The Topic: Survivorship Bias

The Guest: Megan Price

The Episode: Download iTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

The problem with sorting out failures and successes is that failures are often muted, destroyed, or somehow removed from sight while successes are left behind, weighting your decisions and perceptions, tilting your view of the world. That means to be successful you must learn how to seek out what is missing. You must learn what not to do. Unfortunately, survivorship bias stands between you and the epiphanies you seek.

Megan PriceTo learn how to combat this pernicious bias, we explore the story of Abraham Wald and the Department of War Math founded during World War II, and then we interview Wald’s modern-day counterpart, Megan Price, statistician and director of research at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group who explains how she uses math and statistics to save lives and improve conditions in areas of the world suffering from the effects of war.

After the interview, I discuss a news story about how very old violins twist the beliefs of expert musicians.

In every episode, before I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, “You Are Now Less Dumb,” and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode’s winner is Ken Rose who submitted a recipe for a classic Italian biscotto. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

Italian biscotto

Links 

The Episode: Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

Megan Price at HRDAG

HRDAG

The Original Survivorship Bias Story

Ed Yong on the Violin Study

The Violin Study

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The Topic: The Future

The Guests: James Burke and Matt Novak

The Episode: Download iTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud – Transcript

If you love educational entertainment – programs about science, nature, history, technology and everything in between – it is a safe bet that the creators of those shows were heavily influenced by the founding fathers of science communication: Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, and James Burke.

In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast we sit down with James Burke and discuss the past, the present, and where he sees us heading in the future. Burke says we must soon learn how to deal with a world in which scarcity is scarce, abundance is abundant, and home manufacturing can produce just about anything you desire.

The Topic: The Placebo Effect

The Guest: Kristi Erdal

The Episode: DownloadiTunesStitcherRSSSoundcloud

Photo Illustration by Candy (it's aspirin)
Photo Illustration by the artist known as Candy (it’s aspirin)

How powerful is the placebo effect? After a good night’s sleep could a scientist convince you that you had tossed and turned, and if so, how would that affect your perceptions and behavior? What if a doctor told you that you had slept like a baby when in reality you had barely slept at all? Would hearing those words improve your performance on a difficult test?

In this episode we learn the answers to these questions and more as we explore how research continues to unravel the mysteries behind the placebo effect and how it can drastically alter our bodies and minds.

The Topic: The Benjamin Franklin Effect

The Episode: Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Benjamin

Benjamin Franklin knew how to deal with haters, and in this episode we learn how he turned his haters into fans with what is now called The Benjamin Franklin Effect (read more about the effect here).

Listen as David McRaney reads an excerpt from his book, “You Are Now Less Dumb,” explaining the psychology behind the effect and how the act of spreading harm forms the attitude of hate, and the act of spreading kindness generates the attitude of camaraderie.