A few episodes I like

Why Anti-Gay Bias has Sharply Declined In The U.S.

Listen to ths epsodie

  • “In 1988, when the General Social Survey first asked the question about same-sex marriage, only 11.6 percent of respondents said that they thought same-sex couples should have the right to marry. And you have to remember, 11.6 percent is almost as low as you can get. It’s hard to get less than 5 percent on any question. So 11.6 percent is really - everyone was against it almost. But by 2018, the number of Americans who said same-sex couples should have the right to marry was 68 percent. That’s a really dramatic change. It’s rare for public opinion on contested issues to change that much. At first, survey researchers thought that what was happening with gay rights was only generational change. Younger people with more liberal attitudes were giving survey researchers different answers than older people with more conservative attitudes. But when Michael looked at the data, he found lots and lots of people like William’s parents, people who, in a matter of years, had fundamentally changed their outlook. Even though it was sort of Democrats and liberals who were more likely to be open to gay rights, it turns out that there were plenty of evangelical Christians, rural people, Republican voters who actually changed their mind on these issues.”

  • “William Cox argues that the most surprising change is not the one that unfolded in courts and legislatures. It is in the change in attitudes in workplaces, in families, in schools."

  • “In a thought experiment, Mahzarin and her colleagues have extended the trend lines of the data to see how long it would take for bias to be entirely eliminated. To be clear, this isn’t a prediction about what is going to happen. It just shows you the speed at which different biases are changing. The forecasts show that if things go swimmingly well, in nine years, anti-gay attitudes will be all but eliminated - that we will reach neutrality. By contrast, when it comes to race issues, the projections are it will take nearly six decades for Americans to see blacks and whites the same way. Biases about skin tone, preferences for lighter skin over darker skin - that should take 138 years if current trends persist.”

  • “And I was mesmerized - happiness everywhere. London police marching - gay police, and straight police in support of gay police. I saw banners of, you know, the largest for-profit corporations in the world marching - Goldman Sachs, PWC, EY - each with their own banners. And I asked myself, what would a Black Lives Matter parade look like? Would the police be marching? Would these corporations have a banner in a parade of that kind? I doubt it.” :(

  • “It’s in the period when gay and lesbian people come out of the closet that straight Americans' attitudes about gay rights really start to shift.”

  • “It turned out that gay people had a singular advantage that many racial minorities do not. Gay people were embedded within the homes and the communities of those who thought gay people were an abomination.”

  • “Most gay and lesbian people have heterosexual parents. So within the same family, you have relatives who are gay and relatives who are straight, whereas the family system segregates - not completely but almost completely - whites from blacks. And then, it’s also true that because gays and lesbians are in the same families as heterosexual people, they have the same socioeconomic background, and they’re geographically integrated with them. So there were just a lot of more opportunities for straight people to meet gay people who were similar status to themselves.”

  • “Parents with gay kids often had to grapple with a form of cognitive dissonance. As psychologist Mahzarin Banaji says, many parents were forced to choose between their love for their children and their pre-existing attitudes about homosexuality.”

  • “Think about other groups that face persistent discrimination in our society. Old people are found across all income groups, in black and white families, in all parts of the country. Like many gay people, the elderly have had long associations with others before they became elderly. And yet, as we noted earlier, implicit biases against old people have hardly budged.”

  • “Or consider women. They are also embedded in the homes of people who are avowed misogynists. Women’s deep connections and daily presence as moms and sisters and wives and daughters and friends and colleagues have not eradicated the persistence of inequality and abuse.”

  • “So as you can see, lots of things built on one another. Activism around AIDS drew headlines and policy changes. Politicians began to respond to these activists. The entertainment industry began telling the stories of gay people. But does this really solve the mystery of the rapid decline in homophobia in the United States? If political activism and attention from Hollywood were enough to combat bias, wouldn’t we also see a faster decline in misogyny and white supremacy?”

  • “Women and people of color have been fighting for equal rights often on a bigger scale and over a longer time period.”

  • “The stakes involved in entrenched racism, in the entrenched subordination of women, are really, for most people, much greater than the stakes involved in the sort of casual, almost unthinking subordination of gay people. So in that sense, it was almost easier to crack. Not that it was easy, and not that it’s done. But the singularity of racism, and the way in which we’re carved up by race and the singularity of the experience of women, and the subordination of women and the stakes and social structure around that may mean that you can’t just immediately say, this worked for this so it’s exactly the same for the others. They’re not the same.”

  • “But Evan was tenacious. Marriage equality, as far as he was concerned, was not just about marriage. It was a strategy. It was an engine that would pull many other rights behind it. If we could claim the language of marriage, we would be claiming an engine of transformation, a vocabulary of shared values - love, commitment, family, inclusion, dignity, respect - that would help non-gay people better understand who gay people really are and allow us to share equally not only in marriage but in everything.”

  • “There was an even deeper conundrum. Marriage equality, for Evan, was a way to telegraph to a straight audience that gay people and straight people were actually very similar. They were attracted to different people, but when it came to the important stuff - love and family and commitment - they had the same values.”

  • “In order to really succeed, it was not about just simply asserting our own and talking to ourselves. We had to find a way of bringing the majority of others - who are, of course, the majority - to a better understanding of who we are and a more capacious understanding of freedom. And I believed we could do that and marriage would be an engine for it.”

  • “I think that the best explanation for this effect has to do with social identification. So one of the most robust predictors of people’s likelihood of joining a movement is the extent to which they identify with the members of the movement and the cause. And extreme protest tactics, because they involve significant disruption of the social order and they can involve violence or inciting violence, they tend to lead people to say I don’t identify with that group of people. Like, I might have agreed with their cause, but the way they’re doing it is not the way I would have done it.”

  • “Change-makers often have a choice - overthrow the old order, perhaps through violence or revolution, or, reform the old order, reconcile and forgive. Which path you choose can be shaped by many factors, including how strong you are and whether you need allies to succeed. Those who wield a sword and those who hold out the olive branch can both be successful. But if you look at the long sweep of history, the evidence suggests one approach has been more effective. The political scientists Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth have analyzed hundreds of protest movements around the world that occurred over the course of the 20th century. They found that violent movements succeeded about 1/4 of the time. Nonviolent movements succeeded twice as often. The campaign for marriage equality told its opponents, look, we share the same values. Instead of force, it disarmed. Instead of arguing, it co-opted. Instead of shaming, it celebrated.”

Hidden Brain: The Untapped Potential of Placebos to Heal

Listen to the epsodie

  • “But Bruce’s colleague explained to him that the placebo effect comes in many shapes and sizes. If it’s a small pill, sometimes there’s not as big a placebo effect as a bigger pill. Or if they say it’s a new and exciting pill, there’s probably more of a placebo effect than a traditional pill. And many times an injection can have more of a placebo effect than a pill, and many times, you know, some other intervention can have more of a placebo effect than an injection. And perhaps surgery may have the biggest placebo effect of all.”

  • “In all, 180 patients, mostly men, took part in the study. Bruce followed up with them a few times over the course of two years. The results were jaw-dropping. All three groups basically were the same. All three groups felt they were better off for having had the surgery, that they’d recommend it to family and friends. They’d do it again if they had it - to do all over again. And so the conclusion was that all the benefit of arthroscopic surgery to treat arthritic knees was from a placebo effect.”

  • “We shouldn’t be doing arthroscopic surgery to treat arthritic knees. And the reason is because, No. 1, it’s invasive. And you do go to sleep, and there is risk. And although the complication rate is very low - the chance of bad things happening is pretty low - it’s not zero. And so God forbid that you ever put somebody to sleep and did a surgery on them entirely for a pretend surgery effect and they, you know, had a heart attack or stroke or any number of other things, and you would really regret under those circumstances, you know, ever having done that.”

  • “You know, herbalist, so I had at least 200, 300 herbs in jars all over the waiting room and along the walls. I had really wonderful pictures of China. And some of the herbs were animal parts and, you know, lizards and geckos and seahorses. I see people walk into my office, sit down with me for 15, 20 minutes, half hour, and sometimes I’d only write a prescription for herbs. And as they walked out, I saw them walking out with less pain, more bounce in their gait, and their faces were different when they left. And I said, Ted, you just changed that person. That was not the herbs.”

  • “Healing is a ritual and drama that everyone in the world knows at least their cultural forms of it. That drama activates neurons and activates a neurological process that’s involved what we call now in biomedicine at this point the placebo effect. You got it right on the head.”

Hidden Brain: Money Talks

Just a resume about this episode 😄

  • “When we think about the way we spend money, we may think about the comfort of a nice pair of shoes while the pleasure of a great meal. But money also serves a deeper purpose. We use money to express our feelings, to project our status, to defend our values. The products we buy tell stories, stories that we tell others, stories that we tell ourselves.”

  • “If you are someone who doesn’t buy flashy jewelry, you may say, OK, I’m not one of those people who uses money to talk - maybe. Or maybe you just don’t use diamonds to talk, you use coffee.”

  • “Companies, of course, pay attention to what consumers want. They understand that people don’t just want to buy a cup of coffee or a computer, they want the right story to go with that cup of coffee or computer. This is why so many Silicon Valley companies that are worth billions of dollars spend so much time telling us about their origin stories, how two kids dropped out of college to explore a dream in someone’s garage.

  • “They were basically saying if you buy this kind of computer, it sends a signal of the kind of person you are. It’s not so much about your status, but how cool you are.”

  • “There is some irony here in an advertising campaign by a major company trying to convince people that if you buy products made by that company, you’re actually acting independently and autonomously when in fact the advertising is actually making you do what the company wants you to do.”

Hidden Brain: Just Sex

Just a resume about this episode 😄

  • “I have students who have had sex many times drunk but have never held someone’s hand.”

  • “If casual sex was taboo a generation ago, emotional intimacy has become taboo today. It’s something to be explored in secret, maybe even something to be ashamed about.”

  • “I think girls know when they’re being used. And I think it feels bad to be used. But I think the alternative is that nobody wants to use you. And that means that you’re not hooking up with anybody. And I think that that’s worse.”

  • “They’re often not so much about pleasure in particular for women. They’re very much about status. So the idea is to be able to brag about or having sort of gotten someone who other people might also wish they could have gotten. So it’s all about being able to say, I got that guy over there or that person that everyone’s looking for, I managed to be the one who hooked up with him tonight.”

  • “What the students are confronted with is this artificial binary between careless and careful sex. On the one hand, we have this idea that when we get into romantic relationships, we’re supposed to be loving and kind. And the sex that happens in those kinds of relationships is very committed. And on the other hand, we have this concept of casual sex, which is the opposite of that. And that means that all of the kindnesses that go along with romantic relationships are considered off script once casual sex is on the table. So if two students are going to hook up together and they want it to be meaningless, then they have to do some work to make sure that both they and everyone else understands that we’re over in this meaningless camp and not this powerfully meaningful one. And so to sort of convince themselves and other people or to show themselves and other people that it was meaningless, they have to find a way to perform meaningless. It’s not automatic. And they do that by, for example, making sure that they’re drunk or they appear to be drunk when they hook up. So my students actually speak in pretty hushed tones about sober sex. Sober sex is very serious. But if the students have been drinking, then that helps send the message that it’s meaningless. Another way is to make sure that they don’t hook up with the same person very many times. So if they really don’t like the person in a romantic way, just hook up once, maybe twice and then cut it off. And then the third thing they have to do to try to establish this meaninglessness is to sort of give that person a demotion in their lives afterward. The idea that it’s meaningless means that we’re also not supposed to care about that person at all and in any way.”

  • “So part of the reason we see hookup culture on college campuses can be traced back to the sexual revolution and the women’s movement. And the women’s movement wanted two things for women, both sexually and otherwise. They wanted women to have the opportunity to do the things that men do and to embody masculine traits and interests. And they wanted everyone to sit up and notice that the things women had been doing all along and the traits and interests that they were believed to have were also valuable. And we really only got half of that. So the feminists succeeded in convincing America, for the most part, that women should be allowed to do what men do and even have masculine traits. But we never really got around to valuing the things that we define as feminine. So a young woman who’s growing up in America today is going to - she’s going to be told by most - not all parents are like this. But most parents are going to encourage their daughters to mix in masculine traits and interests into her personality. And they’re even going to encourage her to do so and perhaps reward her more so when she does that than when she incorporates feminine personality traits. So we’re excited when she likes to play with engineering toys when she’s a kid. And we’re excited when she chooses sports over cheerleading. And we’re excited that she decides to major in physics instead of education. And so women have been getting this message. If they’re paying any attention at all it’s very clear that, as they say, well-behaved women rarely make history. We reward you, we think it’s great when you act like we think a stereotypical man does. So then when they get to campus, that’s what they try to do. And it should surprise none of us that many women on campus decide to approach sexuality the same way they’ve been rewarded for approaching everything else in their lives, with this idea of the thing to do, the way to be liberated is to act in the way I think a stereotypical man might.”

Hidden Brain: The Edge of Gender

Just a resume about this episode 😄

  • “Very few women and non-Asian people of color in engineering.”

  • “The more you make something individual, the more you can sell. So having something that can only be worn by a girl means it can less likely be handed down to a brother.”

  • “Gender is unquestionably the most salient feature of a person’s identity. That’s the first thing we notice about someone. And it’s certainly the first characteristic that infants learn to discriminate.”

  • “Lise doesn’t dismiss the power of biology, but she thinks many of us fail to see what neuroscientists know. The brain not only is shaped but has to be shaped by the social world. When we see differences between men and women and then see differences in their brains, we intuitively think, voila, this must explain why Johnny likes trucks and Jane likes dolls. But Lise believes the human brain is basically intersex, or non-gendered, with one major exception. Since men tend to be physically larger than women, the male brain is also likely to be larger than the female brain.”

  • “You cannot erase gender from a child’s experience. There’s no such thing as a gender-free society. And parents who claim that they’re raising children gender neutral - we treated our son and daughter exactly the same - are really fooling themselves.”

Hidden Brain: I’m Right, You’re Wrong

Just a resume about this episode 😄

  • “My guest today has spent years studying the way we process information and why we often reach biased conclusions. She says it’s surprisingly difficult for us to change one another’s minds, no matter how much data we present. But just a little bit of emotion, that can go a long way.”

  • “Our psychological biases are the same across individuals on average. We all have what’s known as a confirmation bias. A confirmation bias is our tendency to take in any kind of data that confirms our prior convictions and to disregard data that does not conform to what we already believe. And when we see data that doesn’t conform to what we believe, what we do is we try to distance ourselves from it. We say, well, that data is not credible, right? It’s not good evidence for what it’s saying. So we’re trying to reframe it, to discredit it.”

  • “But that wasn’t enough because the data is not enough. And even if the data is based on very good science, it has to be communicated in a way that will really tap into people’s needs, their desires. If people are afraid, we should address that.”

  • “All the different factors that affect whether we will be influenced by one person or ignore another person are the same whether the person has good intentions or bad intentions, right? The factors that affect whether you’re influential can be, can you elicit emotion in the other person? Can you tell a story? Are you taking into account the state of mind of the person that’s in front of you? Are you giving them data that confirms to their preconceived notions? All those factors that make one speech more influential than the other or more likely to create an impact can be used for good and can be used for bad.”

Hidden Brain: Me, Me, Me

Just a resume about this episode 😄

  • “On the whole, millennials are simply more narcissistic than previous generations. That is, they score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. This survey asks people if they relate to statements like “I have a natural talent for influencing people” and “I like to look at myself in the mirror.”

  • “More parents are giving their children unique names. Back in the 50s, a third of boys and a quarter of girls were named one of the 10 most popular names of the time. Today, fewer than one in ten are given a popular name.”

  • “Pop songs are more focused on the self. So are books, which use phrases like “I am special” and “all about me” more frequently now.”

  • “Using social media may lead people to view themselves more positively. And we know how much millennials love social media.”

  • “I’m fascinated by one point that you make in your book, which is a lot of this might start very early with a cultural emphasis on building self-esteem and on encouraging young people to follow their dreams. And at one level, that statement seems almost anodyne - that it’s a good thing to encourage people to follow their dreams, to encourage people to believe in themselves and believe in what they’re capable of doing. But you raise a number of examples or a number of concerns about the potential downside of encouraging people to believe in themselves and follow their dreams. Talk about that a little bit.”

  • “Sure. So yes, we can see this. In the culture, there is this very strong emphasis on feeling good about yourself, the positive self-views. It’s captured in a lot of phrases like, you can be anything you want to be, follow your dreams, you are special, believe in yourself and anything is possible. It is taken for granted that, to succeed, you must have very high self-esteem. The problem with that is it’s not true, from many studies. So big - big research review looked at this, and people who score high in self-esteem are not necessarily any more successful than anybody else, especially when you take into account family background and things like that. You do find some effect that, for example, kids who do well in school develop high self-esteem. But the way our culture thinks about it is you should build up self-esteem for no particular reason. You’re special just for being you, and that will lead to good things. It doesn’t work that way. That puts the cart before the horse.”

Hidden Brain: Science of Deception

Just a resume about this episode 😄

  • “For a long time, we thought that perhaps we had honest people in the world and we had dishonest people in the world. But what we see now is that context actually really matters.”

  • “Francesca has found that when cheating is creative, or perhaps cute, we tend to judge it less harshly. It’s almost as if we admire liars for coming up with clever lies.”

  • “But here’s the thing. The details of the situation matter. Some volunteers were allowed to have their children with them as they played. Anya found volunteers cheat less when their kids are around. The gender of the child plays a big role too.”

  • “We actually find that people cheat a lot. So we expect 25 percent of the time, people will win. They actually win 40 percent of the time.”

  • “We actually see that the entire effect of parents acting more honestly when a child is in the room is driven by daughters. So parents seek to model honest behavior to their daughters but not to their sons.”

  • “I really don’t want to feel like a bad person for acting dishonest. But if I’m acting dishonest to benefit someone else, especially if that’s my own child, then I feel a little bit more OK about acting dishonest.”

  • “They found that participants in the morning sessions of their experiments were less likely to lie and cheat than similar participants in the exact same experiments later in the day. And the effect was strongest for people who were the most morally aware. Kouchaki and Smith call it the morning morality effect.” … “They speculate that all the decisions and choices we make during the day eventually wear us down and deplete our moral reserves. So in the morning when we’re fresh, we tend to do the right thing. But as the day goes on, temptations become more tempting and good behavior can turn bad.”

  • “Succeeding makes us feel good. But beating someone else makes us feel really good. Comparing ourselves to others and coming out on top creates a sense of entitlement. And when we feel entitled, we cheat more because, of course, the rules don’t apply to awesome people like us.”

  • “People cheat. And people cheat all the time. Now, I guess you can look at this and say people cheat all the time. But I think a better way of looking at this is to say that social comparisons are actually central to cheating. When we feel like others are ahead, we feel entitled to do what it takes to catch up. When we feel we’re ahead, we feel entitled to stay ahead.”

  • “Nicole Ruedy at the University of Washington, along with Celia Moore, Maurice Schweitzer and, yes, Francesca Gino again, find that cheaters who get away with cheating are often not wracked by guilt. They actually experience a cheater’s high…”

TED Radio Hour: Giving It Away

Just a resume about this episode 😄

  • “You can give away almost anything — your time, money, food, ideas. In this hour, stories from TED speakers who are “giving it away” in new and surprising ways, and the things that happen in return.”

  • “Volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos tells a story of an act of heroism that didn’t go quite as expected — but that taught him a big lesson: Don’t wait to be a hero. Give now.”

  • “Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where “the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”

  • “Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments, even if that comes with big expenses. In this talk, he says: Let’s change the way we think about changing the world.”

  • “Don’t make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer: Let them. In a passionate talk that begins in her days as a street performer, she examines the new relationship between artist and fan. Palmer believes we shouldn’t fight the fact that digital content is freely shareable — and suggests that artists who give away their music for free can and should be directly supported by fans.”