You probably hate meetings — most people do — and much of their awfulness feels inevitable which makes meetings seem unnecessary, but in this episode psychologist and organizational scientist Steven Rogelberg says that neither of these conclusions are true.

Meetings are only bad if we make them bad, and since they are crucial to the cohesion of any institution, he wrote a book called The Surprising Science of Meetings about how to use his research and the research of others to improve the meetings that must take place within any organization.

Advertisements

In this episode we welcome Yale psychologist Laurie Santos who discusses her new podcast — The Happiness Lab — which explores how wrong and misguided we can be when we pursue those things that we think will make us happy (or avoid those things that we think will make us sad).

Based on the psychology course she teaches at Yale — “Psychology and the Good Life,” the most popular class in the university’s 300-year history — The Happiness Lab is a scientific tour of the latest research into what does and does not make us happy, and sad, and miserable, and content, and depressed, and joyous, and fulfilled.

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, as well as what makes some stick and others fade in influence over time.

In this sprawling, strange, and mind-bending episode, Dr. Jud Brewer, a neuroscientist and addiction psychiatrist, discusses the biological origins of our bad habits and how we can change them using new techniques derived from his lab’s research.

Well, he tries to talk about that, but I keep interrupting him to try and solve the great mysteries of consciousness and the self. For instance, if you want to hear a neuroscientist quote Einstein — “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.” — then go from talking about worms and cigarettes to warning you to be careful with your brain or “you can go over the event horizon of the black hole of anxiety,” and the only way out is to add more information to the system to it can propel itself away from the worry black hole — this is the episode for you.

In Lori Gottlieb‘s new book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, she opens with a quote from James Baldwin that reads, “Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch.”

It’s a book about therapy, what is is, what it isn’t, and how people do and do not change their behaviors. It’s intimate and human, gut-wrenching and inspiring, and full of science and drama and an honesty and candor that you rarely find in books like this.

Dinner parties used to be where you avoided politics. Now talking about politics at dinner parties is the norm.

Years ago, we avoided politics because we assumed the people at our table had diverse political identities, and we didn’t want to introduce a topic that might lead to an argument. Today, we assume our guests share a single identity, after all, why else would we have invited them?

Something has changed in the United States, and for many of us, it’s only at Thanksgiving dinner, a gathering where we don’t get to sort ourselves by political tribe, that we must face people who see the world differently than ourselves.