Episodes
Is a hotdog a sandwich? Well, that depends on your definition of a sandwich (and a hotdog), and according to the most recent research in cognitive science, the odds that your concept of a sandwich is the same as another person's concept are shockingly low. In this episode we explore how understanding why that question became a world-spanning argument in the mid 2010s helps us understand some of the world-spanning arguments vexing us today.
Published 04/14/24
Published 04/14/24
In this episode we sit down with psychologist Dacher Keltner, one of the world’s leading experts on the science of emotion, the man Pixar hired to help them write Inside Out. In his new book – Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life – he outlines his years of work in this field, the health benefits of awe, the evolutionary origins and likely functions, and how to better pursue more awe and wonder in your own life.
Published 03/31/24
In this episode we welcome psychologist Mary C. Murphy, author of Cultures of Growth, who tells us how to create institutions, businesses, and other groups of humans that can better support collaboration, innovation, performance, and wellbeing. We also learn how, even if you know all about the growth mindset, the latest research suggests you not may not be creating a culture of growth despite what feels like your best efforts to do so.
Published 03/18/24
In 1974, two psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, as the New Yorker once put it, "changed the way we think about the way we think." The prevailing wisdom, before their landmark research went viral (in the way things went viral in the 1970s), was that human beings were, for the most part, rational optimizers always making the kinds of judgments and decisions that best maximized the potential of the outcomes under their control. This was especially true in economics at the time. The...
Published 03/03/24
Jeremy Utley, Kian Gohar, and Henrik Werdelin sit down to discuss the surprising results of a new study into what happens when groups of people work together to brainstorm solutions to problems with the help of ChatGPT. Based on their research, Utley and Gohar created a new paradigm for getting the most out of AI-assisted ideation which they call FIXIT.
Published 02/19/24
Our guest in this episode is Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and writer for the New Yorker Magazine who is also the New York Times Bestselling author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better. His new book is Supercommunicators, a practical and approachable guide to what makes great conversations work. In the episode we discuss the science behind what it takes to form a connection with another human being through dialogue, how to generate or nurture a bond, and how...
Published 02/05/24
There are several ways to define pluralistic ignorance, and that’s because it’s kind of a brain twister when you try to put it into words. On certain issues, most people people believe that most people believe what, in truth, few people believe. Or put another way, it is the erroneous belief that the majority is acting in a way that matches its internal philosophies, and that you are one of a small number of people who feel differently, when in reality the majority agrees with you on the...
Published 01/20/24
On this episode we learn about the history of the exclamation point, the question mark, and the semicolon (among many other aspects of language) with Florence Hazrat, a scholar of punctuation, who, to my great surprise, informed that while a lot of language is the result of a slow evolution, a gradual ever-changing process, punctuation in the English language is often an exception to this – for instance, a single person invented the semicolon; they woke up and the semicolon didn’t exist, and...
Published 01/07/24
Temple Grandin didn’t develop speech until much later than most children, and she might have led a much different life if it hadn’t been for people who worked very hard to open up a space for her to thrive. In this episode we discuss all that as well as her latest book, Visual Thinking, about three distinct ways that human brains create human minds to make sense of the world outside of their skulls.
Published 12/25/23
In this episode David McRaney is interviewed by Andrea Chalupa about the psychological research covered in How Minds Change that could help if you expect to spend time with a family member this holiday who can't wait to pull you into an argument about politics, a wedge issue, or something else buzzing in the zeitgeist over which they'd love to start a fight. But, also, this is good stuff to know before ANY contentious conversation you might have in the future with someone who is quick to...
Published 12/18/23
How likely is the fungal infection in The Last of Us? The one that takes over human brains and brings humanity to the brink of extinction, could something like that really happen? In this episode we sit down with Emily Monosson, an expert on deadly fungal infections, and discuss the handful of fungi (we know of) that are today, right now, causing catastrophic declines in wildlife, eradicating trees, destroying crops, and increasingly impacting humans. Monsoon explains that many in the...
Published 12/11/23
In this episode we sit down with Greg Satell, a communication expert whose book, Cascades, details how rapid, widespread change can sweep across groups of people big and small, and how understanding the psychological mechanisms at play in such moments can help anyone looking to create change in a family, institution, or even nation, prepare for the inevitable resistance they will face.
Published 11/27/23
In this episode Jesse Richardson tells us all about ConspiracyTest.org, a new project designed to be a weird, fun, and cleverly educational way to explore just how skeptical you are (and could be) about a variety of conspiracy theories. The whole thing is designed to be very sharable and very viral, and it's launching right before Thanksgiving 2023 so that you can share it with your conspiracy-theory-entertaining friends and family over the holidays, in person or over social media (but you...
Published 11/12/23
I recently sat down for a live event and Q&A with the great Annie Duke to discuss her new book, Quit: The power of knowing when to walk away. This episode is the audio from that event. Quit is all about how to develop a very particular skill: how to train your brain to make it easier to know which goals and plans are worth sticking to and which are not. 
Published 10/29/23
In this episode we sit down with Douglas Rushkoff, a media scholar, journalist, and professor of digital economics who has a new fire in his belly when it comes to the world of billionaire preppers, which comes across in his new book Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires – inspired by his invitation to consult a group of the world’s richest people on how to spend their money now to survive an apocalypse they fear is coming within their lifetimes.
Published 10/15/23
In this show you'll hear the first episode of a documentary series I made about the difficulty of defining the word "genius," and out of that launching point it goes deep into the science of human potential and the history of the both the word and all the ideas we have attempted to understand and express when using it.
Published 10/01/23
In celebration of How Minds Change, my new book, turning one-year-old, in this episode Michael Taft interviews David McRaney about how minds do and do not change, the process behind writing a book about that, and what he has learned since writing and promoting it.
Published 09/14/23
In this episode we welcome back author Will Storr whose new book, The Status Game, feels like required reading for anyone confused, curious, or worried about how politics, cults, conspiracy theories communities, social media, religious fundamentalism, polarization, and extremism are affecting us - everywhere, on and offline, across cultures, and across the world.
Published 09/03/23
Sedona Chinn, a researcher who studies how people make sense of competing scientific, environmental, and health-related claims, joins us to discuss her latest research into doing your own research. In her latest paper she found that the more a person values the concept of doing your own research, the less likely that person is to...actually do their own research. In the episode we explore the origin of the concept, what that phrase really means, and the implications of her study on everything...
Published 08/19/23
We sit down with Brian Brushwood to discuss how he put together this most recent season of The World's Greatest Con, his podcast about incredible scams. This season is all about how two teenagers pulled off an incredible hoax called Project Alpha, a con job and a publicity stunt, meant to improve scientific rigor and methodology when it comes to studying the possibility of the existence of psychic phenomena.
Published 08/06/23
In this episode we sit down with Jennifer Shahade, a two-time U.S. Women’s Chess Champion, author, speaker, and professional poker player whose new book, Chess Queens, is the true story of the greatest female players of all time interwoven with her own experiences as a chess champion.
Published 07/23/23
In an era in which we have more information available to us than ever before, when claims of “fake news” might themselves be, in fact, fake news, Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris, authors of The Invisible Gorilla, are back to offer us a vital tool to not only inoculate ourselves against getting infected by misinformation but prevent us from spreading it to others, a new book titled Nobody's Fool.
Published 07/11/23
Deliberation. Debate. Conversation. Though it can feel like that’s what we are doing online as we trade arguments back and forth, most of the places where we currently gather make it much easier to produce arguments in isolation rather than evaluate them together in groups. The latest research suggests we will need much more of the latter if we hope to create a new, modern, functioning marketplace of ideas. In this episode, psychologist Tom Stafford takes us through his research into how to...
Published 07/09/23
At the peak of COVID-19, Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling set out to write a book about the widespread pushback against masks and vaccines as away to discuss the rise of the medical freedom movement in America. But after meeting a series of people within that movement his efforts took a sharp turn into the motivations, tribulations, and personal lives of the people who sell miracle cures and dietary supplements, skirting the law when they can, and heading to jail when they can't. The book is titled,...
Published 06/25/23