Podcast Recommendation: Rational Lampoon from Big Picture Science (SETI)

Big Picture Science from the SETI Institute is an excellent podcast generally, but this week's episode "Skeptic Check: Rational Lampoon" is definitely worth a listen if you are interested in modern democracy, how things have become so divided and public knowledge generally.

In just 51 minutes the podcast discusses social learning in animals, including humans. Drawing on the recent book 'The Knowledge Illusion' by Steven Sloman and Phillip Fernbach it looks at how we "know" what we think we know and how we sometimes get it wrong. It covers the influence our peer group or community has on our knowledge and "us vs. them"; how we decide which people constitute "us" and which people are "them" as well as how this can be overcome.

The official show description reads:
"Two heads may be better than one. But what about three or more? A new study shows that chimpanzees excel at complex tasks when they work in groups, and their accumulated knowledge can even be passed from one generation to the next. But group-think also can be maladaptive. When humans rely on knowledge that they assume other people possess, they can become less than rational. Find out why one cognitive scientist says that individual thinking is a myth. Most of your decisions are made in groups, and most derive from emotion, not rationality. Also, why we know far less than we think we do. For example, most people will say they understand how an everyday object like a zipper works, but draw a blank when asked to explain it. Plus, why we have a biological drive to categorize people as “us” or “them,” and how we can override it. "
It is definitely worth an hour of your time.

I've also recently compiled a list of the podcasts which are downloaded to my phone on a weekly basis. I, admittedly, don't have time to listen to all of them every week but they are all interesting and from reliable sources of information. You can find that list here.

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