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A talk with Liz Stokoe, a conversation analysis (CA) researcher and the author of "Talk: The Science of Conversation." This is my second episode focused on CA. Topics discussed include: What are some of the most useful learnings from CA, in Liz's view? Does the common perception that men and women talk differently have much scientific support? How …
 
A talk with political scientist Thomas Pepinsky, who wrote a piece entitled "Life in authoritarian states is mostly boring and tolerable," which examined what the end of democracy might look like in America. Topics discussed include: What can we deduce from U.S. surveys that show high distrust in elections? How much do people really believe that el…
 
This is a piece that I, Zach Elwood, wrote about the ways in which social media (and internet communication more broadly) may be amplifying us-versus-them polarization and extreme thinking. Much of the mainstream coverage of how social media may be amplifying divides and making people unhappy is on product-specific features and algorithms. But what…
 
A talk with roboticist and artificial intelligence researcher Hod Lipson. Topics include: how close we are to self-aware machines; research strategies that will likely yield self-aware machines; what it takes for something to be self-aware; the risks of AI; how such research can help us better understand human minds and behavior.…
 
A talk with criminologist Eric Piza about how video has affected crime rates. Topics discussed include: what the research shows about video surveillance and crime reduction; what factors make camera presence more likely to be effective; the effectiveness of police body cams; some practical ideas for how one might discourage crime at one's property;…
 
A talk with social scientist Saul Albert (saulalbert.net) about conversation analysis — the scientific analysis of talking — and the wider field of ethnomethodology. Topics discussed: what conversation analysis (CA) is and how it's done; some of the interesting findings in CA; Saul's own research; the complexity and difficulty of communication; the…
 
An interview of Rob Speiden, an expert in sign cutting, which is the tracking of humans or animals over the ground using clues of physical disturbance. Rob's site is at www.trackingschool.com. Topics discussed include: common methods of tracking; how tracking is used in search and rescue scenarios; debunking some misconceptions about what's possibl…
 
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…
 
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 practicin…
 
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 …
 
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. H…
 
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 …
 
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 vari…
 
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…
 
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 high rate of shootings and other forms of excessive force. Factors discussed include: the role of guns, racism, the fact that juries sel…
 
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…
 
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 Ag…
 
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 attempts at discussing transgender topics can inspire so much anger; how polarization on this topic relates to polarization in other areas; controversy around how ma…
 
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.By Zachary Elwood
 
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 psyc…
 
First of two interviews with James Mitchell, a retired police captain who worked in Prince George's County, Maryland. We talk about the U.S. problem of excessive police violence, with the goal of understanding some of the factors that can lead to unjustified and too aggressive police responses. Issues include: George Floyd's death and how the cops …
 
I interview Scott Stossel, who is the national editor of the magazine The Atlantic, and the author of the book My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. That book is a history of humanity's understanding and treatment of anxiety, and also a personal history in which Scott recounts honestly and openly his own struggles …
 
An interview with Nathan Filer, author of the non-fiction book 'The Heartland: Finding and Losing Schizophrenia' and the fiction book 'The Shock of the Fall'. We talk about environmental, experiential factors in schizophrenia, about the understandable pushback there can be to examining these areas, about the uncertainty around these topics, and abo…
 
In this episode, I interview an 8-year-old. We talk about such topics as: how she knows other kids want to be her friend, how she knows adults are upset with her, tricks she uses to watch more TV, the etiquette around Infection Tag (one of her favorite games), and her thoughts on various supernatural beings, including Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny,…
 
An interview with Gina Assaf about her patient-led research on "long haul" Covid, which refers to long term Covid-19 effects. Assaf is not a professional medical researcher; she was motivated to initiate this research due to her own covid experiences and frustration with the lack of information about her, and other sufferers', experience. We talk a…
 
An interview with Jamie Heywood, who got into the medical research field when his brother was diagnosed with ALS and Jamie wanted to do everything he could do to save him. Jamie started an ALS research institute, and later was co-founder and CEO of PatientsLikeMe, an organization for collecting real-world medical data directly from patients. He dis…
 
Second of two episodes about online dating. This is a conversation about online dating with Scott, a straight man in his 30s who lives in Portland, Oregon. We talk about the reads/indicators he gets from online dating profiles and pictures that let him know if someone might be a good potential match.…
 
First of two episodes about online dating. This is a conversation about online dating with Celia, a straight woman in her 30s who lives in Portland, Oregon. We talk about the reads/indicators she gets from online dating profiles and pictures that let her know if someone might be a good potential match.…
 
The idea that humans don't have free will, that we don't have any control of our lives, can be a scary or depressing one for some people. This is a talk with Daniel Whiteson, physics professor of UC Irvine, about why he thinks free will is unlikely, and about the psychological and emotional impacts that can be associated with believing or not belie…
 
An interview of host Zachary Elwood about his own aphantasia, which is defined as an inability to visualize images mentally. This is a rebroadcast of an interview from The Untypical Podcast, hosted by Visakan Pillai. Topics discuss include: aphantasia and what it's like, aphantasia effects on life and creativity, the nature of thought and memory, p…
 
An interview with Karina Korostelina, a social psychologist and the author of Political Insults: How Offenses Escalate Conflict. We discuss her work creating categories for insults, the role insults play in political conflict, why groups and group leaders use insults, and the role of the internet in amplifying opportunities for insults and insult p…
 
An interview with Thomas Carothers, an expert on foreign policy, democracy, and political polarization. He is co-author/editor of the book Democracies Divided, a summary of the national situations of several extremely polarized countries, including the U.S., Turkey, India, Poland, Kenya, and Brazil. I ask Carothers about what he views as the root p…
 
A talk with Levi Boxell about his research showing that older Americans, who use social media less than younger Americans, have become more antagonistic towards the opposite political party than younger people. We also discuss his research studying how political polarization has changed over time in other countries. We discuss what factors may cont…
 
An interview with Dr. Michael Macy of Cornell University, who has done research on "opinion cascades," showing that some political party stances on specific issues may be rather arbitrary, the result of initial conditions and how early influencers staked out political positions. This means that some stances that are strongly associated with a certa…
 
A talk with Dr. Jaime Settle, a political scientist who has studied how social media may be increasing political animosity and division. She is the author of Frenemies: How Social Media Polarizes America, which describes her research showing how Facebook seems to increase people's animosity towards members of the opposite political party. Topics: p…
 
Jennifer McCoy, a specialist on political polarization and election processes, talks about problematic political polarization in the United States: how it compares to other countries that have seen extreme polarization and democracy degradation; the causes and dynamics of extreme polarization; the negative results of this process; and what might be…
 
An interview with Dr. Omar Wasow, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics at Princeton, and author of a paper entitled "Agenda Seeding: How 1960s Black Protests Moved Elites, Public Opinion and Voting," in which he found that civil rights-related violent activity in the United States in the 1960s shifted public opinion and voting more …
 
An interview with a self-described anti-fascist who has frequently taken part in the more militant and unlawful aspects of the BLM-focused protests and riots that have occurred in Portland, Oregon in the wake of George Floyd's death. This person has also taken part in physical confrontations with alt-right pro-Trump groups, like the Proud Boys. The…
 
Political scientist David Karpf talks about Cambridge Analytica, and about how their perception by many as masters of advanced digital influence (as portrayed in, for example, the documentary The Great Hack) is inaccurate and exaggerated. Dr. Karpf talks about the effects of political ads, about the role of social media and the internet in politics…
 
Dr. Rob Tarzwell talks about his experiences being a psychiatric doctor in Canadian ER (emergency room) settings, and the challenges of evaluating and diagnosing patients. Topics include: strategies for distinguishing psych disorders from other conditions; the nature of self and consciousness and how that relates to psych issues; and the impact and…
 
A talk with psychologist and expert on cursing Dr. Timothy Jay about some lesser known factors that can be present when people use offensive language, with a focus on the modern phenomenon of videos widely shared on social media showing people saying or doing offensive things. We discuss factors that may influence offensive behavior, including Tour…
 
An interview with psychology researcher Dr. Neguine Rezaii about her work using machine learning to predict conversion in teenagers from prodromal symptoms to psychotic episodes. The two language patterns found in the subjects' speech were 1) a low semantic density (i.e., low meaning), and 2) speech related to sound or voices. Topics: psychology, s…
 
An interview with Dr. Marcel Just about his research using fMRI brain imaging to identify brain activity associated with specific thoughts: for example, identifying that a subject is thinking about an apple, or about death. Dr. Just and his team have been twice featured on the show 60 Minutes. Topics: brain imaging, fMRI, neuroscience, psychology.…
 
A talk with Dr. Brian Baer, a skilled translator, about indicators in an English language text that the author may be native-Russian. Also discussed are Russia's attempts at online disinformation and deception. Dr. Baer also talks about the nature of language in general, and his work as a translator. Topics: Russia, disinformation, fake news, langu…
 
A talk with Dr. Rob Tarzwell about his research using SPECT neuroimaging to find indicators of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This work was voted by Discover Magazine as one of the top 20 science stories of 2015. Also discussed is Tarzwell's research on finding neuroimage indicators of the effects of talk th…
 
A talk with Jason Simmons (aka Master Roshambollah), an experienced Rock Paper Scissors player. Simmons discusses how serious RPS players try to read and influence the behavior of their opponents. Topics: Rock Paper Scissors (RPS), games, strategy, behavior, tells, manipulation.By Zachary Elwood
 
A talk with Brendan Bartholomew, a San Francisco bus driver and writer. Brendan talks about how understanding human behavior plays an important role in his duties as a city bus driver. Topics: bus driving, transportation, understanding and predicting passenger and driver behaviors.By Zachary Elwood
 
A talk with Dr. Christopher Moyer, PhD, about measuring skin conductance, also called electrodermal activity (EDA) and galvanic skin response (GSR): what it is, what it's thought to measure, and how it's been used in psychology research, including his own research. Dr. Moyer is a counseling psychologist who has published research on the anxiety-red…
 
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