‘You Are Not So Smart’: no, really – none of us are, and this podcast is here to blow your mind and prove it to you

Science April 14, 2022
You Are Not So Smart podcast art
Listen to ‘You Are Not So Smart’

Now hang on – David McRaney isn’t calling out anyone in particular. “You Are Not So Smart” is a podcast calling all of us out on the things we were unaware that we are unaware of. In McRaney’s own words, this podcast explores the “undeserved confidence in human perception, motivation, and behavior.”

Whether it’s the article we so smartly shared to prove our point or the little bit of internet research we did, McRaney is schooling us on the psychology of self-delusion. He dives deep into biases, fallacies, and heuristics that make us think we know it all.

David McRaney has been hosting “You Are Not So Smart” since 2012. Stream the podcast in any order, as there’s plenty to learn from every single episode. New episodes are typically released twice a month and are only an hour long.

This is a podcast all about the grip that our own psychology has on us. Whether it’s confirmation biases or just plain old irrational thinking, McRaney and his wide array of guests are here to tell us everything about the unconscious choices we make every day.

With over 200 episodes down, you can imagine that “You Are Not So Smart” has touched on a little bit of a lot of it. McRaney speaks mainly to authors and experts about anything from sexual deviancy to the psychology of arguing to how video games can help us better understand our delusions.

With social psychologist Melanie C. Green, he discussed the persuasive power of fiction and her “transportation into narrative worlds” theory. Michael Rousell, author of The Power of Surprise, explains the science of surprise down to the neurons and how surprise often triggers change on many levels.

Podcaster and magician Brian Brushwood of “The World’s Greatest Con” podcast (in which Brushwood serves up a masterclass on storytelling) recently joined the podcast to talk about the psychology behind scams.

He discusses his own podcast, talking about how the British conned Hitler by using his own hopes against him in what became the major shift in tides of the second World War. They talk about how successful scams work and why people fall for them.

Also recently on the podcast was Daniel H. Pink, five-time New York Times best-selling author of The Power of Regret: How Looking Backwards Moves Us Forward. With McRaney, they talked all about the concept of “no regrets.” Namely, how we should stop saying it.

Pink says that so many people believe that claiming to not have any regrets doesn’t help us learn or move forward. While there are positive emotions that can come from a “no regrets” attitude, sometimes we need negative emotion, too, to keep us progressing.

McRaney comments that he loves that the people Pink spoke to for his book had a wide range of regrets, from regretting not purchasing a flute to regretting getting married. He says that having the ability to remember is like a super power: being able to look at our past and base our future on it is devastatingly human.

Listeners will walk away from every single episode of “You Are Not So Smart” with something new to think about. It will have you analyzing all of the intricacies of everything you think, say, and do, and you’ll ask, “Why?” It’s a little bit of philosophy, psychology, and sociology, culminating in a kindly reminder that all of us are more complex and yet far more simple than we think.

Listen to ‘You Are Not So Smart’
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