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.

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.

132 - Practice (rebroadcast) (7/2018)

Is it true that all it takes to be an expert is 10,000 hours of practice? What about professional athletes? Do different people get more out of practice than others, and if so, is it nature or nurture? In this episode we ask all these things of David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene, who explains how practice affects the brain and whether or not greatness comes naturally or after lots and lots of effort. -- Show Notes at: -- -- This episode's notes: -- -- Become a patron at: -- SPONSORS • The Great Courses Plus: • Squarespace: Offer code: SOSMART • ZipRecruiter:

131 - The Marshmallow Replication (7/2018)

The marshmallow test is one of the most well-known studies in all of psychology, but a new replication suggests we've been learning the wrong lesson from its findings for decades. -- Show Notes at: -- -- This episode's notes: -- -- Become a patron at: -- SPONSORS • The Great Courses Plus: • Squarespace: Offer code: SOSMART • Lightstream:

130 - The Half LIfe of Facts (rebroadcast) (6/2018)

In medical school they tell you half of what you are about to learn won't be true when you graduate - they just don't know which half. In every field of knowledge, half of what is true today will overturned, replaced, or refined at some point, and it turns out that we actually know when that will be for many things. In this episode, listen as author and scientist Sam Arbesman explains how understanding the half life of facts can lead to better lives, institutions, and, of course, better science. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at: SPONSORS - • - Squarespace: || Code: sosmart - • - The Great Courses: - • - Zip Recruiter:

129 - Desirability Bias (rebroadcast) (6/2018)

Confirmation bias is our tendency to seek evidence that supports our beliefs and confirms our assumptions when we could just as well seek disconfirmation of those beliefs and assumptions instead. This is such a prevalent feature of human cognition, that until recently a second bias has been hidden in plain sight. Our past beliefs and future desires usually match up. Desirability is often twisted into confirmation like a single psychological braid - but recent research suggests that something called desirability bias may be just as prevalent in our thinking. When future desires and past beliefs are incongruent, desire wins out. - Show notes at: - Become a patron at:

128 - Happy Brain (5/2018)

What makes you happy? As in, what generates happiness inside the squishy bits that reside inside your skull? That's what author and neuroscientist Dean Burnett set out to answer in his new book, Happy Brain, which explores both the environmental and situational factors that lead to and away from happiness, and the neurological underpinnings of joy, bliss, comfort, love, and connection. In the episode you'll hear all that and more as we talk about what we know so far about the biological nature of happiness itself.