Episodes
A talk with Emily Kubin, who recently, with her co-researcher Christian Von Sikorski, did a comprehensive review of 121 studies on social media effects on political polarization. We talk about her research, why polarization is a problem, the different types of polarization (affective vs ideological), our psychology tendency to become us-versus-them in our thinking, her own opinions on what social media is doing to us, and the mechanisms by which social media may be amplifying polarization. 
Published 10/14/21
An interview with Ben Tyler, a professional musician and musical educator based in Portland, Oregon, about reading and understanding people in the musical world. Topics include: reading fellow band members' gestures and eye contact in jazz and other musical performances; being able to tell when audiences are having a good time or not; how practicing improvisation can make us more flexible; and the social aspects of the musical world. Ben's personal musical project is called Small Skies. 
Published 10/03/21
A talk with Jannine Lasaleta, who has researched the psychological effects of nostalgia, including how nostalgic feelings make people more loose and uncaring with money.  We talk about the connection between our desire for nostalgia and our desire to engage in old-fashioned or ancient or "authentic" activities . We talk about how our attraction for these things might be connected to our search for meaning, our desire to have a consistent and stable sense of self, and our attempt to fend off...
Published 09/16/21
If you're someone who pays a lot of attention to politics, but feels that doing so makes you miserable, this may be an important listen. What if someone were to tell you that paying attention to politics is not a morally correct way to spend your time and energy? Political philosopher Chris Freiman is the author of Why It's OK to Ignore Politics. He makes a case that paying a lot of attention to politics is often a waste of time, and may even be immoral compared to other ways you could be...
Published 09/08/21
Jennifer Cohn is an attorney and election integrity advocate. Since 2016 she has been drawing attention to problems with U.S. election security and was frustrated during the Trump admin years to see the GOP block efforts to improve security. Now that GOP has become the party of "the election is illegitimate", things have swung the other way and it is Democrats who seem unwilling to acknowledge flaws that many on that side were willing to talk about up until recently. We talk about how...
Published 08/31/21
Elizaveta Friesem thinks and writes about media and how we relate to it. Her recent book is called "Media Is Us" and it examines the idea that media is not something "out there" but more something that is part of us, something that happens internally, similar to any other human communication. And perhaps this means that acting as if "media" of various sorts is to blame for various problems is a simplistic way to view the world. We talk about the need for personal responsibility for how we...
Published 08/18/21
An interview with professional poker player Dara O'Kearney about poker tells (behavioral patterns in poker). We talk about how useful tells are compared to strategy, what are some of the tells he's used, how his opinion about tells has changed over time. We also discuss poker more generally, including its complexity, game theory optimal topics, how running long distance may have helped him with poker, and more. 
Published 08/11/21
The second of two interviews with James Mitchell, a recently retired police captain who worked in Prince George's County, Maryland. We attempt to understand the factors behind the problem of American cops having a seemingly high rate of shootings and other forms of excessive force. Factors discussed include: the role of guns, racism, the fact that juries seldom convict cops, police unions, and cops living in the communities they police.  (In the first interview, other factors, like mental...
Published 08/07/21
An interview with Kevin Arceneaux, a researcher on the “need for chaos” research project, which found that a surprising number of people, around 40% of those polled, seem to have antisocial views about society in that they either agreed with or did not disagree with statements like “When I think about our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking 'just let them all burn'?” We talk about what the study entailed, and what the factors could be that help explain this surprising...
Published 07/28/21
A talk with sports analyst and broadcaster Jon Michael Hoefling, who writes for Deadspin. We discuss a recent story about Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger and an apparent tell he has, where his foot position indicates whether he'll run or pass. We also discuss some other tells in football and sports in general, including the story about Andre Agassi having a read on Boris Becker, and some tells in baseball. 
Published 07/25/21
An interview with Carey Callahan, a therapist who writes about gender dysphoria and transgender issues, with a focus on medical and healthcare aspects. Topics include: why well meaning discussions about trans/gender topics can inspire so much anger; how polarization on this topic relates to polarization in other areas; controversy around how many obstacles there should be for someone who wants to transition; criticisms of gender identity theory; the idea that gender identity theory itself may...
Published 07/17/21
How might we connect better with each other? An interview with Ashley Pallathra and Edward Brodkin, co-authors of Missing Each Other: How to Cultivate Meaningful Connections. We talk about the obstacles we face in our attempts to form better connection with others.  
Published 07/14/21
An interview with professional gamer Nocturnal (OhNocturnal on Twitch), about reading opponent behavior in Apex Legends. We also talk about the financial aspects of being a pro video gamer. 
Published 06/26/21
An interview about the role of psychology and understanding behavior in tennis, with experienced tennis player and coach Carlos Goffi. Goffi has coached tennis for more than 30 years, has coached John McEnroe, and is the author of the well known tennis book Tournament Tough.  We talk about reading opponents' physical tells and their mood, about psychological strategizing, and about the impact of personal life factors on a player's ability to compete. We also talk about Andre Agassi's claim...
Published 06/04/21
Retired police captain James Mitchell talks about factors contributing to excessive police violence in the U.S.
Published 04/19/21
A talk with Scott Stossel, national editor of The Atlantic, about his struggles with debilitating anxiety and what he's learned in his life and research.
Published 04/14/21
An interview of Nathan Filer, author of books dealing with psychosis and schizophrenia, about environmental, experiential factors for "madness."
Published 03/27/21
An interview of an 8-year-old about her understanding of the people and world around her.
Published 02/25/21
Gina Assaf discusses her patient-led research on "long haul" covid (long term covid effects).
Published 02/23/21
Talk with Jamie Heywood, former CEO of PatientsLikeMe, about strengths and challenges in collecting medical/health data straight from the public.
Published 02/05/21
A guest, Scott, talks about clues and indicators in online dating profiles that let him know if someone might be a good match.
Published 01/26/21
An online dater, Celia, talks about how she analyzes online dating profiles to tell if someone is date-worthy.
Published 01/20/21
A talk with physicist Daniel Whiteson about potential psychological and/or emotional impacts of living without a belief in free will.
Published 01/09/21
An interview with Zach Elwood about his own aphantasia (the inability to form mental images).
Published 12/10/20
Psychologist Karina Korostelina discusses her book Political Insults, and the role insults play in political conflict.
Published 11/25/20