In this episode, mathematician Spencer Greenberg takes us through a tour of ClearerThinking.org, the website and company he created to answer the question, “Why do people make choices that they later come to regret?”

Our guest in this episode is Gretchen McCulloch, who is a linguist, but also, I’d say a MEME-ologist, evidenced by that the fact that in her New York Times Bestselling book, Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, she spends a good portion of the book tracing the history of memes and how we have used them all the way up to right now, which is part of her her overall exploration of how language itself has changed since the advent of text messaging, SnapChat, TikTok, emojis, gifs, memes, and the internet as a whole.

McCulloch explains how texting, emoji, apps, social media, and the meme economy are all expanding our abilities to communicate ideas and ~express~ ourselves to one another. So, if you still put periods at the ends of your texts and refuse to change your ways, you will definitely enjoy this interview, and if you fancy yourself some kind of memelord, this is certainly the episode for you

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In this episode, we explore why we are unaware that we lack the skill to tell how unskilled and unaware we are. 

The evidence gathered so far by psychologists and neuroscientists seems to suggest that each one of us has a relationship with our own ignorance, a dishonest, complicated relationship, and that dishonesty keeps us sane, happy, and willing to get out of bed in the morning. Part of that ignorance is a blind spot we each possess that obscures both our competence and incompetence called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. 

In this episode, we sit down with neuroscientist David Eagleman to learn how brains turn noise into signal, chaos into order, electrical spikes into meaning, and how new technology can expand subjective reality in ways never before possible.

In his new book, Livewired, Eagleman explores how brains come into the world “half baked” so they can create reality out of the inputs and experiences available. Thanks to that plug-and-play plasticity, not only can we return senses to those who’ve lost them, but add to anyone new senses that we have yet to imagine.

Stuck in a bad situation, even when the prison doors are left wide open, we sometimes refuse to attempt escape.

In psychology, learned helplessness is a state of mind that can develop if you try and fail, and then try and fail again. After a few rounds of learning in this way you start to believe that it’s not the situation, or the problem, or some kind of unfair disadvantage, or a bad roll of the dice that caused you to fail – but that it had something to do with you as a person, something that indicates you’d likely continue to fail again and again and again, so why bother? Once that pattern is established, you mistakenly stop trying, and even though success it right there, easy, yours for the taking, you don’t even make the attempt. Your brain has changed, you’ve learned a new routine, you’ve learned to be act as through you are helpless regardless of whether you really are.

Learned helplessness is one of darker aspects of human nature. Among all the ways we delude ourselves, it’s easily one of the most damaging and most invisible. In this episode, we explore this strange mental phenomena by speaking to three experts, each exploring a different way it harms us. You’ll learn 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.

The good news is that learned helplessness can be unlearned, and each expert in the show offers a different tactic for removing it from our lives and the lives of others.