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human condition

Sailors on a Dark Sea: Political Extremism, Child’s Play

 Sailors on a Dark Sea: Political Extremism, Child’s Play

As we sail through this world of technological marvel and complex systems, it’s easy to assume we know the watery depths that yawn beneath our hull. As it turns out, however, it’s all an illusion of explanatory depth. We think we understand day-to-day gadgets, but are at a loss to explain their functionality. We think we understand policy and politics, but are better at explaining why we hold our beliefs than how particular policies might solve life’s hideous problems. In this two-part episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe dip into the waters of cognitive illusion. See more »

Sailors on a Dark Sea: Illusion of Explanatory Depth

 Sailors on a Dark Sea: Illusion of Explanatory Depth

As we sail through this world of technological marvel and complex systems, it’s easy to assume we know the watery depths that yawn beneath our hull. As it turns out, however, it’s all an illusion of explanatory depth. We think we understand day-to-day gadgets, but are at a loss to explain their functionality. We think we understand policy and politics, but are better at explaining why we hold our beliefs than how particular policies might solve life’s hideous problems. In this two-part episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe dip into the waters of cognitive illusion. See more »

The Nature of Heroism

 The Nature of Heroism

Heroes permeate our culture, from mythic archetypes and pop-culture superheroes to real-life humans who risk their lives for others. But from where does heroism emerge? Robert and Christian explore the question in this episode of the Stuff to Blow Your Mind Podcast. See more »

The Science of Coincidence

 The Science of Coincidence

What are we to make of coincidence? From the numerological cats cradles we weave around famous events to the curious ways human lives converge through time, coincidence seems to fly in the face of reason and even suggest the supernatural. In this classic episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Robert and Joe explore the synchronicity, statistics and psychology of coincidence. See more »

Cargoism: Science, Desire and the Cargo Cults

 Cargoism: Science, Desire and the Cargo Cults

During the Second World War, Melanesian islanders encountered the vast, commercial systems of Allied and Japanese forces. Cargo Cults sprang up in the wake of such contact, typified by deification and a ritualistic appeal to the impossible return of material wealth. What can such encounters tell us about science, programing, sustainability and the human condition? Robert and Christian explore in this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind. See more »

Wicked Problems

 Wicked Problems

How do you solve a problem like crime, poverty or climate change? The answer, like the problem itself, is elusive and amorphous. These are not “tame problems,” but “wicked problems” -- conundrums that defy even the powerful problem-solving powers of scientific ingenuity. Join Robert and Christian for a proper Stuff to Blow Your Mind exploration. See more »

New Year's Resolutions: Science and Moral Behavior

 New Year's Resolutions: Science and Moral Behavior

Many of our most common resolutions for personal improvement are inherently narcissistic: Quit smoking, lose weight, get in shape. But beyond this alternately self-gratifying and self-flagellating topography lies the most quintessential self-improvement project of all: Being a better person. Can science show us how to re-engineer our moral behavior and live better lives? Robert and Joe explore. See more »

Brain-to-Brain: The Science of Techno-Telepathy

 Brain-to-Brain: The Science of Techno-Telepathy

You’ve always wanted to meet a sensitive alien telepath who could understand you like no one else, but SETI is really dropping the ball on your galactic personal ad. Could new technologies that push the frontiers of brain science allow telepathic communication between humans? Join Robert and Joe as they make a case for the slogan, “Talk is cheap. Scan me!” See more »

The Unlanguaged Mind: A World Built With Words

 The Unlanguaged Mind: A World Built With Words

How can we even imagine a life without language when language itself plays such a crucial role in human cognition? Can you even imagine a world in which nothing has a name? Join Robert and Christian as they continue their exploration of the brain’s linguistic operating system. See more »

The Ring of Gyges

 The Ring of Gyges

Before H.G. Wells' Invisible Man and J.R.R. Tolkien's One Ring, there was the Ring of Gyges: a mythical artifact that turned the wearer invisible. Would such anonymity turn you into a law-breaking monster, or does morality extend beyond the fear of judgement and punishment? From Plato to modern psychology, Stuff to Blow Your Mind explores…    See more »