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April 22 2019

08:30

The long run.
I saw something today that made me think of the bonds we build over time.
I was trying to find a way to express that but I'm not sure I got it the way I wanted.
Still..I like this idea.
#pascalcampion

April 21 2019

20:51

YANSS 152 – How we create a new normal by rationalizing unwanted change

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?

cropped-UBC_20160915_9126.jpg
New research from psychologist Kristin Laurin suggests that groups, nations, and cultures sometimes rationalize the new normal in much the same way, altering public opinion on a large scale.

As a coping mechanism, the brain is very good at turning lemons into lemonade. Divorce, losing a job, a terrible illness — to keep us sane and moving forward, we often rationalize terrible situations that drastically alter our lives once we accept those situations are 100 percent happening and inescapable. We often do so in a way that makes those events seem like the best thing that ever happened to us. It’s a clever trick, a gift really, one that allows us to rebuild our lives and develop new identities instead of the alternative, spiraling down into depression and stasis. By telling ourselves a good story, the brain keeps us from taking up extended residence in our bedrooms with the covers over our heads.

While studying this kind of rationalization, Laurin wondered if it scaled up to groups, cultures, and nations. She noticed that when people greatly resist a change to the status quo — the election of president many people did not want, the passing of new legislation that many people resisted, the creation of new policies that people are sure will cause harm — once the change actually happens, the panic and resistance often seems to drastically diminish within a few weeks.

Laurin wondered if this too was a form of rationalization, one that people perform without realizing it, one that can have a big impact on how we see ourselves as a people, so she set out to create a series of experiments to answer those questions. In the episode, you will hear all about those experiments, what she discovered, and what advice she has for people resisting and dealing with changes to the status quo.

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You Are Not So Smart, LIVE, in  front of humans on May 15, at The Bell House in Brooklyn. I would like you to be one of those humans, and you can do that buy grabbing tickets here

Great Courses Plus This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

PatreonSupport the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

Links and Sources

DownloadiTunesStitcherRSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

Inaugurating Rationalization: Three Field Studies Find Increased Rationalization When Anticipated Realities Become Current.

The Magic Lab

Scientific American Frontiers – Episode 3 – Pieces of Mind

Photo Credit: K.C. Green’s Gunshow comic #648: “The Pills Are Working”

05:01

Drips

Drips.
2017
#pascalcampion

April 18 2019

20:53

The Gift


The Gift.
I didn't want this to come across in a mean way, I know a lot of people
assume Artists were just born with abilities completely formed and when
they are told it's a gift it comes from a place of appreciation or love. I know.
Still though it really doesn't
#pascalcampion


















05:02

The Woodsman


The Woodsman.
#pascalcampion









April 17 2019

06:16

Lost

Lost.
#pascalcampion







April 09 2019

17:11

YANSS 151 – What we can learn about our own beliefs, biases, and motivated reasoning from the community of people who are certain the Earth is flat

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.

Also in this episode, we spend time with political scientist Joseph E. Uscinski who researches conspiracy theories and the people who believe in them.

In the show, you hear from these conversations that, like most conspiracy theorists, Flat Earthers are usually reasonable, intelligent, scientifically curious people. They love their families, they hold down jobs, they pay their bills and so on. In other words, they aren’t crazy or stupid.

So, what leads reasonable, intelligent, scientifically curious people into fringe beliefs such as these? What makes a smart person susceptible to conspiratorial thinking? Why doesn’t counterevidence seem to sway them? You will learn all that and more in the episode.


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Great Courses Plus

This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

PatreonSupport the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

• You can also support the show by donating through PayPal at this link.

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Joseph Uscinski’s Website

Behind The Curve Website

Conspiracy Theories Can’t Be Stopped

Meta-Analysis of Psychological Research on Conspiracy Beliefs

American Conspiracy Theories

YANSS Episode on Conspiratorial Thinking

15:47

YANSS 150 – 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, 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.

This can lead to a skewed perception of the world, one that leads to the assumption that mind change is rare and difficult-to-come-by. And that can lead to our avoiding information that might expand our understanding of the world, because we assume it will have no impact.

The truth, say Wolfe and Williams, is that mind change is so prevalent and constant, that the more you expose yourself to counterevidence, the more your worldview will erode, replaced by a better, more accurate one — it’s just that you probably won’t realize it until you look back at old posts on social media and cringe.

DownloadiTunesStitcherRSS – Soundcloud

Great Courses Plus This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.


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Links and Sources

DownloadiTunesStitcherRSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

Poor Metacognitive Awareness of Belief Change

Michael Wolfe

Todd Williams

March 11 2019

18:02

YANSS 149 – Expert advice on how health experts can better provide good health advice to combat bad health advice from non-experts

In this episode, we sit down with vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit to discuss his new book, Bad Advice or Why Celebrities, Politicians, and Activists Aren’t Your Best Source of Health Information.

Offit has been fighting for years to educate the public, promote vaccines, and oppose the efforts of anti-vaxxers, and in his new book he offers advice for science consumers and communicators on how to deal with what he calls the opaque window of modern media which often gives equal time to non-experts when it comes to discussing vaccination and other medical issues.


Offit likes to say, “Science doesn’t speak for itself.” Someone always speaks for it. Evidence can be twisted, ignored, and selectively presented to support just about any conclusion. Although scientists and other experts are the best source of information about the topics they study, they aren’t always great communicators, he says, and so the media instead gathers around those who are — celebrities, politicians, activists, lobbyists and other camera-savvy non-experts who often cause harm with misleading and incorrect interpretations of facts that ignore the scientific method that produced those facts in the first place.

He urges scientists to learn from his own mistakes over the years as he slowly figured how to deliver medical advice and scientific summations in a way that clearly and simply communicates what we know so far without inflaming fears or providing fuel for conspiratorial thinking.

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Great Courses Plus

This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

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From his official bio, “Paul Offit is a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases and an expert on vaccines, immunology, and virology. He is the co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine that has been credited with saving hundreds of lives every day.” Offit is a professor of vaccinology and pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Offit has published more than 160 papers in medical and scientific journals. He is the author of ten books on science and medicine.

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Paul Offit’s Official Website

10,000 Vaccines Paper

March 01 2019

19:42

YANSS 148 – How their tightness or looseness predicts how cultures will react, evolve, innovate, and clash

In this episode, we sit down with psychologist Michele Gelfand and discuss her new book: Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire Our World.

In the book, Gelfand presents her research into norms, along with a fascinating new idea. It isn’t norms themselves that predict how cultures will react, evolve, innovate, and clash, but how different cultures value norms and sanction people who violate them. Through that lens, she categorizes all human cultures into two — kinds, tight and loose.

Tight cultures heavily sanction norm violators. Loose cultures value leniency. Zoomed in, each kind of culture features areas of tightness and looseness, depending on the specific issue or subculture, but as a whole, cultures lean one way or the other. She argues that all human behavior depends on whether a person lives in either a tight culture or a loose one.

In the book, Gelfand explains that evolution shaped our brains so that we biologically inclined to conform to normative influence. Studies show that infants prefer hand puppets that engage in our most fundamental socially normative behavior, like helping others to open a box full of toys instead of preventing others from opening it, or worse still, opening the box and stealing the toys before others can get to them. And by age three, children will openly and vocally sanction other children who do things that are considered taboo in their cultures by saying, “No, you aren’t supposed to do that!”

Why? Gelfand explains that being predisposed to create and live by norms serves a vital function. They allow human cultures to behave automatically and intuitively in familiar environments. In the interview, Gelfand asks us to imagine a restaurant where people grab food off each other’s plates. Then imagine in another restaurant eating before everyone is served could result in a prison sentence. Now imagine a different set of rules for each restaurant you visit. Common restaurant norms, like all norms, allow humans to coordinate efficiently by using a common set of behavioral expectations. With them, human cultures can develop solutions to solve communal problems, to reach common goals, and deal with group threats. They unite us and allow us to quickly and nearly effortlessly get on with the business of living together in groups.

In the book, Gelfand explains how tightness or looseness develops. You’ll hear about it in the interview, but the short version is that cultures tighten up when they face threats. Those threats can be ecological, like food shortages or natural disasters, or they can be historical, like the threat of invasion, the aftermath of wars, or the wreckage of an economic collapse. When resources are tight or in danger of being lost, cultures become rule makers. When resources are plentiful and threats are few, they become rule breakers.

There are drawbacks and benefits to both, and the dynamic within and between tight and loose cultures explain a great deal of the mysteries of human social conflict and evolution. And you’ll hear all about that in the interview.

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Great Courses Plus

This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

PatreonSupport the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show by donating through PayPal at this link.

Michele Gelfand is a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland. She directs the Culture Lab, which studies the strength of cultural norms, negotiation, conflict, revenge, forgiveness, and diversity. The lab focuses on an interdisciplinary approach to research, relying on computer scientists, neuroscientists, political scientists, and–increasingly–biologists to understand all things cultural.

Links and Sources

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Previous Episodes

Michele Gelfand’s Official Site

The Culture Lab

18:51

YANSS 147 – The replication crisis (rebroadcast)

Psychology is working on the hardest problems in all of science. Physics, astronomy, geology — those are easy, by comparison. Understanding consciousness, willpower, ideology, social change — there’s a larger-than-Large-Hadron-Collider level of difficulty to each one of these, but since these are more relatable ideas than quarks and bosons and mass coronal ejections, it’s easier to create eye-catching headlines and make podcasts about them.

This is the problem. Because the system for distributing the findings of science is based on publication within journals, which themselves often depend on the interest of the general media. So all the biases that system, and media consumption in general, inflame are now causing the sciences that are most interesting to the public to get tainted by that interest.

As you will hear in this episode, one of the most famous and most talked-about phenomena in recent psychological history, ego depletion, hasn’t been doing so well in replication attempts.

In the show, journalist Daniel Engber who wrote an article for Slate about the failure to replicate many of the famous ego depletion experiments will detail what this means for the science and the scientists involved.

Also, you’ll hear from psychologist Brain Nosek, who says, “Science is wrong about everything, but you can trust it more than anything.”

Nosek is director of the Center for Open Science, an organization working to correct what they see as the temporarily wayward path of psychology.

Nosek recently lead a project in which 270 scientists sought to replicate 100 different studies in psychology, all published in 2008 — 97 of which claimed to have found significant results — and in the end, two-thirds failed to replicate.

Clearly, some sort of course correction is in order. Which is what science does best. When science has been wrong in the past, it was science itself that discovered it. There is now a massive effort underway sort out what is being called the replication crisis. Much of the most headline-producing research in the last 20 years isn’t standing up to attempts to reproduce its findings. Nosek wants to clean up the processes that have lead to this situation, and in this episode, you’ll learn how he and others plan to do so.

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Great Courses Plus This  episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

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PatreonSupport the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

The Reproducibility Project

How Reliable are Psychology Studies?

Psychology’s reproducibility problem is exaggerated – say psychologists

First results from psychology’s largest reproducibility test

Daniel Engber on Twitter

Everything is Crumbling (Engber’s Article)

How much of the psychology literature is wrong?

The Open Science Framework

The Center for Open Science

The Truth Wears Off

Psych File Drawer

18:20

YANSS 146 – Tribal Psychology (rebroadcast)

We aren’t treating tribalism as a basic human drive, but that’s what it is. Fast food lowered the cost to satisfy a basic drive, and we grew fat. Social media lowered the cost to exhibit tribal behaviors, and we are growing apart.

In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, we spend time with political scientist Lilliana Mason and psychologist Dan Kahan, two researchers exploring how our tribal tendencies are scrambling public discourse and derailing so many of our best efforts at progress — from science communication, to elections, to our ability to converge on the facts and go about the grind of building a better democracy.

In the show, we explore how some incorrect beliefs can be changed with facts alone, with evidence. For those kinds of beliefs, like “It’s going to rain on Sunday,” when we learn new information, we update our priors.

To manage our beliefs in this way is to think, as they say in some circles, like a Bayesian, a term that doffs its hat to the 18th century statistician Thomas Bayes who used a pen and paper to scribble out a formula to describe how that kind of reasoning works. To think like a Bayesian, you imagine your beliefs as a percentage of confidence instead of a simply true or false. So, instead of saying “I believe my hamster is alive and well,” you would say, “I am 70 percent sure that my hamster is alive and well, based on the evidence available to me at this time.”

If we were driven by the pursuit of accuracy above all else, Bayesian reasoning would be how we updated all of our beliefs, but we aren’t and it isn’t. That’s because humans are motivated reasoners. We interpret facts in ways that best meet our goals, and our goals are not always the pursuit of the truth.

In a professional domain like medicine, science, academia, or journalism, people are trained to pursue accuracy, to operate within a framework that helps them overcome other motivations. But we are not always motivated by such empirically lofty goals. Outside of fact-based professions, we are often more motivated to maintain our social support networks, or prevent the decoherence of our identity, or keep our jobs or our bonds with our family or our churches, so if doing so means being wrong about climate change or the moon landing or gun control, that’s an acceptable price to pay to reach such goals.

As you will learn, the latest evidence coming out of social science is clear: Humans value being good members of their tribes much more than they value being correct, so much so that we will choose to be wrong if it keeps us in good standing with our peers.

Once an issue becomes politicized, it leaves the realm of evidence-based reasoning and enters the realm of tribal signaling. It’s always been a challenge to progress, but the power of modern media and modern social media has allowed humans to signal their tribal loyalties on a scale that has never, ever been possible, and this one thing might just be what is driving our intense, modern polarization problem.

Compromise and agreement on policies and laws and decisions and judgments and notions of what is and is not true will naturally become more and more difficult as our ability to signal to others to which tribes we belong increases. In this episode, we learn why this is true, and what we can do about it.

Transcript

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Great Courses Plus

This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

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purchase.

PatreonSupport the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show by donating through PayPal at this link.

Lilliana Mason is professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland where she researches partisan identity, partisan bias, social sorting, and American social polarization. She is the author of Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity, and her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and National Public Radio.

Dan Kahan is a professor of law and psychology at Yale Law School were he studies risk perception, criminal law, science communication, and the application of decision science to law and policymaking. Today he is a member of the Cultural Cognition Project, an team of scholars “who use empirical methods to examine the impact of group values on perceptions of risk and related facts.”

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Transcript

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Lilliana Mason

Dan Kahan

Cultural Cognition Project

Behavioral economist Peter Atwater discusses tribal moods

Kahan paper on politically motivated reasoning

The Minimal Group Paradigm

Political Polarization in the American Public

Papers mentioned:

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Music: Incompetech and Caravan Palace

January 19 2019

21:22

YANSS 145 – Douglas Rushkoff explains why we should revolt against the algorithms so we can get back to our essential human messiness

In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast we sit down with one of the original cyberpunks, the famed journalist, documentarian, media theorist, all-around technology superstar and weirdo, Douglas Rushkoff.

MIT considers Rushkoff one of the “world’s ten most influential thinkers,” and in the episode we talk about his latest (and 20th) book, Team Human.  

The book is a bit of a manifesto in which he imagines a new counterculture that would revolt against the algorithms that are slowly altering our collective behavior for the benefit of shareholders. Instead, he implores us, we should curate a digital, psychedelic substrate that embraces the messiness of human beings: our unpredictability, our pursuit of novelty and innovation, and our primate/animal/social connectedness.

The book is presented in a series of aphorisms that add up to a rallying cry for building communities outside of what the machines that tend our walled gardens might suggest we build. As the title suggests, he would prefer that we turned our technological attention to encouraging and facilitating teamwork.

In the book, he says that any technology whose initial purpose is to connect people will eventually become colonized and repurposed to repress and isolate them. But, the good news is that we’ve seen this pattern so often that we can now stop it in its tracks and choose to build something else.  In the interview, you’ll hear what his thoughts are on all this — and much more.

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Great Courses Plus

This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

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PatreonSupport the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show by donating through PayPal at this link.

Douglas Rushkoff is a professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at the City University of New York and a titan of technology journalism who coined the terms viral media, digital native, and social currency.  His bestsellers include Coercion, Present Shock, Throwing Rocks and the Google Bus, Program or Be Programmed, Life Inc, and Media Virus, and his famed PBS Frontline documentaries include Generation Like, The Persuaders, and Merchants of Cool. His latest project is the Team Human podcast.

 

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Douglas Rushkoff’s Official Website

Douglas Rushkoff’s Twitter

The World’s Most Influential Thinkers

Team Human Podcast

Team Human Book

Generation Like

18:27

YANSS 144 – The Backfire Effect – Part Four (rebroadcast)

In 2017, You Are Not So Smart produced three episodes about the backfire effect, and by far, those episodes were the most popular the show has ever done.

In fact, the famous web comic The Oatmeal turned them into a sort of special feature, and that comic of those episodes was shared on Facebook a gazillion times, which lead to a stories about the comic in popular media, and then more people listened to the shows, on and on it went. You can go see it at The Oatmeal right now at the top of their page. It’s titled, you are not going to believe what I am about to tell you.

The popularity of the backfire effect extends into academia. The original paper has been cited hundreds of times, and there have been more than 300 articles written about it since it first came out.

The backfire effect has his special allure to it, because, on the surface, it seems to explain something we’ve all experienced — when we argue with people who believe differently than us, who see the world through a different ideological lens — they often resist our views, refuse to accept our way of seeing things, and it often seems like we do more harm than good, because they walk away seemingly more entrenched in their beliefs than before the argument began.

But…since those shows, researchers have produced a series of new studies into the backfire effect that complicate things. Yes, we are observing something here, and yes we are calling it the backfire effect, but everything is not exactly as it seems, and so I thought we should invite these new researchers on the show and add a fourth episode to the backfire effect series based on what they’ve found. And this is that episode.

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Great Courses Plus

This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

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Beachbody On Demand is an online fitness streaming service that gives you unlimited access to a wide variety of highly effective, world-class workouts, personalized to meet your needs. You can watch the libraries of familiar brands like PiYo, P90X, Insanity, 21 Day Fix, T25, and 3 Week Yoga Retreat. Right now my listeners can get a free trial membership, access to the entire platform, when you text SMART to 303030.

PatreonSupport the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

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Tom Wood is a political scientist at Ohio State University where he studies political behavior, campaigns, vote choice, and elections. He also studies how conspiratorial and magical thinking influence attitudes and votes, especially when voters experience anxiety and uncertainty. He tweets @thomasjwood.

Ethan Porter is a political scientist at George Washington University where he studies where he studies public opinion, political communication, political psychology, and experimental design. He is working on a book, The Consumer Citizen, which explores how consumer decision-making affects political attitudes and behavior.He tweets at @ethanvporter

Brendan Nyhan is a political scientist at Dartmouth College.  He is a contributor to The Upshot at The New York Times and served as media critic for Columbia Journalism Review. He was co-editor of Spinsanity, a non-partisan watchdog of political spin, and co-authored All the President’s Spin. He is currently research “fake news,” and he tweets @BrendanNyhan

Links and Sources

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Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

When Corrections Fail (the original research)

The Elusive Backfire Effect (the new research)

Why We Fight

December 18 2018

01:02

YANSS 143 – How to Talk to People About Things

In this episode, we sit down with negotiation expert Misha Glouberman who explains how to talk to people about things — that is, how to avoid the pitfalls associated with debate when two or more people attempt to come to an agreement that will be mutually beneficial.

Misha Glouberman teaches negotiation, both in the classroom and within organizations, and he also works as a professional facilitator, which means he helps people design and run conferences and meetings. He also lectures, hosts Trampoline Hall (which has a podcast) — where he interviews the speakers afterfield and fields questions from the audience — and he is the co-author of the book The Chairs Are Where the People Go, a collection of his dictated musings about life recorded and edited by author Sheila Heti. 

To put it simply, Misha is an expert on communication, and people pay him to help them communicate better. In our long, wide-ranging conversation, you’ll pick up a zillion nuggets of wisdom that will help you the next time you set out to negotiate, facilitate, or solve shared problems with people through conversation.

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

This  episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

sssThere is no better way to create a website than with Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you’ll receive a custom domain for free for a year. Start your free trial today, at Squarespace.com and enter offer code SOSMART to get 10% off your first purchase.

PatreonSupport the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show through PayPal by clicking this link.

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Misha’s Website

Trampoline Hall

How to Ask a Proper Question at an Event

00:41

YANSS 142 – The impact of public debate on social change

Parker Wiseman ran for student office in high school with photocopied flyers. He debated the public school system in social studies class. In college he took the courses and shook the hands that would help him join that peculiar Southern subculture of the embattled Mississippi Democrat, a pugnacious sort who plays darts and drinks whiskey while wearing penny loafers and forces smiles meant to fool no one. People close to Parker Wiseman were not surprised when, at the age of 28, he became the youngest mayor in Starkville history.

When I met him, he was deep into his second term, 34-years-old with bright blue eyes neatly obscured by thin-framed spectacles hugging a cleanly shaved head. I had to wait for the person before me to finish a meeting before I could take up time in his schedule, but when the door opened he traded off quickly and was all laughs and smirks as I unpacked my bag. In conversation, he moved between two poses, leaning forward with shoulders high and elbows planted wide so he could clasp his hands and focus when I was talking, and reclined in an unwound ease when he was answering, one arm propping him up so he could lean into the back the chair with his rear scooted to the forward edge of the seat and his feet as far apart as could be achieved with manners in dress slacks.

I wanted to meet Wiseman because he had concluded a long, difficult battle to bring social change to a city in the Deep South, to Mississippi, one that made national headlines.

In January of 2013, under Wiseman’s leadership, the Starkville Board of Alderman proposed a 208-word “Resolution Supporting Equality.” It stated the city would henceforth make it public policy to prevent discrimination in Starkville.

In the text, the Resolution established that the City, as a whole, believed diversity was critical to the success of its community. It deepened the bonds between neighbors, they said, in addition to stimulating job growth. Despite this, the Resolution continued, the city realized that discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity and expression, age, marital status, sexual orientation, familial status, veteran’s status, disability, and source of income” persisted, not just in Starkville, but across the world, and with that in mind, the City declared such behavior was “anathema to the public policy of the City.”

Wiseman recalled it seemed like a simple and uncontroversial idea at the time, and it passed without much discussion. The Board didn’t linger on its implications and soon moved on the tedium of sewer lines and traffic lights and the usual business required to keep a small city running and its residents happy.

No city in Mississippi had ever included sexual orientation or gender identity in such a resolution, a fact that the Human Rights Campaign pointed out in its blitz of publicity after the measure passed. In one release, they wrote, “This is the first time any municipality in Mississippi has recognized the dignity of its LGBT residents,” and the president of the HRC, Chad Griffin, personally thanked the city.

A flurry of media attention followed with TV stations, newspapers, and LGBT organizations producing state and national headlines, some entertaining the notion that Mississippi might be changing its mind faster than other parts of the country usually thought of as being considerably more progressive, and others expressing awe at a declaration of tolerance within a state synonymous with bigotry. Within a month, a town to the south, Hattiesburg, passed a similar resolution, and seven more cities would follow. Each time, Wiseman recalled, Starkville was mentioned.

“Of course,” Wiseman told me, “things went sideways later in the year.”

The pushback started with one of the more conservative aldermen who proposed repealing the resolution once the glow of the publicity began to fade. At first, the alderman couldn’t get get any traction, and the backlash may have ended there, but Wiseman decided he wanted to push for more change by proposing a measure that would allow employees of the city to extend their insurance coverage to domestic partners, including partners of the same sex. For many in the community, especially those who had bit their tongues concerning the anti-discrimination resolution, this crossed the line. Wiseman told me that when the HRC publicized the fact that this would potentially allow insurance coverage for gay couples within the city it became an explosive political event.

“I wish I could tell you exactly why that’s when everything exploded,” said Wiseman. “I can’t. We could probably spend the next couple of hours analyzing all the different reasons, but that was the point that I would say communication in the public square about LGBT issues began in earnest.”

In this episode, you’ll hear that debate unfold as we spend time in Starkville exploring the value of argumentation and conversation in the process of change, progress, and understanding our basic humanity.

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Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

This  episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

sssThere is no better way to create a website than with Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you’ll receive a custom domain for free for a year. Start your free trial today, at Squarespace.com and enter offer code SOSMART to get 10% off your first purchase.

PatreonSupport the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show through PayPal by clicking this link.

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Wiseman reflects on time in office, staff commend his leadership and guidance

November 21 2018

22:04

YANSS 141 – How politicians misrepresent science

In this episode, science journalist Dave Levitan talks about his new book: Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science.

In the book, Levitan takes us through 12 repeating patterns that politicians fall into when they talk about scientific research. Some are nefarious and intentional, some are based on ignorance, and some are just part of the normal business of politicians managing their public image or trying to appeal to their base. Not only do they often get the science wrong, they sometimes fail to communicate the nature of scientific inquiry and the goals of the scientific process itself.

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

This  episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

sssThere is no better way to create a website than with Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you’ll receive a custom domain for free for a year. Start your free trial today, at Squarespace.com and enter offer code SOSMART to get 10% off your first purchase.

PatreonSupport the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show through PayPal by clicking this link.

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Not A Scientist

21:46

YANSS 140 – How we uploaded our biases into our machines and what we can do about it

Now that algorithms are everywhere, helping us to both run and make sense of the world, a strange question has emerged among artificial intelligence researchers: When is it ok to predict the future based on the past? When is it ok to be biased?

“I want a machine-learning algorithm to learn what tumors looked like in the past, and I want it to become biased toward selecting those kind of tumors in the future,” explains philosopher Shannon Vallor at Santa Clara University.  “But I don’t want a machine-learning algorithm to learn what successful engineers and doctors looked like in the past and then become biased toward selecting those kinds of people when sorting and ranking resumes.”

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

This  episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

sssThere is no better way to create a website than with Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you’ll receive a custom domain for free for a year. Start your free trial today, at Squarespace.com and enter offer code SOSMART to get 10% off your first purchase.

PatreonSupport the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show through PayPal by clicking this link.

Like all learning systems, our algorithms must make sense of present based on a database of old experiences. The problem is that looking backwards we see a bevy of norms, ideas, and associations we’d like to leave in the past. Machines can’t tell if a bias from a generation ago was morally good or neutral, nor can they tell if it was unjust, based on arbitrary social norms that lead to exclusion. So how do we teach our machines which inferences they should consider useful and which they should consider harmful?

In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, three experts on artificial intelligence help us understand how we accidentally transferred our prejudices and biases into our infant artificial intelligences. We will also explore who gets to say what is right and what is wrong as we try to fix all this. And you’ll hear examples of how some of our early machine minds, through prediction, are creating the future they predict by influencing the systems they monitor — because our actions folds their results back into their next prediction.

Those experts are:

Shannon Vallor — a professor of philosophy at Santa Clara University. “My research explores the philosophical territory defined by three intersecting domains: the philosophy and ethics of emerging technologies, the philosophy of science and phenomenology. My current research project focuses on the impact of emerging technologies, particularly those involving automation and artificial intelligence, on the moral and intellectual habits, skills and virtues of human beings – our character.”

Alistair Croll — who teaches about technology and business at the Harvard Business School. He is an entrepreneur, author, and event organizer. “I spend a lot of time understanding how organizations of all sizes can use data to make better decisions, and on startup acceleration. I’m also fascinated by what happens when the rubber of technology meets the road of technology.”

Damien Williams — an artificial intelligence expert who writes about how technology intersects with human society. “For the past nine years, I’ve been writing, talking, thinking, teaching, and learning about philosophy, comparative religion, magic, artificial intelligence, human physical and mental augmentation, pop culture, and how they all relate.”

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

ProPublica’s report on machine bias

The Affirmative Action of Vocabulary

Joanna Bryson on A.I.

Jana Eggers on A.I.

Shannon Vallor’s Website

Shannon Vallor’s Twitter

Damien William’s Website

Damien William’s Twitter

Alistair Crolls’ Website

Alistair Crolls’s Twitter

Machines taught by photos learn a sexist view of women

Semantics derived automatically from language corpora necessarily contain human biases

Men Also Like Shopping: Reducing Gender Bias Amplification using Corpus-level Constraints

How Vector Space Mathematics Reveals the Hidden Sexism in Language

Content analysis of 150 years of British periodicals

IMAGE: The DNA Machine from Blade Runner 2049

 

October 22 2018

03:17
03:17
Tree Fort
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