Recommended in Edition # 27 of the Find That Pod newsletter.
After discovering this podcast back in 2019, The You Are Not So Smart podcast quickly became one of my favourites. The podcast is hosted by David McRaney, a best-selling author and at one point a newspaper reporter. Each episode explores a different topic related to psychology and human behaviour. The show is both entertaining and informative, making it a great listen for anyone interested in learning more about the human mind.
The central thesis of this podcast is simply that humans are mostly unaware of the things they are unaware of. Some may call this the Dunning-Krueger effect, but I think it’s a bit more nuanced than that. It’s probably closer to Donald Rumfeld’s famous quip about unknown unknowns, but in a more unaware way, where most people don’t actually acknowledge the fact that there are unknown unknowns.
Nevertheless, this podcast is an amazing resource to the many cognitive biases and fallacies that humans regularly engage in. McRaney is an engaging and enthusiastic host and has a particularly good knack for explaining complex concepts in a way that is easy to understand, and he always keeps the conversation lively and entertaining. Even when the topic is dense or academic, he manages to make it accessible and interesting.
Topics of discussion in previous podcast episodes have included phenomena such as The Memory Illusion, conspiracy narratives, anxiety, the power of regret, how to change someone’s mind on a deeply held belief, gossip, bad habits, partisanship, friendship, the replication crisis, tribal psychology, and many other fascinating topics.
In addition to being informative and touching on these human psychology topics, You Are Not So Smart is also well-produced. The sound quality is excellent and the episodes are well-paced, with just the right amount of humour and storytelling to keep things interesting. McRaney also frequently interviews experts in the field, which adds another layer of insight and expertise to the show.
Overall, if you’re looking to uncover and change some of your own behaviour, that may be holding you back, or simply tricking you into thinking you’re the bee’s knees, I highly recommend the You Are Not So Smart podcast to anyone. Whether you are a casual listener or a serious student of the subject, you are sure to find something of value in each episode.
Now go forth, my fellow dummies. I hope you check out this podcast and render your brain a bit smarter.