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For the 155th episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, David McRaney, four experts, and a bunch of YANSS fans got together for a deep dive into how we turn perception into reality, how that reality can differ from brain to brain, and what happens when we dangerously disagree on the truth.
In 1990, psychologist Walter Michel’s and his team released a landmark study into delayed gratification.
They offered kids a single marshmallow now, or two marshmallows later if they could resist temptation for 20 minutes. They found that the children who could wait were more likely to be successful later in life. They had higher test scores on the SAT, lower divorce rates, higher incomes, lower body mass indexes, and fewer behavioral problems as adults.
Today, if you go to YouTube and search for “The Marshmallow Test” you will find thousands of videos in which parents test their children to see if they can wait for the marshmallow. It’s understandable, because throughout the early 2000s, a slew of TED talks, popular books, and viral articles suggested that you could use the test to portend your child’s chances at reaching their life goals — and its fun and easy and you can eat all the extra marshmallows.
The marshmallow test is now one of the most well-known studies in all of psychology, right up there with the Milgram shock experiments and the Stanford prison experiment, but a new replication suggests we’ve been learning the wrong lesson from its findings for decades.
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, as well as 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.
When faced with an inescapable and unwanted situation, we often rationalize our predicament so as to make it seem less awful and more bearable, but what if that situation is a new law or a new administration?
In this episode we sit down with the director and producers of the documentary film, Behind the Curve, an exploration of motivated reasoning and conspiratorial thinking told through the lives of people who have formed a community around the belief that the Earth is flat.
When was the last time you changed your mind? Are you sure?
In this episode we explore new research that suggests for the majority of the mind change we experience, after we update our priors, we delete what we used to believe and then simply forget that we ever thought otherwise.
In the show, psychologists Michael Wolfe and Todd Williams, take us though their new research which suggests that because brains so value consistency, and are so determined to avoid the threat of decoherence, we hide the evidence of our belief change. That way, the story we tell ourselves about who we are can remain more or less heroic, with a stable, steadfast protagonist whose convictions rarely waver — or, at least, they don’t waver as much as those of shifty, flip-flopping politicians.