Thirteen: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds
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.
Is all this new technology improving our thinking or dampening it? Are all these new communication tools turning us into navel-gazing human/brand hybrids, or are we developing a new set of senses that allow us to benefit from never severing contact with the people most important to us?
That’s the topic of this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, and to answer these questions we welcome this episode’s guest, Clive Thompson, who is the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better. As the title suggests, he disagrees with the naysayers, and his book is an impressive investigation into why they are probably (thankfully) wrong. Thompson is a journalist whose work can be found published in Wired, The Washington Post, and the New York Times Magazine. You can learn more about him at his website.
After the interview, I discuss a news story about research into how the way you walk can encourage or discourage criminals to attack you.
Original Show Page: Technology | Clive Thompson
Twelve: 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 sayd 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 his the author of The Evolution Of Desire: Strategies Of Human Mating, 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.
After the interview I try a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich and discuss a news story about research into societies in which women are more competitive than men.
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.
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.
Original Show Page: Culture | Hazel Rose Markus
Ten: What Is and Is Not Normal Sexually – Guest Jesse Bering
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?
Well, those people exist. But should we consider those people mentally ill whose sexual desires deviate from the norm? Given what science is telling us about sexuality, how should we adjust our thinking about perversion? That’s the topic we explore in this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast. My guest is:
Jesse Bering’s new book is “Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us.” In it, he explores what is and is not normal, what is and is not perverted, and whether or not we should care about those things from a legal or moral standpoint. A former professor at the University of Arkansas and former director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen’s University Belfast, Bering has written for Scientific American, Slate, New York Magazine, The Guardian, The New Republic, and Discover. His other books are Why is the Penis Shaped Like That and The Belief Instinct. You can learn more about Jesse at his website.
After the interview I read a bit of self delusion news and taste cinnamon cardamom snickerdoodle.
Original Show Page: Perversion | Jesse Bering
Why do we argue? What purpose does it serve? Is all this bickering online helping or hurting us?
Science thankfully has something to say about these questions, and what it has to say may even help explain reason itself. That’s the subject we explore in this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast.
My guests are:
Jeremy Sherman, an evolutionary epistemologist, which means he researches how humans evolved to make generalizations and 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.
After the long interview, I read a bit of self delusion news and taste an orange coconut chocolate chip cookie.
Origian Show Page: Arguing | Hugo Mercier and Jeremy Sherman
Eight: How do video games affect our minds? Guest Jamie Madigan
In this episode of the YANSS podcast, we explore games and their potential to reveal our self delusions.
I interview Jamie Madigan, the curator of psychologyofgames.com, who writes about the behaviors and cognitions that games both exploit and uncover. It’s a great interview. We discuss everything from the motivational nudging in “Candy Crush Saga” to the power of endowed progress when endorsing people on LinkedIn. Please forgive us for geeking out so hard during it. I promise, non-gamers will learn plenty in this episode. Links to the things mentioned in the episode are at the bottom of this post.
After the interview, I read a bit of self delusion news and taste a white chocolate oatmeal cookie.
Original Show Page: Video Games | Jamie Madigan
Seven: Is There Such a Thing as Common Sense?
Show Page: Common Sense | Kevin Lyon
Six: Can Money Make Us Happy?
Show Page: Spending Money | Elizabeth Dunn
Five: Why do we care about selling out?
Show Page: Selling Out | Andrew Potter
Four: Is the self real?
Show Page: The Self | Bruce Hood
Three: Can you lie to yourself without knowing it?
Show Page: Confabulation | V.S. Ramachandran
Two: Do we mistake familiarity with knowledge?
Show Page: Illusion of Knowledge | Christopher Chabris
One: Do we miss more than we realize?
Show Page: Attention | Daniel Simons