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YANSS 141 – How politicians misrepresent science

November 21, 2018 - 22:04

In this episode, science journalist Dave Levitan talks about his new book: Not a Scientist: How Politicians Mistake, Misrepresent, and Utterly Mangle Science.

In the book, Levitan takes us through 12 repeating patterns that politicians fall into when they talk about scientific research. Some are nefarious and intentional, some are based on ignorance, and some are just part of the normal business of politicians managing their public image or trying to appeal to their base. Not only do they often get the science wrong, they sometimes fail to communicate the nature of scientific inquiry and the goals of the scientific process itself.

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This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

There is no better way to create a website than with Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you’ll receive a custom domain for free for a year. Start your free trial today, at Squarespace.com and enter offer code SOSMART to get 10% off your first purchase.

Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show through PayPal by clicking this link.

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Not A Scientist

YANSS 140 – How we uploaded our biases into our machines and what we can do about it

November 21, 2018 - 21:46

Now that algorithms are everywhere, helping us to both run and make sense of the world, a strange question has emerged among artificial intelligence researchers: When is it ok to predict the future based on the past? When is it ok to be biased?

“I want a machine-learning algorithm to learn what tumors looked like in the past, and I want it to become biased toward selecting those kind of tumors in the future,” explains philosopher Shannon Vallor at Santa Clara University.  “But I don’t want a machine-learning algorithm to learn what successful engineers and doctors looked like in the past and then become biased toward selecting those kinds of people when sorting and ranking resumes.”

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

There is no better way to create a website than with Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you’ll receive a custom domain for free for a year. Start your free trial today, at Squarespace.com and enter offer code SOSMART to get 10% off your first purchase.

Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show through PayPal by clicking this link.

Like all learning systems, our algorithms must make sense of present based on a database of old experiences. The problem is that looking backwards we see a bevy of norms, ideas, and associations we’d like to leave in the past. Machines can’t tell if a bias from a generation ago was morally good or neutral, nor can they tell if it was unjust, based on arbitrary social norms that lead to exclusion. So how do we teach our machines which inferences they should consider useful and which they should consider harmful?

In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, three experts on artificial intelligence help us understand how we accidentally transferred our prejudices and biases into our infant artificial intelligences. We will also explore who gets to say what is right and what is wrong as we try to fix all this. And you’ll hear examples of how some of our early machine minds, through prediction, are creating the future they predict by influencing the systems they monitor — because our actions folds their results back into their next prediction.

Those experts are:

Shannon Vallor — a professor of philosophy at Santa Clara University. “My research explores the philosophical territory defined by three intersecting domains: the philosophy and ethics of emerging technologies, the philosophy of science and phenomenology. My current research project focuses on the impact of emerging technologies, particularly those involving automation and artificial intelligence, on the moral and intellectual habits, skills and virtues of human beings – our character.”

Alistair Croll — who teaches about technology and business at the Harvard Business School. He is an entrepreneur, author, and event organizer. “I spend a lot of time understanding how organizations of all sizes can use data to make better decisions, and on startup acceleration. I’m also fascinated by what happens when the rubber of technology meets the road of technology.”

Damien Williams — an artificial intelligence expert who writes about how technology intersects with human society. “For the past nine years, I’ve been writing, talking, thinking, teaching, and learning about philosophy, comparative religion, magic, artificial intelligence, human physical and mental augmentation, pop culture, and how they all relate.”

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

ProPublica’s report on machine bias

The Affirmative Action of Vocabulary

Joanna Bryson on A.I.

Jana Eggers on A.I.

Shannon Vallor’s Website

Shannon Vallor’s Twitter

Damien William’s Website

Damien William’s Twitter

Alistair Crolls’ Website

Alistair Crolls’s Twitter

Machines taught by photos learn a sexist view of women

Semantics derived automatically from language corpora necessarily contain human biases

Men Also Like Shopping: Reducing Gender Bias Amplification using Corpus-level Constraints

How Vector Space Mathematics Reveals the Hidden Sexism in Language

Content analysis of 150 years of British periodicals

IMAGE: The DNA Machine from Blade Runner 2049

 

YANSS 139 – The life-threatening impact of loneliness and how to combat it in our modern, insular world

November 21, 2018 - 21:21

On this episode, journalist Kate Leaver talks about her new book, The Friendship Cure: Reconnecting in the Modern Worldin which she explores the crippling, damaging, life-threatening impact of loneliness and the severe mental health costs of living a life disconnected from a support network of close contacts. But…as she explains in the episode, there is a cure…learning how to connect with others and curate better friendships.

In the interview we talk about loneliness, how to make friends, the difference between male and female friendship, platonic friendships, friends with benefits and lots, lots, more, including the Sardinian secret to a long life surrounded by friends, family, and lovable assholes.

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

There is no better way to create a website than with Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you’ll receive a custom domain for free for a year. Start your free trial today, at Squarespace.com and enter offer code SOSMART to get 10% off your first purchase.

Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show through PayPal by clicking this link.

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

The Friendship Cure

YANSS 138 – Rethinking evil with psychologist Julia Shaw

October 8, 2018 - 16:36

In this episode, we sit down with psychologist Julia Shaw, an expert in memory and criminal psychology, to discuss her new book – Evil.

In the book, she makes a case for something she calls “evil empathy,” seeing people who do heinous things as fellow human beings instead of as monsters.

According to Shaw, othering criminals by categorizing them as a separate kind of human allows us to put them out of our minds and disappear them to institutions or prisons. The result is we become less-able to prevent the sort of behavior the harms others from happening again and again.

In fact, she says “there’s no such thing as evil,” and sees the term as an antiquated, magical label that dehumanizes others, preventing us from accumulating the sort of scientific evidence that could lead to a better society.

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

There is no better way to create a website than with Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you’ll receive a custom domain for free for a year. Start your free trial today, at Squarespace.com and enter offer code SOSMART to get 10% off your first purchase.

Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show through PayPal by clicking this link.

 

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Julia Shaw’s Website

Spot

YANSS 137 – Narrative Persuasion

October 8, 2018 - 15:49

One of the most effective ways to change people’s minds is to put your argument into a narrative format — a story — but not just any story. The most persuasive narratives are those that transport us. Once departed from normal reality into the imagined world of a story, we become highly susceptible to belief and attitude change.

In this episode, you’ll learn from psychologist Melanie C. Green the four secrets to creating the most persuasive narratives possible.

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

There is no better way to create a website than with Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you’ll receive a custom domain for free for a year. Start your free trial today, at Squarespace.com and enter offer code SOSMART to get 10% off your first purchase.

Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show through PayPal by clicking this link.

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Cookie Recipes

Transportation into narrative worlds: implications for
entertainment media influences on tobacco use

Reading a book can change your mind, but only some changes last for a year: food attitude changes in readers of The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Adventure Time – Dungeon Train

The Tamale Lesson

Melanie Green’s Website

Melanie Green’s Twitter

Video Games and the Human Condition

IMAGE: From Adventure Time, Season 5, Episode 36 – Dungeon Train

 

YANSS 136 – Why solving problems can make those problems seem impossible to solve

September 11, 2018 - 19:15

In this episode we explore prevalence induced concept change with psychologist David Levari.

In a nutshell, when we set out to change the world by reducing examples of something we have deemed problematic, and we succeed, a host of psychological phenomena can mask our progress and make those problems seem intractable — as if we are only treading water when, in fact, we’ve created the change we set out to make.

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

There is no better way to create a website than with Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you’ll receive a custom domain for free for a year. Start your free trial today, at Squarespace.com and enter offer code SOSMART to get 10% off your first purchase.

Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show through PayPal by clicking this link.

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

David Levari’s website

Why The World Is Getting Better And Why Hardly Anyone Knows It

John Gray: Steven Pinker is wrong about violence and war

Poll about the world getting better

The problem with solving problems

Papers mentioned:

 

YANSS 135 – Why we are more realistic when evaluating others

September 11, 2018 - 19:00

When you think about your future health, career, finances, and even longevity — you imagine a rosy, hopeful future. For everyone else, though, you tend to be far more realistic.

In other words, if you are a smoker, everyone else is going to get cancer. You’ll probably be in the that lucky portion who smokes into your 90s, or so you think. Similarly, the odds of success for a new restaurant change depending on who starts that venture. If its you, the odds are pretty good. If it is someone else, you see the odds as pretty bad.


For about 80 percent of people, the brain overestimates the likelihood of future good events and underestimates the odds of future bad events. This, guest Tali Sharot says, is our built-in optimism bias.

Sharot is the director of the Affective Brain Lab and teaches cognitive neuroscience in the department of Experimental Psychology at University College London. In this episode, she explains why we are prone to optimism and hope over realism and the skepticism of experience. She also details how we can use our knowledge of this mental quirk to our advantage both personally and institutionally.

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

There is no better way to create a website than with Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you’ll receive a custom domain for free for a year. Start your free trial today, at Squarespace.com and enter offer code SOSMART to get 10% off your first purchase.

Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show through PayPal by clicking this link.

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

The Optimism Bias

Sharot’s TED Talk

Sharot’s Website

YANSS 134 – The Elaboration Likelihood Model

September 11, 2018 - 18:03

In this episode we sit down with psychology legend Richard Petty to discuss the Elaboration Likelihood Model, a theory he developed with psychologist John Cacioppo in the 1980s that unified the study of attitude change and persuasion and has since become one of the most robust models for explaining how and why some messages change people’s minds, some don’t, as well as what makes some stick and others fade in influence over time.

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

This episode is sponsored by The Great Courses Plus. Get unlimited access to a huge library of The Great Courses lecture series on many fascinating subjects. Start FOR FREE with Your Deceptive Mind taught by neurologist Steven Novella. Learn about how your mind makes sense of the world by lying to itself and others. Click here for a FREE TRIAL.

There is no better way to create a website than with Squarespace. Creating your website with Squarespace is a simple, intuitive process. You can add and arrange your content and features with the click of a mouse. Squarespace makes adding a domain to your site simple; if you sign up for a year you’ll receive a custom domain for free for a year. Start your free trial today, at Squarespace.com and enter offer code SOSMART to get 10% off your first purchase.

Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

You can also support the show through PayPal by clicking this link.

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Soundcloud

Previous Episodes

Richard Petty’s Website

Papers mentioned: