We like to think of our own personalities, and those of our family and friends as predictable, constant over time. But what if they aren’t? What if nothing stays constant over a lifetime?
Tagged with “psychology” (40)
Should we distrust our own ability to reason? Why is debunking conspiracy theories such a risky business? And is David Icke a force for good?
Rob Brotherton is an academic psychologist and theorist of conspiracy theories. His new book is Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories. He joins us down the line from New York City.
With Nicola Davis in the studio is Chris French, professor of psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he heads the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit.
YANSS 60 – How to turn your fears and anxieties into positivity and productivity with cognitive reframing
Reframing is a psychological tool that just plain works. It’s practical, simple, and with practice and repetition it often leads to real change in people with a variety of thinking problems.
It works because we rarely question our own interpretations, the meanings we construct when examining a set of facts, or our own introspections of internal emotional states. So much of the things the anxiety and fear we feel when anticipating the future is just the result of plucking from a grab bag of best guesses and assumptions, shaky models of reality that may or may not be accurate and will likely pan out much differently than we predict.
Annie Duke was often the only woman at the poker table, which influenced the way people saw her - and the way she saw herself. Feeling like an outsider can come at a cost, but also be an advantage.
Kim Stanley Robinson and Sheldon Solomon on exploration and death – books podcast | Books | The Guardian
Can humanity escape extinction by reaching for the stars? We confront final questions with the science fiction novelist Kim Stanley Robinson and the psychologist Sheldon Solomon.
We’re heading off into the unknown in this week’s podcast, with a pair of writers who explore what drives our human experiment.
The writer Kim Stanley Robinson has been examining possible futures for humanity for 40 years in a series of novels that stretch from nuclear devastation through climate chaos to Mars and beyond. His latest novel, Aurora, pushes 500 years onwards with a story of a vast starship on a 200-year journey to Tau Ceti.
Robinson explains why he decided to write a generation starship novel and why he’s happier pushing at the boundaries of fiction rather than the boundaries of science.
The psychologist Sheldon Solomon has, by contrast, been expanding the realm of science, putting an insight from ancient philosophy – that our lives are shaped by our awareness of our own mortality – on a sound experimental footing.
Solomon explains how he and his colleagues Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski have been measuring the ways in which the fear of death alters our behaviour and how the stories we tell ourselves against that fear have forged history.
Our guest for this episode, Will Storr, wrote a book called The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science. In that book, Storr spends time with Holocaust deniers, young Earth creationists, people who believe they’ve lived past lives as famous figures, people who believe they’ve been abducted by aliens, people who stake their lives on the power of homeopathy, and many more - people who believe things that most of us do not. Storr explains in the book that after spending so much time with these people it started to become clear to him that it all goes back to that model of reality we all are forced to generate and then interact with. We are all forced to believe what that model tells us, and it is no different for people who are convinced that dinosaurs and human beings used to live together, or that you can be cured of an illness by an incantation delivered over the telephone. For some people, that lines up with their models of reality in a way that’s good enough. It’s a best guess.
Storr proposes you try this thought experiment. First, answer this question: Are you right about everything you believe? Now, if you are like most people, the answer is no. Of course not. As he says, that would mean you are a godlike and perfect human being. You’ve been wrong enough times to know it can’t be true. You are wrong about some things, maybe many things. That leads to a second question - what are you are wrong about? Storr says when he asked himself this second question, he started listing all the things he believed and checked them off one at a time as being true, he couldn’t think of anything he was wrong about.
Storr says once you realize how difficult it is to identify your own incorrect beliefs you can better empathize with people on the fringe, because they are stuck in the same predicament. They are just as trapped in their own war rooms, most of the time unaware that the map they use is, as psychologist Daniel Gilbert once said, a representation and not a replica. They are judging the evidence presented to them based on a model of reality, a map that they’ve used their entire lives, and you can’t just tell someone that his or her map is a fantasy realm that doesn’t exist and expect them to respond positively. You can’t just ask a person like that to throw away that map and start over, especially if they’ve yet to realize it is just a map, and their beliefs are only models.
In this episode we ask experts where do our beliefs come from, how do we know where we should place our doubt, and why don’t facts seem to work on people? We explore the psychology of belief through interviews with Margaret Maitland, an Egyptologist, who settles once and for all whether or not aliens built the pyramids. We also speak with Jim Alcock, a psychologist who studies belief itself who explains how emotions and rationality combine to form our concepts of reality.
Recorded at the New York Public Library. Details, context, and transcript: www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014…ypl-interview/
(by David McRaney)
You are a pile of atoms.
When you eat vanilla pudding, which is also a pile of atoms, you are really just putting those atoms next to your atoms and waiting for some of them trade places.
If things had turned out differently back when your mom had that second glass of wine while your dad told that story about when he sat on a jellyfish while skinny dipping, the same atoms that glommed together to make your bones and your skin, your tongue and your brain could have been been rearranged to make other things. Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen – the whole collection of elements that make up your body right down to the vanadium, molybdenum and arsenic could be popped off of you, collected, and reused to make something else – if such a seemingly impossible technology existed.
Like a cosmic box of Legos, the building blocks of matter can take the shape of every form we know of from mountains to monkeys.
If you think about this long enough, you might stumble into the same odd questions scientists and philosophers ask from time to time. If we had an atom-exchanging machine, and traded one atom at a time from your body with an atom from the body of Edward James Olmos, at what point would you cease to be you and Olmos cease to be Edward James? During that process, would you lose your mind and gain his? At some point would each person’s thoughts and dreams and memories change hands?
Sure animals talk in their own way, with chirps and grunts and the like, but only humans can form words. It is this, some evolutionary psychologists contend, that is what truly separates us from the rest of the species on the planet. But why us?
On November 3rd, Dr. Cialdini, along with Dan Ariely, Ori Brafman, Pam Danziger, Dan Hill and Christophe Morin were interviewed for the Extraordinary Minds webcast, “Getting People Who Don’t Buy to Buy Enthusiastically”.
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