind works, and then he eats a cookie.

142 - Debate (rebroadcast) (12/2018)

In late 2014 and early 2015, the city of Starkville, Mississippi, passed an anti-discrimination measure that lead to a series of public debates about an issue that people there had never discussed openly. In this episode, we spend time in Starkville exploring the value of argumentation and debate in the process of change, progress, and understanding our basic humanity. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS • The Great Courses: • Squarespace:

141 - Not A Scientist (11/2018)

Our guest in this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast is Dave Levitan, a science journalist with a new book titled: Not a Scientist: how politicians mistake, misrepresent, and utterly mangle science. In the book, Levitan takes us through 12 repeating patterns that politicians fall into when they mistake, misrepresent, and mangle science. Some are nefarious and intentional, some are based on ignorance, and some are just part of the normal business of politicians managing their public image or trying to appeal to their base. --- • Show Notes: -- • The Great Courses: -- • Squarespace: CODE: SOSMART -- • One Fix: CODE: YANSS

140 - Machine Bias (rebroadcast) (11/2018)

We've transferred our biases to artificial intelligence, and now those machine minds are creating the futures they predict. But there's a way to stop it. In this episode we explore how machine learning is biased, sexist, racist, and prejudiced all around, and we meet the people who can explain why, and are going to try and fix it. --- • Show Notes: -- • The Great Courses: -- • Squarespace: CODE: SOSMART -- • ZipRecruiter:

139 - The Friendship Cure (10/2018)

On this episode, we welcome journalist Kate Leaver to talk about her new book The Friendship Cure in which she explores the crippling, damaging, life-threatening impact of loneliness and the severe mental health impacts of living a life disconnected from a support network of close contacts. But...there is a cure...learning how to connect with others and curate better friendships. In the interview we talk about loneliness, how to make friends, the difference between male and female friendship, platonic friendships, friends with benefits and lots, lots, more. -- • The Great Courses: -- • Squarespace: CODE: SOSMART -- • ZipRecruiter:

138 - Evil (10/2018)

In this episode, we sit down with psychologist Julia Shaw, an expert in memory and criminal psychology, to discuss her new book - Evil. In the book, she makes a case for something she calls "evil empathy," seeing people who do heinous things as fellow human beings instead of as monsters. According to Shaw, othering criminals by categorizing them as a separate kind of human allows us to put them out of our minds and disappear them to institutions or prisons. The result is we become less-able to prevent the sort of behavior the harms others from happening again and again. In fact, she says "there's no such thing as evil," and sees the term as an antiquated, magical label that dehumanizes others, preventing us from accumulating the sort of scientific evidence that could lead to a better society. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: Sponsors: -- • The Great Courses: -- • Squarespace: CODE: SOSMART -- • One Fix: CODE: YANSS ||| Show Notes at |||

137 - Narrative Persuasion (rebroadcast) (9/2018)

One of the most effective ways to change people’s minds is to put your argument into a narrative format, a story, but not just any story. The most persuasive narratives are those that transport us. Once departed from normal reality into the imagined world of the story we become highly susceptible to belief and attitude change. In this episode, you’ll learn from psychologist Melanie C. Greene the four secrets to creating the most persuasive narratives possible. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: Sponsors: -- • The Great Courses: -- • Squarespace: CODE: SOSMART -- • One Fix: CODE: YANSS ||| Show Notes at |||

136 - Prevalence Induced Concept Change (9/2018)

In this episode we explore prevalence induced concept change. In a nutshell, when we set out to change the world by reducing examples of something we have deemed problematic, and we succeed, a host of psychological phenomena can mask our progress and make those problems seem intractable -- as if we are only treading water when, in fact, we’ve created the change we set out to make. Sponsors: -- • The Great Courses: -- • Squarespace: CODE: SOSMART -- • ZipRecruiter: ||| Show Notes at |||

135 - Optimism Bias (rebroadcast) (8/2018)

In this episode, Tali Sharot, a cognitive neuroscientist and psychologist at University College London, explains our' innate optimism bias. When the brain estimates the outcome of future events, it tends to reduce the probability of negative outcomes for itself, but not so much for other people. In other words, if you are a smoker, everyone else is going to get cancer. The odds of success for a new restaurant change depending on who starts that venture, you or someone else. Sharot explains why and details how we can use our knowledge of this mental quirk to our advantage both personally and institutionally. More about Tali Sharot and her book The Optimism Bias here: Sponsors: -- • The Great Courses: -- -- • Squarespace: CODE: SOSMART -- • ZipRecruiter: ||| Show Notes at |||

134 - The Elaboration Likelihood Model (8/2018)

In this episode we sit down with psychology legend Richard Petty to discuss the Elaboration Likelihood Model, a theory he developed with psychologist John Cacioppo in the 1980s that unified the study of attitude change and persuasion and has since become one of the most robust models for explaining how and why some messages change people’s minds, some don’t, and what makes some stick and others fade in influence over time. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS • The Great Courses: Free month at • Squarespace: Use the offer code SOSMART at for 10 percent off your first purchase.

133 - Uncivil Agreement (7/2018)

In this episode, we welcome Lilliana Mason on the program to discuss her new book, Uncivil Agreement, which focuses on the idea: “Our conflicts are over who we think we are, rather than reasoned differences of opinion.” Personally, I feel like this is just about the most important thing the social sciences are studying right now, and I think Mason is one of the its most brilliant scientists - I promise, the insights you are about to hear will change the way you think about politics, tweeting, elections, and arguing with people on the other side of just about everything.