In every field of knowledge, half of what is true today will be 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.
In this episode, David McRaney sits down with psychologist Michele Gelfand and discuss her new book: Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World. In the book, Gelfand presents her research into norms and a fascinating new idea. It isn’t norms themselves that predict how cultures will react, evolve, innovate, and clash -- but how different cultures value those and sanction people who violate them. She categorizes all human cultures into two kinds -- tight and loose -- and argues that all human behavior depends on whether a person lives in a tight culture or a loose one.
In this episode, we learn all about the strange phenomenon of learned helplessness and how it keeps people in bad jobs, poor health, terrible relationships, and awful circumstances despite how easy it might be to escape any one of those scenarios with just one more effort. You will learn how to defeat this psychological trap with advice from psychologists Jennifer Welbourne, who studies attributional styles in the workplace, and Kym Bennett who studies the effects of pessimism on health.
In psychology, they call it naive realism, the tendency to believe that the other side is wrong because they are misinformed, that if they knew what you knew, they would change their minds to match yours. What we don't think, however, is maybe WE are the ones who are wrong. We never go into the debate hoping to be enlightened, only to crush our opponents. Listen in this episode as legendary psychologist Lee Ross explains how to identify, avoid, and combat this most pernicious of cognitive mistakes.
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 David McRaney asks 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.
If you could compare the person you were before you became sleep deprived to the person after, you’d find you’ve definitely become...lesser than. In this episode, David McRaney sits down with two researchers whose latest work suggests sleep deprivation also affects how you see other people. In tests of implicit bias, negative associations with certain religious and cultural categories emerged after people started falling behind on rest.
“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” - Rumi
In this divisive and polarized era how do you bridge the political divide between left and right? How do you persuade the people on the other side to see things your way? New research by sociologist Robb Willer and psychologist Matthew Feinberg suggests that the answer is in learning how to cross something they call the empathy gap.
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. Sharot explains why and details how we can use our knowledge of this mental quirk to our advantage both personally and institutionally.
In this episode of the YANSS Podcast, David McRaney sits down with legendary science historian James Burke. In Connections, he offered an “alternate view of history” in which great insights took place because of anomalies and mistakes, because people were pursuing one thing, but it lead somewhere surprising or was combined with some other object or idea they could never have imagined by themselves. Innovation took place in the spaces between disciplines, when people outside of intellectual and professional silos, unrestrained by categorical and linear views, synthesized the work of people still trapped in those institutions, who, because of those institutions, had no idea what each other was up to and therefore couldn’t predict the trajectory of even their own disciplines, much less history itself.