Episodes
Thoughts about how an awareness of life's strangeness might impact us, both positively and negatively, and how that might relate to existential psychology concepts. Topics include: how an awareness of life's strangeness might be seen to be a core existential stressor (like the fear of death, or fear of isolation); how this might relate to religious/spiritual experience; how this might relate to traumatic experience and PTSD; how being aware of life's strangeness might make one more likely to...
Published 06/16/24
A talk with Robin Dibble, an experienced Albuquerque-area service industry professional who’s worked in every aspect of the business, from waiting tables, to cooking, to managing restaurants and night clubs. Topics include: psychological strategies servers use to get more tips; how menu design can affect what people order; reading customer satisfaction as a restaurant manager; the factors in deciding to cut someone off from drinking; lighting and acoustics considerations when designing a...
Published 06/01/24
I talk to former members of the House of Representatives Luke Messer (Republican) and Elizabeth Esty (Democrat). We talk about: political polarization; their experiences being in congress during such a highly polarized period of time; their ideas for reducing toxic polarization, and more.
Published 05/21/24
A talk with Russell Hurlburt, who’s researched inner experience for more than five decades. He is the author of 6 books and many articles on the topic of mental experience. Topics discussed include: The difficulty of describing inner experience; the ambiguities in the classification of “aphantasia” (reporting no visual qualities in one’s thought processes); the ambiguities in the “inner monologue” concept; thought on whether dreams are visual or not; and more.
Published 05/13/24
A talk with Brendan Bartholomew, who's a professional bus driver in San Francisco. We talk about the role understanding and predicting human behavior can play when driving a city bus. Topics discussed include: the importance of thinking ahead about potential pedestrian/traffic dangers; how bus drivers know who’s waiting for a bus and who’s not; thoughts on handling unruly and/or mentally ill passengers; how modern rideshare and scooter traffic have changed things for bus drivers. 
Published 05/07/24
A talk with David Foster, who writes about polarization and media at knowthesystem.org and is the author of "Moderates of the World Unite!: Reworking the Political Media Complex." Topics discussed include: the optimal approach for reducing toxic political polarization (cultural change vs systemic changes); defining the word 'moderate' and examining some of the negative connotations it has; the difficulty of making changes in a polarized, high-animosity environment; why some conservatives...
Published 04/05/24
Elizaveta Friesem writes about media and about social power (i.e., the power people exert over other people).  I first interviewed her about media and polarization in 2021 about her book "Media Is Us." Topics we discuss here include: Michel Foucault’s ideas about power (often referenced in liberal academic world); the oppressed/oppressor framework (also often referenced); how simplistic views of social power can be divisive and result in a reduction in people's empathy; how the free will...
Published 03/26/24
A talk with Daniel Whiteson, a professor of physics and astronomy, about free will, with a focus on what the effects in one's life are when one doesn't believe in free will. Topics discussed: Our thoughts on why we think free will is unlikely to exist; psychological and emotional aspects of living without a belief in free will; the anxiety and even anger that some people can have about the idea that we lack free will; the idea that a lack of belief in free will can be part of a spiritual,...
Published 03/12/24
A talk with journalist Isaac Saul, founder of Tangle News (readtangle.com), which shares takes from across the political spectrum. I think Tangle is doing amazing work. I think the more Americans there are who read Tangle, the less toxically polarized we'll be. Topics we discuss include: aspects of Tangle News that make it depolarizing and anger-reducing; how Isaac conceives of the problem of political polarization; his work debunking "the election was stolen" narratives in 2020, and...
Published 03/04/24
A talk with screenwriter/producer Brian Koppelman, known for many TV and film projects, including the poker movie Rounders, the show Billions, and the series Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber. Topics discussed: how he decided to create Rounders; poker tells in Rounders; the excitement of reading people and their behaviors; the difficulty of reading behaviors in most real-world situations; and the anxiety-reducing benefits of transcendental meditation.  The Great AntidoteAdam Smith said,...
Published 03/01/24
A talk with professional poker player Dara O’Kearney about poker tells (aka, physical and verbal behaviors in poker). Dara is the co-host of the popular poker podcast The Chip Race and the author of several books, including GTO Poker Simplified. We talk about: the importance of poker tells compared to strategy; how Dara’s views on tells have changed over time; some ways poker players can get info from opponents (e.g., insulting them or being nice to them); some poker hands where opponent...
Published 02/18/24
A reshare of a talk with David Zulawski from 2018. Zulawksi is an expert in interrogation and interview techniques and the cofounder of Wicklander Zulawski and Associates. Topics discussed include: Why is the non-confrontational, rapport-focused technique he recommends the best one? Why is it important to downplay the significance of a crime? Why is it important to try to prevent someone from denying the crime/accusation?  Why is it important to not tell a suspect all the evidence you have...
Published 02/05/24
A talk with professional poker player Yakov Hirsch about the well known high-stakes poker situation where amateur Robbi Jade Lew was accused of cheating by professional player Garrett Adelstein. We give our takes on the hand, and the overall situation, and we talk about Robbi's possible motivations and thought processes during this hand, and about what her behavior might indicate about her thinking. Support the showTo get ad-free episodes, and more, get a premium subscription. To learn more...
Published 01/28/24
A talk about trying to understand Trump's anger at the American media and how that relates to American polarization. This is from a talk I had with Yakov Hirsch in late November 2023. Other topics discussed include: Trump-Russia media coverage; Americans' polarized views of Trump; the importance of trying to understand even those people we perceive as dangerous and harmful; American polarization and conflict dynamics in general. This is from a video talk; you can find the video talk on my...
Published 01/20/24
Another talk with Yakov Hirsch, who writes about the Middle East conflict and about "Hasbara culture": what he sees as the tendency of some Israel-defending people to be overly antagonistic and us-vs-them in their thinking (for example, unfairly framing criticism of Israel as "antisemitic"). If you haven't heard the first talk, I recommend that one. This talk is more generally about the nature of conflict, and about how conflict can make us perceive the world and the people around us in...
Published 01/14/24
A talk with Kevin Arceneaux, whose research found that a surprising number of people (around 40%) 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'?” In their paper, they called this a "need for chaos." We talk about what the study entailed, what they found, and what the factors might be that help explain the finding. We also talk about its relation to toxic polarization, and...
Published 01/04/24
A talk with Jon Michael Hoefling, a sports analyst, about reading behavioral tells and indicators in football, baseball, tennis, and other sports. We focus on a 2021 story that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a tell: how he positioned his foot before a play was a strong indicator of whether he'd run or pass. We also talk about reading tells and predicting actions in baseball, tennis, and other sports. One story we talk about was Andre Agassi claiming to once have had a very reliable tell...
Published 12/21/23
A talk with Scott Stossel, author of "My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind." Scott is also national editor of The Atlantic. Scott's book is a history of the condition and treatment of anxiety, and also a personal history in which Scott talks honestly about his struggles with debilitating anxiety. I talk to Scott about what he's learned in his research and personal life about the factors behind anxiety and how we might, as much as we are able to, overcome it....
Published 12/14/23
I talk with psychologist Christopher Moyer about electrodermal activity (EDA), also known as galvanic skin response (GSR), which is what lie detectors measure. Topics discussed include: What are spikes in electrodermal activity actually telling us? We talk about its use in lie detectors. We talk about lowerings in skin conductance and what that indicates. We talk about the nature of stress; and how there can be good and bad stress. We talk about poker and gambling, including some...
Published 12/08/23
Animal behavior researcher Daniel Mills talks about various aspects of the human-pet relationship, with a focus on his research. Topics include: dogs' abilities to read human emotions and how they do that; the effects of pets on our mental health; animals' ability to perceive images on a TV screen; the differences between the human and animal mind; pets' abilities to sense their owners arriving home from far away; how cats communicate relaxation to each other.  Support the showTo get...
Published 11/29/23
Joel Berman is a practitioner of Compassionate Listening (compassionatelistening.org). Joel has travelled to the Middle East and talked with Israelis and Palestinians about their experiences and grievances. Topics discussed: Joel's experiences in the Middle East; what the Compassionate Listening methodology entails; the bravery required for conflict resolution work; and both of our experiences being introverts with a lot of social anxiety.  Support the showTo get ad-free episodes, and more,...
Published 11/20/23
A talk with two people with door-to-door sales experience. We talk about the tricks and strategies they used to close sales, and the psychological factors in why those strategies work. Topics discussed: verbal and physical sales scripts some companies use, and why they work; the use of ambiguous language in deception; the power of personal anecdotes in gaining rapport; the importance of getting a customer to commit in writing to the deal; how simply spending time together can build rapport...
Published 11/11/23
Vanessa Otero is the creator of a popular and well respected media bias chart that ranks the bias of many news outlets, and she's the founder of Ad Fontes Media. Topics discussed include: the process her team uses to determine bias; the difficulties of determining what is "left" and "right" in a polarized and fast-changing political landscape; recognizing that everyone is biased and that the best we can do is try to reduce our bias; the relation between media bias and polarization;...
Published 10/29/23