You Are Not So Smart

You Are Not So Smart is a show about psychology that celebrates science and self delusion. In each episode, we explore what we've learned so far about reasoning, biases, judgments, and decision-making.



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      130 - The Half LIfe of Facts (rebroadcast)

      In medical school they tell you half of what you are about to learn won't be true when you graduate - they just don't know which half. In every field of knowledge, half of what is true today will overturned, replaced, or refined at some point, and it turns out that we actually know when that will be for many things. In this episode, listen as author and scientist Sam Arbesman explains how understanding the half life of facts can lead to better lives, institutions, and, of course, better...



      129 - Desirability Bias (rebroadcast)

      Confirmation bias is our tendency to seek evidence that supports our beliefs and confirms our assumptions when we could just as well seek disconfirmation of those beliefs and assumptions instead. This is such a prevalent feature of human cognition, that until recently a second bias has been hidden in plain sight. Our past beliefs and future desires usually match up. Desirability is often twisted into confirmation like a single psychological braid - but recent research suggests that...



      128 - Happy Brain

      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, and 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...


       2018-05-21  1h28m

      128 - Happy Brain

      What makes you happy? As in, what squishy bits inside your head are responsible for happiness itself? That's what author and neuroscientist Dean Burnett aims to explain in this episode and his new book, Happy Brain, an exploration of the forces that affect our happiness both in our environments and in our skulls.


       2018-05-21  38m

      127 - Selfie

      In this episode, we sit down with author Will Storr to talk about his new book -- Selfie: How We Became so Self-Obsessed, and What it is Doing to Us. The book explores what he calls “the age of perfectionism” -- our modern struggle to meet newly emerging ideals and standards that tell us we are falling short of the person we ought to be. As he says in the book, "Perfectionism is the idea that kills," and you’ll hear him explain what he means by that in the interview.


       2018-05-07  1h23m

      125 - Separate Spheres (rebroadcast)

      Despite their relative invisibility, a norm, even a dying one, can sometimes be harnessed and wielded like a weapon by conjuring up old fears from a bygone era. It’s a great way to slow down social change if you fear that change. When a social change threatens your ideology, fear is the simplest, easiest way to keep more minds from changing. In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, we explore how the separate spheres ideology is still affecting us today, and how some people are u...


       2018-04-22  35m

      125 - Status Quo Rationalization

      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. The latest research suggests that groups, nations, and cultures sometimes rationalize the new normal in much the same way, altering public opinion on a large scale.


       2018-04-09  45m

      124 - Belief Change Blindness

      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, we update what we believe, delete what we used to think, and then simply forget that we ever believed otherwise.


       2018-03-26  40m

      123 - Active Information Avoidance (rebroadcast)

      Little did the champions of the Enlightenment know that once we had access to all the facts…well, reason and rationality wouldn’t just immediately wash across the land in a giant wave of enlightenment thinking. While that may be happening in some ways, the new media ecosystem has also unshackled some of our deepest psychological tendencies, things that enlightenment thinkers didn’t know about, weren’t worried about, or couldn’t have predicted. Many of which we’ve discussed in previous episode...


       2018-03-11  28m

      122 - Tribal Psychology

      The evidence is clear that humans value being good members of their tribes much more than they value being correct. We will choose to be wrong if it keeps us in good standing with our peers. In this episode, we explore how that affects politics and science communication, and how it is driving our growing partisan divide.


       2018-02-26  1h8m